By: Mary Ann Strasheim
The most luxurious ship in the world! Regent Seven Seas Explorer Inaugural sailing, July 7 – 12, 2016 Barcelona to Monte Carlo Imagine my surprise and excitement last spring when I received a call from Jerod Evans, my Director of Sales and Marketing for Regent Seven Seas, inviting me (and a guest) to sail on the new Regent Explorer in its inaugural sailing in July!
I had been hearing about this ship for over a year and to think I would be able to experience it first hand was indeed an honor. Jerod also told me I was the only agent invited in Nebraska! With anticipation, my husband, Jerry and I looked forward to the big week!
Our journey began on Tuesday morning, July 5, 2016, when we were picked up by Old Market Limo for our transfer to the airport. Our flight plans were on Delta and we would be changing planes in Atlanta for a nonstop flight to Barcelona. We choose to leave in the morning and have a longer layover in Atlanta ‘just in case’ there would be any delays. As we began our decent into Atlanta, we began circling and the captain told us there was ‘weather’ in Atlanta and delays. There were 75 planes in a holding pattern. Soon the captain came back on and said we were running out of fuel and had to divert to Knoxville to refuel! I figured we still have time to make the 5:35 PM connection so did not worry. Long story short, we refueled, landed in Atlanta, found out the airport had been closed for over an hour and ALL flights were delayed or cancelled. Our incoming connection had been diverted to Charleston so was not scheduled to depart for Barcelona until 9 PM. Needless to say, it was a relief, but a long wait.
Fortunately, we were able to use the Sky Club so we were comfortable. Our flight to Barcelona was uneventful and with the lie flat seats in Business Class, I was able to get five hours of sleep. Of course, we were very late arriving, but our driver was waiting and we were off to the hotel for one night.
We spent one night at the Hotel Arts Barcelona and it was beautiful! It is a new and iconic hotel right on the Mediterranean. While waiting for our room we had a delicious lunch on the terrace and then got settled in our room overlooking the city and Gaudi’s fabulous La Sagrada Familia.
We had toured this landmark a few years ago, so spent our day enjoying the hotel and recovering from our long flight. That evening we had dinner at the pool grill and enjoyed the delicious Spanish dish, paella. Upon checking out of the hotel at noon, we went directly to the pier where we were given ‘boarding cards’ and seated in the lounge with the other agents waiting for boarding to begin. We ran into many friends from our Ensemble Travel Group who had also been invited to sail on the inaugural sailing by their territory BDMs too. Soon we were off and quickly onboard the ship. What a beauty! This all suite ship has numerous categories of accommodations and we were in a Penthouse C on the ninth deck. I had ordered a ‘scooter’ for Jerry so he could get around the ship easily and it was there waiting for us. We had a living room and separate bedroom plus a huge veranda where we enjoyed breakfast every morning. We were mid ship so the location was perfect.
An overview of my day includes: site inspections of all the suite categories (including the Regent Suite that is magnificent!), a town hall meeting with Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Jason Montague, President & COO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Randall Soy, EVP Sales & Marketing of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, a private meeting with Jerod, our host and BDM, special lunch and dinner arrangements at each of the alternative restaurants and the main dining room, the Compass Rose, the evening entertainment in the Constellation Theater, a private tour of the Canyon Ranch Spa, a special tour of the recently refurbished Regent Navigator that was docked in Toulon, France the day we were there, optional shore excursions at every port, and the numerous encounters and parties with the Ensemble Travel Group friends onboard. To try to describe the ship will be repeating the adjectives; beautiful, luxurious, quality, magnificent, and attention to detail, in almost every sentence. It was like being in a fine home, a 6 * boutique hotel, or a luxury European villa. The marble, the chandeliers, the art work, the wall coverings, the carpet and furnishings, were all the finest you could imagine. In addition, the service was outstanding. Although the staff and crew were all new to this ship, they worked together like a precision team. All new ships now tout their ‘alternative’ restaurants. Nothing can compare to what we experienced on this ship; the Pacific Rim, Chartreuse, Prime 7, Sette Mari and the Pool Grill. Not only was each restaurant unique and representing a different cuisine, but the décor was so outstanding that it enhanced your meal too. And the food in every dining venue was over the top. To experience this on a new ship is also unique! I took numerous photos of the suites I toured and also some on the shore excursion in Sardinia and St Tropez. I invite you to view them (they are obviously amateur shots), but encourage you to contact me and I will be happy to send you a brochure that includes professional photos as well as the itineraries that you can take this year and next. And, please visit the Regent website where you can find out even more about the Regent Explorer. http://www.rssc.com.
I would love to answer any questions about the ship and all the wonderful things you can do on her, the upcoming itineraries and anything else you would like to know. Please feel free to contact me anytime! And thank you Jerod for such a wonderful invitation! It is an experience we are grateful for and will never forget.