After such a challenging 18 months, I felt hugely excited and extremely privileged to receive an invite to board the inaugural cruise of the Seven Seas Splendor.
The Splendor is the newest ship from all-inclusive luxury cruise line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and she did not disappoint!
She holds just 750 guests, and with an incredible 542 crew, as you would expect the service levels were quite outstanding.
Regent itineraries include complimentary shore excursions, speciality restaurants, unlimited beverages including fine wines and premium spirits, and pre-paid gratuities.
The travel sector has been decimated by the pandemic and none more so than the cruise lines with the obvious difficulties faced and reported on in the early stages and the subsequent minefield of regulations and requirements across different countries along with the essential introduction of strict health and safety protocols.
Thanks to the cruise sector’s dedication and hard work, we have now seen the safe restart of international sailings, after more than a year of still waters and I was grateful to have the opportunity to personally experience a 4-day round-Britain cruise on board the latest addition to the 'The World's Most Luxurious Fleet.'
My journey began by flying from Edinburgh to Southampton with Loganair. This was the first time I had flown with them, and I was very impressed with flights on time, comfortable space, and friendly staff.
Loganair is the most convenient way of getting to Southampton from Scotland and the flight times fitted in nicely with the ship's embarkation and disembarkation schedule. They now have more than 40 aircraft flying to destinations across Europe, Scandinavia and the British Isles.
On arrival at Southampton airport, we jumped straight in a taxi and headed to the port. I have journeyed this way many times and the duration really does depend on the traffic, varying from 15 at best to 30 minutes at worst.
At the port, we were given a lateral flow test, asked to wait on results, and within 20 minutes we were boarding the spectacular Seven Seas Splendor.
As soon as I entered the reception area, the elegance of the decor hit me; the colours, artwork and furniture were so tasteful.
I thought this quote from Regent themselves summed up my first impressions of her well:
As we prepare for the arrival of Seven Seas Splendor, the last details are being finalised to welcome her first guests. Furniture is being placed and artwork is being hung as more than 500 chandeliers are being carefully installed to finish off each elegant and beautiful space.
The smallest elements are attended to, from finishing the last piece of hand-laid mosaic tile to dressing the exquisite beds. We look forward to welcoming you aboard to experience every detail of our latest masterpiece, where luxury is perfected.
We then headed to our Concierge Class suite and found ourselves in the most beautiful, commodious living quarters with a fantastic balcony to boot. Oh, my goodness!
Our lovely stewardess, Jane, showed us around the cabin, explaining that if we needed anything at all she was just a call away.
The balcony had plenty of room for chilling out with a lounger, table and two chairs. The fridge was full of soft drinks, beer and water, and anything else we wanted stocking, of course, Jane is on call!
The beds were incredibly comfortable, and I have since learned that Regent spends a tidy £2,500 per mattress.
The most exciting part of the suite for me, however, was the walk-in wardrobe - so spacious with plenty of room for all your fancy frocks and shoes - a real treat. I want one at home!
For toiletry connoisseurs like me, there were L'Occitane goodies in the bathroom! And without a doubt, we had the largest bath I have ever seen at sea.
The thing that probably stood out for me the most was the choice and standard of food and wine on board. We honestly could not fault one meal, and believe me we ate a lot.
Breakfast: We ate in Compass Rose (à la carte) and also had room service one morning as we had an early shore excursion. A buffet restaurant is also available.
Lunch: Can be taken in La Veranda, the Pool Grill or one of the speciality restaurants is usually open. We actually had dinner in Prime 7 one night and headed back there for lunch the next day!
Dinner: There are four speciality restaurants each of outstanding quality with nothing to choose between them. Chartreuse (French), Prime 7 (classic American), Setti Mari and Pacific Rim (Asian) or you can eat in the main Compass Rose restaurant.
There is a choice of staged musical productions presented in the impressive Constellation Theatre, produced by Regent’s own team of Broadway choreographers and dancers.
The spa is gorgeous and sizeable with a beauty centre and top-notch gym plus a guest fitness class programme available.
On our final day, we were fortunate enough to be invited for a wee nose around the different categories of suites. Each was spectacular but the Regent Suite deserves its own special mention.
Not only have I never seen anything like this at sea but nor on land either. 292m square, a grand piano, private butler, exclusive access to the study, a private dining room for up to 12 guests and unlimited in-suite spa services to name just a few of its features. The most exclusive address at sea for sure.
For our two 'in port' days, we were presented with a choice of complimentary shore excursions.
Stonehenge was our choice from the Isle of Portland, and we set off early. It was a full day but one we were so pleased we went for. Our tour guide was super knowledgeable and easy to listen to and it has long been on my list to see. We also stopped at the famous Cerne Abbas Giant on the way back.
From Falmouth, we visited St Michael's Mount, a historic castle, garden and island community found off the coast of Marazion in Cornwall. I had never previously visited Cornwall, so it was delightful to see the countryside and St Michael's Mount is undoubtedly worth a trip.
Days at sea
A full daily programme is available for the days at sea. We booked the Culinary Arts Kitchen and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Sticking with the Devon and Cornwall theme, we made scones with clotted cream and jam, Pimm’s cups and a salmon terrine. We were provided with all the ingredients and hands-on instructions. The culinary workstations are of course stylish and top of the range.
It’s hard to narrow down but if I have got to, then I cannot choose between the pre-dinner whisky sour in the Observation lounge and my whole Lobster at Prime 7! I am easily pleased.
This was an outstanding experience on a superb ship and something I would highly recommend as an interim for those itching to get back on the seas again.
Pent-up demand already has led to a huge surge in bookings in 2022 and 2023 from cruisers who have had their trips cancelled or delayed because of the pandemic as well as new bookings from people who foresee cruising coming back safer than ever.
Contact me to discuss the latest details and availability.