Ship to Shore

The new Regent experience

By: Ginger Dingus

I have to pay a dollar every time I say ‘Radisson’ instead of ‘Regent’?” joked Mark Conroy, president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
The occasion was the unveiling of the new Regent logo on the stack of Seven Seas Mariner, the first ship to sport the revamped insignia following the merger of Regent International Hotels with Radisson Seven Seas Cruises last spring.

“The Regent Experience,” according to Conroy, focuses on genuine hospitality and anticipatory service.

“It’s all about hospitality, but we have to do more than that,” he said of the merger of Carlson Companies’ two luxury brands. “It’s personal service luxury is about giving people choice.”

On the shore side, Regent currently has eight hotels with an additional nine being built over the next two years. As to ships, the four are Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Navigator and Paul Gauguin. Although a new ship is not currently on the horizon, cruisers still have reason to celebrate.

A new Seven Seas Society program (based on number of sailing nights) rewards past passengers with bonuses, such as complimentary Internet access, clothes pressing and exclusive events. Beginning in 2007, the line will offer an all-inclusive beverage program. Charges will apply only to premium brand liquors and wines.

Sailing on Regent Seven Seas Mariner’s inaugural cruise to Alaska this season, I discovered what’s new besides the name. In terms of comfort, all suites have been outfitted with new, thicker, plush-top mattresses and new bedding. Luxurious Regent logo terry robes made by Anichini hang in the closets. My suite had an iPod music system, programmed with more than 2,200 selections. Flat-screen TV’s will be phased in over the next 16 months.

“The Regent Experience” also extends from ship to shore. My “Spotlight” cruise focused on photography with three guest experts on board, each giving two lectures. Photo-buffs could book special, photographer-guided excursions in Victoria and Juneau.

All passengers can expect more one-of-a-kind shore tours and, with younger cruisers in mind, more adventure-oriented excursions. Our call in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, exemplified both.

RSSC was one of the first lines to visit Prince Rupert in 2003, the year before the ingenious floating pier (the gangway automatically moves with the tide) and cruise terminal were constructed. Excursions included a rappelling adventure down a granite cliff or a jetboat ride on the Skeena River.

Culture seekers can enjoy an exclusive tour of the Museum of Northern British Columbia before visiting a First Nations longhouse to participate in a Tsimshian feast, or potlatch.

Last, but not least, I was delighted to see “The Regent Experience” covered disembarkation day with room service for breakfast.

THE DETAILS

The all-suite, all-balcony, 700-passenger, Seven Seas Mariner concludes her Alaska season Sept. 20, followed by a series of Asia and Pacific voyages through Dec. 18.

Hits: Cruises are nearly all-inclusive no tipping necessary. Specialty restaurants have no extra charges. Fine wines are included at dinner, and soft drinks, bottled water and self-service laundries are free. Guests in butler suites (Penthouse B and higher) receive daily hors d’oeuvres and other perks. Two liters of alcohol are provided in each suite throughout 2006. An all-inclusive beverage plan is being introduced in 2007.

Misses: The Carita Spa does not have a secluded lounge. A $5 per person, per day fuel surcharge is not included in the fare.

www.theregentexperience.com

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