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Built in 2001, the luxury class Regent Seven Seas Mariner carries 700 passengers with eight decks of cabins. Because of the low passenger number, there is no feeling of crowds or long lines waiting for something. The crew is amazing, attentive and genuinely friendly.
And because of the small size, you can easily get from one end to the other quickly. “Easily” is a relative term – I still get turned around. I keep forgetting we are on deck 7 (not 5 like on Viking); and I end up going up when I should be heading down the stairs, and fore when I should be going aft. The second day I walked right past the hallway exit to the elevators and went another 20 doors before realizing I was not where I wanted to be. But we are in friendly territory as our hallway has the guest lecturer, guest comedian and some of the daily entertainment crew.
We are not wanting for food. Mariner has four main dining venues: Chartreuse (French), Prime 7 (steakhouse), Compass Rose (the main dining room) and La Veranda (which is the top-deck buffet).
The first two have set menus with daily specials. You are allowed two reservations per segment, one at each location. We have already had a meal at both (well, two at Chartreuse, because we got in on the first evening when it was non-reservation seating). Not sure yet if I prefer one over the other, but the limited-reservation-per-segment system works just fine for me. But then there was that divine steak at Prime 7, and – oh my – that sauce. I like the option to “choose your protein” then “choose your sauce” (or none). It expands the menu… and with 131 days, we will need variety.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our regular dinners in the Compass Rose, but that is also partly due to the amazing company and conversation. A few nights ago, we were joined by Dejan Ilic (the HR director) and two gentlemen from the Facebook page. Our conversation went everywhere, and we were able to dive into politics. Dejan introduced all of us to Back House Red, a fantastic wine. I sat down intending to be wise, but… dessert. Caviar-topped lemon-filled cream puffs.
We dine at the buffet every day for breakfast and lunch, and I have now found the smoothie station. The food is very, very good and includes a wide variety of cuisines for both breakfast and lunch. We have not tried it for dinner yet. I am succeeding at my goal of not grabbing a cookie every time I pass a cookie and coffee station, and there a few. Today I went to the Pool Grill and got a really good burger. I intend to work my way down that menu.
The ship itself is lovely, but I find it overall a bit dark. I have yet to explore every deck, and today I inadvertently wandered into the smoking area which is well isolated. The Coffee Connection in the mornings is a hopping place and is one well-lit area. It is a social gathering area throughout the day.
Regent has the usual activities of bingo and trivia. Russell and I are on two different trivia teams, and there is a bit of a rivalry going. We are on the same team for a visual trivia game. There are also fun face-to-face competitions between passengers and crew including the captain. At the noon report they announce the results for all to know. And right now, the passengers have the better scores. What do you get if you are in the top three? Points. Points are redeemable at the end of the cruise for some very nice items.
On this long cruise there is just one lecturer without a backup if he gets ill. We know the workload and are very impressed. Terry Bishop lectures every sea day at 10 am. A nice early slot before things start to get too busy. So far, he has lectured on Hawaii and WWII-related topics. Yesterday’s was on the USS Indianapolis. Such a sad story.
After months of working so hard to get here it is nice to just relax. I can leave our glass veranda door cracked open and hear the waves. The bed is comfortable and there is plenty of space for our things. (Remembering where I put them is another story.)
We have met so many nice people. A few months ago, I started a Facebook page for this cruise. There are about 70 people participating. It is so nice to see folks and meet in person. I want to plan a large get-together; I am working with the staff to set things up. Russell is much more recognized than I am. He also tends to sit out in the common areas and chat with folks as they come by. I have been napping and regaining my health these past few days, so am less out in the public eye.
Last night we had dinner with Andy Heath, the Cruise Director. His is an amazing story that has a few similarities to how we got here. He and his wife Tammie (the Social Host) are top notch, always work on the same ship, and are genuinely nice people. Andy made an effort to get to know each of us with a “tell me something about yourself I wouldn’t know to ask” question. Such a nice way to give everyone a chance to chat.
We haven’t even arrived in Hawaii yet, but this is already feeling like home. (If I could just figure out where I am on the ship, it would be perfect.)
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