Regent Seven Seas is betting a billion dollars that its new ultra-luxury ships and all-inclusive promise will win over wealthy cruisers in Australia, Asia and around the globe.
Already the five-ship line’s third biggest market behind the US and Britain, Australia will be an important testbed for the message that Regent offers the best value in luxury cruising.
Yes, that’s right. The line claiming the world’s most luxurious ships also wants to be known for offering the best value.
The launch last week of RSS Splendor – sister ship to RSS Explorer, known as “the world’s most luxurious ship every built” – is expected to increase the line’s market share in Australia and Asia.
Splendor will be officially christened by US model Christie Brinkley in Miami later this month. It has a host of new features, from a Culinary Arts Kitchen with 16 new courses, to cocktails produced by a 19-strong team of mixologists.
The decadent appointments are still there: an acre of Italian marble, a $7.5 million art collection of 300 works, including a Picasso in the Regent Suite which also boasts a $295,000 bed, private spa, steam room, sauna and $147,000 Steinway piano.
The 412 sqm suite comes with private car and driver in every port, butler and exclusive dining room for 12. We were given an exclusive peak inside this enclave at the top of the ship by VP and Managing Director Asia Pacific Steve Odell. See our video below.
The suite rents for $16,000 a night – but don’t all rush at once. Apart from one or two gaps, it’s already booked up until November.
But there is a substantial change from the Explorer; Splendor is more subtle, less showy – more like a luxury home than the playboy pad of a flamboyant Las Vegas gambler. And while the “rock star” Regent suite is stunning, there are plenty of others to choose from.
And there are new environmentally friendly innovations. A Vero Water system means you receive a smart drinking bottle which can be refilled around the ship, ending the need for plastic. Shore power and cleaner fuels are also part of a fresh sustainability package.
Regent is saying Splendor represents “luxury perfected”. But with another sister coming in 2023, there may be still more “perfecting” to come.
Cruise Passenger spent just a few days on board Splendor as she took her second journey from Rome to Barcelona. Just a few days old, her well-drilled crew were impeccable and the ship itself is a delight.
Signature restaurant Compass Rose still features Versace plates, but the colour palate is more contemporary and subdued, and the giant chandelier has been toned back.
There is a bigger Coffee Connection lounge with outside seating, a larger dance floor and more pool deck space.
Built by Fincantieri in Ancona, Italy, Splendor is 55,254 gross tonnes and 224 metres long, with 551 crew and 750 guests. There are 375 suites, five unique restaurants and three bars and lounges.
So how can all of these luxurious appointments also offer the best value?
Mr Odell says the answer lies in the fact that the line has the most included services, such as all-suite accommodations, flights, the largest collection of free unlimited shore excursions, all specialty restaurants, entertainment, unlimited internet access, highly-personalised service, fine wines and spirits, gratuities, ground transfers and one-night, pre-cruise hotel packages for guests staying in Concierge-level suites and higher.
He believes his rival luxury lines have been forced into price-led marketing. But they charge for additions such as specialty restaurants, shore excursions and WiFi. Regent offers so many inclusions – and that’s where the real value comes in.
“We will always be the most expensive – because we offer the most inclusions,” he says. “In Northern Europe, for instance, the excursions can be a really big add on expense.
“Luxury comes at a price, so you should be looking at value. You don’t go into Louis Vuitton or Cartier looking for discounts. The cruise industry needs to be looking at that.
“We do have early booking price promotions,” he adds. “But we try to avoid last-minute, and luxury buyers don’t buy much last-minute anyway.”
Splendor, he believes, suits “our Australian tastes”. He tells us: “It’s designed like a private home and I think that will go down well with Aussies.”
Explorer will arrive in the region in December, where she will be showcased in Singapore, and then head down to Australia, giving cruisers their first look at the world’s most luxurious ship in our own waters. Regent is planning a series of events to make sure you don’t miss her.
After her naming on February 21, Splendor will cruise the Caribbean and Mexican Riviera, including two crossings of the Panama Canal and one unique Southern Caribbean cruise from Miami to New York City. In spring, she will cross the Atlantic for her inaugural European season in the Mediterranean.
Regent Seven Seas is offering the following to mark her launch:
Deluxe Veranda Suite (category G2) from $8,344pp twin share or $16,688 single
For more information please visit www.RSSC.com or contact: 1300 455 200
Seven Seas Splendor features more than 4,275 square metres of Italian marble.
Her 375 suites include nearly 4,820 square metres of balcony space – among the largest balconies at sea.
Her owner’s suite offers a $200,00 Hästens Vividus custom-made mattress, an in-suite spa retreat featuring personal sauna, steam room and treatment area.
The Regent Suite has unobstructed 270-degree views over Splendor’s bow from the 120-square-metre wraparound veranda, and a glass-enclosed solarium, a dedicated butler and a personal car with driver and guide in every port.
There is a Culinary Arts Kitchen with 18 stations for hands-on gourmet cooking.
The ship’s restaurants include: the largest specialty restaurant at sea, the pan-Asian Pacific Rim, which features an art installation which represents a mythical dragon to greet guests; Prime 7, the line’s well-known steakhouse; Chartreuse featuring classic French fare; and Sette Mari at La Veranda serving Italian specialties.