The Cruise Line Marketing Executive, Ben Williams, recently embarked on his very first cruise – a 4-day taster aboard Seven Seas Mariner. Today in our blog he shares with us his first impressions of cruising and the luxury of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Less than a fortnight ago, I thought I knew what cruising was all about. I have been working at The Cruise Line for almost a year, marketing cruises, writing about them, and thinking I understood them, however, after boarding Seven Seas Mariner for what was not only my first cruise, but my first luxury cruise, I knew I couldn’t have been more wrong!
The full itinerary was from Piraeus in Greece to Barcelona in Spain, but I was joining in Piraeus for a 4-day taster cruise to Catania in Italy. This would give me enough time to soak in the all-inclusive luxury and sunshine the ship and climate had to offer.
If you are in the same position as I was 2 weeks ago and had never even seen a cruise ship, let alone been aboard one, then you may also have some pre-conceptions as to what cruising is all about. Let me tell you this much; it eclipses anything you could imagine.
Walking in to my category F Deluxe Veranda Suite was my first taste of luxury and what a taste it was. The room was everything we would need and more. We were welcomed by a bottle of champagne, flowers and fresh fruit, along with a well-stocked minibar. Of course the balcony also needed closer investigation, so it was the perfect excuse to pour a chilled glass of champagne and discuss plans for the adventure that lay ahead. I think it was at this point that it all sunk in; sat on the balcony before the ship had set sail, feet up, glass in hand, watching the world go by – we knew this was just a taste of what was to come over the next four days.
Eventually it was time to explore the ship and wave goodbye to all my preconceptions about cruising. One thing I noticed straight away was that it didn’t feel like you were on water. Obviously we were still docked in Piraeus, but even at sea there was minimal movement, if any at all.
The more I took in of this ship, the more I started to accept the idea of this being a ‘luxury hotel at sea’. Every inch of her had been planned out meticulously; the paintings, the sculptures, everything… No matter what part of the ship you were in, it was a different environment and the art and design of each room perfectly complimented the room’s purpose. For example, one of my favourite places onboard was the Connoisseur’s Club. During the day, the sun lit up the majority of the room, but in the evenings, the dim lighting above, complimented by the soft glow from the lamps inside the bottle & cigar cabinets gave the room a very relaxed, club-like atmosphere; the sort of place you could unwind with a Jack Daniels after a day of exploring. I really did develop a bond with this space and found myself here on several occasions relaxing with a shot of the afore mentioned beverage and a Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.1 cigar. It was also the perfect stop-gap between dinging in the Compass Rose and closing the evening with a drink on the balcony of my suite.
The Compass Rose restaurant is one of four gourmet dining venues onboard and one I will not forget anytime soon. The menu was a piece of art in its own right; a number of different, tantalising dishes, each crafted with as much precision as a painter applies to his canvas, with an ever-changing menu that would rival even the best restaurants in London. After asking what everything on the menu was, I eventually settled on a Blue Crab Salad for my appetiser, which came wrapped in thinly-sliced courgette and was beautifully garnished. For my main course I decided on the Spice Roasted Beef Tenderloin, all complimented with a glass of a Bordeaux the sommelier had specifically selected to compliment my choices.
There are very few adjectives strong enough to describe the food! Sublime, spectacular and simply amazing just scratch the surface; the Beef Tenderloin, in particular, melted on the tongue. I enjoy my steak medium-rare, and I’ve never had a steak quite like the one served to me on that night. The way it melted on the tongue, the way the range of flavours danced in the mouth, all washed down with the Bordeaux made for a truly special meal. I now fear that I will never enjoy a steak as much as I did that one; suffice to say, it was rather special!
That evening I retired to my suite and spent several hours on the balcony enjoying the sea breeze with no worries whatsoever. My focus was solely on the open ocean, warm breeze and the sound of the waves gently lapping the hull – it was absolutely perfect. Before climbing into the world’s most comfortable bed, I filled out the in-suite morning menu so that I could rise and shine to a wonderful breakfast in bed the following day.
That night I had the best nights sleep I have had in a very long time. The bed was incredible, it gave the feeling that it was melting all around you as soon as you lay down. That feeling plus the ever so gentle motion of the ship sent me off into a most peaceful slumber and I can honestly say that I slept like a baby.
The following morning I was awoken by a ring on the doorbell – breakfast was served! I got up, opened the curtains to blazing sunshine and the incredible backdrop of Santorini – in particular, the beautiful cliff-face town of Fira – and I sat and enjoyed breakfast like a King. It was truly spectacular and I made a point of spending every morning onboard in the same way – one morning also enjoying a pre-breakfast swim under the warm Mediterranean sun. What a fantastic way to start the day!
Once my stomach was full it was time to head ashore and there were a wide variety of shore excursions to choose from in all the ports we stopped at, which were Santorini, Kusadasi and Catania. All shore excursion options were included in the cruise fare so there was no additional cost to worry about – all I had to concern myself with was what I was actually going to do. I made the decision to explore independently in all ports, having never visited any of them before I wanted to get a feel for the immediate area rather than head further inland. I have to admit I particularly enjoyed Santorini – it really is everything and more that you imagine it will be and the views were nothing short of breathtaking.
As we approached Catania it started to dawn on me that my cruise was nearly over. Soon, I would have to leave the ship and make my way back to England, so I decided that morning I would make the most of the time that was left before disembarkation.
As the sun finally set on my cruise, and I watched the ship sail off into a picture perfect Mediterranean evening, my only thoughts were of what an amazing time I had been lucky enough to experience and aboard such a beautiful ship. I had tried so many new things, been submerged in a level of luxury I had never encountered before and I now had a lasting memory of a holiday that would be very hard to eclipse.
The week before last, I thought I had an idea of what cruising was, and I could not have been more wrong. It was an experience I will never forget, and if you haven’t already been on a luxury cruise, I implore you to do so. It literally blew away all of my pre-cruise misconceptions, and where I was expecting luxury, provided an experience far beyond this – an experience that will never be forgotten.
Regent Seven Seas offer a wonderful selection of itineraries covering some of the most popular cruise regions in the world – have a look at our website and soak up some all-inclusive luxury for yourself!
For more information on voyages with Regent Seven Seas, please call one of our Cruise Experts on 0800 008 6677.