Luxury cruise retailers last week welcomed the news that Regent Seven Seas Cruises was ordering a fourth ship for its fleet.
The newbuild, the Seven Seas Explorer, is slated to enter service in summer of 2016 as an all-suite, all-balcony ship. It will be Regent’s largest vessel, carrying 738 passengers.
“I think it is spectacular,” said Amber Blecker, a CruiseOne luxury cruise specialist based in Aurora, Colo. “It’s good that they have managed their growth, and I believe they’re doing this at the right time.”
Blecker predicted Regent will have “an amazing week when they open bookings for this new ship. Regent passengers are extremely loyal. This line has a fresh, younger, country club feel, and guests appreciate that. They will be extraordinarily excited about this ship.”
The Seven Seas Explorer will have 369 suites, ranging from 300 to 1,500 square feet; six open-seating gourmet restaurants; a nine-deck atrium; the two-story Explorer Theater; three boutiques; and a Canyon Ranch SpaClub.
“Those are the amenities that today’s luxury client is looking for,” Blecker said.
Bill Smith, Virtuoso’s vice president of cruise sales and exclusive product, said he fired off a congratulatory email to Regent executives as soon as he heard the news.
“Regent is Virtuoso’s largest cruise partner,” Smith said. “The timing is good, and we know we can sell it. Luxury is on a upward curve, and this is very positive news for the cruise industry.”
Linda Cherwin Gow, a luxury adviser with Posh Travel Ltd. in Greenland, N.H., a Virtuoso agency, agreed, observing, “I believe that the market can well absorb another luxury vessel, particularly one with Regent’s standards of excellence and all-inclusive value. I’m looking forward to another Regent luxury cruise ship to offer my clients.”
The line hasn’t introduced a new ship since the 708-passenger Seven Seas Voyager entered service in 2003.
Regent also operates the 708-passenger Seven Seas Mariner, which entered service in 2001. Like the newbuild, both are all-suite, all-balcony ships. The line’s 490-passenger Seven Seas Navigator debuted in 1999. It is an all-suite vessel, but not all staterooms have balconies.
The Seven Seas Explorer, at 54,000 gross registered tons, is to be constructed by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri at a cost of about $450 million. It will increase Regent’s passenger capacity by 40%.
Kunal Kamlani, president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, said the new ship order was part of the company’s disciplined growth strategy.
“After [Prestige Cruise Holdings] bought Regent in 2008 we wanted to be sure that the existing fleet sailed full consistently, with increasing yields,” he said in an email. “We have achieved that with an all-inclusive value proposition that is unmatched in the market. Additionally, our guests and travel agent partners have asked for a greater array of itineraries, and this order will allow us to deliver.”
Kamlani said that specifics about the newbuild’s personalized services and high guest-to-staff ratio would be revealed soon.
Frank Del Rio, chairman and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings (Regent’s parent company), provided some details about Seven Seas Explorer in a company statement.
Its design, he said, will set a new standard in luxury cruising with “an upscale yet timeless design, extreme use of exotic stones and polished woods, designer furniture, rich fabrics and sophisticated lighting, combined with what promises to be a museum-quality, eclectic art collection.”
The cruise industry currently has no other luxury ships on order, although Seabourn said earlier this year it planned to place an order sometime in 2013.
Seabourn added the Seabourn Odyssey in 2009, the Seabourn Sojourn in 2010 and the Seabourn Quest in 2011.
Windstar Cruises is in the process of buying Seabourn’s three oldest vessels, the Seabourn Pride, Spirit and Legend.
Oceania Cruises in 2012 introduced the Oceania Riviera, which is considered an upper-premium ship. Silversea Cruises, another luxury line, introduced a new ship, the 450-passenger Silver Spirit, in 2010.