As of 2019, the ships reviewed on this blog belong exclusively to Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, representing the top echelon of small ship ultra-luxury cruising. All cruises reviewed by Josh Friedman Luxury Travel include most everything, including wines & spirits, coffee & espresso drinks, snacks like ice cream and donuts throughout the day, gratuities and 24/7 room service. Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the only one also inclusive of shore excursions. Spa, salon, boutique – and the casino, are not included. Wi-Fi is sometimes included.
Perks, as part of our Virtuoso Voyages or other programs, usually include the option of a complimentary excursion or private car & driver for the day. Should you prefer, there is always the option of a shipboard credit. This perk is available on over half of our ultra-luxury sailings.
750 Guests; 542 Crew
Launched 2016 July; built in Genova, Italy by Ficantieri
56,000 Gross Registered Tons (GRT)
Draught: 7.1M (23 feet)
Godmother: Charlene, Princess of Monaco
Restaurants: Approximately 8
Bars: Approximately 5
CRUISE LINE & REST OF FLEET
Seven Seas Splendor (new in 2020)
Seven Seas Voyager (2003; 41,827; 700 guests)
Seven Seas Mariner (2001; 48,075 GRT; 700 guests)
Seven Seas Navigator (1999; 28,550 GRT; 490 guests)
SAILING & PORTS
This review is based on my 5 night cruise, 4-9 March, 2019, Cabin 781, veranda aft
Disembarkation, Los Angeles
via Cabo San Lucas
Overall, warm and sunny. Perfect for whale watching from the shores of Cabo and the One & Only Palmilla’s restaurant.
FEEL & VIBE
Seven Seas Explorer is by far the grandest of the small luxury ships I’ve seen. But it wasn’t too conservative which is what I was expecting from their ubiquitous marketing photo of their grand staircase and crystal chandelier. Somehow that grandeur blended into the fairly contemporary ship overall.
Guests I met were typical of who you might meet on other small luxury lines – well-heeled and sophisticated travelers. There were a lot of major Regent repeaters, which again is not usual.
This was an exciting ship. From the spectacular standard suites (cabins) to the choice of beautiful restaurants, and even the built in deck heaters, the ship was special, and unique.
More casual than I expected. Wear was makes you comfortable, within reason, and you’ll be fine. Personally, I think men should not be allowed in a dining room with Aloha shirts.
Nice. Really nice. Big and comfortable, including the bed. The walk-in closet more than ample. And the bathroom is the nicest I’ve ever seen on a ship. Bath, shower, 2 sinks, marble & lots of space.
DINING AND COCKTAILS
It’s hard to beat the Avenue Bar and their Manhattan menu on Crystal Serenity for being interesting, but the Explorer Lounge was a beautiful spot and had I been on longer, I’m sure I would have a few stories to tell.
Compass Rose, the main restaurant, had a fabulous dinner service. The food, presentation and service were excellent. The space is bright and open as well. For breakfast, I could do without waiters in tuxes – it’s too 20th century and the blueberry pancakes – my gold standard – were just OK. Seabourn and Crystal did better for breakfast.
La Veranda, the aft outdoor place for breakfast, is always the perfect place to be as on any ship, going all the way back to Seabourn Pride in the 90s. The food was fine ,if not exciting. Also see my comments in the Service section below.
Chartreuse, the French restaurant, had a very interesting menu as did Pacific Rim, the Asian venue. Innovative with striking décor (very French, very Asian). Service (see below) was excellent. Prime 7’s steak was tasty, but the meal didn’t come together, probably because of service.
The donuts and French Press coffee in The Café’ were unexpected and they were delicious. They even had a real Italian barista! Felt like I was in San Francisco or New York.
I always enjoy a local touch from a nearby port, and Regent’s Mariachi and Margarita deck party was lots of fun before we sailed away from Acapulco.
First impressions can be lasting impressions, and the initial welcome was great. And I didn’t even embark at a scheduled stop! I was escorted from the gangway to Reception. Impressive. Crystal didn’t do that.
The ship grew on me. Since I was more familiar with Seabourn and Crystal, I compared service levels against them and in the end it wasn’t as good overall. But it was still very good, and some aspects (likely the more important aspects – the restaurants) were excellent. The dinner service at Chartreuse in particular, with both Balinese and French servers was fantastic and I’ve never seen better. Pacific Rim and Compass Rose were also excellent. I hit Prime 7 on an off night as service wasn’t nearly as tight as in the other venues.
I would have liked to have seen more proactive service (where they ask you instead of the other way around) in the pool area, and at the Veranda for breakfast. The shore excursions staff was not one of the better crews I’ve seen in my career. Their lack of interest in helping confirm tours was not good. The only thing I can think of is that with Regent’s ‘included’ excursions, it’s hard to manage the program.
Housekeeping was fine.