Itinerary: Miami, At Sea, At Sea, Bermuda, Bermuda, At Sea, At Sea, At Sea, At Sea, Horta (Azores), Ponta Delgada (Azores), At Sea, Funchal, At Sea, Lisbon (Disembark).
April 28, 2019 - It's a bold claim, for sure. Regent Seven Seas Cruises declares quite vehemently that Seven Seas Explorer is "The Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built." But, is it? It's a claim we decided to put to the test during our 14-night transatlantic sailing from Miami to Lisbon.
We embark on Deck 5, just above the grand staircase. One glance at this lobby and you immediately get a sense of style and elegance.
Visually, there is no question that Seven Seas Explorer's designers hit all the right marks when it comes to creating a luxurious environment. The ship is one of the most beautiful and tastefully decorated on which we have had the privilege to sail.
The public spaces are filled with beautiful works of art and clad in expensive marble, leather and coordinated fabrics. Function follows form throughout the ship, making it one of the easiest to find your way around. The Constellation Theater (Deck 4/5 forward) is spacious, has good sight lines and excellent acoustics
Deck 11 is the Lido Deck with a large pool flanked by two large hot tubs, the Pool Bar and the Pool Grill. Aft on 11 is La Veranda, the ship's Lido Buffet.
Deck 12 features the ship's jogging track, a very nice mini-golf course, a golf driving net, pickle ball court, Bocce court, and of course, shuffleboard.
Top quality wicker loungers surround the pool on Deck 11. Each is covered with terry cloth, and plush towels are provided.
A chilled bottle of champagne and two glasses have been placed in each suite to greet guests when they arrive.
Our Superior Suite was 332 sq. ft. with an additional 115 sq. ft. of balcony. The king-sized bed faces the balcony, and is one of the most comfortable beds you will find on a cruise ship. Each night stand has USB ports, electrical outlets and there is a clock on one of the nightstands.
Next to the bed is a long desk/dresser with a marble top. The desk has electrical outlets and is a comfortable workstation if you travel with a laptop. The desk becomes a vanity with a lighted makeup mirror (something that every cruise line should provide) and drawers to hold all of the potions and lotions that women require.
The bathroom is huge and is one of the nicest we have seen in a suite/stateroom this size on any ship. There is a full-sized bathtub with its own shower head and a separate shower stall,too. This makes it very easy for two people to shower at the same time.
The large vanity has two sinks and lots of storage in the form of shelves and drawers. Top-quality L'Occitane amenities are provided and replenished as needed. Large, plush towels are as nice as you will find in any five-star hotel. And, the toilet flush is very quiet for a cruise ship toilet.
The walk-in closet is not only large, but houses another dresser with tons of drawer storage. One of our favorite features of the closet are the hooks provided for hanging jackets, caps, pajamas, or whatever you desire.
The balcony is wide and deep with two padded lounge chairs that can recline to become mini-loungers.
The large wicker and glass table is perfect for al fresco dining. We enjoyed a beautiful room-service breakfast on the balcony on the morning we arrived in Bermuda.
The large flat-screen television is mounted in the sitting room, but is hinged so that it can swing into view of the bedroom. There is excellent programming with a variety of news channels, closed-circuit programming and movie channels. There is also a nice selection of movies on demand (complimentary).
The sitting room has a small sofa and glass coffee table on one end and the mini-fridge/bar, television and even more storage drawers at the opposite end of the room. The space can be segregated somewhat from the bedroom by pulling the curtain provided between the spaces.
It should be noted that our suite was whisper quiet throughout the entire 14-night cruise. We never heard our neighbors. As far as comfort goes, we would rate the Superior Suite a 5 out of 5. It is simply one of the very best stateroom/suites we have had the pleasure of occupying.
Food and Dining
Seven Seas Explorer offers guests a wide variety of dining options. La Veranda is the ship's lido buffet on Deck 11 aft. La Veranda is open for breakfast and lunch, offering a variety of choices. Seating is very elegant for a buffet with linen tablecloths, napkins and nice table settings. Waiters are on hand for drink orders and a selection of complimentary wines is offered at lunch.
One of our favorite features of La Veranda is the endless supply of fresh boiled shrimp each day. And, the spicy cocktail sauce is quite good.
The Pool Grill is located just forward of La Veranda on Deck 11. A smaller buffet is offered here and is the perfect lunch spot for those lounging poolside. On the port side, there is a covered dining space with great ocean views and table service. The Pool Grill menu offers a choice of sandwiches, hot dogs, panini, and burgers.
The burgers served at the Pool Grill are quite good, as are the French fries (when served hot). We were served cold fries a couple of times and had to ask the waiter to bring a fresh batch, which they always were happy to do.
Our only disappointment at the Pool Grill was with the pizza. It sort of tasted like a frozen pizza and was not up to the standard of Regent's other food offerings.
Room Service was excellent on our sailing. We had breakfast in our suite three different times and, each time, the food arrived on time and warm. A Room Service breakfast menu is placed on the bed each evening. The menu is extensive. Just fill out the menu before going to bed, hang it outside on your doorknob, and the food arrives the next morning at the requested time.
When the food arrives, the server prepares the coffee table (or balcony table, if you choose to dine al fresco) with a linen tablecloth, napkins and every other amenity you would expect if you were dining in Compass Rose. It is five-star room service, for sure. Our Eggs Benedict arrived warm, with perfectly poached eggs and topped with delicious Hollandaise.
The 24-hour room service menu is quite extensive and, during dinner hours, you can order from the Compass Rose menu.
Compass Rose is the ship's main restaurant (Deck 4 midship).
Compass Rose is open for breakfast and dinner each day. This the place to come if you want full service with a menu that changes each evening. Compass Rose has the most elegant charger plates and table settings we have seen to date.
Compass Rose also has the largest "always available" menu selection we have ever seen on a cruise ship. The entire left side of the menu (and, it is a very large menu) lists items that are always available.
Prime 7 (Deck 10 aft) is Regent's steak house and it quickly became one of our favorites on board Seven Seas Explorer. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and reservations are required for dinner. There is also a small bar at Prime 7 where you can enjoy a cocktail while waiting for your table.
Prime 7 is deceptively large. If you arrive early for lunch, you should be able to find a nice table for two with an ocean view. Rickee enjoyed the BBQ pulled pork sliders on more than one occasion.
The best part of lunch at Prime 7 is the dessert carousel containing six different delicious treats that are the perfect size for two to share.
Dinner at Prime 7 is very elegant and service is top notch. The menu features many prime beef offerings, but there are other options for those who enjoy seafood. Rickee's Filet Mignon was perfectly cooked, tender and delicious, as was my Rib Eye.
Chartreuse is the ship's French-themed restaurant, also located on Deck 10 aft (port side). Like Prime 7, Chartreuse is open for lunch and dinner each day. We had lunch and dinner here only once. The restaurant is beautiful, however, we felt like the service was slower here than any of the other restaurants.
Our dinner here was somewhat disappointing. My lamb chops were well seasoned, but very tough. And again, service was slow. In their defense, the restaurant was full. But, Prime 7 was full when we dined there, and service was crisp.
In the evenings, the port side of La Veranda becomes Sette Mari, an Italian-themed bistro. Sette Mari is sort of a hybrid between a buffet and table service restaurant, which is a little confusing at first. The menu is quite large, and changes every couple of days.
Soups and main courses are ordered from the menu while salads, antipasti and desserts are self-serve from the buffet area. However, several antipasti selections are also placed on the table by the waiter.
Sette Mari quickly became another one of our favorite 'go-to' restaurants because reservations are not required here. The service was excellent from our three-time waiter, Armando. And, you can watch your meal being prepared in the open kitchen there.
One of my personal favorite dining venues is Pacific Rim, the Asian-fusion restaurant on Deck 5 aft which is only open for dinner.
The menu here offers a variety of Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, and Chinese-inpsired dishes. The Peking Duck Salad was one of our favorites.
The atmosphere, service and food at Pacific Rim were among the best we found on Seven Seas Explorer. All restaurants on board are complimentary and complimentary wine is offered at lunch and dinner. The complimentary wine selection was as good as any we have found on any luxury ship, and better than most. Overall, food quality was very good and service was what you would expect from a five-star cruise line.
We were extremely pleased with the quality and variety of entertainment on board Seven Seas Explorer. The production shows (3 on our cruise) were as good as we have seen on any ship, of any size. We counted twelve singers and dancers, which is unheard of on a ship this size.
The vocalists were extremely talented, as were the dancers. Costumes, and lighting were also very well done. The Constellation Theater adds to the experience with excellent acoustics, a great sound system and good sight lines.
In addition to excellent production shows, the guest entertainers were the best we have ever seen on any cruise ship. (Remember, we have been on more than 135 cruises, so when we say they were that good, it should not be taken lightly). Jenene Caramiello was quite simply one of the best female vocalists we have ever seen in person.
We were equally impressed with violinist, Juliette Primrose. Between 2003 and 2011, Ms. Primrose toured the globe as lead fiddle-player for Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance.
There were other excellent entertainers throughout the cruise that we missed due to late dining. However, we heard nothing but praise from other guests for these acts, which included, among others, a magician, a comedian, a classical pianist, and vocalists. Veteran Cruise Director, Lorraine Weimerskirch, knows how to entertain guests and is quite a performer herself.
Throughout our many cruises, there are only a handful of cruise directors that we remember and are anxious to meet again. Lorraine is now a member of that small group. On transatlantic cruises, Regent often puts on a County Fair on one of the sea days. Typically, the County Fair is held on the pool deck, but with the cool and windy weather we had, the activities were moved into the main lobby. Each department comes up with their own game for guests to play and raffle tickets are handed out for points scored. Nice prizes are raffled off at the end of the fair to those holding the winning tickets.
Everyone had a great time at the County Fair, and it is something unique to a Regent cruise. At one point, a huge group of guests broke into a Mama Mia flash mob.
There were also a whole host of games and other activities offered throughout the cruise. Team Trivia was held each afternoon and was so popular it had to be held in the Constellation Theater on sea days to accommodate everyone. Guests can earn Regent Reward points for playing trivia, or completing the daily Mensa Quiz, or with other activities around the ship.
The Regent Rewards can be redeemed on the last day of the cruise for some very nice logo items.
Another very popular activity is the Culinary Arts Kitchen (Deck 11 forward). This full-blown training kitchen allows guests to learn various cooking techniques and knife skills from a professional chef. Each guest has a cooking station with two induction cooktops, cookware, tools, knives, cutting boards, aprons and towels.
The chef introduces each course to be prepared and demonstrates the technique before students return to their stations to replicate what the chef has shown. In my class, we created a delicious roasted vegetable bruschetta, seared scallops, and a grilled flank steak.
The Culinary Arts Kitchen is one of the best activities I have enjoyed on any cruise. It is well worth the $89 per person fee. The classes fill up quickly, with many guests taking several during the cruise. The best part of the class is, at the end, you get to eat what you have prepared!
If staying in shape is important to you, you are in luck. An outdoor jogging/walking track on Deck 12 is the perfect place for a few laps around the ship while enjoying a view of the ocean. A fully-equipped fitness center offers every conceivable cardio machine as well as TehnoGym weight machines.
The Canyon Ranch Spa offers a wide variety of massages as well as full salon services, just in case your hair and nails require some attention. The Casino on Deck 4 midship has a variety of table games including Blackjack and Roulette and quite a few "one-arm bandits." You can also see a magic act here. Right before your eyes, the slot machines can turn a $20 bill into a 15-cent voucher!
And, of course, sea days were filled with a host of other activities, too many to list here. Enrichment lectures, an Iron Chef-style cooking competition, and Bingo are just a few of the many things going on around the ship.
Perhaps the greatest value of a Regent Seven Seas cruise is the unlimited free shore excursions. Of course, they are not really free (since you pay for them as part of your cruise), but they are included in the cruise fare, which is rather unique in the luxury cruise market. However, because the excursions are free, they can fill up very quickly. When we tried to pre-book excursions through the website more than 30 days in advance, many excursions were already fully booked and unavailable. Lesson learned: book your cruise well in advance, and book your excursions as soon as you receive your confirmation.
When you pre-book your excursions online, your excursion tickets will be waiting for you in your suite upon embarkation. If you wish to change an excursion to a different choice, you can request a change up to 48 hours before the date of the excursion. You can also request to be placed on a waiting list if an any spots open up on a fully-booked excursion in which you are interested. We found the folks at the Destination Services desk to be very nice and helpful, even though our one request to change an excursion did not materialize. If you wish to explore a port on your own, Regent often provides a complimentary shuttle service from the port into town. This is a very nice service, and a great benefit.
There were not many ports on our 14-day transatlantic sailing so we only ended up taking two excursions. Both excursions were very well managed, and they could easily cost $100 per person or more on any other cruise line. On a port-intensive sailing, the complimentary excursions would become a huge value proposition that any luxury cruise enthusiast should take into consideration.
Bars and Lounges
There are several bars/lounges on Seven Seas Explorer. The Pool Bar is obviously located on the Pool Deck, 11 midship. Explorer's Lounge (our second favorite) is on Deck 4 midship, just outside of Compass Rose. Meridian Lounge is on Deck 5 midship. Our favorite lounge was Observation Lounge on Deck 11 forward. There are also small bars at Prime 7 and Chartreuse. Cocktails are served in the Constellation Theater before shows. You could also get a drink at The Cafe on Deck 5 and in the Connoisseur Club on Deck 11.
Regardless of where you choose to quench your thirst, bar service is excellent and bartenders are generous with their pours. We frequented Observation Lounge enough that, by the third visit, our waiter knew my drink preference. All cocktails, beer and wine (except for some premium wines), bottled water and soft drinks are complimentary. At 6:00pm each evening in the bars and lounges, trays of canapés are offered.
The Coffee Connection on Deck 5 midship is a popular place to meet for a Cappuccino or Double Latte. A Barista is on hand starting at 6:30am to prepare your favorite coffee drink. In the mornings, an extensive continental breakfast buffet is available here including cold cuts, pastries, donuts, cookies, fruit, cereal and yogurt. There is also an automated coffee machine available which is available around the clock.
In order to be accurate in my assessment of the 'luxuriousness' of Seven Seas Explorer, I thought it appropriate to Google the definition of 'luxury', and here's what I found:
In trying to determine whether or not Seven Seas Explorer is, in fact, 'The Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built', why not rely on Merriam Webster to make the call? Our experience on the ship was such that every word in italics in the definition above applies to Seven Seas Explorer. She could, indeed, be the most luxurious ship ever built.