Poll: Crystal, Regent, Seabourn deemed world’s best

Three ultra-luxury cruise lines — Crystal, Regent and Seabourn — have been voted as the world’s best. Regent Seven Seas Mariner is pictured here in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.
Images courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

Luxury cruise ship operators Crystal, Regent and Seabourn have been voted as the world’s best cruise lines.

Crystal and Regent tied for number one in the “large-ship” category in the 2010 Condé Nast Traveler readers’ poll while Seabourn was named best in the “small ship’’ category.

Considered among the travel industry’s most coveted honors, the magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards celebrate the best-of-the-best cruise lines, hotels, airlines, cities, rental car companies and islands.

Travelers evaluated cruise lines on their Itineraries and Shore Excursions, Accommodations, Food/Dining, Crew/Service, Design/Layout and Activities/Facilities to determine the overall score. Complete results appear in the magazine’s November edition.

Crystal, soon to celebrate its 20th Anniversary, shares the number one billing with a competitor for the first time in over a decade-and-a-half yet still holds the distinction of having won the award more than any other cruise line, hotel or resort in the magazine’s poll history. 

Renowned for their service, space, quality and choices Crystal’s two stylish ships, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, are recognized for innovative partnerships with Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Piero Selvaggio, stimulating Creative Learning Institute and Computer [email protected], Feng Shui-designed spa, and a myriad of culinary, cultural and fitness-oriented enrichment. In 2011, Crystal will introduce Perfect Choice dining featuring flexible open dining times, by reservation, and two seating choices. Itineraries of seven to 100+ days are available throughout the world.

Regent, meanwhile, the world’s only cruise line to include airfare, all-suite accommodations, acclaimed cuisine, open bars, sightseeing excursions, gratuities and taxes as part of the overall cruise fare, features a three-ship, all-suite luxury fleet carrying 490 to 700 guests to ports in Australia, Europe, Asia, Alaska and the Caribbean. Facilities include several bars, a show lounge, intimate casino, library, Internet center, card room, outdoor pool, hot tubs and Canyon Ranch SpaClub. Depending on the ship, guests can choose from up to four, open-seating gourmet restaurants, including Prime 7, the line’s new steakhouse.

Seabourn Odyssey docked on Grand Turk Island, Turks & Caicos.
The 2010 Readers’ Choice award comes as Seabourn is in the midst of a three-year, three-yacht expansion of its small ship fleet, which has included the launch of Seabourn Odyssey in June 2009 and Seabourn Sojourn in June 2010. The new Seabourn Quest is scheduled to depart on its maiden voyage from Barcelona, Spain, on June 20, 2011. The expanded fleet has enabled Seabourn to increase its capacity in the most popular destinations, such as the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, while adding new, exotic ports of call around the world, including Indonesia and the South Pacific. 

More than 26,000 subscribers voted in the 2010 survey. 

On the web: www.crystalcruises.com, www.rssc.com, www.seabourn.com

Crystal Serenity pictured off the coast of Taormina, Sicily.

Regent expands free air and shore excursions offers

rengent-logoEarlier today, Regent Seven Seas Cruises announced they are expanding their free air, two-for-one savings and free unlimited shore excursions packages for the remainder of the year. Cruise fares on 38 voyages in 2009 have been lowered, while the number of cruises now featuring Free Unlimited Shore Excursions has increased from 35 to 58. There are now 36 departures that feature a combination of all three special offers. Continue reading “Regent expands free air and shore excursions offers”

Regent unveils ‘Dinner and a Show’ concept

The 700-passenger Regent Seven Seas Mariner is shown departing on her world cruise from Fort Lauderdale last month. Photo by Michael Coleman
The 700-passenger Regent Seven Seas Mariner is shown departing on her world cruise from Fort Lauderdale last month. Photo by Michael Coleman

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has introduced a new entertainment concept, “Dinner and a Show”, aboard its 700-guest, all-suite, all-balcony vessels Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner. The evening’s entertainment, consisting of a gourmet meal in one of the line’s exclusive alternative dining venues followed by an intimate cabaret-style performance in an elegant lounge, has already proved a hit during the recent introduction aboard both ships as they operate their respective world cruises. Continue reading “Regent unveils ‘Dinner and a Show’ concept”

Cruise Guide: Regent adds Antarctica voyages

By Mike Coleman

Culinary improvements aboard three tall sailing ships and new, luxurious voyages to the White Continent highlight news this week from the global cruise industry. 

Star Clippers has unveiled new menus aboard the Star Clipper (170 guests), Star Flyer (170 guests) and flagship Royal Clipper (227 guests), thanks to the assistance of culinary advisor and three-star Michelin chef Jean-Marie Meulien.

The menu transformation features a selection of starters, entrees and desserts, featuring more local dishes and ingredients based on the ships’ itineraries.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises, meanwhile, has added four new Antarctica cruises in late 2007 and early 2008, due to what company officials are calling overwhelming demand. Guests will enjoy all the White Continent has to offer amid the comfort of the world’s top-rated expedition cruise ship, Explorer II. Previous Regent itineraries to Antarctica have already sold out.

Star Dining

In an effort to cater to an international clientele, the Star Clippers transformation now features a two-week menu cycle. Summer itineraries in the Mediterranean are reflected in a large selection of French and Italian dishes, while menus for winter sailings in Asia, French Polynesia and the Caribbean switch to highlight local fare.

“We’ve worked for the past two years to evolve our cuisine while remembering that we serve guests from around the world, with different tastes,” said Bernd Schroter, director of hotel operations for Star Clippers.
“Chef Meulien has taken our menus to a higher level, and we know that both returning and first-time guests are going to enjoy the selections as much as we’ve enjoyed creating them,” said Schroter.

Meulien, whose recent cookbook, Flavors of the Mediterranean, can be found in kitchens across the globe, is onboard twice a year to conduct week-long training programs with each ship’s culinary staff.

Regent Explorations

Guests yearning to explore the largely unknown continent of Antarctica, can now choose from four new Regent departure dates – Nov. 8 and 24, and Dec. 20, 2007, and Feb. 25, 2008. Each of the 16-night cruises will depart from the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia, Argentina.

Explorer II will then cross the Atlantic to the wildlife-rich shores of the Falkland Islands, where guests can explore the photogenic British outpost of Port Stanley, followed by the dramatic glacial coastline of the South Shetland Islands and the mountainous peaks of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Guests will also be among the few to ever set foot on Antarctica and explore, weather permitting. The cruises are scheduled to take place during Antarctica’s spring and summer seasons, which bring milder temperatures, longer days and unrivaled wildlife viewing, including the famous shoreline gatherings of thousands of penguins.

The presence of Explorer II’s team of naturalists, historians, marine biologists, geologists and ornithologists will add immeasurably to the voyage. An onboard enrichment program, hosted by a professional photographer, will include group discussions and tips on how best to capture wildlife sightings with a camera.

Explorer II features polished brass and wood interiors, with all ocean-view suites and staterooms, two open-seating restaurants, a full-service health club and a salon.

Cruise Guide: From Radisson to Regent: Line changes course

By Mike Coleman

It seemed only a matter of time before a luxurious cruise line aligned itself with an equally prominent, global hotel partner. And that’s exactly what happened earlier this year when Radisson Seven Seas Cruises became Regent Seven Seas Cruises. 

The merger was orchestrated by the Carlson Companies, a world-wide leader in hospitality services, encompassing more than 1,780 hotel, resort, restaurant and cruise ship operations in 82 countries.

“When the cruise line was formed in 1992, it was an extension of the existing Radisson brand,” said Sophie Vlessing, vice president of guest strategy and marketing for Regent cruises and hotels. “As the cruise line distinguished itself in the luxury segment, the branding no longer aligned. It was time to move the brand to a different level and we decided to align with another luxury brand in the Carlson portfolio, Regent International hotels.”

Regent has inherited a fleet of four medium-sized luxury cruise vessels – the 700-guest Seven Seas Mariner, the world’s first all-suite, all-balcony ship; her sister ship, the Seven Seas Voyager; the all-suite, 490-guest Seven Seas Navigator; and the intimate, 19,200-ton Paul Gauguin, based year-round in Tahiti and French Polynesia.

The new look, however, is more than just a name and a few cosmetic twists. The possibilities are endless for Regent to now combine seamless luxurious travel opportunities on land – and at sea – for its well-traveled, sophisticated clientele.

Onboard, look for a host of new enhancements, including furniture upgrades in all suites and public areas; new luxury Anichini bedding, including linens, comforters, throws and pillows; new luxury towels, bathrobes and Regent bathroom amenities; iPod players with Bose speakers in butler suites; clocks and flat-screen televisions, plus Wi-Fi and cell phone service fleet-wide.
The line also features top-shelf enrichment programming. The Regent “Circles of Interest” program links both ship and shore-side guest activities via 10 common themes on select sailings: from food and wine; performing arts; photography; history, archaeology and literature; the environment and marine life; antiques, jewelry and shopping to active exploration and wellness; art design and museums; families and friends and romance.

The pampering does not stop there. Regent has even partnered with Travel + Leisure magazine to provide guests with “Insider Lists,” featuring the magazine’s picks for the must-see attractions in select locations, including lesser-known spots and local favorites. The concierge team, in keeping with the brand’s philosophy, can also personalize guests’ experiences by creating customized itineraries.

Once onboard, however, guests simply soak up the line’s elegant splendor. Mariner, launched in March 2001, at 50,000 tons, accommodates her guests in oceanview suites from 301 to 2,002 sq. ft., with private balconies. She boasts the first Le Cordon Bleu restaurant at sea and four single, open-seating dining venues. Voyager, which debuted in 2003, features the largest lead-in suites at sea: 356-square feet including balcony plus four palate-pleasing dining venues.

The 33,000-ton Navigator features all ocean-view suites (90 percent with private balconies), and fine dining options. The Paul Gauguin features all ocean-view staterooms – 50 with private balconies – a casual dress code and cuisine inspired by a two-star Michelin French chef.

Regent’s all-inclusive fares include shipboard gratuities, all non-alcoholic beverages, wine with dinner and an in-suite bar set-up. Look for seven to 11-night sailings in 2007 to some 300 ports on seven continents.