When the world’s first all-suite, all-balcony ship was launched in 2001 it was a masterpiece. Seven Seas Mariner immediately became the darling of cruise mavens who revelled in being wrapped in a silken sheath of indulgence. An extensive makeover in 2018 will raise the bar even further and give the ship a more relaxed vibe. From bow to stern, the design concept is the embodiment of restrained sophistication, one that’s in tune with the elegant-casual dress code. Accommodating just 700 passengers, the 440 crew ensure a polished, personal service.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises appreciates its passengers enjoy an all-inclusive concept of connoisseur cruising. Rarely do various elements of a cruise coalesce to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, but when unlimited shore excursions in every port, fine wines and premium spirits, pre-paid gratuities, not to mention flights and pre-cruise luxury hotel packages (for Concierge Suites or higher) are all included, the perfect cruise is no longer fanciful hype. Add to this a healthy dose of decadence and impeccable hospitality, and the Regent experience reigns supreme in the ultra-deluxe cruising stakes.
Where to eat
Regent Seven Seas’ cruise ships are renowned for their variety and excellence when it comes to gourmet dining. In the club-like ambiance of leather wing-back chairs, burnished woods and rich earth-toned fabrics that feature in Prime 7, guests can savour USDA Prime and Dry-Aged steaks; while in the more casual setting of Sette Mari in La Veranda authentic antipasti and Italian specialties served á la carte are paired with fine Italian wines.
Making its debut in April, the fine-dining halcyon that is Chartreuse is a celebration of French gastronomy. Evoking the ambiance of a chic Parisien restaurant with a diffused glow from decorative lanterns, the metal latticework screens that separate the tables are illuminated by a crystal chandelier. Specialities include steak tartare, lobster with scallop mouselline and roasted rack of lamb.
With its unimpeded sea views the Compass Rose Restaurant boasts a relaxed, open-seating policy and the obliging maître d’ seats guests at a table of their choice, at a time of their preference. The comprehensive menu specialises in regional cuisine and the chefs are only too happy to accommodate any dietary requirements. As in the speciality restaurants, all fine wines are included. Also offered is 24-hour room service which is delivered course by course just as in the restaurant. The Pool Grill is great for burgers and hot-dogs; afternoon tea is served in the Horizon Lounge.
Where to sleep
The all-suite accommodations, each with a private balcony, are frequently voted ‘Best at Sea’ by prestigious travel publications. While the palatial Master, Grand, Mariner, Seven Seas, Horizon and Penthouse Suites offer the last word in stylish living, the 301 square-feet Concierge and Deluxe Suites have exclusive Regent Elite Slumber Beds with fine linens; a separate sitting/dining area with complimentary personalised bar, walk-in wardrobe and marble bathroom.
A butler service is offered in Penthouse Suites and higher, where the personal space goes up to an impressive 2,002 sq ft in the Master Suites. In-suite mini-bars are replenished daily and there is an interactive flat-screen television with an extensive media library and complimentary movies on-demand. There is also complimentary unlimited WiFi.
What to do
The Constellation Theatre stages a variety of entertainment such as full-scale musical revues from the renowned Jean Ann Ryan Production Company. Strictly Come Dancing aficionados can head to the Horizon Lounge to enjoy the rhythms of the nine-piece Regent Signature Orchestra. This is also the venue for cabaret-style shows with well-known entertainers. Close to the entrance to the Compass Rose Restaurant is the Mariner Lounge which is popular for cocktails. A favourite hangout for nightcaps is the tranquil Observation Lounge on Deck 12. In Stars nightclub guests can strut their stuff or share their vocal talents at Karaoke. There is also a casino offering slot-machines as well as blackjack, poker and roulette tables. With its comfortable leather armchairs, the Connoisseur Club is a retreat where guests can order a rare cognac or port and smoke a cohiba or montecristo.
Day-time diversions include presentations from world-renowned guest lecturers and culinary demonstrations. There are several boutiques selling high-end merchandise as well as Club.com for any pressing business needs that need attending to with printers and desktop computers.
In the Canyon Ranch Spa guests can pamper themselves with an array of treatments including massages and therapeutic bodywork, aromatherapy, ayurvedic and seaweed treatments as well as facials. There is also a salon for hair-styling, manicures and pedicures. In the Fitness Centre experts lead popular exercise classes, such as Pilates, yoga and aerobics. On deck there are golf cages, shuffleboard, paddle tennis and a full-circle jogging track. A swimming pool is located on Deck 11 and is flanked by three hot tubs.
What I loved
The Observation Lounge, with a pianist who knows how to tinkle the ivories, is one of the most serene rooms afloat. I am also not a fan of gala deck buffets, but on Mariner the crew go out of their way to create a cornucopia the like of which I’ve never seen.
If you fancy something special for dinner let the maitre d’ in the Compass Rose Restaurant know a day in advance and the chef will go shopping for it and prepare it to perfection. You can even bring favourite recipes from home for the chefs to create.