Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Company Overview The 1992 marriage of Regent and Seven Seas Cruises is a kind of fairytale wedding for cruise aficionados who remember such classic ships as Radisson Diamond, with her distinctive twin hull, and Seven Sea's Song of Flower. In fact, Song of Flower was as popular in her day as any ship can be, and when the people who knew her talk about her you are sure to see glistening in their eyes. Today she is an expedition ship for a German cruise line.

The then-named Radisson Seven Seas Cruises created a hybrid line with five ships, including one permanently positioned in Tahiti called the Paul Gauguin (now a separate cruise line), which are much beloved by well-heeled cruisers with a taste for exotic ports.

Re-christened as Regent Seven Seas Cruises in 2006, (handy, the RSSC acronym continuing to work, not to mention!), theare celebrated for such luxury innovations as all-outside staterooms, all-balcony suites, and butler service. The line was acquired by prestige Cruise Holdings, the same company that owns Oceania Cruises. Many elements of the cruise line that formerly were not considered up to luxury snuff have been vastly improved, especially the food and itineraries.

The older ships were all sold off (including Song of Flower and Paul Gauguin) and now the line has just three ships; Mariner, Voyager and Navigator. The ships are generally among the larger variety where luxury ships are concerned, in the range of only Crystal's are slightly larger, but they also have more cabins. Tips are included in your cruise fare, as are wine during dinner and other liquor drinks with a setup of beer, wine and liquor for two in your cabin. Soft drinks are always included. Toiletries by Judith Jackson are included in every stateroom bathroom.

The Regent Experience: The biggest difference between Regent and other cruise lines is the most inclusive cruise experience for the fare possible. Every cruise comes with a pre-cruise hotel stay in the city of embarkation and "free" shore tours in every port of call included in the fare. No other cruise lines (except river cruises) include shore excursions. The base value for these included shore tours is about $220, so a more elaborate tour may have a charge, but in general it will be $220 cheaper than a similar tour offered by a competing cruise line.

Naturally, Regent also has some of the best service and cuisine at sea. Its ships are complete but not overdone, there isn't much frosting, just the best quality ingredients. For example, its standard cabins -- all called suites -- are among the most spacious in the industry. The alternative dining rooms, operated by France's famous Le Cordon Bleu school, are as adventurous and they are accomplished. The same can be said for the line's travel concierge program, which helps passengers devise the most exotic shore excursions they can imagine.

Fellow Passengers The average is generally well over 55 and well-traveled. The onboard atmosphere is low-key, with few feeling the need to dress to the nines at night. They prefer to dress tastefully yet comfortably. They are worldy in their knowledge and experiences, and look forward to the line's remarkable schedule of guest lectures.

Shore Excursions: In addition to the regular excursions, Travel & Leisure Magazine works in tandem with the Regent Travel Concierge program to to provide insider tips on each port and organize private tours, often to otherwise restricted sites.

Taking The Kids: The "Club Mariner" children's program operates only in the summer months in Baltic, Alaska and some holiday sailings. It is for children aged six to 11 and 12 to 17. The Compass Rose dining room has a dedicated children's menu. During the summer, Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society offers a special "Ambassadors of the Environment" program for kids aboard Paul Gauguin.

Tipping: Gratuities are included in your fare.

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