Dear Luxury Traveler,
I recently had the privilege of attending the Regent Seven Seas Explorer Christening followed by a wonderful 8-night cruise out of Monte Carlo. It was a wonderful experience and I would like to share it with you. The christening itself was a magical night that included a black tie ceremony in Monte Carlo including a speech from the Princess of Monaco and private concert by Andrea Bocceli. I felt very privileged to be a part of it.
The Explorer really is the most beautiful ship that I know of in the industry right now. The quality of the materials, furniture and art are incredible. She is packed full of marble, granite, and beautiful glass chandeliers. The library even boasts a leather floor! The artwork on board is really impressive with several original pieces including one from Picasso. The only ship I have seen with this level of quality on board is The World, which really is not a fair comparison given the very different business models.
The spa by Canyon Ranch is quite large and includes an infinity pool off the back of the ship, sauna, cold room, scented steam room and an experience shower.
I received a treatment and it was excellent. The gym is very large with all the equipment one would hope for. Perhaps my favorite thing about the Explorer was that I sailed on a full ship and it never felt crowded. The brilliant design of the ship successfully distributes guests throughout the ship very evenly, which completely eliminated crowding in any one area.
As for the food and service, my expectations were tempered, as this really was a shake down cruise. While there were some issues that came up, I was really surprised at how well everything went. I ate in the main dining room the first night, and it is the most beautiful main dining room I have seen on a ship. The food and service were very good. One side of the menu stays the same every night and the other side changes, so there shouldn’t be any issues with variety. The service was rather slow on some of the other nights, but this is to be expected on a new ship. The quality of the food never suffered.
I also tried each of the alternative restaurants.
They are Chartruese (French, by reservation), Pacific Rim (Asian, by reservation), Prime 7 (steakhouse, by reservation) and Sette Mari (Italian, no reservation required.) I felt the food in the alternative restaurants was excellent, but not necessarily better than what I have experienced on Regent’s other ships or in the main dining room. The staff in each restaurant was exceptional.
One perceived problem that exists with the dining program on board is the reservations system. Clients getting the reservations they want in alternative restaurants is going to be a constant struggle and source of frustration. I say “perceived problem,” because there is enough room in these restaurants to accommodate every passenger in every restaurant at least once on a 7 day cruise, but getting clients to trust that things will work out once they are on board is a tall order. So, unless you go online and make your dining reservations right when they become available, you are most likely going to have to wait list some of the restaurants and wonder if you will get in to each restaurant (you will!) This problem is not unique to the Explorer, but I think it is something that should be addressed.
My cruise did not offer the full selection of lecturers and on board activities that others will, but I still did get to experience quite a bit. The Explorer has a fantastic culinary arts kitchen, and the cooking class was one of the highlights of the on board experience.
There was also a full mini golf course, ping pong, etc. The pool deck had plenty of space and a nice variety of high end furniture.
The productions shows were rather mediocre in my opinion. There was nothing wrong with them and they were on par with what you see on most ships of this size, but I was really hoping one of the benefits of Norwegian purchasing Regent would be some synergies with Norwegian's entertainment programs. This does not appear to be producing results yet.
I was staying in one of the two Category D Concierge Suites on deck 14. While this means you are using the elevator or stairs whenever you want to go anywhere, I really enjoyed the location. There are only 11 suites on deck 14, so it was very quiet and had a bit of an exclusive feel to it. I was pleasantly surprised with the size of the suite at 332 sq ft plus a balcony of roughly 100 sq ft. I really enjoyed the oversized balcony, as there was plenty of space for a chaise as well as two chairs and a table. The beds in many of the categories face the balconies, which is somewhat unique. I like the idea of being able to look out the window as I lay in bed, but I rarely noticed/enjoyed this feature. I am sure there is an engineering reason this wasn’t possible, but I really wish they would have found a way to put glass across the whole wall out to the balcony rather than the sliding glass door coupled with a small wall and a window. All in all, it is a wonderful suite. The bathrooms are beautiful with double vanities, a bath tub and a separate glass enclosed shower. The walk-in closets have amble space, which should eliminate significant conflict for couples as they unpack their bags! The sitting area is quite large and you could easily dine (with friends if you like) and have space to spare.
Categories F2 through D are all identical staterooms, with the difference being in the amenities, the size of the balconies and the location on the ship. Even the smallest balconies are comparable to what you find on a typical luxury ship.
There are a few cabin categories that are a bit smaller, the H and G1 and G2. These are mostly on Deck 6. These all still have balconies, but they do have significantly smaller sitting areas and the beds face the traditional way with you side to the balcony. The G1 and G2 do not have bathtubs, or double vanities. The category H does not have bathtub, double vanity or a walk in closet. The rooms are still very adequate, just not as impressive as the others. The price gap between these categories and the larger rooms is typically not huge, so I recommend getting the extra space.
Penthouse A, B and C are all the same size, with the category based on the location of the suite and the size of the balcony. These suites were a slight disappointment to me. While I did love the spacious balconies, I found the use of the 450 sq ft of space in the suite to be rather poor. As you enter the room, it has a very closed in feel due to the wall between your bedroom and the living room/entry way. The closet is still a walk in closed, but actually seems significantly smaller than the closet in the lower categories. The bathroom is quite beautiful, but again, it feels very narrow and closed off because it winds around from the vanities to the shower. These rooms do give you slightly more space, but I didn’t find the room to be appreciably more spacious than the categories D-F2. Also, the cost to go up to the Seven Seas Suite is not terribly prohibitive, and those suites are far superior in my opinion. If it were me, and I wanted extra space, I would spend the extra money and go for the Seven Seas Suite or higher.
I was also able to walk through all of the large suites and was very happy with all of them. I would be happy to discuss any of these suites with you if you are interested and have included some pictures above.
The highlight is of course the Regent Suite at nearly 4500 sq ft. This two bedroom suite is the best (and most expensive) suite at sea. You have an in-room spa, a sauna and a hot tub on your balcony. Guests in this suite receive unlimited complimentary spa treatments as well as a private car and driver in every port. For those that can afford it, it is the epitome of luxury and exclusivity.
I am truly excited about the Explorer. As many of you know Silversea, Crystal and Regent all have additional new ships coming to market in the next few years. Regent has set the bar extremely high and the luxury segment is going to benefit greatly from the other lines trying the match or exceed this level of quality. I would strongly recommend my clients to experience the Explorer, as I think she is currently in a class of her own!