Well before Seven Seas Explorer launched in July 2016, Regent Seven Seas was calling it the "Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built." That is a bold statement when it comes to ultra-luxury cruising. In many ways, the ship lives up to the billing, with extraordinary features and tiny details that will make even the most discerning passenger exceptionally happy.
To begin with, the cabins -- they're all suites -- are beautifully designed and feature some of the largest balconies in the industry. (Balcony sizes range from 55 to 994 square feet.) At the very top is the Regent Suite, a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom cabin that is so indulgent and well-appointed, passengers staying there might never want to leave.
Then, there's the dining, with two restaurants that make their debut for the line on Explorer: Chartreuse and Pacific Rim. Food onboard is outstanding no matter where you dine, but the addition of the new speciality restaurants -- included in the price -- gives passengers more variety. The line's signature steakhouse, Prime 7, remains one of the best at sea, and its main dining restaurant options, Compass Rose and La Veranda/Sette Mari, set the bar high for "standard" cruise ship dining.
The ship features more than an acre of granite and an acre of marble, almost 500 chandeliers and some 2,500 pieces of art, including works by masters such as Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall. And that's not just in the public spaces, which are impressive. Suites feature incredible marble and stone detailing in their bathrooms and on surfaces like desks and bars.
Those looking to poke holes in the "most luxurious" claim might point to the ship's entertainment, which is OK but not extravagant as one might expect. Likewise, the spa feels like it missed an opportunity to create a more expansive thermal suite complex, with features such as a therapy pool. But complaints, in general, are minor.
With its over-the-top features and world-class dining, Seven Seas Explorer delivers a luxurious experience that feels like something special. Whether the ship is the world's most luxurious is a judgment call, but Seven Seas Explorer makes a good case.
During the day, passengers wear comfortable clothing appropriate to the sailing climate. Poolside, bathing suits and cover-ups (for women) are common, though swimwear is not allowed indoors. Women wear shorts and T-shirts or blouses, capris, jeans, dresses or skirts indoors, while men go with jeans or shorts and T-shirts or polo shirts.
At night, elegant casual is the name of the game. That means skirts or slacks with blouses or sweaters, trouser suits or dresses for ladies; slacks and collared shirts for men. Jackets are optional, but they're fairly common. Jeans, T-shirts, baseball caps, shorts and sneakers aren't appropriate in any public space after 6 p.m. Cruises of 16 nights or more will include two optional formal nights, where women might wear evening or cocktail gowns or formal pants suits; men might wear tuxes or suits. Elegant casual dress still is appropriate even on formal nights. Cruises of 15 nights or less don't feature formal nights.
The final night of the cruise allows passengers to dress more casually, but most stick with elegant casual.
Regent Seven Seas is one of only a few truly all-inclusive cruise lines, and as such, a cruise on Seven Seas Explorer will be virtually hassle-free when it comes to figuring out what costs extra. Cruises on this ship include wine, spirits, beer, soda, water, coffee, tea and sports drinks, all gratuities, entertainment, dining (including at least one dinner at every speciality restaurant onboard), unlimited Wi-Fi, unlimited shore excursions and airfare. Cruises also include economy-class airfare for domestic flights and business-class airfare for intercontinental flights for U.S. passengers.
The cruise also includes use of the ship's thermal suite, regardless of whether you have booked a spa treatment. A concierge staff is also available to anyone, 24 hours a day.
Depending on cabin category booked, items such as flight upgrades, hotel stays and transfers to the port might be included.
The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar.
Cruises on Seven Seas Explorer include at least one excursion in each port. Most excursions fall into the half-day category, running four or five hours. A few longer excursions are available. Excursions fill quickly -- often before the ship sails -- so book online ahead of your sailing. Excursion difficulty is indicated so you know how much walking to expect when you are touring. Tours are capacity controlled to keep the tours the "right size." If you have mobility concerns, check with the destinations desk to see which tours can accommodate you.
Tours visit the biggest sites in most cities, and they're led by excellent English speakers who have intimate knowledge of a region's history and culture. Buses are provided for most tours and generally are clean and comfortable. Note: Tips for the guides and drivers are not included in your cruise fare; a tip of 1 or 2 euros per person is the custom. Tours are generally good, though many passengers on our sailing said they would have preferred more time to stop for pictures and exploration. If you're a connoisseur of wine or spirits, sign up for those excursions, as they often offer a deeper understanding of the creation process and provide an opportunity for you to purchase a bottle or two to take home with you.
The ship also has a destinations concierge, so if you're not interested in doing a group tour, you can ask for advice on how to see a port. Maps usually are available, and staff are knowledgeable about the region. For example, if you wanted to do a hike with some beach time in St. Tropez, they could point you to a trail near the port that includes a beach stop along the way. Concierges also can arrange for private tours, which will cost extra.
Seven Seas Explorer also offers some incredible culinary tours, called Gourmet Explorer Tours. These tours pair hands-on foodie experiences in port with fine dining. You might, for example, join a family in Rhodes, Greece, to see how they shop for fish and produce, then help with cooking before enjoying a gourmet lunch -- paired with local wines. Other journeys might conclude with a visit to a Michelin-starred restaurant. All Gourmet Explorer Tours require an extra fee, which varies depending on the event. Tours are restricted to a handful of people and can be booked ahead of your cruise.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
The ship's main theatre is the Constellation Theater, located on decks 4 and 5. The theatre has an Art Deco style, with gold balconies and pillars, navy blue bench seating and dark, glossy wood. Try to get a seat on the main level as the balcony doesn't have the best sightlines. The main stage is flanked by two large LED screens, and a third screen is located centre stage. These screens are incorporated into the various large-scale production shows, which take place roughly every other day. The theatre also hosts a group cabaret show as well as various functions such as cooking demonstrations, which make use of the LED screens and overhead cameras to give the audience a closer view of the chopping, mixing and frying.
The theatre hosts several production shows each cruise as well as guest headliners, such as guitarists or comedians. Seven Seas Explorer offers production shows roughly every other day. There's certainly variety, from the bawdy "Paradis" to the rocking "My Revolution." But the shows still feel fairly traditional and a little cheese-ball for a ship of this size and quality. The best show we saw was "My Revolution," which combines music from the British invasion of the 1960s with excellent Burn the Floor-style dancing. We wish the shows would have pushed the envelope even more, with edgier and more modern songs and stylings. Chances are, you'll find something you like if you catch all the shows, which couldn't be more different from one another.
The casino is also located on Deck 4, and it's open when the ship isn't in port. It includes several table games as well as slot machines. The casino regularly hosts activities such as blackjack and poker tournaments.
A daily trivia contest is held in the afternoon at the Observation Lounge, and outdoor activities such as bocce or shuffleboard tournaments take place regularly.
The highlight of Seven Seas Explorer's enrichment offerings is its Culinary Arts Kitchen, a dedicated kitchen space where passengers can get hands-on instruction on a variety of cooking techniques and skills. Classes take place on Deck 11 in the kitchen, which is fabulously fitted with 18 fully equipped workstations. (Foodies on our cruise were blown away by the top-of-the-line induction cooktops.) A chef instructor provides direction, demonstrating each step, then students repeat the steps to make their own creations. The kitchen includes two large TVs and two fish-eye cameras, so students can see the details of what the chef is doing.
Classes range from fairly basic (filleting a fish) to more advanced (French technique), and pricing starts at $89 per person. We were pleased to pick up a few skills in just one class, where we learned to sear a scallop, make a cake, create an emulsion and poach fish. The classes sell out quickly and can be booked online ahead of your cruise.
Other enrichment activities might include hosted chats about shared interests, like sports or travel. Seven Seas Explorer also routinely hosts guest lecturers, who speak on topics like space, geology, history and geography as well as subjects specific to the region to which the ship is sailing.
When itineraries are packed with port days, action on the ship slows down before midnight most nights; before sea days, the bars and casino will have customers a bit longer. Still, the ship's three lounges offer a variety of spaces for chilling, relaxing or chatting with fellow passengers.
Explorer Lounge (Deck 4): Most nights, the Explorer Lounge hosts live music acts, such as a jazz band, duo or guitarist. The venue, decorated in dark blues and blacks, features a bar with seating around it, tables for two and velvet-covered chairs, a small stage and a dance floor. This is the spot onboard for occasional karaoke.
Meridian Lounge (Deck 5): The Meridian Lounge features a large bar, tables and leather armchairs. It also has a stage with dance floor in front of it. (Strangely, sightlines here are disrupted by an oddly positioned column that blocks part of the stage.) The lounge hosts pianists, ensembles and guitarists.
Connoisseur Club (Deck 11): The ship's cigar bar is also a spot where cigarette smokers can smoke indoors. The club is comfortable and features leather couches and chairs as well as cigars for sale. Order a cognac and enjoy the quiet atmosphere.
Observation Lounge (Deck 11): A multiuse space, the Observation Lounge is used in the daytime for things like tea time, trivia and even lectures. At night, it's a dance club -- and a popular spot onboard for late-night drinks. The lounge, located at the front of the ship, has floor-to-ceiling windows that let in plenty of light during the day. At night, the action moves to the centre of the lounge, where you'll find the dancefloor -- beneath a unique bubble-chandelier -- and the large bar.
Pool Bar (Deck 11): A small bar is located on the pool deck.
The main swimming pool is located on Deck 11. The pool deck is made of teak wood and includes numerous padded wicker lounge chairs, including some made for two people. Loungers are available in full sun or under shade. Shaded loungers can be separated by sheer white curtains (though when it gets windy, these are prone to gusting into relaxing passengers). One touch worth noting: Pads are covered by terrycloth, and when one passenger leaves, a pool attendant replaces the cover with a new clean, dry cover. Two hot tubs -- with shade -- sit at the end of the pool, in front of two large, glass-enclosed rainfall showers. A glassed-off smoking section is located on the right (starboard) side of the ship and does a good job of providing smokers a place to go while keeping smoke from seeping out onto the pool deck. Service, available from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., is fantastic on the pool deck, with waiters and waitresses coming by often to offer drinks. We love the attentiveness, especially from the waiter who offered to clean our sunglasses using lint-free wipes. (Yes, please!)
Two spiral wood staircases lead to a sun deck above the pool. Most lounge chairs are in full sun, but clamshell sofas are also available, which provide their own shade. (The clamshell shade can be lowered, too.) A few double lounge chairs are located under shaded overhangs. Deck 12 is also where you'll find a variety of activities, including a bocce court, golf net, a putting green, shuffleboard and paddle tennis court.
The bulk of services on Seven Seas Explorer are on Deck 5, where you'll find the reception and concierge desks, along with the destinations desk. There's also a small business centre with a half-dozen computers with internet access. (Wi-Fi is complimentary throughout the ship, though, so the business centre is seldomly used.)
A number of boutiques are located on Deck 4, selling items from the likes of Calvin Klein, Tom Ford and Bulgari.
The ship's library and card room are located on Deck 11. Passengers can borrow fiction and nonfiction books from the library, which features leather chairs and even a faux fireplace. The card room has several card tables and is a casual place to hang out for a game. Bridge instructors are onboard all sailings. On Deck 5, you'll find a jigsaw puzzle table, which is a surprising stop for many passengers, who swing by and pop in a few pieces.
Self-service launderettes are located on virtually every floor that has cabins, and washing and drying is free. Each launderette has an iron, too, for pressing. If you'd rather outsource the dirty work, laundry and pressing services are offered as well, for a fee.
The Canyon Ranch Spaclub is located on Deck 5. The space is decorated in white marble and has butterfly-themed decor. Services themselves take place in one of eight treatment rooms -- one of those rooms accommodates couples treatments and includes a large, jetted hot tub.
Treatments range from a fairly standard aromatherapy massage to more exotic scrub or detoxification options. Choose from treatments such as an Arctic Sea nourishing ritual, a seaweed leaf wrap, deep tissue massage, anti-aging facial or reflexology. Canyon Ranch partners with companies like Red Flower, which specializes in organic and botanical products and therapies, and the cost of spa treatments are similar to what you'd pay at high-end spas on land. An adjacent salon offers hair cuts, styling, colour or highlights, makeup consultations, manicures and pedicures.
The spa also includes thermal suites, open to all passengers at no additional cost. The men's and women's changing rooms each feature an infrared sauna, cold room (where temperatures hover between 50 and 54 degrees Fahrenheit), an experiential shower and an aromatic steam room. These gender-segregated areas are clothing optional. A coed area includes heated ceramic loungers, and staff will bring you water or tea as you relax. At the back of the spa complex, you'll find an infinity pool along with upright chairs, clamshell couches and lounge chairs. We would have loved to see a therapy pool and more cohesive thermal suite where passengers would want to spend a lot of time. Because the steam rooms and other features are located in the changing rooms, they don't feel like a place to relax for several hours at a time.
The fitness centre is located on Deck 6, and it's really two spaces flanking a lobby area, where you'll find drinks (water, Vitamin Water and Gatorade) as well as the onboard fitness instructor, who has a small, semi-private spot there for meeting with clients. The fitness area to the right of the lobby contains machines for a lower-body and abs workout, free weights, and treadmills and stationary bicycles. The area on the left is for upper body exercises and has ellipticals and stationary bicycles.
A number of fitness classes are offered each day in a special studio and are included in the cost of your cruise fare. These classes might include Pilates, boot camp, yoga/stretch and spinning. Signup is required. Personal training is available for $85 for 25 minutes or $123 for 50 minutes. A two-person personal training session is $188. Basic fitness assessments and body composition analysis are available for a fee as well.
The easiest way to access the fitness centre is from the spiral staircase near the spa's entrance on Deck 5. The other entrance, off Deck 6, is surprisingly difficult to locate -- it's behind a door that looks like a cabin entry door, marked "684," though there's Canyon Ranch signage as well. This opens to a vestibule where you'll find the actual suite 684 as well as the entrance to the gym. From here, walk down three steps, and you're there. Because of the unusual access points, there's no way to get into the gym without taking at least a few stairs, which means passengers who have disabilities will not be able to access it easily.
The ship has a jogging track located on Deck 11. Passengers can run one of two small loops or combine them for a longer lap. The smallest track requires 13.1 laps for a mile; the other small loop requires 11.25 laps. Combined, 7.3 laps makes a mile. The tracks are wide enough for just one passenger at a time, and in many cases, chairs and loungers actually overlap the track, making running difficult. It's fine for walkers, but if you want an uninterrupted run, head to the gym or ashore.
Dining on Seven Seas Explorer is simply excellent. Variety, quality and service are outstanding no matter the venue. The ship has two main restaurants, Compass Rose and La Veranda/Sette Mari, which are open to passengers for as many dinners as they wish, as well as three included speciality restaurants, where passengers can dine at least once per venue.
The restaurants are stunning, and each has its own feel and design inspiration. They all feature high-end crystal, silverware and china, from makers like Bernardaud and Versace.
Waiters, waitresses and sommeliers know the menu well and make knowledgeable recommendations based on your tastes. We love the little touches, like a wooden box filled with chic reading glasses (in case you forgot yours) to help you with the menu.
Reservations are required for the speciality restaurants (and you can book them ahead of your cruise or once onboard), though walkups can occasionally be accommodated.
Compass Rose (Deck 4): The ship's main dining room, Compass Rose is a large space just off the ship's atrium. It's decorated with an ocean theme -- that is, it features a colour palette heavy on sea blues, white and light greys. The columns are adorned in mother of pearl. But the nod for the most impressive feature here has to go to the main blue crystal-and-glass chandelier, which is massive and features hundreds of blue crystal droplets. It's so splendid, you might overlook the brilliant -- though smaller -- amber chandeliers scattered throughout the dining room. Most of the tables here seat two or four, though several can accommodate larger parties. Dining here is open, meaning there are no set seats or dining times; just show up and eat any time the restaurant is open.
Breakfast is served here most days and features items such as eggs cooked to your preference, pancakes, waffles, yoghurt, fresh fruit, bacon and sausage. Fresh juices are offered, as is coffee and tea. Compass Rose generally isn't open for lunch. (Instead, visit either Chartreuse or Prime 7 for a sit-down afternoon meal.) The same menu is offered every day for breakfast; every Sunday is a Champagne and caviar breakfast. (If you don't see an item you want, such as eggs Benedict, on the menu, just ask your waiter; chances are you can get it.)
At night, Compass Rose serves a multicourse dinner, with expansive and customizable menus (re-developed in late 2016 for the entire fleet). The left side of the menu features always-available appetizers, categorized by fish and seafood (Alaskan crab salad, lobster bisque), meat (egg and truffle, pan-seared foie gras) and soup and salad (classic Caesar, tomato soup). They're followed by a list of 13 meats and seafood (Maine lobster tail, Black Angus filet mignon, New Zealand lamb chops and veal medallions, among others) that diners can mix and match with a list of sauces, sides and pasta. The combinations on this half of the menu alone could get you through a lengthy cruise.
On the right side of the menu are the specials, which change daily. Appetizers could be caviar profiteroles or a goat cheese tart, pasta might be pasta diavola with lobster and entrees range from butternut agnolotti to roasted duck Beijing style and Maine lobster. Menus identify lacto-ovo vegetarian options and include a tasty vegetarian bean chilli or a Mediterranean squash and zucchini quinoa salad.
Menus identify a "balanced selection" option: a three-course meal that is lower in calories and fat. Calories, fat and fibre content for those dishes are written on the menu, so you won't be guessing. Passengers also can request any dish be prepared plainly or with less fat or sodium. Additionally, proteins can be prepared grilled or poached, and passengers can get virtually any item without sauce.
A tasting menu, called the Executive Chef's Menu Degustation, is available each night as well and includes a perfectly portioned six-course menu.
Dessert might be cheesecake or a tart, for example, while options such as ice cream, sorbet and a cheese plate are always available.
Vegan, strict vegetarian and gluten-free diets can be accommodated; passengers who have dietary restrictions should notify the cruise line when making reservations and confirm with the maitre d' once onboard. The ship carries some kosher meat onboard and has a separate preparation area; those who are very strict will want to speak to the line in advance and pre-order meals. We were impressed with the way the Explorer crew handled passengers with allergies; the staff leaves the next day's menu in the cabin, and the passenger can select the items he or she wishes to eat. They'll be prepared apart from everyone else's, ensuring no allergens cross-contaminate the meal. Wait staff also know which passengers have which allergies, and if a passenger accidentally orders something with that allergen in it, the waiter or waitress will advise.
The Cafe (Deck 5): The Cafe is a small, casual venue, with a bar that serves a variety of teas and coffees, cappuccinos, lattes and espressos. There's also a self-serve coffee machine. The cafe serves continental breakfast and snacks buffet-style throughout the day. Passengers dine and linger in the adjacent seating area with comfy cafe seating. It's a busy spot, especially midmorning and on sea days.
Pacific Rim (Deck 5): Pacific Rim, Explorer's Pan-Asian restaurant, is tough to miss in part because of its nearly 6,000-pound, bronze-cast prayer wheel, a floor-to-ceiling art piece inspired by traditional Tibetan Buddhist prayer wheels. (The wheel features sayings of wisdom rather than prayers, though.) Passengers walk past it to gain entry into the restaurant, which is decorated in olive green and grey, with dark wood and touches of brass throughout. Seating is available in tables of two and four, as well as a couple of larger tables.
The restaurant is only open for dinner, and it serves Asian food from across the continent, so items include Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Korean and Vietnamese selections. This was one of our favourite restaurants, in part because of the variety and portion sizes that allow you to sample a lot without feeling guilty. Appetizer options include an assorted sushi platter, hamachi sashimi, duck spring rolls and beef tataki -- a favourite at our table. Dim sum is offered, with popular items like a delicious open-top pork and shrimp shui mai, chicken and foie gras gyoza and eggplant and mushroom potstickers. Soups and salads are available as well. Skip the seaweed wakame salad and opt for the tom kha gai or pho sai gon. The restaurant has an excellent selection of entrees -- try the miso black cod, served wrapped in a hoba leaf, or the Black Angus beef bulgogi. If you're looking for something a little spicier, try the vegetarian or seafood curry. Our only real quibble from our meal here is we asked for a higher level of spice, and it was served mild -- at best. Vegetarian dishes are labelled as such. For dessert, save room for the green tea panna cotta and chilli chocolate mousse.
Chartreuse (Deck 10): Designed to remind diners of a Parisian cafe, Chartreuse serves modern French food in a restaurant that is femininely (but not fussily) decorated, with marble tiles designed to look like a wet, cobblestone street and gold filigree screens and metal accents that replicate the ironwork of the Eiffel Tower. The back of the restaurant, which has an incredible inlaid marble floor, has bigger tables that can accommodate as many as eight people, but most tables seat two to four, and many tables have banquette seating. The front of the restaurant has an intimate bar area that really is too small for lingering but perfect for grabbing a drink while waiting for your table.
Chartreuse is open for lunch every sea day and every other port day (it alternates with Prime 7, located next door). The basic lunch menu is the same each day, with the addition of several daily specials. Daily lunch appetizers include an assortment of charcuterie items, such as duck terrine, Bayonne ham and saucisson, a nicoise salad or leek and cheese quiche. Mains include grilled octopus, grilled salmon or roast chicken. Dessert options also change daily and might include chocolate banana verrine or rhubarb and almond tart.
At dinner, the menu is the same each night. Our favourite was the appetizer course: Everyone thought their selection was the best, and lots of sharing led us to believe they all were excellent. For your first course, choose from items like steak tartare with caviar, terrine of foie gras or escargot in a rich Burgundy sauce. Order a few appetizers and skip the soup course, which we found bland. Soup options include a fish stew, a consomme or a creamy artichoke. Entrees include French standards, such as Coquille Saint Jacques sea scallops and beef ribs with seared foie gras. Vegetarian options are available but be prepared for rich, cheesy dishes.
For dessert, we loved the excellent cheese selection, which is cut tableside. If you have a sweet tooth, try the creme brulee or chocolate Napoleon. You'll also get a takeaway box of macarons.
Prime 7 (Deck 10): If Chartreuse is feminine, Prime 7, the line's signature steakhouse, feels masculine -- in fact, it was inspired by traditional gentlemen's clubs, and as such, features lots of dark leather, stark black and white marble, and walls covered in navy blue ultrasuede. A small bar is located at the front of the restaurant for passengers wanting to imbibe while they wait for tables. Seating in the restaurant is mostly tables for two or four; only a couple of tables are available for larger parties. The restaurant also features banquette seating -- even for parties of two. While we love the intimacy of the banquettes, they are slightly too low for the tables, and you'll find yourself reaching in an odd way to cut your food. We felt like we needed a booster seat.
Prime 7 is open every sea day for lunch, and every other port day (it alternates with Chartreuse). The lunch menu is the same each day, though daily specials are offered. The menu includes appetizers like chicken quesadillas (so big, it could be an entree) and an excellent pickled beet salad with velvety goat cheese panna cotta. Main courses include a Caesar salad, burger, grilled sirloin and baby back ribs. Desserts include a peanut caramel brownie and a butter pecan sandwich.
Dinner at Prime 7 is a real treat; it's truly one of the best chop houses at sea, as steaks are perfectly prepared and meat quality is high. In general, beef is the star, but seafood is also excellent, as is the lamb and pork. Appetizer options include a decadent foie gras slider, a light but delicious ahi tuna and avocado tower and a classic steak tartare. Soup and salad courses include clam chowder, an iceberg wedge and Caesar salad. Just beware: Entree courses are large, so you might want to skip (or split) appetizers, soups and salads. The most popular item on the menu might be the prime rib, but we love the lean-yet-buttery-soft filet mignon. The surf and turf includes a filet as well as either a lobster tail or king crab legs. A variety of sauces are available, including chimichurri, bearnaise and cranberry port wine. Sides are served family-style and include twice-baked potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and asparagus. Desserts include a classic Chicago-style cheesecake, or our favourite, a caramel popcorn sundae.
Tucked away behind Prime 7 is a private dining area, available for dinner by reservation to those in the top suites onboard. Passengers dining here can choose from either the Prime 7 or Chartreuse menu.
La Veranda/Sette Mari (Deck 11): La Veranda is the ship's buffet, serving breakfast and lunch each day. At night, it transforms into Sette Mari, a combination buffet and order-from-the-menu restaurant. Located at the very back of the ship, La Veranda is filled with bright natural lighting. It also offers alfresco dining, with a beautiful and large seating space behind the service area. Most of the tables indoors and out seat two or four. Tables for larger parties are mostly located outside. While most of the food is self-serve, waiters and waitresses are attentive and provide prompt drink service.
Breakfast includes hot items like eggs, sausage, bacon, beans, oatmeal and grilled tomatoes, as well as cold items such as yoghurt, fresh fruit, muesli, cereal and cold cuts and fish. The buffet has an egg station, where you can order eggs any style, delivered to your table (just provide the chef your table number and skip the wait). Every Sunday, a Champagne and caviar breakfast is served, with salmon roe and Osetra options. You'll love the setup, complete with blinis and crostini, eggs and cream. Waiters serve Champagne tableside. (The Caviar breakfast is also offered on the same day in Compass Rose.)
Lunch includes a small salad bar, sandwiches and a carving station, where meats such as pork loin or brisket are served. A number of hot options also are offered, with selections rotating daily. Items might include salmon fillets or chicken satay, for example. A chef mans a pasta station, making filling custom orders.
For dinner, passengers can dine at Sette Mari, an Italian restaurant that pairs antipasti buffet selections with menu options like gnocchi in pesto, lasagna, veal scaloppini or cioppino. Desserts include tiramisu or panna cotta. Menu options vary each night, though some items will repeat. The restaurant has the feel of a sit-down venue, and you'll have a waiter who will take your order for pasta and "second plate" courses. Desserts are served buffet style.
Pool Grill (Deck 11): The Pool Grill serves breakfast and lunch each day, and much of the food served here replicates what is served inside at La Veranda. At lunch, though, passengers are treated to regional specialities. So, if Explorer is sailing in France, lunch might include nicoise salad, baguettes and salmon mousseline. In Greece, you might be treated to dolmades, taramasalata, olives, and hummus and pita bread.
The Pool Grill also features a set menu for lunch, which is the same every day. It includes burgers (traditional, vegetarian or tuna, for example), pizza, an amazing Cuban sandwich and chicken wings. Most selections come with fries (get the sweet potato variety).
The Pool Grill also includes a small ice cream station (dubbed "The Creamery") for sorbet and ice cream, floats, sundaes and shakes. Snacks, mostly cookies and muffins, are available from morning until around 6 p.m.
Observation Lounge Afternoon Tea (Deck 11): White-gloved afternoon tea service is offered every day at 4 p.m. in the Observation Lounge. A small variety of Twinings tea is offered along with finger sandwiches, pastries and scones with clotted cream and jam. On sea days, a themed dessert if offered, such as cupcakes, cheesecake or crepes.
Pool Deck Party Barbecue (Deck 11): Once a cruise, a nighttime pool deck barbecue takes place. It's not your garden-variety wieners and burgers event. It's a full-blown seafood and meat extravaganza. Jumbo shrimp, mussels, king crab legs and lobster are served, and passengers pile up their plates with shellfish, along with big beef ribs, salads and fresh-carved turkey. The dessert bar includes fruit tarts, cakes and beautiful pastries. Entertainers perform live music, and waiters and waitresses bring around signature drinks, Champagne and whatever else your heart might desire.
Room Service: One of the best perks of sailing on Seven Seas Explorer is its awesome room service menu. You can order from a set menu 24 hours a day. Items include things like bacon cheeseburgers, pasta Bolognese or seared scallops. Breakfast also is available and includes eggs, toast, waffles, pancakes, yoghurt and fruit.
While the room service menu selection is excellent, make sure to spoil yourself by ordering a multicourse room service dinner from Compass Rose. You pick the items from that night's menu, and a waiter will serve you in your cabin, one course at a time, either on your balcony or inside table.
Room service for all meals is served on a white tablecloth, and your waiter will setup the plates and silverware for you, and then remove your tray and dishes when you're done.
All cabins on Seven Seas Explorer are designated as suites, and every one of them is luxurious, regardless of category. Most feel spacious and feature deep balconies; they're so comfortable and beautifully designed, you won't want to leave. Suites -- and their verandas -- are among the largest in the luxury cruise industry. While there's cohesiveness in some design elements from one suite category to the next, each has its own unique elements that set it apart. All cabins feature fantastic touches such as quiet-closing drawers, doors and even toilets; bedside outlets (look below the nightstand for the U.S. ones); refrigerated mini-bars restocked daily with water, soda and beer; and bedside -- and couchside -- reading lamps. Passengers staying in Penthouse Suites and above have wetbars, fully stocked with bottles of alcohol.
Each suite on Seven Seas Explorer includes two European Elite Slumber twin beds that can be combined to create a queen or king bed (depending on category), two nightstands, a walk-in closet (excluding the smallest suites), desk/vanity, seating area, balcony, flat-screen TV with movies on-demand, safe, hair dryer, bathrobe, slippers and phone.
Bathrooms are marble and stone, and most include bathtubs and showers, as well as bottles of shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and lotions. (Passengers staying in Veranda, Deluxe Veranda, Superior and Concierge suites will have L'Occitane amenities. Those who stay in Penthouse, Seven Seas, Explorer, Grand, Master or Regent suites will have Guerlain amenities in addition to the L'Occitane.)
Explorer has three wheelchair-accessible cabins (one Penthouse Suite, two Concierge Suites), which feature large shower stalls instead of bathtubs. It also has 20 adjoining cabins among a number of cabin categories. Most suites can accommodate a rollaway bed, available by request when booking; some have pullout sofas.
Veranda Suite: Seven Seas Explorer has 12 Veranda Suites, measuring 219 square feet with 88-square-foot balconies. This is the entry-level cabin category, and it features a bedroom and living area, separated by a curtain. The living area includes a couch, small table, lighted desk/vanity and shelving unit. Bathrooms feature marble sinks and walk-in showers with rainfall showerheads. This is the only cabin category that doesn't include a walk-in closet. Balconies include two padded wicker chairs with adjustable backs and one large marble and wicker table. Though beautifully appointed, the suites do feel cramped, and are not suitable for repeat passengers used to the spacious entry-level suites on Regent's other ships.
Deluxe Veranda Suite: Seven Seas Explorer's 49 Deluxe Veranda Suites measure 253 square feet, with balconies that are 55 to 88 square feet, depending on location on the ship. Living areas are separated from bedrooms by curtains. Bathrooms are slightly larger than those in Veranda Suites and include large showers and marble detailing. Balconies include the same furniture as Veranda Suites.
Superior Suite: Measuring 332 square feet, with balconies that run 83 square feet, Explorer's 88 Superior Suites feature blue, brown and white colour palettes. Each bathroom includes separate shower and bathtub and dual sinks. Beds are positioned so they face the balconies, and the living area is separated from the bedroom by a set of navy blue room-darkening curtains. The living room includes a small couch, table, marble-topped dresser and shelves for glasses. The flat-screen TV is mounted on a panel above the dresser; the panel swings out so you can watch the TV from the bed; pushed flush against the wall, it's in perfect position to be viewed from the couch. Balconies feature the same furniture you'll find in Veranda and Deluxe Veranda Suites.
Concierge Suite: The largest category of cabins on Regent Seven Seas Explorer, the ship's 140 Concierge Suites are virtually identical to Superior Suites except that their balconies are larger -- 132 square feet. The difference allows for the addition of a padded wicker lounger in addition to the chairs and table. Passengers who stay in Concierge Suites and above get one free night at a pre-cruise hotel as well as ground transfers, breakfast and portage fees. They also get priority online shore excursion and dining reservations and in-cabin binoculars, illy espresso makers and cashmere blankets for use during sailing.
Penthouse Suite: Seven Seas Explorer has 55 Penthouse Suites, which are 450 square feet and feature balconies that run between 111 and 176 square feet, depending on their location on the ship. Penthouse suites feature one bedroom separated from the living room by a partial wall. They also have one or one-and-a-half-bathrooms, depending on category within the Penthouse Suite level. Cabins are decorated in royal blue and silver, and have wet bars and small, mother-of-pearl topped dining tables with seating for two. Each living room has a full-size couch, chair, nesting end tables and an oval cocktail table. Bathrooms include dual sinks and huge, glass-enclosed showers. There are no bathtubs. Each balcony includes a dining table and two chairs, along with an L-shaped couch and cocktail table.
Penthouse Suites and above also include personal butlers, daily canapes, Guerlain and L'Occitane toiletries and complimentary use of iPads and iPods while onboard. They also are eligible for 10 percent off premium wines and liquors.
Seven Seas Suite: Seven Seas Explorers' 16 Seven Seas Suites feature one bedroom and one or one-and-a-half bathrooms, depending on the cabin category (SS1 or SS2). Cabins are 577 to 655 square feet, depending on the location on the ship, and balconies are 166 to 263 square feet. Bedrooms are completely separated from living rooms and feature nightstands, flat-screen TVs and desk/vanities with lighted makeup mirrors. They also include two white leather chairs. The living room features a brown, ultrasuede couch, two deep chairs, two side tables and an oval glass cocktail table. There's also a glass dining table with four chairs and a desk, giant flat-screen TV and wet bar. The main bathroom includes raised dual sinks, and a separate shower and jetted bathtub. Seven Sea Suite balconies feature chairs and dining tables, as well as additional seating.
Explorer Suite: The ship's four Explorer Suites are between 1,000 and 1,013 square feet and have balconies that run 277 to 336 square feet. These one-bedroom, two-bathroom cabins are decorated in brilliant emerald green and grey, and each includes an enormous living room, which has a large gray couch, chair, cocktail table, entertainment centre with large flat-screen TV, large dining table with seating for six and wet bar. The bedroom is spacious and includes two nightstands and a desk/vanity. The master bathroom includes a large jetted tub and separate shower with oversized rainfall showerhead. It also includes dual sinks. The second bathroom has a shower, toilet and single sink. The balcony has several seating options, including loungers and chairs, as well as small and large tables.
Passengers staying in the Explorer Suite and above receive personalized in-suite full liquor setups and guaranteed reservations each night in the ship's speciality restaurants.
Grand Suite: Seven Seas Explorer has four Grand Suites, ranging from 854 to 920 square feet. But what makes these suites incredible are the spacious balconies, which fall between 732 and 916 square feet; the larger two are located at the front of the ship. Balconies, which either wrap around the front corners of Deck 12 or the back corners of Deck 7, include numerous seating and lounging options, from L-shaped couches to loungers and chairs surrounding marble tables.
Inside, the cabin features one bedroom and two full bathrooms as well as a large living room that includes a couch and chaise combination, cocktail table, dining table with seating for four and wet bar. The master bedroom includes two large nightstands and a desk/vanity with lighted mirror. The master bathroom has a large, jetted tub and oversized shower (that has a view of the balcony and sea beyond), along with dual sinks.
The second bathroom features a walk-in shower and single sink.
Passengers in the Grand suite get free unlimited laundry service.
Master Suite: Seven Seas Explorer's four master suites are located at the back of the ship on decks 8 and 9. They're 1,064 to 1,114 square feet and include balconies that measure 831 to 994 square feet. Each Master Suite has two bedrooms and two bathrooms as well as a living room that includes a couch, chair, TV, cocktail table, dining table with seating for five, wet bar and baby grand Yamaha piano.
The master bedroom bed is positioned so that it faces the windows. A TV pops up (and down) from a console at the foot of the bed. A gorgeous dropped lighting fixture hangs over the bed. The adjacent master bathroom features dual sinks, a walk-in shower with stone stool and a big jetted bathtub.
The second bedroom is smaller but features the same light fixture the master has, and it's attached to its own bathroom via a second walk-in closet. (The bathroom also can be accessed from the living space.) The bathroom has a single sink and walk-in shower, also with a stone stool.
The balcony wraps around the corner of the deck and is expansive, featuring a large dining table with seating for six, several loungers, chairs and tables. Passengers in the Master suite get free unlimited valet laundry service.
Regent Suite: For $5,000 per person per day, you can reserve the ship's top suite, which is a whopping 2,917 square feet. The two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom cabin includes spectacular features at every turn. It starts at the entrance; the doorway has a Picasso painting on either side.
Inside, the suite features a huge living area, with a couch, lots of cushy chairs and tables, a dining table for six, a $250,000 Steinway piano, wet bar with stools and floor-to-ceiling windows. It also has a glass-enclosed seating area, which the line calls the Vista Garden because it offers panoramic views of the sea. It also has a console that shows what the captain is seeing. (Passengers won't have the ability to control the ship from here, though.)
The highlight of the master bedroom is its Savoir mattress, which cost $90,000 and is filled with horse hair. The linens cost an additional $60,000. The bed faces out toward the sea. The bedroom is decorated with natural wood and stone, and it features a separate large seating area, which can be closed off by curtains. The master bathroom alone is bigger than some of the other cabins onboard and features an oversize bathtub, dual sinks, vanity with lighted makeup mirror and enormous multi-jet shower that has three rainfall showerheads. Decked out in gold and light natural stone, the bathroom doubles as a spa, with two heated ceramic lounge chairs as well as a personal sauna. Unlimited in-suite spa treatments are included as well.
The second bedroom features its own seating area, with sofa and chairs along with a desk/vanity. Its bathroom features dual sinks, a separate bathtub and shower, and stone and marble finishes.
The 958-square-foot balcony wraps around the entire front of the ship and includes a jetted hot tub, large dining table and various chairs, tables and loungers.
Passengers staying in the Regent Suite get additional perks like unlimited laundry and pressing, a personal car and guide for use in all ports, private transfers from their home to the airport and back again and first-class airfare on all domestic flights (and business on all intercontinental flights).