T+L’s Take: Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Brand New Ship
Travel + Leisure was invited on board as a guest of the Seven Seas Explorer as it made its debut, sailing from Barcelona to Monte Carlo. If there were doubts that the ship would live up to the hype, they were dispelled during the course of the trip. From the caviar service at breakfast in the airy main dining room, Compass Rose, to our Concierge Suite’s spacious marble bathroom with both tub and shower, this was a ship had been laid out with comfort, elegance, and timeless design in mind. The balconies are some of the largest in the industry, averaging at 138 square feet. Unlike many a cruise ship balcony, these are truly spaces where you could kick back and relax with your feet up. The food was some of the best you can get on the high seas right now. Standouts include the Pan Asian dishes (think lobster tempura and Korean barbecue ribs) at Pacific Rim, a new dining concept for the brand, and the more traditional French fare (Emmental cheese soufflé; escargots) at Chartreuse, a polished, 21st-century take on the classic Parisian brasserie.
One could argue that luxury today means not being nickel-and-dimed. Who wants to spend their vacation signing for every little charge, like a bottle of Evian delivered to your cabin after you’ve had a long day at the beach, or a glass of wine by the pool? Regent goes above and beyond to provide their guests with inclusions, which makes for a seamless travel experience. When you book a Regent cruise, food, wine, spirits, gratuities, shore excursions, entertainment, Wi-Fi, and airfare are all included. In 2017, business class airfare will be included for U.S. passengers on long haul voyages (for now, it’s applicable for Penthouse Suites and above). In addition, passengers in Concierge Suites and above get one free night at a hotel in port with transfers, breakfast, and porterage.
For all the over-the-top amenities, these inclusions might be the Seven Seas Explorer’s biggest asset. Because when you eliminate the stress of adding up the cost of your meals, drinks, and activities on vacation, you truly start to relax. Here, our top takeaways and highlights from the ship.
Spacious, elegant, and well laid-out, the cabins, which all have balconies, are billed as suites, and range in size from a 307-square-foot Veranda Suite to the 4,443 square-foot two-bedroom Regent Suite. Some of our favorite touches: leather-paneled headboards, which add warmth to the room; bedside reading lights; marble bathrooms with in-laid stone; and drawers, drawers, drawers. Clearly, the designers had couples in mind, as there’s space enough for two people to unpack and store everything from evening bags to bathing suits.
Three firms—Tillberg, CallisonRTKL, and Icrave—were tasked with bringing the Seven Seas Explorer to life. In many ways, the ship echoes the grand ocean liners of the 20’s and 30’s, with its impressive chandeliers (473, to be exact) and Art Nouveau-inspired restaurant, Chartreuse, which has gold-leaf wallpaper studded with crystal beads. But the Seven Seas Explorer, at its core, feels very modern and fresh. For example, on the pool deck, you’ll find a patterned, metal-cut out ceiling, and voile curtains for privacy. At the entrance to Pacific Rim restaurant sits a massive bronze sculpture that is modeled after a Tibetan prayer wheel. And in the Compass Rose dining room, some columns are covered beautifully in mother pearl—a nod to the sea.
The Regent Suite
At 4,443-square-feet, this two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath suite feels like a grand apartment on New York’s Fifth Avenue—only here, you have the added bonus of your balcony view changing with each and every port, and a private car and driver to meet you in said port and whisk you off for a day of sightseeing. In the living room sits a custom Steinway piano by Dakota Jackson. The master bedroom has a $90,000 Savoir mattress. But one of the craziest perks is of staying in this $10,000 per night suite is the fact that you get your own personal spa, complete with unlimited Canyon Ranch SpaClub treatments.
The pool deck is one of the most spacious and inviting spaces we’ve seen on a luxury cruise ship. There are cool circular pods, where you can curl up with a book, and voile curtains that you can put down for privacy. Staff was attentive and helpful; one waiter even offered to clean our sunglasses. The poolside restaurant had an excellent buffet at lunch, and offered dishes that corresponded to that day’s port of call. For example, when we were docked in the south of France, the set up included bouillabaisse and salade niçoise.
Regent’s Canyon Ranch SpaClub features eight treatment rooms, a lovely outdoor pool, a salon, and separate relaxation areas and saunas for men and women. Some treatments, done in partnership with beauty brand Red Flower, are exclusive to ship. For example, the Indian Ocean detox ritual begins with a scrub of coffee, olive stones and fresh lemons, followed by a rich rhassoul clay body wrap to speed the removal of toxins. The treatment ends with a Turkish massage and an application of shea butter and fig cream.
The Fine Dining Restaurants
Foodies will not be disappointed on this ship. The restaurants are sophisticated; the food is excellent; and what’s more, you are not charged extra to dine in any location. In fact, you’re guaranteed to dine at each restaurant one time during a sailing, so you don’t have to stress about missing out. Prime 7, designed by Icrave, is more polished take on your traditional steakhouse. You can order massive cuts of rib eye, prime rib, or a whole Maine lobster—with truffle fries on the side—and sit in a velvet banquette surrounded by beautiful art. Compass Rose, the main dining room on deck four, is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One of the most decadent experiences there: a champagne lunch highlighting Spanish specialties, including endless slices of Jamón ibérico and hunks of manchego. A waiter explained that a buffet like this would typically be held on one of the at sea days during a cruise.
The Culinary Arts Kitchen
You don’t want to miss a cooking class and demo at the Culinary Arts Kitchen, which is run by Chef Kathryn Kelly. Regent’s sister brand, Oceania, is famous for its culinary centers, but this is the first one a Regent ship, and it is a stunning space, with floor-to-ceiling windows backing each of the cooking stations. During our hour-long course, we were able to make practical, delicious dishes such as a drunken limoncello cake, Asian Rumaki, and French mustard vinaigrette with greens—all recipes you could easily do at home.
If you are someone who likes to do shore excursions, then Regent will be a great choice in terms of value: most excursions are included within the price of your cruise fare. When we stopped in Sardinia, passengers had the option of doing a wine tasting, a bus tour to the famed Costa Smeralda, or a bus tour and ferry ride to Maddalena Island, at no additional cost. What promises to be a very special experience, however, are the Gourmet Explorer Tours—exclusive excursions that show off a destination’s culinary side. For $299 per person in Barcelona, you’ll wander the famous Boqueria and Santa Caterina markets; sample olive oil during a tasting; and then enjoy lunch at the two-Michelin star restaurant ABaC and go behind-the-scenes of chef Jordi Cruz’s kitchen on a tour.