(Cruise) Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing

By Simon & Susan Veness

Shakespeare said it first but William Holden and Jennifer Jones set more hearts racing with their interpretation of it, thanks to their performance in the 1955 Oscar-winning romantic blockbuster Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.

It was pretty racy for its time (although subsequent stories that the two stars hated the sight of each other rather spoiled the image!), and it helped confirm Holden as one of the biggest box office draws of his age.

All of which has absolutely nothing to do with cruising, until you read the outburst of stories last month that featured a potential new love affair with a sea-going Splendor, aka the Regent Seven Seas Splendor, which will be the latest ship in the Regent stable.

Bookings are now being taken for the inaugural season of this maritime paragon, (wait for it) in February 2020. That’s still nearly two years away, but Regent are so confident of making an impression with their fifth full new-build that they are ready to showcase it here and now.

And they may just have a point. When they launched Seven Seas Explorer in 2016, several writers proclaimed that Regent had perfected the art of luxury cruising, and it was hard to argue with the success of the ship, which, although it was the largest in the fleet at 54,000 tons, still carried just 750 passengers with a Space Ratio of 72 (about twice the figure that was considered ‘good’ some 20 years ago!).

In terms of cuisine, service, accommodations and style, the Explorer rated highly across the board, from the hard-to-please members at Cruise Critic to industry insiders like Travel Pulse. They loved the all-suite, all-balcony staterooms, the gorgeous artwork and the smaller details, such as the surprisingly extensive offerings at the Pool Grill and the heated recliners in the Spa.

It was as complete a package as we had ever seen in the luxury cruise world, albeit the new Silver Muse of Silversea is also right up there in the same conversation, as is 2016’s other ultra-luxe contender, the Seabourn Encore.

But fast-forward to April 12 this year, and the announcement for advance bookings on Seven Seas Splendor, and we see Regent looking to make another major impression. For, while Seven Seas Splendor will be a near-identical sister to the much-heralded Explorer, the company insists that she will also be a refined version.

Decks 4 and 5, the evening social hub of the vessel with most of the public lounges, main restaurant and theatre, will undergo something of a redesign, with the magnificent atrium staircase being repositioned to face the Compass Rose dining room and provide more of a feeling of grand entry.

One level above, the hugely popular gathering place Coffee Connection will have a different look, with a more chic design and an al fresco area to be able to sit and sip Regent’s finest brews with a view of the outside world.

There will be a few other design tweaks as well, while the 375 suites are heralded as even more lavish than before, with some of the biggest balconies at sea.

Regent CEO and president Jason Montague insisted, “When we launched Seven Seas Explorer, we delivered a new level of elegance to the cruise industry. With Seven Seas Splendor’s upcoming debut, we are focused on perfecting all the details. Everything on board the ship is designed to provide a sophisticated yet comfortable retreat for our guests, and we’re confident they’ll appreciate the attention to detail that has been put into perfecting the newest ship in our fleet.”

The one thing you might say is why did they insist on the American spelling? Even Royal Caribbean, that arch-American purveyor of modern-day cruising, had the good sense to call their 1995 ship Splendour of the Seas (before selling it on to Thomson Cruises two years ago).

But, whether it is with the ‘U’ or without, it’s pretty clear Regent intend their latest and greatest to build on the firm reputation they have compiled in the last 10 years or so for true all-inclusivity at sea, even down to overnight pre-cruise luxury hotel packages in their Distinctive Suite categories.

It is a registry of refinement that definitely sets the pulses racing ahead of the new ship’s 2020 arrival, with a series of inaugural sailings that are almost as tempting as the ship itself.

The maiden voyage on February 7 will be a full 14-day cruise from Barcelona to Miami, visiting Seville, Madeira and Bermuda before reaching Florida. That is followed by another 14-nighter on the February 25th through the Panama Canal to Los Angeles, calling at exotic Cartagena in Colombia and Cabo San Lucas on the Mexican Riviera. Then, in April, Seven Seas Splendor will retrace her wake back to Barcelona, via Miami, Charleston and New York, before enjoying a summer among the highlights of the Mediterranean.

“We included voyages to destinations that are as extraordinary as the ship herself,” Montague added. “Based on guest response to our current itineraries through the Mediterranean, Caribbean and North America, we anticipate these new offerings will be popular among both new and repeat guests wanting the exclusive opportunity to be one of the first to sail on the newest luxury ship in our fleet.”

It is a truly enticing package of ship and destinations. Regent most assuredly raised the bar with the Explorer, now they are promising to do it again in less than two years’ time.

And, in the final analysis, (cruise) love may, indeed, be a many Splendored thing!

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Simon Veness

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