Whenever mention is made of the world's most luxurious and sophisticated cruise ships, the venerable vessels of the Regent Seven Seas fleet figure prominently. And deservedly so. Among them is Voyager, commissioned in 2003 and fully refurbished in 2016, with a more-than-comfortable capacity of 700 passengers and 447 attentive crew and, of course, the full scope of palatial facilities and indulgences.
No corner of the world is surely better suited to cruising than the Mediterranean with Regent Seven Seas Voyager's itinerary on this cruise from Athens to Rome encompassing visits to stellar locations like Mykonos, Ephesus, Taormina, Corfu, the Amalfi Coast and Istanbul, which only in the last year began welcoming cruise ships again after a spate of heinous incidents.
Cruise ships have always been described as floating hotels but it's only in relatively recent times that they've really started to act and look like them. The ship's last refurbishment four or so years ago channelled many five-star hotel interior design techniques along with an attractive soft colour palette. Voyager's facilities and spaces flow from the mandatory spectacular. light-drenched atrium space teamed with glass-fronted lifts. Off the atrium, a favourite place to relax aboard is the library housing a large selection of books that can be borrowed or read in situ in leather armchairs, and a variety of the world's leading English-language newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Times, all carefully printed out and stapled for your reading pleasure.
One of the abiding attractions of cruising is that while you may visit multiple ports, your bed remains the same for the duration of the voyage with a reunion with your suitcase not required until the penultimate day. My luxurious 33-square metre deluxe verandah cabin, nay, suite - one of Regent Seven Seas Voyager's 350 all-balcony cabins - is a refuge after the almost daily, energetic shore excursions on this rather action-packed voyage. The television includes almost every channel you'd find on the set in a five-star hotel room, including a well-curated selection of current and classic films. Elsewhere, the suite's walk-in wardrobe is nearly as spacious as the well-appointed hotel-style bathroom.
What with calling on so many destinations with reputations for outstanding cuisine, the ship's food and beverage outlets have some stiff onshore competition. But Voyager's dining options, while a little on the conservative side, are equal to the challenge. Its restaurants, sans celebrity chefs, include the sophisticated Chartreuse, offering contemporary French-fare served in a slightly formal style, and the more relaxed Prime Seven, a classic Stateside-style steakhouse that's an obvious nod to the ship's predominantly American clientele. Elsewhere, there's Sette Mari, an Italian restaurant that at night replaces the breakfast and lunch-minded La Veranda diner with a more eclectic menu as well as the larger and slightly more formal Compass Rose. Australians will be pleased to discover there's on-board café serving half-decent, espresso-style coffee around the clock and a good option for a lighter breakfast should you feel inclined to skip the bulging buffet at La Veranda.
It's possible to divide modern-day cruisers roughly into two categories: those who cruise for the ship and those who cruise for the destinations it visits. While this cruise has just one day at sea with other days filled with port visits around the Mediterranean, it also suits the former type of cruiser thanks to the fact that your home each night is a five-star-plus floating hotel. Pop yourself down at the Observation Lounge, one of the most sophisticated venues on a sophisticated, gimmick-free ship, with a gold, black and white palette. It's the ideal spot for not only a pre-dinner drink accompanied by an onboard musician who takes requests but also for some of the best ocean views from the ship.
Regent Seven Seas Voyager is a perfect ship for the discerning cruise-lover and perhaps even for the cruise sceptic as well. Intentionally low-key in style, it offers sophistication and luxury with a strong emphasis on what's to be discovered ashore as much as the fulsome offering aboard.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers multiple Mediterranean sailings, ranging from seven to 40 nights and visiting a wide range of ports. Fares for Regent Seven Seas Mediterranean itineraries start from $4755 per person twin share in a deluxe veranda suite. See rssc.com
Anthony Dennis travelled as a guest of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE
Four and a half out of five
AS SEDUCTIVE AS THE SHIP IS, IT'S HARD TO SURPASS THE SPECTACULAR PORT OF CALLS ON THE ITINERARY
A COUPLE OF THE MED SHORE EXCURSIONS DON'T QUITE MEASURE UP TO THEIR PRINTED DESCRIPTIONS.