A Many-Splendored Regent

Seven Seas Splendor

It’s a line that has been sung by the likes of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Shirley Bassey and Nat King Cole, not to mention Ringo Starr, Tina Charles and Jeff Lynne, but can it also be applied to a cruise ship?

Love, of course, is most definitely a many-splendored thing (thanks to the 1955 Oscar-winning musical writings of Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster), and, from February 2020 it could very possibly be applicable to the newest luxury ship in the cruise firmament.

Regent’s Seven Seas Splendor will make her debut early next year and, from the latest details released by the deluxe line, it could well raise the bar for distinctive, first-class sailing.

There are a few details in the design elements we might quibble with (more of that later), but the basic principles of the vessel, and the sumptuous nature of the previews to date suggest she will be a true sea-going paragon to behold, especially with the all-suite accommodations.

Just to start with, the Splendor builds on the immense success of 2016’s Seven Seas Explorer, which revealed a glamorous new side to Regent and showed they had been paying close attention to recent trends in making the luxury end of the market more approachable and less, well, snooty.

Instead of trying to overwhelm guests with a sense of powerful opulence, the accent became one of more studied elegance; easy-going grandeur, if you like. Each of Seabourn, Silversea and Crystal, in turn had unveiled contemporary looks that owed more to a feeling of resort casual than putting on the Ritz. The unmistakable character of classic stateliness was still there, but in an understated and accessible manner; the Four Seasons instead of Claridge’s or The Savoy.

If that was Regent three years ago, their steady drip-feed of detail about their latest design most definitely ups the ante in terms of anticipation. The Splendor will certainly be strongly reminiscent of the Seven Seas Explorer – she is built on an identical platform and is only marginally larger at 55,254 tons compared to the other’s 54,000 – and most of the public rooms will conform to the exquisite template of the 2016 model.

But the extra attention to detail, the handful of careful tweaks and additions and, especially, the additional focus on the suites should ensure an absolute exemplar of maritime architecture in the modern idiom.

Consider this delicate little ‘tweak.’ On Explorer, The Café starboard on Deck 5 is a striking little hideaway of perfect barista proportions. But, on her newer sibling, this space is transferred to the port side, enlarged ever-so-slightly and re-presented as Coffee Connection, a “chic metropolitan café” that has both an indoor and outdoor element that should be perfect for sea-day cappuccinos and espressos in magnificently indulgent style.

For those who followed our reviews of Silversea’s Silver Muse last year, they will know we especially enjoyed the Arts Café, the modish coffee/deli bar, with its plush interior and the wraparound outside terrace for gorgeous sea views. Regent’s version sounds just like our kind of caffeine-infused heaven.

The Observation Lounge – one of the few other public rooms to be unveiled so far on Splendor – should be another example of this ‘plus’ level of quality and indulgence, with a whispered elegance that both intrigues and beguiles. For the moment, we’re prepared to overlook the stated visual impression of “an enchanting English garden” when it seems more like an exercise in Sci-Fi chic (if that ceiling lighting display isn’t straight out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, then we’ll eat our collection of hats), and give the designer the benefit of the doubt.

After all, one artist’s rendering of a room shouldn’t necessarily be the final arbiter of its essential ambience, and we’re prepared to wait and see the final effect for ourselves, to see if the “unique and stunning whimsical chandelier comprised of hand-painted porcelain flowers, peonies and roses” really does convey the image of true parkland enchantment.

But when it comes to the staterooms, sorry, suites, it really does seem that Regent is swinging for the fences, to use American parlance, and is highly like to have reached home run territory.

It’s always tempting to judge a new-build by the size and opulence of its top-level suites and, on Splendor, you couldn’t possibly gain any impression other than “Wow!”

Just to start with, the massive Regent Suite will boast a cavernous 4,400sq ft of space (including its extensive balcony), which is larger than the average five-bedroom house. It comes with free in-suite Spa services and exclusive access to a private dining room for up to 12. We’re also totally smitten with the idea of “a selection of aromatic suites fragrances by Dr Vranjes,” and a Cristina Azario cashmere throw, but then, that’s just us.

The fact is, though, the Regent suite actually sets the tone for all 14 other suite categories, with intricate details, exquisite finishings and absolutely enormous balcony space (the entry-level Veranda Suites still offer more than 300sq ft of space, with balconies larger than the cabins on some ships built in the 1980s and early 90s!).

In all, more than 46,000sq ft of Italian marble will adorn Splendor – that’s more than an acre of marble – most notably in the stately bathrooms in each of the 375 suites. There will be nearly 52,000sq ft of balcony space – larger than an American football field and averaging 138sq ft of space per balcony. Approximately 500 crystal chandeliers will illuminate the ship’s interior.

As Regent president and CEO Jason Montague explained: “Perfecting luxury is about obsessing over large and small details. From specially commissioned one-of-a-kind artworks to visually stimulating touches throughout, each space on Seven Seas Splendor will display finely tailored designs that offer a comfortable and stylish experience for luxury travellers. With an expansive passenger-to-space ratio and an exceptionally low guest-to-crew ratio, Splendor will be one of the most spacious, intimate and beautiful ships ever to sail the globe.”

From all the preview details we’ve seen so far, we can certainly believe him. Time to break out a new song for many-splendored ocean-going love, perhaps?

Have you cruised with Regent Seven Seas? What most intrigues you about their latest new-build? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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Simon Veness

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