Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Sign in to follow this  
Catlover54

Navigator DDay charter review, May 30-June 8, 2019

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

 

 

 

Regent Navigator, 9 days, May 30- June 8, 2019,

Amsterdam to Southampton

 

My husband and I just finished 9 days on the Regent Navigator, a fund-raising private charter cruise sponsored by the WWII Museum in New Orleans.  The trip was in honor of the 75th DDAY Normandy invasion commemoration, and its veterans, and the excursions were primarily focussed on historic locations along the route. My review is only about the ship experience itself, compared with other mostly luxury lines I have cruised with before (Seabourn (SB), Silversea (SS), Hapag-Lloyd (HL), and Crystal, plus Oceania, and also compared with a prior, non-charter cruise we had taken on the Regent Voyager several years ago.  I was informed in advance by a Regent expert that the facilities, food and crew on Regent charters would be  the same quality as one experiences on non-charter cruises, so this gave me a chance to resample Regent after several years of absence to give them another chance, though my primary reason for booking was the special event.

 

Short summary:

Overall I give the ship, food  and crew a 3.4 rating overall and would not be tempted to book more cruises with Regent absent unusual circumstances.  Again, this is my rating only for the ship, food and crew, not the customized entertainment and excursion agenda, as we did not have traditional stage “entertainment” as is usual on board Regent (BTW the topical events on and off board and for the WWII museum were very good).  Food quality, service, and ship condition were good enough, though with flaws, i.e., like several years ago.  Food on SB and SS  previously was better,  and it was much better on HL (though the latter also charges a higher per diem). 

Edited by Catlover54
typo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 

Details:

 

SHIP, ambience and suite:  uncrowded and comfortable, well-maintained  and clean in general, but the ship is showing its age a bit.  All the furniture (the bed, couches, loungers, etc.) were much more comfortable and softer (important for those of us with musculoskeletal problems) than on SB. We were in a basic deluxe window suite (no veranda) on deck 5, aft.  It had around 300 sq feet including a spacious walk-in closet,  mini-fridge (all-inclusive and customizable), couch, desk area, vanity table, and bathroom with separate shower and bathtub areas with  two nice grab bars and a rubber mat. 

 

Moderate ship/structure negatives were:  

  1. Initially we had brown water and low water pressure during high demand periods (but this was fixed with some pipe and filter work within 24 hours of reporting it).  Per other reviews, this has happened before in recent months
  2. The bathtub plug did not work (a common problem in my travels, so I used my portable rubber bathtub plug)
  3. No bedside charger (only available at the desk and vanity). 
  4. The decor is a bit dated and carpeting is faded or slightly spotted
  5. The desk area had no storage above or below it other than 1 small middle drawer (space was occupied by the fridge, glassware storage, and a flat-screen on the wall), though there was some room on top.  TV had nice resolution, with basic dining venue menus available, though it did not display the MDR (Compass Rose) daily specials (only the “always available” options), and excursions listed were inaccurate  Unfortunately the destinations descriptions and enrichment lecture recordings  ran in a loop rather than being available for on-demand selection, like they were on other lines
  6. Bath towels in our suite were thin and scratchy the first few days (definitely not luxury, as they were old and worn out), then some got softer and fluffier.

7.

Although our cabin was thankfully quiet and peaceful,  with no vibrations, the main auditorium area (called the Seven Seas Lounge) often had  loud vibration  you could not miss during presentations. 

  1. There is also no large, dedicated forward outdoor observation area  like on SB (here, you had to stand on the mini-golf lawn). 
  2. Internet was slow most of the time, impossible at others, but this is just like on all other lines I have been on, and (if not on a charter like this one where internet was included), quoted prices were high.

 

  1. DH also did not like that the only two hot tubs were right near the pool, i.e., none were in a more private area like SB offers, and access was already closed early in the evening, before it even got dark, so there was no option for post-dinner soaks at sunset.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 

FOOD:  We had a few  good, properly prepared meals (lamb dish in the small Prime 7 venue, and a good spare rib BBQ over noodles in MDR).  We also had good croissants (though not as good as  on SB) and generally good breads with variety (except in the Italian venue in the evening) .  The food was mostly disappointing, though there were many choices, e.g., there were “always available” options to accommodate a variety of basic American taste combinations.  Salmon entrees are hard to ruin, but they managed to do so in the MDR, Compass Rose.  Most food was overcooked, e.g., ordering something medium meant it would arrive well-done. Breakfast meat and cheese selections were mundane, but morning bacon was always very good. 

The all-day coffee bar was self-serve push-button style, like on Oceania and Holland America, and was neither luxurious nor  good anywhere. Desserts were no better than several years ago, and what they described as  “cream” parts tasted more like Cool Whip  than real  whipped cream. Cookies at the cafe and cafeteria venue (La Veranda) were always the same sugar-free or regular basics,  and were not very tasty, with no change for 9 nights. The evening Italian venue (buffet plus ordered entree) meal was unremarkable. 

Hamburgers and hot dogs at the pool grill and room service were overcooked. The final insult was the “special farewell dinner” that was advertised to pax by the CD during the day, so the MDR got packed and was so full  we were even  turned away, so came back an hour later.   It turned out to just be a labor-saving 3 course dinner with 3 fixed entree choices of fish, surf and turf, or vegetarian.  We ordered the surf and turf and despite sawing away with great strength, I could barely cut, much less chew, the rubbery pieces of freezer-tasting disgusting old stuff they called lobster tail.  Entrees also arrived cold, with oil around the potato and veggies already globbing up into clumps.  I rarely send food with animal protein back, but I did here.

The box lunches Regent prepared were a combination of assorted wrapped junk snacks and soggy inedible mini sandwiches, like out of a vending machine,

Unlike on other lines (SB, HL), where we gravitated to enjoying a luxury lunch on board that surpassed venues portside,  on this ship  I would have made a point of eating off the ship as often as possible for lunch and dinner.

 
 
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 

SERVICE:  Our cabin stewardess was a fast learner, and with her less bright male assistant, did a good job cleaning and meeting our limited customization requests in a timely manner, as long as we spelled everything out (so we had no service surprises or initiative from her,  but she was good at following instructions).  I still do not understand why hard, unripe fruit was mindlessly brought to the suite (bananas and apples are ready to eat, but what do you do with a rock-hard unripe plum or pear on a short cruise?)

Very important was that the Do Not Disturb sign was always respected.  Laundry came back the same day, unfortunately much of it shrunk as personnel likely did not always follow the international standardized laundry tag washing and drying instructions. Many clothing items that had been washed on other cruise lines without problems, shrank here, despite no weight gain. 

 Food venue crew were mostly Filipino, who smiled a lot, but many of whom were inadequately trained for “luxury” service.  Most annoying (beyond irritating fiascos with major wine service delays and comprehension barriers) was that most had an unfortunate habit of incessantly interrupting dining conversations, just like several years ago (I had forgotten about it until now). They would charge up to the table determined to recite their descriptions of food items or to ask  questions, without pauses or regard for whether people were mid-sentence or had just put food into their mouths, and with no apologies for interrupting.  They just needed to get their speeches over with and move on.  I really appreciate the subtleness of good waiters on HL or SB more, when compared with most of these waiters and waitresses. Though they were almost always hard-working, because they were understaffed (e.g., tables in venues were often uncleared or unset for more guests to sit down), I did not find them to be any better than on mainstream Holland America. I usually have  better and more consistent service at Applebee’s or other chain diners in the U.S.

I only ordered cocktails a couple times at bars (cosmo), and each time they came back barely cooled and poorly prepared.  

Front desk personnel were polite and helpful (e.g., Julie).

One waiter ( Albert) was very skilled and provided a luxury experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 

EMBARKATION and DISEMBARKATION:  embarkation took an hour, probably because everyone showed at the same time from pre-cruise tours.  Disembarkation was organized well by Regent, luggage had to be out at 11PM the night before, and we disembarked by color coding.

 

IN SUM, even knowing what I know, because of the event, I would have booked this charter cruise anyway, as we came for this once in a lifetime  event, not for the food.  We did not perceive the service we received here as up to what we expect from a company that calls itself luxury, however, so will be reluctant to book Regent Navigator again for a regular cruise, and will not consider it unless it is for a special event like this one.  Perhaps there were problems because this was a charter cruise and, contrary to what we had been advised prior to booking Regent, there may actually  have been both food and staff cost-cutting measures implemented after all, without cruise line admission.  Management  may have known very well that most pax were there just for the event and would not be back anyway, so cut some corners, but I am speculating as  it is hard to imagine these same crew members behaving differently on non-charter cruises.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As for the charter:

As noted, I really enjoyed the charter events, sponsored by the wonderful non-profit  WWII Museum in New Orleans, which also ( via donors and pax paying high per diem, partly deductable fare premiums)  paid for the trips for the 16 WW2 vets on board ( this was a fundraising event cruise, just like the Seabourn Ovation ran with the WWII sponsorship at the same time).  It was quite tiring, with early departures to battle sites and rushed dinners due to need to finish in time for 8:30 talks.  

On DDay we met at 6 AM to get going to the venue, drove over an hour, stood in chaotic lines where a couple people passed out ( and revived), barely got to seats in time for 11:30 event, which lasted 1.5 hours.  Macron and Trump gave wonderful speeches, then we stood in more lines for filthy portapotties, bus waits, and ate our sad box lunches standing up ( fortunately vets had a VIP section and special care). 

 

Vets  ( transported to the commemoration separately) mostly seemed to have a great time on the cruise and at events  and some of them had more stamina than I did.  If they were uncomfortable, they did not say so. This  was generally a very polite, and patriotic, almost exclusively American, group of pax. I rarely experienced such *consistently* good manners on other regular luxury cruises ( no pushing, no selfie sticks, no loud and boorish groups though frankly if the old vets had been loud I would not have cared), and  very rare cell phone conversations on bus journeys. 

 We had historians on board, both from the museum and guests, as well as a trio of young ladies who did a few 1940’s style performances, and saw a variety of poignant films produced by the Museum.

DH took many pix, not yet edited, to help us remember.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Catlover54 - I usually see you on the "Luxury Board" and know how much that you enjoy HL and was unhappy to read of your experience on Regent's Navigator.  As an aside, my DH and I will not sail on Navigator for so many reasons.  

 

While my DH would have loved the theme of the cruise, even he could not tolerate the Navigator so we gave it a pass.  At times I wonder why their food is not as good as other ships (one time we had grouper for dinner and could not cut through it - even with a steak knife).  

 

If you ever consider Regent again, I would strongly suggest trying the Explorer.  It is a million percent better than the Navigator (in my humble opinion).  It is truly a shame that the food, etc. on Navigator it off-putting to so many cruisers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much Catlover54 for your review. Aside from your disappointment with the ship itself, what a fabulous experience, to visit Normandy on a significant anniversary!  Hope you did tours to the other related areas as well, not only the Cemetery. 

I'm very sorry to read about this issue about the food. I havent been on Navigator in many years, but will be on a Caribbean cruise out of NYC in November. I typically not officially complain about things once on board, but I will raise a complaint early on if I experience this food situation. Not saying that will fix anything, I'm just not going to let it slide. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

TC, I only risked trying Regent again because of your, and a few others’,  many very helpful posts about Regent, which are not just opinions, but also provide real facts that helped me get quickly oriented on board. I know we disgaree on many things but I greatly value all your input, it is a lot of work.

 

I planned to still consider the Explorer until I read today that the crew rotate from Regent ship to ship, and unfortunately many of them (e.g, in dining venues) were more annoying  to DH ( who cruises less often than I do as he has less time )  than the mediocre food ( with exceptions). He was simply too tired to put up with waiting twenty minutes for expensive wine  and having to repeat orders to three different people, or to deal with a habit of getting misinformation from crew, rather than crew simply saying “ I don’t know,  let me find out” in response to questions.

I would have trouble convincing him to get on another Regent ship ( I was going to round up my review to 4, but he thought even a 3 is generous, compared with his experiences on competitors SB and SS). 

 

I was even going to put up with the brown water as I had read here on the forums it is not dangerous, and once lived in rural NW Washington when young where we routinely had brown, iron-laden well water, but DH made me call for service when my tub looked like this ( the repair of piping and filters worked).

 

:

E494658C-E10A-448E-9A26-6B4BA0B25B96.jpeg

Edited by Catlover54
typo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I certainly understand where you are coming from.  It amazes me that when I talk about brown water, people say that they have never seen it on the Navigator.  I have had clear water turn to brown water in an instant.  And, when I am using a washcloth, the brown stain is very difficult to get out.  I could only imagine what it would do to my hair (or clothing if I was washing anything).

 

It seems that you have experienced the very worst of Regent and, if I had the same experience, I would not sail on Regent again.

 

See you on the Luxury Board!😊

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, cruiseluv said:

Thank you so much Catlover54 for your review. Aside from your disappointment with the ship itself, what a fabulous experience, to visit Normandy on a significant anniversary!  Hope you did tours to the other related areas as well, not only the Cemetery. 

I'm very sorry to read about this issue about the food. I havent been on Navigator in many years, but will be on a Caribbean cruise out of NYC in November. I typically not officially complain about things once on board, but I will raise a complaint early on if I experience this food situation. Not saying that will fix anything, I'm just not going to let it slide. 

 

 

Yes, it was indeed fabulous, and special to me ( father had been in a slave labor camp for two years and mother was not much better off fleeing both communists and Nazis, and my family was very grateful to America for both liberating and later taking them in to be citizens).

 

Two years ago on SB Quest we ported in Cherbourg and had one day for Omaha Beach, and the American Cemetery, and Arromanche-les- Bain, (not on DDAy but in spring)  and it was not enough. Our guide then was also not fond of Americans and was poorly informed, so we booked this more detailed tour with focussed friendlies.  Also,  as it was the 75th, it was likely the last major anniversary chance to see so many old survivors attend the ceremomies. Our oldest vet  on board was 102, retired Lt. Colonel, frail but clear in his head when he spoke, and it was nice he see his young man enthusiastic grandson join him for the ceremonies. It was also encouraging to see so many French school groups and others interested in the museums and the events.

 

 We also did three pre-cruise nights in Amsterdam, two with the group to the Anne Frank house, a talk by a local Jewish survivor,  and the Dutch Resistance Museum.  Stayed at Hotel Amstel, very nice ( luxury) though my luggage did not arrive with me as it had been left at SFO so I landed up eating orientation fancy appetizers wearing DH’s clean workout T and my  airplane pants; this was better than our prior Amsterdam trip, when DH luggage was stolen from the carousel so we had had to go shopping.

My former two term  senator and two term governor, Pete Wilson ( R) and his wife Gsyle were also in our group, and we had opportunity to have dinner at their table,and with other interesting people, including a former P51 Mustang pilot.

 

We were able to hear very informed guides and staff who took us to old German bunkers in Belgium and France, , to Utah Beach and the museum, Sainte-Mere-Eglise,  the Airborn museum, Omaha Beach, a  beautiful Canadian cemetery, the huge museum in Caen, hidden memorials, La Fiere Bridge, and more. We also did a non-war day trip to lovely, though crowded, Ghent ( less crowded than Brugge was two years ago) and to Etretat, a wonderful town with views, walks, and history,  where we had a fantastic luxury lunch on our own to help recover from Navigator food (at Le Galion).

 

I have no regrets about the trip, and hope to go back again to the area with so much history.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is so absolutely amazing that I’m afraid no way Navigator could keep up.  We were on ship right before charter and could tell from our limited  excursions in France and Belgium it was probably going to be an amazing charter.  I’m so happy you were able to experience the DDay activities.  Sounds very, very special.  The stories we heard back home last week meant so much more after seeing Normandy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Catlover54, I'm in awe of your family experience, so happy for you that you could have this very special trip that obviously means so much. I'm a naturalized American, but I feel as if I was born here. After I went to Normandy in the 1990s, Ive been saying that any American that has the means should go there and pay their respects.No picture, no description, does it justice, you just got to go. Thanks for sharing your story. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes,  an opportunity to visit the Normandy Invasion Beaches (there were five) and the American Cemetery should be a priority.   Please see my comments just-posted on another Thread--On Board Credits for Veterans.  

 

My wife and I experienced this almost-exactly one month ago. 

 

GOARMY!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

GOARMY, I did not have opportunity on my trips to go to Juno, Gold, or Sword beaches, ( so I need another trip!) but have read about them in various books over the years and in books from the WWII museum historians as well.

The Brits, Canadians, Aussies, Poles, and other allies also sacrificed so much to help with the liberation, and were talked about by both Macron and Trump with appreciation. 

 

When people come visit us they see all kinds of my WWII related books on our shelves ( though mostly related to the European theatre) and assume they belong to DH, but DH just started learning a lot about it when he first met me, I made sure of that!  As a lifelong technology geek, he particularly appreciated and understood the many different museum displays highlighting machinery, electronics, and other tech and science innovations of the time. Fortunately these innovations, and more,  have now evolved to be put more to peacetime use ( though of course still important for our military defense). 

 

Regent also was running WWII movies on two suite channels, e.g., The Longest Day, Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, and others.  I had seen most of them before but DH had not, so this was a nice charter cruise benefit. One of our guides ( a Brit, who was  an encyclopedia of Normandy knowledge) spent a lot of time criticizing the Hollywoodization of the movies, especially Saving Private Ryan, and fairly pointed out both accurate and inaccurate depictions. Sadly, so many young people in U.S. these days do not even know who fought whom or why in WW2 or where, though their iphones loaded with information access are in their pockets, as they think it does not concern them.  

 

The WWII Museum of New Orleans also offers many other tours every year, including land tours, relating to both European and Pacific theatres, I plan to look into them more after I retire.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had the privilege of visiting one of the American Cemeteries in Belgium when I was about 14-15, I think it may have been Ardennes?  Even as a youngster it left a lasting impression and probably was a factor in my decision to join the military 4-5 years later...I can only imagine how powerful and moving it must have been to be on this cruise at this point in time.

 

It's a shame that so many people today have so little knowledge of the sacrifices made by so many so long ago.   :classic_sad:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

UUNet Bill: We cannot allow people to forget the sacrifices, and the horrors.

 

I was also satisfied  to see that the museums did not censor graphic pictures of atrocities, battles, and suffering people, including children. People, especially young people, need to know what real tyranny is, and also what the cost of war is. Too many people, even some ex-military I know well,  take our comforts and prosperity for granted. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

WWII affected so many lives - I hope that we never forget.........  My DH was one of the million children evacuated from London before the bombing started there.  He was sent to the West of England where he lived on a farm for about 3 years.  His parents were permitted to visit once a year.  I have been privileged to meet other evacuees as well as families that housed them.  There were a heck of a lot of amazing people that helped the children as well as Allied soldiers in England.  We live with these memories every day.

 

While not directly related to D Day, it is important to remember the men and women that fought as well as those that saved the children in London and other places in the world.

 

One more tidbit - the first time I met the group of evacuees, I was the only person from the U.S. there (and the youngest since I was born after WWII).  The thanks that they expressed to me for what “my” country did to help them, still brings me to tears.   We sang songs, shared food and they shared stories.  Unfortunately, we are losing more and more of these men and women daily but they will always be in our hearts.  Meeting them definitely changed my life forever.

 

Edited by Travelcat2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How wonderful to review the most-recent entries on  this Thread.  Another of our (wife and mine) lasting memories as to last month's visit to Utah and Omaha was traveling down the main road to those Beaches.  The French designated  this route as a "Highway of Heroes".   Every 25 meters or so--a picture of a G.I., with appropriate designation as to combat Unit, and particulars detailing his service on D-Day, and beyond.  Ranks ranged from Enlisted to Officers.  

 

There was one constant.   Each of these young men--even if they survived 06 June '44 at either Utah or Omaha--later paid the ultimate sacrifice necessary to liberate France.  Therefore, they rest in eternal peace at The American Cemetery above Omaha.  

 

Say what one may, considering the state of the current French Republic  (our planned excursions during portions of last month's time in Paris and Lyon were impacted by Yellow Jacket protesters):  When conducting one-on-one  interactions, the common response--when I attempted to converse with the 'locals in French was:

 

Thank you, Sir, and America for liberating  us.  

 

No more needs  to be said--except,  my uncle Ray was a co-pilot on a B-26 which flew over Utah on 6 June '44.  The Sergeant Major of my 1st Infantry Division Battalion in Vietnam (circa '68-69) was a Private First Class with "The Big Red One"  at Omaha on 6 June.  I still marvel how he was able to get off that Beach.  But he did--and his service was an inspiration to many a young Lieutenant in another war far, far away.  

 

Remember them.  Remember.

 

Best,   GOARMY!

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m somewhat new to Regent so I’m confused by a couple things in this review. What is the significance of the food venue crew being mostly Filipino? Sorry if I’m making myself look stupid!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Catlover 54 - Thank you so much for your review. When I first learned of this cruise, I so much wanted to join and take my Mom, but soon realized that the excursions would be more than she could comfortably handle. As the child of Holocaust survivors, where out of hundreds of family members, only seven would survive, I would have been honored to be able to personally thank each and every veteran for their service. Many of the schools in this area teach extensively about WW2 and the Holocaust and the students are still able to hear directly from the survivors. And to the surprise of many, the students are extremely interested - often these assemblies are scheduled for 2 hours and it is not unusual for the speaker(s) and students to be discussing events hours after the program was scheduled to end.

 

gnomie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Catlover54...Thank you for the review of your WWII charter cruise.  We took the WWII charter cruise on the Silver Cloud for the 70th anniversary of D Day and had an incredible time.  The National WWII museum did a great job, and the ship was wonderful as usual.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/12/2019 at 7:00 AM, kjbacon said:

I’m somewhat new to Regent so I’m confused by a couple things in this review. What is the significance of the food venue crew being mostly Filipino? Sorry if I’m making myself look stupid!

I'm not the OP but from the context it appeared to be simply an observation just so we would be aware of any language and/or cultural differences...

 

Of course, I love it when a lot of the kitchen and/or serving staff is from the PI or India - you can request special meals from Compass Rose and have a reasonably high chance of getting authentic, delicious food...   :classic_smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My own experience in SE Asia, including the Philippines (from 25 years in the Navy), is that the Filipino people are some of the happiest, friendliest and most dedicated professionals in the service and entertainment industry that I have ever met.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for all of your posts on Normandy and associated commemorations.  I showed these to my DH, who has a particular interest in visiting the area, and he had tears in his eyes when reading about Travelcat and her husband’s experiences.  We have to go now!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • 2019 Cruisers' Choice Awards
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...