Regent’s all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Voyager boasts an extremely roomy space ratio: 66. Ships with high space ratios, I find, can appear empty, even when sailing full. You can walk down a hallway and not run into anyone. If you’re one who appreciates your personal space, you’ll feel comfortable on a ship with a high space ratio.
Staterooms too (or actually they’re called suites on the 700-passenger all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Voyager) were large. The smallest on Seven Seas Voyager (category H) measures a generous 356 square feet with the balcony. All staterooms feature large and beautiful bathrooms with separate tubs and showers.
The Suite Life
I inserted my key to enter Penthouse Suite 1049, a category A stateroom measuring 370 square feet. Regent recently spent $20 million in vessel refurbishments that brought big enhancements to the staterooms and public areas of the four-year-old Seven Seas Voyager (as well as sister Seven Seas Mariner and the 490-guest Seven Seas Navigator). Those ships feature wireless service for laptop computers and faster Internet connectivity overall, cell phone service, and iPods with Bose speakers in Butler suites.
Other enhanced amenities include bed linens, duvets, cashmere throws and bathrobes from the luxury brand Anichini; new towels and slippers; and new Regent-brand bathroom amenities. Master and Grand Suites aboard the three ships now also feature personal Nespresso coffee machines, while each of the three ships’ Club.com computer lounges also have state-of-the-art espresso bars.
Penthouse-category suites come with a butler. I wasn’t sure what to do with mine, so I asked. I learned that I could use my butler to make dining reservations at the extremely popular alternative restaurants, Signatures and Latitudes. My butler suggested that I make reservations within the first day or two of boarding. Be sure to heed the advice if you’d like to dine in either or both of these fine restaurants.
I also used my butler to choose my preferred canapés each day from a variety of options. Butlers, according to Ved Sharma, head butler on Seven Seas Voyager, are there to make your life easier. They can do everything from help you with your high-tech equipment — digital cameras, iPods and so on — to making tender reservations for going ashore.
“You can never define the role of a butler,” Sharma says. “It is so elaborate. Probably the most handy thing a butler can do is help you host a cocktail party in your suite.”
Sharma’s most unusual request: the guest who wanted a suckling pig served in his suite. The wish was fulfilled. Sometimes, however, butlers cannot meet a guest’s request, such as the passenger who wanted bananas when the ship ran out during a crossing. The butlers got creative, however, and brought the guest pancakes made with frozen bananas.
Seven Seas Voyager is truly all-inclusive. Fares include beer, select wines and spirits served throughout the ship.
A Loyal Following
On my cruise from Rome to Nice, there were quite a few passengers who had cruised with Regent multiple times — and for good reason. The cruise line’s loyalty program is one of the industry’s best.
Victoria Gallegos, a cruise consultant on Regent Seven Seas Voyager, says there are five tiers of the program, known as Seven Seas Society. Those who have sailed 21-74 nights, in the Silver category, receive complimentary internet access, one hour complimentary phone time and more. Platinum members who have sailed 200-399 nights receive all the perks of the previous categories plus an additional six hours of phone usage, air deviation, pressing, laundry services and more. Those who have sailed 400 or more nights receive everything from the previous tiers plus transfers to and from their homes and dry cleaning on board ship.
I talked with George Burke, an accountant who developed an Excel spreadsheet comparing the value that individual cruise lines offer relative to the fare paid. His conclusion: The lead price point for Seven Seas Voyager and other ships in the Regent fleet may appear higher than the fares on premium-category vessels or other luxury ships, but the picture changes once you factor in all that you get on Regent. Regent was actually cheaper on a per-square-foot basis than other premium and luxury lines in Burke’s analysis. And he did his work before Regent changed its policy to include alcohol free of charge.
You won’t need to dig into your pocket for gratuities either, which are included in the fare. Add to that the perks for Regent repeaters — free internet access and phone usage and did we mention free booze? But it’s not just the free bubbly that make Regent’s guests so ebullient. The overall high standard of service and the value of the Regent experience itself gives good reason for cheer.