The choice between cruising with Regent Seven Seas or Seabourn can be difficult -- if you don't know the subtle differences that make each line uniquely special. Both cruise lines place a high value on beauty; you'll see that in the architecture of the ships, suites, dining venues and other public areas. If you want to drink in beautiful interiors and landscapes, you can't go wrong with either option.
Where you will find some differences is in the vibe of the ships. Regent strives to deliver what it calls "six-star" service, with white gloves and tails. In other words, you'll enjoy more formal service delivered by crew members who will reverently address you as Mr. and Mrs. On Regent, you'll find men and women wearing Chanel, Dior and Valentino.
Seabourn, on the other hand, is all about understated elegance and luxury. You'll notice more outfits by contemporary designers such as Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs and Dolce and Gabbana. That vibe is carried through to Seabourn's customized service, which is delivered in an unobtrusive and low-key manner. While Regent employs butlers, Seabourn relies on a team of stewardesses to tend to your every need. Either approach can be wonderful, depending on your expectations.
Let's discuss some of the other differences of Regent cruises vs. Seabourn.
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, 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
Seabourn Cruise Line
Seabourn sails three sister ships: Seabourn Odyssey (2009) and Seabourn Quest (2011) accommodate 450 passengers and Seabourn Sojourn (2010) accommodates 462 passengers. On the horizon are two 600-passenger sister ships: Seabourn Encore (2016) and Seabourn Ovation (2018).
While there is parity on some similar itineraries -- such as Caribbean and Alaska sailings -- Regent tends to be pricier than Seabourn for most other sailings. Of course, Regent also packages shore excursions and other perks into its cruise fares, so you'll need to carefully compare pricing between these two lines and then determine what's best for your pocketbook.
Choose Regent if you want the most all-inclusive experience.
A few years ago, Regent made the decision to go fully all-inclusive. When you look at the list of what's included in the fare, it's pretty extensive and includes things like roundtrip air from certain U.S. gateways, roundtrip business-class air on European voyages, transfers between the airport and ship, unlimited shore excursions, Wi-Fi, all specialty restaurants, wines and premium spirits, gratuities and even a pre-cruise luxury hotel night for those booked into Concierge or higher cabin categories.
Choose Seabourn if you're looking for a lower per diem.
Seabourn doesn't include complimentary shore excursions in its all-inclusive cruise fare, but depending on where you're traveling to and your cruise style, you might not need those tours included. In many cases, you'll find the daily rate on Seabourn to be lower than a comparable voyage on Regent Seven Seas. For example, a 14-night Mediterranean voyage on Regent's Seven Seas Voyager will run $13,499 per person (nearly $1,000 per day) in the ship's lowest category, while a similar voyage aboard Seabourn Quest in its lowest cabin category costs $5,999 (a per diem of $429).
Regent Seven Seas Cruises lives up to its name and sails itineraries across the globe each year. Likewise, Seabourn also offers a rich cruise calendar with voyages that can take you just about anywhere you wish to go. Regent offers a true world cruise while Seabourn does not. But the line does program longer voyages that can be reserved back-to-back to create your own customized "world cruise." On both lines, look for voyages exploring Australia and New Zealand, the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia as well as Japan, Korea and China.
Choose Regent if you're looking to book a World Cruise.
While Regent had bowed out of the world cruise game for six years, it's roaring back into the game with its 128-night voyage aboard Seven Seas Navigator, which embarks Miami on January 5, 2017. The ship will call on 31 countries across six continents and travelers will explore more than 60 different ports.
Or if you want the most options in Alaska.
While Seabourn will offer a few sailings in Alaska aboard Quest in 2017 (after a 15-year absence in the region), Regent spends the entire spring/summer sailing the Inside Passage each and every year. The line has unique expertise in providing an immersive experience in this region, in part with the assistance of guest lecturer Terry Breen. As an anthropologist and educator, Ms. Breen presents informative lectures and leads wildlife spotting sessions from the deck.
Choose Seabourn if you have your heart set on visiting the White Continent.
When you're dreaming of an expedition to Antarctica, you might not immediately think that an elegant luxury cruise ship like Seabourn Quest can take you there -- but it can. In fact, Antarctica and Patagonia voyages are a specialty of that particular ship, which has a reinforced hull that is certified Ice Class (something you need when sailing the icy waters of Antarctica).
While you'll receive the same excellent service and care from the crew, the same onboard entertainment options and the same spectacular dining venues as you would on any other Quest itinerary, you'll also enjoy complimentary Zodiac landings each day to select Antarctic locations. There are digital photography workshops and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife from the ship or shore. The line maintains an expedition team and knowledgeable guest speakers, so the enrichment program in this region is nothing short of extraordinary.
Or if you're interested in more exotic Southeast Asia itineraries.
Seabourn's destination department has drafted some unique voyages in Asia. If you've already been to Beijing and Shanghai, Tokyo and Hiroshima, Ho Chi Minh City and Halong Bay, then take a look at some of Seabourn's more off the beaten path options. How about a 16-night round trip voyage out of Singapore combining Malaysia and Borneo? You'll sail the Strait of Malacca as well as the Andaman Sea and call on places like Port Klang (for Kuala Lumpur) and Penang in Malaysia; India's Port Blair; Rangoon, Myanmar; and Phuket, Thailand. Seabourn's forthcoming new ship, Encore, will also sail a fabulous 10-night itinerary from Singapore with calls on Semarang, Surabaya, Probolinggo and Komodo Island in Indonesia, plus a stop at Celukan Bawang, Bali, and an overnight in Denpasar, Bali, before disembarkation.
Regent and Seabourn pay close attention to the quality of the shore excursions they offer. Both use knowledgeable guides, keep tour groups small and ensure transportation options are comfortable and air-conditioned.
Choose Regent if you plan to take a lot of shore excursions.
The line conveniently packages all shore excursions within its fare. If you plan to partake in many guided tours, Regent is for you. You can sign up for as many shore tours as you wish from its list of free tours in every port. (There is also a short list of paid options in most ports of call.)
In Reykjavik, Iceland, for example, Regent offers four complimentary options and six paid. The freebie options include bathing at the Blue Lagoon, a visit to three geysers plus lunch, a city tour and a trip to a volcano. The paid tours include things like a flightseeing ($499), a horseback ride ($109), 4-wheel drive glacier safari ($299), a 4x4 countryside adventure ($169), a visit to various geothermal pools paired with a lobster lunch ($129), and a tour with a professional photographer ($269).
Choose Seabourn if you enjoy festive, VIP-type outings with your fellow passengers.
While Seabourn offers an array of paid shore excursions that are all very informative and entertaining, the line shines when it comes to hosting free shoreside fetes. For example, in the Caribbean, Seabourn is known for its Caviar in the Surf beach barbecues that pair a traditional beach picnic with fine caviar and Champagne. In Turkey, the line hosts an after-hours cocktail party and concert at Ephesus. The setting is stunning and having this incredible bit of history all to yourself for the evening is truly magnificent. When you return to the dock, it's lined with Seabourn crew members who welcome you back "home" with a cold towel and glass of Champagne.
Architects for both Regent and Seabourn designed incredible accommodations that are a pleasure to spend time in. Regent's cabins are a bit more spacious than Seabourn's, but both offer a range of ensuite amenities. The difference is in who gets what on each cruise line.
Seabourn offers two tiers of in-suite amenities. All suites are outfitted with Egyptian linens, hypoallergenic pillows, robes and slippers, a bar setup and bath products by L'Occitane or Therapies by Molten Brown. Those staying in premium suites also get things like an invitation to visit the bridge, fresh fruit and flowers, an espresso machine and free Wi-Fi -- among other perks.
Regent takes the amenities concept even further by breaking down its offerings lineup into four categories. All suites, however, feature a welcome bottle of Champagne; European king-size "Suite Slumber Beds"; a personalized full-liquor bar setup and minibar replenished daily with soda, beer and water; L'Occitane bath products and a plush bathrobe and slippers; and 24-hour room service served course-by-course at dinner.
When it comes to color schemes, Regent hedges toward earthy browns and greens like moss and sea foam. Seabourn, on the other hand, outfits its suites in beiges, whites, yellows and oranges.
Choose Regent if you want a larger suite with a balcony.
Regent truly excels when it comes to its collection of suites -- and every single stateroom aboard its ships is considered a suite. Ninety-seven percent of the suites in Regent's inventory also have a balcony. (Only Seven Seas Navigator offers suites without a balcony.) In lower categories across both fleets, Regent's suites are slightly larger than what's offered on Seabourn. As you go up to the higher-level categories, Regent offers even more space. For example, Seabourn's top suite -- the Wintergarden -- is 914 square feet plus a balcony of about 183 square feet. Regent's comparable accommodation, the Master Suite, spans 1,216 square feet with a 187-square-foot balcony. If you want enormous, the Regent Suite -- found only on Seven Seas Explorer -- is a 2,917-square-foot, two-bedroom suite with a 958-square-foot wraparound balcony.
Choose Seabourn if you want a spa suite that doesn't break the bank.
Yes, it's true that Regent's one Regent Suite aboard Explorer is outfitted with its own private spa treatment room (complete with two ceramic heated loungers), but those accommodations also come with a price tag close to $10,000 per night. Seabourn offers a more value-oriented solution for travelers who want to combine a high-end suite with unlimited spa service: the Penthouse Spa Suite.
There are only a handful of these suites on each ship -- for example, Quest has four -- so book early if spa amenities are important to you. You can get all the perks of the Penthouse Suite plus complimentary full-day access to The Spa at Seabourn "serene area," which features indoor and outdoor space outfitted with a gurgling fountain, chairs and loungers. There is also a Kneipp hydrotherapy pool. Other in-suite perks include access to a spa concierge plus a second in-suite minibar (stocked with water, juice and healthy snacks), additional Molton Brown specialty spa products and a menu of bath sponges. If you're into aromatherapy, you can select a L'Occitane fragrance that can be diffused in your suite.
Both lines offer some tremendous options when it comes to mealtime, and neither charge extra fees for specialty restaurants. Regent is known for serving authentic French cuisine at Signatures, and the buzz at Seabourn is the new Thomas Keller-designed restaurant, The Grill. The main dining rooms from both lines are elegant with menus that appeal to both self-described "foodies" and those who enjoy more basic fare. (Main dining rooms from both fleets offer a small "always available" menu that's populated with favorites like grilled chicken, broiled salmon and pasta with marinara sauce.)
Choose Regent if you love a good steak.
The specialty restaurant Prime 7 is a mainstay on all Regent ships, and it rivals any steakhouse you've visited on land. The menu features USDA Prime beef as well as cuts that have been dry aged for 28 days. Traditional starters like jumbo shrimp cocktail and clam chowder are juxtaposed next to options like foie gras sliders with rhubarb chutney and tuna tartare with a pomegranate-soy dressing.
Meat lovers will opt for one of the excellent cuts of beef from New York strip or porterhouse (for two to share) to a bone-in, ribeye steak, filet mignon or a slow-roasted prime rib. Surf and turf is available along with seafood specialties like Alaskan king crab legs, whole Maine lobster, Dover sole and barbecue-glazed salmon. Leave room for dessert; the Key lime pie is excellent.
Choose Seabourn if you've always wanted to dine at one of Thomas Keller's restaurants.
Chef Thomas Keller's reputation usually precedes him. He rose to fame as the culinary mind behind The French Laundry in Napa Valley and New York City's Per Se, and is the only American-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings from the Michelin Guide. He has been collaborating with Seabourn to introduce a new Keller signature restaurant aboard Seabourn Quest, debuting in May 2016. Soon thereafter, the restaurant will roll out to all other Seabourn vessels; in the meantime, venues such as Colonnade and The Restaurant are serving Keller-designed creations on specific evenings.
Expect appetizers like terrine of Moulard duck foie gras and main dishes like Sonoma duck breast "poele," which is described as crispy rillettes of duck with glazed Harukei turnips, pickled blueberries and red cabbage puree. Ingenious desserts like ginger and yogurt semifreddo with whipped green tea and lemon meringue will ensure you enjoy sweet dreams after dinner. Keller has also introduced his purveyors to Seabourn, which will now source ingredients from places like Elysian Fields Farms, Sonoma Poultry, Marshall Farms Honey and Cowgirl Creamery.
Choose Regent if you are happy with the all-inclusive list of premium wines and spirits.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises includes unlimited complimentary beverages, including wines, spirits and beer, in its cruise fare. Bars and lounges are open throughout the day, and each suite is stocked with a complete liquor bar setup and minibar, which are replenished daily. While Regent does sell premium wines, the list of complimentary pours usually gets rave reviews from cruisers.
Choose Seabourn if you enjoy complimentary wines but also want to consider purchasing premium vintages.
Beyond the beverages included in the cruise fare (ensuite minibar, open bars throughout the ship and wines poured at lunch and dinner), you can also purchase premium wines by the bottle or purchase a package. Seabourn's selection of for-fee wines is excellent, and the line is the better choice for wine aficionados. Some recent premium wines for sale included a Hansel pinot noir, Chateau Giscours Margaux, Jordan and Silver Oak cabernet sauvignons, a Lancaster Meritage and Mondavi Opus One.
Regent and Seabourn both have gorgeous sun decks, though you might use them in different ways.
Choose Regent Seven Seas Cruises if you like to exercise on deck.
Regent ships all have a sports deck where you can power walk and jog or enjoy pastimes like the aft putting green and paddle tennis court. There's also a bocce court, shuffleboard and golf nets so you can practice your swing. (Seabourn ships also have a small putting green.)
Choose Seabourn if you love relaxing on the pool deck.
Seabourn wins -- hands-down -- when it comes to the beauty of its pool deck, with its pool and two hot tubs on raised platforms. It's a pleasure to spend an afternoon lazing in a comfortable lounge chair as you read a book or chat with your travel companions. Even better, you can enjoy complimentary Massage Moments out on the deck.
Or if you're a fan of water sports.
All of Seabourn's ships are outfitted with an aft marina with a deployable watersports platform. From the marina, you can frolic in the in-sea pool and enjoy complimentary sports equipment including kayaks, pedal boats for two and sailboats. You can also try water skiing and take a rollicking banana boat ride. (Watch out -- the ride can be rough and you might get tossed into the sea. But that's half the fun!) You'll generally find one or more "marina days" on itineraries in warm-weather locales such as the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Southeast Asia.
The vibe of the nightlife aboard both Regent and Seabourn ships will feel similar. Both offer several lounges that act as pre- and post-dinner gathering spots. You can listen to live music and go dancing on both lines, or play a hand of poker in the casino. Both offer Broadway-style theater performances and nightclubs. Since complimentary alcohol is included in both line's cruise fares, everyone tends to be out and about in the evening to enjoy a cocktail and mix and mingle.
Choose Regent Seven Seas Cruises if you love the theater.
Every Regent ship has the two-level Constellation Theater as a focal point, and the lush gold and red decor underscores the vibe of the golden age of Hollywood. The well-designed theater has ample space for passengers; there isn't a bad seat in the house. Expect Broadway-style revues that feature the music from major musicals like "Rock of Ages," "Jersey Boys," and "The Book of Mormon." The line also features "Cirque-style" performances that meld aerial acrobatics with modern dance.
Choose Seabourn if you're looking for romantic moments under the stars.
Seabourn's ships are architectural wonders on the inside and out, and many travelers love sitting on deck soaking up the atmosphere -- especially as the sun goes down. Seabourn offers two complimentary events on deck. Evening Under the Stars is a special party with live music and dancing -- right on deck, once per voyage. The line also offers Movies Under the Stars, where you can watch a flick on deck while eating as much freshly popped popcorn as you like. It's a fun way to enjoy an evening outdoors during a warm weather itinerary.
Choose Regent if you are traveling with young children.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises operates a well organized and free children's program on certain holiday sailings, as well as through June, July and August in Alaska, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and the Baltics. The Club Mariner Youth Program splits kids into three age groups: 5 to 8, 9 to 12 and 13 to 17. There is no kids club per se, so activities take place in the Stars Lounge during the day or on deck at spots like the paddle tennis court for pickup games of dodge ball or tag. Group activities are age-dependent and can range from storytelling and board games to arts and crafts projects and baking cookies with the pastry chef. Teens are more apt to spend time playing video games and watching movies.
Choose Seabourn if you are sailing with older teenagers or adult children.
Seabourn does not offer any sort of permanent children's program or facilities onboard, and its restaurants don't even offer a kids menu. On certain sailings during the summer months, the line might hire one or two counselors for an ad hoc program when more children than usual will be onboard. Even then, it's not the ideal choice for anyone traveling with small children or tweens. But it can be a good option for families traveling with respectful older teens or adult children who will enjoy things like the pool deck and aft marina water sports platform as well as the different dining venues and spa.