Let me welcome you aboard the Seven Seas Explorer, our home away from home for a 12 night cruise from Southampton, England to Barcelona, Spain. It was our very first cruise ever and my husband and I were both apprehensive before boarding the Explorer.
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As we crossed the gangway, we were greeted with a glass of Champagne and our worries started to evaporate. How could we have had concerns when we would be cruising on what is called “the most luxurious cruise ship ever built”. The beautifully designed atrium is stunning with its curved grand staircase and towering chandelier.
We were told that all the 375 suites were ready and our luggage would be outside our door within a few minutes. Pointed in the right direction, champagne glass in hand, we were off to see our quarters for the next 12 days.
We were more than pleased with our stylishly decorated Superior Suite with a king size bed. It was midship on deck 8 with 332 sq. ft. and an additional 132 sq. ft. balcony, wonderfully large. It is only one category up from the Veranda Suites which are the smallest on board at 307 sq. ft with a 88 sq. ft. balcony. I checked out the walk in closet as well as the bathroom. Lots of room in both, we were really liking the Explorer.
If by chance you need more room, there is always the Regent Suite at 4,443 sq. ft. with 2 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, 3 walk in closets, a private spa and if you play the piano, you will love the spacious living room with a custom Steinway.
After our welcoming reception and getting settled in our room, we were off to check out the rest of the ship. We soon found out that every moment you are on board the Explorer, there is something to keep you entertained.
The Library is a great place to visit. You can grab a book to take back to your room, check something on the computer about your next port of call or simply read a newspaper. For something a little more social, there is the Card Room where you can meet up with other guests for a bridge game. Speaking of cards, you might want to try to see if Lady Lucky is with you in the Casino.
The Observation Lounge is forward on the ship and has floor to ceiling windows to enjoy the wonderful views as you sail out of port each afternoon. It is where we went to unwind after a long day of touring. Tea time is here with rolling carts filled with scones and sandwiches being offered and there is a large table loaded with different pastries and sweets every day. We played Trivia each day during tea time, had before dinner cocktails as we listened to musicians and sometimes went back later for an after dinner drink.
This was not the only lounge, there are several others including the Explorer Lounge and the Meridian Lounge. The three specialty restaurants have lounge areas as well where you could enjoy a pre dinner cocktail, a glass of Champagne or wine.
The lounges have intimate areas for music and dancing but the Constellation Theater is where the main shows are held. The large room seats more than 600 at comfortable cabaret style seats. Little tables with small glass lamps are perfect for holding your after dinner cocktail while watching a performance. The shows feature a very talented group of singers and dancers who we got to know over the course of our cruise. They performed to packed audiences and we thought each show was terrific.
If all the walking you do on your tours isn’t enough, there is a jogging track, tennis, pickle ball and bocce courts, shuffleboard, golf cages and putting greens. Whew, I’m tired just thinking about all you can do.
For something less strenuous, there are two boutiques for recreational shopping. As you enter, you will be offered a glass of Champagne to sip while you see what goodies you might not be able to live without. Perhaps spend some of your cruise credits that might have been given to you by your travel agent when you booked your trip. Another place to spend those credits is at the Canyon Ranch Spa Club where you can indulge in a wonderful calming treatment.
Cruises are known for their food and what we liked about the Explorer was that you can dine whenever, wherever and with whomever you choose at any of the restaurants and with eight restaurants, you have plenty of choices. There are three specialty restaurants, Chartreuse, Pacific Rim, and Prime 7 as well as Compass Rose, La Veranda, Sette Mari, The Pool Grill and The Cafe. For our evening meals, we had reservations for a night in each of the specialty restaurants and on the other nights we ate at either Sette Mari or the Compass Rose, which is the main dining room. Needless to say, we had a lot of delicious food. More about the food in a future article.
If you know me, you know that I spend months planning our trips to Europe. Planning this cruise was just the same, I checked out numerous cruise lines before choosing Regent. My husband basically agreed to go on this trip to please me, telling his friends “this will be our first and last cruise“. After 12 days on the Explorer, we all knew that would never happen. It is not surprising that before we got off the ship, we gave a deposit for another cruise sometime in the next two years. Perhaps one day, I’ll meet one of you on a cruise.
Since I’ve never been on another cruise, I can’t say whether the Explorer is “the most luxurious cruise ship ever built“. What I can say positively is that it was far above anything we could have imagined. The ship was absolutely beautiful and the service was impeccable. Every member of the crew simply couldn’t do enough for you…all done with a big smile. This was an all-inclusive cruise, the only things that were extra were anything you bought in the boutiques, services at the Canyon Ranch Spa Club or what you wagered in the casino. Business class airfare, all the great wine and premium cocktails, incredible food at the specialty restaurants and our tours were all included.
What the Explorer didn’t have were any long lines anywhere, mediocre food, tiny cabins or an indifferent crew that I read about when researching other cruise lines. While tiring (which was my fault for booking a walking tour in every single port of call), my husband and I loved the Explorer and are looking forward to our next cruise on one of Regent’s cruise ships, the Explorer being on the top of the list.