When it comes to luxury and inclusivity, it's tough to find flaw with either Regent Seven Seas Explorer or Seabourn Encore. Both cruise vessels debuted in 2016 as flagships for their respective fleets, bringing with them refinement and innovation of suites, restaurants and decor. If you're on the fence, let us help you choose between Seabourn Encore and Regent Seven Seas Explorer.
Seabourn Encore, launched in late 2016, has nine passenger decks, measures 40,350 gross tons and carries 600 passengers as well as 450 crew members.
Seven Seas Explorer, launched in summer 2016, has 10 passenger decks, measures 54,000 gross tons and carries 750 passengers along with 542 crew members.
Regent Seven Seas' flagship is unabashedly opulent, with acres of marble and granite as well as crystal and glass as far as the eye can see. Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (Regent Seven Seas' parent company), has repeatedly described the design concept as, "timeless," and it is; Seven Seas Explorer's design will stand the test of time because it features elements that never go out of style. Designed by a number of firms, including iCrave, Tillberg Design AB and RTKL Associates, the ship includes immense chandeliers in every public space, sleek staircases and even gold-leaf ceiling details.
The design has passengers feeling like they're staying at an exclusive high-end hotel, with glamourous gourmet restaurant options at every turn. In fact, you can tell as much thought went into the restaurant design as any space, with each venue featuring themed art and design elements. For example, Asian restaurant Pacific Rim welcomes passengers with an impressive 6,000-pound Tibetan prayer wheel, which stretches from floor to ceiling at the venue's entrance.
Designed by Adam D. Tihany, Encore features curves that even Jennifer Lopez would envy. The main spiral staircase, with mahogany railings, is a showstopper, and the pool deck includes wavy canvas shades that are both beautiful and practical. The ship doesn't have a hard edge in sight, making it feel modern and comfortable. Then there's the glass, which surrounds virtually every space, with huge clear panels to provide incredible sea views and art accents reminiscent of elements of nature.
Encore is smartly designed, with all passenger cabins forward on the ship and all public spaces aft. This means you can move seamlessly from deck to deck without zigzagging from bow to stern. It also allows Encore to maximize outdoor space; nearly every deck includes outdoor seating at the back, with comfortable rattan-and-cushioned chairs, loungers and sunbeds. The effect is a strong connection to the sea, as most passengers elect to hang out under the sun when the weather permits.
You love glitz and glamor, or if you just genuinely appreciate art -- Seven Seas Explorer includes incredible works, including those by masters like Picasso and Chagall.
You want to feel connected to the sea when you sail or adore outdoor space.
All accommodations onboard Encore are suites with balconies. The smallest suites are the Veranda Suites, which range from 246 to 302 square feet. Next are the Penthouse Suites, measuring 450 square feet. Penthouse Spa Suites are 639 to 677 square feet with deep balconies; they also include access to the ship's thermal spa and have an assortment of other spa-inspired perks, like additional bath products. Owner's Suites range from 576 to 609 square feet, while Signature Suites are 931 square feet with balconies just as big. The highest-level suite is the Wintergarden Suite, which is 989 square feet. (Encore has two of these accommodations.) Each Wintergarden Suite sleeps six and includes a wet bar, living area with sofas and armchairs, and an outdoor conservatory that features an outdoor tub, daybed and dining for six.
All suites include beautiful bathrooms with marble accents everywhere, separate tub and shower, dual sinks and Seabourn-exclusive Molton Brown toiletries. Suites are smartly designed, and even the smallest feel big enough, with living space, comfortable beds and big balconies. Amenities include stocked mini-fridges, walk-in closets, a good amount of storage and interactive TVs. Suites are decorated in a way that has a lot of consistency from level to level; each feels similar despite having more space and different perks.
As on Seabourn Encore, the smallest cabins on Seven Seas Explorer are called Veranda Suites, and they are 219 square feet, with spacious 88-square-foot balconies; Deluxe Veranda Suites are larger at 253 square feet. Superior and Concierge Suites are the same size -- 332 square feet -- but Concierge Suites offer larger verandas and extra perks. Suites in the midrange include the 450-square-foot Penthouse and 655-square-foot Seven Seas Suite. Then come the 1,013-square-foot Explorer Suite, the 920-square-foot Grand Suite and the 1,115-square-foot Master Suite. But the piece de resistance is Seven Seas Explorer's Regent Suite, an incredible 2,917-square-foot space that has its own spa (with unlimited spa treatments included), a bed so lavish its mattress is stuffed with horsehair, and a $250,000 piano. Passengers who book this cabin also get unlimited private shore excursions. The Regent Suite costs $5,000 per person per night.
All suites include refrigerated mini-bars, interactive TVs, USB charging stations and multiple outlets. Bathrooms are decorated in stone and marble, and most of them have separate tubs and showers. Butler service is standard from Penthouse Suites and above, and the ship's higher-end suites are designed by the likes of Dakota Jackson. In fact, a number of designers had their hands in bringing the suites to life, which means different categories look quite different from one another. One cabin might feature bright emerald greens, while another category might include shades of cool blue.
You are a spa-lover who wants a cabin to come with cool spa perks or like that passengers in the lowest and highest category cabins get thoughtfully designed cabins and mostly the same amenities.
You like a wide variety of suite options, especially large balconies and butler service, or want an exceptionally spacious and decked-out top-end suite.
Passengers have plenty of choices when it comes to dining on Seven Seas Explorer. The ship's main dining room is Compass Rose, and passengers can eat here as often as they wish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Likewise, they can enjoy unlimited meals at the ship's buffet, La Veranda, which becomes Sette Mari, an Italian restaurant, at night.
Seven Seas Explorer also has a number of alternative venues that are free but require a reservation; passengers can dine at each at least once during their cruise. Prime 7 is the ship's steakhouse, which also has a good selection of seafood. Chartreuse is a French venue, designed to make passengers feel as if they're dining in a Parisian restaurant. Then, there's Pacific Rim, which features a Pan-Asian menu. Passengers can also order from the room service menu 24/7 or try out the more casual grab-and-go cafe or pool grill.
The Restaurant is Encore's main dining venue, and it serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Passengers also can dine at The Colonnade, which is a buffet for breakfast, lunch and usually dinner. (It occasionally features a set menu -- offering creations by three-Michelin-star chef Thomas Keller. When this is the option, reservations are required, though there is no fee.) The most casual option onboard is The Patio, which serves lunch and dinner, combining menu options with a buffet.
Seabourn's partnership with Keller also led to the creation of The Grill by Thomas Keller, a venue that ostensibly is a steakhouse, though it offers other meats as well; all dishes are designed by Keller. Sushi is the ship's drop-in Japanese restaurant, offering bento boxes and ramen noodles during the day, and then serving sushi and sashimi at night. Casual bites are available at the coffee shop onboard, and room service is available any time. All of Encore's restaurants are included in your cruise fare.
You crave variety but want it in a somewhat more formal setting, with more sit-down and multicourse meals.
Choose Encore If: You love Keller and want to try dishes prepared exactly the way the chef intended.
Encore's spa is operated by Steiner Leisure and offers a strong variety of treatments from traditional Swedish massages to the more unusual sound therapy, which involves large bowls being placed on your body. Seabourn has a partnership with Dr. Andrew Weil and treatments (and some gym classes) operate around the theme of mindfulness. Passengers who really want to concentrate on being mindful can book a Weil package, which includes thermal suite passes, lectures and a variety of treatments and classes. The ship's thermal suite, which costs extra, includes heated ceramic lounge chairs, sauna and steam rooms, and lighted showers.
The spa on Seven Seas Explorer is operated by Canyon Ranch and offers a number of exclusive-to-Regent Seven Seas treatments utilizing Red Flower products. It does, of course, offer more typical treatments like hot stone massage or facials. The ship also has a thermal suite, which includes a cold room, infrared sauna, aromatic steam room, ceramic loungers and experiential showers. A bonus: The thermal suite is open to all passengers at no additional cost.
You're looking for a total wellness experience or generally are a fan of Dr. Weil and his practices.
You love a thermal suite but don't want to pay extra for it or if you want to try more unusual treatments like a cold room.
Cruises on Seven Seas Explorer include all meals, beverages (except high-end wine and spirits), shore excursions, unlimited Wi-Fi, business-class airfare (for U.S. passengers), concierge service and gratuities. You'll spend extra for spa treatments, premium wines and tips for drivers and guides ashore.
Fares range roughly from $450 to $800 per person per night for an entry-level cabin. Expect to pay more for cruises in Europe than for sailings to the Caribbean, South America and Mexico.
Cruise fares on Seabourn Encore include all meals, beverages (except high-end wine and spirits), a welcome bottle of Champagne, and gratuities. You'll pay extra for shore excursions, airfare, Wi-Fi (except for select suites), tips for drivers and guides ashore, premium wine and spirits, spa treatments and access to the exclusive Retreat cabana space.
Rates depend on itineraries, but an entry-level cabin probably will cost between $250 and $650 per person, per night. European and Australian cruises generally are priced higher than other itineraries, such as those to Southeast Asia.
You want to pay one price that includes even big-ticket items like airfare and shore excursions.
You want to choose your own airfare and excursions or are interested in a lower entry-level price.
Updated October 02, 2017