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I’m just back from one of the world’s most expensive cruise ships – here’s a sneak peek

Dec. 18, 2023
15 min read
2Photo Dec 12 2023, 10 01 16 AM
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TPG's Ashley Kosciolek accepted a free trip from Regent Seven Seas Cruises to attend the unveiling of Seven Seas Grandeur. The opinions expressed below are entirely hers and weren't subject to review by the line.

What do you get when you mix superb design with loads of marble and glimmering lights, combine it with free drinks, tips, Wi-Fi and shore excursions, and, for good measure, toss in a suite that costs $11,000 per night?

The result is Regent Seven Seas Cruises' brand-new Seven Seas Grandeur, which is one of the most expensive cruise ships afloat. It cost the cruise line more than $517 million, including $9 million for the 1,600-piece art collection, which features a custom-designed Faberge egg.

Put on your best dress or your finest suit or tux, and make an entrance at dinner by walking down the atrium's grand staircase. Sign up for a cooking class at the onboard culinary kitchen, where you'll spend two hours sipping wine as a chef shows you how to make several delectable dishes. Or enjoy evening cocktails and live piano music in the stunning top-deck Observation Lounge.

In true Regent fashion, the line has managed to create a glamorous atmosphere that will make any of its 746 passengers feel like they're the most important person on Earth. It does an excellent job of catering to its target market — mature adults who are educated and well traveled — in an atmosphere where relaxation is key and shipboard life is best enjoyed slowly.

Here's what I loved about this sparkling new ship — and what I didn't.

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5 things I loved

The cabins

My Concierge Suite balcony cabin on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Talk about feeling spoiled. Although I didn't have a butler on my sailing, my 332-square-foot Concierge Suite — which included a 132-square-foot balcony — was so well appointed it felt like the type of cabin that would come with a personal attendant on other cruise lines.

The walk-in closet in my Concierge Suite balcony cabin on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

In addition to separate sleeping and lounging areas (which can be separated by a curtain), I had a walk-in closet and a marble bathroom that felt at least twice the size of bathrooms on standard cruise ships.

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The bathroom in my Concierge Suite balcony cabin on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

But don't be fooled: This type of accommodation is squarely in the middle on Seven Seas Grandeur. There are six cabin categories below it and eight above, meaning that lavish digs are pretty much standard when you sail on this ship.

The balcony of my Concierge Suite on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I absolutely loved touches like the closet's sliding door, which glides into the wall instead of awkwardly opening out into the room; the plentiful outlets (both 110-volt North American and 220-volt European) and USB ports, with plenty near the vanity and on both sides of the bed; and the modern cabin controls, which allow passengers to change the temperature and indicate whether they need cabin service or wish to be left undisturbed.

The design

"Journey in Jewels," the custom Faberge egg created for Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES

The main thing that sets Seven Seas Grandeur apart from its sister ships, Seven Seas Splendor and Seven Seas Explorer, is its design. This newest ship in the Explorer Class was wholly put together by Studio Dado, the renowned Miami-based design firm responsible for only certain aspects of previous vessels. It brightened up many public areas to make them feel airy and spacious, reworked the alternative restaurants and ensured the spaces flow well into one another.

The atrium on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The atrium area sparkles with a sweeping staircase, marble floors and an overhead chandelier designed to resemble a tangle of diamond tennis bracelets.

The Compass Rose main dining room on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The Compass Rose restaurant, the ship's main dining room, felt like what you'd get if architect and designer Antoni Gaudí were born in the time of "The Jetsons." The decor melds bright whites with pops of gray and cranberry, and tables are set among crystal-inlaid pillars reminiscent of trees. It's glitzy without ever being tacky. (Just look at the Versace dinnerware on the tables.)

Never in all my sailings have I seen such a grand MDR.

A Japanese cherry blossom sculpture outside the Pacific Rim restaurant on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

As for the other eateries, each has its own tastefully lavish vibe. While Italian restaurant Sette Mari at La Veranda remains fairly neutral as part of the buffet area, the vessel's other three specialty venues stand out in a big way. Asian restaurant Pacific Rim on Deck 5 feels like an elite New York City supper club with an Asian twist, complete with dark walls and earth-toned furnishings. A breathtaking sculpture of a tree, populated with hundreds of pink glass cherry blossoms, greets passengers at the entrance.

Prime 7 steakhouse on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The Prime 7 steakhouse and French restaurant Chartreuse are located across from one another on Deck 10. Both entryways are bedecked in leather accents that balance masculine and feminine aesthetics. Prime 7's entrance features a brown leather patchwork with handles that make the pieces look like suitcases or steamer trunks. Chartreuse's entryway is outfitted with large black leather 3D flowers designed by Chanel.

Inside, Prime 7 matches what it serves with bright red chairs surrounded by brown tones. Chartreuse's interior design is also fairly literal, with blacks and grays punctuated by pops of chartreuse-colored glass and glittering overhead light fixtures in the same hue.

The entrance to Chartreuse on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Additionally, a carefully curated art collection of 1,600 pieces is spread throughout the ship, complete with a virtual tour that's offered via the Regent mobile app. The collection is anchored by a custom-designed Faberge egg that's displayed in a case at the center of the guest services area.

It's clear that an immeasurable amount of attention was given to every design choice, from colors to artwork to furniture.

The Pool Grill

A truffle beef burger and sweet potato fries from the Pool Grill on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

When I sidled up to the Pool Grill on the final day of my sailing and ordered a burger, I was not expecting it to be my favorite meal on the ship, but it was. Call it one of the most pleasant surprises on my voyage.

In addition to the truffle beef burger with caramelized onions and truffle aioli, I also asked for a side of sweet potato fries, an order of tomato bruschetta and a caprese panini, figuring I'd try a bit of each. Fortunately for my stomach, but unfortunately for my waistline, each was so phenomenal that I ate every bite.

The quality of the poolside food is worth writing home about because it's as good as or better than the food you'd find in the main dining rooms on most other cruise lines' ships. Yes, the fare in Seven Seas Grandeur's main dining room and alternative restaurants is also fantastic, but you would expect those meals to be standouts. Yet it's clear that the ship's culinary team puts effort into every meal on board, even the most casual.

The quiet places

The library on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

As someone who's always looking for a chance to escape the frenetic pace of life ashore, I cannot stress enough how much I appreciated a couple of onboard quiet spaces that afforded me a place to read that wasn't my cabin.

The Observation Lounge on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I found the stunning Observation Lounge on Deck 11 to be fairly quiet during the daytime, especially on port days. It was easy to snag a table by one of the sweeping windows so I could enjoy the view. The space also serves as a venue for daily trivia and a place to catch live piano music in the evening.

Libraries are being phased out on most mainstream cruise ships, but I was pleased to learn that there's one on Deck 11 of Seven Seas Grandeur. It's a dark, cozy space with wall-to-wall books, tables for perusing coffee-table titles, comfy seating and even a couple of alcoves for people who need to focus.

The Culinary Arts Kitchen

A chef leads a cooking class at the Culinary Arts Kitchen on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I'm a firm believer that the true mark of something's quality is whether it's capable of winning over a skeptic.

I despise cooking. Between shopping for ingredients, prepping everything, doing the actual cooking and then washing all the dishes afterward, I find it frustrating, time-consuming and more hassle than it's worth.

However, I tried one of Regent's famed Culinary Arts Kitchen cooking classes with one of the ship's onboard chefs, and I had a blast. (I suspect part of the reason is because everything was prepped and waiting for me when I got there, so all I had to do was toss it in a pan and then eat it.)

The chef was friendly and funny, and she took the time to explain some of the history and techniques behind each dish we cooked.

What I experienced was an abridged version that lasted only an hour, during which time we made spaghetti in lemon sauce, followed by crepes with blueberries and ice cream. Normally, the classes — which start at $89 per person — last about two hours and feature several dishes. Spaces are limited, so book early.

3 things I didn't care for

The entertainment

The cast of Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur performs in "Marauder's Ball." ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The show I saw — "Marauder's Ball," the only one of the ship's four production shows offered during the christening voyage — featured pirates pillaging jewelry and other riches from the wealthy elite as they attended the launch of a new ship.

Overall, it felt too busy with props like ropes and flags that distracted from the main action, and the show felt too long for how loose the plot was. Further, it's strange to me that the single show time each night is 9:30 p.m., which is late, given that most shows run for a full hour.

All of that said, the singers and dancers were phenomenal, and it's clear Regent sunk a lot of time, money and creativity into the costumes and sets. However, the end result just didn't stack up when compared with entertainment on bigger cruise ships.

The room service

A room service breakfast on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

You know a ship is great when most of what you're putting under the "did not like" column is little stuff. That's the case here.

Complimentary room service is just another perk of an upscale, inclusive cruise ship. Regent provides room service breakfast cards that you fill out and hang outside your door at night for delivery the following morning. On the second night of the sailing, I hung my order — a cheese omelet with a side of extra-crispy bacon and coffee — and went to bed.

The next morning, someone from the room service department called to let me know my order was on the way and to apologize that it was coming 15 minutes early — something I didn't mind at all.

My food arrived, and the person who delivered it kindly set everything up for me, including a white tablecloth. The plating was great, and I was so excited to dig in — until I cut into my omelet and discovered it wasn't the cheese omelet I had ordered, but a ham-and-cheese omelet. Since I don't eat ham, I called room service to politely request a replacement.

I was impressed with how quickly the replacement omelet arrived, but when I cut into it, it was undercooked and inedible. When the egg ran out onto the plate, I gave up and went to the onboard cafe for an incredibly stale bagel instead.

Overall, the service was wonderful, but the in-cabin dining experience needs a bit more work.

Crowded public spaces

Afternoon tea in the Meridian Lounge was full on Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Although most of the ship's public areas seemed like they would be the correct size in proportion to the size of the vessel, I found that a couple had insufficient space.

On more than one occasion, I ventured to Coffee Connection, the onboard cafe, for a cuppa (try the gingerbread cappuccino), and every table was full. The space is at capacity for seating, so it's not possible to add more. But it's clear the cafe is more popular than its seating area can handle.

The same is true of the adjacent Meridian Lounge, which regularly hosts cocktail hours and afternoon tea. The cocktail event I attended quickly became overcrowded, and it was standing room only. I also tried to check out afternoon tea, but I couldn't find an available table, so I left. (That was disappointing, as I was told tea was a highlight.)

Bottom line

Regent's Seven Seas Grandeur is one of the most elegant and luxurious ships afloat. Its design is exceptional, exuding an upscale air that's unrivaled on any other vessel I've sailed. The cabins are gorgeous homes away from home.

The ship's slower pace means you can linger over a meal or a conversation by the pool and you won't feel like you're missing out on a signature activity. That, blended with an abundance of calm, quiet spaces and a lack of worry about your final bill, means more room for relaxation on your Seven Seas Grandeur vacation.

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Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.