Peter Lynch and Teresa Ooi,
The ship claiming the title “World’s most luxurious” – Regent Seven Seas Explorer – was put to the test in the Mediterranean this week as the travel trade and media got the chance to sample life on board.
ASEAN Cruise News was among the lucky few. Our verdict: in an ever–growing luxury market, this ship sets standards others are going to find hard to beat.
And for agents, its all inclusive packages mean more commission. Because agents enjoy commission on everything, including shore excursions.
Capacity in the ultra-luxury sector is expected to grow 45 per cent in the next two years, with Seabourn, Ponant and Crystal Cruises all expecting new-builds or announcing them and Silversea expanding. Smaller vessels from Scenic and Crystal in the expedition sector will also step up capacity. And this is before new river ships are taken into account.
Crystal, which for 20 years has held the coveted Best Ship title at Travel and Leisure magazine, lost the title recently to newcomer Viking, which has two brand new ocean ships.
Asia and China are major new markets for luxury brands as the sector grows. The new Regent, however, sets the bar high for its competitors.
Regent CEO and President Frank Del Rio told Asean Cruise News he was already working on Explorer II (a working title) to be completed in 2020 – and may well be targeting China with the vessel.
“China has got the world’s biggest number of billionaires, more Gucci bags, more Rolex watches than anywhere else.”
Mr Del Rio, who is also head of Norwegian Cruise Lines and Oceania, made the Explorer his personal creation.
He said: “Good old conspicuous consumption – that’s all over. But luxury is back to reward success and not to vilify wealth.
“It’s more than OK to enjoy the best of the best.”
And the Seven Seas Explorer is certainly aiming to be that.
The newly-built $485 million vessel carries only 750 guests, and boasts one of the highest space ratios in the cruise industry. It has 552 crew members – 1.36 guest-to-crew ratio.
It has a new French and Asian specialty restaurant, a Canyon Ranch spa and a huge gym.
It also has one of the biggest suites afloat.
The two-bedroom, 4,443-square-foot Regent Suite comes complete with an in-room spa retreat decorated with gold leaf, two Picasso paintings, a US$150,000 main-room bed, and a custom made Steinway Arabesque piano by famed designer Dakota Jackson.
It also features an outdoor, glass-enclosed sitting area named the Vista Garden that provides magnificent, unobstructed 270-degree views over the ship’s bow.
“The opulence and elegance of the Regent Suite is unmatched in the luxury vacation segment, and it truly epitomizes the standard of the entire vessel,” said Jason Montague, president and chief operating officer of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
“With Seven Seas Explorer, we built a ship that far surpasses the current standard for luxury and bears the distinction of being the most luxurious ship ever to set sail.”
A first for any cruise ship, the Regent Suite features a master bathroom spa retreat that delivers all the pampering comforts of the Canyon Ranch SpaClub without leaving the suite’s lavish comforts.
A treatment area, full sauna, ceramic heated relaxation lounges and multi-jet shower are at guests’ 24- hour disposal. Included in its treatments, exclusive to the Regent Suite only: Citrus Drench, Diamond Rose Massage and O2 Body Perfection.
An oversized hot tub located adjacent to the spa retreat looks out over the ocean and is enclosed by glass, protecting guests from the outside elements while still providing an al fresco ambience.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises maintains it is the “world’s most inclusive luxury cruise line”.
The all-suite ship features an unprecedented collection of luxury suites, across 10 different category levels.
Each features oversized bathroom highlighted by rich marble and decorative tile.
In the words of the line’s press pack: “All suites are designed to provide guests with an ambience that exudes luxury while also offering a warm and comfortable respite. Seven Seas Explorer features the largest balconies in the cruise industry, offering a spacious outdoor oasis for guests to enjoy the scenic vistas and ocean breezes.”
Asean Cruise News can attest, after travelling with the ship’s designers, that the size and level of attention to detail is extraordinary.
There are 2,500 pieces of art valued at more than US$6 million.
There are five restaurants, including signature restaurants Compass Rose and La Veranda. Three specialty restaurants – Pacific Rim is Pan-Asian, Prime 7 is a glamorous steakhouse and Chartreuse is a tantalizing new gourmet specialty restaurant that features a classic French menu with a modern twist.
Explorer includes a Culinary Arts Kitchen, a hands-on cooking school.
The line’s fares include all-suite accommodations, round-trip air, highly personalized service, acclaimed cuisine, fine wines and spirits, unlimited internet access, sightseeing excursions in every port, all gratuities, and a pre-cruise luxury hotel package for those guests staying in concierge and higher class suites.
An eight-day cruise from Monte Carlo to Rome costs US$10,459 per person in the master suite. the Regent Suite rents for around US$10,000 a night per person, a price Mr Del Rio said could be revised upwards.
Beginning in summer 2017, Regent Seven Seas Cruises will also include Business Class air for all intercontinental flights from the US.
The line operates three other all-suite vessels: Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner, and Seven Seas Voyager.
The Explorer is holding its inaugural season in the Mediterranean before heading to Miami for a series of Caribbean voyages.
Mr Del Rio also touched on Norwegian Cruise Lines’ plans to bring vessels in to the region.
The Norwegian Joy will go to China and be homeported in Shanghai year-round. The Norwegian Jewel will be for the Australian market.
“We are more than confident that Joy will be a huge success – and booking on the Jewel is very strong delivering the highest yields.”
Vice President in charge of Asia Pacific Steve Odell told ASEAN Cruise News the ship was a “game changer” and the Regent offer of commission on an all-inclusive fare was a “win-win for passengers and travel agents”.
It meant there was commission on everything, including shore excursion.
There are Regent sales offices in Singapore, Sydney and Hong Kong which would help travel agents, he said,
For more specific details about Seven Seas Explorer or for general information about Regent Seven Seas Cruises, see www.RSSC.com, email email@example.com, call Australia: 1300 455 200, New Zealand: 0800 625 692.