A many Splendored thing

Regent Seven Seas has a new ship and a new attitude to appeal to today’s luxury cruise passenger. Peter Lynch trialled its newest vessel.


Ever since Regent Seven Seas boasted that they were launching The Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built with Seven Seas Explorer, the world has been waiting with bated breath. How could they top that? The luxury line’s follow up – Seven Seas Splendor – is a story of our times. Splendor’s epithet is: “Luxury Perfected”. But it might also be: “Less is More”.


Sure, the showmanship is still there – she was officially named by US model Christie Brinkley at a glittering do in Miami – and the decadence remains: an acre of Italian marble, a $7.5 million art collection of 300 works including a Picasso, and a Regent Suite featuring a $298,000 horse-hair bed, private spa and $149,000 Steinway piano.


But there is a significant dialling down of the dazzle and a dialling up of the sophistication and subtlety. Explorer, the sister with the Most Luxurious Ship title, is a blinged-out rap artist. Splendor is a debonair crooner by comparison, more Sam Smith than JayZ. Instead of a recitation of excess, her owners are keen to point out the new Vero water system that does away with plastics (each passenger gets a refillable water bottle); new fuels and use of shore power that puts her among the best environmentally; the new cooking school and chef experiences; the Go Local shore excursions.

“Splendor’s epithet is: “Luxury Perfected”. But it might also be:
“Less is More”.

The five-ship line has spent a billion dollars retro-fitting its fleet and building new vessels; another is planned for 2023. Regent maintains it’s ready to tackle the demands of the new decade’s luxury consumer: still luxurious, but more meaningful experiences and with a lighter footprint.


So how does Splendor measure up? We think rather splendidly. Cruise Passenger was on board for a short cruise from Rome to Barcelona – the ship’s second outing under the command of Captain Serena Melani, who was the first woman in cruise industry history to captain a new ocean cruise ship at launch and whose hometown of Livorno on the Tuscan coast is on our itinerary.


Built by Fincantieri in Ancona, Italy, Splendor is 55,254 gross tonnes and 224 metres long, carrying 551 crew and 750 guests. It features five unique restaurants, three bars and lounges, a show theatre, and 375 suites including the rock-star Regent Suite. At 412sqm, this two-bedroom mansion

comes with private car and driver in every port, a butler and an exclusive dining room for 12. Its private spa boasts a steam room, and all spa treatments are free and are carried out in your own copious marble bathroom. The wrap-around balcony has its own jacuzzi and the Dom Pérignon is virtually on tap. The suite rents for $16,500 per person a night – but don’t all rush at once. Apart from one or two gaps, it’s already booked out until November.


But what about life for the rest of us? Despite being a vessel that smells like a brand new car, her crew is well-drilled – and the ship itself is a delight, both in terms of facilities and her ability to perfectly handle seven-metre swells from the notorious French Mistral winds.


There is a bigger Coffee Connection with outside seating, a larger dance floor, more pool deck space for sun lounging. Signature restaurant Compass Rose still features Versace plates, though the colour palate is more contemporary and subdued, and the giant chandelier has been toned back. It served up Dover sole with just the right amount of butter sauce and perfect steamed vegetables.


Elsewhere, the ship’s specialty restaurants certainly are special. We dined on the traditional surf and turf at Prime 7 and it was everything you would expect from a top-class steakhouse, while Chartreuse, a beautifully designed French classic with a menu to match, served up duck foie gras, soufflé and steak tartar with caviar – and that’s just the hors d’oeuvre. A seared Barbary duck breast with glazed turnips, candied cherries and sour cherry mustard was a sensation –

as rich and delicious as you’d expect from the French bistro.

Pan-Asian Pacific Rim features an amazing dragon carving at its entrance that was made in Brisbane. There is also Sette Mari at La Veranda, serving Italian specialties with a fabulous location on the back deck, and the pool grill for casual alfresco dining.


There is one other culinary gem – the Arts Kitchen has to be the kitchen with the best view in the world – straight out over the ocean. It features 18 new classes under the watchful eye of oceanic masterchef Kathryn Kelly, director of culinary enrichment. Anyone who can teach me to produce a rather tasty pesce all’acqua pazza – fish in crazy water, a delicious branzino fillet poached in white wine and shallots – has my vote. In just an hour, we also produce pain perdu with rum-spiced caramel syrup, apparently a Jackie Onassis favourite.


A perennial favourite Regent event – the Gala Buffet – is a massive culinary extravaganza, offering everything from lobsters, prawns and sushi to an amazing array of deserts.

Splendor also features a spa under the new Regent brand, Serene, and a fitness centre with classes and personal consultants. There is a casino, boutiques, a golf putting course, a library and a cigar lounge.


Our cruise is short, but we manage to pack in two unique shore excursions, three shows and a day at sea. During this time, we acknowledge there must be some truth to Regent’s other new message: that the line offers the best value in luxury cruising.

Yes, that’s right. The line claiming the world’s most luxurious ships also wants to be known for offering the best value for money. How does that work? You may have learnt from painful experience that, on some inclusive lines, things aren’t necessarily what they seem. Specialty restaurants, many shore experiences, premium alcohol and even WiFi are extra, meaning a dose of bill shock as passengers disembark. Regent, comparatively, includes the lot.


Regent’s Asia-Pacific managing director, Steve Odell, says the way the line can claim to be the best value lies in the fact that it has the most inclusions at sea: all-suite accommodations, the largest collection of unlimited shore excursions, all specialty restaurants, entertainment, unlimited internet access, highly personalised service, fine wines and spirits, gratuities, ground transfers and one-night, pre-cruise hotel packages for guests staying in Concierge-level suites and higher.


“We will always be the most expensive because we offer the most inclusions,” he says. “But luxury comes at a price and you should be looking at value. You don’t go to Louis Vuitton or Cartier looking for discounts. “We do have early booking price promotions. But we tried to avoid last minute, and luxury buyers don’t buy much last minute anyway.”


Mr Odell believes Splendor is a bit more to Australian tastes than other Regent ships. “It’s designed like a private home and I think that will go down well with Aussies.” And after our experience on this cruise, we are inclined to agree.

FACT FILE

CRUISE LINE: Regent Seven Seas

VESSEL: Seven Seas Splendor
STAR RATING: NYR
MAX PASSENGER CAPACITY: 750
TOTAL CREW: 551
PASSENGER DECKS: 14
ENTERED SERVICE: 2020
TONNAGE: 55,254 GRT
FACILITIES: five restaurants, three bars and lounges, art collection, 375 balcony suites, theatre, casino, spa, fitness centre, library, pool.
BOOKINGS: RSSC.com


THE VERDICT

HIGHS: Lovely suites, big balconies, great food and good service. Regent really do know how to do luxury cruising.

LOWS: Have you heard the one about the comedian who died on stage? Must have been on Splendor. The ship has a wonderful theatre but the acts we saw didn’t do it justice.

BEST FOR: Sophisticated travellers who love culture, fine dining and great destinations.

A many Splendored thing

Regent Seven Seas has a new ship and a new attitude to appeal to today’s luxury cruise passenger. Peter Lynch trialled its newest vessel.


Ever since Regent Seven Seas boasted that they were launching The Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built with Seven Seas Explorer, the world has been waiting with bated breath. How could they top that? The luxury line’s follow up – Seven Seas Splendor – is a story of our times. Splendor’s epithet is: “Luxury Perfected”. But it might also be: “Less is More”.

Sure, the showmanship is still there – she was officially named by US model Christie Brinkley at a glittering do in Miami – and the decadence remains: an acre of Italian marble, a $7.5 million art collection of 300 works including a Picasso, and a Regent Suite featuring a $298,000 horse-hair bed, private spa and $149,000 Steinway piano.

But there is a significant dialling down of the dazzle and a dialling up of the sophistication and subtlety. Explorer, the sister with the Most Luxurious Ship title, is a blinged-out rap artist. Splendor is a debonair crooner by comparison, more Sam Smith than JayZ. Instead of a recitation of excess, her owners are keen to point out the new Vero water system that does away with plastics (each passenger gets a refillable water bottle); new fuels and use of shore power that puts her among the best environmentally; the new cooking school and chef experiences; the Go Local shore excursions.

The five-ship line has spent a billion dollars retro-fitting its fleet and building new vessels; another is planned for 2023. Regent maintains it’s ready to tackle the demands of the new decade’s luxury consumer: still luxurious, but more meaningful experiences and with a lighter footprint.

So how does Splendor measure up? We think rather splendidly. Cruise Passenger was on board for a short cruise from Rome to Barcelona – the ship’s second outing under the command of Captain Serena Melani, who was the first woman in cruise industry history to captain a new ocean cruise ship at launch and whose hometown of Livorno on the Tuscan coast is on our itinerary.

Built by Fincantieri in Ancona, Italy, Splendor is 55,254 gross tonnes and 224 metres long, carrying 551 crew and 750 guests. It features five unique restaurants, three bars and lounges, a show theatre, and 375 suites including the rock-star Regent Suite. At 412sqm, this two-bedroom mansion

But what about life for the rest of us? Despite being a vessel that smells like a brand new car, her crew is well-drilled – and the ship itself is a delight, both in terms of facilities and her ability to perfectly handle seven-metre swells from the notorious French Mistral winds.

There is a bigger Coffee Connection with outside seating, a larger dance floor, more pool deck space for sun lounging. Signature restaurant Compass Rose still features Versace plates, though the colour palate is more contemporary and subdued, and the giant chandelier has been toned back. It served up Dover sole with just the right amount of butter sauce and perfect steamed vegetables.

Elsewhere, the ship’s specialty restaurants certainly are special. We dined on the traditional surf and turf at Prime 7 and it was everything you would expect from a top-class steakhouse, while Chartreuse, a beautifully designed French classic with a menu to match, served up duck foie gras, soufflé and steak tartar with caviar – and that’s just the hors d’oeuvre. A seared Barbary duck breast with glazed turnips, candied cherries and sour cherry mustard was a sensation – as rich and delicious as you’d expect from the French bistro.
Pan-Asian Pacific Rim features an amazing dragon carving at its entrance that was made in Brisbane. There is also Sette Mari at La Veranda, serving Italian specialties with a fabulous location on the back deck, and the pool grill for casual alfresco dining.

There is one other culinary gem – the Arts Kitchen has to be the kitchen with the best view in the world – straight out over the ocean. It features 18 new classes under the watchful eye of oceanic masterchef Kathryn Kelly, director of culinary enrichment. Anyone who can teach me to produce a rather tasty pesce all’acqua pazza – fish in crazy water, a delicious branzino fillet poached in white wine and shallots – has my vote. In just an hour, we also produce pain perdu with rum-spiced caramel syrup, apparently a Jackie Onassis favourite.

A perennial favourite Regent event – the Gala Buffet – is a massive culinary extravaganza, offering everything from lobsters, prawns and sushi to an amazing array of deserts.
Splendor also features a spa under the new Regent brand, Serene, and a fitness centre with classes and personal consultants. There is a casino, boutiques, a golf putting course, a library and a cigar lounge.

Our cruise is short, but we manage to pack in two unique shore excursions, three shows and a day at sea. During this time, we acknowledge there must be some truth to Regent’s other new message: that the line offers the best value in luxury cruising.

FACT FILE

CRUISE LINE: Regent Seven Seas

VESSEL: Seven Seas Splendor

STAR RATING: NYR

MAX PASSENGER CAPACITY: 750

TOTAL CREW: 551

PASSENGER DECKS: 14
ENTERED SERVICE: 2020

TONNAGER: 55,254 GRT

FACILITIES: Five restaurants, three bars and lounges, art collection, 375 balcony suites, theatre, casino, spa, fitness centre, library, pool.

BOOKINGS: RSSC.com



THE VERDICT

HIGHS: Lovely suites, big balconies, great food and good service. Regent really do know how to do luxury cruising.
LOWS: Have you heard the one about the comedian who died on stage? Must have been on Splendor. The ship has a wonderful theatre, but sadly the acts we saw didn’t do it justice.
BEST SUITED TO: Sophisticated travellers who love culture, fine dining and great destinations.