RSSC’s Mariner

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Clients might be tempted to take up residence in the suite, what with the inviting decor and romantic art, beckoning balcony, big bathroom with tub, DVD player, and just-installed interactive TV system that summons an abundance of movies at a touch. But other pleasures await.

Among highlights is the French-born Carita Spa, situated on deck 7 with revitalizing treatments for both men and women. Also on deck 7: the casino, a fitness center, and a duty-free boutique. On deck 11 is the pool, with the Pool Grill and La Veranda handily nearby. It’s the setting for such tasty events as a Caribbean barbecue back-dropped by live music beneath the stars.

By day, passengers might dive into a dance class, an arts-and-crafts session, or an art auction. At tea time, Horizon Lounge is the place to be for warm scones crowned with whipped cream; come evening, it’s action central for dancing. For wee-hour partying after nightly entertainment in the Constellation Theater, cruisers head to the Stars Disco.

Hallmarks of RSSC are the distinguished speakers who are always aboard to present enrichment lectures, and the line’s Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Workshop. Led by a visiting French chef, the series of cooking classes is only a portion of a week of activities that include a galley tour, dinner with the chef, and a graduation party ($499 pp).

Says company spokesman Andrew Poulton, “Guests appreciate that our ships are never crowded and that there’s never a line for anything. Also, they like not being nickel-and-dimed aboard since gratuities, soft drinks and premium wines and spirits are included in the fare.”

Poulton points out that Regent Seven Seas is becoming even more inclusive with the offer of free shore excursions on 35 sailings this year. “In 2010, the addition of a selection of complimentary shore excursions will become part of our permanent brand standard,” he notes, “which means higher commissions for agents. This is a huge plus for an agency that sells a lot of cruises and it can make a substantial difference in the profitability of selling a luxury cruise.”

Some examples of complimentary shore excursions offered on Alaska and Asia-Pacific voyages this year: a full-day tour to Hanoi from Hong Gai, Vietnam; a Klondike zipline tour or a ride on the White Pass Scenic Railroad in Skagway, Alaska; a Maori cultural experience in Wellington, New Zealand; and an off-road adventure in Bora Bora, French Polynesia.

Cruise fares begin at $3,995 pp dbl. Poulton suggests that agents check out the website’s “travel agent center” for details of special offers and promotions, to order brochures and download images, and to personalize e-postcards.

Lucky travelers who continued on the first segment of Mariner’s Ring of Fire World Cruise sailed from the Caribbean (stopping at St. Barths, Dominica and Barbados) to Brazil, lingering at Fortaleza, Salvador de Bahia and Rio de Janeiro, and debarking at Buenos Aires. Still luckier were the passengers—89 strong—who went along for the full World Cruise, striking out for Asia, the South Pacific, and Alaska.