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"Cruise Impressions" Column

4/4/2010
Cruise Impressions (02/09): RSSC Mariner Updates

Regent Seven Seas Spends

Millions on Refurbishments 

     Photo of pool deck goes here.

Travelers will enjoy the new look and comfort of lounge chairs on the pool deck of the newly refurbished Seven Seas Mariner.*

By Susan J. Young

If you’re planning to sail the seven seas in style, the Seven Seas Mariner is decked out with new features and enhancements.

In a program that continues through January 2010, Regent Seven Seas Cruises has spent or is spending $40 million to upgrade its three large ships.

The Mariner’s enhancements were completed in a January 2009 drydock, as were similar upgrades for Seven Seas Voyager. (The top deck of the Mariner is shown at right.*)

I sailed with a friend on the Mariner in 2002 in the Mediterranean, just a year after the ship's launch. We loved the ship's size, and the fact that while it could easily accommodate 1,400 guests, the line opted to instead include only 350 all-suite, all-balcony accommodations serving just 700 guests.

The ship never seemed crowded. So if you’re looking for a pampering, relaxing way to experience the Caribbean, South America, Europe and other destinations worldwide, this ship has many pluses.

What’s new on the ship? We talked with Mark Conroy, president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, about his views of the major enhancements.

And we toured the ship first-hand while it was docked in Port Everglades, FL.  

Dining Developments

Photo of Compass Rose goes here.“All the dining rooms have been re-decorated with new tabletops, different materials, new carpet, new window treatments and so on,” says Conroy. “That’s the first thing guests will notice." (The new decor within Compass Rose is shown at left.*)

In addition, Latitudes – the former Pan-Asian restaurant which Conroy says was the least well ranked of the ships’ restaurants [from guest use and feedback], has been transformed into Prime Seven.

“It’s [akin to] a Capital Grill or high-class steak restaurant serving prime beef,” says Conroy. “For those who don’t want beef, you can also order fresh fish or lobster.”

Characterized as a fresh, contemporary alternative dining venue, Prime Seven is decked out in rich colors. Conroy hopes the cuisine and décor will make it a restaurant that guests will patronize a bit more than they did Latitudes.

Why? Regent has open seat dining throughout its ship, so guests dine where, when and with whom they want.

But if too many guests show up at once at the main Compass Rose restaurant (see photo below*), also newly refurbished, some may have to wait a bit for a table.

Photo of Compass Rose goes here.

Right now, the Verandah restaurant (the buffet restaurant transformed at night into a sit-down service venue) and the Signature restaurant both draw 80-100 guests nightly.

If the new Prime Seven draws a similar number, Conroy believes Compass Rose will become a smoother operation without too many guests having to wait for a table on any given night.

Incidentally, Signature, Prime Seven and Verandah, the three alternative dining choices on Regent Seven Seas are available at no charge to guests.

They don’t have to make a reservation for Verandah, but they do need to make a reservation for Prime Seven and Signature,” notes Conroy. He said the goal is for guests to enjoy dinner in each of the alternative venues at least once during a week onboard.

Other Upgrades

“Everywhere on the ship, carpets and all those [soft good] materials have all been changed,” says Conroy.

Past guests, in particular, will notice new carpeting, wallpaper, upholstery, light fixtures and drapes, in both public areas and guest suites.

One major redo? Horizons has new upholstery and an upgraded musical entertainment center. Conroy says that a new program incudes dinner and a show.

Photo of top deck goes here.So about 100 guests an evening who are dining in Signature will enjoy pre-dinner cocktails in Horizons, then head for dinner in Signature, then return to Horizons for a show, much like what is done at the Algonquin Room in New York.

Conroy says it will be perhaps piano music or light jazz, something resembling the style of a Bobby Short or Harry Connick Jr. performance.

Elsewhere, the pool deck has been refurbished with new furniture (shown in the photo at right*)

Photo of new ice cream bar goes here.

 

In addition, the pool grills were were reconfigured, with an ice cream bar (see photo at left*) and pizza oven added (see below*)

Photo of pizza bar goes here.

 

 

 

In addition, on one area on deck that’s covered by the deck above, the line added residential-style rattan lounging furniture

Here,  guests can find suprising peace and solitude, as well as a bit more privacy while relaxing in areas separated by whispy curtains. (A photo of this relaxation area is shown below.*)

Photo of new rattan-like furniture goes here.

In the outside teak-deck area behind Horizons, Conroy says the line has also added this rattan-styled furniture. “We’ve covered that deck with it, and it’s become a very popular place,” he notes.

Photo of the coffee bar area goes there.Elsewhere on the ship, the cruise line has again refined and updated its Coffee Connection.

In the last-drydock, Regent installed a European coffee machine. There has always been a self-service area and that continues.

“But we’ve opened up the area, pushed some of the computers back into the computer room, left other there, and [the newly reconfigured area is now] kind of a European Starbucks," says notes Conroy.

We enjoyed this area's freshly baked cookies (including sugar free options) and savory fresh fruit, along with multiple types of high-grade tea and coffee options that even included decaf latte.

Nearby, “the conference and card rooms were really upgraded,” emphasized Conroy, noting that, frankly, they were just getting “tired.”

The dividing wall between the two, didn’t work, he says, so they put up a “real wall with a large door one so we can actually have a card game going on in one room and a meeting in the other.”

Guests suites were essentially not changed, given that they were fully refurbished in the previous drydock in 2007. But, Conroy says, in some cases, carpeting was changed in suites and the line completed “French polishing” of furniture.

The refurbishment program constitutes the largest investment ever made by Regent Seven Seas for existing vessels. Overseeing the project is the line’s Vessel Operations team working in conjunction with the marine architectural firm of Yran and Storbraaten of Oslo, Norway.

In addition to the cosmetic and construction work, technical upgrades were also accomplished in the Seven Seas Mariner's drydock. Conroy says the line replaced one of the ship’s propulsion pods was replaced, and completed general maintenance work.

If you sail on the refurbished Seven Seas Mariner, the following are included in the cruise fare: all-suite, all-balcony accommodations that range from 356 square feet to 1,403 square feet including the balcony; all inclusive beverages including soft drinks, hot beverages and select wines and spirits throughout the ship; single, open seat dining and four dining venues; complimentary 24-hour room service, and all onboard gratuities.

Regent Seven Seas describes the feel of the refurbished Seven Seas Mariner as fresh, elegant and luxurious, while still retaining the warmth and charm for which the line is known. During our brief foray aboard, we’d have to agree.

For more information, visit www.theregentexperience.com.

*Photos are owned, copyrighted and used courtesy of Susan J. Young. All rights reserved. Please do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.


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