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Seven Seas Mariner

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In an era when mass-market cruise ships are getting bigger and bigger, Seven Seas Mariner is a refreshing option that carries only 700 passengers, making for a beautifully intimate sailing with personally tailored service and gorgeous public spaces. While Mariner is an "older" ship by cruise industry standards, it's been impeccably maintained, with major and minor refurbishments over the years; in 2018, it underwent a multimillion-dollar refresh that touched virtually every space.

The result is a sleek, modern look throughout the ship -- heavy on polish and marble, yet still warm and comfortable. There's a renewed sophistication, which mimics some of the stylings of Regent's flagship Seven Seas Explorer. It's evident in the light-and-bright public spaces, glass and crystal chandeliers and even a new-to-Mariner restaurant, Chartreuse, which debuted on Explorer.

The all-suite ship offers a true luxury experience, where your cruise fare covers virtually everything, including round trip airfare, gratuities, drinks and excursions. This takes almost all the hassle out of sailing; passengers don't have to worry about the cost of a cocktail or how much they should tip cabin stewards.

Because of the small size of the ship, it's able to sail into ports its larger brethren can't access, so itineraries offer exotic and unusual ports of call. Regent Seven Seas has made a significant investment in its excursions, and passengers can choose from a wide variety of included options in each port. Excursions are well executed; it's clear they've been vetted well, and they run like clockwork. Most take place in the morning so passengers can enjoy the ship in the afternoon. The ship visits a new port every day -- you won't find sea days on most Mariner sailings -- so onboard activities during the day are pretty light, and many passengers head back to their cabins early at night so they are bright-eyed for the next day's morning excursions.

Service and dining on Mariner are key to the experience, and both are generally superior, though uneven in spots. The ship's two speciality restaurants, Prime 7 and Chartreuse, are outstanding when it comes to food, service and overall experience; dining at both is a highlight for any passenger. Yet most passengers are limited to one meal in each, which means diners are rather confined to either Italian venue Sette Mari at La Veranda or Compass Rose, the main dining room (where service is slower), for dinner.

What sets apart a sailing on Mariner is the flexibility afforded to each passenger. Kitchen staff will go above and beyond to accommodate dietary needs and preferences, excursions can be individually crafted (for a fee), and room service is as much about the culinary experience as it is about convenience. If a passenger has a request for something, the staff will bend over backward to make it happen. This, as much as the ship itself, makes Mariner a joy to sail.

During the day, passengers on Mariner dress with style: Think country club or high-end resort wear, rather than pool or beachwear. Women opt for capri pants, slacks or jeans with blouses or T-shirts, while men might wear shorts or khakis and collared shirts. Poolside, swimwear is the norm, with the addition of cover-ups and sun hats for women. Bathing suits aren't allowed at indoor venues.

At night, after 6 p.m., everyone wears what the line calls "elegant casual," and crew members will politely enforce the dress code, often with a gentle reminder that there is one in place. For ladies, elegant casual means a skirt or dress pants with a blouse or sweater, pantsuit or a dress. Men wear slacks and collared shirts, and while sports jackets are optional, a number of men wear them. In fact, many passengers still put on some pretty fancy clothes ahead of dinner. Jeans, T-shirts, baseball caps, shorts and sneakers aren't permitted in any public area after 6 p.m.

On sailings of 16 nights or longer, passengers will have two formal nights, and they dress to the nines: tuxes or full suits for men, and cocktail gowns, formal pantsuits or dress sets for women.

On the final evening of each cruise, when everyone is packing, the dress code is "relaxed casual," a toned-down version of elegant casual, where comfort takes precedence over formality. That said, most passengers adhere to the elegant casual code, even when it's not required.

Seven Seas Mariner Inclusions

Regent Seven Seas is the most-inclusive cruise line around. Cruise fares cover all drinks and food, including at least one night in each of the speciality restaurants, gratuities, Wi-Fi, mini-bar stocking and restocking, access to the ship's sauna and steam rooms, shore excursions, airfare and, depending on cabin category booked, butler service, pre-cruise hotel stay and transfers. You'll pay extra for uber-premium spirits and a handful of shore excursions.

In the spa, the prices you see include an 18 percent gratuity. Tipping on top of what is included is not required, but it's not uncommon to see passengers slipping their favourite crew members an additional cash gratuity on the final night of the cruise. Regardless of where the ship sails, the U.S. dollar is the onboard currency.

Shore Excursions

A primary area of focus for Seven Seas Mariner is shore excursions, which are included in the initial cruise fares. Passengers can (and should) book excursions ahead of time online, through their travel agents or by contacting Regent Seven Seas directly. On our 10-day Alaskan sailing, which crew onboard called "short," many of the most-desirable excursions were sold out at least two months in advance. Once onboard, we were able to get on waiting lists for several and ultimately got our picks.

Regent has done a solid job of developing a wide variety of excursions designed for passengers with different interests and physical abilities. If you're looking for a more laid-back bus tour, that's usually an option. Likewise, if you really want to push yourself physically, you'll find choices to suit.

Most excursions take you to the heart of cities or historic centres. Options might include a walking tour or a wine tasting with minimal activity. These included excursions last anywhere from four to eight hours and are led by locals who speak English well. Passengers looking for a little something more can book for-fee excursions. These differ in that they're generally longer in duration, more private and include meals. We compared the cost of these excursions in Alaska to booking privately and found Seven Seas Mariner generally offered the better price, which is a nice incentive to book through the cruise line.  

Mariner passengers with mobility issues can easily determine which excursions work best for them, as the descriptions printed online and also in the paper version available in your cabin are accurate regarding the required level of activity. (Take the activity level seriously; words like "advanced" really do mean you'll be working hard.)

The destinations team can provide you with a wealth of information if you just want to get off the ship and go on your own -- you can pick up maps, learn about hikes and even get names of great restaurants to check out ashore. There's also a dedicated concierge who can help you book private tours.

Most passengers take advantage of the ship's shore excursions offerings, sometimes booking two a day, which is possible in ports where you arrive early and leave later in the evening.

Daytime and Evening Entertainment

On sea days, Mariner has a number of onboard offerings to keep passengers busy and entertained; there are fewer options on days where the ship is in port, though you'll still find plenty to do. Most activities are participatory, with options like a photo scavenger hunt, bridge, cornhole or table tennis tournaments, needlepoint sessions or bingo. Winetasting and cocktail-making sessions also take place during the day.

The biggest turnout is for the daily trivia session, held every day at 4:30 p.m. It's pretty competitive, and passengers quickly form teams, which they stick with for the duration of the cruise. Passengers earn points (laminated cards) for winning or in some cases just participating in activities, and at the end of the cruise, they can exchange their points for prizes, like T-shirts, golf balls and hats. (There's a serious line for claiming prizes, so arrive early if you have your heart set on that sweatshirt you've been eyeing.)

Mariner has a small casino that regularly hosts blackjack and Texas Hold'em tournaments. The casino is open when the ship isn't in port, and we spotted some pretty high rollers playing poker, slots, blackjack and craps.

Once a cruise, Mariner hosts a "block party," where passengers are encouraged to hang out in the hallways, drinking bubbly (supplied by crew members on every deck) and meet their neighbours. The ship's captain and cruise director make their way across each deck to say hello. It's a fun tradition Regent Seven Sea loyalists love.

The ship's main show theatre is the Constellation Theater, located on Decks 5 and 6. Sightlines are solid no matter where you sit. It offers production shows of the singing and dancing variety. Productions feature elaborate sets and costumes, as well as songs most people can sing along to (though most audiences don't). We liked the ship's attempt to bring in more modern music with its country-western show, though tried-and-true cruise standards made up the bulk of the entertainment (think Burt Bacharach and Broadway classics).

The theatre also hosts guest entertainers, such as magicians, pianists, ventriloquists, impersonators and tribute bands. Most shows take place at 9:30 p.m. and last 45 minutes, so passengers can go to bed early ahead of early-morning excursions or hit the lounges for drinking and dancing.

Live music takes place at all of the ship's lounges, and passengers do hang out for karaoke and late-night conversation.

Enrichment

Enrichment on Seven Seas Mariner revolves around the destination the ship is visiting. So, if the ship is visiting Alaska, for example, the programming will focus on wildlife and nature, along with the history of the 49th state. We liked the mix of enrichment options, which blended live lectures from noted experts with documentary and theatrical movies. Additionally, as we were sailing through more scenic areas, a lecturer noted highlights and pointed out wildlife we were seeing. Our speaker was one of the better we've heard on a cruise, and we left with a broader knowledge of Alaska and Canada than we came in with.

When the focus isn't the destination, enrichment options mostly include Canyon Ranch seminars on a wide variety of topics, from foot pain to collagen induction therapy to getting rid of puffy eyes; virtually all of them are designed to get you to buy products or treatments.

Mariner staff also organized regular "coffee chats," where enthusiasts of various topics -- golf, dogs and cars, for example, could meet at the Coffee Connection to talk about their passions and share photos. It's a fun way to meet people with similar interests, and on our cruise, these sessions were well attended.

Seven Seas Mariner Bars and Lounges

Perhaps because Mariner itineraries are port intensive -- with early morning excursions -- the ship has a more mellow nightlife. But that doesn't mean the ship is quiet. There's just a predictable rhythm to it. All of the bars and lounges onboard see action, but it varies depending on time of day. Service at each spot is fast and efficient, with cocktail waiters and waitresses dipping in to get passengers drinks. Passengers don't seem to have a favourite hangout onboard; instead, they float from one to the next depending on time of day.

Mariner Lounge (Deck 5): The Mariner Lounge, located on Deck 5 on the way to Prime 7 and Compass Rose, is the busiest spot for a pre-dinner tipple, with passengers enjoying quiet conversation while live piano music serves as a soothing backdrop. Decorated in dark wood, burnt orange and gold, the Mariner Lounge fills up around 6:30 p.m. and stays relatively busy until showtime.

Horizon Lounge (Deck 6): Located at the back of the ship, the Horizon Lounge has beautiful aft views and expansive glass. Passengers come here for pre-dinner drinks, especially if they have dinner reservations at nearby Chartreuse. The large size also makes it the ideal spot for late-night entertainment after the show in the main theatre is finished. You might catch the Regent Signature Orchestra playing the sounds of the Rat Pack or see them playing the dance hits of the '50s to the '80s. Each day, the Horizon Lounge hosts an afternoon tea, and it's the place to go for bingo.

Connoisseur Club (Deck 6): The ship's cigar bar, the Connoisseur Club is a glassed-in space just off the Horizon Lounge. Cigarette and cigar smoking are permitted here.

Stars Lounge (Deck 6): Stars Lounge is the ship's dance club, and it hosts a late-night Jukester Jukebox disco, where passengers can pick their favourite music from 7,000 songs using a digital wall display. It's also the place where karaoke magic happens. Karaoke draws a good crowd, especially deep into a cruise as passengers get to know one another. Action here doesn't get started until late in the evening, after the show.

Coffee Connection (Deck 6): Open from morning until evening, the Coffee Connection serves coffee, espresso or cappuccino, all by illy, as well as spiked versions of hot drinks. There's a well-equipped self-service area for those who want to make their own coffee or tea. The bar itself has a few stools around it, but most passengers elect to sit at nearby tables or even head to the library to sip and read.

Observation Lounge (Deck 12): Floor-to-ceiling windows and unobstructed views make the Observation Lounge the place to be during the day. When wilderness talks are ongoing, passengers can avoid the elements and still catch the scenery -- and hear the lecture -- by staying in the Observation Lounge.

Passengers flock here for trivia each afternoon, and many of them stay put until 6 p.m., when the dress code changes and people begin to get ready for dinner. In between, a pianist entertains, providing ambient sound while passengers talk about their days in port.

Seven Seas Mariner Outside Recreation

The only pool on the ship is located on Deck 11, and it's flanked by two showers and three small hot tubs, each with a maximum bathing load of three (though five people easily fit). The pool itself is rarely crowded; most passengers seem content to sit in the padded loungers or sunbeds. Loungers in the shade can be difficult to come by at midday, but otherwise, ample seating is available. There's a small smoking area on the starboard side of the pool deck.

Seven Seas Mariner offers a few other sports options, all on Deck 12, including a paddle tennis court, a putting green, a driving cage, and a shuffleboard court and a bocce/croquet court.

Seven Seas Mariner Services

Most of the public spaces and services on Mariner are located around the atrium on Decks 5 and 6. This is where you'll find the future cruise sales space, destination services, reception and the concierge.

Passengers can read in the ample library on Deck 6 or play cards in the card room, also on Deck 6. Crew on the ship arrange games of bridge and mah-jongg among passengers. A variety of board games (think Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble) is available for use during the cruise; you can find them in the card room.

A lightly used computer room, called Club.com, is available for passengers who want to surf the internet or check email. It's relatively unnecessary, though, as the ship is wired for Wi-Fi, which is fairly reliable. Passengers get free, unlimited Wi-Fi included in their cruise fare, though the number of devices allowed varies by cabin category. Those looking to add more can purchase Wi-Fi at an a la carte rate of 99 cents a minute, a block of 200 minutes for $160 or unlimited use for $29.99 a day. You also can upgrade your speed to include streaming for $34.98 a day for an unlimited package. (All unlimited rates must be purchased for the entire cruise.)

Shopping is available on Deck 7, where cruisers can buy high-end jewellery and handbags, as well as souvenirs.

Small self-service launderettes are located on Decks 8, 9 and 10. They are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and include free do-it-yourself laundry via energy-efficient washers and dryers. Detergent is included, but if you want dryer sheets, you'll have to bring them from home. The launderettes also feature clothes irons and ironing boards attached to timers, which shut them off automatically to reduce fire risk.

The Canyon Ranch Spa, on Deck 7, is small, but with only 700 passengers onboard, it doesn't get crowded. Decorated with shades of cream the spa is modern yet comfortable. A reception area serves as the spot for check in, and seating is provided there for those awaiting treatments, which include massages, facials, seaweed wraps and scrubs. A basic 50-minute Swedish-style massage starts at about $175, and prices go up from there.

Treatments take place in one of six small treatment rooms, which are immediately adjacent to one another just off the waiting area. Despite the shared walls and proximity to a busy area, treatment rooms are quiet and relaxing. Massages are excellent; therapists ask great questions to find out what each passenger wants, and there's no heavy product sell at the end.

Men's and women's locker rooms each include lockers, a changing area, showers, a steam room and sauna, and a bathroom. There is no common steam or relaxation room.

The spa includes a beauty salon, which provides manicures and pedicures, hairstyling, colouring and cutting, and beard and moustache trimming.

Next door to the spa is the ship's fitness centre, which comprises a weight and cardio machine area and an aerobics studio. This space was untouched by the ship's 2018 refit and, though showing some wear, can provide a decent workout. The weight and cardio machine area has treadmills, exercise bikes and ellipticals, as well as weight machines and an assortment of dumbbells (up to 50 pounds). At peak times, you'll wait for one of the bikes, easily the most popular piece of equipment in the gym.

The aerobics studio has plenty of equipment for stretching and ab work -- exercise balls, mats and foam rollers. Many of the workout classes take place in this spot. Class options include spinning, stretching, yoga, beginners Cross Fit, Pilates and weight training classes. Only spinning requires signup. This venue also hosts numerous wellness talks during the day, though passengers can simultaneously work out in the space without disrupting seminars.

The jogging track is located on Deck 12, though it's mostly used for walking. The space is wide, so joggers and walkers can comfortably coexist. Roughly eight laps make up a mile.

Personal training and fitness assessments are offered, for a fee.

Dining onboard Seven Seas Mariner is a little bit up and down. The highs are the cruise ship's two speciality restaurants, Chartreuse and Prime 7, which are exceptional and included in the cruise fares. Every passenger can eat in each restaurant once per cruise, while passengers who book in a Mariner Suite or above can eat in each as often as they'd like. Both restaurants are relatively intimate, and they fill quickly, so reservations are recommended.

On our 10-night sailing, Prime 7 was booked solid before we even boarded the ship. We enjoyed our time at Sette Mari at La Veranda, where we had the best service of any of the restaurants onboard. The one low -- and it's not a grievous low -- is Compass Rose, the ship's main dining room, where we found service slow, especially in the beginning while waiting for a waiter to visit our table.

Compass Rose (Deck 5): Compass Rose, on Deck 5, is the ship's main dining room, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Passengers can eat when they like when the restaurant is open, and choose to sit alone or with other diners. The dining room is busiest for dinner around 8 p.m., and passengers seeking a table for two might be out of luck (or at least in for a wait) at peak times.

Healthier dishes, as well as vegetarian and pre-ordered kosher fare, are available for all meals, and low-calorie/low-fat meals are identified under a Canyon Ranch SpaClub heading. Those with dietary restrictions simply need to tell the maitre d' 24 hours in advance, and menus will be tailored appropriately. We dined with a woman who was a vegetarian with additional allergies, and she worked with the staff each night to make sure the next day's dining options were appropriate and appealing. She was pleased with the variety of menu options and the overall quality.

Breakfast at Compass Rose is fairly standard, with egg dishes, hashes and a variety of bread and pastry options. Lunch is a multicourse meal, with starters (salads and soups) and entrees like wraps or salmon filets.

Dinner also is a multi-course experience, and the menu changes nightly, though choices like chicken breast or salmon are available every day. Other items include pasta, steak, lobster and fish.

The flexibility of the menu is particularly impressive. Many proteins are served with your choice of sauce, and you can mix and match or select the chef's suggestion. You can additionally add any of a wide variety of side dishes, from French fries to grilled asparagus and jasmine rice. There's also a freshly made pasta of the day, with your choice of sauce.

Additionally, you can pick from the list of daily specials, which lean toward traditional, beautifully prepared dishes such as lobster thermidor or veal Oscar served on a deliciously creamy mascarpone polenta. One dish from each of the two speciality restaurants is on the menu each night. Diners aren't restricted to one portion of the menu and can select favourites from each area, such as an appetizer from the Canyon Ranch section, a pasta from the daily specials and an entree from one of the speciality restaurants.

The overall quality of food is generally quite good, as is the service, though meals take a lot of time. Most nights we dined there, we were waiting for excessively long periods to order our meals and between courses, especially when the restaurant was busiest and wait staff was stretched thin.

In Compass Rose, top-quality wines are served throughout each meal by a knowledgeable sommelier who can help you with the best pairings. There's a daily, rotating selection or reds and whites, but you may also order off an additional wine menu if those don't tickle your fancy. Those who don't drink wine can choose cocktails or beer, as well as water or soft drinks. Throughout the ship, the quality of included wine and spirits is excellent, though the variety of beer lags behind.

Prime 7 (Deck 5): Prime 7, which serves dinner only, is the best restaurant on the ship. Located on Deck 5, adjacent to the Mariner Lounge, the restaurant has an upscale steakhouse feel, with dark wood and white leather chairs, bright tilework and stark white tablecloths. Seafood- and steak-lovers will be happy with their meals there. Starters include beef tartare, French onion soup, wedge salads and shrimp cocktail. But at Prime 7, it's all about the entrees. Choose from items that include prime rib, filet mignon, whole Maine lobster or surf and turf, which can be ordered as a steak and lobster or steak and king crab option. Can't decide? Order a couple of entrees; we saw numerous passengers with a couple of dinners in front of them, many sharing giant plates of king crab. For dessert, try the innovative popcorn caramel sundae or a more traditional steakhouse selection: cheesecake.

If possible, make reservations for Prime 7 ahead of your sailing to ensure you get a table for the time and date you would like. If it's full, don't despair: Check-in daily with the dining concierge to see if any tables have opened up.

Chartreuse (Deck 6): Chartreuse, the ship's French restaurant, is located on Deck 6, adjacent to the Horizon Lounge. The restaurant serves dinner each night, and reservations are required as passengers are quick to book, especially on shorter itineraries. Meals here are excellent, with an emphasis on classic French cuisine with a twist.

Starters include escargot in a red wine sauce or beef tartare, topped with heavenly caviar. Soups are savoury and opulent; try the cream of artichoke. For mains, consider the Coquilles St.-Jacques, a savoury dish that blends briny sea scallops with spicy chorizo. Other options include beef tenderloin served with truffle sauce and seared foie gras or veal with apple confit. Sauces are creamy and perfectly proportionate to the delicately cooked proteins. Save room for dessert and consider skipping the sweets so you can dig in to the sublime cheeseboard, with an assortment of French cheeses. (Of course, you can do both sweet and cheese; no one will stop you!) One touch we adored: You get a takeaway box of delicate macarons.

Coffee Connection (Deck 6): Visit Coffee Connection on Deck 6 for a cookie any time. During the morning and in the afternoon, you can also grab a piece of fruit or a light snack (bagels and cold cuts, for example) without wading through the crowds. It's a light menu without huge selection, but it's a nice way to escape the busier breakfast spots onboard.

Pool Grill (Deck 11): For breakfast, we routinely selected the sparsely used Pool Grill, located outdoors and also on Deck 11. In truth, the Pool Grill is just an extension of La Veranda, with cold options like cereal, yoghurt, fruit, nuts and muesli. You'll also find smoothies and made-to-order freshly pressed juices, with ingredients like cucumbers, carrots and spinach.

The Pool Grill is better known for its hamburgers, sandwiches, veggie burgers and appetizers that it serves from late morning until late into the afternoon. Over lunchtime, a daily themed grill is available, as well. One day, it might be Spanish barbecue, with paella, tapas and grilled bream. The next, it could be Italian, with a made-to-order pasta station and chicken Milano. The lunch rush hits at noon, but it dissipates quickly. Service at the Pool Grill is prompt and friendly; while passengers can order directly at the grill, waiters will take orders at tables, and if they see someone carrying a plate, they'll quickly grab it and escort the passenger to a table.

La Veranda/Sette Mari (Deck 11): La Veranda, on Deck 11, with indoor and lovely outdoor seating, serves buffet-style meals for breakfast and lunch. The options are relatively limited, and there isn't much variety from day to day, especially at breakfast, where diners can choose from scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, bread, smoked salmon and pickled herring. Eggs can be made to order. English breakfast selections, including beans and grilled tomatoes, are always available, as are British condiments like HP Sauce.

This spot is where dining on Mariner is the weakest for lunch, in large part because the buffet offerings were repetitive. The daily salad bar changed very little, and small changes to cold cuts and the various hot options like grilled fish or chicken piccata were not sufficient to keep us coming back for more. We found the salad topping options to be limited, though we loved the dressing choices. Cold salads, such as lentil or potato salads, along with cold veggie mixes (broccoli and smoked salmon, for example) are a good option. Cold seafood, such as crab legs or peel-and-eat shrimp, are served every day. There's also a pizza window here, offering several pie options, that's open only for lunch. It's easy to miss, but the pizza is good, so swing by for a slice at least once on your trip.

For dessert, passengers can grab ice cream, cheese, fruit or any of a large variety of pastries. Options change every day.

At night, La Veranda becomes Sette Mari at La Veranda, an Italian eatery that blends menu and buffet dining. Sette Mari offers open seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Diners are served appetizers, such as veal meatballs, fried cheese and olives. They can then visit the salad bar for options like grilled vegetables, prosciutto and melon, cuttlefish and, of course, salad. Pasta courses and entrees are ordered from a menu, which rotates somewhat each night and offers a nice variety. You can order half-servings of pasta if you'd like to have a taste without overloading ahead of an entree. Try the cioppini, with fresh and perfectly cooked seafood in a sublime tomato soup, or the veal, served in several styles, including Marsala and with lemon. Dessert also is served on the buffet, and it includes options like tiramisu and panna cotta.

We enjoyed terrific service at Sette Mari, with waiters and waitresses who confidently made menu suggestions and even moved quickly through a meal so we could make it to the evening's show on time. We watched as they deftly helped passengers who had mobility issues navigate the buffet, in some cases just loading plates for them and bringing them to the table. The restaurant fills quickly from about 7:30 p.m. on, so if you don't want to wait, plan to dine early. We arrived later on several occasions and discovered no tables were available. The maitre d' took our suite number and we waited at the Observation Lounge, where he called the bartender to alert us our table was ready. We waited anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes. Diners can eat in Sette Mari as often as they'd like.

Horizon Lounge (Deck 6): Mariner offers an afternoon tea at 4 p.m. each day in the Horizon Lounge on Deck 6, no matter the port schedule. It's a traditional option, where servers wearing white gloves bring you tea and wheel around a cart full of dessert options. Those who partake also can eat finger sandwiches, scones (with clotted cream) and fruit. You'll also find a theme most days, so one service might be themed around cheesecake, with multiple varieties to tempt, while another might be chocolate-themed, with everything from cookies to cakes to pastries. Passengers can choose from a variety of Twinings tea selections.

Room Service: Room service is free and available 24 hours a day. Breakfast offers eggs in addition to continental options. You order by checking boxes and indicating servings on a card that you hang on your doorknob the night before. We did add a few write-ins for orders -- additions such as Greek yoghurt or avocado -- with mixed results. Sometimes we got what we asked for, sometimes not. Passengers also can order a multicourse dinner from Compass Rose. (Menus for all restaurants are broadcast on one of the TV channels all day.) Dinner can be delivered all at once or course by course; it just requires a phone call to the room service number to say you're ready for your next course. Healthy Canyon Ranch options are available on the everyday room service menu, which also includes things like butterflied chicken breast and buffalo chicken salad.

All cabins on Seven Seas Mariner are suites, and each one comes with a balcony, so there's no such thing as a bad view. The ship's 2018 refurbishment gave cabins a much-needed facelift, providing features like elaborately padded headboards, new furniture and sumptuous fabric curtains and linens. All cabins are spacious and comfortably laid out, with smart additions like bedside USB ports and outlets, curtain-divided spaces and full-sized tables on balconies.

Each cabin includes a European king-sized bed that can also be configured as two twins, a seating area with couch, marble-topped table and an ottoman, a desk with plenty of drawers, two nightstands, cabinets for barware, a flat-screen TV (with dozens of channels and free movies on demand), safe and walk-in closet. Storage is plentiful, with lots of drawers and extensive closet space, with ample hangers. A curtain can be drawn to divide the bed from the seating area.

Bathrooms include marble basins, toilets and glass shelving for storing toiletries. Some cabins, regardless of category, include combination bathtub/shower layouts, while others only have glass-enclosed showers. Toiletries include L'Occitane Mer & Mistral products (shampoo, conditioner, bar soap, shower gel, lotion and bubble bath for suites that have bathtubs) and shower caps.

Balconies vary in size depending on cabin category, but all include at least two large padded wicker chairs, which can recline, and a wooden table suitably sized for dining.

As one might expect from a luxury line like Regent Seven Seas, the amenities and details are exceptional. Passengers in all cabin levels get a welcome bottle of Champagne, fresh fruit replenished daily, complimentary shoeshine service, 24-hour room service (including a dinner service, where meals are served course by course), sewing kits and a personalized refrigerated mini-bar setup that's refilled each day with soda, beer, tonic and water. You'll also get a personalized liquor setup. Other cabin amenities include wine and bar glasses, hair dryers, bathrobes and slippers, umbrellas and shoehorns.

Six cabins are available with facilities for disabled passengers, and several suites feature walk-in shower stalls. There are no connecting cabins.

Deluxe Veranda Suite: The smallest cabins on Mariner are the Deluxe Veranda Suites, which come in at 252 square feet, with 49-square-foot balconies. Cabins in this category, along with Concierge Suites, are decorated in shades of blue and silver.  

Concierge Suite: Concierge Suites are sized the same as Deluxe Veranda Suites but decor relies on hues of chartreuse, gold and silver. Suites also include a few extra onboard perks, such as binoculars, illy coffeemakers and cashmere blankets to make sitting on the balcony more comfortable when it's cool.

Passengers in these suites get unlimited Wi-Fi for up to four devices. (Suites in lower levels get Wi-Fi on one device.) Additionally, passengers get one night of pre-cruise hotel stay, breakfast, porterage and ground transfers, 15 minutes of ship-to-shore phone time, priority shore excursion and dining reservations, discounts on premium wines and liquors, discounts on premium shore excursions and land programs, and a tote bag. These perks also apply to the other higher-level suites.

Penthouse Suite: Passengers staying in Penthouse Suites are treated to larger cabins and balconies (376 square feet with 73-square-foot balconies). These suites are decorated in shades of beige and grey, and feature the addition of a bench at the foot of the bed as well as larger living areas. Bathrooms are laid out the same as they are at lower levels, with either a bathtub/shower combo or a shower only.

Penthouse suites come with butler service; butlers can make reservations at the restaurants, assist with unpacking and repacking, and even draw baths. Additional perks include a variety of Guerlain and L'Occitane soaps, shampoos and lotions, a men's unscented shaving kit, daily canapes, Bose mini-Bluetooth speakers, personalized stationery and complimentary pressing on the first night of the cruise (when your clothes are all wrinkled from travel). All suites in higher categories also come with the same perks.

Horizon View Suite: Horizon View Suites, located at the back of the ship on Decks 10 and 11, feature massive balconies (268 square feet each) and might have the best views on the ship. At 359 square feet, these suites have large living areas, complete with full-sized couches, entertainment centres and dining tables. Bedrooms are separated from the living rooms and can be closed off via a curtain. While the bathrooms are the same as those in lower categories, these suites have larger walk-in closets. In addition to the perks offered to passengers in lower-category suites, guests in Horizon View Suites get early access to cabins on embarkation day, a welcome floral arrangement and an in-suite Blu-ray player.

Seven Seas Suite: The Seven Seas Suites located at the front of the ship are slightly smaller (505 square feet) than those located at the back (561), and the balconies for those forward suites are significantly smaller (97 square feet versus 286). Regardless of which you choose, you'll find separate living areas with space to sprawl. Because all of these suites feature bathtubs, you also get a selection of fine bath salts.

Mariner Suite: Each of the six Mariner Suites (650 square feet, 89-square-foot balconies) features a true bedroom suite -- with full master bath -- separated from a large living room. Each also has an additional half-bath. Passengers who stay in this cabin level and above are guaranteed reservations each night in one of Mariner's complimentary speciality restaurants, either Chartreuse or Prime 7. Additionally, they get the option of Bottega Veneta toiletries, an upgraded bottle of welcome Champagne, one in-cabin caviar service and delivery of up to three daily newspapers.

Grand Suite: The ship also has two Grand Suites (903 square feet, 84-square-foot balconies); each includes a separate bedroom, sizable living room with large picture windows and two full bathrooms. Perks from all lower cabin levels apply, with passengers additionally enjoying dinner with a senior officer, personalized full-liquor bar setup, free unlimited valet laundry and a 25-minute personal training session.

Master Suite: Each of the two 1,204-square-foot Master Suites can accommodate up to five passengers and includes two bedrooms, two full baths, a large living room and two balconies -- a 71-square-foot side balcony off one bedroom and a 727-square-foot front balcony adjacent to the living room and other bedroom. Additional perks include even earlier embarkation and the option of enjoying dinner from the speciality restaurants en suite.

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