Regent Seven Seas Cruises is tops when it comes to all-inclusive cruising – with everything from eating to excursions covered up-front – but it’s the light passenger load that’s most pleasing, especially on Seven Seas Voyager.
I know my cruise on Seven Seas Voyager is special when I arrive at the Port of Piraeus to board the boat that carries just 706 passengers.
I have sailed on stacks of those supersized ships that take thousands of travellers to sea, so am used to cruise terminals heaving with hassled holidaymakers, but today there are only a handful of people waiting to start their voyage.
A porter takes my luggage at the kerb, a Regent staffer checks my name from the passenger list after asking about my journey, I join the short line of fellow passengers waiting to clear metal detectors, and am ascending the gangplank not 10 minutes after stepping from the car.
But that’s the beauty of small-ship cruising, a light load means a line is never more than a few people long and waiting time is limited to short minutes.
Seven Seas Voyager was launched in 2003 – making her the second-oldest vessel in Regent’s four-ship fleet – and received a bow-to-stern refurbishment in 2016 that saw her restaurants, lounges and 353 suites spruced up.
She feels more luxury yacht than ocean liner and thoughtful design features – the eight-deck atrium, glass elevators, lots of lounges dotted around the sundecks, restaurant tables set beside windows – guarantee an intimacy lost on vast vessels.
The ship is stylish but not stuffy, there’s ample area for those guests looking to lounge outside their suite, waiters remember guest names, and the small load means public areas are never congested.
There are seven cabin categories on this all-suite ship – from the sprawling Master Suite boasting two bedrooms to the cosy Deluxe Balcony Suite – and I’m occupying a Concierge Suite with a cheerful yellow aesthetic on deck nine.
It’s a delightful space with a tub and shower in the bathroom, walk-in robe, king-sized bed dressed in 1000-thread-count sheets, sitting area with three-seat sofa, a coffee table that swivels for dining when room service arrives, and balcony with two chairs for alfresco resting.
There are seven restaurants dotted around the nine passenger decks including Coffee Connection for daytime snacking, the elegant main dining room Compass Rose, La Veranda where buffet breakfast and lunch is served, and the Pool Grill for casual snacking.
I visit Sette Mari at La Veranda for dinner several times during the trip – La Veranda transforms into a fine-dining restaurant serving Italian every evening – and on days I do an early shore excursion order room-service breakfast to take the rush out of the morning.
I’m on a voyage called Sumptuous French Rivera taking 10 nights to drift from Athens to Monte Carlo via ports around Greece, Italy and France.
The days in Taormina and Amalfi are my favourite and not only because thoughtful shore excursions take me to uncrowded destinations – a Mt Etna winery in Sicily, and Ravello on the Amalfi Coast – but the ship anchors close to shore filling windows with magnificent vistas.
But what’s most impressive about the itinerary is that when fierce weather prevents two port visits Regent Seven Seas Cruises makes alternate plans so we can still see something ashore rather than spending extra time on the deep blue.
When Santorini is cancelled we steam to Crete, and an unscheduled overnight stop on Greece’s biggest island, and when bad weather causes Corsica to be abandoned there’s a bonus day in historic Genoa.
- READ: Regent Seven Seas Cruises takes 200 plant-based dishes to sea
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- READ: Chatting with the first woman to Captain a brand new ship
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