The company has perfected the art of the luxury cruise.
“What is the point of getting off the ship?” I queried some new friends onboard the Regent Seven Seas Explorer as we faced yet another blistering summer day of near 100-degree weather in Spain. We looked at each other while standing inside the perfectly cool temperatures, with endlessly delightful cocktails at our every beck-and-call, a rooftop pool providing impeccable views of a Spanish port and enough delectable treats to gain two pounds a day. “Because we’re in Barcelona. We should.” I contemplated this “should” against the melty heat and decided to explore for two hours before coming back on board.
I just wanted to be on board the Regent Seven Seas Explorer all the time.
Ultimately, it is no ironic feat to find a travel writer wanting to spend the majority of their days-and-nights ensconced in the lap of luxury, but Regent Seven Seas Explorer has heightened the definition of luxury with their premiere vessel the Explorer, the older sister of the brand new Voyager. The all-inclusive experience (food, beverage, excursions, wi-fi and even free business class air on intercontinental flights) will make a believer out of even the most skeptical cruising novice and with numerous destinations throughout the world there are plenty of options for destinations as well.
As someone who very much enjoys cruising, it is interesting to me that some find cruise ships claustrophobic and boring. “I would never be able to be on a ship for eight straight days” is what I repeatedly heard before I boarded the Regent Seven Seas Explorer. Naturally, I also had trepidations; however, none were based upon claustrophobia. My two previous ocean cruises – Seabourn and Windstar – were fantastic and nearly impeccable. I raved for years and years about the Seabourn Quest’s journey to Antarctica and Patagonia, mostly because I wanted to sound cool about having been to the Last Great Continent. Windstar, a cruise I did just this past May, also was memorable in so many ways. I feared Regent Seven Seas Explorer would not be as great, thus perhaps making me wary of marring my previous thoughts.
Still whatever fears I may have had, I couldn’t pass up my first chance to really explore the Iberian Peninsula on-board Regent. Actually this kind of itinerary, where a guest can move from Portugal through five cities in Spain, over to France and Monte Carlo, before ending in Italy, is exactly the reason why cruising has increased nearly 30-40% in recent years. There is something truly effortless about only having to unpack your suitcase once while traveling through eight different cities.
The moment I stepped on board I realized the Regent Seven Seas experience would be an altogether different experience. Unlike my two previous vessels, the Regent Seven Seas experience is more closely categorized by mid-sized luxury: nearly 700 guests can come on board the twelve service levels. I had never been on a cruise ship that large and was surprised by how vast the space was yet not so large as to forgo the intimacy of getting to know the people you are traveling with.
Onboarding is made easy by the gracious staff and I immediately went up to the Pool Deck where the majority of guests seemed to spend their time during the entire cruise. The Pool Deck is the anchor of the Mediterranean cruise for both its proximity to the Pool Bar, as well as to the outdoor Pool Grill which made one of the best bacon cheeseburgers I have ever had. If I hadn’t walked 6-10 miles every single day, I know I would have become seriously gargantuan.
Regent Seven Seas encourages their guests to eat and drink to their heart’s content yet while these items may be free they do not scrimp on flavor. Dining was consistently masterful, encompassing casual plates such as the aforementioned Pool Grill as well as the super popular Italian La Veranda with its pitch-perfect pasta. More formal options include Chartreuse, the French restaurant, and Prime 7, the immensely flavorful onboard steakhouse. This classic steakhouse restaurant is handsomely decorated in a sexy, moody interior of dark woods and super comfortable, velvet chairs. Every piece of meat presented was magnificently cooked with the sides as scrumptious as the main course, but it was the Caramel Popcorn Sundae which really astonished my tastebuds. The alternating textures of smooth and crunchy, sweet and salty, and with the JUST right amount of chocolate fudge drizzled on top meant I left overly stuffed … yet supremely happy!
Also onboard were a sprawling spa, outdoor games, fitness center, live entertainment and shopping from several boutiques. Still, the majority of guests, despite these lovely inducements to spend time in the communal space instead spent time in their personal quarters, myself included. Each of the rooms have their own balconies so you can relax while watching the ocean pass by. Add to this the fast room service plus adult beverages delivered directly to your room, and it’s easy to see why Regent Seven Seas Explorer guests are happy to hunker down.
I personally grew so enamored with the massively plush king bed, I actually emailed the cruise line to see how I could purchase the bed. Signature Italian mattresses and bedding create the divine experience – “DEE-VINE!” I just have never slept better, particularly with the soothing lulling motion of the cruise ship.
My overall experience was one of supreme comfort, and before I left the cruise ship I actually inquired about how I could get myself on board again in 2018. I suppose this is the highest compliment one can give any airplane, hotel, spa, restaurant or anything else travel related: if the travel writer wants to come back again ASAP!