Seven Seas Mariner Review – July 2015
The Cruise Line’s Sales & Marketing Manager David Smith shares with us some of the highlights of his recent cruise aboard the stunning Seven Seas Mariner.
In early July I was lucky enough to be invited onto the first 4 nights of Seven Seas Mariner’s Spanish Zeal voyage. Ship visits aside, this was my first ‘at sea’ experience with Regent Seven Seas Cruises so I was understandably eager to find out why they are rated so highly by many of our regular luxury cruise clients. Travelling in a party with a few other agents and tour operators, I was going to be cruising from Barcelona to Cagliari, visiting Ibiza and Mallorca along the way.
I arrived in Barcelona around lunchtime on the day of embarkation and took a cab to the port. As we neared the terminal I got my first glimpse of Seven Seas Mariner which looked quite striking set against the deep blue waters of the harbour. My taxi driver was equally impressed and noted that Mariner looked a lot like “The Love Boat”. *
The embarkation procedure was swift – so swift in fact, that I was informed that my suite wouldn’t be ready for another hour or so. Despite this, I was offered the opportunity to board the ship and enjoy lunch by the pool while I was waiting. I’d been up since 5am and had little to eat by this time so I eagerly made my way up to Deck 11 and got stuck into some garlic chicken, paella and a couple of nice cold drinks.
A good start, I am sure you will agree.
Once the house-keeping process had been completed, I made my way to my suite. I had been allocated a Deluxe Concierge Suite on Deck 10. As you can see from the short video below, the size of the suite is more than adequate for two people, although three adults might prove a bit of a squeeze. In this instance I was to be the sole occupant of my suite, so I found it almost palatial in terms of size!
Seven Seas Mariner’s Suites come equipped with everything you could possible want to help make yourself feel comfortable. The bed might be one of the most comfy I have ever slept in, while the separate sitting area was perfect for a spot of afternoon reading or watching a film.
One of the big attractions of sailing on Seven Seas Mariner is that every suite has a private veranda, which is furnished with 2 chairs and a small table. I spent a great deal of time on my veranda, doing nothing in particular but watching the world go by, especially during the ship’s day at sea when I was privy to some wonderfully enchanting views of the ocean.
In terms of practicalities, there’s loads of storage space (the walk-in closet is HUGE) and the mini-bar is re-stocked each day, which negates the need to keep bothering room service every time you want a drink.
“What’s the food like?”
If you have ever had the pleasure of going on a luxury cruise, then I guarantee this is one of the first questions you would have been asked after arriving home. For many, the overall enjoyment of a cruise will be defined by the quality of the dining experience. During my cruise I was offered the opportunity to sample dining in all of the ships restaurants and I am happy to report that all of the dining options aboard Seven Seas Mariner are excellent.
You can view a few pictures of the culinary treats I enjoyed below, but in summary, here’s a quick overview:
Breakfast/Lunch – There’s an informal feel to both breakfast and lunch on Seven Seas Mariner. Both mealtimes take place primarily in La Veranda, which is located to the rear of the ship and benefits from sweeping ocean vistas when at sea. There are no menus as such (though you are able to order burgers/sandwiches etc from the Pool Grill if you fancy) and the options available consist of buffet summer standards such as pasta, salad, cheese and meats along with regionally influenced dishes.
Compass Rose – Perhaps the most ‘traditional’ of the dining venues on Mariner, the food was a pleasant mixture of meat and fish dishes (I had Mediterranean Sea Bass) with some nice soups and sorbets to break up the courses. The only downside was the service being slightly slower than expected, although this might have been down to the size of our table.
Prime 7 – Offering a high-end take on the classic American Steakhouse fare, Prime 7 definitely deserves it’s lofty reputation. The wide selection of steaks, poultry, fresh fish, shellfish and lobster are amazing, but that’s only half of it – the restaurant has a real elegance to it and there’s an attention to detail that’s evident in everything from the soft furnishings to the weighty, oversized menus.
Signatures – I’ll be honest, I am not a huge fan of ‘fine dining’ so I was interested in finding out how I’d get on in Mariner’s French restaurant, Signatures. I needn’t have worried; like Prime 7, Signatures is a really classy affair with some fantastic dishes (Alaskan Halibut for me), wonderful wine pairings and a passionate eye for detail in every facet of the presentation.
Sette Marie – Once the lunchtime service is over, La Veranda is transformed into Sette Marie for the evening. It’s the most relaxed evening restaurant onboard and the informal atmosphere really does lend itself well to the authentic Italian dining experience. Sette Marie appeared to a big hit with the younger cruisers and families onboard and a couple of guests I spoke to said they made a point of always dining in Sette Marie, which is a huge commendation when you consider the other options available.
Even though I was essentially travelling as part of a larger group, I did try and assume the guise of a solo traveller to get an idea of what it would be like to cruise with Regent Seven Seas on my own.
It’s apparent that Regent Seven Seas take a great deal of care in ensuring that it’s single guests are well looked after. For example, one of the nights of the cruise featured a Solo & Social Travellers Get Together, which was hosted in the Horizon Lounge by members of the Entertainment Team, while Regent’s customary Shipwide Wide Block Party also gave guests the opportunity to mingle in the ship’s corridors while enjoying wine and canapés.
As you might already be aware, one of the great things about Regent Seven Seas is that they offer a number of ‘Free Unlimited Shore Excursions’ on all of their voyages. These can range from wine tasting sessions in the vineyards of Bordeaux to helicopter tours above glaciers in Alaska.
Taking advantage of this, I decided to visit the Caves of Drach in Mallorca. Located on the east coast of the island, the caves are a winding labyrinth of tunnels that rise above an underground lake called Martel Lake. Legend goes that the Caves were once the hiding place of pirates who would use the depth of the tunnels to store their ships and treasure.
The organisation of the excursion was brilliant. We met in Mariner’s Constellation Theatre on the morning of the trip and were led off the ship to a fleet of air-conditioned coaches. As the coach made it’s way to the other side of the island, we were given a informative overview of the Mallorca’s history and cultural landscape before arriving one hour later at the Caves. Following the conclusion of the tour, we were given enough time to get a drink and use the facilities before being taken back to the ship – via a pearl making factory – in time for lunch.
If you ever decide to cruise with Regent Seven Seas then I highly recommend that the opportunity to enjoy as many excursions as you can possibly manage. They are easily booked at the ship’s Destination Services desk and the seamless organisation really does take the hassle out of doing it independently.
Here’s a few other bits and pieces that really helped make for an enjoyable voyage.
Regent Seven Seas do a great job of keeping in contact with guests throughout the duration of a voyage. Twice a day, in line with the daily house-keeping and nightly turn-down, I would find various communications left for me on the writing desk in my suite. These included a daily newsletter, a list of available shore excursions and destination information regarding the location of banks, churches, taxi ranks and places of interest for the next port of call.
These really help to consolidate your cruise experience and are ideal for ensuring that you don’t miss out on anything that might be of interest.
During the day at sea, I returned to my suite after lunch to find an invitation to a Galley Tour posted to my door. I wasn’t expecting it (I didn’t even know Galley Tours took place!) so it was a nice surprise and something a little out of the ordinary to break up the otherwise relatively slow space of the afternoon.
Every luxury cruise line offers personalised service to some degree but Regent really do put a lot of stock in the bond between the guest and crew. There were a couple of occasions when I was caught completely off-guard by a members of staff addressing me by name as we walked past each other – made all the more impressive by the fact I’d never met them before!
How much does it cost to get off?
If the idea of cruising with Regent Seven Seas is appealing, then you are probably curious to know how much all this cost me while I was onboard. Even though I know that Regent prides itself on being ‘All-inclusive’, I was still preparing myself for a little charge…maybe I’d had a drink that wasn’t included in the ‘free’ part of the package…or maybe that internet wasn’t really included…
Now, considering I had had plenty to eat and drink throughout the five days onboard, enjoyed a shore excursion, been transported with ease into the the main towns of two Spanish islands and received some of the best service I have ever experienced, i was already starting to tally up possible amounts in my head. So imagine my surprise when I was passed my final bill upon checking out. How much had this all-inclusive 4 night cruise cost me?
That’s right; I had just enjoyed a wonderful luxury sailing aboard an incredible ship and it had cost me nothing in addition to that which I would have paid at the time of booking!
In the week since returning from my cruise I have had plenty of time to reflect on the experience. Like most people, I always have a certain expectations before any trip or holiday and I am happy to report that Seven Seas Mariner exceeded nearly all them. The atmosphere onboard was pleasant and much more relaxed than I had originally thought it might be, while the diversity of the dining options and onboard entertainment programme means that I find it hard to understand why someone wouldn’t enjoy a voyage on such a fantastic ship.
* Despite the taxi driver’s keen eye for a cruise ship, the ship used for The Love Boat was often either the Royal Viking Sky (which is now in service for Fred Olsen as Boudicca) or a Princess Cruises’ ship (Pacific Princess or Island Princess).