The 1992 marriage of Regent Seven Seas Cruises is a kind of fairytale wedding
for cruise aficionados who remember such classic ships as Radisson Diamond, with
her distinctive twin hull, and Seven Sea's Song of Flower. In fact, Song of
Flower was as popular in her day as any ship can be, and when the people who
knew her talk about her you are sure to see glistening in their eyes. Sadly, she
was recently retired - a little too old for today's market that insists upon
multiple dining venues and a balcony every cruise.
The then-named Radisson Seven Seas Cruises created a hybrid
line with five ships much beloved of well-heeled cruisers with a taste for
exotic ports. Today, newly re-christened as Regent Seven Seas Cruises, (handy,
the RSSC acronym continuing to work, not to mention www.rssc.com!), they are
celebrated for such luxury innovations as all-outside staterooms, all-balcony
suites, and butler service. The line now sails to Antarctica, Tahiti, Asia, the
Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean, offering luxury at nearly all-inclusive
The name-change, by owner Carlson Travel, is entirely
apropos, as the Radisson hotel chain is not nearly as upscale in its market as
the Regent chain which was acquired after the cruise line was originally
christened. The cruise line is about as upscale as one can get and more than
deserves a slot within the luxury category of cruise lines (which also includes
Crystal, Seabourne, and Silversea). In that category, it may not be the most
expensive, but it is said by many who know, including CruiseMates' readers, that
it offers the best value in its upscale price range.
Having begun with the two luxury vessels Song of Flower and
Regent Diamond, the line next introduced the 320-passenger Paul Gauguin to
cruise year-round from Tahiti to French Polynesia. With a French chef and spa
operated by the renowned Carita of Paris, the ship was celebrated for its
gorgeous balcony cabins and wide range of alternative dining venues.
On the eve of the millennium, the 490-passenger Regent
Navigator began sailing to European destinations. The first ever all-suite,
all-balcony vessels -- the 700-passenger Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas
Voyager -- joined the fleet in 2001 and 2003, allowing Song of Flower and Regent
Diamond to retire.
Along with the recent name change,the whole fleet is
currently in the process of being extensively upgraded. Its Internet connections
will be improved. New bedding will comprise down comforters, Egyptian cotton
linens, and Regent-branded bathroom amenities. All staterooms are receiving flat
screen televisions, DVD players, and new clocks. Higher end suites are adding
iPod music systems (with Bose speakers), and significantly improved cell phone
The ships are generally among the larger variety where luxury
ships are concerned, only Crystal's are slightly larger, but they also have more
cabins. Tips are included in your cruise fare, as are wine and other liquor
drinks during dinner. Soft drinks are always included. Toiletries by Judith
Jackson are included in every stateroom bathroom.
The Regent Experience:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises is cited year after year by CruiseMates readers as
having the Best Luxury Ships, and that entails being the best of a very elite
set. Why are they voted so? We believe it is because CruiseMates' readers are
extremely experienced cruisers, and what they like to find in any cruise they
book is quality and value. This means that no mater ship they are on, they know
what to expect for what they paid, and when a ship gives them the best quality
for the price, that is a terrific value, and that is what they want.
Naturally, Regent has some of the best service and cuisine at
sea. Its ships are complete but not overdone, there isn't much frosting, just
the best quality ingredients. For example, the highest space-per-guest and
staff-per-guest ratios in the industry. Its standard cabins -- all called suites
-- are among the most spacious. The alternative dining rooms, operated by
France's famous Le Cordon Bleu school, are as adventurous and they are
accomplished. The same can be said for the line's travel concierge program,
which helps passengers devise the most exotic shore excursions they can imagine.
The average is generally well over 55 and well-traveled. The onboard atmosphere
is low-key, with few feeling the need to dress to the nines at night. They
prefer to dress tastefully yet comfortably. They are worldy in their knowledge
and experiences, and look forward to the line's remarkable schedule of guest
In addition to the regular excursions, Travel & Leisure Magazine works in tandem
with the Regent Travel Concierge program to to provide insider tips on each port
and organize private tours, often to otherwise restricted sites.
Taking The Kids:
The "Club Mariner" children's program operates only in the summer months in
Baltic, Alaska and some holiday sailings. It is for children aged six to 11 and
12 to 17. The Compass Rose dining room has a dedicated children's menu. During
the summer, Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society offers a special
"Ambassadors of the Environment" program for kids aboard Paul Gauguin.
Gratuities are included in your fare.