The featured photo is of the hapless guys trying to load the luggage. They’d lost about half of the load pictured when I took that photo from the ship.
On June 23, 2023, Bill and I embarked on our very first Regent Seven Seas cruise. This was an unusual experience for us, because although we do cruise on occasion, our cruises have overwhelmingly been on much smaller and older vessels. Aside from our very first cruise, which was a short Baltic cruise in June 2009 on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas, we’ve only done cruises on SeaDream I or Hebridean Princess. SeaDream’s ships carry a maximum of 112 passengers each. Hebridean Princess maxes out at 49 passengers. Hebridean Island Cruises just acquired a new ship that is also very small. We haven’t sailed on the Lord of the Highlands yet, but she only carries 38 passengers!
Our first cruise on Vision of the Seas was fine, but we determined that we prefer smaller boats that are more all inclusive. So, for 14 years, we have avoided big ships. In fact, I hadn’t wanted to do a cruise at all this year. Originally, I’d hoped we could do a land based trip to Finland, which won our champagne bucket draw, and then go to the Baltic nations on our own. But, as I tried to plan the trip, I was confounded by the lack of easy transportation options in the Baltic countries. And although there are trains in Norway, Sweden, and Finland, they aren’t super convenient like they are in Germany and other European countries. Like, if you wanted to go by train from Bergen to Stockholm, you’d have to go to Oslo first.
At this writing, there aren’t any train connections between Tallinn, Estonia, Riga Latvia, or Vilnius, Lithuania. If we’d done a land based trip, we’d have to rent a car and drive, fly, or take buses. Or… maybe use the ferries, which basically amounted to cruising, right?
Anyway, I noticed that Regent had a handy northern European itinerary available, and I’d been somewhat curious about luxury cruising on a big ship. It helped that the voyage was on sale. So we pulled the trigger, booked our spots on the Northern Folktales & Traditions cruise, and boarded the gorgeous Splendor on that auspicious June day.
Well… I don’t know how auspicious it really was. As we waited in the lobby at Nobis Hotel, I already sensed that we’d be rubbing elbows with people who had the potential to be irritating. I’d been sitting next to Bill and got up to use the ladies room. When I came back, there was a rather assholish looking older man sitting near Bill. There was enough room for me to sit down in my former spot, so I did.
The tall, distinguished looking man with the perfect haircut didn’t seem to appreciate that very much. After a few minutes of sitting near me, he got up and sat on the other side of his painfully thin and rather well coiffed wife, who bore a resemblance to Blythe Danner circa 1991 (when she was in The Prince of Tides). *shrug* I guess he has no respect for the “unwashed masses”… emphasis on masses. I’m sorry to say that COVID and the onset of menopause, plus my love of boozy libations, has done a terrible number on the size of my ass. It’s too bad I never learned to play tennis or golf. Maybe I’d be more the type of person that guy likes to hang around with. His wife, by the way, seemed a lot nicer than her (I assume) husband. We shared a shrug and bemused smile when there was a sudden crash outside.
I don’t want to dwell too long on this first impression of the other passengers. It’s just that this guy gave off serious narcissistic “boomer” vibes. He sort of exuded masculine power. He was handsome and tall, appeared to be very fit, and if I were to guess, I’d assume he comes from the southern USA (as I do) and has a longstanding membership at a country club (as I don’t). He seemed much like someone very privileged who doesn’t like to mingle with people who either aren’t physically attractive to him, or don’t share his level of financial success.
I could be totally wrong, of course, and I realize that I’m judging him as much as I perceived him judging me. But I’m pretty good at observing body language, and his body language told me to keep my distance. So I did that… but later, I also noticed him in the Observation Lounge with his very slim and attractive wife. She was always walking several paces behind him and seemed very much like a second banana to his self-presumed awesomeness. I guess he wanted her to keep her distance, too, lest she cast a shadow on his narcissistic glow. Yes, she was well dressed and very pretty, even in her (I assume) 60s. She and her husband exuded an obvious air of wealth and prosperity. But… I sure wouldn’t want to trade places with her.
We all clambered aboard the first of many tour buses. A beautiful Swedish woman wearing a Regent jacket and scarf took attendance, then wished us a pleasant journey and got off the bus. It was now her job to welcome the departing cruisers from the voyage before ours who were staying for a night in the Nobis Hotel. These were folks who’d had Regent arrange their air, or booked post cruise tours, which Bill and I did not do.
I was excited to catch my first glimpse of the Splendor, which was built in 2020-21 and carries a maximum of 746 passengers. Splendor’s godmother is none other than supermodel, Christie Brinkley. It seems very fitting that such a beautiful ship should have a supermodel as her godmother.
But before we could embark, we had to go through security and pick up our new ID cards. So we got in line and soon found ourselves talking to a very young man– I’d guess maybe aged 19 or 20– who asked us if we’d been vaccinated for COVID and wanted to know if we’d been feverish or had diarrhea in the days immediately prior to our sailing. Then, much to my amusement, he asked me if I was pregnant. Ordinarily, such a question might irritate the hell out of me (as it did in France back in 2014). But… since I turned 51 years old three days before that conversation took place, I simply had to laugh and say, “No, I’m not pregnant.” If I had been more on my toes verbally, I might have added, “That ship has sailed.” 😉
But instead, I added, looking at Bill, “And he’s not pregnant, either.” As one commenter on Cruise Critic pointed out, you just never know these days. 😀 We shared a quick laugh, and eagerly made our way to the gangplank.
Here are a few photos from our journey from Nobis Hotel to the port in Stockholm, Sweden.
I really wish we’d had more time to visit Stockholm. It was our second time in the city, but once again, we were unable to explore it because it was on the end of a cruise. Our 2009 Vision of the Seas cruise ended in Stockholm, and we had to rush back to Germany because Bill (still in the Army at the time) had a conference he had to attend.
This time, we missed a proper tour because I wasn’t able to easily book two nights there, due to our stay at the Nobis Hotel booked by Regent. It was possible to book a second night or simply stay in a different hotel, but that would have required some finagling and probably paying more than we needed to. As it turned out, we decided it was better to just relax in the hotel, since we were both battling colds, as were a lot of other passengers. More on that in a subsequent post.