These days, the 33,000-ton, 490-passenger Seven Seas Navigator feels so elegant and contemporary that it's hard to imagine the all-suite vessel once was a Soviet research ship before it was purchased by Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
A major refurbishment in spring 2016 is to be thanked for keeping the ship in top form. Highlights of the revamp include a brand-new library, complete with faux fireplace, and Coffee Connection self-service drink and snack bar; and the completely redone Compass Rose, the ship's main dining venue, and La Veranda, the top-of-ship casual restaurant. The ship's 245 ocean-view suites, 90 percent of which have private balconies, were also transformed with new furnishings (including Regent's Elite Collection mattresses and bed linens) and artwork. (A few changes that aren't popular with everyone are the removal of the Connoisseur Club smoking lounge and casino bar, and the addition of some snug wing-backed chairs that leave little space for your shoulders.)
But looks will only get you so far. What stands out about Seven Seas Navigator is its size. The intimate ship -- the smallest in Regent's fleet -- makes an ideal home base for destination-intensive exploration, with just enough variety in dining and entertainment to keep your interest, without getting in the way of the ports you came to see. Everything onboard feels close at hand. Intimacy breeds familiarity, and you'll quickly make new friends onboard who you'll run into day after day. The size also lets the staff raise the bar on service levels, whether it's promptly refilling your wineglass or delivering scones to your suite when you miss them at afternoon tea. (However, service isn't quite as blow-your-mind amazing as you might find on other luxury ships.)
Navigator might be small, but it's also incredibly spacious. Its smallest suites start at 301 square feet, large enough for uncrowded sleeping and sitting areas, walk-in closets and large bathrooms with separate bathtub and shower. The largest measure more than 1,000 square feet with enormous wraparound verandas. The ship also has a generous space-per-passenger ratio (67.3 feet of public space per passenger), so you'll rarely see crowds or queues.
The size does have some drawbacks. The ship doesn't have as many dining venues as its fleetmates, and we could see how some people might feel restricted by the limited public areas on a long cruise with many sea days (like a world cruise). The ship also experiences significant motion, with some Cruise Critic readers on the Regent Seven Seas message boards reporting above-average vibration in the aft suites.
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Regent's Seven Seas Navigator aims for quiet luxury. Its public spaces aren't trying to out-Vegas Vegas or wow you with over-the-top design or expense. Its suites aim to accommodate your needs without being statement pieces. You will be pampered; fine dining, included drinks and tours, and devoted crew members will see to that. But the ship plays second to the destinations it visits -- and like its staff, it does all it can to make your trip an amazing one without calling undue attention to itself.
Navigator passengers generally are 40+, affluent and quite well traveled. The average age skews older on longer, non-holiday sailings and younger during summer and holiday vacation periods, when plenty of multigenerational families come onboard. Parents should not be afraid to take well behaved, self-entertaining children onboard during these times, but the line does cater mainly to older adults.
You will find many nationalities represented onboard, though North Americans dominate. Many passengers will be veteran Regent Seven Seas cruisers, and they can often be heard comparing notes on previous experiences with the line (as well as with sailings on other upscale lines like Crystal).
The dress code is almost always 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 and ties are optional; jeans, T-shirts, baseball caps, shorts, sneakers and bathrobes are not allowed in any public area in the evening, except on the final evening when the dress code is relaxed so passengers can pack. 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).
Great itinerary. The service on the ship was great. The food was great.