Smooth sailing on Regent Seven Seas Mariner

December 26, 2015 | By | 23 Replies More
Stack on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner

Curvaceous stack on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner

A first-person report on a Mediterranean journey on Regent Seven Seas Mariner… 

On the night of our sail-away from Lisbon on Regent Seven Seas Mariner, my husband and I joined a small group of fellow passengers in an intimate lounge for a “first-timers-to-the-line” orientation. Regent cruise consultant, Brian O’Brien, hosted the get-together over cocktails and led off with a weather forecast, of sorts.

“If you are running into foul weather on a Mediterranean cruise, it means the Captain has taken a wrong turn,” said O’Brien.

Everyone chuckled but his comment was spot-on. During peak season—which runs from May through August—cruisers can usually count on near-perfect weather. Each time we’ve sailed the Med, sunshine has been abundant, temperatures hovered around the 70s and 80s, and cool sea breezes made it appealing to relax on the deck.

Welcome onboard champagne cocktails

Welcome onboard champagne cocktails

Besides sunny skies and slim chances of stormy seas, Mediterranean cruises are popular because of their rich, port-intensive itineraries. On our 10-day Celestial Sojourn itinerary on Mariner, we visited five countries (Portugal, Spain, France, Monaco, and Italy) and different ports each day without having to find and book accommodations, pack and unpack, or worry how we would get from one place to another. Each new destination offered a panoply of foods, people and cultures.

View of the ship from the stern

View of the ship from the stern

Our ship docked at fabled ports like Ibiza, Saint-Tropez, and Monte Carlo. At some stops, we took advantage of pre-arranged city walking tours or more off the beaten path day excursions arranged by the cruise line. Other times, we set out independently to wander and explore.

Port of Monte Carlo

Port of Monte Carlo

Creperie in St. Tropez

Creperie in St. Tropez

We visited the charming White Villages of Andalusia (Pueblos Blancos), small towns (painted white) that dot the southwestern portion of Spain, in a region with the distinction of having coastlines on both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

City Hall in the large square in Arcos, one of the white villages of Andalusia

City Hall in the large square in Arcos, one of the white villages of Andalusia

Another favorite find: Villajoyosa, a small beach town on the Mediterranean in the Spanish province of Alicante that boasts 300 days of sunshine each year. We imagined returning for a week or a summer, and even fantasized buying one of the colorful houses that face the sea.

Colorful houses line the promenade overlooking the beach in Villajoyosa

Colorful houses line the promenade overlooking the beach in Villajoyosa, Alicante, Spain

Altea in Costa Brava, Spain

Altea in Costa Brava, Spain

Alley in Eze, France

Narrow street in Eze, France

Familiar with Barcelona from previous travels, we knew what we wanted to see there. We hailed a taxi to visit Saint Pau, a UNESCO world heritage site with dazzling art nouveau architecture. One of the oldest medical institutions in Europe, the old hospital was once envisioned as a “human kingdom” for impoverished patients. After that, we carved out lunchtime on our own at a new, highly recommended tapas restaurant near La Rambla.

Exterior of San Pau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Barcelona

Exterior of San Pau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Barcelona

Departing from world-class cities like Lisbon and disembarking in Civitavecchia (outside Rome), these itineraries offer Mediterranean cruisers a chance to tack on stimulating pre- and post-cruise visits either on their own or as part of a package. We explored historic Lisbon for three days before our cruise as we simultaneously adjusted to jet lag.

Launched in 2001 as the first all-suite, all-balcony cruise ship, the Mariner shows no signs of aging. In fact, the luxury ship underwent a multimillion-dollar refurbishment in April 2014 that updated the suites, lounges and theater with new furniture, lighting and wall coverings. Our cabin (Suite 1022) was comfortably appointed with a walk-in closet, marble bathroom with stall shower, and spacious veranda from which we could enjoy land and sea views. We especially enjoyed the up-close views of smaller ports that Mariner was able to navigate because of its relatively modest size.

Cabin 1022, a concierge suite on Regent Seven Seas Mariner

Cabin 1022, a concierge suite on Regent Seven Seas Mariner

Sailing on a mid-sized vessel with a maximum capacity of 700 passengers feels right-sized and relaxed. There are no crowds or lines at restaurants, or getting on or off the ship. High staff-to-guest ratios of 1-to-1.5 mean that someone is always around to help or respond to a question, or to carry your plate to the table from the breakfast buffet. Your cabin soon begins to feel like home (with the exception of the decadent twice a day cabin service by stealthy stewards whom you never see).

Newly refurbished pool deck on Regent Seven Seas Mariner

Newly refurbished pool deck on Regent Seven Seas Mariner

Stage set in the Constellation Theater on Regent Seven Seas Mariner

Stage set in the Constellation Theater on Regent Seven Seas Mariner

The onboard ambiance was convivial and easy-going, too. We soon began to recognize other guests first by face and then by name. An old-fashioned come-as-you-are “block party’ with wine and hors d’oeuvres in the hallways at the beginning of the cruise offered us the chance to become fast friends with our immediate neighbors.

The four primary dinner venues (a reservations-only steak house, French restaurant, Italian restaurant and the open-seating main dining room) offered flexible dining options each evening. Given the rich culinary heritage of Europe and the Mediterranean, we loved the addition of local “destination dishes” on each menu. These included foods or recipes tied to the ports we visited, like the tender dorade we enjoyed in Cadiz.

Compass Rose, main dining room on Regent Seven Seas Mariner

Compass Rose, main dining room on Regent Seven Seas Mariner

Deconstructed lobster entree

Deconstructed lobster entree

Chocolate souffle with vanilla sauce

Chocolate souffle with vanilla sauce

Although many luxury lines are moving in the same direction, Regent remains one of the most all-inclusive cruise lines. Fares include: round-trip air, transfers between airports and the ship, unlimited shore excursions, onboard enrichment programs, access to specialty restaurants, 24-hour room service, unlimited beverage that include many premium spirits and fine wines, some free Wi-Fi (which will become unlimited on Mariner in May 2016) and prepaid gratuities.

Unless you’re a gambler or compulsive shopper hitting the casino and boutiques, the only additional charges you might incur would be for treatments at Canyon Ranch SpaClub or fees for certain bespoke “Regent Choice” shore excursions that offer special access for limited numbers of guests.

It’s nice to know the estimated cost of a vacation before you leave home rather than feel like you’re being nickel-and-dimed afterwards. If we have any misgivings, it’s that we felt as if we’ve only skimmed the surface of these destinations. On the upside, Mediterranean cruises like this one leave an afterglow that lures you to return—to stay longer and dig deeper.


IF YOU GO:

Regent Seven Seas Mediterranean Cruises

Disclosure: Our cruise was hosted by Regent Seven Seas but any opinions expressed in this post are our own.


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Comments (23)

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  1. Janice Chung says:

    Something to be said for sailing on a smaller ship. Eventually I’ll get to Lisbon and maybe a cruise would be the way. I’ve only done one in the Mediterranean but doing one in Europe would be so much fun! Love how there’s free Wifi and a Cayon Ranch spa.

  2. Carol Colborn says:

    You touched on the 2 things I don’t like about cruises: you barely see the destinations and lack of good wifi. But then you touched on the 2 best things: good food and no packing/unpacking!

  3. Shelley says:

    The size and all-inclusiveness of the Regent cruise really appeals to me. Even though you only get a taste of each port, you can return for a longer stay to the places you enjoyed the most.

  4. Michele Peterson says:

    I too enjoyed the experience of small ship sailing this summer and share your thoughts about the advantages of not having to pack/unpack as well as the opportunity to sample a destination and return for a more in-depth visit at a later date. There is also less of an impact on the port and destination from a smaller ship. The Regent Seven Seas Mariner looks like a great choice.

  5. I loved reading the account of your adventures! Such a lovely ship, exciting itinerary and your food looks amazing!!

  6. The Regent Seven Seas Mariner sounds like the perfect size for a cruise in the Mediterranean! I’ve never taken a cruise, but the more I read about them the more attractive they sound. I’d get frustrated, I fear, about the short time in each port, though.

  7. Donna Janke says:

    Your cruise on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner sounds wonderful. The size of the ship sounds perfect. I like that that so much is included in the price and that the menu includes food tied to the ports of call.

  8. Sue Reddel says:

    The Seven Sea Mariner sounds like a wonderful experience. I like the idea of less people and bigger accommodations on the ship. The ports of call were particularly attractive on our cruise. Looks like Regent is a cruise line to check out.

  9. Now having my first river cruise experience (which I LOVED), I can certainly see a Mediterranean cruise in my future. I like how this Regent cruise is “right-sized” — sounds perfect. And what an itinerary! Visited Lisbon for the first time this month and can’t wait to go back, even if just for a couple of days.

  10. OH my goodness! Yes please! i love the idea of the smaller ship and the list of ports were perfection. I can’t believe how comfortable your room was and not too small. Lucky you!

  11. What a wonderful cruise you had! It’s nice to have all shore excursions, tips and wines included. Regent Seven Seas has a great rep :-).

  12. Karen Warren says:

    I think small or medium ships are definitely the best way to take a cruise – easier to get to know staff and fellow passengers. I like the idea of visiting several Mediterranean countries at once, you really get a flavour of the area.

  13. Patti Morrow says:

    The Regent sounds like a great cruise — I love those ports. The photo of Port of Monte Carlo was so iconic and beautiful.

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