When Regent Seven Seas Cruises turns 25 next year, Randall Soy, executive vice president for sales and marketing, will be one of the few employees who has been with the company since the beginning.
"Obviously, it's a special time for the brand," said Regent CEO Jason Montague. "We're all fortunate at the Regent family to have Randall, who happened to be here for every single day of those 25 years."
Soy had been selling advertising to travel providers in Toronto when he joined the company, a merger of two single-ship lines.
Seven Seas Cruises contributed its vessel, the Song of Flower, and the company behind the Radisson hotel chain brought its Radisson Diamond to what was originally named Radisson Seven Seas Cruises.
The executive who hired Soy was co-president Stein Kruse, who is now CEO of Holland America Group. "It really started off as a temp job," Soy said. "I started on the passenger-services side working with a lot of agent partners, and that's really where I made my mark."
Soy has fond memories of the 180-passenger Song of Flower, which now sails for Quark Expeditions. "Just thinking about the Song of Flower brings a smile to my face. For me, that's where it all began. There was a soul in the staff onboard that resonates through today."
The line's other ship, the 350-passenger Radisson Diamond was perhaps the only cruise ship to use a twin-hull catamaran design. "I had never seen anything like that before or since," Soy said. The platform was incredibly stable, but a lack of speed limited itineraries.
By 1999, Regent was ready for a new ship. It built the 490-passenger Seven Seas Navigator on a hull acquired from the Soviet Navy, which had intended for it to serve as a submarine-tracking vessel.
In short order, two 700-passenger newbuilds followed: the Seven Seas Mariner in 2001 and the Seven Seas Voyager in 2003. Their signature feature was an all-balcony design, the first ships to be so equipped.
The line's other hallmark has been including liquor, tips, shore excursions and other amenities that most cruise lines charge extra for, an idea that Soy said came from the Carlson family, who owned the line, as well as former company president Mark Conroy, who departed in 2013.
"It was a formula we started back then that we just keep improving upon," Soy said.
After 13 years without a newbuild, Regent this year debuted the 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer, made possible in part through the financial muscle of new parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings under CEO Frank Del Rio.
Soy said standing dockside at the christening of the luxury ship was a high point of his career at Regent. To celebrate its silver anniversary, Regent will offer special promotions to consumers and travel agents, as well as 25 commemorative voyages.
"We're working on a video, with not only crew and staff, but some of our guests," Montague said.
As a small-ship luxury line, Regent couldn't have survived over the years without strong ties to travel agents," Montague said. "They've been critical to our success since the very beginning, which Randall can attest to."