Bold style, upscale design features and amenity-laden suites that absolutely “wow” aptly describe the new 750-passenger Seven Seas Splendor, the newest ship in Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ fleet and a sister to Seven Seas Explorer.
Billed by the ultra-luxury line as “Luxury Perfected,” the new 55,254-gross-ton vessel was christened by actress and model Christie Brinkley, who did the honors as godmother on Friday night at PortMiami. Travel Agent is currently sailing on the new ship’s four-night preview cruise from Miami and we've posted 40 photos of the ship above.
New Ultra-Luxury Ship
Frank Del Rio, president and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, told luxury travel advisors attending a trade partner update in the ship's Constellation Theater on Saturday that Seven Seas Splendor has the highest cost per berth of any cruise ship ever built.
Certainly, the "hardware" creates a bold, ultra-luxury statement, with a massive Regent Suite with hand-crafted furnishings and a $200,000 bed; other large suites, among them Master, Splendor and Penthouse suites; a multimillion-dollar art collection, including two Picasso paintings; an acre of marble throughout public spaces and suites; a state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Center; and yes, space, glorious space.
Seven Seas Splendor also has distinctive design and artistic touches, such as a stunning atrium chandelier that dominates the space and Pacific Rim’s massive dragon art piece (clearly the top selfie spot on the ship for many guests on our cruise).
But what’s Regent’s brand proposition for luxury guests? What does it bring to the marketplace? “What we want to make sure we’re doing is to deliver an unrivaled experience for our guests,” Jason Montague, president and CEO, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, told reporters during an onboard press briefing.
"That unrivaled experience is every single aspect…not just the ship itself,” Montague stressed -- pointing to how guests interact with staff and how the ship’s 542 crew members serve guests. “It’s all about the details too,” he said.
“The term luxury is so overused,” Montague said, noting that for the RSSC brand, “it’s about space. It’s about personalizing and customizing the details, because guests these days in a luxury environment, they really want to experience the world how they want to experience it and not be forced into a structure.”
As for the line's desire to achieve "Luxury Perfected," Ruth Turpin, owner, Cruises Etc., Fort Worth, Texas, who is on the current sailing, tells us she's seeing that level of luxury -- with even more inclusions and elevated service, Also, "the frequent service of caviar and truly fine wines elevates the luxury experience," said Turpin.
Differences from Explorer?
Del Rio said that a few years back when building Seven Seas Explorer, the team gave its heart and soul to that effort -- ensuring that the ship became “the most luxurious cruise ship ever built and she was at the time.” But he added that every new prototype has areas for improvement, so the line spent a lot of time talking to travel advisors about any feedback.
"There were a couple of things that stood out" for potential changes, Del Rio said. As a result, with Seven Seas Splendor, “we made the ship a little lighter,” he said. “So, she doesn’t have as many dark woods as Seven Seas Explorer.” Other changes? Read on.
Deck 5 Changes
Del Rio said the line changed “the crazy landing on Deck 5 leading to Pacific Rim -- that if you stepped too quickly off the elevator you fell into the abyss.” So, the line made a change and that landing is no longer there.
In addition, Del Rio said changes on Deck 5 – expanding the Coffee Connection and leading all the way from that venue into Pacific Rim – is “an incredible change for the better.”
On Seven Seas Splendor, the Grand Staircase, descending from Deck 5 to Deck 4, also has been reversed and repositioned. Del Rio said that “instead of walking into the elevator bank, you walk right into that beautiful entrance to Compass Rose.”
"That’s actually one of my favorite features because it really is a grand staircase now,” Montague added. As guests descend they enter a grand avenue of sorts to the restaurant; elegant, comfortable seating is on both sides, with the Splendor Bar off to one side.
Theater Sight Lines & Design
The sight lines and design of the upper level of Seven Seas Splendor’s Constellation Theater have been improved from what is on Seven Seas Explorer. Montague said the line also plans future changes on Seven Seas Explorer to similarly make the sight lines better.
Penthouse Suite & Concierge Suite Details
The RSSC team spent six hours at the shipyard in those two suites looking at “every single plug, outlet, light, where the light’s shining" and so on, said Montague, “just to make sure we were perfecting all those details.”
He said “that’s what luxury perfected is all about – making sure all the small details are looked at” – optimizing the experience for all guests.
Franco Semeraro, senior vice president, hotel operations, RSSC and Oceania Cruises, said there was even one dedicated outlet installed for a hair dryer, as “the ladies need a more powerful hair dryer than the regular one.” So a dedicated electric line was added for that purpose.
He also added that the line added more 110V outlets and more USB outlets, as people have a lot of electronic devices.
In addition, the Penthouse Suite's closet, which guests had not been fond of on Seven Seas Explorer, was totally redone with more storage space and cubbyholes, and guests can enter it from the living area or the bathroom. “Now it has such a great flow,” said Semeraro. It’s also 50 percent bigger.
Recent Dining & Beverage Changes
The dining and beverage side of the Regent brand has had changes of late. Since Seven Seas Explorer launched, the line has created new plant-based menus as an option.
Overall, with this newest sister ship, more than 200 new recipes have been added to the restaurants' menus.
And from the beverage side, Semerar. says on Seven Seas Splendor the line has turned the Meridian Lounge into a mixology bar – adding new gin drinks and new recipe drinks with juices and fresh herbs.
“It was a huge hit with our guests going from Barcelona to Miami,” said Montague. “They absolutely loved it.”
Now, the line plans to extend that mixology concept to the entire fleet. Semeraro said the line is in the process of doing that and choosing which lounge will work best for the mixology on each ship.
In addition, the line has done a major update to the menu at Pacific Rim. “In Compass Rose, we probably changed most of the recipes,” said Semeraro. In addition, “we extended the [menu] cycle to 28 days so that’s a big hit when we have longer cruises.” Guests do not have repetitive menus for that period.
And in the specialty restaurants, he said the line changed between eight and 15 recipes in each restaurant.
Those changes will also be implemented on the line’s other ships, but “remember, you have to retrain your entire staff,” so it’s not as simple a process as it might seem, Semeraro noted.
He said the new recipes now being used in Seven Seas Splendor’s restaurants will be added to dining venues of other ships in the fleet as the staffs on those ships are retrained.
The most spacious, over-the-top suite on the ship is the 4,443-square-foot Regent Suite; that square footage includes a private balcony/terrace of 1,400-plus square feet.
Desire to book this suite? Well, it goes for about $5,500 per person nightly or about $11,000 nightly. And that doesn’t count a third or fourth guest in a second bedroom which can become a part of that suite.
But the issue most guests interested in the suite will have isn't cost, it's availability. Officials said onboard the suite is essentially sold out through early next year.
“The Regent Suite is unique in everything because of the quality of each piece from the chandelier to the custom-made furniture,” said Semeraro. Everything in the suite is custom, and “it hurt my hand to sign the purchase order for the coffee machine,” he quipped. “That machine cost a fortune.”
The suite's hand-made Hastens Vividus mattress came with a $200,000 price tag for the line. And, for the upcoming third ship in the series, Semeraro believes it will be $400,000 or so.
Custom-made, hand-crafted Hastens Vividus mattresses takes at least 45 days to complete with nine bed artisans working on completing the order. So it’s meticulous, traditional craftsmanship.
As for bedding throughout the ship, Semeraro says his team is already working on the sixth incarnation of the Elite Slumber mattress found in every suite.
Four types of mattresses are now being tested by past guests sailing on one Oceania Cruises’ ship and will soon be trialed on several Regent ships as well.
Once the line receives feedback, it will make adjustments and then come out with the sixth incarnation of Elite Slumber.
Regent Seven Seas’ Demographic
As for the line’s guest demographic? RSSC still draws guests who are retired or semi-retired, and “our average age is still in the mid-60s,” Montague noted.
Since many new-to-brand or new-to-luxury-cruising guests tend to be less formal, more casual in how they prefer the onboard aura, that’s something that’s evolving. One of the things that the line has done to appeal to that audience is to open up the Pool Grill at night, so guests can have a more casual, yet upscale dining experience.
Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises and Viking, among others, have moved into the expedition segment. When asked by reporters about whether Regent Seven Seas will consider moving into expedition as well, Montague said there were no plans in that direction.
“We’re 100 percent committed to being the best in ocean cruising that there is,” said Montague. “I personally think the amount of ships being built for the expedition space is excessive.”
He also said that the expedition product is different than ocean, that it takes a different level of expertise and that it is very time-intensive and staff-intensive in what it takes to field an expedition product and costs are disproportionate to the number of berths.
Plus, he added there are only so many true expedition regions, and so then in between those Arctic or Antarctic voyages,, “when you’re not doing true expedition, it becomes an ocean [product],” he said.
Bottom line? Don’t expect an expedition product from Regent, at least not with the line’s current perspective on the expedition market. Del Rio echoed that in an onboard program as well. Regent is sticking with perfecting ocean cruising.
When asked what happens if a Regent guest goes to another luxury line for an expedition sailing, Montague said "we'll get them back." He believes they'll return to RSSC when it's time for a regular ocean cruise once again.
New Spaces on the Third Ship
Del Rio said that some spaces, including the theater, that are the same on Seven Seas Explorer and Seven Seas Splendor will be different on the third ship. Also, “Compass Rose will be completely different,” he said.
As for that third ship’s name, Del Rio really likes “Seven Seas Wanderer,” but Montague doesn’t share the same view. Apparently, Del Rio desired to use that name with both this class' ships, but was shot down on that. Montague acknowledged he may have to let Del Rio have his way with the third one, but it’s not an official choice yet.
Del Rio couldn’t think of an element that was potentially going to be on Seven Seas Splendor that the brand then cut out and replaced with something else because it was cheaper. That approach just didn’t happen.
But, despite creating what they believe is the "perfect ship," Del Rio said that a week or two after returning home, the guests could forget how beautiful the ship is, but they'll remember their butler's name, how good the food was and their housekeeper. So he said the line is investing a lot in crew and supporting them,
What's new schedule-wise for the new Seven Seas Splendor? First it will go through the Panama Canal to San Diego and then back to Miami and on to New York. Then it's off across the Atlantic to spend the summer in the Mediterranean and into the Baltic region a bit too.
Look for another slide show this week on other suite categories, plus additional coverage moving forward.