Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Regent Seven Seas Navigator - She Is Finally Looking Like A Luxury Cruise Ship.



For years I have shunned the Regent Seven Seas Navigator due to her excessive vibration, drab and quirky interiors, horrible maintenance and systems issues and, let me think...could there be anything else as far as hardware goes????? (OK, she has wonderful suites and excellent bathrooms, but those were marred by various systems and maintenance problems.) BUT it seems she is no longer the Ugly Duckling!

Prestige Cruise Holdings, stuck with an Albatross, decided to make a huge investment, both in time and money, to make the Regent Seven Seas Navigator a wonderful, if not perfect, luxury cruise ship. While I have not been onboard, I have some inside information and "hot off the press" photographs to share with you.

First, the biggest issue: The Navigator's vibration. Without getting too technical, structure was added to the stern of the ship which added length and width and also changed the geometry (and therefore waterflow). This underwater feature is sometimes referred to as a sponson or "duck tail". New propellers and rudders were also added. The result is, according to sea trial information, that the vibration has all but been eliminated. I am not sure than any cruise ship has no vibration and it is yet to be seen what vibration is left, but "all but eliminated" effectively tells me to put the vibration baby to bed.

Second, there have been overhauls of the electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems. While I am sure there will some issues that will come up when the ship has full guest loads (one can't just make it perfect in one shot), the system-wide problems with the electrical system (deadship conditions), freezing cold in one area and uncomfortably warm in others (like the suites), and brown water and faucets falling off should all be things of the past.

Third, the galleys and many service areas have been gutted and totally rebuilt. These areas, usually unseen by guests, are critical to providing excellent service. With these weak links virtually eliminated, I am confident that some of the sorely lacking service will improve. (But this is not about the software, so I will leave that for another post.)

Fourth, there have been structural changes in some of the public areas, including the addition of Prime 7, the hallmark Regent Steakhouse. Check it out:




While I would not call it over-the-top, I really like the understated elegance. Those chairs, look like I could sit back quite nicely and enjoy some wine and linger over a very nice dinner. (It is hard to see the entire layout in the photograph, but what I see I really like.)

Fifth, the fun stuff: The redesign and refurbishment of the public areas. For example, the former ugly and awkward Stars Lounge, now makes a statement. It may or may not be your taste, but it show style and should draw people into it - having lost its dudgeon-like decor:






The Navigator Lounge has also been vastly improved. Gone is the blue "waiting area" feel. It now feels, at least from the photo, like a very nice place to read in the day or have a drink before dinner:




The Compass Rose, main dining room, also has been upgraded. Again, you may not like the large chairs, but they add comfort and some style in a room that, to me, was nothing more than a boring peach place to get food. Now "dining" seems very viable, though I cannot tell if the lack of sufficient tables for two or the poor placement of the waiter stations has been addressed:



As you may know, the Portofino concept has been abandoned on Navigator. The main alternative dining venue, La Veranda, has been updated as well.




Sorry I do not have photographs just yet of the new Pool Grill and Pool Bar, but I hear they are really beautiful and much improved from what I always perceived them to be...afterthoughts.

I also have a photograph of one of my favorite areas - even with the vibration - the deck aft of Galileo's. I don't know what was done in the lounge itself, though:



I also know the suites are all receiving new carpeting and any wear issues were addressed.

Keep in mind that these photographs do not take into account all of the huge onloading of hotel items, loose furnishings, restocking, etc. that is being finished up as I write this.

I am sure there will be some shakeout over the next few cruises, but I am far more willing to consider the Regent Seven Seas Navigator today than I have been for years.

What do you think of the improvements? Join the discussion on The Gold Standard Forum!