Joining Regent Seven Seas Mariner for a short taster sailing mid voyage, I was looking forward to experiencing the industry's most all-inclusive cruise line for the first time. Our itinerary had us joining in Antibes, a tender port just a short drive from Nice. However, due to a large swell the Captain decided that for everyone's comfort it would be beneficial to change the port to the more sheltered Villefranche. Just a short distance from our original destination, our transfers were easily re-arranged and Regent's inclusive tours ran as usual, but what was really interesting was just how well Regent adapted to the situation.
Villefranche is a beautiful bay, made all the more special as Regent decided to take advantage of the warm evening sunshine and calm waters with an impromptu dinner on deck. Cue a flurry of activity as an amazing buffet was laid out by the pool. Fresh and wonderfully presented sushi and sashimi, mouthwatering roast meats, crisp salads and tempting dessert. All followed by some enthusiastic dancing and excellent music from the resident band.
Adverse weather conditions also had an effect on our subsequent itinerary. Of course no-one likes to think about what happens when an itinerary is forced to change, but it's worth remembering that this can be the case on any journey (cruise or not) and the ability to adapt accordingly is essential. But how does a ship of 700 discerning guests, many of whom will be looking forward to an included excursion, actually cope?
Well in Regent's case, incredibly well. Shore excursions were moved forward a day to allow for the first change in itinerary, calling into Toulon a day earlier than anticipated, then continued without a hitch. The atmosphere in the evening was jovial and as we enjoyed an impressive dinner in Prime 7, it was clear that the adjustment hadn't dampened anyone's appetite.
The biggest change came when, again because of the weather, we missed one port of call to instead have an overnight stay in the wonderful city of Barcelona. Almost immediately we were presented with a choice of included shore excursions and we enjoyed an excellent city tour.
Smoothly run and in small groups we explored Barcelona's rich cultural and architectural heritage. After a fantastic tour which incorporated a range of the city's highlights we returned to the ship to discuss when we thought the Sagrada Familia would be complete over lunch at La Veranda, which had been kept open along with the Pool Grill to ensure hungry day trippers were catered to.
Barcelona was the final call of our very short trip and we spent the evening in Regent's specialist French restaurant, Signatures, where the best meal on board provided a suitable finale. With exquisitely presented Michelin star quality food in a convivial environment, it was a wonderful evening chatting about the last few days. It's been said that "a good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." - here's to being a good traveller.
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