First Look: Regent's Big Debut

First image...
Breakfast on deck in Sardinia.

The Inside Scoop

Hop aboard this brand-new ship.

Evening barbecue on the pool deck.
Inside Compass Rose, the ship's largest restaurant.

Photography by Justin Paul. 

Regent's new ship, the Seven Seas Explorer, is the most anticipated launch of the year. Virtuoso’s Justin Paul hopped aboard an exclusive pre-christening cruise to find out what the buzz is about.

The great escape: “This is a couples’ cruise,” Norwegian Cruise Line Holding’s CEO Frank Del Rio says when asked about the 750-passenger ship’s multigenerational appeal. “Regent’s customers love their grandkids; they just don’t love other people’s grandkids.” (Hence the caviar-and-blini station at breakfast rather than a build-your-own-waffle bar or smiley-faced chocolate chip pancakes.)

Though the line does offer kids’ clubs on select summer voyages – such as Explorer’s 12-day sailing around the UK from London next June – Del Rio notes that when he gathers the family for noninaugural cruises, they choose a ship with great specialty restaurants, but also with waterslides, rope courses, and the like.
Regent bills Explorer as the most luxurious ship to set sail, a claim that culminates in Deck 14’s Regent Suite. While the all-suite ship’s staterooms are impressively spacious – my midlevel suite’s walk-in closet was easily double the size of city condo closets, and even the smallest suite balconies accommodate full loungers and a table fit for a large room-service breakfast – this 4,443-square-foot residence towers over others at sea. You could focus on its physical attributes – a $90,000 Savoir 1 mattress, the Dakota Jackson-designed Steinway Arabesque piano, and its 4K, ultra high-definition  media room – but it’s the benefits, such as unlimited Canyon Ranch spa treatments in the suite’s spa and a private car and driver in every port, that make it more than just a well-dressed space.
Explorer elevates Regent’s gourmet dining tradition with two new specialty restaurants that are soon to roll out across the fleet: Chartreuse for fine French and pan-Asian Pacific Rim. The seared duck breast with candied cherries and black-foot chicken with cognac and crayfish sauce stand out at the former; at the latter, I’d gladly order seconds of the duck spring rolls, tiger prawns with Kaffir lime butter, and, hands down, the Chinese barbecued pork ribs. One general consensus from our table of six at Pacific Rim: Save beef for Prime 7, the ship’s specialty steak house.
Let me count the reasons why classes in the Culinary Arts Kitchen fill quickly: 1. A drunken semolina limoncello cake. 2. The deconstructed scallop rumaki (a seared scallop set atop a water chestnut and bacon on a plate brushed with a teriyaki-like glaze). 3. Branzino gently poached in “crazy water” (white wine simmering with shallots, cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives). Aspiring cooks in the hour-plus sessions gather around the chef’s workstation for a demonstration of how to slice, sauce, and prepare each component, then return to individual induction-burner cooktops and start chopping. Given the amount of clean plates in my class, it’s best to space these sessions well between meals.
As in “cartouche,” the fun-to-say, hatlike circle of parchment chef Kathryn Kelly taught us to fold to perfectly poach fish. (Lids don’t allow steam to escape, thus they poach too hot.)
No surprise the Pool Deck bar proves the popular place for a casual happy-hour drink. Piña coladas may be back in style, but for something truly refreshing, order up a Moscow mule, served in its trademark copper mug.
There’s little more relaxing on a cruise than idly watching the ship’s wake bubble out to the horizon. One morning, sitting at a table at Deck 11’s La Veranda, breakfast could have easily sailed right on through lunch given the light breeze and views off the stern, even under an unrelenting Sardinian sun. Explorer’s improvement on a view enjoyed from almost any ship: Present it from an infinity-edge pool off the stern of Deck 5’s Canyon Ranch spa – soaking it all in will never be the same.
Explore Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Plus, 26 Reasons to consider an expedition cruise

Posted by Justin Paul on September 6, 2016.