Misunderstood: What I Found Regent Seven Seas Get Right (And Wrong)
Misunderstood: What I Found Regent Seven Seas Get Right (And Wrong)
I was having a great time on my recent Regent Seven Seas cruise before I started speaking to fellow guests. Some first-timers as well as long-time regulars raised issues which made me wonder if I was being too forgiving. After all, the trip had cost me a lot of money and it is worth being picky!
So, after digesting it all and taking on board their thoughts, here’s what I believe the line does well, differently, and what doesn’t work for everyone – and why.
Who Are Regent Seven Seas?
A quick recap of what Regent is. It’s part of the Norwegian Cruise Group, calling itself the most luxurious journey at sea. It competes with ultra-luxury lines like Seabourn, Silversea, and now Explora Journey’s and the revamped Crystal.
They say in their advertising they have the most fare inclusions of all the ultra-luxury lines. I will keep coming back to this, as it’s both a plus and a negative.
What Does Regent Seven Seas Do Well?
Everyone I spoke to agreed with me that they have beautiful ships. They have six ships. Three are the same design, Explorer (that I was on), Splendor, and Grandeur, each carrying 746 passengers. The Mariner and Voyager are another design carrying 698, and the Navigator I have been on taking 496.
The ships feel spacious for relatively small ships. They never seem crowded. Inside, I think it looks stylish, sophisticated, and the furniture is all very plush. It all is and looks expensive, including the artwork which includes works by famous artists like Picasso.
It’s probably not as contemporary décor as the newer Seabourn and Silversea ships. But I like the style.
I also like the range of venues and facilities on these relatively small ships. On Deck 12, there is a sports deck, with crazy golf, paddle court, deck games, and walking and running track.
On Deck 11, there’s a pool deck, massive Observation Lounge, Library, Connoisseur Club Cigar lounge, Card Room, and Culinary Arts Cooking Centre.
Deck 5 offers a spa with a big fitness centre, above it on Deck 6, an infinity pool, Coffee Connection open most of the day with snacks, Meridian Lounge, which is a bar at night and serves afternoon tea in the afternoon, which is absolutely one of the best at sea. Guest and Destination Services, Future Cruise Sales, Internet Café, and Dining Reservations are here too.
On Deck 4, there’s a surprisingly large casino, and a swanky bar with dance floor, and shops.
There are 15 grades of suites, which are a good size for a small ship. For example, I was in an F2 Superior Suite (803) which is in the lower third of the grades. It was comfy, spacious, had a great bathroom, and good-sized balcony.
I think the ships are great. But you’ve noticed, I’m sure, I didn’t mention dining venues and dining. And that is the second thing I think they do well. Though, I don’t think they beat the competition and do have some issues.
There are seven dining options on all but Navigator.
Compass Rose is the main dining room, open for breakfast and dinner. It’s got a big menu, with standards, and daily rotating items. I saw firsthand, through dining with some of my YouTube channel members, they cater for vegetarian and vegan passengers well by working with guests on the menus each day.
Dinner got busy at peak time and service could be a little bit slow. The good thing is its open seat dining, and I could get whatever table configuration I wanted, be it dining alone or with other guests I met.
There are three speciality restaurants included in the fare. But I had to make bookings for these, and that was only possible once on board annoyingly. I could eat in each only once and check in during the cruise if space to go again. High grade suite guests could go as often as they want.
Here’s what I thought was good and less good about them.
Good And Bad
Prime 7 is the steakhouse. This is a beautiful venue but pretty much every line at sea has one, and I think it’s hard to stand out. I found it perfectly okay. Others I spoke to were less enthusiastic about the steak quality, and regulars felt the menu in here (and other restaurants) has not evolved for ages, including the tasty smoky tomato soup amuse bouche that has been around forever it seems.
Pacific Rim was my favourite speciality venue. Amazing range of Asian food, and wow-factor looking venue. I had good service as I dined early. Although again, others say they had a slow experience at peak times.
Chartreuse serves modern French cuisine. Again, another striking venue, and even as a not big fan of French food, I enjoyed this a lot.
They have another evening restaurant, which is called Sette Mari at La Veranda.
La Veranda is the good buffet restaurant at breakfast and lunch, and at night it becomes a waiter-served Italian. It’s got great food.
But it gets crazy busy and is hard to get into as there are no reservations. Like on my last cruise, people lined up for the 6:30pm opening to get a table. So it kind of takes the edge off the luxury, because it’s a bit of a bun fight to get in it.
There’s the Pool Grill with a healthy breakfast option and during lunch, serves pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, and salads. They weren’t open for dinner.
And this is one of my misses. There is no casual dining option in the evening, as the only other option to having a sit down served meal was in-suite dining.
I’d love the option of just having something casual some nights. Particularly, on this 11-night cruise, I didn’t want big drawn-out meals every day.
So, they do food well, and is on par at least with the ultra-luxury competition at. Food was though better than on say “premium” lines like Holland America, Princess, and Celebrity. Though their sister like Oceania, also owned by Norwegian, probably gives them a run for their money too!
I think the other thing that they do well is service. Of course, all luxury lines, have great service.
I must factor in that some crew recognise, or know me, from my YouTube channel, but everyone I spoke to agreed that crew are very friendly and take time to chat and get to know you. The approach is efficient but lighthearted, and personal.
I won’t spend more talking about this as I think good service is a given at this level of cruising. So, let me shift now onto what I think they do that is unique and different.
What Does Regent Seven Seas Do Differently?
When I look at their brochures and website, they talk a lot about Regent Seven Seas having the most inclusions within the fare. Although true versus other luxury lines, Silversea is shifting closer to them.
However, I also think they are potentially creating a rod for their own back as you will hear.
What’s included in a Regent Seven Seas fare? Economy Flights and transfers, although Penthouse and above get business class flights. Concierge and higher grades, get a pre-cruise hotel stay.
Everyone gets Unlimited shore excursions, drinks, Gratuities, speciality restaurants, laundry, and unlimited Wi-Fi.
But, in some of these inclusions, I found issues.
First when it comes to the included transfer and hotels stays. Both before my Caribbean and Japan cruises, neither felt that luxurious, with a disconnect between the luxuriousness of the ship and the land experience.
It was the usual look for the cruise line sign, wait and get on a bus to the hotel, and the hotels were standard chain conference and package holiday type. In Japan it was Hilton Tokyo, in a standard room.
In terms of the Unlimited Shore Excursions, some had issues here.
Unlimited Shore Excursions
They are released about a year before the cruise at a certain time of day, and people swoop in and pick all the best ones.
For example, for my Tokyo trip, they were released UK time after midnight. So, I logged in at 6am when I woke up to find some included exclusions that I really wanted to do were already wait-listed.
Silversea give access to included excursions when you book a cruise, so reward early bookers more.
Some of the better and more interesting excursions with more costly elements have charges. So, for the Tokyo trip, I paid a total of $400 for excursions in three of the ports like a visit to a mountain top shrine that required a cable car ride, a visit to some Caves in Kochi, and a more in-depth tour of Kyoto.
More Panoramic – Less Immersive
The included tours, although there is a decent number of choices per port, seem to be more walking and panoramic tours with some but not all entry fees covered. For example, access was covered into the Kyoto Nijo Palace grounds but not to tour the actual palace.
I saw a lot of no-shows after a long day like after Kyoto or people in the morning handing back tickets. But by then Regent have committed to the guides, busses etc., so all this kind of cost is already included. So there appears to be a lot of wastage, which I wonder if affects what they can offer.
The excursion process could probably be made a bit more luxury feeling. We had to meet in the theatre to get a tour bus number like on resort and premium lines. Some luxury lines like Silversea allocate your tour as you leave the ship which feels classier, I think. Maybe I am over thinking that, but small things that are less like big ship lines I think could add.
Overall, I hope I don’t want to appear too negative as I did enjoy the included excursions and amount of choice. But some issues.
Included Drinks & Wi-Fi
As I don’t drink alcohol, I asked people on board about the included wine, drinks, and cocktail lists, and it seems overall agreement it’s a long, good and generous one.
What I loved, which does show luxury, is that it did have all the quirky drinks. Like caffeine-free diet Coke and Caffeine-free regular Coke, No Sugar Ginger Ale, and others I normally cannot get on other lines.
I had to pay to upgrade to streaming Wi-Fi as only basic was included. Even that was so-so, but as Starlink rolls across the fleet everyone will get fast Wi-Fi included.
I could get as much laundry done as I wanted, and it would come back the same day. Loved this. There were also very busy guest laundry rooms on all decks, as apparently people did not trust sending fancy or delicate clothes to the laundry!
Difference To Other Ultra-Luxury Lines
I’m often asked how Regent differs from the other ultra-luxury lines. There is a lot that is similar as I have mentioned. But some headline differences are as follows.
Unlike Seabourn and Silversea they don’t do expedition cruising.
Seabourn has more celebrity partnerships. They have or have had on board celebrity partnerships with Thomas Keller in dining, Sir Tim Rice for Entertainment, Dr. Andrew Weil in Wellness, Molton Brown in toiletries and Helly Hansen for expedition clothing. And they have a more focused enrichment program, with their Conversations series.
Silversea has a more European feel and approach, and butlers for all suites. They focus on their S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) gourmet progam which influences the menus, onboard events, and excursions. And they are very destination immersion focused, and from what I have seen based on my upcoming South Africa trip seem to have fewer options, but more premium excursions included within the fare.
The daily programs across all are similar with the usual trivia, deck games and themed song and dance shows. I do think lack of region history and cultural enrichment talks and no port talks was a miss on both my cruises.
Worth The Cost?
Regent costs less than I think many appreciate, though of course it is way out of most people’s budget. I want on this cruise a few weeks after my Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas where I had booked a suite on there to test that out.
The cost per day, once I added in all the add-ons like Wi-Fi, speciality dining, excursions, drinks, gratuities and transfers it cost me the same as my Regent trip.
But of course, it was a very different experience. There I was paying for big high scale theatre and water shows and wide range of facilities with the suite areas way to escape the crowds and noise. On Regent it was for a smaller, sophisticated, more reserved, and personalised service and quality of food. They do that well.
So, when people ask me if I think it’s worth the money, I say it’s all about what is important to them. For me, I would much rather pay that for this experience, but I met people on the trip who missed the big shows, bustle, and choice of big resort ships.
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