Rebecca Barnes is wowed on board Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ new vessel, one of the world’s most luxurious ships
You know you’re in ultra-luxury territory when your butler, with a look of indignance on his masked face, swiftly talks you out of ordering ‘just’ half a bottle of champagne for the mini bar in your incredible Studio Dado-designed suite.
“Why only half? I’ll be bringing you a full bottle – is Monopole Heidseick OK?” confirms the efficient Amay.
His retort is friendly but firm, and there is to be no further discussion. As Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Splendor confidently states in its marketing jargon, if this is what #luxuryperfected looks like, I’d be quite happy to take a magnum.
Although, to be frank, I’d expect nothing less from the owners of the spendiest suite on the ocean, the line boasting priceless artworks at every turn, and which sold out its 2023 world cruise in just under 24 hours.
Seven Seas Splendor is light, airy and spacious – even the ceilings appear higher than normal. And it seems that space is what Regent’s customers are clamouring for, leaving the line perfectly placed to move forward and out of the pandemic that has ruled our lives for more than 18 months.
“Luxury cruising is booming,” Graham Sadler, senior vice president and managing director, EMEA, tells me. “Regent is designed for this situation as we sell space – our customers have always wanted space, but are no longer compromising. They have the cash reserves to prioritise travel and won’t let anything get in their way.”
While Covid protocols are as strict as they can possibly be, with masks required in all public spaces with the exception of the pool or when eating and drinking, life on this four-night preview cruise is pretty laid-back.
Guests – mainly travel professionals and media, but also around 30 specially invited top tier Regent customers from the US – typically enjoy a leisurely breakfast in La Veranda (now a served buffet) and lunch alfresco at the Pool Grill.
Dinner is taken in the main dining room Compass Rose, La Veranda or the Italian Sette Mari, or one of the three ‘specialty’ dining venues spanning Asian, French, and New York steakhouse (all dining is included, but these restaurants must be pre-booked).
These spaces each have their own style and ambience, like dining at a top-end restaurant as opposed to on a cruise ship. My favourite, Pacific Rim, wows from start to finish, from the oversized dragon sculpture at the entrance to the efficient but not overbearing service, and, of course, the menu featuring dishes such as miso black cod and Korean barbecue lamb chops.
Our cruise stops at Portland and Falmouth, with guests given the choice of a shore excursion or the opportunity to explore independently – a revelation, and possibly one of the first cruise lines sailing in UK shores to offer this since the start of the Covid outbreak last year.
The spa and wellness facilities are also top notch; there are two gyms at the aft with excellent ocean views, plus a stunning spa with a comprehensive (and rather pricey) treatment menu. Naturally, the sauna, cold room and steam room are free for guests to use.
Once you’ve detoxed, it’s not hard to retox when the bars are so enticing. With a number of comfortable nooks in which to hole up, the Observation Lounge is as chilled after dark as it is in the day, with a pianist tinkling the ivories while you sip an expertly mixed cocktail.
For something a little livelier, the Splendor and Meridian Lounges are set up to keep night owls entertained. Note that the line’s definition of lively isn’t champagne sprays and pumping beats all night long, but more typically an in-house band with perhaps some dancing, until it’s time to retire to possibly the best beds at sea.
While Seven Seas Splendor will always be a front runner when it comes to looks, this cruise is, after all, to test the water and celebrate Regent’s return to the ocean post-pandemic.
“Are we ready?” enquires cruise director John Barron to the theatre audience on the last evening. With a resounding “yes!” echoing around the room, it’s clear that the line’s luxury offering is still perfectly on point.