I recently had the opportunity to cruise aboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ new Seven Seas Explorer®, which debuted in July 2016.
It was a two-night voyage out of Los Angeles, meant for invited guests in the cruise industry to experience the ship, so that we may more accurately convey the beauty of the ship to our discerning clients.
This was actually my first time cruising on a true luxury vessel.
Prior to the cruise I created a list of my expectations about the experience of luxury cruising and the ship. After this trip, I’m prepared to admit I was wrong on a few things and happily right on others.
1. Over the Top Delicious Food
I was right about this.
With nine restaurants, I ate very well morning, noon and night.
In Compass Rose, I savored lobster bisque, a simple yet delicious mixed greens salad and my favorite – filet mignon, accompanied by my choice of sides (I went with brussel sprouts), and crème brulee for dessert.
Compass Rose is considered a specialty restaurant, even though it is the main dining room, because the entire left side of the menu includes a variety of choices, not only for each course, but also for the way the dish is prepared and the accompaniments.
On Night Two, my suite mate and I dined in Chartreuse, the French-themed restaurant that debuted on Seven Seas Explorer and is now also available on Seven Seas Voyager®.
This meal really exceeded my expectations, especially the piping-hot soufflé au fromage for my first course. I enjoyed Dover Sole with asparagus and potatoes for the main course, and again tried crème brulee for my dessert, to see if it would differ from the first night. The recipe tasted the same (delicious) but the presentation was more delicate and artful in Chartreuse, which I appreciated.Each evening at dinner, the wait staff makes suggestions for both a red and white wine, and the wine flows freely throughout the meal due to the all-inclusive nature of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. We were also offered a welcome glass of champagne in Chartreuse.
Tip: Be sure to make reservations for specialty restaurants in advance. At Cruise Specialists, we send a reminder to our guests when they can book their dining.
This helps you avoid disappointment if the restaurant is completely booked by the time you get on board, and this way you also don’t have to waste time on board the ship making reservations.
Throughout the voyage, there were plenty of tasty treats available – I enjoyed breakfasts and lunches at La Veranda and the Pool Grill. A nice touch at La Veranda, which is the upscale version of the typical cruise line buffet, is that one may select a made-to-order omelette or Eggs Benedict, with sides, and rather than stand and wait for it, the wait staff will deliver it right to your table.
We also enjoyed an early morning light breakfast and specialty coffee drinks in The Café. Not having to hand over my key card (for charging the expenses to my onboard account) for any cuisine or drinks was a welcome luxury compared to cruise lines where you pay as you go. All-inclusive cruising is a definite luxury benefit.
2. Upgrades Everywhere
I was right about this, too!
Cruising aboard Seven Seas Explorer® feels like a high-end boutique hotel. The staircases, hallways and public spaces have exquisite décor, including attractive artwork and glittering chandeliers.
My suite, a Category D Concierge Suite, featured a marble and stone detailed bathroom with double-sink vanity, roomy shower with two types of shower heads, a separate tub, L’Occitane amenities and plenty of drawer space.
The sleeping area and sitting area were extremely comfortable and had a very luxurious feel, although nothing on the ship seemed gaudy to me.
China, glassware, fabrics and furniture in the restaurants was elegant and sparkling – you can tell incredible thought went into every detail of every space, right down to the tiny, delicate Paris-themed candle holders in Chartreuse, for example.
3. Enhanced service – crew that is attentive and discreet
At an industry event such as the one I was on, it is difficult to know if things are operating the exact way that they would on a sailing for other guests, but let’s assume all things remain equal. A few of the standout crew that I met included the Lead Butler, who is in charge of servicing the Regent Suite, and the wait staff who were circulating throughout the ship providing food and beverage service.
I never did see our suite attendants. I’m not sure if this is a strategy employed by Regent Seven Seas Cruises, but in general I do prefer to meet them on the first day to make a connection and also in case I have any questions about my suite or other accommodations.
4. I’ll run into the same people over and over
My previous experiences aboard ships have been with 2,000 or more other guests. The guest capacity aboard Seven Seas Explorer® is only 738. I thought this would mean that I would keep seeing the same people in all of the restaurants and lounges.
Actually, even with the ship sailing at capacity, the ship did not seem full. Compass Rose had quite a few empty tables when we dined there. The ship has enough restaurants and other public spaces that it gives people plenty of opportunities to spread out.
5. Larger spaces – stateroom, bathroom
Spot checking the size of veranda staterooms on a couple of premium cruise lines, I found them starting around 213-232 square feet, including balcony. The smallest suite on Seven Seas Explorer® is 307 square feet, including balcony.If you’re willing to go up to a Category D Concierge Suite from the Category H Veranda Suite, you’ll go from a total of 307 square feet to a generous 464 square feet. (The Concierge Suite itself is 332 square feet, plus an additional 83-132 square feet for the balcony!)Additionally, the closet space is far beyond what I have experienced on premium cruise lines. All suites have a walk-in closet with plenty of storage (hanging space, drawers, and a shelf for shoes). This is especially important for guests contemplating a longer voyage.
Side note: I loved that we had a full-length mirror in the closet plus another long mirror in the entry way, and a large mirror at the vanity.
As far as configuration, most of the beds I saw in my tour of suites (remember, this was an industry/educational voyage), faced the veranda, great for waking up and peering out on the horizon!
6. Will I fit in with the other passengers?
It was impossible to get a true sense of the ship’s demographics and the passengers’ general style and attitude, since I was participating in an industry event. But with the cuisine, entertainment, and lavish yet unpretentious surroundings, it’s hard to imagine that guests aboard this ship on any given cruise would be anything other than laid back and happy!
The intrinsic value of a luxury cruise is there is plenty of trained staff. So, not only is the often touted “crew to guest ratio” among the best in the industry, but you’re always assured a friendly smile and a can-do attitude. I am not a person who always feels comfortable asking for things, but this crew set me at ease and made me feel as though I deserved special treatment!
7. Smoother boarding and disembarkation, short lines, ultra-friendly service
This was true.
I did not see the embarkation area when the ship first opened up for boarding. But when I arrived at 2:00 pm, a couple of hours before final boarding, there were only two other guests in the check-in area. Therefore, I was directed right up to a check-in counter, received prompt and friendly service, and then strolled my way onto the ship.
The longest part was just walking the typical back-and-forth corridor that leads between the cruise terminal and the ship. I believe the entire boarding process, from the time I entered the cruise terminal until I stepped aboard and was greeted with a glass of welcome champagne, took just 13 minutes.
My colleagues who arrived at the ship earlier in the day, before it was ready to board, said they enjoyed cookies and a variety of sweets with coffee, water or tea while they waited for the ship to be prepared. Once they received approval to board, they whisked right through in a very organized fashion.
8. Spotless venues from bow to stern
It’s easy to tell that everyone working aboard the ship takes great pride in the look of the ship as well as the safety of every guest.
9. Lower-key entertainment options, more orchestral or jazz music, fewer high-energy Broadway-style productions
This was true, to a point.
My primary point of reference is larger ships, geared toward families and a slightly younger demographic. On those ships, the entertainment is a primary selling point.
On Regent Seven Seas Cruises, I would think of it as a bonus because the true stars are the accommodations, cuisine, enrichment and all-inclusive shore excursions.
That said, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ onboard entertainment is operated by their parent company, NCL Holdings, and with that recent change has come a re-vamped entertainment program, focused on stirring things up a bit.
On the first night we saw My Revolution, a high-energy 60s music review, which was touted by the Cruise Director as his favorite of all the production shows aboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises. It ran about 45 minutes and had a great mix of music and dance from the British Invasion through Woodstock and beyond. Brace yourself…it included a real show-stopping rendition of one of Joe Cocker’s hits.
I did not see the 2nd night show, which was a comedian. The other primary entertainment onboard was a three piece band that played both nights in the Explorer’s Lounge, which was a nice spacious area and seemed to be the prime gathering place for many guests each night prior to dinner.
All in all, my preconceived notions about sailing aboard a luxury ship were correct. And that, my friends, is a wonderful thing because I expected it to be one of the best cruise experiences! I hope you receive the chance to try Regent Seven Seas Cruises in the near future.
If you have any questions about Seven Seas Explorer®, and have not booked with Cruise Specialists before, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our Cruise Consultants who sailed on this preview cruise:
Contact Carol Terhune
Contact Diane Ritchie
Or, if you already have a Cruise Specialists Cruise Consultant, contact them today for more information!