Regent Seven Seas Cruises is in its first year as the renamed and rebranded cruise line once known as Radisson Seven Seas.

The most obvious difference to returning passengers would be that the line decided to include most alcoholic beverages in its cruise prices this year, joining the ranks of Silversea, Seabourn and SeaDream Yacht Club.

The move leaves Crystal as the only luxury cruise line to charge separately for alcohol.

Explaining the change in policy, Regent President Mark Conroy said that he had noticed that on earlier itineraries on which liquor was included in rates, such as Regent's world cruises, passengers were more social and got out of their suites and into public areas more. 

On a recent Caribbean sailing on the Seven Seas Mariner, veteran Regent guests concurred. The new policy made the ship seem livelier, they said.

"There are far more people having pre-dinner cocktails now," said one guest who had cruised several times with Regent. "It's nice because you might talk to someone at the bar and then decide to have dinner together."

A woman from England traveling with her husband remarked that while she didn't mind paying for the drinks separately, her experience was heightened by not having to think about it.

"You don't have to think about having your card and signing the bill or who's picking up the bill," she said from a poolside lounge chair.

Of course, some guests felt that because they didn't drink much or at all, they shouldn't have to pay a higher cruise price.

Ship employees said the new policy did not result in passengers drinking more alcoholic beverages. On this sailing, crowds were generally sparse at the lounges and bars at night.

But according to Regent, consumption of alcohol on its ships has increased 15% to 20%, depending on itinerary, since the implementation of the new policy.

One passenger habit has changed: A cruise officer noted that before the policy shift, guests would take their glasses with them to bars and lounges after dinner because wine always came free with the meal. Now, they leave them behind, half full.

People seem to be drinking more coffee, too. The Seven Seas Mariner went in for a makeover last March and came out with a new coffee bar on Deck 6.

The area was so popular during the cruise that it was hard to imagine the ship didn't have it before.

The spring refurbishment also included an upgrade to all the Seven Seas Mariner staterooms, which were outfitted with new carpeting, bed linens, duvets, cashmere throws and bath amenities.

To contact reporter Johanna Jainchill, send e-mail to [email protected].

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