What's in a Name

Radisson becomes Regent to offer clients a new ‘Experience’

By: M.T. Schwartzman

Radisson Seven Seas Cruises has officially become Regent Seven Seas Cruises and will be repositioned in the marketplace under the theme of “The Regent Experience.”

Carlson Companies executives announced the much-anticipated rebranding strategy in March before a gathering of travel agents and press at the Asia Society on Park Avenue. Chairman and CEO Marilyn Carlson Nelson explained that the rebranding will take place over 18 months, and the new Regent Seven Seas logo will start appearing on the company’s vessels in mid-April. All ships will carry the new logo by the end of May.

Carlson purchased Regent International Hotels, known for its Asian-inspired style of hospitality in 1997. Regent currently has eight properties in operation with another nine under construction and scheduled to open within the next two years. Aligning the cruise product with the Regent name will continue to raise the bar of luxury cruising, said Nelson.

“Our goal is to create a new and more personalized kind of service,” she told the audience, “one that anticipates needs. We must create an even better luxury offering by combining the two [hotels and ships], offering the best of both worlds.”

The rebranding, Nelson stressed, represents more than a change of image and advertising.

“Our intent is to go far beyond renaming the ships,” she said. “This is a sign of Carlson’s commitment to the growing, glowing luxury market.”

Radisson Seven Seas Cruises has long been an innovator in the luxury cruise market.

“We were the first with all-suite ships and the first with all-balcony ships,” said Nelson.

The line also forged exclusive partnerships with the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school of Paris and Carita spa products, bringing these to the luxury cruise segment.

Now, Regent promises to once again redefine the meaning of luxury cruising.

“The Regent Seven Seas meaning of luxury is choice and exclusive access,” said Nelson. “If our guests want a private visit to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg or to explore the Hindu temples of Bali, we’ll organize it. Choice, access, intimacy our sophisticated guests tell us this is how today’s generation defines luxury.”

Jay Witzel, president and CEO of Carlson Hotels Worldwide and Carlson Cruises Worldwide, joined Nelson at the presentation and outlined some of the rebranding’s more tangible changes. A multi-million-dollar upgrade of stateroom amenities (very similar to Holland America Line’s Signature of Excellence) includes new down comforters and Egyptian cotton percale Anichini-brand linens, soft bathrobes and towels and a new Regent luxury line of bath products.

Staterooms will be fitted with flat-screen TVs, DVD players, new clocks and iPod music systems with Bose speakers. Regent is also in the process of introducing Wi-Fi and cell-phone service fleet wide.

The shipboard improvements will make their debut when the Seven Seas Mariner sails from San Francisco on April 18. The Regent inaugural season of Seven Seas Voyager begins on July 1, setting sail to Scandinavia and Russia, and will continue through the vessel’s final Mediterranean cruise of the season in October.

Regent also plans to expand its Circle of Interests enrichment program. Ten sailings in 2006 offer this option, which blends shipboard and shore-side activities linked by a common theme, such as photography, history, food and wine, archeology, literature or marine life.

“The Circle of Interests brings together people of like-minded interests,” Nelson said. “It’s as much about inner personalized journeys as it is about ships and itineraries.”

A new Regent Travel Concierge program will give passengers expanded opportunities to customize their cruise experience. Special “a la carte” tour and hotel arrangements can be pre-booked through a dedicated toll-free number, or guests may select from a prepackaged selection of Concierge Collection land adventures.

Guests will be able to pre-book shore excursions and make dinner reservations in advance of sailing as well, giving them new flexibility in planning their cruise experience. As an added bonus, guests who are confirmed in suite categories with butler service can submit special requests ahead of time via e-mail.

Nelson noted that while some companies are building 3,000-passenger ships and even the vessels of luxury operators are getting bigger, Regent Seven Seas ships “are sailing in the opposite direction.”

The line, she said, is committed to its mid-size product and experience and will continue to offer a unique alternative to megaship cruising.