Regent Seven Seas Cruises, one of the top luxury lines, splashed out for its first new ship in 13 years. The “most luxurious ship ever built” is how the line touts its all-balcony-suite Seven Seas Explorer, inaugurated in July in Monte Carlo.
As we saw firsthand during a Mediterranean cruise, Seven Seas Explorer has grand entryways, lots of gold leaf, inlaid marble floors, intricately detailed ceilings, and enough hand-blown crystal chandeliers to rival Versailles. The accommodations feature large private balconies, oversized marble bathrooms, and ample walk-in closets.
Seven Seas Explorer’s $10,000-a-night Regent Suite is literally the top address. Deck 14 was added to make room for this 2,917-square-foot apartment with its 958-square-foot wrap-around balcony that has an even loftier view than the captain’s on the bridge below. It also sports its own spa. And, speaking of spas, Seven Seas Explorer’s pampering haven is run by Canyon Ranch. Before or after treatments, spa-goers can luxuriate in a secluded outdoor infinity pool.
Seven Seas Explorer is finished with almost an acre of marble, half of it from Carrara, Italy, and nearly an acre of granite. There are 473 crystal chandeliers (158 in public spaces), custom Versace and Bernardaud china, and artworks by Picasso, Chagall, Miró, Weidemann, and Arranz Bravo.
No wonder Regent CEO Frank Del Rio dubs Seven Seas Explorer a “trophy ship.”
But passengers don’t have to get their diamonds and furs out of the vault to take a cruise. Seven Seas Explorer actually has a relaxed, country-club style ambiance. The standard evening dress code is elegant casual—no ties required, and sport jackets are optional. Del Rio says his customers are “not showy [but] . . . low-key, nice people . . . like ‘the millionaire next door.’”
Of all the luxury lines, Regent’s fares may be the steepest because they include more than others. Many Regent cruises are packaged with airfare and a pre-cruise hotel night. All include an excursion in every port, fine wines, premium spirits, gratuities, and Wi-Fi. You’ll pay extra for spa treatments and laundry—unless you want to wash your own clothes in one of the self-service launderettes—but not much more.
Seven Seas Explorer carries 750 passengers, served by a whopping 552 crew. That means passengers hardly lift a finger for anything.
Walk into even the most laid-back dining spot, the pool grill, and a waiter glides you to a table set with crisp linen napkins. There’s no standing by the hot grill, plate in hand. The waiter takes your order from a printed menu, and even a simple veggie burger is elevated with finesse, the condiments in a silver and porcelain dish, the french fries in a flute. Before you know it, you’re washing down that burger with chilled rosé then ordering homemade gelato.
Should you call room service, there’s no extra charge, and en suite meals are served course by course. There’s no charge for dining at any of the five gourmet restaurants either. At the main one, Compass Rose, a noontime seafood buffet one day featured a tub of help-yourself Osetra caviar with homemade blinis and all the trimmings, oysters on the half shell, a mountain of king crab legs, and trays of jewel-colored sashimi. Lobster and foie gras are always available.
The steak house, Prime 7, serves USDA prime meats, with choices like filet mignon, an 18-ounce Porterhouse, prime rib, and a whole Maine lobster. Chartreuse, the French restaurant, offers hand-cut Charolais beef tenderloin tartare topped with caviar, Brittany blue lobster, rack of lamb, and duck magret. And Pacific Rim’s menu includes gigantic pink tiger prawns, lobster tempura, and Korean-style barbecue lamb chops. La Veranda, with indoor/outdoor seating, transforms from a buffet by day into Sette Mari, with candlelit tables and an Italian dinner menu.
In a christening fitting for such a ship, Princess Charlene of Monaco served as the godmother at festivities in Monte Carlo, highlighted by an Andrea Bocelli concert. Charlene arrived on the arm of Prince Albert II and snipped a red velvet ribbon that swung a massive Primat of Veuve Clicquot champagne, a bottle that holds the equivalent of 36 regular bottles, against the hull.
Anne Kalosh doesn't count the cruises she's taken, though there have been hundreds—including five years as a shipboard newspaper editor, sailing the world. She loves the experiences sea travel offers. Her byline has appeared in many major publications, and she's on top of the latest cruise developments as the long-time U.S. editor for Seatrade-Cruise.com and Seatrade Cruise Review.