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What happened to the cruising experience? Our view.

What happened to the cruising experience? Our view.

Old Apr 24, 2023, 12:22 am
  #16  
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Took our first Regent cruise (a TA, lots of sea days), earlier this month. Just to back last week. It was a 14-day cruise. Overall, it was very good. Embarkation was less chaotic than most, but still chaotic. We were advised prior to our cruise that the original embarkation time we had been given had been pushed back by an hour and a half because the Coast Guard had to inspect the ship. No worries. Nonetheless, when we arrived at the port, there was a huge mass of people and embarkation seemed to be at a standstill. We got through the process fairly quickly, though the long line of people on the gangway after we checked in and were told to embark was a bit daunting. Once on board, we immediately checked in with our muster station (we had already viewed the safety video on-line several times), and then we went to our cabin.

The Voyager, like most Regent ships, is all-suites. We were not disappointed in our veranda category suite, with its comfortable bathroom, walk-in closet, spacious bedroom area (with cozy vanity area where I did my make-up every day), living room area with sofa, table (large enough for in-room dining), desk (over which the television -- all programming included -- is), and veranda. We used the veranda more on warm days. Once it began to rain, we looked out the sliding doors from the couch. It was nice to have.

I have a shellfish allergy, and got menus the day before. This made me realize they were going above and beyond for my safety. All restaurants (including specialty restaurants) are included. I liked the French restaurant best. DH liked the steakhouse best. TBH, the main dining room was usually excellent, though the menu could get repetitive. Some of the specials in the main dining room (Compass Rose) were excellent. They had a fantastic Angus beef empanada as an appetizer at lunch several times that was amazing. They always had great quality filet mignon. And simple things, such as consomm, they just nailed. Delicious.

We usually went for coffee at the coffee shop (Coffee Connection) in the afternoon. They make all kinds of fancy concoctions, but I stuck to an espresso (excellent, not bitter), while DH had his usual Americano.

They have service in the cabin twice a day, with an excellent team of cabin stewards. One thing I appreciate, as a person with a mobility impairment, is that they still provide individual toiletries. I know this is controversial and possibly bad for the environment, but my hands are not large or strong enough to squeeze out those large bottles they put in the showers in hotels and cruise ships, so I usually travel with my own toiletries. When a hotel or cruise ship still offers individual toiletries, it makes me so happy, because it means I can use their toiletries, and save my own stuff for the next trip. Regent's toiletries (L'Occitane's Jasmine and Bergamot) are a neutral scent that works for both men and women. I shower at night, so I did not find it clashed with my perfume in any way.

I had heard bad things about the entertainment on Regent. It's low-key. There was a piano player who was reminiscent of Victor Borge. A good singer (lots of Bette Midler with some Barbra thrown in there, so I was happy). An evening of 70s singer-songwriter covers. IOW, they know their target demographic. By day, there are afternoon teas (themed), jigsaw puzzle tables, needlepoint, speaker series (very good), games, trivia, etc. It's easygoing fun. The other thing to know is that it's a small cruise. You get to know your fellow passengers. People talk to each other.

The only thing that was a bit of a letdown was the excursions. There simply were not enough excursions for people with mobility impairments: One in Bermuda, none in the Azores, one in Cadiz. The one in Cadiz was awful (we had taken a better HOHO tour in Cadiz in November).

Disembarkation was a simple, no-nonsense process that had us off the ship and on a transfer bus (provided by Regent) to BCN in about 20 minutes. The trip home (BCN-EWR-PHX), while long, was pleasant. Regent includes business class airfare on the international legs of any journey, so we flew United in business class to Newark and first class to Phoenix. Not a bad way to end the trip, all in all.

So now we understand what all the fuss is about. If you are looking for a quiet, no fuss (no go-karts, no rock climbing walls, no zip lines, no Broadway shows), with friendly passengers, this may be the cruise line for you. We have already booked two more cruises and are looking to book a third.

Last edited by ysolde; Apr 24, 2023 at 12:38 am
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Old Apr 24, 2023, 12:37 am
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@ysolde ,

Curious about regent: Do their dining options require dress up attire in the evenings?
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Old Apr 24, 2023, 1:08 am
  #18  
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Originally Posted by 747FC
@ysolde ,

Curious about regent: Do their dining options require dress up attire in the evenings?
A little bit. Collared shirt for men. No jeans. Casual trousers are fine, though. Dress, pants or a skirt and a nice blouse or sweater for women. More or less country club casual. Some people dress up a lot more. DH said he should have brought a jacket, to have options. He wore long sleeved casual shirts at night, polo shirts by day.
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Old Apr 24, 2023, 5:47 am
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Originally Posted by ysolde
A little bit. Collared shirt for men. No jeans. Casual trousers are fine, though. Dress, pants or a skirt and a nice blouse or sweater for women. More or less country club casual. Some people dress up a lot more. DH said he should have brought a jacket, to have options. He wore long sleeved casual shirts at night, polo shirts by day.
Thank you for your reply. What you described seems reasonable for us. We didnt want to get involved in a really fancy requirement.
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Old Jun 13, 2023, 1:02 pm
  #20  
 
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We did a Windstar small ship cruise in French Polynesia last December and everything seemed fine. We have an Oceania Caribbean cruise booked for this December - our first Oceania since pre-pandemic. Curious if anyone has recent experiences with them?
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Old Aug 16, 2023, 5:07 pm
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We started cruising again first in Nov 2022 and again in Jun 2023 both times on Celebrity.
Nothing really stood out for me in terms of health measures on the ships themselves. But I definitely notice cabin category segmentation more and more. The suite/retreat category having a full all inclusive experience if you are willing to pay for it. While for base level cruisers at verandah and below, Celebrity seems to be trying to keep base fares low (and they are when you factor in inflation) but the quality level of many things is pretty pedestrian (eg MDR meals are adequate but has gone down in overall quality IMO) with upcharges for better quality if you want it (eg Specialty dining).
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Old Aug 18, 2023, 5:56 pm
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Jay71
We started cruising again first in Nov 2022 and again in Jun 2023 both times on Celebrity.
Nothing really stood out for me in terms of health measures on the ships themselves. But I definitely notice cabin category segmentation more and more. The suite/retreat category having a full all inclusive experience if you are willing to pay for it. While for base level cruisers at verandah and below, Celebrity seems to be trying to keep base fares low (and they are when you factor in inflation) but the quality level of many things is pretty pedestrian (eg MDR meals are adequate but has gone down in overall quality IMO) with upcharges for better quality if you want it (eg Specialty dining).
I see a lot of complaints on the Princess board at CC with similar observations. Princess has kept bare fares low but every quarter, they just seem to include less. The MDR menus are the same size as in the past, but now some entrees and extras carry an upcharge. There is a new fee for the casual dining rooms and room service. The cruise lines have learned something from the airlines.

We have another cruise booked with Princess in a couple weeks. It will be interesting to compare that with our March experience.
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Old Aug 21, 2023, 11:25 am
  #23  
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New fees from Princess

I'm really disappointed with Princess. They are trying real hard to convince folks to buy one of their over-priced drinks-tips-dining packages by adding a fixed fee of $14.95 for casual dining if you don't want the package. What a rip. Maybe one of our resident TAs can explain in further detail. I'm guessing that the MDR will continue to be free.

https://www.princess.com/news/news_r...increases.html
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Old Aug 22, 2023, 9:41 pm
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Response from 'Resident TA" Here

Originally Posted by philemer
I'm really disappointed with Princess. They are trying real hard to convince folks to buy one of their over-priced drinks-tips-dining packages by adding a fixed fee of $14.95 for casual dining if you don't want the package. What a rip. Maybe one of our resident TAs can explain in further detail. I'm guessing that the MDR will continue to be free.

https://www.princess.com/news/news_r...increases.html
Yes Main Dining Room continues to be included As does pizza place, burger & hot dog place, soft serve, buffet, International cafe....But there is no doubt they are trying to "entice" people to the Plus and Premier packages.

It's not just Princess, it is virtually every cruise line. Prices keep rising and record numbers of people are cruising. I am getting tired of booking Alaska cruises! (Not really, but demand is super high.) And SO MANY first time cruisers! The increases and service reductions are annoying to veteran cruisers. However, because cruising is still a comparatively economical way to vacation, there are hoards of first time cruisers who do not recall the good old days. Actually, I think I have booked more people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s lately as they discover cruising--and they want help trying to sort through the plethora of choices.

Here are some quotes from a recent industry report:
  • "What has been a surprise to us has been our ability to continue to raise price and demand continuing to come in at higher levels -- significantly higher levels -- than we have seen in previous periods," Jason Liberty, CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, said during a Q2 earnings call with investors in late July. After increasing its earnings expectations by 40% in May, Royal Caribbean Group increased its full-year earnings guidance by another 33%. The company reported $459 million in net income."
  • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), which reported $86 million in net income this quarter, increased its guidance for earnings per share by 14% from its initial guidance in February. While also noting higher prices, NCLH CEO Harry Sommer said the company is enjoying a record 255-day booking window, which is 51 days longer than 2019's.
  • Carnival Corp., the largest of the cruise companies, reported an all-time high in total future cruise bookings, consumer deposits and revenues in its Q2, which ended March 31. The company raised its expectations for net yields after surpassing 2019 levels but ultimately reported a net loss of $407 million for the quarter. "We are working hard to mitigate four years of inflation, maintain our industry-leading unit costs, all while reinvesting in advertising and sales support to build future demand," said Josh Weinstein, Carnival Corp. CEO.
It appears this is the new normal, for now....
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Old Aug 23, 2023, 7:06 pm
  #25  
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Originally Posted by philemer
I'm really disappointed with Princess. They are trying real hard to convince folks to buy one of their over-priced drinks-tips-dining packages by adding a fixed fee of $14.95 for casual dining if you don't want the package. What a rip. Maybe one of our resident TAs can explain in further detail. I'm guessing that the MDR will continue to be free.

https://www.princess.com/news/news_r...increases.html
Overpriced is relative. We spend less with a Plus package than if we were purchasing ala carte. We will pay gratuities. We will use the internet. We do drink alcoholic beverages as well as specialty coffee and lots of bottled water. On CC, when people refer to packages as overpriced, they are usually the ones who remove the gratuities on the last day and complain that drinks are overpriced because they can buy a six pack of Bud Light at Kroger for $12. I cruise one way, no matter how I pay for it. I pay less when I purchase a package on Princess. Their packages are substantially less costly and include more than the other mass market lines. But YMMV. I run the numbers and decide for me.
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Old Aug 23, 2023, 8:23 pm
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Originally Posted by BamaVol
“Overpriced” is relative. We spend less with a Plus package than if we were purchasing ala carte. We will pay gratuities. We will use the internet. We do drink alcoholic beverages as well as specialty coffee and lots of bottled water. On CC, when people refer to packages as overpriced, they are usually the ones who remove the gratuities on the last day and complain that drinks are overpriced because they can buy a six pack of Bud Light at Kroger for $12.....


You're painting with a pretty broad brush with that statement & it's not necessarily true. My DW doesn't drink alcohol or coffee (I do) so buying all you can drink packages don't pencil out for us. And, we've never had anything removed from our bill at the end of a cruise.
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Old Aug 26, 2023, 9:57 am
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Originally Posted by philemer

You're painting with a pretty broad brush with that statement & it's not necessarily true. My DW doesn't drink alcohol or coffee (I do) so buying all you can drink packages don't pencil out for us. And, we've never had anything removed from our bill at the end of a cruise.
I did say usually.

Of course its overpriced if you dont use all or most of the components. Princess does offer an alcohol only package. Inexplicably, it costs more than the package that includes wifi and gratuities. I have no problem justifying it for my wife and me. And I know it doesnt work that way for everyone.

There is one notorious poster on CC who does remove gratuities on the final day and wont pay for a drink at a bar because its too profitable for the cruise line. I assume he has never eaten out or had a drink in a bar on land. I shouldnt have implied you were of the same mindset.
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Old Aug 27, 2023, 5:55 pm
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Originally Posted by BamaVol
“Overpriced” is relative.
The last time I ran the numbers, the break-even point on Princess had increased to about 8 drinks per day, which is much more than we like to drink. Thus, it doesn't make sense for us to book the AI rates anymore.

Originally Posted by philemer
I'm really disappointed with Princess. They are trying real hard to convince folks to buy one of their over-priced drinks-tips-dining packages by adding a fixed fee of $14.95 for casual dining if you don't want the package.
The "casual dining" venues generally weren't worth visiting even for free. And several of them, like Planks and Steamers, already charged.
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Last edited by mahasamatman; Aug 27, 2023 at 6:00 pm
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Old Aug 30, 2023, 8:08 pm
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Originally Posted by mahasamatman
The last time I ran the numbers, the break-even point on Princess had increased to about 8 drinks per day, which is much more than we like to drink. Thus, it doesn't make sense for us to book the AI rates anymore.


The "casual dining" venues generally weren't worth visiting even for free. And several of them, like Planks and Steamers, already charged.
Wifi is $15. Gratuities are $16. Princess Plus is $60. That leaves $29 for drinks, including specialty coffees and bottled water. Show me where you can purchase 8 drinks for $29 on any Princess ship. Four beers, maybe.
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Old Aug 30, 2023, 9:16 pm
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Originally Posted by BamaVol
Wifi is $15. Gratuities are $16. Princess Plus is $60. That leaves $29 for drinks, including specialty coffees and bottled water. Show me where you can purchase 8 drinks for $29 on any Princess ship. Four beers, maybe.
This is such an individual decision and hinges on how many drinks, of all kinds, a person consumes per day. Remember, each adult in the room must purchase the package. So for 2 this is an extra $120/day. My wife is hooked on Diet Coke (~$3 each) and an OJ for breakfast. The package would be worth it for me but not for both of us.
YMMV of course. Happy sailing.

Drinks menu: https://profcruise.com/new-princess-drink-prices-2023/
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Last edited by philemer; Aug 30, 2023 at 9:30 pm
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