Regent Seven Seas Explorer transatlantic

By Philip Shart
This item appears on page 26 of the January 2020 issue.

On a transatlantic cruise aboard the Seven Seas Explorer, I sailed from Miami to Lisbon, Portugal, stopping at a few islands along the way, March 25-April 8, 2019. Including business-class airfare (Lisbon-Miami via London), trip insurance, shore tours and tips, the price of my trip, traveling as a single with Regent Seven Seas Cruises (Miami, FL; 844/205-8890,, was $12,398.

The ship sailed from Miami and after two days at sea arrived at Bermuda, where we spent two days. The first day, I took the shore tour of the main island. We had to battle gale-force winds to get to the buses. Public-transport buses are what were used, so people in wheelchairs were not able to take this tour.

We saw the famous pink sands at John Smith’s Bay Beach, drove over the Somerset Bridge (smallest working drawbridge in the world) and saw Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, the world’s oldest cast-iron lighthouse. 

Because of the high winds, local entertainers were not able to come on board to perform that evening. The winds continued through the next day, along with strong pelting rain. All tours were canceled.

The next four days were sea days. Because of strong winds and heavy seas, the balconies were of no use. However, the ship provided us with two activities that I had never experienced on any of the 60 cruises I’d previously taken.

Rarely does one get to know the people in the neighboring cabins unless they arrive at their doors at the same time. Well, the Block Party solved this.

We were told to each come out of our cabins at 6 p.m. with an empty glass in hand. As we stood in the companionway meeting our neighbors, stewards circulated with wine and hors d’oeuvres. The captain and some of his officers also toured the decks.

For the second mixer, the atrium was turned into a “country fair.” All departments set up booths with free games, and the winners received tickets that could be exchanged for small souvenirs.

On most ships, singles gather the first night and maybe have a breakfast together. That’s it. On this cruise, a social-event hostess was in the lounge each night to welcome singles, and every morning at breakfast there was a table set aside for singles.

At our next port of call, we visited Horta and Ponta Delgada, located on Faial and São Miguel, respectively, two of the nine main volcanic islands that form the Portuguese-owned Azores archipelago.

The weather there is subtropical and can change within hours. The islands have oceanside bluffs, boiling springs and lush tropical vegetation, with a patchwork of fields in every imaginable shade of green. At times, I thought I was in Ireland!

One location sticks out in my mind: two lakes at Sete Cidades in Ponta Delgada. One lake looks blue (Lagoa Azul) and the other, green (Lagoa Verde). A legend says the lakes were created from the tears of a young princess and her young shepherd lover when they were forced to part. The lakes represent the colors of their eyes.

After a sea day, we arrived in Funchal, Madeira. Madeira, the Garden Island, lies off the west coast of North Africa and has a subtropical climate. The mountains, lush valleys, beaches and gardens were a kaleidoscope of color.

While ashore, I visited the colorful Mercado dos Lavradores, where many vendors wore traditional Madeiran dress. The island is famous for beautiful linens, fantastic embroideries, wine and wicker goods.

A cable car took us to Monte, where we had a wonderful view of the island and rode toboggans. (In the 1850s, 2-seater sleds gliding on wood runners were the primary means of downhill transportation.) Two men with ropes controlled the toboggan’s speed as I bumped along the winding streets’ cobblestones for about a mile.

This was my third time on a Monte toboggan, my last ride having been in November 2018 (Oct. ’19, pg. 24). It’s fun and exhilarating; as you make a turn, it’s like The Whip at the fairground.

After we reached the bottom, at Livramento, it was off to Belmond Reid’s Palace. While taking in the gardens and views of the sea from Reid’s, you can sip tea, eat sandwiches and enjoy Madeira’s famous bolo de mel (honey cake).

We had another day at sea before reaching Lisbon. I had been there several times, so I headed directly to the airport for my flight home.

Sailing with Regent was a delight. The food was wonderful, the service was great, and the staff was friendly and helpful.

Tamarac, FL