The last introductory sailing of a major cruise ship was for Regent Seven Seas' Regent Splendor on a sailing out of Miami, from Feb. 21 to 25.
Two travel advisors reflected on that cruise, which was then one of many they'd planned to attend in 2020. At the time, they had no idea it would be the last sailing they'd take before the pandemic caused the global cruise shutdown less than one month later.
Alex Sharpe, CEO, Signature Travel Network
It was February 2020, and I was a guest aboard Regent Splendor for its christening. I had been looking forward to this event for over a year, and Regent never disappoints. I started in this business working for Radisson Seven Seas and was there for the building of several ships, the rebranding to Regent Seven Seas and ultimately the sale to Apollo. It is where I grew up, and I take such great pride in all they have accomplished.
From the invitations, to the entertainment lineup and, of course, the spectacular ship itself, there was so much to take in and celebrate. Like every cruise, it also is the people onboard that make it memorable. This was no exception, with so many of our Signature members onboard along with other great agency owners, top advisors and the Regent team. The christening was a black-tie affair with Christie Brinkley serving as godmother and Seal as headline entertainer, all of which made this an absolute night to remember.
None of us knew this was going to be the last real industry event for the next nine months (we are still hoping to have our Owners Meeting in early December!). I don't think anyone took this night for granted, because we all cherish these types of "pinch me" moments. But looking back now, that cruise is all the more significant as we celebrated our optimism for a very bright 2020, with no hint of what was coming in a few short weeks as Covid would pause our entire industry for many months.
As we fight through this crazy pandemic, I often think back to that one night. I think about our partners who create such wonderful products for our guests and in that process create a wonderful annuity for our advisors. I try never to take anything for granted, realizing we could be experiencing the time of our lives one minute and fighting for our industry the next. I think about my colleagues and their collective brilliance and know that we will get through this and be stronger for having done so. And I dream for the day that our cruise ships will once again be sailing the open waters and making memories for thousands and thousands of families like mine.
From left, Linda Litteken, Keene Luxury Travel; Regent Splendor Capt. Serena Melani; and Susan Walsh, Keene Luxury Travel, during the sailing in late February. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Susan Walsh
Susan Walsh, executive vice president, Keene Luxury Travel in Dallas
I was fortunate to sail on the Regent Seven Seas Splendor christening cruise roundtrip out of Miami. It was amazing to be able to reconnect with Regent senior management and so many travel professionals as well as be part of welcoming this stunning ship to sailing. Everyone looked amazing at the black-tie ceremony with the beautiful Christie Brinkley as godmother while listening to the incredible voice of Seal. The ship, food and service were like none other. What luxury and pampering!
I would like to be on one of the first cruises out of the U.S. to be able to experience new protocols required to share with my guests. The biggest negative about the current situation has been missing people interaction. Can't wait to start cruising again! Meeting new people and sharing new travel experiences. What a treat to relax and be pampered onboard with excellent dining, live entertainment, and a wonderful crew!
The two areas I am most interested in returning to are Antarctica and French Polynesia. French Polynesia is receiving guests, and I hope to sail there in November of this year on the Paul Gauguin. I received my scuba diving certification on the Paul Gauguin a number of years ago and want to take my son, who also is a diver, to enjoy this incredible cruise.