David Weymouth and his wife Susan are aboard Regent’s new Seven Seas Splendor. He filed this report from somewhere in the Atlantic as Seven Seas Splendor makes her way to Miami.
Perhaps we have a touch of masochism, but my wife and I especially enjoy maiden voyages. We know everything won’t be perfect no matter how hard the ship builders, cruise line management and crew have worked to make it so. When early booking opened for the launch of Regent’s newest ship, the Seven Seas Splendor, we were among the first in line to book it. I was especially interested because we had also been on the 2016 maiden sailing of Splendor’s sister ship, Explorer, trademarked as “The Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built.” These two ships were originally planned to be identical and they mostly are. They both have the same number of cabins and the same bars and restaurants. But tastes, materials and technology can change in just a few years and we are having fun now as we explore and experience Splendor on her maiden voyage to see what difference some small changes have made.
As we came aboard it was apparent that the overall tone of this ship had changed significantly from its predecessor. Materials are lighter and more subtle than on Explorer. Brighter colors have been subdued and there is a calmness to the feel of the ship.
This lighter, brighter look is especially noticeable at Compass Rose, the main dining venue. On Explorer, a huge Dale Chihuly glass chandelier in shades of dark blue dominates this restaurant. Here I think the designers tried for a more refined look. While people can argue which is preferable, Splendor’s version is unarguably brighter when occupied for meals.
At least to our memories, Splendor’s speciality restaurants, such as Prime 7 and Chartreuse, pictured below, aren’t much different from Explorer’s, other than a bit of color updating. The reasonable logic being if you have something that is a classic success, don’t change it. Other parts of the ship, however, have made noticeable changes that we think are quite positive.
La Veranda is the casual dining venue which offers buffet breakfasts and relaxed lunches, but dresses up as Sette Mari at La Veranda in the evening and becomes the Italian restaurant for the ship. Splendor has added four popped-out, over-water alcoves that give some extra pizzazz and an enhanced dining experience. Having one of these tables for a sunset dinner is a charming option.
Splendor has also transformed La Veranda’s outside area by adding these semi-enclosed rooms that offer both wind and rain protection as well as giving a more cozy feeling to alfresco dining. We have been enjoying outdoor breakfasts here while on this transatlantic cruise.
Somewhere in the process of building Splendor, someone had the bright idea to cut some steel and replace it with glass at the Pool Deck Bar. I’m not sure this is helpful to the various liquors here, but it certainly makes for a more pleasant view while drinking them than looking at a wall on Explorer.
The biggest structural change between ships was the switching of locations of the Meridian Lounge and Coffee Connection on Deck 5. By flipping them across the ship it allowed a more open and accessible access to this popular rendezvous spot for gourmet coffees and snacks without harming the Meridian Lounge.
It also gave easier access to Pacific Rim, both ships’ Asian restaurant, which is somewhat hidden on Explorer. I’m sure that Pacific Rim was also happy to give greater visibility to their dragon, who welcomes (or guards?) at the restaurant’s entrance. Those of us who have frequented Explorer’s Pacific Rim have a strong affection for the 6,000-pound giant prayer wheel that occupies this spot there and which required significant structural reengineering to support it. I think this creature weighs a few tons less.
I haven’t been able to visit other cabins but I think the color scheme in ours is typical of others – shades of grey, charcoal and cream with a bit of color for accent. Green curtains and matching green leather wall panels provide the accents in our cabin.
The Observation Lounge on Deck 11 is one of my favorite sites on both ships. Splendor has given theirs a quite different look, however, and I really like it. By using fewer tables it feels much more open and the lighter fabrics and surfaces bring in more light. I suspect that management may ultimately decide to add more seating, but I hope they won’t push that too far.
But among the many changes Splendor has introduced to the layout of Explorer, I like this best. Two of these new areas protrude out from the sides of the Observation Lounge, taking advantage of building on the roof of the ship’s Bridge on the deck below. Where on Explorer there is a flat, windowed wall with an unreachable roof beyond, here we have a marvelous, light-filled area, surrounded by glass on three sides and ideal for reading, chatting or having a cocktail. It is our favorite spot on Splendor.
A critical thing that has not changed with the introduction of this new ship is the friendliness, dedication and helpfulness of the ship’s officers and crew. We have sailed with many of them in the past, and they are continuing to make cruising with Regent an exceptional luxury experience. And as expected not everything was perfect when we set sail, but problems have been minor and quickly resolved as we discover them.
In just a few days we will arrive in Miami, where the ship will be christened and officially inaugurated. If you have a chance to sail on her soon, you should. Splendor is splendid!