By Kathleen Tucker, President and Founder; updated By Teijo Niemela, Cruise Critic contributor
Seven Seas Mariner Overview
It's cool to be trendy, but sometimes it's cooler to buck the trend. In an era in which cruise ships and passenger loads practically require their own zip codes, along came Regent Seven Seas Cruises with a totally retro concept: Build medium-size ships with reduced passenger loads to foster service that's attentive and gracious in an onboard environment that's open and spacious. And, though Seven Seas Mariner was built in 2001, it has been kept in impeccable condition. (Regent regularly pours big money into its ships' upkeep; the latest refurb, in January 2009, saw the line spending over $20 million.)
RSSC's 50,000-ton Seven Seas Mariner is a perfect blend of ship -- both big enough to offer spacious, cruise-like amenities and small enough to feel cozy at the same time. With a double-occupancy capacity of 700, it sports a phenomenal passenger-to-space ratio of 71.43 (total tons divided by double-occupancy capacity) and a none-too-shabby passenger-to-crew ratio of 1.57. Is it pricey? Sure. But, take into account that even the bottommost accommodations are suites, and every cabin has a balcony; couple that with a firm no-tipping policy, and add into the mix that your fare now boasts an all-inclusive liquor policy and all-inclusive specialty restaurants. There's no doubt about it: If you can spring for the fare, you'll get a lot of bang for your buck.
There is much that is retro -- in a good sense -- about Seven Seas Mariner. The ship's main dining venue, Compass Rose, which recalls classic ship architecture, is a single-deck room, set squarely mid-ship. Another inheritance from earlier generations of passenger ships is the absence of a bar in the main entry lobby, even though the lobby sits at the bottom of a very modern eight-deck atrium. Instead, Mariner has an intimate, deeply carpeted, softly lit lounge set off the foyer, between the atrium and Compass Rose. The result? The reception area remains quiet and uncrowded, and it's a comfortable place to relax or rendezvous with fellow passengers.
The style of the ship is classic, without being a self-conscious imitation of the past -- sophisticated without pretense. Service is prompt and, for the most part, gracious and warm. Passengers are well-traveled and have many experiences to share without drifting into braggadocio.
Interestingly, Seven Seas Mariner is one of the few luxury ships to genuinely welcome families, offering heartfelt warmth and, during kids' school breaks in summer, a dedicated children's program.
There are, of course, a few glitches, but these rise only as high as quibble level. For a luxury ship, there is a surprising lack of quality art displayed in public rooms and hallways. Instead, with the main exceptions of restaurant walls and a multi-deck sculpture that climbs the atrium, the walls mainly bear samples from Park West's art auction inventory. And, in a relatively new move, Regent Seven Seas has abolished its on-ship photography service. While that means there are no cheerful requests to pose for pictures at the most inconvenient times, it also means you'll be toting a camera.
Seven Seas Mariner Fellow Passengers
Though mature by chronological standards, this is hardly a ship of old fogies. Passengers are well-traveled, sophisticated and, for the most part, tolerant and patient. Affluent retirees form a substantial percentage, especially on longer itineraries. Most passengers are repeaters. On Alaska cruises, you'll find that 10 to 20 percent are families, traveling with children of all ages.
Relatively inexpensive single supplements of 10 to 30 percent are available on selected sailings, as well.
Seven Seas Mariner Dress Code
For the remainder of 2009, evening dress will either be formal, informal or country-club casual; check your cruise documents for the exact number of each night. Beginning with the New Year's 2009-2010 cruise, the dress code will almost always be elegant casual after 6 p.m. Skirts or slacks paired with blouses or sweaters, pant suits or dresses are acceptable for ladies, while men should wear slacks and collared shirts. Sport jackets are optional; jeans, T-shirts, baseball caps, shorts, sneakers and bathrobes are not allowed in any public area in the evening. In addition, cruises of 16 nights or longer will have two formal optional nights, when passengers can either wear elegant casual attire or opt for a more formal look (gowns, cocktail dresses, dark suits or tuxedos).
Seven Seas Mariner Gratuity
No tipping ambiguity here. Tipping, though not prohibited, is not expected and is certainly not encouraged. Most passengers seem to take the policy at face value.
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