Guy Dundas gets an all-too-fleeting taste of Regent’s new Seven Seas Splendor, arguably the most luxurious ship at sea.
The top suite
It’s late afternoon on board Regent Seven Seas Splendor in the Mediterranean. I’m soaking up the glorious sunshine from an ocean-facing perch in my private solarium. Well, it’s mine for now.
To reach this patch of perfection, set just above the bridge for a captain’s view of the ocean, I’d walked through ‘my’ Regent Suite with the air of royalty – taking note of the ludicrously expensive Hästens Vividus bed (these babies come with a US$200,000 price tag and are custom-made by hand); picturing myself spending sunset hours alternating between the sauna, spa and steam room; and wondering how a space at sea could be larger than most Sydney homes:
The Regent Suite is 412 square metres of luxury, including 121 square metres in the wraparound balcony. Needless to say, it’s the largest accommodation of its kind on a cruise ship. And it sits pretty – as I do for a few minutes – at the front of Regent’s brand new Seven Seas Splendor.
As extravagant as this space is – I haven’t even mentioned the butler on call at the touch of a button, and the private chauffeur awaiting your presence in every port – the rest of the ship manages to keep pace. As you would expect, given Regent’s 422-million-euro investment. The line says it’s “luxury perfected”.
On my cruise from Rome to Barcelona, I begin to think this is an understatement.
It turns out that Splendor takes her good looks from her four-year-old sister, Seven Seas Explorer: both offer all-suite, all-balcony accommodation, with space to sleep just 750 guests over 10 decks. But the younger sibling is noticeably lighter and brighter in design and decor, with a soaring atrium that radiates warmth and welcomes guests with a grand, sweeping staircase – throughout, there’s more than 4,000 square metres of Czech marble, not to mention some 500 chandeliers.
There are other refinements as well. Regent Seven Seas Splendor comes with intimate alcoves that jut out from the sides of the ship’s La Veranda restaurant; reconfigured seating makes it much easier to take everything in when you’re enjoying a show in the Constellation Theatre; and a flashy wellness centre now sprawls over two decks at the stern of the ship.
Head to the Culinary Arts Kitchen to partake in one of the 16 new cooking classes, many of which are designed to give you a taste of the regions you’re exploring. Or sign up for a freshly-minted shore excursion – there are 65 that are new across Europe – exclusive to Splendor for now, before being rolled out to the rest of the Regent fleet.
Seven Seas Splendor’s $5-million collection of paintings, prints and sculptures
There’s nothing on Splendor that doesn’t dazzle, but perhaps the biggest standout is the huge investment in art. Wandering from bow to stern, I discover a museum-quality collection of more than 300 commissioned paintings, prints and sculptures, all carefully curated to add drama to the spaces they grace. The US$5-million display (almost all of which is accessible to every guest) includes pieces by Eduardo ArranzBravo, Alexander Krishonov, Juan Roberto Diago and Picasso – in fact, there are two pieces on board by the applauded Spanish cubist/surrealist artist, one of which hangs casually in the foyer of the Prime 7 steakhouse.
In my opinion, however, the most imposing work of art is the gilded bronze dragon sculpture that greets guests as they enter the fine-dining Pan-Asian restaurant, Pacific Rim – it was crafted, I’m told, by an artist from Tamborine Mountain in Queensland.
The Concierge Suite
While it doesn’t come with a private solarium and sauna, my lodging for this voyage is an extremely comfortable Concierge Suite. It’s also extremely spacious, with a walk-in wardrobe, two-seater sofa, lavish all-marble bathroom with separate shower and tub, and a full balcony. The small touches don’t go unnoticed: the Vero glassware, L’Occitane amenities and handy stainless-steel waterbottle that I can refill at stations around the ship – style and sustainability can go hand in hand, it turns out. While my accommodation is easy on the eye, the real eye candy is back in the Regent Suite – that second Picasso, Notre Dame de vie, hangs on a wall here.
Really, it would be easy to step into your private Regent Suite cocoon and never leave. And many do just that – hey, when you have a spa enclave and the promise of all treatments included in your cruise itinerary, who could blame you? I imagine guests checked in here would uncurl from a massage and sashay over to the mini-grand Steinway piano to tinkle the ivories, perhaps. Then call on their butler for ‘caviar service’ and a snifter of top-shelf Louis XIII cognac from the fully-stocked bar. And if frog’s legs in garlic-cream sauce at French-themed Chartreuse restaurant (or family-style Italian favourites at Sette Mari) don’t tempt you out of your bubble, you can always make the most of your private eatery, The Study. Fine dining while social distancing at sea, anyone?