Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Goldring Travel Revisits Regent Seven Seas Cruises (Seven Seas Voyager: Rome to Barcelona - August 1, 2017)

Goldring Travel will be sailing on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager on its 10 night August 1, 2017 sailing from Rome to Barcelona.  Yes, I know:  Shocking!

But as I am open to experiences pretty much anything (sometimes even not within reason!) I was asked to host an Ensemble Travel Group sailing and thought:  "Let's see how all the changes at Regent Seven Seas have come together."  I mean I do have more clients booking Regent Seven Seas cruises since Goldring Travel relocated to California, so this is a great opportunity.

This is also a great opportunity for you to sail with me and also enjoy the Ensemble Travel amenities. Plus I will provide you with some additional Goldring Travel amenities and, quite possibly, an impromptu Goldring Travel culinary experience in one of the ports!  But more on that later.

Regent Seven Seas Voyager
Some Background  

It has been a few years since I have experienced a Regent Seven Seas cruise (starting back when the cruise line was Radisson) and, to be sure, when I previously sailed in 2004 on the beloved and long gone Diamond, in 2005 on the Seven Seas Mariner, in 2006 on the Seven Seas Navigator and in 2007 on the also departed Paul Gauguin.  Back then there were no "free" offerings such as shore excursions, airfare, hotels, etc.

And then Regent Seven Seas went from one of my favorite luxury cruise lines to one that I avoided at all costs; especially because - to my mind - I was being asked to be dishonest with my clients.  The claims of "Free. Free. Free" for things you are actually paying for and inaccurate cost comparisons to premium lines.  There was also a new inconsistency of service and cuisine...plus the mantra, back almost a decade, that a new ship was coming when it clearly wasn't, just made it untenable for me to be its advocate.  (As you know I am not a fan of the marketing things as being "free" when you are paying for them, so if you are getting "free" air or hotel, there should not be a credit if you don't use them...and on Regent you do.)

The Cruise and My Focus

However, the "free" thing is different issue than the delivery of this very inclusive product.  And, to be sure, there are those that find value in having a "One Stop Shop" where they can book a complete vacation package with included air and hotel (a more common approach in the United Kingdom and Canada) raised to an even higher level with included gratuities, beverages, basic tours and even internet. So, for this cruise I will focus on the quality of the product from service, cuisine, the suite, public spaces, enrichment, to the included tours.

Regent Seven Seas Voyager Deluxe Veranda Suite
The 700 guest, all suite, Regent Seven Seas Voyager, launched in 2003, completed a major refurbishment in November 2016 with virtually every public space on the ship being updated, with some areas such as the Compass Rose main restaurant being completely gutted and rebuilt, and the suites refreshed.  The standard suites are 305 square feet with a 50 square foot balcony.  (There are no oceanview suites; only veranda suites and better.)  There are a total of 447 crew servicing the guests.

One difference between Regent Seven Seas and most of the luxury cruise lines is that larger production shows are a main focus.  Along those lines a very significant investment as been made to upgrading the Constellation Theater.

The main restaurant, Compass Rose, has what seems to be a new, steakhouse-esque, menu where there are a variety of offerings (meat, fish and seafood - yes fish is seafood) and you choose your causes and side dishes.  This seems curious to me, as I generally have the chef design and prepare my culinary experience, but I shall keep an open mind.

One specialty restaurant, Chartreuse, is the new French restaurant (reservations only) that mimics a similar restaurant on Regent's newest ship, the Seven Seas Explorer. This is the most upscale of the dining venues.

The second specialty restaurant is Prime Seven (reservations only), a true steakhouse; and extremely popular.  I know there have been some iterations of the menu of the past years, and am looking forward to comparing this to Seabourn's The Grill by Thomas Keller, as it clearly fills the same culinary space.

La Veranda is the casual dining venue that transforms into Setti Mari, an Italian restaurant in the evening.  And, of course, there is the Pool Grill.


The itinerary is a nice combination of a rather standard itinerary (perfect for those new to the Mediterranean and those not loving sea days):

Aug 1 Tue Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy                  Depart 8:00 PM
Aug 2 Wed Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy          8:00 AM 8:00 PM
Aug 3 Thu Ajaccio (Corsica), France                 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Aug 4 Fri La Spezia (Cinque Terre), Italy          8:00 AM 8:00 PM
Aug 5 Sat Monte Carlo, Monaco                        8:00 AM 11:59 PM
Aug 6 Sun Antibes, France                                 8:00 AM 7:00 PM
Aug 7 Mon Provence (Marseille), France          8:00 AM 9:00 PM*
Aug 8 Tue Palamos, Spain                                  8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Aug 9 Wed Palma De Mallorca, Spain                8:00 AM 9:00 PM
Aug 10 Thu Valencia, Spain                                8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Aug 11 Fri Barcelona, Spain                               7:00 AM

* I will be the host for all guests who have booked through an Ensemble Travel Group agency and will lead a very interesting Ensemble Experience in Les Baux Village in the Provence region of France as well as a cocktail party.

As I mentioned, one of my focuses will be the included tours. I am usually not a big ship's tour person, but will be taking more than I normally would so that I can fairly evaluate them.  However, in a few ports I will either be going it alone or simply using the Regent transfers (for example, from Livorno to Florence and Palamos to Barcelona).  I will, of course, be looking at both value and delivery.  (For example, I noticed that the included tour to Florence is fairly basic and not only excludes some important venues, like the Uffizi Gallery, but other might be skipped if the lines are too long.  If you want to definitely see those things the $269 per person tour, or a private tour -using the included bus transfer - would be the way to go.)  

Speaking of tours, the included full day Ensemble Experience should be a unique and very cool, 'er um, experience.  Travel from Marseille to Les Baux Village and, after wandering its narrow streets, stop for a typical Provencal lunch at the quaint Hostellerie, followed by a visit to Carrieres de Lumieres (Quarry of Lights) where a stunning display of lights and music showing "Bosch, Brueghel and Arcimbold Between Fantasy and Wonderland".   

If you are interested in joining Goldring Travel on this cruise, please give us a call or drop us an email!