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The new 750-guest Seven Seas Explorer, from Regent Seven Seas Cruises, was intended to be a “trophy ship” for people who have achieved great things in life, according to Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company of Regent.
The ship, which adds a 40 percent increase in capacity for Regent, came with a great deal of advance hype. It turned out to be justified: The ship is at once elegant, adventurous and comfortable.
Certainly no expense was spared to make this what Regent describes as the most luxurious vessel in the world. Buzz continues to grow about the two-bedroom, 4,443-square-foot Regent Suite, with its $150,000 mattress, in-suite spa area with unlimited Canyon Ranch treatments and glass-enclosed Vista Garden on the wraparound veranda.
Two Picasso paintings hang outside because, as Del Rio quipped, “They didn’t make the cut to be inside.”
Demand for the suite has been so great that per diems will soon go up, probably to $5,500 per person for 2018, according to president Jason Montague.
“It’s still a value compared to similar spaces in New York hotels,” he said.
Plus, the suite comes with a private car, a driver and a guide in every port; unlimited laundry and pressing; business and first-class air; and private sedan transfer to and from the airport.
Beyond the Regent Suite, it’s clear that the company has gone to tremendous lengths to make every element the best of its kind, defying the challenges of ship design.
“We don’t want you to think you’re on a ship,” Del Rio said. “We want you to feel that you’re in a luxury hotel.”
Seven Seas Explorer may be the last ship that can receive minute attention from Del Rio; it was planned when the company was named Prestige and included only the Regent and Oceania Cruises brands. Now, as president and CEO of three fast-growing brands, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Del Rio must delegate more on new projects.
A sister ship to Seven Seas Explorer is due in 2020 with a few small changes. Guests have suggested that Penthouse suites should have somewhat larger closets; the casual Coffee Connection lounge will get an alfresco area; and entry into Pan-Asian restaurant Pacific Rim will be altered to give full impact to its dramatic design.
However, no adjustments need to be made to the service. I was telephoned within an hour of arriving to my suite; the staff knew I had special dietary limitations and informed me that they would run selections by me each day, or I could order from the menu and they would customize it for me.
I did the latter in Pacific Rim, and the results were extraordinary. Not only did I have a delicious meal within my restrictions, but I also had choices, suggestions and was treated like a delightful client, not a problem. And the tableware was as beautiful as the food — simple, clean lines, and an arched dish with a recessed top served as sculpture on the table.
“The difference between good and great lies in attention to detail in every square inch,” Del Rio said. “In this case, even the architecture is art.”
He emphasizes that it is not just Seven Seas Explorer that has the new look and features; the entire Regent fleet is transforming to meet this new standard. The same is true of the staff: Regent took 25 percent of Seven Seas Explorer’s personnel from each of its other three ships, so that all ships now have 75 percent seasoned staff.
The response from consumers has been positive: Regent is seeing the highest gross yields ever. Montague says next summer will bring a fare increase in Alaska and Asia, and the line expects to raise pricing across the board.
He stresses the need for agents to educate guests on all of Regent’s included elements, from air to shore excursions. Montague notes that Regent is concentrating solely on ocean cruising, with no expedition ships and no river vessels.
He says that across the Regent fleet, 50 to 60 percent of guests are repeaters; others come from other lines, with only a small number of clients new to cruising.
Seven Seas Explorer is sailing roundtrip from Miami on five back-to-back 10-night cruises to the Caribbean, Mexico and Belize before a summer schedule in Northern Europe.