Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer was billed as the most luxurious ship in the world, even before it conquered the seven seas in July 2016. Our college Alastair was lucky enough to be invited onboard the Seven Seas Explorer as it travelled on its journey from Barcelona to Lisbon. Will the most expensive new-built ship keep up with expectations? Find out below!
I was lucky enough to be invited to be amongst the first passengers to sail on Regent Seven Seas newest ship the Explorer. Billed as the “Most Luxurious Ship at Sea” I was keen to see what this level of luxury could be like! This is the account of my experience.
Cruisers used to larger ships will immediately be impressed by the lack of queuing to check-in and board the ship in port. From taxi to our suite took 10 minutes. Granted only 100 people were boarding at Barcelona, midway through the normal cruise itinerary, however I’m pretty sure there is always be enough staff to make sure the boarding experience is effortless. As soon as you board the ship in its stunning main atrium you are impressed by the opulence of the luxury. A huge crystal chandelier greets you in an atrium with luxurious leather armchairs and heavy fine wood tables. A glass of (French) champagne is offered as soon as you enter the atrium and it’s a nice opportunity to relax and get your bearings.
We were met with a bottle of champagne on ice along with fresh fruit and flowers. The suite was a grade up from entry level and offered noticeably more space both in the suite and on the balcony! The large king-sized bed is separated from a generous living area with comfortable lounge and coffee table. Additionally to the bathroom with separate bath and shower, twin sinks and a full range of L’Occitane toiletries the thick bath towels, robes and slippers complete the 5-star hotel experience. The spacious veranda was furnished with large and comfortable wicker reclining chairs and large table. A private enclave where we enjoyed sunset drinks and breakfast on several occasions.
Our stewardess came to introduce herself promptly after our arrival and discreetly looked after our every need from that moment.
Key Point: all Suites have a private balcony – there are no inside or outside cabins on this ship.
OVERVIEW OF THE SHIP
As is our tradition as soon as we were settled in the cabin we set off to explore the ship. As promised by the advertising, the interiors of the ship are simply stunning. With design features and fittings that are ahead of anything I have seen at sea. It is obvious that no expense has been spared in creating an interior in line with the best hotels, private yachts or private residences in the world.
DINING & SERVICE
Regent Seven Seas is billed as the most inclusive cruise line at sea where practically everything is included in the price of your ticket, e.g: All wines, beers, quality spirits, specialty coffees, soft drinks and of course French Champagne, specialty dinning, shore excursions, even WI-FI and gratuities.
Also the crew on Explorer did not disappoint. There are 1.3 passengers to every crew member – one of the highest at sea and this is very obvious in the ease at which everything is done. Only in its 4th week of service the crew were still getting used to things but they were unfailingly willing to please and nothing was too much trouble. At no time did you have to wait to order a drink whether you were in a bar or the pool deck where deck stewards roamed continuously never letting your glass go empty. Regardless of how busy the restaurant was – and the specialty restaurants are full every evening – there was never a wait to order or receive the next course of your meal.
A lot of emphasis is placed on fine dining on Explorer with more dining options than on any other Regent ship.
On our first evening out of Barcelona the weather was perfect to enjoy dinner on the deck. The buffet restaurant called La Veranda converts part of the outdoor area covering the stern of the ship into a stylish Italian restaurant serving beautiful pastas, salads and Italian favourites. Like many Italian restaurants you can pick your own anti-pasta and desert from a buffet, however the waiters are happy to serve you if you prefer to relax and watch the sun set over the wake as we did!
Featured in port once every cruise, we enjoyed the experience of the Pool Side BBQ on a lovely summers night in Ibiza. All of the speciality restaurants are closed for the night and the ships staff concentrate on setting a stunning buffet with both decks around the pool laid up with fully set tables. The ship’s band kicked off the evening with an excellent jazz concert which was followed by dance music and then a display of modern Flamenco by a local troupe. A very memorable evening.
Also one tradition you need to experience at least once on your cruise is the Afternoon Tea. Served in the Observation Lounge at the front of the ship on deck 11. You sit at tables laid with fine linen and tableware while trolleys of sandwiches, cakes and of course scones are wheeled to your side. All this is accompanied by live music from one of the several musicians on board. Halfway through the experience the daily trivia competition kicks in which turns out to be a very popular and fun tradition!
THE OTHER GUESTS
So what type of fellow passenger can you expect on this type of cruise line? Well as to be expected at an average $1,000 a night, your fellow travellers are used to the best and happy to pay for it. Although mostly well to do and well-travelled Americans on our cruise there was a good range of Brits, Europeans, Chinese, Japanese and Australians. You could be forgiven for being concerned about sailing with a snobbish group of wealthy passengers but this could not be further from the truth. People were invariably friendly and happy to chat in what is a very sociable environment. Given it was European school holidays there were several families and multi-generational groups on board. And whilst there are no children’s facilities, the children were obviously quite comfortable in these surroundings.
Over half of the passengers on the ship were repeat customers with Regent which is testament to the quality of the experience. A number were enjoying the new ship so much they were keen to extend and book onto the next cruise – unfortunately the ship was full!
I have cruised on over 30 of ships in practically every grade of cabin including suites and other 5-star lines. I can certainly say Explorer is the most luxuriously appointed ship I have sailed on and when combined with Michelin standard dining and 6-star service this is an extremely indulgent way to cruise. Fares on Explorer are not cheap, but when you factor in all of the inclusions and then compare it with a 5-star hotel on land – this it is an exceptionally good value experience. The fact that the ship is full until next year, including the $10,000 a night Regent Suite which is full for a year ahead, is testament to the value this ship offers. Requests for service are met promptly, nothing is ever too much trouble and there is always a bottle of champagne open at any time of the day and night – one of the things that I think set the tone for one of the most luxurious experiences at sea!