Regent’s Seven Seas Navigator: Monaco to Athens in sweet style

By Lew Toulmin
This item appears on page 74 of the August 2008 issue.
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by Lew Toulmin

“This suite is sweeeeet!”

The “Seven Seas Navigator” at the pier in Piraeus, Greece. Photos: Toulmin

That was my reaction upon entering our cabin aboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ luxurious and stylish Seven Seas Navigator on a cruise from Monaco to Athens in September 2007.

Frankly, we had never had such wonderful accommodations. Our Navigator Suite (NS) covered an amazing 495 square feet — larger than my first apartment! The separate bedroom (!) had a king-sized bed (!), a wide-screen TV and, out a large, 6-by-6-foot sliding glass door, wonderful views of the sea from a 47-square-foot balcony.

The separate living room had a very large, L-shaped sofa with a built-in sofa bed plus a wide-screen TV, a free mini-bar (!), a shelf of free wine and spirits (!), a dining table for four and a large, 6-by-4-foot window. The walk-in closet was larger than the cabins on some ships and included a safe, seven storage drawers and 12 feet of hanging racks.

The suite’s bathroom was a huge nine by nine feet, with a full Jacuzzi bath, a separate shower, bidet and toilet and marble floors and walls.

Overall, the décor was restful yet luxurious, with light-green walls mottled in white plus Biedermeier-brown cabinets and wall-to-wall carpeting.

View of the must-see village of Oia, on the north end of Santorini, Greece.

Exploring the rest of the ship, it was easy for us to find our way around. The luxurious, all-suite, all-balcony vessel has 12 decks, many decorated with original art. The Seven Seas Lounge holds Broadway-style shows and has good sight lines with few pillars.

There is an excellent ship’s library open 24/7, a Connoisseur Club for cognac or cigars, a casino, a card room, boutiques, a regular dining room and a separate Italian dining room requiring reservations but no extra fees.

Indeed, “no extra fees” is a main theme with Regent Seven Seas Cruises. I hate the feeling of being “nickeled and dimed” for soft drinks and other minor items when on vacation on many cruise lines. Regent, which offers top-of-the-line service, understands this feeling and has taken the remedy to a new level.

The amazing list of items that Regent does not charge for includes a welcome bottle of champagne, four bottles of spirits in your cabin, unlimited mini-bar soft and hard drinks, bottomless soft and hard drinks at bars around the ship, two bottles of quality wine at each meal, a room safe, tips for all staff, a self-service launderette, high-definition DVD movies from the library, and 24/7 room service and butler service.

A remarkable free item in each NS suite is a Bose docking station/speaker system and an iPod with 2,300 preloaded songs. Just bring your own headphones or earbuds if you want to listen privately.

I used the voyage to learn how to use the iPod, and I identified several hundred songs to download onto an iPod when I purchase one someday. (The iPod gives you the name of the song and artist as it plays, so I was able to make a list of many desirable songs for which I had forgotten the names.)

Understandably, a few items still cost extra: shore excursions (ranging from $69 for a guided walking tour up to $1,950 for a tour by helicopter and offroad vehicle), phone calls outside the ship ($6.50 and up, beginning when the call connects), wines in excess of the two bottles per meal, and caviar, cigars and very high-end wines.

The award-winning Seven Seas Navigator is 560 feet long and 81 feet wide, weighs 33,000 tons and carries a maximum of only 490 passengers plus a large crew of 324. This gives the vessel (and her two similar sister ships) some of the highest ratios in the world in terms of square feet per passenger and crew per passenger.

The ship’s 7-day/7-night itinerary was terrific, with the voyage starting in beautiful Monaco. Independently, my wife and I first flew into nearby Nice from Paris and enjoyed several days exploring Nice and the gorgeous towns of the French Riviera. The ship’s other stops were Rome (port of Civitavecchia), Sorrento (for Pompeii) and Naxos/Taormina in Italy; Ephesus (port of Kusadasi) in Turkey, and Santorini and Athens (port of Piraeus), Greece.

• The most surprising port was in Sicily. For some reason I had not expected much, but the town of Taormina was delightful, with wonderful views, picturesque narrow lanes branching off an atmospheric, pedestrianized main shopping street, and terrific gelato shops.

Our all-day, $109-per-person excursion there included a bus ride up the side of imposing Mt. Etna, where we had a terrific 50-mile view across central Sicily. About 2,000 feet below the 10,910-foot summit, we got off the bus at a restaurant and cable car station. The temperature at that altitude had dropped to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, 30 degrees colder than at sea level. It was also quite windy, so, if you go, bring your jacket.

• Arriving in Turkey, we were not sure whether to go on the Ephesus tour, since we had seen the impressive ruins of this town before, but we were very glad we did, for the newly opened Terrace Houses display was absolutely fantastic.

Built up the side of Bulbul Mountain about 200 meters from the famous Library, these are several houses with beautiful mosaics and frescoes. We walked above and through the houses on elevated walkways which yielded a unique, bird’s-eye view into the lives of the inhabitants of 2,000 years ago.

• The fabled island of Santorini exceeded our high expectations, and we were enchanted with the village of Oia (pronounced “ee-oh”) at the northern tip of the island.

Our tour, at only $65 per person, took us to this beautiful blue-and-white village, built right on the edge of the crater rim, with hobbit-like houses and unbelievable views straight down to boats and beaches hundreds of feet below.

Lew Toulmin in the living room of his Navigator Suite aboard the Seven Seas Navigator.

Our fellow passengers on board were well traveled, cosmopolitan and mostly American. Meeting other passengers was easy and relaxed, due to the open-time, open-seating approach in the dining rooms and the “smart casual” or, occasionally, “informal” (blazer or suit and tie) dress codes.

Among the passengers was a British lady who was called up from the audience during a James Bond musical review night. She was the actress who had been painted all in gold in the unforgettable James Bond film “Goldfinger.”

One American passenger looked to us very much like Lee Iacocca, the famous industrialist who revived the Chrysler car brand in the 1980s. We asked the staff about him and were told that no passenger with that name was on board, but as we left the ship we saw a chauffeur standing in the parking lot holding up a large sign saying “Lee Iacocca”!

The Regent brand is part of the Radisson family of companies, all owned by the tourism conglomerate Carlson, a $37-billion firm with over 30 well-known brands (e.g., Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Cruise Holidays, T.G.I. Friday’s, etc.) which traces its corporate ancestry back to 1872.

Carlson is one of the largest privately held firms in the world, employing 190,000 people in 150 countries. The cruise line had been known as Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, but the name was changed in 2006 to reflect the acquisition of the prestigious Regent hotel chain.

No changes in management or personnel were made, but the ships received substantial interior upgrades to reflect the ultraluxury, all-balcony, all-suite Regent approach.

As Jackie Gleason would have said, “How suite it is!”

While we paid for our airfare, shore excursions and transfers, on this cruise my wife and I were guests of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. In 2008, fares for a 7-day voyage similar to the one we took start at a discounted $5,150 per person, including coach airfare between selected U.S. gateway cities and Europe, and range up to $12,195 per person for an NS suite, including business-class airfare.

Contact your travel agent or Regent Seven Seas Cruises (1000 Corporate Dr., Ste. 500, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33334; 877/505-5370, www.rssc.com).

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

by Lew Toulmin

“This suite is sweeeeet!”

The “Seven Seas Navigator” at the pier in Piraeus, Greece. Photos: Toulmin

That was my reaction upon entering our cabin aboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ luxurious and stylish Seven Seas Navigator on a cruise from Monaco to Athens in September 2007.

Frankly, we had never had such wonderful accommodations. Our Navigator Suite (NS) covered an amazing 495 square feet — larger than my first apartment! The separate bedroom (!) had a king-sized bed (!), a wide-screen TV and, out a large, 6-by-6-foot sliding glass door, wonderful views of the sea from a 47-square-foot balcony.

The separate living room had a very large, L-shaped sofa with a built-in sofa bed plus a wide-screen TV, a free mini-bar (!), a shelf of free wine and spirits (!), a dining table for four and a large, 6-by-4-foot window. The walk-in closet was larger than the cabins on some ships and included a safe, seven storage drawers and 12 feet of hanging racks.

The suite’s bathroom was a huge nine by nine feet, with a full Jacuzzi bath, a separate shower, bidet and toilet and marble floors and walls.

Overall, the décor was restful yet luxurious, with light-green walls mottled in white plus Biedermeier-brown cabinets and wall-to-wall carpeting.

View of the must-see village of Oia, on the north end of Santorini, Greece.

Exploring the rest of the ship, it was easy for us to find our way around. The luxurious, all-suite, all-balcony vessel has 12 decks, many decorated with original art. The Seven Seas Lounge holds Broadway-style shows and has good sight lines with few pillars.

There is an excellent ship’s library open 24/7, a Connoisseur Club for cognac or cigars, a casino, a card room, boutiques, a regular dining room and a separate Italian dining room requiring reservations but no extra fees.

Indeed, “no extra fees” is a main theme with Regent Seven Seas Cruises. I hate the feeling of being “nickeled and dimed” for soft drinks and other minor items when on vacation on many cruise lines. Regent, which offers top-of-the-line service, understands this feeling and has taken the remedy to a new level.

The amazing list of items that Regent does not charge for includes a welcome bottle of champagne, four bottles of spirits in your cabin, unlimited mini-bar soft and hard drinks, bottomless soft and hard drinks at bars around the ship, two bottles of quality wine at each meal, a room safe, tips for all staff, a self-service launderette, high-definition DVD movies from the library, and 24/7 room service and butler service.

A remarkable free item in each NS suite is a Bose docking station/speaker system and an iPod with 2,300 preloaded songs. Just bring your own headphones or earbuds if you want to listen privately.

I used the voyage to learn how to use the iPod, and I identified several hundred songs to download onto an iPod when I purchase one someday. (The iPod gives you the name of the song and artist as it plays, so I was able to make a list of many desirable songs for which I had forgotten the names.)

Understandably, a few items still cost extra: shore excursions (ranging from $69 for a guided walking tour up to $1,950 for a tour by helicopter and offroad vehicle), phone calls outside the ship ($6.50 and up, beginning when the call connects), wines in excess of the two bottles per meal, and caviar, cigars and very high-end wines.

The award-winning Seven Seas Navigator is 560 feet long and 81 feet wide, weighs 33,000 tons and carries a maximum of only 490 passengers plus a large crew of 324. This gives the vessel (and her two similar sister ships) some of the highest ratios in the world in terms of square feet per passenger and crew per passenger.

The ship’s 7-day/7-night itinerary was terrific, with the voyage starting in beautiful Monaco. Independently, my wife and I first flew into nearby Nice from Paris and enjoyed several days exploring Nice and the gorgeous towns of the French Riviera. The ship’s other stops were Rome (port of Civitavecchia), Sorrento (for Pompeii) and Naxos/Taormina in Italy; Ephesus (port of Kusadasi) in Turkey, and Santorini and Athens (port of Piraeus), Greece.

• The most surprising port was in Sicily. For some reason I had not expected much, but the town of Taormina was delightful, with wonderful views, picturesque narrow lanes branching off an atmospheric, pedestrianized main shopping street, and terrific gelato shops.

Our all-day, $109-per-person excursion there included a bus ride up the side of imposing Mt. Etna, where we had a terrific 50-mile view across central Sicily. About 2,000 feet below the 10,910-foot summit, we got off the bus at a restaurant and cable car station. The temperature at that altitude had dropped to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, 30 degrees colder than at sea level. It was also quite windy, so, if you go, bring your jacket.

• Arriving in Turkey, we were not sure whether to go on the Ephesus tour, since we had seen the impressive ruins of this town before, but we were very glad we did, for the newly opened Terrace Houses display was absolutely fantastic.

Built up the side of Bulbul Mountain about 200 meters from the famous Library, these are several houses with beautiful mosaics and frescoes. We walked above and through the houses on elevated walkways which yielded a unique, bird’s-eye view into the lives of the inhabitants of 2,000 years ago.

• The fabled island of Santorini exceeded our high expectations, and we were enchanted with the village of Oia (pronounced “ee-oh”) at the northern tip of the island.

Our tour, at only $65 per person, took us to this beautiful blue-and-white village, built right on the edge of the crater rim, with hobbit-like houses and unbelievable views straight down to boats and beaches hundreds of feet below.

Lew Toulmin in the living room of his Navigator Suite aboard the Seven Seas Navigator.

Our fellow passengers on board were well traveled, cosmopolitan and mostly American. Meeting other passengers was easy and relaxed, due to the open-time, open-seating approach in the dining rooms and the “smart casual” or, occasionally, “informal” (blazer or suit and tie) dress codes.

Among the passengers was a British lady who was called up from the audience during a James Bond musical review night. She was the actress who had been painted all in gold in the unforgettable James Bond film “Goldfinger.”

One American passenger looked to us very much like Lee Iacocca, the famous industrialist who revived the Chrysler car brand in the 1980s. We asked the staff about him and were told that no passenger with that name was on board, but as we left the ship we saw a chauffeur standing in the parking lot holding up a large sign saying “Lee Iacocca”!

The Regent brand is part of the Radisson family of companies, all owned by the tourism conglomerate Carlson, a $37-billion firm with over 30 well-known brands (e.g., Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Cruise Holidays, T.G.I. Friday’s, etc.) which traces its corporate ancestry back to 1872.

Carlson is one of the largest privately held firms in the world, employing 190,000 people in 150 countries. The cruise line had been known as Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, but the name was changed in 2006 to reflect the acquisition of the prestigious Regent hotel chain.

No changes in management or personnel were made, but the ships received substantial interior upgrades to reflect the ultraluxury, all-balcony, all-suite Regent approach.

As Jackie Gleason would have said, “How suite it is!”

While we paid for our airfare, shore excursions and transfers, on this cruise my wife and I were guests of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. In 2008, fares for a 7-day voyage similar to the one we took start at a discounted $5,150 per person, including coach airfare between selected U.S. gateway cities and Europe, and range up to $12,195 per person for an NS suite, including business-class airfare.

Contact your travel agent or Regent Seven Seas Cruises (1000 Corporate Dr., Ste. 500, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33334; 877/505-5370, www.rssc.com).