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We embarked on our journey on the Regent Seven Seas Explorer with a distinct mission: to see how many crystals half a million dollars will buy.

So immediately over the gangplank, we headed straight to the lobby for a peek at the ship’s legendary chandelier.

As with everything on this opulent new ship—which has been billed as the world’s most luxurious—the Swarovski masterpiece exemplified quality, not quantity, and was truly a sight to behold. Shaped like an upside-down bell and extending a full story high, its thousands of crystals cast an almost sepia tone upon the lobby. An artistic matte gold staircase curved perfectly around it, and around that on the lobby above, Art Deco–style white leather furniture was perfectly placed on Italian marble floors inlaid with intricate designs. A musical trio played softly, unobtrusively, in the atrium.

The chandelier was just the first delight in a weekend full of them. There was the fine art, chosen by hand by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. president and CEO Frank Del Rio. The ship feels almost like a floating museum, complete with a Chagall, a pair of Picassos and dozens of other pieces—many bold and abstract, some that he found in Cuba (where he was born) during a family vacation. A 2-ton Tibetan prayer wheel at the entrance to Pacific Rim, the Asian-fusion restaurant, not only cost a half-million dollars to acquire but required that the floor be reinforced in order to display it.

There was also the blown glass, with lit walls of vases on display, Lalique and Murano, and glass light fixtures crafted in Italy—surely a piece for every taste. Completing the picture were the floral displays, elegant calla lilies, picture-perfect roses, a sweet, little orchid greeting us in our cabin. The Explorer is a painstakingly curated collection of all things beautiful.

“The ship feels more like a luxury hotel than a cruise ship,” says Damian McCabe, CTC, CEO of McCabe World Travel. “The fabrics and finishes are very high-end, which is not something you typically see on a lot of ships.”

“Best Bathrooms on the Water”
In line with its mission of ultimate luxury, the Explorer’s restaurants are exceptional, from the French Art Deco Chartreuse to the elegant Compass Rose, the main dining room, where sea-blue Chihuly-esque glass light fixtures meet beveled mirrors and guests dine on specially designed Versace china. McCabe describes the culinary choices as impressive. “Regent has stepped up their game incredibly when it comes to food. The quality of ingredients and specialty items (such as the beef tartare) and the quality of the steaks was extraordinary.”

In the cabins, she was impressed by the spaciousness of the walk-in closets and what she referred to as “the best bathrooms I’ve seen on the water.” Both are ideal for the many longer European itineraries planned for Explorer in 2017—some stretching more than 20 days.

With a variety of sizes among the 375 all-balcony suites, “there really is something for everyone,” she adds. “Even the least-expensive cabin was very spacious, and some cabins had a possibility for a third person with a pull-out sofa.”

The Explorer’s suites have been a topic of discussion since the ship was christened this past summer in Monaco. A sneak peek at the Regent Suite, the largest in the line (and second largest at sea), revealed sumptuous furnishings throughout, a $250,000 Steinway Arabesque piano in the living room, a bed with a $150,000 price tag (that is not a typo), and its own spa with sauna, steam room and jacuzzi. For relaxing afterwards, side-by-side chaise lounges made entirely of heated tiles faced out over the sea.

Regent Seven Seas Atrium.
Regent Seven Seas Atrium.

The Regent Difference
Regent CEO Jason Montague outlined the differences between his line and others to our group one morning, explaining what he referred to as its “value proposition.”

It’s critical, he says, to realize that although the price point is high, it’s because of all it includes (roundtrip air, unlimited shore excursions, pre-night hotel package, WiFi and much more). “If you group all that together, Regent is a comparable product in the suite market.” And with more staff, more space and a greater variety of cuisine, “We surpass the other products.”

McCabe agrees, seeing the Explorer as an option for “any luxury client generally 45 or older. The Business Class air deal and the pre-night hotel is a wonderful value. Yes, it’s super high-end, but it’s more inclusive than any other line.

“Regent has a very loyal clientele, and they haven’t introduced a new ship in many years,” she adds. “This is such a unique offering. They really did it right.”

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