19th Feb 2024 | 19 nights | Regent Seven Seas Cruises | Seven Seas Voyager
Regent lays claim to be the most inclusive experience among the major luxury cruise lines. Of course, such pampering doesn't come cheap but, once you're on the ship, the only things you have to put your hand in your pocket for are spa treatments, super-premium wines and spirits, splurges in the boutiques, puffing a Cohiba cigar and pitting your wits against Lady Luck in the casino. Everything else -- including flights, shore excursions, beverages and onboard gratuities -- is included in the price, so there are no unexpected hidden extras that might give you palpitations at the end of the trip.
Seven Seas Voyager is a relaxing ship with a cultured but informal ambience and a high crew-to-passenger ratio. Crew members are polite, proactive and pleasant; minimal announcements and a lack of queues enhance the feeling of refinement. With the ship's small passenger numbers and spacious public areas, you never feel crowded. You rarely have to stand in line or be frustrated with the wait for a drink. Though high fares mean passengers must be well-heeled to sail on Voyager, we found our fellow passengers to be surprisingly down-to-earth and friendly -- not the jet-setter types who flaunt their wealth.
The fact that Voyager offers an all-inclusive experience enhances the onboard social scene, too, because it means there is no debate about whose round it is or an awkward moment at dinner deciding who pays for the wine. Drinks just keep on being poured, without anyone even having to ask. There is no class system onboard; everyone is treated the same, everyone has access to the same facilities and the same restaurants (though top suite classes have priority for multiple speciality restaurant reservations).
Most passengers' first reaction when seeing Seven Seas Voyage at the dock is surprise that the ship is so big ("All that for just 700 passengers?!"). While Voyager has nine passenger decks, it's not as long from stem to stern as ships that carry more passengers, making it easy to get around without long treks down a corridor. An atrium stretches the height of all the passenger decks, bringing light to the ship's interior. Most onboard services are grouped here, making for easy access to the front desk, destinations desk, library, casino, shops and espresso bar.
In warm weather, the action moves to the lido deck (Deck 11), home to the pool, a grill, a bar and the La Veranda buffet restaurant. At night, three lounges and a cigar bar offer different vibes, from mellow to lively.
As you'd expect from a luxury ship, food and drink are abundant, with four restaurants, as well as 24-hour room service. The spa is by high-end provider Canyon Ranch.
The spacious cabins are all ocean-facing, with balconies, and the ship carries a large number of even bigger (and very popular) premium suites.
If you've cruised aboard Seven Seas Voyager before, you might not recognize the ship today. Voyager went into dry dock in November 2016, with the goal of bringing it up to the luxe standard of Regent's newest ship, Seven Seas Explorer. Now Voyager's public spaces are refitted with chic, contemporary furnishings, carpets, wall coverings and new lighting throughout. Cabins also underwent a thorough makeover, with updated upholstery, window treatments, carpeting and wall coverings.
Until 6 p.m. each evening, a "country club casual" dress code applies, and shorts, jeans, deck shoes and tracksuits are all acceptable. Bare feet are only acceptable on the Pool Deck, and bathing suits are not allowed in the restaurants or lounges at any time -- though they can be worn at the Pool Grill and Bar. From 6 p.m. onward, an "elegant casual" dress code applies, with skirts, smart trousers or trouser suits with blouses or sweaters for women and collared shirts with optional sports jackets for men. Jeans aren't allowed in restaurants or lounges in the evenings.
On cruises of 15 nights or longer, two evenings are "Formal Optional." On these nights, you can -- if you so desire -- dress to impress, with gowns or cocktail dresses for women, and tuxes, dinner jackets or dark suits with ties for men. On the final evening of the cruise, when everyone is busy packing to go home, the dress code sensibly is "relaxed casual."
For United States passengers, flights to the embarkation city and home from the disembarkation city are included in the cruise fare. Flight segments within the U.S. may be coach, but international segments will be business class. If you want to designate your airline or routing, there's an additional fee.
Beverages are also included, aside from a few ultra-premium liquors and high-end wines. A perfectly tasty Champagne flows freely, and your favourite call liquor brand likely is included, too. But if you opt for Veuve Clicquot, you'll pay extra. Each restaurant pours a selected red and a white wine nightly, but if those wines aren't to your taste, you can request alternatives.
Passengers in Concierge-level suites or above receive an included hotel night and transfers prior to the cruise.
Most shore excursions (90 percent, according to Regent) are included in your fare as well. These aren't simply bare-bones tours; some include experiences like biking, wine tastings and visits to museums. A handful of paid excursions offer higher-end experiences, including special instruction, gourmet meals or premium wine-tasting. In locations where the port is away from the city centre, free shuttles are usually provided.
All Regent employee gratuities are included in the cruise fares. If you feel strongly about expressing gratitude to the crew, Regent encourages donations to the Crew Welfare Fund at the Purser's Office; this money funds crew parties and events. An 18 percent service charge is already included in spa prices, and the spa policy states, "Any additional gratuities for exceptional service are appreciated, but not expected." Shore-side gratuities are not included, however, so feel free to tip shore excursion guides and bus drivers if you're pleased with their services.
The currency used onboard is the U.S. dollar. Reception offers currency exchange on some occasions -- from U.S. dollars to euros, for example.
Voyager offers free shore excursions in every port of call. There is plenty of choice, and all tours are capacity-controlled to ensure maximum enjoyment. More adventurous souls who wish to delve deeper into what a region offers can choose the in-depth Regent Choice Shore Excursions. These require a discounted supplementary charge to partially offset their higher cost.
For instance, in Monaco, there are 10 tours to choose from -- the shortest is three hours in duration, the longest eight hours -- and eight of the 10 tours are free. Venice offers six, four of which are free. Excursions are graded on activity level to make it easy for passengers to decide which suit them best.
In the Mediterranean, Regent has launched a series of wellness shore excursions in 10 different ports. These include small-group experiences that take passengers to a local spa, tai chi class, yoga session, perfume blending or even laughter therapy. They're paired with a choice of onboard spa experiences from a menu of five, 50-minute options. The excursion and spa package is priced at $299. We found these excursions to be interesting experiences for those who weren't big on sightseeing or who had visited a port previously.
One issue we noticed on our Mediterranean cruise was that nine shore excursions were cancelled, due to "certain operational reasons and guests' satisfaction," according to the information provided when we embarked. Nearly all of these were extra-fee Regent Choice excursions, and nearly all were in major ports with many excursion options. Our theory? So many passengers signed up for included excursions that these paid excursions didn't have enough interest to reach the minimum number of participants. It would probably be wise to have a backup choice if you opt for a Regent Choice excursion -- particularly in ports where a large number of excursions is offered.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
Morning activities include instructor-led Pilates or a walk around the jogging track with the fitness director. Cards and board games are always available in the card room; sports enthusiasts can partake in shuffleboard, bocce, Ping-Pong and paddle tennis.
Afternoons include unhosted bridge and mah-jongg, spa seminars covering anything from reflexology to detoxification, and the ever-popular team trivia where teams of up to six take the daily challenge to try to win some Regent Rewards points, which can be exchanged for branded items like Regent caps, collared shirts and tote bags. There are also meetings for the "Friends of Bill W."
In the evening, Seven Seas Voyager offers four different production shows, new in 2017, with a cast of seven dancers and four vocalists. They're held in the plush Constellation Theater (decks 4 and 5). The theatre's main floor is on Deck 4, with alternating rows of chairs and banquettes, while balcony seating is on Deck 5. Themes include tributes to Hollywood, Vegas and Broadway, plus a dance-focused show that touches on a range of styles. The backdrops, provided by a huge video screen, are particularly engaging, taking the setting from the Eiffel Tower to the Vegas Strip. There is only one show on performance nights, starting at 9:30 p.m. So, it's a bit tough to catch a 45-minute show unless you have early dinner reservations. Due to the popularity of the speciality restaurants, that's not always possible.
One night, when the ship had a late departure from port, the cruise director brought a local, non-professional folk dance troupe onboard to entertain at the usual 9:30 p.m. showtime. It provided a welcome touch of authentic local colour.
On nights when there isn't a live show, movies are presented in the Constellation Theater at 8:45 p.m.
Dancing to a duo or show band is offered in various lounges, both before and after dinner. A pianist and a guitar player entertain in different venues as well. There are also karaoke sessions and a "choose your own song" Jukester jukebox machine for late-evening fun.
The casino (Deck 4) attracts a lively crowd in the evenings, but is less-frequented during the day. There are 43 slot machines, three blackjack tables, one poker table, one roulette table and one craps table. There were also some tournaments, such as Texas Hold'em.
Regent has a partnership with Smithsonian to provide guest lecturers on some cruises. On our Mediterranean cruise, for example, a professor who specializes in classical history was onboard. His lectures were also available on one of the in-cabin TV channels. When he ventured outside of his speciality zone -- talking about sightseeing in Barcelona and Provence -- he was less informed.
There were also technology-related lectures, covering topics such as social media and digital equipment use. These also were repeated on the in-cabin TV.
You might guess that bars and lounges would be popular on a ship that includes beverages with your fare -- and you'd be right! In good weather, the Pool Bar rules as the most popular, lively gathering spot (along with the loungers it serves). Its surrounding stools are one of the best places on the ship to strike up a conversation with other passengers. Voyager's four indoor lounges are all swanky spots with a bit of a nod to Art Deco styling. All have bars, as well as table service. We found the indoor lounges to be most popular for pre-dinner cocktails; they were more sparsely populated later in the evening. (Our theory: passengers started drinking earlier in the day and turned in earlier as a result.) The late-night crowd tends to congregate in the smaller Voyager Lounge.
The drinks we ordered were always well-mixed, and bartenders weren't flummoxed by more unusual drink requests (a Negroni, for example) that confused bartenders on other cruise lines. If you want to try a new cocktail or have a passion for pricier items, like blender drinks, this is the perfect time to indulge. The free-flowing house Champagne is quite drinkable, too.
Voyager Lounge (Deck 4): Decorated in shades of purple and furnished with bucket-style chairs and banquettes, this intimate lounge is popular with the late-night crowd for karaoke and dancing. It's also home to a Jukester machine, with 7,000 song choices available.
Connoisseur Club (Deck 4): The small, elegant Connoisseur Club on Deck 4, with its leather armchairs, deep-blue walls and clubby atmosphere, is where passengers can order a vintage cognac or port and a Cuban cigar; smoking is allowed.
Horizon Lounge (Deck 5): Horizon, the ship's largest lounge, has pretty beaded room dividers and a chic bar. Decorated in shades of pumpkin and gold, it serves afternoon tea with sandwiches, sweet pastries, tea and coffee between 4 and 5 p.m. to a backdrop of relaxing music. It's also the place to go for pre-dinner cocktails, when a guitar player kicks off the evening or members of the showband entertain. You can take your drinks outdoors where armchairs await on the aft deck. One area of this outdoor space is designated for smoking.
Observation Lounge (Deck 11): With a great view forward, high on the ship's aft, this lounge was strangely the least-frequented lounge on our cruise. It was the perfect spot to grab a cocktail after a day ashore, when the Pool Bar was three-deep. The gray carpet and walls and chic white bucket chairs make for a stylish backdrop. Various musical entertainment includes a piano player and duo.
Pool Bar (Deck 11): When the weather is warm, this circular bar located on the lido deck is a real scene -- in our experience, the busiest bar on the ship. It's a pity that it shuts down by 7 p.m., because the crowd didn't want to leave on our summer cruise.
A large heated outdoor pool and two jetted hot tubs are located on the teak lido deck (Deck 11), which can get very busy when the sun shines. White, terrycloth-covered, upholstered loungers surround the pool, while tables with cushioned chairs are located in the adjacent area by the Pool Grill, most of them shaded by the Deck 12 overhang. At either end of the shaded portion of the deck, you'll find cushioned sofas and cocktail tables.
There's a Ping-Pong table in the shaded outdoor area of Deck 11. A golf driving cage, a five-hole putting green, two shuffleboard courts and a paddle tennis court are located on Deck 12.
The atrium, the social centre of the ship, is where you'll find the reception desk, travel concierge and Club.com, the ship's internet and computer centre. The cafe has plenty of computers for passengers to use, and it also holds regular classes in subjects like digital photography and various software programs. Club.com is open around the clock.
Unlimited shipboard Wi-Fi is included with your fare. The only catch is only one person per stateroom can log in at a time, unless you're a gold member of Regent's affinity club. While cruise ship Wi-Fi is often capricious and frustrating, we found that meant everybody tended to stay connected, resulting in an overloaded system -- particularly during peak times when passengers were busily uploading photos, video-chatting or checking email after a day ashore.
The library (Deck 6) contains a sizable selection of books, daily newspapers from several countries and DVDs; it's open 24/7. There is a small card room on Deck 4, as well as on Deck 5. Small, self-service laundry rooms, located on Decks 6 through 10 aft, are free to use and open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Each has two washers, two dryers and two irons with ironing boards. Laundry detergent is provided, as are laundry baskets. There's also a sink and a TV in each laundry room. A medical facility is located on Deck 3.
Open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the Canyon Ranch Spa Club offers a choice of treatments from detoxifying seaweed wraps and anti-ageing facials to popular "rituals" that combine cleansing, masks, wraps and massages. You can book several types of couples' massages, and men have their own menu of facials, plus manicure and pedicure options. A separate salon space within the spa offers hairdressing, manicures, pedicures and waxing treatments. The steam room in the spa is open, free of charge to all adult passengers. You must be 18 or older to visit the spa.
A compact fitness centre, open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., holds four treadmills, three exercise bikes, four elliptical machines, circuit training machines, workout mats, step benches, exercise balls and free weights. Fitness experts lead free exercise classes that include Pilates, stretching, yoga and spinning. They're also on hand to offer advice and demonstrate the use of fitness equipment.
A full-circle jogging track (11 laps equal a mile) is located on Deck 12.
Regent is out to make a statement with the luxury ingredients and stylish presentations in its dining venues. You can have foie gras and lobster every night, should you choose. And, of course, the included wines flow freely. In addition to European-style menu items, we noticed (and appreciated) food items from various regions of Asia, with Indian dishes that were particularly tasty (we suspect some Indian cooks in the galley are to thank).
Passengers can choose among four restaurants; all feature an open-seating dining policy, so you can decide when to eat and pick your tablemates. That's not to say you can just waltz in anywhere without reservations. Be sure to select your speciality dining evenings as soon as possible, because the two most sought-after reservations -- at Prime 7 steakhouse and Chartreuse French restaurant -- go fast.
On Sundays (embarkation and disembarkation days excepted) there's caviar service with brunch, and during cruises longer than seven nights the galley puts on a deck barbecue (weather permitting). There's also a special afternoon tea for chocoholics once per cruise, in addition to regular afternoon tea daily.
Twenty-four-hour room service is a nice perk, as well. Perhaps that's why we never experienced crowding at breakfast, even in the La Veranda buffet venue (and we all know that buffets are usually notoriously swamped right before shore excursions).
Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are all available onboard, as are sugar-free desserts. If you have special dietary needs, Regent recommends that you contact the Dining Room Manager at the restaurant reservation desk (Deck 5, Atrium) when you first come aboard. If you have extremely specialized needs, speak with a Regent representative 90 days prior to your cruise. With enough notice, the line will try to bring almost any requested food onboard.
Compass Rose (Deck 4): The 570-seat main dining room received a major menu revamp in late 2016, as well as new decor. The room now dazzles with large, modern chandeliers and a pale, blue-grey colour scheme. Everything is brighter and lighter. Upholstered chairs are cream-coloured, with stylish gold zebra-type stripes, and the colourful plates are designed by Versace.
Regent bills the Compass Rose dinner menu as "the largest speciality restaurant at sea," due to the vast number of permanent selections, which enable passengers to choose their main meat and/or fish course from a long list of options, and then customize it with a sauce. You can make your own surf-and-turf, for example, by ordering lobster and steak. And, what the heck, ask your waiter to top the steak with seared foie gras.
Regent developed this new menu by tracking passengers' all-time favourite dishes. Appetizers are divided into five "Fish & Seafood" options, including shrimp cocktail, Alaskan crab salad and lobster bisque (a real hit at our table); four "Meat" choices, including seared foie gras, Black Angus beef carpaccio, escargots, and a less-meaty poached egg with black truffle; and, finally, four "Soup and Salad" options, including San Marzano tomato soup with pesto and a Caesar salad.
For main courses on the "favourites" menu, you can choose from six "Fish & Seafood" selections (jumbo shrimp, king scallops, Norwegian salmon, lobster tail, Dover sole and branzino), with six different sauces, ranging from mango-peach salsa to beurre blanc. The seven "Meat" mains include three Black Angus steaks, Smithfield pork chop, lamb chops, veal medallions and roast chicken. Paired sauces run the gamut from chimichurri to Madeira-truffle and Thai sweet-chilli.
Fifteen "favourites" side dishes include a variety of green vegetables, rice and six different potato preparations. (We particularly liked the wicked potato gratin.) You can also order pasta with pesto, pomodoro or Bolognese sauce.
If all that isn't enough, the other side of the dinner menu offers the chef's daily specials, typically five appetizers, two pastas and five main courses. In this section, you'll find more ethnically varied cuisine, which might include Wiener schnitzel, Thai red chicken curry or pasta puttanesca. The chef also offers a six-course tasting menu drawn from these selections.
For the health-conscious who want to know exactly how many calories they're consuming, the menu also offers Canyon Ranch selections, such as curried fresh black mussels with coconut and tomatoes at 122 calories, 6 grams of fat and 1 gram of fibre.
Ovo-lacto vegetarian dishes, sides and sauces are noted on the menu. Vegetarians are catered to with choices such as Mediterranean squash and zucchini stuffed with mushroom duxelles, tomato sauce and quinoa salad or daikon, carrot and broccoli-stem slaw with Asian dressing. Vegetarians on our cruise were very pleased with the offered options. Vegans have 14 full menus to choose from (consult with the Restaurant Manager for details). Gluten-free, lactose-free, salt-free, no-added sugar options and Indian vegetarian menus are available as well.
Included wines served at Compass Rose were fine, but didn't blow us away. For example, one night the white was a 2015 Sancerre and the red was a 2014 Cotes du Rhone. On another, there was a 2015 California sauvignon blanc and a 2014 Bordeaux. In general, the reds were a bit rough.
For breakfast, Compass Rose offers starters of charcuterie, cured fish, cold cuts and cheeses; eggs and omelettes to order; hot cereals, pancakes, waffles, French toast and Swedish pancakes; sirloin steak, lamb chops and a roasted salmon filet (prepared as a Japanese-style breakfast). Assorted pastries, cold cereals, fruits (fresh, dried or stewed) and yoghurt round out the menu.
At lunch, the menu includes a daily special in each of the appetizer, soup, fish, pasta and main course categories. For example, a main would be beef roulades braised in Barolo wine with carrot pickles and bacon. The rest of the menu is a "tribute" to the speciality restaurants onboard Regent's most luxurious ship, Seven Seas Explorer (some of the restaurants are also found on Voyager). You might choose an appetizer like Peking duck salad (from Explorer's Pacific Rim restaurant menu) or beef empanadas (from Prime 7 speciality restaurant); there are six options in total. Mains range from a grilled prime burger (Prime 7) to a croque-monsieur (Chartreuse) or Thai green chicken curry (Pacific Rim). Desserts include classics like linzer torte, chocolate buttercream layer cake and a selection of ice creams.
Compass Rose is open for breakfast (8 to 9:30 a.m.), lunch (noon to 1:30 p.m.) and dinner (6:30 to 9:30 p.m.), though hours may vary due to port timing and special culinary events. The dining room is sometimes closed for lunch on port days. No reservations are accepted, and seating is assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who dislike forced intimacy with strangers can access plenty of tables for two.
Coffee Connection (Deck 5): The informal, comfortable Coffee Connection is ideal for relaxing, chatting with friends and enjoying coffee and snacks from 6:30 a.m. right through to 6 p.m. Breakfast buffet options include cereal, rolls, breads, pastries, fruit, yoghurt with a wide variety of toppings, and bagels with assorted schmears, nicely portioned onto cucumber slices. We were wowed when we found the pastry chef's version of a custard-filled "cronut" here one morning. Midday snacks include cold meats, cheeses, assorted rolls, cookies and small desserts. In the afternoon, sandwiches, biscuits, cakes and fruit are on hand. The ship's best espresso drinks are found here, including usual barista concoctions, plus spiked versions, like Irish coffee and Russian hot chocolate with vodka. Cold options include a frappe and Viennese coffee with chocolate and cream.
Prime 7 (Deck 5): Regent's steakhouse, open only for dinner by reservation, 6. to 9 p.m., mimics the classic upscale steak venues you'd find on land. Decor is dark and modern-clubby, with leather-covered columns, burnished wood panelling and tobacco-coloured leather armchairs. Lighted cases display wine bottles and open windows onto the bright kitchen create drama, as the cooks hustle to prepare and plate the steaks. On the downside, as late diners, we also got to watch them wash down their stainless steel-clad work area.
Prime 7's menu nods to seafood with appetizers like an ahi tuna and avocado tower (not our favourite rendition of this standard, which dissolved into a pool of soy sauce), jumbo shrimp cocktail and lump crab cakes (excellent), but meat's the thing here. You might start with foie gras sliders or steak tartar and continue with clam chowder, an iceberg wedge or a Caesar salad. Moving on to the USDA prime-graded steaks, you can choose a New York, porterhouse (an 18-ounce individual portion or a whopping 32-ounce version to share), bone-in rib, filet mignon or slow-roasted prime rib. (We thought our mate's bone-in rib steak had more flavour than our porterhouse.) Popular seafood mains include lobster tail and outstanding king crab legs (let the kitchen remove the meat from the shell for you). Veal, pork and lamb chops round out the menu -- and if you must, there are also chicken, tuna and seafood sampler options.
There are seven sauces to choose among (the Armagnac-green peppercorn was our favourite) and 11 sides, including truffle fries, twice-baked potato and classic creamed spinach. A cone of breads for the table includes dangerously delicious pretzel rolls. Tip: Beware the amuse-bouche shooter of soup; we like spicy foods, but the spice level in this was so high, it temporarily blew out our taste buds.
The included cabernet and sauvignon blanc wines paired well with the dishes, but didn't astound us. The particular California labels weren't exactly what we'd consider to be luxury wines.
Dessert winners were the Chicago cheesecake (creamy and not overly sweet) and the deconstructed s'mores, with housemade marshmallows. The showy 14-layer chocolate cake was disappointingly dry -- probably necessary to keep the structure intact. Some very sweet fudge arrives at the end of the meal as a send-off treat.
Chartreuse (Deck 5): This modern French speciality restaurant, serving dinner only, replaces Signatures, a more traditional French venue. It's intended to replicate the sort of cuisine young chefs are cooking in Paris. As you enter, the cheese cart tells you this is a serious French restaurant. The less-typical cruise ship selections, like Saint-Maure, are well-aged and tempting.
The chic decor has an updated Art Deco feel, with cream-coloured velvet upholstered chairs edged in black lacquered wood. Curtains are gold brocade and modern art in blue tones decorates the walls. Charger plates dazzle, with wide gold rims in a water-drop pattern, which is texturally echoed in the oversized white serving plates. Nostalgic French cabaret music helps set the mood.
Chartreuse turns out Instagram-worthy artistic plates, using both traditional ingredients (duck, foie gras, escargots) and others newer to French haute cuisine (daikon, chickpeas, chorizo). Waiters set a decadent tone up front by delivering truffle butter with the bread presentation. We were particularly impressed by the foie gras terrine with sauternes gelee; creamy artichoke soup with toasted hazelnuts; and the boneless short rib, cooked sous vide style for 72 hours and topped with cubes of seared foie gras and truffle mousse.
Included wines were the best we had with any meal on the ship. The white was a 2015 Pouilly-Fuisse, while the red was a Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
Desserts are works of modernist art (and deliver on taste, too). Our favourite was a cylindrical ile flottante, fluffy meringue set in a pool of rich creme anglaise and topped with a sugar sculpture -- a classic French dessert, reinterpreted. The final touch, which makes you feel like you've really been to an upscale Parisian restaurant, is a presentation gift box holding two French macarons to take back to your cabin.
La Veranda (Deck 11): Serving breakfast (7 a.m. to 10 a.m.) and lunch (noon to 2 p.m.), plus an occasional themed dinner, the casually chic La Veranda on Deck 11 offers buffet-style dishes only. A white wall of rough, brick-cut marble sets a modern tone as you enter. Tables are topped with white cloths at every meal, and multi-level serving counters are rich marble. The restaurant's high location and surrounding windows make for a bright welcoming space. In good weather, you can also opt to sit at outside tables on the ship's aft, or even carry your plate out to tables next to the pool.
For breakfast, there are made-to-order omelettes, waffles, pancakes, muesli, cereals (both hot and cold) and fruit, as well as tomatoes, eggs, sausage, bacon and corned beef hash. There is also a daily cooked-to-order special -- eggs Florentine, for example. We were particularly impressed with the cured fish and charcuterie offerings at breakfast, which ranged from prosciutto and salami to herring and smoked salmon. Fresh fruit was impressive as well, with exotic dragon fruit, passion fruit and kiwi, plus an assortment of berries. And, of course, you can order up a glass of Champagne or a mimosa to accompany your breakfast. Our one beef about breakfast in this venue was the length of time it took to get a cappuccino; on several occasions, we were nearly finished with our meal before the drink arrived.
Lunch brings a small salad bar (we wish there were more topping selections), soups, prepared salads, fruits, cold cuts, charcuterie (loved the smoked duck breast!), shrimp and sandwiches, as well as hot dishes like grilled lamb chops or pan-fried fresh dorade. There's always carved meat, as well as side-dishes like french fries, mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables. A window on one side of the restaurant dispenses three varieties of thin-crust pizza by the slice. There's also fresh fruit and plenty of desserts to choose from, including cute little cones topped with chocolate mousse, individual parfaits, cakes by the slice, cookies and a selection of ice creams and sorbets. While there were always old standby flavours, we appreciated the chance to try creative options, like a delicious pear-rosemary sorbet.
On our seven-night cruise, there were two evening buffets at La Veranda -- one with a Mediterranean theme and another Asian buffet. We checked out the Asian buffet, which represented a number of countries, including the Philippines, China, Thailand and India. There were tasty salads (Vietnamese chicken salad, for example) and prepared-to-order stir-fry options, as well as some items, like duck egg rolls, which didn't hold up so well in a buffet environment. Our favourite dish was an absolutely luscious butter chicken, which we ate so much of that we didn't have room for desserts, which included "Japanese tiramisu," made with green tea.
Sette Mari at La Veranda (Deck 11): Most nights, between 6:30 and 9 p.m., La Veranda morphs into this table-service restaurant (the name translates as "Seven Seas"), offering Italian specialities. Salads and appetizers are served buffet-style, but dinner entrees and desserts are ordered from -- and delivered by -- waiters. On our ship, an Italian maitre d' as well as an Italian waiter enhanced the atmosphere. Italian mood music on the sound system ran the gamut from "Funiculi Funicula" to "Ave Maria." The wine steward offers a glass of prosecco to start, a nice touch.
Waiters deliver starter snacks of olives, Parmesan cheese slivers, fried mozzarella, bruschetta and meatballs. You're then invited to visit the antipasti bar for salads and salumi. Soups include hearty minestrone or tomato-basil, while pasta choices feature versions of carbonara, Bolognese and lasagna with rich bechamel sauce; there's also gnocchi in creamy pesto and a couple of daily specialities -- ours were luscious fontina cheese-filled ravioli in a truffle sauce and seafood risotto.
Our waiter recommended the veal osso bucco (fork-tender and fabulous), the gorgonzola-crusted beef tenderloin with red wine sauce (also delicious) and the cioppino seafood stew -- a more upscale version than we're used to, which included a lobster tail. He didn't recommend the swordfish, which our table ordered anyway. It was the one real miss on the menu, overcooked and covered in a tomato sauce that did nothing for the fish.
Leave some room for the dessert; the menu offers 10 choices, served buffet-style, including cannoli, tiramisu and chocolate-glazed limoncello cake and biscotti.
Pool Grill (Deck 11): The open-air Pool Grill on the lido deck is the ultimate come-as-you-are dining venue when you don't want to spend too much time disrupting your sunbathing or swimming schedule. It's open for a fitness breakfast from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m., serving healthy options like yoghurt, granola and fruit.
At lunch (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), burgers and hotdogs are the main focus, with some decadent creative options, like a bacon-beef burger with gorgonzola cheese or a pesto burger with mozzarella and sun-dried tomato mayonnaise. Lighter eaters can opt for a salmon burger or avocado-tuna burger, while vegetarians can go with the portobello-feta, veggie or tofu version. There's also a small salad bar, plus a few cold sandwiches, wraps and dessert choices. There's also an ice cream scooping station just around the corner from the grill and a coffee/tea station with an automatic espresso drink machine in the area.
Room Service: Of course you can also choose to eat in the privacy of your suite. You won't get your food left on a tray; meals are elegantly served on tables with white tablecloths. Complimentary room service is available 24/7, so no need to worry if you have an attack of the munchies in the middle of the night. Whether you feel inclined to savour Greek mezze, a steak sandwich with pesto or comfort food like a traditional hamburger or cheeseburger, you've got it. The standard room-service breakfast menu is fairly extensive (order the night before by ticking your choices on a door-hanger for timed morning delivery), and besides the usual fruit, yoghurts, pastry and cereal, you might opt for minute steak, smoked salmon or an omelette. You can also order room service breakfast, lunch and dinner from the Compass Rose menu during restaurant hours. Occupants of Master Suites, Grand Suites and Regent Suites have the extra benefit of ordering menu items from the speciality restaurants during their regular evening hours. For all cabin classes, room-service dinner is served in courses, unless passengers request otherwise.
Whichever type you choose, every one of Seven Seas Voyager's 350 suites comes with a balcony, a welcome bottle of Champagne and fresh fruit. All classes feature separate sitting areas, European Suite Slumber king-sized beds with cushy pillow-top mattresses and high thread-count sheets and duvet covers. We found the plump king-sized down pillows to be particularly heavenly.
Interactive flat-screen televisions have an extensive media library and complimentary movies on demand. Standard channels include MSNBC, Fox News, Sky News, CNBC and BBC World, plus 15 channels of music. You can also view restaurant menus, read about the ship's various venues and access other cruise information on the TV. Each stateroom has a mini-bar stocked with nonalcoholic beverages, as well as a desk and vanity. There are plenty of electrical outlets (both U.S. and European), as well as a USB socket at the desk. An adjustable thermostat indicates hotter or cooler, but not temperatures. The phones also have direct-dial satellite calling capability.
The ample walk-in closets are all equipped with safes, umbrellas, plush white bathrobes, slippers and plenty of wooden hangers, plus several padded ones for delicate garments. A hair dryer stashed in one of the drawers here can be used at the vanity. There's also a small, two-tier shoe rack and an extra-long shoehorn.
Marble bathrooms are stocked with a generous selection of L'Occitane Mer & Mistral toiletries (bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, shower gel, lavender bubble bath, cotton buds, cotton pads, shower cap and emery boards).
Services provided for all suites include free shoeshines, 24-hour room service and free, unlimited Wi-Fi (one sign-in at a time per suite unless passengers are gold-level Regent affinity club members, in which case two sign-ins are allowed).
Twelve suites are interconnecting, ideal for families; sofas in all suites are convertible to provide an additional bed. Four suites are wheelchair accessible.
Tip: The ship's General Manager told us that high-end suite are the first to sell out -- so book early if you want one of Seven Seas Voyager's most luxurious options.
Deluxe Veranda Suites: The ship's 101 Deluxe Veranda Suites have 306 interior square feet, plus a 50-square-foot balcony. Although they're the least expensive option, they are suitably plush for a luxury ship. The suites have a deep-blue and grey colour scheme. Modern art adorns the walls, while light-grey and beige wall coverings, touches of dark wood panelling and grey carpet complete the chic look. While these rooms are the same size and configuration as the one-step-up Concierge Suites, the colour scheme makes them a bit darker by comparison.
A spacious bathroom is off the entry hallway, as is the walk-in closet. The bathroom is clad in beige and tan marble, with cream-coloured cabinets. Most bathrooms have full-size tubs and separate, glass-enclosed showers (a few baths are shower-only). The showers have a hand-held showerhead, which fits into a wall socket to function as a regular-type shower. In our experience, water pressure was good, and there was never a problem with variable water temperature, as we've encountered on many ships. The tub is also equipped with a hand-held showerhead, which fits into a low socket above the faucet or into a higher socket to function as a regular shower. Above the tub, there's a pullout clothesline. Towels, hand towels and washcloths are luxurious and fluffy; they're white with a grey border stripe. Below the single sink are four cabinets; on either side are three chrome-and-glass corner shelves. An additional phone is located in the bathroom.
The walk-in closets have both double-hung spaces and sections for full-length garments, plus an assortment of hangers. There are also five drawers (three shallow, two deep), two large shelves and a partial shelf shared with the safe. The closets are stocked with a lap blanket, as well as laundry bags and order forms. Across the hall from the closet, double wall hooks are perfect for parking sun hats.
The luxurious king bed is flanked by marble-topped nightstands with two deep drawers, wall sconces and pinpoint reading lights. It's backed by a large, contemporary padded headboard in dark blue. Linens are white with grey trim, and a blue brocade runner decorates the foot of the bed. On one nightstand there's a phone; on the other there's a clock. Master light switches are located on either side of the bed, as are European electrical outlets -- perfect for keeping electronic devices at-hand and charged overnight -- so bring an a U.S.-to-European electrical plug adapter if you want to keep your phone within reach of the bed.
Against the wall, off one side of the bed, is a small marble-topped vanity with lighted wall mirror, magnifying mirror, tissue box, electrical outlets (one U.S., two European), wastebasket and stool.
Stylish grey brocade curtains with tiebacks separate the seating area from the sleeping area. Here, you'll find a beige sofa with throw pillows, a glass-topped end table with a contemporary lamp and a marble table (suitable for dining and topped by a live white orchid plant on our cruise). Built-in wooden cabinetry with a marble countertop on the opposite wall incorporates the fridge/mini-bar, a cabinet for glassware and the desk with one drawer. A grey upholstered chair accompanies the desk and the flat-screen TV is on the wall above.
Double sliding-glass doors (curtained with sheers and gray brocade swag curtains) lead to the teak balcony. It's fitted with a small, oval, teak-covered table and two cushioned armchairs with white terrycloth slipcovers. The chairs have adjustable backs, though the balcony isn't deep enough to fully recline them.
In some suites on Deck 10 midship, passengers may be roused from slumber in the early morning by the sound of loungers being put into position on the lido deck above; there can also be issues with early morning noise from the Veranda restaurant in suites located on Deck 10 aft.
Concierge Suites: The 132 Concierge Suites are the same in size and layout as Deluxe Suites but come with a different, more luxe colour scheme and extra amenities. These include priority online shore excursion reservations and a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay with ground transfers, breakfast and porterage. Onboard, you receive 15 minutes of free ship-to-shore phone time, an in-cabin illy espresso machine with a variety of coffee capsules and a large Regent tote bag to take home. In addition, the walk-in closets are stocked with two lightweight blue shawls. You also get a 10 percent discount on premium wines and liquor, plus a 5 percent discount on paid shore excursions and on add-on hotel and land programs.
The colour scheme in these suites comes in shades of gold, cream, beige and dove grey, with touches of spring green. This makes for an overall brighter and more opulent look than the Deluxe Suites. The padded headboard behind the bed is a light-gold tone. Linens are white with gold trim, while a gold, grey and cream brocade runner decorates the foot of the bed; the same brocade appears in the curtains.
Penthouse Suites: The 91 Penthouse Suites include the Concierge amenities and more -- best of all, a butler. The butler can serve meals or organize cocktail parties in your cabin, take your clothes for pressing (complimentary on the first night) and even unpack and pack for you.
Other perks include daily canapes, an upgraded bar setup with alcohol, use of an iPad, an iPhone docking station, personalized stationery and a selection of bed-pillow types. In the bathroom, there's an additional option of Guerlain toiletries, plus a men's shaving kit, face wipes, sewing kit, stain remover and hand sanitiser.
The 91 Penthouse Suites all have decor in shades of beige and cream, but the suites come in two very different configurations. Penthouse Suite types A and B (370 square feet, including a 50-square-foot balcony) have an ocean-facing picture window in the bedroom area, as well as sliding-glass doors in the seating area leading to the balcony. After entering and passing doors to the bathroom and closet, you reach the seating area first. Here, there's an additional armchair and end table compared to the lower-level suites. The TV is located above a small mini-bar cabinet that also houses barware and full-sized bottles of alcohol. In the bedroom area, there's an additional upholstered bench at the foot of the bed; the built-in desk (with four drawers) and vanity are located here, below the window. Although these suites aren't much larger than the Concierge and Deluxe Suites, their configuration and bedroom window give them a much more spacious feel. They would also be nice if you're considering entertaining in your suite, since guests wouldn't have to traipse past your bed to reach the seating area.
Penthouse Suite type C is the same size and configuration as the Deluxe and Concierge Suites (306 interior square feet), but with a much larger balcony (80 to 137 square feet).
Seven Seas Suites: Book one of these 10 suites, and you'll be treated lavishly. In addition to the Penthouse Suite amenities, perks include early access on embarkation day, dinner with a senior officer, a floral arrangement and deluxe fresh fruit. You also get a boggling array of toiletries, including Bottega Veneta, Guerlain and L'Occitaine brands.
The colour scheme of these suites is blues and greys, including velvet upholstery, with beige wall treatments plus dark wood accent panelling and cabinetry.
Like the Penthouse Suites, these staterooms come in two very different configurations. Aft Seven Seas Suites have 441 interior square feet, plus balconies of 166 to 293 square feet. These very bright staterooms are configured in one large space, with a curving set of three floor-to-ceiling windows, in addition to the sliding glass doors onto the balcony. They have similar furnishings to the Penthouse Suites, with the addition of a coffee table and an upholstered chair.
Forward Seven Seas Suites are 495 square feet, plus a 50-square-foot balcony. A big point of difference is the extra half-bath near the entrance, which includes a sink, toilet, six corner shelves and four cabinets under the sink (the same as other bathrooms, minus the shower and tub). As you enter the main space, there's a five-drawer bureau, a desk/mini-bar alcove and the living room area, which contains a large, L-shaped sofa, an armchair and glass coffee table. To the side, there's a glass dining table with two upholstered chairs. The TV is located between the living room and bedroom, mounted on the wall to swing in either direction. The bedroom includes a glass-topped vanity with six drawers and a large picture window. You walk through the huge closet off the bedroom to reach the main bathroom.
Voyager Suites: The eight Voyager Suites offer 554 square feet of interior space and a 50-square-foot balcony. Additional perks include a welcome bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, one in-suite caviar service and delivery of up to three daily newspapers.
In an unusual design feature, the balcony is inset, and placed between the bedroom and living room, so its railing is flush with their exterior walls. This nicely separates the entertaining and private areas, and also allows for an extra window in each room overlooking the side of the balcony, which makes the suite quite bright. These suites have an extra half-bath near the entrance -- another plus for entertaining. The colour scheme is greys, beige and blues; a shelving unit in the living room area is medium-coloured wood and contains the TV, bar and additional storage. Living room furnishings include a sofa, glass-topped coffee table, two end tables with lamps and an armchair. The living room has floor-to-ceiling windows and an additional corner window onto the balcony. A round dining table with two chairs is positioned between the living room and bedroom, near the sliding-glass doors to the balcony.
In the bedroom, set off from the living area by curtains, two bedside tables are both topped by lamps. A vanity with six drawers is also located in the bedroom.
A small desk with an overhead shelf and a bureau are somewhat awkwardly located in the entrance hall.
Grand Suites: Four Grand Suites (753 interior square feet, plus a 123-square-foot balcony) also come with a half-bath in addition to the master bathroom. But their best feature is the solarium off the bedroom with a lounge chair, side table and a jetted tub for two. While soaking, you might want to enjoy your welcome bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne and some bonbons from the large box of Leonidas Belgian chocolates provided to passengers in this suite class.
The suite's living room decor is in beige, cream and light grey, which makes the abstract art appear even more dramatic. There is a sofa, glass coffee table and two armchairs with a small table in between. One wall is dominated by a wood shelving unit housing the pullout TV, bar and coffee service. Below is an abundance of cabinets and drawers. There's also a freestanding wood desk topped with a lamp and a dining area with as glass-topped table and four upholstered chairs. Floor-to-ceiling windows and a set of sliding-glass doors to the balcony keep everything bright. A freestanding wooden shelving unit separates the living area from the bedroom. It has display shelves on the living room side and six drawers, two lighted shelves and a TV on the bedroom-facing side. The bedroom is decorated in pale blues, while the adjacent extra-large master bath has dark marble accents and includes a bidet and a scale. You'll be plied with extra toiletries, including everything from the other suite classes, plus Guerlain fragrance and an assortment of Spongelle face buffers.
Other perks include a cocktail party for eight, free unlimited valet laundry, a guaranteed reservation each night in the speciality restaurant of your choice and a 25-minute personal training session at the fitness centre.
Master Suites: Seven Seas Voyager's top-of-the-line accommodations are the four Master Suites, two on Deck 11 and two on Deck 7. The roomiest, on Deck 11, has 1,226 square feet of interior space and 187 square feet of exterior space, spread over two balconies. There are two bedrooms, each with a bath; one bedroom has a similar configuration to a basic Deluxe Suite, with its own sitting area, closet and balcony. Just off the master bedroom, the huge master bathroom has a freestanding tub and freestanding round glass shower, as well as a bidet and scale. Furnishings and decor in the main living area are similar to the Grand Suites, with the addition of a bar area with two bar seats. There's also a guest half-bath with toilet and sink.
The other Master Suite configuration, on Deck 7, has 1,152 interior square feet, plus a single 183-square-foot balcony. The smaller second bedroom has a slightly different configuration, with the bed next to the window.
Both suites receive the same top-of-the-line amenities as the Grand Suites, plus some extra Regent swag, including water bottles and a cap.
HEALTHY RETURN TO SAILING
Regent Seven Seas Cruises is working with their Healthy Sail Panel — a team of cross-disciplinary experts enlisted to guide the cruise industry’s way forward in response to COVID-19. Co-chaired by Governor Michael Leavitt, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is comprised of globally recognized specialists in public health to develop, implement and continually evolve industry-leading standards. Their Health and Safety Protocols cover all aspects of onboard and shoreside operations to protect their guests, crew and the communities we visit.
SAFETY ON THEIR SHIPS
Their 24/7 prevention schedule will feature continuous disinfection of public areas and high-traffic touchpoints as well as daily fogging of all suites, public spaces, and guest corridors. The fogging process utilizes a hospital-grade oxidant that is natural, safe, and non-toxic. Guest suites will receive intensive microbial disinfection daily, which includes fogging of the entire space inclusive of bathrooms and closets.
Strategic installation of medical-grade air filters to provide cleaner air for their guests. The upgraded H13 HEPA air filters are capable of removing 99.9% of airborne pathogens and are fine enough to catch particles of COVID-19.
Each ship will have a dedicated Public Health Officer on board, responsible for the oversight of all outbreak prevention initiatives. Additionally, they will monitor the day-to-day sanitation and cleanliness of all public areas and accommodations, maintaining compliance with the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program. They will work hand in hand with the ship’s medical team on board as well as the corporate Public Health and Medical departments shoreside.
They constantly monitor the global health map and cancel or modify itineraries to impacted areas as needed. They may also prevent guests and crew who have recently travelled through high-risk locations from boarding.
SAFETY FOR THEIR GUESTS
All guests will undergo pre-embarkation health screening.
Once it is time to start your voyage, they’ve designed an enhanced, staggered embarkation and check-in process for proper social distancing that also includes a new state-of-the-art touchless temperature screening. Embarkation terminals will be sanitized continuously, and terminals will be thoroughly sanitized and, where possible, fogged before and after each embarkation and debarkation.
No-touch food and beverage service is being implemented across all ships with service staff stationed ship-wide, including Coffee Connection, Pool Grill and all restaurants and lounges. Of course, all guests will be required to engage in frequent hand washing and hand sanitiser will be prominently placed and easily accessible throughout the ship.
To provide even more space for responsible social distancing, they have reduced shipboard guest capacity. Reduced seating in entertainment venues, smaller group sizes for shore excursions, culinary classes, and onboard activities, along with increased spacing in dining venues, provide for effective social distancing practices.
They’re partnering with their local destinations and tour operators to ensure their industry-leading health and sanitation protocols extend to the shoreside experience. Embarkation terminals, tour coaches, and the attractions we visit must have appropriate health and safety protocols in place.
SAFETY FOR THEIR CREW
A healthy staff and crew helps protect their guests. Constant monitoring of staff and crew health includes testing of crew members, temperature checks multiple times per day as well as rigid sanitation and hygiene protocols.
They are expanding their medical teams to provide among the highest Medical Staff-to-Guest ratios onboard each of their ships. Enhanced onboard medical centres are abundantly stocked with common prescription medications, remedies, and the latest virus-testing equipment as available. All medical centres will have the ability to perform FDA- and CDC-approved PCR Point of Care testing. Complimentary consultations and treatments are provided for respiratory illnesses and each ship is equipped with dedicated isolation accommodations should the unlikely need arise.
HEALTHY SAIL PANEL
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings established a Healthy Sail Panel in partnership with Royal Caribbean Group to develop a comprehensive set of recommendations that will guide the cruise industry’s way forward in response to COVID-19. These recommendations, including 74 detailed best practices across five areas of focus, will be used to inform their brand’s robust set of health and safety protocols, which will be shared in the near future.
Consisting of 11 globally recognized experts with deep knowledge in the areas of science, medical practice, medical research, public health, infectious disease, biosecurity and maritime operations, the Panel serves as an example of their commitment to protecting their guests, crew and the communities they visit. The work of the Panel has been shared widely with the cruise industry and is available to any business that may benefit from their findings.
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