Regent Seven Seas: Seven secrets of luxury cruising
Imagine stepping on a six-star luxury ship, and opening your room to find a bed so grand, it cost almost $300,000.
This is how Regent Seven Seas rolls, and it's about to launch a new ship that will come with one very palatial room. The Regent Suite will have a Vividus, the world's most luxurious bed, that costs almost as much as a Ferrari. But wait, there is much, much more. You get your own steam room, sauna, pool, and spa facilities with unlimited massage. And the ginormous suite is on top of the bridge - yes, you'll get the same view as the captain.
It all sounds sumptuous, but what's it really like inside a luxury cruise? I recently travelled on one of Regent's other luxury ships, the Mariner, from Hawaii to French Polynesia and here's what to expect:
1. Every room has a balcony
The Mariner was the first cruise ship in the world to be all-suite, all-balcony. Our room was the lowest category, the Verandah Suite, but it's still 28 square metres - large by cruise standards. The balcony has enough room for a table and chairs; there's even a marble bathroom. The ship is small, just 700 passengers, so never feels crowded.
2. Butler service
Every room comes with unlimited 24/7 free room service. We ordered scallops and lobster at 11 pm and gobbled it down on the balcony in our dressing gowns - it was bliss.
If you're in a Penthouse Suite or higher, you get your own butler - who will be at your every whim to book excursions, bring food and prepare afternoon canapes for you each day.
3. Unlimited Champagne and ice cream
There are bars scattered throughout the ship - and almost all drinks are included - even fine Champagne. In fact, the food and beverage manager told us the ship had a cellar the size of a small swimming pool, full to the brim, for our 14-day cruise.
There is also an ice cream parlour on the pool deck, with unlimited homemade gelato. Yes, pack several varieties of your best, non-defining, comfort pants.
4. Free unlimited excursions.
The big gripe a lot of people have with cruising is excursions. When you get to a port, the activities are overpriced and crowded.
Regent Seven Seas offers unlimited free excursions; on our two-week cruise, there were more than 40 to choose. This included shark snorkelling, a jeep safari, a luxury catamaran trip, a vanilla plantation tour with buffet lunch, and a boat trip to a private beach - all free.
5. Fine dining at sea
Our ship had seven dining options, a lot when you consider there were only 700 passengers.
There was everything from a casual poolside buffet, to a silver service restaurant, with grand chandeliers and white-gloved butlers that serve Champagne and caviar for breakfast.
Then there are the two 'speciality restaurants' - the French fine dining 'Chartreuse' and 'Prime 7' - a steakhouse where all the meat is dry-aged for at least 28 days to ensure it's tenderness.
6. Almost everything onboard is free
We didn't spend a cent. Yes, if you want an extremely rare bourbon or if you buy a Rolex from the boutique - you will spend money. But between seven restaurants, unlimited room service, nightly entertainment and free excursions - there's no need to spend any extra.
7. Let's talk about afternoon tea
Every day at sea - the ship has a themed afternoon tea. 'Cheesecake day', for example, consisted of 13 cheesecakes of the most delicious flavours - things like caramel, cookies and cream, double chocolate and red velvet. I tasted each one, and since then have been sentenced to a lifetime of gym for crimes against sugar.
Verdict: This cruise is designed for those 50+ who enjoy a more refined, quieter style. Expect lots of quizzes, card games, and socialising at large tables - rather than hydro slides and nightclubs you'll find on other ships.
Regent Seven Seas operate four ships to more than 450 destinations. Each cruise is all-inclusive. Prices start from $570 - $700 per person, per day. We travelled on a two-week voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti, including stopovers at the remote Marquesas Islands, Bora Bora and Moorea. A very similar cruise departs 15 January 2021 and prices start from $10,450 per person for the trip. See: rssc.com