Del Rio strove for timeless luxury with Seven Seas Explorer

|
This floor design in the atrium is an example of some of the intricate marble patterns on Seven Seas Explorer.
This floor design in the atrium is an example of some of the intricate marble patterns on Seven Seas Explorer. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

ABOARD SEVEN SEAS EXPLORER — Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ new Seven Seas Explorer is to be christened on July 13 by the Princess of Monaco in an elaborate nighttime ceremony in Monte Carlo.

The 750-passenger ship is intended to be every bit as upscale as the setting.

Regent challenged the ship’s designers to create the most luxurious cruise ship in the world. For Frank Del Rio, the CEO of Regent’s parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, that concept of luxury was captured in a photo of an anonymous hotel corridor that he shared with the designers at the start of their work.

The photo shows a fairly classical design, mostly white, with a large crystal chandelier.

Luxury on the new Seven Seas Explorer

Del Rio says he doesn’t even know what hotel it was, but that the photo embodied the one quality he was seeking: timelessness.

“I wanted this ship to be timeless,” Del Rio said. “That this vessel will be as relevant to the luxury market 20 years from now as it is today. It’s not a fad, it’s not the color of the day, it’s not the cool thing that’s going around now. This is something that will stand the test of time.”

To that end, Regent spent lavishly on the ship, especially on its materials. “There’s over an acre of marble and an acre of granite here,” Del Rio said.

He said that detailing in the floors and the ceilings is more elaborate than on other ships. “Look at the intricate patterns. Look at how the marble and the granite on the floor is framed by brass profiles,” he said.

Frank Del Rio
Frank Del Rio

Del Rio said a perfect example of what distinguishes Seven Seas Explorer from other luxury vessels is its pool deck where all of the white structural steel has been hidden by decorative screens or cladding or other more aesthetically pleasing materials.

Regent had budgeted $450 million for the ship, but Del Rio said months ago that the ship was over budget. He won’t say by how much.

Some of the money went into show pieces such as a $250,000 custom-built Steinway piano. That’s just one element in an over-the-top, three-bedroom, 4,400-square-foot suite that is perched on top of the bridge.

Del Rio also splurged on art — his hobby and passion. There are art works by Picasso, Chagal and Miro on the ship. When the designers wanted to put an authentic Tibetan prayer wheel at the entrance to Pacific Rim, the new Asian restaurant, Del Rio said go for it, even though casting it in bronze would add thousands of extra pounds of weight to Deck 5. The piece ended up costing $500,000.

There are less tangible signs of luxury. Del Rio’s favorite is space.

“In the restaurants, you’re not huddled,” Del Rio said. “You don’t have the table right next to you right on top of you. There’s space between the tables. Look at the theater. Besides being two stories, you’ve got room to roam. So room is very, very important.”

He said that on most cruise ships with balconies, guests can open the doors, take two steps and be at the balcony railing. On Seven Seas Explorer most of the standard balconies are eight to ten feet deep.

“I wanted to put furniture out there,” Del Rio said.

Food and service are the other two elements of luxury that make Explorer second to none, he said. The chefs directing the fare in Explorer’s main Compass Rose restaurant, its Verandah buffet and its three specialty restaurants make more money than even the ship’s captain, Del Rio said.

And while managers are still ironing out the kinks on a preview cruise, the service is destined to be first rate, Del Rio said.

“What people remember is the service, and so we work very, very hard to have extraordinary service.”

Comments
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI