Spend any time on Cruise Critic's message boards and you'll see one question raised over and over again: "Which cruise line is better for me -- Regent Seven Seas Cruises or Oceania Cruises?" It's natural for travelers to be curious about the merits of one cruise line over another -- especially when those two lines in question are owned and managed by the same parent company (in this case Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.).
It's true that Regent and Oceania share many of the same values. They both strive to provide excellent service, focus on exceeding your culinary expectations and devise cruise itineraries that explore all corners of the globe. But, there are also some key differences. Let's delve into what makes each cruise line special...
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Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Regent Seven Seas has three cruise ships. The 700-passenger Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner launched in 2001 and 2003, respectively, and the 490-passenger Seven Seas Navigator launched in 1999.
The 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer will make its maiden voyage in July 2016. Through 2017, Regent will spend $125 million upgrading and refurbishing Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Voyagers and Seven Seas Mariner
Oceania Cruises has six ships. Three 684-passenger R-class ships -- Insignia (launched in 1998), Nautica (launched in 2000), Regatta (launched in 2003) -- are all former Renaissance Cruises vessels and were refurbished in 2014. A fourth, Sirena, originally launched in 2002 as Ocean Princess but joined the Oceania fleet in March 2016 after a 35-day, $40-million dry dock.
Regent and Oceania package different amenities into their cruise fares. Read on to learn what those inclusions are so you can make the best price comparison -- understanding you'll be comparing apples to oranges.
Choose Regent if you want more perks packaged in the all-inclusive cruise fare.
Sometimes you just want to splurge and arrange for the most all-inclusive vacation possible. You don't want to think about what's included and what's not. If that describes what you're looking for, Regent Seven Seas is an excellent choice. It offers four levels of "all inclusivity" and what you get is defined by your choice of suite category.
Everyone -- no matter which cabin they're in -- receives free benefits such as unlimited shore excursions, specialty restaurants, unlimited beverages including wine and premium spirits, open bars all day plus an in-room bar setup and minifridge that is replenished daily, prepaid gratuities, Wi-Fi and transfers between the airport and ship.
Book a Concierge suite or better, and you'll also get perks like a one-night pre-cruise stay in a luxury hotel, priority online shore excursion reservations, priority online dining reservations for Prime 7 and Signatures, 15 minutes of ship-to-shore phone calls, a 10 percent discount on premium wines and liquor, a 5 percent discount on Regent Choice Shore Excursions, Hotel and Land programs and in-room niceties such as binoculars, an illy coffee maker and cashmere blanket.
The top extras for booking a Penthouse or higher suite include free roundtrip business class airfare and a butler that caters to your needs throughout the voyage.
Finally, passengers in suites named after their ship also get guaranteed nightly reservations in their choice of specialty restaurant.
Choose Oceania Cruises if you want the best value for your dollar.
Oceania fans believe that the itineraries offered by this fleet are among the best values you can find in the entire cruise industry. When you compare fares to Regent, Oceania is the cheaper option by far. A seven-night Alaska voyage aboard Regent Navigator will run you $5,799 while a similar itinerary aboard Oceania Regatta is just $1,799. A 10-night Caribbean roundtrip voyage out of Miami aboard Regent Explorer costs $5,499 while a comparable Miami roundtrip on Oceania Riviera is just $2,799. Both lines offer full world cruises: Regent's 128-night 2017 itinerary lists for $55,999 while Oceania Insignia's 180-night world cruise starts at $39,999.
Or if you prefer spending your money on what's most important to you in an a la carte setting.
Oceania's cruise fare includes quite a lot, like coach air travel from 26 U.S. gateways, Internet, 24/7 room service and dining at all restaurants on board -- even the specialty restaurants. Unlimited soft drinks, bottled water, cappuccino, espresso, teas and juices are also complimentary, as is shuttle service from the ship to the city center in many ports of call. If you sail on Marina or Riviera, you get access to the Artist Loft enrichment center. On all ships, Concierge and Suite guests have unlimited access to Canyon Ranch SpaClub's private Spa Terrace included in the fare.
However, drinks, tours, gratuities and spa treatments are not included in the fare. With the line's OLife Choice program, you can customize your experience by selecting from a range of additional freebies, such as a choice of complimentary shore excursions, a free house beverage package or shipboard credit to spend at the spa or on souvenirs.
Both cruise lines offer port-intensive itineraries that allow travelers to truly immerse themselves in the destination. Regent and Oceania's offerings are both strong in Alaska, the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Both lines offer a mix of shorter one- to two-week voyages -- especially in popular regions like the Caribbean and Mediterranean -- and longer "grand voyages" that can last 30 or more nights.
If you wish to sail to Australia and New Zealand, Oceania is an excellent choice because it's sailing two of its most intimate ships -- Sirena and Insignia -- in the region. Oceania also offers more Africa-centric voyages than Regent does at this time. However, if you want to visit Asia, Regent offers more choice with itineraries from Hong Kong to Beijing, Singapore to Hong Kong and Singapore to Beijing. Both offer world cruises and ocean crossings.
Choose Regent if you love ocean crossings.
Regent gets rave reviews from travelers who book "grand crossings," otherwise known as transocean voyages. Most cruise lines, including Oceania, offer transocean itineraries but Regent excels in programming additional onboard lecturers and activities to make these cruises special.
These trips occur when the line's ships need to reposition from one part of the world to another. The itineraries are full of back-to-back days at sea -- with a few ports of call for good measure -- and those sea days are absolute gold for anyone who wants to spend his or her time enjoying the ship. Play some competitive trivia, practice your ballroom dance steps, learn to cook something new, attend a lecture, or pamper yourself with a spa treatment or two -- there is always something to keep you busy. Crossings are usually priced well and this may be an opportunity to try the new Seven Seas Explorer at a lower than normal per diem.
Choose Oceania for Alaska and Caribbean itineraries.
When it comes to sailings in both of these geographic regions, Regent and Oceania have tons of offerings and in nearly every case Oceania is less expensive. In Alaska, Oceania's Regatta sails seven-, 10- and 12-night itineraries, including roundtrip Seattle, roundtrip Vancouver and San Francisco or Seattle to Vancouver. The line has years of experience sailing the Inside Passage, and Oceania's excellent shore excursion options and onboard lectures will give you a glimpse into life in The Last Frontier.
The line also has deep roots in the Caribbean with affordable options calling on a "greatest hits" selection of islands including Barbados, Saint Lucia, St. Barth's, Turks and Caicos, Antigua and Tortola. Voyage durations range from shorter seven- and 10-night options to longer 14-, 16-, 18- and even 22-night options.
Or if you have your heart set on a luxury world cruise but don't want to empty your retirement savings account.
One of the absolute best values in luxury cruising right now is Oceania's world cruise itinerary. It's not cheap, but if you are one of those few who are investing in a world voyage on a luxury vessel, Oceania's pricing will be hard to beat. Starting at $39,999 per passenger, you'll spend 180 days traveling the globe aboard Insignia. The route changes each year but is always intriguing -- 2017 features New England, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East while the 2018 voyage forfeits those destinations in favor of a bit of South America and a focus on the ports of Southern Africa.
The quality of land tours offered by both Regent Seven Seas and Oceania is very high. Each line uses knowledgeable tour guides and transportation providers that maintain luxury coaches, watercraft, vans and cars. Neither line packs its tours, so you won't feel overcrowded on the bus getting to and from each site.
Choose Regent if you know you want to take a ship-sponsored shore excursion in every port of call.
Regent is famous for offering unlimited shore excursions in its cruise fare. In practice, this means that you can be assured of an interesting tour ashore in every port -- all for no additional out-of-pocket expenses (other than a discretionary tip for your local guide). In Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, the cruise line offers 19 tours, eight of which are free. Two of the free tours include transportation from the port to Rome and then time to explore on your own. The other complimentary tours include some solid guided tours of the region. The paid tours are upgraded options with a per person price tag ranging from $109 for a "Discover Rome" excursion to $269 for "Classic Rome by Private Railcar" to $1,499 for a full-day private car rental with driver and guide.
Choose Oceania if you're more the DIY type.
While Oceania Cruises offers a variety of interesting shore tours, a good number of travelers prefer to do their own thing. That might be because the line tends to draw a slightly younger and more active crowd than Regent, and those passengers are more willing to strike out on their own -- either touring independently or booking a private guide. But fear not: If you enjoy cruise-sponsored ship tours, Oceania's offerings are solid.
Or choose Oceania if you want flexibility in the types of ship-sponsored shore excursions you can book.
For those who do want to purchase a ship-organized tour ashore, Oceania offers multiple kinds of tours, as well as package options. Standard tours can be purchased the old-fashioned way: by paying a set fee for each tour. Keep an eye out for Oceania Choice and Oceania Exclusive Excursions, which can take you to unusual destinations for one-of-a-kind experiences (and in the case of the "Exclusive Excursions," in small groups of just 16 passengers). Oceania Choice excursions can range from a chef's table luncheon at St. James in Bordeaux to halibut fishing at Alaska's Icy Strait Point.
If you're planning on booking many ship-sponsored tours, you can take advantage of the line's tour packages. The Unlimited Passport Collection affords you unlimited shore tours from a set list for one package price; it can save you up to 40 percent off the original a la carte pricing. With Oceania's Your World Collection, you can select your desired number of tours from the line's entire portfolio for about 25 percent off a la carte prices.
Some travelers want their cruise ship cabin to be their home away from home, while others look at it as merely a place to sleep at night. Regent -- with its spacious suites, almost all with balconies -- is a better bet if you like to spend time in your room. Oceania, on the other hand, offers a wider range of cabin categories -- including some inside cabins -- so you've got a bit more choice there. Both offer butler service in Penthouse Suites and above.
Choose Regent if you want a spacious suite with a balcony.
Regent's fleet comprises "all suite" ships, and 97 percent of the suites are outfitted with a balcony. (Seven Seas Navigator is the only ship in the fleet that has suites without a balcony.) When it comes to space on all Regent ships, even the entry-level Deluxe category spans 300 square feet. Compare that to Oceania's 160-square-foot Ocean View category aboard Regatta, Insignia, Nautica and Sirena.
Choose Oceania if you want real choice when it comes to your cabin category.
Sure, Regent boasts that nearly every cabin in its fleet has a balcony, but what good does that do you if you're never in your stateroom? Oceania Cruises offers a broader range of cabin categories to suit every cruiser's style.
All Oceania ships have inside staterooms, oceanview cabins, veranda and Concierge-level veranda staterooms, Penthouse Suites, Vista Suites and Owner's Suites. These options afford you the ability to select the ideal cabin. If you're on a budget, a more inexpensive inside stateroom or oceanview cabin may suffice. For those looking for some additional services, go for the Concierge-level veranda category that provides priority embarkation and luggage delivery, priority specialty restaurant reservations, unlimited access to Canyon Ranch SpaClub's private Spa Terrace and more. Penthouse Suite and higher passengers can board the ship even earlier than Concierge-level guests and a butler -- on call 24 hours a day -- caters to their needs. Vista and Owner's Suite passengers also receive a complimentary in-suite bar setup with six full-size bottles of premium spirits and wines.
Both cruise lines offer some pretty compelling dining options. Both have gorgeous main dining rooms and each has a steakhouse, French restaurant and Asian specialty restaurant on ships throughout its fleet. Regent's dining rooms feel more formal and highbrow, while Oceania excels with its bevvy of choices -- especially on its newest ships Marina and Riviera. Neither line charges extra fees for its specialty dining rooms, so you can expand your palate and try everything without shelling out extra cash.
Choose Regent if you're a red meat kind of guy or gal.
If you love a good steak, you have to try Regent's Prime 7. It serves USDA Prime-grade beef, as well as cuts that have been dry aged for 28 days, and you'll be hard-pressed to find cuts as delicious as these at a land-based restaurant. The most popular entree is the porterhouse for two with all the fixings (potato, choice of vegetable and salad). If you're in the mood, turn your meal into surf and turf with an order of Alaskan king crab legs or a whole Maine lobster. Desserts here are quite good and include homey standbys like Chicago-style cheesecake, banana cream pie and Key lime pie.
Or if you'd like to make a special request.
Regent's culinary department excels when you make a special request -- just be sure to do it in advance. For example, do you want an Alaskan king crab leg feast for dinner one night? Just ask the maitre d' at the beginning of your cruise and it will be arranged. Do you prefer Indian food? A special meal can be crafted just for you and your dinner guests. Be sure to make your preferences known at the beginning of the voyage and just about any request can be accommodated.
Choose Oceania Cruises if you love varied dining options.
Oceania Cruises offers plenty of choices when it comes to mealtime. All ships across the fleet offer the Grand Dining Room and Polo Grill steakhouse, which like Regent's Prime 7 also serves prime and dry aged beef. All ships also have two outdoor dining options, Terrace Cafe and Waves Grill. The Italian restaurant Toscana makes an appearance on all ships except for Sirena, which offers Tuscan Steak and Jacques Bistro in its place. Oceania's newer ships, Marina and Riviera, offer Jacques (with menus designed by French chef Jacques Pepin), La Reserve for wine dinners, and Red Ginger Asian restaurant. Privee is available for private dinners.
Or if you'd like to throw a private dinner party.
One standout dining venue aboard Marina and Riviera is Privee, where you can host an intimate dinner party for 10. The setting is magical with a custom-built table designed by Dakota Jackson, a Venini chandelier, Ferrari-red carpeting and Baroque millwork. If you're celebrating a special occasion, this is the place to do it. You may order from either Polo Grill or Toscana, or both -- the choice is yours.
Choose Regent if you want unlimited, complimentary wines and spirits throughout your voyage.
Regent packages unlimited complimentary beverages -- coffee/tea, water, soda, juice, wines, spirits and beer -- in its cruise fare. Bars are open throughout the day, and your suite will also be outfitted with a complete liquor bar setup and minibar, which are replenished daily. While Regent also sells premium wines, most cruisers say the complimentary pours are good enough.
Choose Oceania Cruises if you're not a big drinker.
Some travelers don't partake in a beer at the pool, a pre-dinner cocktail or a glass of wine with a meal. For them, it can seem wasteful to book a voyage aboard a ship that packages all the alcohol they won't drink into the cruise fare. A line like Oceania -- that doesn't include unlimited free alcoholic beverages -- is a better bet. You can still drink all the soda, bottled water, coffee, espresso, cappuccino, tea and juice that you want for no fee.
Or you wish to customize your beverage consumption by selecting a package that suits your preferences.
Oceania Cruises offers three fee-based alcohol packages. Prestige Select costs $59.95 per day and includes unlimited premium spirits, Champagne, wine and beer "wherever and whenever you wish." The House Select package is a bit cheaper at $39.95 per day and offers unlimited Champagne, wine and beer with lunch and dinner only. The Wine by the Bottle package consists of seven bottles, each priced at $42.50 (gratuity included).
You'll almost never be inundated with families on either line, but both do offer some select services during certain times of year.
Choose Regent if you want both a kids club program and a luxurious cruise experience.
During June, July and August and on certain holiday sailings, Regent offers its Club Mariner Youth Program in Alaska, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and the Baltics. Split into three age ranges -- 5 to 8, 9 to 12, and 13 to 17 -- programming focuses on age-appropriate activities throughout the day, such as storytelling, board games, arts and craft projects or interactive pursuits like baking cookies with the chef. Tweens and teens generally spend more time competing in video game tournaments or watching movies. There is no permanent kids club so most activities take place in the Stars lounge or on deck.
Choose Oceania Cruises if you're traveling with a multigenerational group (with older teens).
There is a lot to do on Oceania ships, especially the fleet's newcomers Marina and Riviera. No matter the ages of your family members, each will find a pastime that suits. The Canyon Ranch SpaClub is popular with both men and women who want to earmark some time for a massage or facial. The Pool Desk is home to a spacious heated pool and three whirlpool spas as well as the ubiquitous pool bar. The Artist Loft is an enrichment center of sorts where you can find artists-in-residence offering step-by-step instructions in a variety of arts such as painting with watercolors or digital photography. Do you love to cook? Then the Culinary Center will astound you. You get your own fully equipped workstation so you can learn techniques and recipes from a master chef. All that and you and your family can all meet up at 4 p.m. daily for a spot of traditional English tea and all-you-can-eat pastries.