At 50,000-tons this is the largest ship in the Regent fleet, but for only 700 passengers, making it very roomy.
Best For People Who Want
A low-key but luxurious cruise with refined service and fantastic cuisine, on-board enrichment programs, and visits to multiple ports
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Lively nightlife and a frantic casino and a liberal smoking policy.
Seven Seas Mariner is the largest ship in the Regent fleet, but it still embodies the concept that less is more. A smaller than usual ship (50,000 tons) with fewer passengers (700) means much more attentive service and what is currently the highest space per passenger ratio in the cruise industry. Even if Mariner's fares, starting at about $350 per person per day, sound exorbitant, as the world's first all-suite ship, all the suites with balconies, with no tipping and no charge for wine or cocktails, soft drinks or bottled water served with dinner, in today's world Mariner delivers what it promises.
Mariner also proves a luxury ship does not have to be so small that one misses much of what is found on a standard cruise ship. It has a fair-sized casino, a beautiful observation lounge, a selection of alternative dining venues, plenty of onboard shopping not featuring gold chains by the inch, a generous library, an Internet center, a card room, a conference room and a cigar smoking lounge with cognac and similar indulgences available.
A new policy aboard Mariner, and all ships in the Regent fleet, is the banning of smoking in all suites and balconies. Smoking remains permitted on board but is limited to the pool bar area, the casino (at the bar only), the Connoisseur's Club smoking room and a section of Stars Nightclub.
Tasteful, yet soothing, the elegance of Wedgwood blue carpets and light maple banisters surrounding frosted glass pillars. Huge windows throughout brighten up the interiors by bringing the sea and the sky inside. There is an abundance of marble, including inside the suites' bathrooms.
Even though the lobby is at the bottom of an ultramodern atrium, there is no bar in sight. But one will find the entrance to the tender loading ramp - a convenient way to avoid long snaky lines with the crew pushing through to get to their private quarters. The rest of the ship contains exactly what it needs, a main theater for evening entertainment and daytime enrichment lectures, a large observation lounge, a pre-dinner bar near the entrance to the dining room, and a cigar/cognac room for the so-inclined. The reception area remains relatively tranquil and uncrowded.
Even on sea days, there aren't so many activities as to force choices between them. There are computer classes, enrichment and bridge lectures, a daily art auction, and a film in Constellation Theater, Mariner's main show lounge, in which a combination of banquettes and comfortable chairs are arranged to allow ample room to stretch one's legs, or for audience members to easily navigate to their seats, and sight lines are good. Tea time in the Horizon Lounge, with its terrific expansive views through picture windows aft and to either side, is very popular. There are also bingo and trivia quizzes in late afternoon.
The small casino offers craps, roulette, slots, table poker and a small number of blackjack tables. Make hay, or lose your shirt, while the sun shines; the tables are open only about four hours during the day even on sea days, and don't reopen until 9 p.m.
Musical entertainment is typically provided by a harpist, a pianist, and a vocal duo that pops up in different lounges at different times. There's also an orchestra in the well-designed Constellation Theater. The nightly entertainment comprises three production shows per cruise, alternating with the usual shipboard comics, singers and instrumentalists.
Each night Compass Rose offers a red and a white selection from the ship's extensive wine list, with other vintages available for purchase. The main dinner selections include an appetizer, soup, salad, pasta and main course, with two or three choices of each (except for the single pasta dish). In the European tradition, the main course is followed by a cheese selection, an after-dinner drink, and dessert menu. In addition to the categories on the main menu, the nightly six-course tasting menu includes dessert and a palate-refreshing sherbet. Dinner features four additional specialty menus: "Low Carb, Light & Healthy," "Vegetarian" (lacto- & ovo-appropriate), "No Added Salt," and "Simplicity" (pasta with tomato sauce, plain steak, chicken breast or salmon). A children's menu is available only during the Alaska season.
Recalling classic ship architecture of yesteryear, the principal dining venue, Compass Rose, is on a single level, amidships, with plenty of space between the tables. The service is sublime. You can choose to dine alone or with tablemates of your own choosing, or allow yourself, in a spirit of friendliness, to be seated with strangers, perfect and otherwise. If the maitre 'd is on his game, he will seat you with passengers with whom you have already made acquaintance.
Breakfast in Compass Rose isn't very different from that at La Veranda, the Deck 11 buffet, but at lunch and dinner you'll have a wide range of choices of cuisine of many lands. There are special "Light & Healthy" options, and vegetarian, salad, sandwich and pasta choices too. La Veranda is a large, pleasant space that occupies nearly the entire aft half of the Pool Deck, with seating for about 50 under a canopy on the fantail. Elegance prevails at both breakfast and lunch, with white linen and sterling tableware, and there's always a staff member chomping at the bit to help you to your table. Indeed, even the omelet chef insists on delivering personally that which he has prepared for you. At dinnertime, La Veranda becomes Mediterranean Bistro, Mariner's casual alternative restaurant, featuring a different Mediterranean cuisine every night (no reservations required).
Make your reservations for the 100-seat Signatures, one of only two Cordon Bleu restaurants at sea (the other being on Regent's Voyager) the second you board. The 70-seat Latitudes, whose family-style fusion cuisine pays homage to Mariner's Asian destinations, is considerably less popular. Reservations can be made with each specialty restaurant's maitre d', with waiters in Compass Rose, or through the butler in upper category suites. There is no additional charge for these restaurants.
There is, though, a separate menu for 24-hour room service. During dinner hours, guests may also order from the Compass Rose dinner menu to be delivered to your suite; the butler will set a table with full service and bring you each course separately.
From the moment a white-gloved steward warmly greets you as you board, and then escorts you personally to your cabin, you're apt to feel as much a guest on a friend's private yacht than a paying customer. Attentive yet unobtrusive, the European staff is friendly and efficient, and always willing to go the extra mile.
Though not banned, tipping is neither encouraged nor expected.
Mariner has a show lounge, but don't expect the laser-driven razzle dazzle of a 3000-passenger ship. Production style shows are slightly pulse raising tributes to memorable musical eras, and other nights will feature an instrumentalist such as a violin or piano virtuoso playing the recognizable classic pieces perfect for lulling you back to your suite for bedtime.
Club.com, the Internet cafe, is an airy, open space with plenty of terminals and an expert standing by to help you when needed.
Passengers can convene for games, reading or communal jigsaw puzzle-solving at The Garden Promenade, whose 24-hour self-serve coffee/espresso/cappuccino machine is complemented by trays of mini-pastries at breakfast time and by finger sandwiches later in the morning.
To be perfectly correct, Mariner doesn't have cabins, it has only suites. The smallest stateroom is 301 sq. ft., and all have private balconies, large closets and marble bathrooms. Standard amenities include an in-cabin bar set up with wines/liquors of your choice (two bottles per person), beer, water and soft drinks, a TV, VCR, safe, refrigerator, a European king-size bed (converted to twins on request), bathrobes, hair dryer and lovely toiletries replenished each day. Beds are wonderfully comfortable, with fine Anchini linens and duvets.
The Horizon and Penthouse suites are the most popular; at 627-sq. ft., the Horizon Suites are located on the aft end of the ship and boast enormous balconies that overlook the ship's wake. At 449 sq. ft., the Penthouse Suites have a separate sitting area and large private veranda.
The 2,002 sq. ft. Master Suite has two bedrooms, 2-l/2 bathrooms and enormous balcony space. Suites in the top seven categories (Penthouse Suites Category B and above) include butler service.
Six staterooms are equipped for handicapped passengers. Self-service laundry facilities including detergent and ironing boards are located on stateroom decks.
The spa, operated by Carita Paris, offers full service hair, manicure, pedicure, and waxing services, sauna and steam bath, facials (from $60 through $185), and a range of body treatments and massages, including reflexology, Shiatsu, Swedish massage and aromatherapy (from $60 through $195). You can get massaged in-suite at the rate of $120 for 50 minutes.
The nearby fitness facility, open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m., has adequate equipment rather conspicuously weighted toward aerobic conditioning. Organized physical activities and classes are offered on Deck 12, also home to the ship's jogging track, or in the fitness center's aerobics room. There are a paddle tennis court and golf driving cages at the aft end of Deck 12, a main pool and three whirlpools.
Except in Alaska, where the nightly dress code is country club casual, there are two formal nights per cruise, with men asked to wear either tuxes or dark suits. There are a couple of informal nights, and several country club casual nights.