Regent Seven Seas is the most all-inclusive cruise line ever; tips, drinks, tours, hotels all one price.
The biggest difference between Regent and other cruise lines is the most inclusive cruise experience for the fare possible. Every cruise comes with a pre-cruise hotel stay in the city of embarkation and "free" shore tours in every port of call included in the fare. No other cruise lines (except river cruises) include shore excursions. The base value for these included shore tours is about $220, so a more elaborate tour may have a charge, but in general it will be $220 cheaper than a similar tour offered by a competing cruise line.
Naturally, Regent also has some of the best service and cuisine at sea. Its ships are complete but not overdone, there isn't much frosting, just the best quality ingredients. For example, its standard cabins -- all called suites -- are among the most spacious in the industry. The alternative dining rooms, operated by France's famous Le Cordon Bleu school, are as adventurous and they are accomplished. The same can be said for the line's travel concierge program, which helps passengers devise the most exotic shore excursions they can imagine.
The 1992 marriage of Regent and Seven Seas Cruises is a kind of fairytale wedding for cruise aficionados who remember such classic ships as Radisson Diamond, with her distinctive twin hull, and Seven Sea's Song of Flower. In fact, Song of Flower was as popular in her day as any ship can be, and when the people who knew her talk about her you are sure to see glistening in their eyes. Today she is an expedition ship for a German cruise line.
The then-named Radisson Seven Seas Cruises created a hybrid line with five ships, including one permanently positioned in Tahiti called the Paul Gauguin (now a separate cruise line), which are much beloved by well-heeled cruisers with a taste for exotic ports.
Re-christened as Regent Seven Seas Cruises in 2006, (handy, the RSSC acronym continuing to work, not to mention www.rssc.com!), theare celebrated for such luxury innovations as all-outside staterooms, all-balcony suites, and butler service. The line was acquired by Prestige Cruise Holdings, the same company that owns Oceania Cruises. Many elements of the cruise line that formerly were not considered up to luxury snuff have been vastly improved, especially the food and itineraries.
The older ships were all sold off (including Song of Flower and Paul Gauguin) and now the line has just three ships; Mariner, Voyager and Navigator. The ships are generally among the larger variety where luxury ships are concerned, in the range of only Crystal's are slightly larger, but they also have more cabins. Tips are included in your cruise fare, as are wine during dinner and other liquor drinks with a setup of beer, wine and liquor for two in your cabin. Soft drinks are always included. Toiletries by Judith Jackson are included in every stateroom bathroom.
Former CEO Mark Conroy left the helm of Regent in 2012 - although he remains on the Board of Directors. He ran the company for nearly 20 years and remains in good standing.Dining
Regent offers some of the best cuisine at sea - this is a luxury cruise line. All meals include wine pairings at not added cost, plus after dinner drinks and special coffees on request.
The average is generally well over 55 and well-traveled. The onboard atmosphere is low-key, with few feeling the need to dress to the nines at night. They prefer to dress tastefully yet comfortably. They are worldy in their knowledge and experiences, and look forward to the line's remarkable schedule of guest lectures.Shore Excursions
This is one of the few cruise lines where shore excursion are included in the cruise fare - up to a point. In general, any tour that the line would sell for about $220 is included in the fare, and more expensive tours are discounted by that amount.
Naturally - nothing in life is truly free, and so this all comes with a higher initial cruise fare, but it is a facet of Regent that many of its regular cruisers find appealing.Kid's Excursions
The "Club Mariner" children's program operates only in the summer months in Baltic, Alaska and some holiday sailings. It is for children aged six to 11 and 12 to 17. The Compass Rose dining room has a dedicated children's menu. During the summer, Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society offers a special "Ambassadors of the Environment" program for kids aboard Paul Gauguin.Past Passenger Programs
Regent has a five tier program called the Regent Society:
We rate Regent as a top luxury loyalty program because the line is already inclusive for beverages and gratuities so the free internet access and phone service, laundry services and free daily newspapers delivered to your door daily are all icing on a very sumptuous cake.
Some of the aspects we like about Regent include complimentary Internet access after just 21 days onboard. This is especially enticing to people who use a lot of Internet since Regent also boasts some of the most technically efficient Internet access equipment in the cruise world. They have implemented special technology to make web surfing faster as a service to their guests. Unlike most cruise lines, they don't strive to make money from access. At CruiseMates we especially respect this approach because we regard Internet access as a necessity of life, not a luxury.
Add in the hour of free phone time to the free Internet access at the Silver level, which many cruise ships would charge you as much as $500 for alone. The only thing we would change about this program would be free laundry services at lower levels. This is an important amenity, but in the long run you save far more money with the free Internet and phone access than you do with the laundry services.
These are resort casual ships. Men should bring a jacket for dinner but ties are not necessary. Women can dress up as much as they plase however one should not attempt to make the cruise a fashion show.Tipping
Gratuities are included in your fare.
My wife and I have enjoyed nine cruises with Regent Seven Seas cruises. We booked a cruise for November 2012, starting in Cairo, and traversing the Red Sea, to Jordan, Oman, then through the Straits of Hormuz to Dubai, Abu Dabi, ending up in Mumbai, India.
With the turmoil and US attacks in the middle east, I contacted Regent, where the agent told me that they had contacted their local agents, and there was no risk. We were afraid that it would take only one deranged terrorist to blow up a bus filled with hated Americans, but the agent informed us that Regent saw no risk, and the cruise would continue as planned. We cancelled, forfeiting over $20,000. A letter to Mark Conroy, President of Regent has had no reply or acknowledgment. I do know of several similar cruise itineraries on other lines that have been changed, but Regent continues to put it's passengers at risk. I expected better.
Our cruise from Venice to Rome was fantastic. The crew was very friendly and gave great service. We'd like to single out a few individuals: The cruise director, Jamie, was terrific. Our suite stewardess, Nina, was the best. In the dining areas, Abigail, Bish, & Rubin were very friendly and attentive. In the boutiqe, Samantha, was unbelieveby helpful, courteous, and friendly. She's a true asset to this cruise line. We're planning to cruise with Regent Seven Seas again.
First...I hate cruises. After 11 six to nine month deployments on carriers and cruisers during a 36 year Navy career, I hate cruises. My wife likes them. This was our fourth, one being the Delta Queen which was fun but doesn't really count. I am ready to go home after five days, unfortunately they usually last seven. Our Seven Seas Mariner cruise was ten days and neither of us wanted to leave. A great experience. Well worth every penny, which with free liquor and no tipping, compares favorably with comparable rooms on lesser "cattle boats".
The ship had a great open ocean ride for its size. Roll was well controlled by the stabs, pitch was moderate and you can't do anything about heave. Just enough movement to screw up my golf swing in the cages and help us sleep.
Check in: When they say 3:00, that's what they mean. No checking in at noon and getting lunch on board. I had been forewarned, the entire ship had been chartered the cruise before and all 704 pax were dumped at Pier 66 while we were having breakfast. They universally raved about the shipbut the Radisson reps let me know that the ship is closed until 3:00 so the crew can catch their breath and have one decent meal together every week or so. We showed up a little before and found a terminal full of really ticked off people. The Mariner reps, being French, didn't give a rats. At the appointed hour we squeezed through a tiny door to the next room where we checked in by deck. The process took seconds, provided you had passports and credit card and didn't ask any questions. Lots of people asked questions. Photographer was available for Kodak moment but as with the rest of the cruise, you had to ask. No cameras in your face. Assumed that was because a significant number of the old goats didn't appear to be with their wives. Greeted with flute of Champaign and crewmember who took carry on, led the way to room where a bottle of Champaign waited icing in a silver bucket. Stewardess (tall, blond Icelander) arrived to ask about our preference for set ups and soft drinks for the fridge and to take our order for the two complementary bottles of booze to be provided. The buzz started in the elevator, left somewhere around Daytona driving home.
Room: We bought the cheapest but received a four category upgrade. Everyone seemed to get an upgrade within type (suite, penthouse, etc.) Some paid for modest penthouse and ended up in 1220 sq ft quarters with butler. Our room was near to the Penthouse, only much narrower. Had the large bath with mirror in the tub, walk in closet with umbrella, king size bed, sitting area and balcony. Very comfortable. Next time will spring for your size room for the extra width. The washer/dryers on each deck were out of commission for some reason. The gave us a $100 laundry credit.
Crowd: The ship was reported to be full but we hardly saw a soul. Absolutely no crowds. Restaurants were never more than half full, plenty of room in the theater, lots of space around the pool. They must have stayed in their rooms because they weren't to be seen about the decks. No lines to leave the ship in port and walked off by ourselves when debarking. Where on earth did you cruise people come up with "disembarkation"? Only event to till a room was when the Cruise Director ( who sang at Dodi's funeral) gave a talk on the royal family. It filled the Mariner lounge. My wife said it was enjoyable, I was at the wine tasting.
Food: Fabulous, as Anne Campbell described. This was our first experience with open seating. The tables for two were very popular. The greater/seater would try to put you at a larger table with the intent of building a group. That, for us, with a couple of exceptions, was a disaster. Large percentage were loud, pompous, conceited, demanding, boors. My wife and I enjoyed eating alone, just talking to each other, instead of listening to a table full of (well, never mind). In any event, you sat where he put you, no asking for that table over there. French, remember? Compass Rose served excellent breakfasts. Lunch was a bit overdone. Who wants five courses at noon, with wine? Dinner was a gastronomic experience, every meal being memorable. With open seating, your order was taken and the courses began arriving, not waiting for the whole room to be fed before moving on. Glasses were kept full with absolutely exquisite wine selected to compliment the evening's menu. My wife figured I drank the equivalent of three glasses during white wine only meals, about five if red was served with main course. Service was French, prompt, professional, friendly and helpful. The buss boys were on a par with the waiters of other cruise lines. The French did not appreciate guests getting too friendly with them. Never left without feeling a $20 tip was appropriate. La Veranda, again never crowded, no matter when, was buffet breakfast which we didn't think worked if you wanted something hardy. We took lunch there trying for one sensible meal per day. If you were fetching or frail, a waiter took a plate and walked you through the line, explaining each offering while building a magnificent lunch of French prepared god knows what. I tagged along fixing my own salad. Could eat inside or outside . Evening meal at La Veranda was Mediterranean, a fun diversion. They didn't appreciate my asking what they were going to do when the sea gulls discovered La Veranda. The two specialty restaurants were billed as reservation only but in fact they only reserved about 70% capacity so there was a good chance of being seated if you just showed up. Signatures, the Cordon Blu was a disappointing experience for us. Three courses versus the C.R.s' five and the food didn't appear to be prepared any better. Some raved about the place and ate there as often as they could get in. Latitudes, another fun experience, was a sampling of Indonesian and south sea island fare. Once was enough. The buffet around the pool was about the same as La Veranda except they kept steaks, chops, sausage, chicken and burgers on the grill. Room service was by courses. Having dinner served on the balcony while sailing down the river leaving Charleston was easy to adjust to. Tea time in the proper British tradition but no midnight buffet, probably because that crowd would have had a coronary. After a couple days out, we would go to the restaurant through the bar. Would hook up with people we wanted to eat with and get a larger table. As I said, when left to the maitre'd, it was a disaster.
Dress: Pretty much as you described. Everyone (except me) dressed up one notch from that required. Yes, required. No showing up in jeans saying this is all I brought, now feed me. Coats went on after six, required or not. When coats were required, ties optional, everyone (except me), wore a tie. Casual, everyone (except me) wore a coat. This crowd just naturally felt better dressed up.
Entertainment: Plenty to do but you had better be able to take care of yourself. The usual bridge, lectures, crafts and bingo during the day. A whole room full of computers for classes and keeping in touch. The evening show started at ten, a little late after three huge meals and all that wine. No expense spared on sets and costumes. Troupe was young and energetic but a bit stiff. Comic was hilarious, magician unfortunate. Was nice being able to order a ginger ale without digging out charge card.
Tipping: No tipping and they mean it. You would rarely have the same waiter twice. They got genuinely annoyed when you asked to sit in a certain waiter's station. Didn't see our stewardess the last evening or morning. Would have liked to have said goodbye. The management said we had already been charged the equivalent of their tips and that they receive it in their salary. Not having to shell out the obligatory 15% each time you order a drink was nice. We were told not to tip the stevedores because the company hired them from the city for the day and they were well paid. However, when the fellow piled our bags on his dolly and asked about tips for the porters, I paid.
The ship: Again, as you said, no vibration, anywhere, anytime. No propeller shaft. The drive system is essentially two 8,500 horse power electric trolling motors suspended beneath the hull. No rudders. A retired ship's master and I exhausted the second officer's English so he called the captain, who is most enthusiastic about his new toy. The bridge is 22nd century, the nav system, GPS (which doesn't translate in French) and autopilot are totally integrated. Other ships say they are, however........ One lady, being booked on this summer's Alaska cruise, demanded to know how the system was going to detect whales and ice bergs. But, seamanship consists of punching in where you want to go and what time you want to be there, and then sit back and let it do its thing. The captain thought it impertinent when I opined what would happen to the electric motors when the shaft seals inevitably leaked, and when the pods got sheared off on an uncharted rock. Little old lady said she was sure the captain had spare pods. The captain looked pained. But, he can spin the pods 360 degrees and turn the ship on a dime. With bow thruster, moving out from the pier sideways was possible.