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Luxury Voyages

10 Reasons to Love Sailing on Regent Seven Seas Cruises

- By Debbi and William Kickham

Who wouldn't love sailing on a luxury cruise ship – especially over the holidays? We recently spent 16 days sailing in ultra-luxurious style on Regent Seven Seas Cruises, on the Mariner, from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale through the Panama Canal.

To say that we were pleased by this experience would be an understatement. Regent's marketing lays claim to provide the ultimate in a luxury, over-the-top cruise experience, and it more than delivers on that promise. Hence, then let us explain our Top Ten Reasons to love sailing on Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

1) Large in size, small in feeling. Like its sister ships, The Voyager, The Navigator, and the Paul Gauguin, the Mariner is a large and spacious ship – but only holds 700 passengers. The result? No crowds at the pool, at elevators, and at restaurants. It is quiet, elegant, and totally intimate in experience. An oasis from the hurried pace of everyday life.

2) Level of service. You want it? You've got it. We are always impressed with the level of attentive service that Regent Seven Seas Cruises delivers. Immediately after you board the ship, the wait staff greets you by name. Almost each staff member knows who you are, from pre-boarding information they have been provided, and this level of attention promotes a very personalized feeling of service. As an example, when you first dine, your waiter is almost sure to deliver your preferred drink (in our case it's diet ginger ale). Or, do you want the main dining room entrée served to you in the Verandah restaurant? No problem. Furthermore, sailing on the Mariner is like having your own personal chef. Take our advice – and ask for all kinds of special orders – low-fat bread, gluten-free goodies, low-calorie carrot cake, shrimp one night, ratatouille another night, spinach salad, yogurt dressing without oil. As a passenger on board Regent Seven Seas Cruises, you're never going to hear the word “No.” With today's decline in customer service, it's great to know that your every culinary desire will be met with unqualified enthusiasm and delivery.

3) Elegant atmosphere. You won't find plastic grass, fake palm trees, or a huge Jumbotron at the pool showing wrestling on TV, which you're bound to see on mass-market ships. The Mariner offers refined ambience – from the quiet and dignified atmosphere that prevails on the pool deck to the fresh fruit and flowers in your stateroom, to the lit candles in Signature restaurant, to the general décor of the ship. On our trip, a Christmas cruise, the ship was beautifully outfitted with numerous decorated Christmas trees, and even several gingerbread houses offering cookies and cake, and evergreen décor everywhere, making everything truly festive. Menus also catered to the time of year – offering goose on Christmas eve and a truly delicious turkey on Christmas Day. And New Year's Eve? There was a huge outdoor party on the pool deck, with a live band and large amounts of champagne. Delightful!

4) It's quiet. Unless you're a twenty-something who drinks and parties, you're not going to find pounding music where you don't want it. You won't find rowdiness and raucousness – and let's face it – most mass-market cruise lines can't offer you the refinement you'll enjoy on Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Sit anywhere – in the Coffee Corner on Deck Six adjacent to the library, on the observation deck, or most important, at the pool, and you can read, nap, talk, and just take in the lovely surroundings, where you won't be assaulted by noise and crowds. No “information overload.”

5) Enrichment. On this trip, stargazing guide Jon Lomberg (www.jonlomberg.com) gave several incredibly interesting lectures – discussing astronomy the nature of the cosmos. It was highly interesting and we always learn something new and unusual of an intellectual nature. Another lecturer on this trip gave political talks about the places we were visiting on this itinerary. We also enjoyed the enrichment given by Diane Buffalin, Ph. D., on how to deal with difficult people, and how to make molehills out of mountains, to enhance the quality of your personal relationships. You can easily pay at least $50pp for these kinds of lectures anywhere else, but these high-quality enrichment experiences, of course, are offered free of charge on Regent. The computer instructor even took us aside and gave us personalized tutorials on Facebook and LinkedIn, which would normally incur a cost if sought elsewhere. Sailing at sea has never been more stimulating.

6) Daily activities. You'll never be bored on the Mariner; Regent makes sure of that. A typical day can include all kinds of fitness instruction; Catholic mass or Jewish services; bridge-playing; arts and crafts; ballroom dancing; British guests and solo guests get-togethers; art auctions; boatyard bocce; needlepoint; afternoon tea; bingo; even Alcoholics Anonymous meetings (subtly mentioned in the daily newsletter as “friends of Bill W.”). There's also a fitness center with weight machines, treadmills and plenty of mats for yoga; and an incredibly impressive array of free classes thanks to the “Fitness Afloat” schedule – a trained instructor instructor assists with Cardio Groove, Core Fusion, Beginner's Pilates, Stretch and Relax, Strong Abs and Back – you name it. There's also a casino offering slot machines, roulette, blackjacks and 3-card poker. And of course, the ship features a spa. The Carita Spa is a delight, and definitely a place where you'll want to spend time. (On days where you're in port, many services are even discounted.) Deb had the Ultimate Anti-Aging Pro-Life Facial (80 minutes, $275); it used high-performance Carita of Paris anti-aging products rich in soy proteins to boost the production of collagen fibers, along with a massage given by the Pro-Life machine – it resembles a pair of headphones with two sponges where the earpieces would be, which massage your skin, making the ingredients penetrate deeper. After, Deb's skin absolutely glowed! A wealth of other spa services are available for your pleasure, including all types of massage, facials, scrubs and wraps plus hair styling, coloring and nail services.

7) Entertainment is excellent. In general, Regent puts on a great selection of entertainers and production shows before and after dinner. We saw a comedian; magician; pianist; and a great singer impressionist, Karen Grainger, who gave two shows worthy of high admission prices you'd pay on land. We were also especially delighted with Polish violinist Artur Banaskiewicz, who offered several world-class performances. That's one thing we especially like about Regent – there's always a great show to go to, and the great thing about any cruise is that it's included in the price. Of course you can also go the DVD library and pick out a movie, and simply watch one on your TV. (Obviously, no charge. On a mass-market line? You're likely to be charged up $5 per movie.) The other great thing about sailing on Regent is that due to the relatively small passenger count, you get the chance to meet the entertainers up-close-and-personal – at the pool, at the coffee station, at reception, wherever. We had the immense pleasure of dining one night with comedian/magician Bruce Gold (www.brucegold.com) who unbelievably, performed sleight-of-hand tricks for us, right in the Coffee Corner. He actually changed dollar bills into hundred-dollar bills, while standing just inches away from us. Plus, we had a chance to get to know him better – a real delight. We highly recommend that Regent book this talented performer again and again!

8) All-inclusive alcohol. Here's a typical afternoon: We sat up on the pool deck –in Costa Rica, while the staff played volleyball in the saltwater pool, and where the sunlight was gorgeous. Snacks and lunch are yours outside here for the asking, and as for drinks – wowee, if you like to imbibe, this is the cruise line for you. Regent is an all-inclusive line, which means that you won't be nickel-and-dimed for any drinks, which is what happens on the lesser-quality lines offering high passenger counts and low, low prices. Most travelers at the pool order the usual suspects – a pina colada – but the wine and spirits list is dressed to thrill. There's champagne (how about a Kir Royale?); aperitifs such as Pimms and Dry Sack; rums; scotch and whiskey; a wealth of liqueurs starting with Amaretto, ending with Triple Sec and everything in between; beers; martini classics; vodka; sours; coffee drinks – and much, much more. We stick to water and diet Lemonades during the day – and we're delighted that there’s no charge for non-alcoholic beverages as well. The ship also features a Coffee Corner bar, where you can get a wide variety of gourmet coffee and tea beverages, all complimentary (and which you definitely pay for on “cost-plus” cruise lines). Adjacent to the Internet and library, it's a great place to do some work (if you must) and meet new friends.

9) The gourmet food. Do you like the idea of a $250 dinner included in the price of your ticket? If so, you're going to love sailing on Regent. It offers the Le Cordon Bleu restaurant Signatures, where you can enjoy – at no extra cost – an incredible gourmet menu that you would easily pay a great deal for on land. The atmosphere is ultra-elegant – only a few tables, all with white tablecloths, fine china, and arrangements of roses on the tables. And the cuisine – ooo la la! You'll start with, say, cassolette of snails or sole-and prawn risotto. Soups include chilled vichyssoise or crab, followed by an appetizing apple-and-thyme sorbet. Main courses feature ravioli of lobster, grilled filet of halibut with Provencale vegetables, or roast duck breast. For dessert, there is crème brulee, a chocolate tasting (divine!) and lemon gratin with strawberries. It's a four-star experience that's included, and we give it a rave review. After our trip, the Mariner was going into dry dock for a $20 million-dollar refurbishment, including the addition of a new specialty steakhouse, giving travelers yet another onboard dining option. Of course, dining in the Main Dining Room, the Compass Rose, is always a delight, with a wealth of gourmet, vegetarian and light entrees, all offered with complimentary wines. Another option is La Verandah, an Italian/Mediterranean bistro offering yummy fare that we couldn't get enough of.

10) All-suite ship. We love the fact that all of the staterooms on Regent Seven Seas Cruises are suites with balconies – ensuring a very comfortable experience. Our stateroom, 1046, while certainly not the largest, measured 356 sq. ft. of living space (with a 55 sq. ft. verandah) and we were totally comfortable. It features two beds (which can be pushed together); Sealy Posturepedic mattresses with deluxe Anichini linens; marble bathrooms; dining/seating area with couch; flat-screen TV; refrigerator; bathrobes and slippers; bathroom amenities such as shampoo and conditioner; and in general, all the comforts of home (or a really good hotel room). Some suites even come with butler service, and that is truly a special service to be enjoyed. Your butler will make dinner reservations; press your clothing; attend to all sorts of details, and heck, he'll even hang your “Do Not disturb” sign for you if you want him to. Here's what we recommend: have him tell you about the World Cruise – and book your next cruise before you leave the ship, taking advantage of the generous on-board booking discounts.

At this writing, ALL 2010 voyages are, for a limited time only, available at a 2-for-1 pricing, with complimentary air or an air credit included. And standard shore excursions will be included in the cruise fare, as well as government fees and taxes. That's exactly how good Regent Seven Seas is – you'll want to return even before your cruise is finished. Bon voyage! For more information, call Regent Seven Seas Cruises (877) 505-5370.


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