(10 a.m. EST) – Regent Seven Seas Cruises launched its newest ship this week in Miami, unveiling the latest “most-luxurious ship in the world” to journalists (including Cruise Critic), cruise line executives and travel agents in a preview sailing.
Seven Seas Grandeur is the third in the cruise line’s Explorer Class of ships, which the company has called the most luxurious class of ships at sea. Hallmarks of this class of 746-passenger ships include expansive spas, multiple dining options and one of the most expensive cruise suites you will see, the Regent Suite, which comes with a price tag of $11,000 per night for two people.
Without a doubt, Seven Seas Grandeur is beautiful. It’s the culmination of the three ships, where little tweaks – like a spectacular grand staircase that sits under a glittering ribbon chandelier – make a big impact.
In a world where new luxury cruise lines are popping up everywhere, and the more recognizable cruise lines in the luxury space are carving out distinct niches, where does Seven Seas Grandeur fit, and to what kind of cruiser will this ship appeal?
Make no mistake: Seven Seas Grandeur itself is the reason many people will pick this cruise ship. This IS the ship people think of when they imagine a luxury cruise. The ship is impeccably designed, with incredible attention to detail. It’s impossible to miss the life-sized cherry blossom tree that sits at the front of Pacific Rim restaurant (complete with hand-cast glass blossoms) or the jaw-dropping white tree and crystal adorned Compass Rose main dining room. And of course, you’ll find acres of marble, granite and crystal, along with an art collection that includes multiple Picassos, a 40-foot handwoven tapestry that climbs from Deck 4 to Deck 11 and the first Faberge egg to reside permanently at sea.
Yet it’s the little touches that make a big difference. No detail was overlooked, no space untouched. The pool deck, for example, offers shade everywhere, and plentiful deep, lush lounge chairs that feel more like beds. You won’t find exposed wiring or plumbing everywhere, as ceilings are covered in decorated panels that are easy to overlook but speak volumes about how much thought went into the design, courtesy of Studio DADO.
“I love what we’re doing with this brand, with the design and details,” said Harry Sommer, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which owns Regent Seven Seas.
Every space on the ship feels special. Whereas the first ship in this class might feel, to some, a bit over the top in its décor, all the right notes have been hit on Seven Seas Grandeur, which strikes the right balance between high-end materials, cheeky fun and well-timed restraint.
On some luxury ships, the spa is all about the treatments, with little thought given to the location and amenities. On Seven Seas Grandeur, the Serene Spa and Wellness is light and bright spot on Deck 5 that feels like the kind of spa you’d find at a luxury land resort.
The sculpture that greets guests, “Water in Dripping – Waterfall” by Zheng Lu, is joyous and playful, the reception area inviting and the use of natural light welcoming and warm.
The spa has eight treatment rooms, offering services from wraps to massages and facials, and a small but comfortable relaxation room. (Prices for treatments are steep. For example, you'll pay about $250 for a 75-minute deep-tissue massage.) The men’s and women’s locker rooms each offer experiences including a sauna (which smartly faces the water), aroma steam room and experience showers. Use of these is included in your cruise fair – no need to book a treatment to take advantage of the amenities. Our one minor quibble with this area is that there are no mixed areas where couples could enjoy a thermal spa experience together – a small sacrifice for using this lovely space.
The best part of the spa might actually be the adjacent outdoor relaxation area, which includes three heated Jacuzzis and lots of space for lounging. The deck also offers a number of loungers, in both shade and sun, as well as self-service for cold drinks. It’s a quieter alternative to the busier main pool on Deck 11, and it took about a day before guests discovered it. Even so, it was only mildly crowded on our sailing and every bit as peaceful as we’d hoped.
Spa lovers will absolutely be happy with all that Seven Seas Grandeur has to offer.
Sailing Regent Seven Seas over the years, I’ve been struck by the quality of the dining, especially in included specialty restaurants such as Prime 7, the line’s steakhouse, and Chartreuse, the French venue.
Since I last sailed with Regent, the line announced it was introducing more than 130 new dishes and enhanced recipes. While I saw some of these on the menu of our three-night preview sailing, I didn’t feel the impact I expected. Our meal at Prime 7 started with the same smoky tomato soup amuse bouche I’ve had several times over the years. Our starters – salads, tomatoes and onions, and tuna poke – were fine but awfully familiar. Our steaks were well-prepared and thoroughly enjoyable.
At a news conference onboard attended by journalists and travel agents, Regent Seven Seas Cruises executives talked about the struggle that comes with making menu changes.
“If we change them, usually our loyal guests (ask), ‘How come? How could you take this dish off the menu? You need to put it back on.’ ”
Dining is a difficult place to play, especially for brand loyalists who hate change. (Even our Cruise Critic message boards have mixed reviews of the dining changes on Regent: Guests love additions but are loathe to give up favorites.)
Cuisine is also an area where other cruise lines are excelling and innovating – including sister brand Oceania Cruises, which just won Cruise Critic’s Editors’ Pick for Best Dining on a luxury brand. (Sommer himself called Oceania the brand that plays in the “foodie space.)
With other luxury lines, like Crystal and Silversea, upping their dining games through renewed partnerships with chefs like Nobu Matsuhisa and innovative dining programs like S.A.L.T. (a fully immersive local-cuisine concept), Regent Seven Seas will have to look for opportunities for bringing in new ideas or risk falling behind.
Seven Seas Grandeur offers rooms and suites that feel modern and spacious, from the 301-square foot Veranda Suite all the way up to that opulent Regent Suite, which is 4,443 square feet. Cabins include big closets, impeccable bathrooms, large balconies and modern conveniences like multiple outlets and USB ports for charging and fast internet. (Regent Seven Seas Cruises Corporate Service Manager Roberto Paterno said improved technology is a huge piece in adapting to what guests want.)
Interestingly, the line is targeting testing out longer stays in ports in 2024 and 2025, trying out itineraries that will make four port stops in 10 days, rather than the eight the ships currently do. Some will include up to three full days in the destination, essentially making the ship a floating hotel, where things like comfortable, well-appointed cabins will really matter.
The luxury cruise line is planning on sailing six test itineraries where instead of 10 days and eight ports, the ship sails 10 days and stops at four ports, with each stop including at least one overnight. Some stops will include three full days in destination. (Details of these itineraries – including where they might visit – have yet to be released.)
Those guests looking for a slower pace of travel or destination immersion could find Regent Seven Seas is the perfect fit.
With a starting price of around $650 per person per night for Caribbean cruises to more than $1,200 per person per night for European and more exotic sailings, Seven Seas Grandeur is among the most expensive luxury cruise brands on the market. The price point isn’t something the cruise line shies away from. In fact, it proudly boasts about the $5,500 per person per night price tag its top Regent Suite commands.
What you get for that price is probably the most-inclusive product at sea. Depending on what you book, your cruise will include business-class airfare, transfers, pre-cruise hotel stays, all drinks and dining (except for the chef’s table), gratuities, internet, shore excursions and more. Few cruise lines offer the same level of inclusivity, making Seven Seas Grandeur an ideal fit for anyone who doesn’t want to pull out a wallet after making that original booking.
That said, those who prefer to build their own itineraries, schedules and travel plans might be more content with another brand, like Oceania, that is less-inclusive but perhaps more flexible.
Additionally, many of Regent Seven Seas' included tours are pretty standard fare – think bus tours or walking tours around town centers. The more interesting tours – helicopter flight-seeing in Alaska, for example – come with an additional price tag, which levels the playing field a bit for lines that don't include shore tours.
Regent Seven Seas President Andrea DeMarco told Cruise Critic that recent booking trends show new to Regent guests are "buying up from premium cruise brands."
"Our clientele are certainly investing more in their luxury travel experiences than ever before, often choosing to sail to more exotic destinations, for longer durations," she said.