Teresa Ooi

Regent Seven Seas’ claim to have built the world’s most luxurious ship was put to the test in the Mediterranean this week when Cruise Passenger got the chance to try out the Seven Seas Explorer.

We were among the lucky few on board a special “shake down” cruise, designed to iron out any last minute problems with the newly-built vessel.

Our verdict: in an ever-growing luxury market, this ship sets standards others are going to find hard to beat.

Seabourn, Ponant and Crystal Cruises are all expecting new-builds or announcing them in the luxury sector, and smaller vessels from Scenic and Crystal in the expedition sector will also step up capacity.

Australians are a target for the new breed of decadent cruising, where nothing is spared in a bid to meet the every whim of passengers. We are already in the top four country’s providing this line with passengers, along with the US, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The new Regent, however, is really something else.

Regent CEO and President Frank Del Rio told us he was already working on Explorer II (a working title) to be completed in 2020.

Mr Del Rio, who is also head of Norwegian Cruise Lines and Oceania, made the Explorer his personal creation. And he makes no apologies for its claim to be the most luxurious ever built.

He said: “Good old conspicuous consumption – that’s all over. But luxury is back to reward success and not to vilify wealth.

“It’s more than OK to enjoy the best of the best.”

And the Seven Seas Explorer is certainly aiming to be that.

The newly-built $485 million vessel carries only 750 guests, and boasts one of the highest space ratios in the cruise industry. It has 552 crew members – 1.36 guest-to-crew ratio.

It has a new French and Asian specialty restaurant, a Canyon Ranch spa and a huge gym.

It also has one of the biggest suites afloat.

The two-bedroom, 4,443-square-foot Regent Suite comes complete with an in-room spa retreat decorated with gold leaf, two Picasso paintings, a US$150,000 main-room bed, and a custom made Steinway Arabesque piano by famed designer Dakota Jackson.

It also features an outdoor, glass-enclosed sitting area named the Vista Garden that provides magnificent, unobstructed 270-degree views over the ship’s bow.

It was marketed at US$10,000 per night per person.  Now Mr Del Rio since he undercharged, as the take up has been so strong, and the price could well be revised.

“The opulence and elegance of the Regent Suite is unmatched in the luxury vacation segment, and it truly epitomizes the standard of the entire vessel,” said Jason Montague, president and chief operating officer of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

“With Seven Seas Explorer, we built a ship that far surpasses the current standard for luxury and bears the distinction of being the most luxurious ship ever to set sail.”

A first for any cruise ship, the Regent Suite features a master bathroom spa retreat that delivers all the pampering comforts of the Canyon Ranch SpaClub without leaving the suite’s lavish comforts.

A treatment area, full sauna, ceramic heated relaxation lounges and multi-jet shower are at guests’ 24- hour disposal. Included in its treatments, exclusive to the Regent Suite only: Citrus Drench, Diamond Rose Massage and O2 Body Perfection.

An oversized hot tub located adjacent to the spa retreat looks out over the ocean and is enclosed by glass, protecting guests from the outside elements while still providing an al fresco ambience.

The all-suite ship features an unprecedented collection of luxury suites, across 10 different category levels.

Each features oversized bathroom highlighted by rich marble and decorative tile.

In the words of the line’s press pack: “All suites are designed to provide guests with an ambience that exudes luxury while also offering a warm and comfortable respite. Seven Seas Explorer features the largest balconies in the cruise industry, offering a spacious outdoor oasis for guests to enjoy the scenic vistas and ocean breezes.”

We can attest, after travelling with the ship’s designers, that the size and level of attention to detail is extraordinary.

There are 2,500 pieces of art valued at more than US$6 million.

There are five restaurants, including signature restaurants Compass Rose and La Veranda. Three specialty restaurants – Pacific Rim is Pan-Asian, Prime 7 is a glamorous steakhouse and Chartreuse is a tantalizing new gourmet specialty restaurant that features a classic French menu with a modern twist.

Explorer includes a Culinary Arts Kitchen, a hands-on cooking school.

The line’s fares include all-suite accommodations, round-trip air, highly personalized service, acclaimed cuisine, fine wines and spirits, unlimited internet access, sightseeing excursions in every port, all gratuities, and a pre-cruise luxury hotel package for those guests staying in concierge and higher class suites.

An eight-day cruise from Monte Carlo to Rome costs US$10,459 per person in the master suite and US$21,689 in the Regent Suite.

Beginning in summer 2017, Regent Seven Seas Cruises will also include Business Class air for all intercontinental flights.

The line operates three other all-suite vessels: Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner, and Seven Seas Voyager.

The Explorer is holding its inaugural season in the Mediterranean before heading to Miami for a series of Caribbean voyages.

She will be officially christened in Monte Carlo this week by Princess Charlene of Monaco.

Find out more at www.rssc.com

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