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  • Writer's pictureJulie Prusak

Cruise Ship Review: Just Back from Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer


With over 400 nights onboard Regent Seven Seas ships, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the fleet. Well before Seven Seas Explorer launched in July 2016, Regent Seven Seas was calling it the "Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built." That is a bold statement to make in the highly competitive ultra-luxury cruising market. In many ways, the ship still lives up to the billing, with design details and extraordinary features that will make even the most discerning passenger take notice.


photo: SS Explorer anchored near Komodo Island, Indonesia


All Suites on Every Ship


The staterooms, all suites, are beautifully designed and feature some of the largest balconies in the industry. Balcony sizes range from 55 to 994 square feet. At the very top is the Regent Suite, a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom stateroom that is so indulgent and well-appointed, passengers staying there might never want to leave. Even the smallest suite category is spacious by cruise standards and larger than many hotel rooms. All suites have walk-in closets and numerous drawers and shelves for storage.


There is no need to overpack for a Regent cruise as laundry is included. While the dress code is enforced, it is now more common to see ladies dressed in slacks and blouses than ball gowns and men wearing coats but no ties to dinner. Formal Nights are now Formal Optional…most opt out.


photo: Julie & Conrad Prusak in the Atrium on SS Explorer


Décor: Country Club Vibes


The ship features granite and marble everywhere illuminated by almost 500 chandeliers.  The dark décor feels like a country club, a perfect match to the dress code and Regent cruiser demographic. With over 2,500 pieces of art, including works by masters such as Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall, the ship is truly a floating art museum.


From the grand staircase that sweeps attractively down the port and starboard sides of the ship's atrium to the old-world literary pleasures of the ship's extensive library, there is guaranteed to be a space aboard Seven Seas Explorer that speaks to you. In addition to several lounges, the ship also includes the Connoisseur Club smoking lounge and the popular Puzzle Corner that is tucked away off the interior promenade on Deck 5.


photo: SS Explorer library


Wining and Dining


Then, there's the dining…prepare to gain weight. Two restaurants made their debut for the line on Seven Seas Explorer: Chartreuse and Pacific Rim. Pacific Rim tempts with delicious Pan-Asian Cuisine served by an all-female staff. Chartreuse is one of the finest French restaurants at sea. The line's signature steakhouse, Prime 7, remains one of the best in class. All specialty dining restaurants are included but require advance reservations and each suite can reserve a limit of one reservation per cruise segment per restaurant.


photos: favorite menu selections

 

Pro tips: dress nicely and put your name on the waiting list while you enjoy a craft cocktail at the tiny bar at Prime 7. My favorite seat is under the Chagall drawing. Prime 7 and Chartreuse are sometimes open for lunch without reservations too.


The main dining restaurant options, Compass Rose and La Veranda/Sette Mari, set the bar high for cruise ship dining with seating when you want and with whom you want to dine. The menus are the same on every ship on the fleet, so there is less destination focus than I prefer.


On our 2024 Auckland to Singapore cruise the cuisine was uneven. Meals enjoyed in the specialty restaurants (Prime 7, Charteuse, and Pacific Rim) were stellar, but some dishes in Compass Rose disappointed. Portion sizes and menu variety have been reduced from our previous cruises. In fact, recipes have been standardized across the fleet, leaving little room for onboard chefs to express their skills and creativity.


The Pool Grill is no longer open for dinner, except for occasional theme nights, which means that after 6:00 pm guests need to follow the dress code in every restaurant or indulge in room service. We enjoyed a seafood extravaganza under the stars on one such occasion. The enjoyment of the guests and chefs was evident; I can’t begin to estimate how many lobster tails were consumed!


The two Sunday buffets on sea days were exceptional with abundant choices, chef prepared entrees and desserts made to order, and artful displays. Wines, cocktails, and coffees at the Coffee Connection were a strong point throughout the cruise, however coffee served in the dining rooms was almost undrinkable. Seven Seas Explorer does boast a stellar connoisseur wine list with prices to match.


Special events are geared toward connoisseurs, including a vintage Macallan Tasting ($85 per person), a Hennessy Tasting Journey ($89 per person), and the Connoisseur Wine Lunch ($169 per person). A complimentary wine journey was held in the ship's atrium on the first day at sea, which also did not disappoint.


For those who enjoy cooking, the Culinary Arts Kitchen offers chef-led classes on sea days for a fee. The recipes are usually inspired by the itinerary utilizing fresh local ingredients when available. Each participant gets a cooking station with all the necessary ingredients for each recipe neatly arranged “mis en place”. The best part of class? Eating what you make while the sous chefs clean up the kitchen.


photos: Culinary Arts Kitchen, Dessert buffet, bar at Prime 7

 

Service with a Smile…and a Hug


Shipboard service is efficient and highly personalized. Regent hires and trains crew to be incredibly kind, friendly, and hardworking. Regent promotes and retains crew, some for decades.


Like many luxury cruise lines, the real benefit of loyal crew seems to be for passengers who have sailed with the line before. Passengers greet crew like old friends in lounges and restaurants onboard, and crew seemed well-versed in the likes and dislikes of their most traveled guests.


Entertainment and Edutainment at Sea


Those looking to poke holes in the "most luxurious" claim might cite the ship's entertainment, which is not as extravagant as one might expect. Live entertainment, a pianist or guitarist or vocalist is performed nightly in the various lounges around the ship. Production shows are not performed nightly but are repeated frequently. On longer itineraries, expect to see the same four shows often or make your own entertainment. Guest artists, mostly musicians and magicians, are invited onboard and perform two different shows. Most acts seemed designed to appeal to senior citizens and last only 45 minutes.


Lecturers can be a highlight of your journey, or not. Some guest lecturers were destination specific and very interesting. Others spoke about random topics, with presentations not always well done. Lectures and destination briefings are recorded and shown on TV.

The entertainment options should dramatically improve once Starlink is installed on all ships in the fleet. Wi-Fi is currently included and many movies and a few TV channels are available in suite.


Games are a popular past time for most guests, with daily trivia competitions, bridge and Mahjong tournaments, and various carnival-like games for “Regent Points” which can be redeemed for swag at the end of each cruise. For gamblers, there is a casino near Compass Rose. Judging by the few people we saw playing; the space could be better utilized for another purpose.


Spa and Fitness


The Serene Spa and Wellness Center located on Deck 5 aft is sublime. The fitness center is well-appointed with cardio equipment facing the sea. The facility also offers complimentary fitness classes like stretching, meditation and yoga. The spa is not operated by Regent Seven Seas. The spa services menu is extensive and the massage and nail services I booked were well done albeit outrageously priced compared to luxury spas in the United States.


Be sure to make spa and beauty appointments on embarkation day. The prime slots fill up quickly.


photos: putting course, spa pool, Crossing the Equator ceremony onboard SS Explorer


The sauna, steam, and cold room facilities are available to all guests even without a spa appointment. That is much appreciated by many. The pool at the aft of the ship is accessed through the spa locker rooms and provides one of my favorite locations on the ship to enjoy on a sea day or while sailing away from a port.


The outdoor exercise and recreation options are plentiful. In addition to the pool and whirlpools, there are basketball and pickle ball courts, a 18-hole putting golf course, driving range, ping pong and shuffle board, and a jogging track.


Shore Excursions to Suit All Abilities


Regent offers included shore excursions in every port which can (really must) be booked prior to embarkation. Excursions are rated from Limited Activity to Strenuous and clearly marked if not accessible for wheelchairs. Tours operate “rain or shine”, so be prepared. Tour guides and luxury coaches are the best available in each destination.


Regent Choice excursions are also offered for additional fees. These may be smaller groups, included meals, or exclusive experiences. For example, on our cruise, helicopter rides over the Great Barrier Reef were offered as a Regent Choice excursion for a lower cost than I could book it directly with the vendor. Guests can also book private cars and drivers in most ports.


The onboard concierge is happy to facilitate special requests. He arranged a day pass to a beach resort in Bali for us on our recent cruise.


Always All Inclusive


Cruises on Regent Seven Seas ships include wine, spirits, beer, soda, water, coffee, tea and sports drinks, all gratuities, entertainment, dining (including meals at specialty restaurants), unlimited Wi-Fi, and most shore excursions. Aside from the spa and onboard gift shops, or elective purchases from the connoisseur's wine list, there's little to spend extra money on aboard a Regent cruise.


Cruises also include economy-class airfare for domestic flights and business-class airfare for intercontinental flights for U.S. passengers. Depending on cabin category booked, items such as flight upgrades, hotel stays and transfers to the port might be included.


With its over-the-top features and world-class dining, Seven Seas Explorer delivers a luxurious experience that feels like celebrating a special occasion. Whether the ship is the world's most luxurious is a judgment call, but Seven Seas Explorer’s friendly and well-trained staff provides a pampered experience to even the most discerning cruisers.


Let's get started planning your luxury vacation! Reserve your complimentary consultation call with me to begin!


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