Luxury Travel Advisor sailed earlier this month on Regent Seven Seas Cruises' new, 746-passenger Seven Seas Grandeur from PortMiami for the ship’s christening. Our short preview cruise hosted travel advisors, trade executives, cruise media and Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ leadership. First impressions? “Grandeur is a perfect size, as it allows guests to enjoy the amenities a larger ship has to offer in a much more intimate setting,” believes Ana Parodi, vice president of sales and business development, Cruise Planners.
Sauntering around the $521 million ship, she thought it “stunning” and told us that this new, ultra-luxury ship “exudes luxury from the minute one walks aboard. Every detail has been carefully thought of and it shows in the accommodations, the artwork and savory cuisine.” We’d have to agree. We tour and write about a lot of ships, each with its own personality; after entering the grand atrium, we immediately liked the look and feel of this luxurious ship with design by Miami’s Studio DADO.
Trade praise for the new ship flowed from other top sources, too. “The Grandeur was absolutely stunning, with amazing pieces of art throughout,” says Jackie Friedman, president of Nexion, who also sailed on the preview cruise. As for the ship's multimillion-dollar art collection, it encompasses 1,600 pieces, among them a few Picassos and a 40-foot-high tapestry. Most notable, though, is “Journey in Jewels,” a one-of-a-kind Faberge Egg, unveiled at the christening ceremony. This priceless art piece now permanently occupies a place of honor in an atrium display case.
What’s really nifty, though, is Seven Seas Grandeur’s new digital art app tour, “Art Experience.” Available through the new Regent Mobile App, the experience spotlights many artistic works within central guest areas. Those are created by such names as Rauschenberg, Matta, Sophie Elizabeth Thompson and Eduardo Arranz-Bravo. By scanning select artworks via the app, guests will see a film about the artist, his or her process and inspiration for the piece.
Spaces and Places
Seven Seas Grandeur is designed for an affluent, well-traveled target audience. In fact, during an executive briefing we learned that this year Regent Seven Seas Cruises is seeing new-to-cruise luxury clients. These are often devoted luxury hotel FIT clients who never would have considered a cruise in the past.
So, top-notch entertainment programming is important as a guest draw. The new ultra-luxury ship has many new shows, among them the swashbuckling “Marauder’s Ball." We felt the theater had enticing offerings and good sight lines. For pre-dinner or pre-show drinks, guests will also find a slew of spacious lounges. The Observation Lounge atop the ship on Deck 11 offers such live entertainment as “Champagne and Chords,” with a pianist between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. or "At the 88s – Country” from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Live entertainment also unfolds in the Meridian Lounge and the Grandeur Lounge & Bar (which also has a dance floor). .
On the spa and wellness side, Seven Seas Grandeur’s Serene Spa & Wellness facility offers guests a holistic approach. So, guests can re-energize and restore their mind, body and spirit. “One of my favorite spots onboard was the spa,” acknowledges Friedman. “There was no better way to start off my day than in this tranquil oasis, enjoying a hot salt stone massage.” Wellness events during our cruise included “Relieving Back, Hip and Knee Pain,” and “Bright Eyes,” among others.
Among fitness activities on our cruise were a sunrise stretch, mindset guided meditation, indoor cycling and yoga. As for pool play, we walked the length of the top pool deck, finding an ample rectangular pool and hot tubs. Plenty of soft cushioned lounge chairs were available, as well as some more enclosed cabana-like seating (with long curtains separating the spaces) along the sides of the ship.
Shipboard Service and Dining
Citing a 1-to-1:36 crew-to guest ratio, Parodi found the service aboard Seven Seas Grandeur impeccable. “We were pampered and never had to wait for a cocktail or at any of the restaurants,” she says. Luxury Travel Advisor also thought the service was overall very good, beyond a normal "shake-down period" hiccup or two. On one evening we dined with a special fixed "christening night" menu in Compass Rose, which was tasty and creatively presented.
Compass Rose is a lovely venue, redesigned by Studio DADO to resemble a magical lighted forest. Design-wise, this main dining room also has a new entryway, different from the previous Explorer-series vessels. There is also a large art piece that resembles a waterfall. We liked that it provided separation from Deck 4’s Grandeur Lounge & Bar on one side and the casino on the other.
Another stunning art piece at the entrance to Pacific Rim is a custom-made, bronze-and-hand-cast-glass Bonsai Cherry Tree Sculpture by Savoy Studios. It was simply lovely. We’ve lived in the Washington D.C. area—home to many Japanese cherry blossom trees—and, from a distance, we thought it looked exactly like a live cherry tree with blossoms. Actually, they're glass but very realistic.
As for Pacific Rim, we’re partial to Pan-Asian cuisine, so we happily dined here two nights. All around, both nights’ appetizers and soups were fabulous. For an entree, we'd opt for the Korean-style Barbecue Lamp Chops, Thai Red Chicken Curry or Miso Black Cod, but the menu choices are robust with many more options. Vegetarians will find Pad Thai and Massaman Curry, for instance. And, for dessert, we ordered a yummy Don Papa Baba au Rum and our tablemate's Green Tea Matcha Cheesecake was nicely presented. The professionalism of the servers at Pacific Rim was also exceptional.
One could-be-improved on the facility side? Pacific Rim is elegant, subdued in lighting and a relaxing venue. That said, while seated at our table in the front of the restaurant, we constantly had flashes of bright light as the galley door continually opened and closed. Every minute or so, servers needed to walk in and out of that galley to pick up the food courses for guests. Simply put, the "on-and-off" of the bright light into the dining venue was distracting. We'd like to see the line reconfigure that galley entry/exit to avoid light constantly flashing into the restaurant.
The ship also has several other alternative dining venues, including the Sete Mare (Italian fare) offshoot from La Veranda, the main casual eatery. Two other top specialty restaurants are Prime 7 (a steakhouse) and Chartreuse (fine French dining). We spotted this table for two by the window in Chartreuse (see photo below). On many ships, tables for two are often crammed together, providing little privacy. So, we liked that no other tables were up close to this or other similar two-person tables by the windows. Tip: When making a reservation for a romantic dinner here, perhaps for an anniversary, clients might ask if one of these is available.
If guests enjoy learning to cook, one hot spot is the Culinary Arts Center. Cooking classes are led by a culinary instructor and offered throughout the cruise. We popped in to find a state-of-the-art center with 18 well-equipped individual cooking stations.
Sometimes it's the simple spaces without too much pzazz that guests like best, though. We greatly enjoyed the Coffee Connection, directly across from the Meridian Lounge on Deck 5. Fellow guests gravitated here daily, too, so we continually ran into many industry colleagues or made new friends here. This venue has self-serve coffee/latte machines and a beautifully presented buffet with fresh fruits, breads, charcuterie and sweet treats. Servers also circulated asking guests what they could bring them—perhaps a glass of water, coffee, tea, wine, beer or a cocktail, the latter concocted at the adjacent bar. As we walked out of this venue, one friendly, guest-centric bartender there said, “buonasera” when we walked by, and the next day he chuckled when we said it to him first. It was a go-to place with a comfortable ambiance.
During our cruise, top suites were occupied, but some mid-range suites were open. For example, we toured No. 607, a 450-square-foot Penthouse Category B suite, akin to a small condo. These suites have 111- to 176-square-foot private balconies that extend the full width along the suite's separate living and bedroom areas; there are sliding glass doors providing access from both rooms. Between those two spaces is an entertainment wall with large, wall-mounted flat-screen TVs on both sides.
In the bedroom, a comfortable, European king-sized Elite Slumber Bed is adjacent to a cute, classic make-up area with a chair (see photo below). Within the master bathroom, you’ll find a large vanity with two sinks and lovely, big round, wall-mounted mirrors. There’s a standalone shower (no tub) and toilet.
But there’s a bit more to this suite, too. Just inside the suite’s entry area is a dining table with two chairs on one side and a coffee bar, minifridge and storage space on the other. To the left in that entry area is a door that opens to a walk-in closet, a small room unto itself. A separate door from this closet also open to the bathroom. So, if one spouse has retired for the night to get a good night’s sleep, and the other is up watching TV or reading, they can still access the bathroom through the walk-in closet without disturbing the sleeping person in the bedroom.
We personally stayed in a Concierge Suite, which we found comfortable and spacious. In particular, it brimmed with storage drawers and closet space. That's particularly helpful for clients sailing on longer voyages such as a Grand Voyage or World Cruise.
Echoing the thoughts of our two trade sources above, we found Seven Seas Grandeur a stunningly gorgeous new ship in look and feel. Our only regret was having to get off after only three nights.