Friday, November 30, 2018

Cheating on Silversea with Seven Seas Mariner

I read somewhere that comparing Seven Seas Regent with Silversea is like comparing lobster with filet mignon, so it was appropriate that my meal today on board Seven Seas Mariner included both dishes - well, a lobster starter and an Angus beef steak, which is pretty good going for a Friday lunch, I reckon. Regular readers 😃 will remember that I have done a number of Silversea cruises (SIX! I've done SIX!), the most recent a few months ago in Norway, and the most memorable last Christmas in Antarctica - so I was very interested to see how one of Regent's upper-end ships compared.
It helped that the Mariner was moored near the obscenely long and high Golden Princess, so from the start it looked appealingly intimate and Silversea-like, despite catering for 700 passengers (compared with Silver Spirit's 540, for example). It's recently been refurbished and is impressively elegant inside, with quantities of shiny marble, sparkly chandeliers, soft chairs, modern abstract artworks, pleasingly curvaceous staircases and a classy muted colour scheme. We, a contingent of travel agents and a trio of media people, spent an hour and a half trailing over the ship, visiting one of every type of suite (it's an all-suite ship though, like Silversea, its 'veranda suite' is really just one room, with a curtain to divide the bed from the sitting area). 
My general impression is that it's just like Silversea, except roomier, especially the upper-end suites, which are remarkably spacious, some of them even with private conservatory-style deck areas. The furnishings were all 6-star, the bathrooms supplied with l'Occitane toiletries and the walk-in wardrobes with a challenging number of clothes hangers (formal nights, incidentally, are much less formal than Silversea's). The staff were prepping the suites for a new complement of passengers, and the ice buckets were already out with the welcome bottle of champagne in them. 
There were rows of loungers beside the pool, each with a rolled-up towel on it - Eddie, the Cruise Director, was at pains to point out how preferable that is to the free-for-all that takes place on the bigger ships. Even on the sunniest days, there's always room, he said. We saw the gym and the spa (yawn, x2) and all of the restaurants and snack bars, some of them a bit boudoir-like for my tastes, but others ruinously (to the waist line) inviting. The theatre is big and has a cast of twelve - there's plenty of music and dancing around the ship in the various bars and lounges. I especially liked the library, even if its quietly crackling video fireplace was slightly hokey.
As far as pricing goes, Regent is more expensive (gasp! I suppose) than Silversea, but that does include more stuff, like all restaurants, shore excursions, wifi, airfares, transfers and pre-cruise hotels. Not all of that applies to all passengers, though; plus, you only get a butler in the more expensive suites, and if you're in a veranda suite you're only supplied (proper gasp!) beer in your minibar. Nevertheless, Eddie was quite emphatic about the joy of being able to have a properly indulgent 90-day cruise and at the end of it have a bill of zero dollars - *cough* on top of your original fare, that is.
Then we went to the Compass Rose restaurant for our reward, a lunch of the afore-mentioned lobster, then really nice soup, super-tender if perhaps slightly under-flavoured beef with a yummy mushroom vol au vent, followed by an intensely-chocolatey mousse thing and yummy little petits fours. As well as excellent wine, natch. It was all eminently acceptable. Thank you, Regent. I'd come back again, any time. Er, sorry, Silversea.

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