* May require additional fees
Cruises on Seven Seas Explorer include at least one excursion in each port. Most excursions fall into the half-day category, running four or five hours. A few longer excursions are available. Excursions fill quickly -- often before the ship sails -- so book online ahead of your sailing. Excursion difficulty is indicated so you know how much walking to expect when you are touring. Tours are capacity controlled to keep the tours the "right size." If you have mobility concerns, check with the destinations desk to see which tours can accommodate you.
Tours visit the biggest sites in most cities, and they're led by excellent English speakers who have intimate knowledge of a region's history and culture. Buses are provided for most tours and generally are clean and comfortable. Note: Tips for the guides and drivers are not included in your cruise fare; a tip of 1 or 2 euros per person is the custom. Tours are generally good, though many passengers on our sailing said they would have preferred more time to stop for pictures and exploration. If you're a connoisseur of wine or spirits, sign up for those excursions, as they often offer deeper understanding of the creation process and provide an opportunity for you to purchase a bottle or two to take home with you.
The ship also has a destinations concierge, so if you're not interested in doing a group tour, you can ask for advice on how to see a port. Maps usually are available, and staff are knowledgeable about the region. For example, if you wanted to do a hike with some beach time in St. Tropez, they could point you to a trail near the port that includes a beach stop along the way. Concierges also can arrange for private tours, which will cost extra.
Seven Seas Explorer also offers some incredible culinary tours, called Gourmet Explorer Tours. These tours pair hands-on foodie experiences in port with fine dining. You might, for example, join a family in Rhodes, Greece, to see how they shop for fish and produce, then help with cooking before enjoying a gourmet lunch -- paired with local wines. Other journeys might conclude with a visit to a Michelin-starred restaurant. All Gourmet Explorer Tours require an extra fee, which varies depending on the event. Tours are restricted to a handful of people and can be booked ahead of your cruise.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
The ship's main theater is the Constellation Theater, located on decks 4 and 5. The theater has an Art Deco style, with gold balconies and pillars, navy blue bench seating and dark, glossy wood. Try to get a seat on the main level as the balcony doesn't have the best sightlines. The main stage is flanked by two large LED screens, and a third screen is located center stage. These screens are incorporated into the various large-scale production shows, which take place roughly every other day. The theater also hosts a group cabaret show as well as various functions such as cooking demonstrations, which make use of the LED screens and overhead cameras to give the audience a closer view of the chopping, mixing and frying.
The theater hosts several production shows each cruise as well as guest headliners, such as guitarists or comedians. Seven Seas Explorer offers production shows roughly every other day. There's certainly variety, from the bawdy "Paradis" to the rocking "My Revolution." But the shows still feel fairly traditional and a little cheese-ball for a ship of this size and quality. The best show we saw was "My Revolution," which combines music from the British invasion of the 1960s with excellent Burn the Floor-style dancing. We wish the shows would have pushed the envelope even more, with edgier and more modern songs and stylings. Chances are, you'll find something you like if you catch all the shows, which couldn't be more different from one another.
The casino is also located on Deck 4, and it's open when the ship isn't in port. It includes several table games as well as slot machines. The casino regularly hosts activities such as blackjack and poker tournaments.
A daily trivia contest is held in the afternoon at the Observation Lounge, and outdoor activities such as bocce or shuffleboard tournaments take place regularly.
The highlight of Seven Seas Explorer's enrichment offerings is its Culinary Arts Kitchen, a dedicated kitchen space where passengers can get hands-on instruction on a variety of cooking techniques and skills. Classes take place on Deck 11 in the kitchen, which is fabulously fitted with 18 fully equipped workstations. (Foodies on our cruise were blown away by the top-of-the-line induction cooktops.) A chef instructor provides direction, demonstrating each step, then students repeat the steps to make their own creations. The kitchen includes two large TVs and two fish-eye cameras, so students can see the details of what the chef is doing.
Classes range from fairly basic (fileting a fish) to more advanced (French technique), and pricing starts at $89 per person. We were pleased to pick up a few skills in just one class, where we learned to sear a scallop, make a cake, create an emulsion and poach fish. The classes sell out quickly and can be booked online ahead of your cruise.
Other enrichment activities might include hosted chats about shared interests, like sports or travel. Seven Seas Explorer also routinely hosts guest lecturers, who speak on topics like space, geology, history and geography as well as subjects specific to the region to which the ship is sailing.
When itineraries are packed with port days, action on the ship slows down before midnight most nights; before sea days, the bars and casino will have customers a bit longer. Still, the ship's three lounges offer a variety of spaces for chilling, relaxing or chatting with fellow passengers.
Explorer Lounge (Deck 4): Most nights, the Explorer Lounge hosts live music acts, such as a jazz band, duo or guitarist. The venue, decorated in dark blues and blacks, features a bar with seating around it, tables for two and velvet-covered chairs, a small stage and a dance floor. This is the spot onboard for occasional karaoke.
Meridian Lounge (Deck 5): The Meridian Lounge features a large bar, tables and leather armchairs. It also has a stage with dance floor in front of it. (Strangely, sightlines here are disrupted by an oddly positioned column that blocks part of the stage.) The lounge hosts pianists, ensembles and guitarists.
Connoisseur Club (Deck 11): The ship's cigar bar is also a spot where cigarette smokers can smoke indoors. The club is comfortable and features leather couches and chairs as well as cigars for sale. Order a cognac and enjoy the quiet atmosphere.
Observation Lounge (Deck 11): A multiuse space, the Observation Lounge is used in the daytime for things like tea time, trivia and even lectures. At night, it's a dance club -- and a popular spot onboard for late-night drinks. The lounge, located at the front of the ship, has floor-to-ceiling windows that let in plenty of light during the day. At night, the action moves to the center of the lounge, where you'll find the dancefloor -- beneath a unique bubble-chandelier -- and the large bar.
Pool Bar (Deck 11): A small bar is located on the pool deck.
The main swimming pool is located on Deck 11. The pool deck is made of teak wood and includes numerous padded wicker lounge chairs, including some made for two people. Loungers are available in full sun or under shade. Shaded loungers can be separated by sheer white curtains (though when it gets windy, these are prone to gusting into relaxing passengers). One touch worth noting: Pads are covered by terrycloth, and when one passenger leaves, a pool attendant replaces the cover with a new clean, dry cover. Two hot tubs -- with shade -- sit at the end of the pool, in front of two large, glass-enclosed rainfall showers. A glassed-off smoking section is located on the right (starboard) side of the ship and does a good job of providing smokers a place to go while keeping smoke from seeping out onto the pool deck. Service, available from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., is fantastic on the pool deck, with waiters and waitresses coming by often to offer drinks. We love the attentiveness, especially from the waiter who offered to clean our sunglasses using lint-free wipes. (Yes, please!)
Two spiral wood staircases lead to a sun deck above the pool. Most lounge chairs are in full sun, but clamshell sofas are also available, which provide their own shade. (The clamshell shade can be lowered, too.) A few double lounge chairs are located under shaded overhangs. Deck 12 is also where you'll find a variety of activities, including a bocce court, golf net, a putting green, shuffleboard and paddle tennis court.
The bulk of services on Seven Seas Explorer are on Deck 5, where you'll find the reception and concierge desks, along with the destinations desk. There's also a small business center with a half-dozen computers with internet access. (Wi-Fi is complementary throughout the ship, though, so the business center is seldomly used.)
A number of boutiques are located on Deck 4, selling items from the likes of Calvin Klein, Tom Ford and Bulgari.
The ship's library and card room are located on Deck 11. Passengers can borrow fiction and nonfiction books from the library, which features leather chairs and even a faux fireplace. The card room has several card tables and is a casual place to hang out for a game. Bridge instructors are onboard all sailings. On Deck 5, you'll find a jigsaw puzzle table, which is a surprising stop for many passengers, who swing by and pop in a few pieces.
Self-service launderettes are located on virtually every floor that has cabins, and washing and drying is free. Each launderette has an iron, too, for pressing. If you'd rather outsource the dirty work, laundry and pressing services are offered as well, for a fee.
The Canyon Ranch Spaclub is located on Deck 5. The space is decorated in white marble and has butterfly-themed decor. Services themselves take place in one of eight treatment rooms -- one of those rooms accommodates couples treatments and includes a large, jetted hot tub.
Treatments range from a fairly standard aromatherapy massage to more exotic scrub or detoxification options. Choose from treatments such as an Arctic Sea nourishing ritual, a seaweed leaf wrap, deep tissue massage, anti-aging facial or reflexology. Canyon Ranch partners with companies like Red Flower, which specializes in organic and botanical products and therapies, and the cost of spa treatments are similar to what you'd pay at high-end spas on land. An adjacent salon offers hair cuts, styling, color or highlights, makeup consultations, manicures and pedicures.
The spa also includes thermal suites, open to all passengers at no additional cost. The men's and women's changing rooms each feature an infrared sauna, cold room (where temperatures hover between 50 and 54 degrees Fahrenheit), an experiential shower and an aromatic steam room. These gender-segregated areas are clothing optional. A coed area includes heated ceramic loungers, and staff will bring you water or tea as you relax. At the back of the spa complex, you'll find an infinity pool along with upright chairs, clamshell couches and lounge chairs. We would have loved to see a therapy pool and more cohesive thermal suite where passengers would want to spend a lot of time. Because the steam rooms and other features are located in the changing rooms, they don't feel like a place to relax for several hours at a time.
The fitness center is located on Deck 6, and it's really two spaces flanking a lobby area, where you'll find drinks (water, Vitamin Water and Gatorade) as well as the onboard fitness instructor, who has a small, semi-private spot there for meeting with clients. The fitness area to the right of the lobby contains machines for a lower-body and abs workout, free weights, and treadmills and stationary bicycles. The area on the left is for upper body exercises and has ellipticals and stationary bicycles.
A number of fitness classes are offered each day in a special studio and are included in the cost of your cruise fare. These classes might include Pilates, boot camp, yoga/stretch and spinning. Signup is required. Personal training is available for $85 for 25 minutes or $123 for 50 minutes. A two-person personal training session is $188. Basic fitness assessments and body composition analysis are available for a fee as well.
The easiest way to access the fitness center is from the spiral staircase near the spa's entrance on Deck 5. The other entrance, off Deck 6, is surprisingly difficult to locate -- it's behind a door that looks like a cabin entry door, marked "684," though there's Canyon Ranch signage as well. This opens to a vestibule where you'll find the actual suite 684 as well as the entrance to the gym. From here, walk down three steps, and you're there. Because of the unusual access points, there's no way to get into the gym without taking at least a few stairs, which means passengers who have disabilities will not be able to access it easily.
The ship has a jogging track located on Deck 11. Passengers can run one of two small loops or combine them for a longer lap. The smallest track requires 13.1 laps for a mile; the other small loop requires 11.25 laps. Combined, 7.3 laps makes a mile. The tracks are wide enough for just one passenger at a time, and in many cases, chairs and loungers actually overlap the track, making running difficult. It's fine for walkers, but if you want an uninterrupted run, head to the gym or ashore.
Seven Seas Explorer doesn't have a kids' club, but on sailings that have a lot of children -- especially those over the summer and holidays -- the ship converts its card room into a kids' club. Programming might include a visit to the ship's galley for cookie making with the chefs or a backstage tour of the theater, with time spent with the entertainers. Otherwise, staff lead games and other activities, which vary depending on the age of the children. Seven Seas Explorer features several connecting cabins and suites with pullout sofas, as well as two-bedroom suites that can accommodate up to six passengers. Most of the ship's suites have bathtubs.
No child under 12 months is permitted to sail on Seven Seas Explorer. Passengers younger than 16 years old aren't allowed to use the ship's spa or fitness areas, regardless of whether an adult is present. Passengers under 18 must stay in a cabin with an adult. Regent Seven Seas occasionally offers discounted rates for children.