Day @ Sea: Regent’s Seven Seas Splendor

I lean over the teak railing, my plush robe cosseting me from the brisk and salty morning air. Cobalt water, the color of my daughter’s newborn eyes, stretches for miles. That blue, an unforgettable untainted hue that I witnessed just once. Yet here, the color magically reappears, flowing and then vanishing, into the horizon. Gazing at the ocean, I exhale as if I’ve been holding my breath for, well, a long time. Such is a sea day aboard Seven Seas Splendor, where serendipitous moments like this unfold hour upon hour.

Although abundant lures beckon beyond my suite door, I feel little urge to venture far. Not with a large private balcony, more than 100 square feet, with oversized, deeply cushioned chairs whispering “settle in, daydream” to the chorus of waves.

A concierge suite proves perfect. With an interior measuring a luxurious 332 square feet, it’s just beneath the mid-level of 10 categories on this all-suite ship. The king-sized bed seems fit for a king, with a statement leather headboard, suggesting someone important sleeps beneath it. I brew a foamy espresso in my illy machine, sink into the plush couch, pull the cashmere blanket over my lap, and contemplate my next move. Check out the dinner menus or watch a movie on my flat-screen TV? Take a spa bath in the full-size tub, all the better to marvel at the two sinks and separate rainfall-style shower in my roomy bathroom? Mostly, I just want to bask in the surrounding beauty — the finest marble and granite, the softest fabrics, in shades ranging from cream and gold to deep brown.

Regent Seven Seas Seven Seas Splendor

Photo: Regent Seven Seas

Still, more beauty beckons beyond my suite door. An ultra-luxury ship, Seven Seas Splendor mimics a floating museum, with a $5 million art collection created by more than 200 artists. After slipping on a sundress in my — love this — walk-in closet, I embark on a self-guided art tour. I revel in Pablo Picasso, like the lithograph Le Taureau Noir (“The Black Bull”) in Prime 7 Steakhouse. I ogle Duncan McClellan’s fiery-red handblown glass sculpture that expresses both fragility and strength in the Observation Lounge. I fight off a neck ache gaping at some 500 crystal chandeliers — the Atrium stunner, with 358 handblown Bohemian-crystal glass rods, seems so Buckingham Palace. Basking in masterpieces solo is a pinch-myself moment.

Seven Seas Splendor may carry 750 passengers, but its spaciousness allows you to feel as if half as many are on board. I never wait in any line, not for a Constellation Theater performance, a dirty martini by the pool, nor even Deck 12’s bocce court. The most inclusive of all luxury lines, Regent Seven Seas Cruises charges only for spa treatments, excellent hands-on Culinary Arts Kitchen cooking classes taught by chefs, premium shore excursions, cigars, and boutique purchases. Everything else — including most tours — is included.

Luxury Legacy

Consider Seven Seas Splendor the follow-up to Seven Seas Explorer, launched back in 2016 as the most luxurious ship at sea. Similarities — an acre-plus of Italian marble, art collection, sumptuous suites, stellar restaurants, and fancy spa — are apparent.

Yet, luxury can’t be cloned or its value diminishes. So Regent spent more on Splendor, and its design  — its vibe — skews differently. Two new interior design houses subtly tweaked the ship, particularly in the biggest suites. I peek inside a few, and pray my drooling is only figurative.

The Splendor and Seven Seas Suites possess cool Art Deco accents; I love the flower-shaped coffee tables. The 4,443-square-foot Regent Suite — the most lavish imaginable — is peerless. What to gawk at first? The handmade $200,000 mohair, horsehair, and cotton bed? (Seven Seas Explorer’s cost a paltry $150,000.) That sassy hot tub on a palatial patio? For me, it’s Picasso’s Notre Dame de Vie hung on a wall. Imagine having a Picasso all to yourself! The striking glass shower in the master bath, built so guests feel like they’re bathing suspended over the ocean, is another fantastical sight.

Shared Cruising

With Splendor including complimentary cocktails, finding camaraderie at bars and lounges proves a snap. The Pool Bar delivers those playful daytime drinks, and come nightfall, I meander between the Splendor and Meridian Lounges. Both feature live music and buzz pre- and post-dinner. Still I prefer the latter; its friendly mixologists devise creative craft cocktails using fresh herbs and local fruits.

On a sea day afternoon, I gravitate to the Observation Lounge, with its artsy take on an English garden. The floor-to-ceiling bow views override my obsession with a Harlan Coben thriller plucked from the library. It falls to my lap as I lose myself watching the waves. 

It’s always the water, isn’t it? Like most cruisers, no matter what I do and where I go, the ocean takes center stage. Even at mealtime, and I’m a diehard foodie.

Compass Rose’s sumptuous Sunday brunch proves the one exception. Forget the ocean, I can’t stop staring at the copious displays — one prettier than the next — of dishes. Lucky me, this sea day falls on Sunday, so there’s time to indulge.

First up, freshly made blinis, piled high with caviar to order. Shellfish — heaps of lobster, giant crab legs, and plump shrimp — proves a notable draw. At the sushi counter, glistening sashimi is fashioned into lines as uniform as rows of Marines. Nearby, a chef wielding a big knife cuts thick slices of rosy prime rib, then generously spoons au jus until it pools on passenger plates.

The day’s hardest decision is where to go for dinner. I adore the ahi tuna and avocado tower, and take-me-back-to-childhood caramel popcorn sundae at Prime 7 steakhouse. The crazy-good chicken and foie gras gyoza and duck spring rolls at Pacific Rim also prove addictive.

Tonight, I’m off to Chartreuse, the fancy French restaurant awash in marble and gold. I even know what I’m ordering: Balik smoked salmon (considered the world’s finest) with blinis, and 72-hour sous-vide cooked beef ribs with seared foie gras. Then again, maybe I want seared Barbary duck breast with candied morello cherries as an entree. Talk about a delicious dilemma!

Active Relaxation

Such fine dining requires long workouts. Tackling a Technogym strength machine in the spotless fitness center is a must. Sweeping ocean views and plenty of personal space make it easy to push towards my goals.

Seven Seas Splendor Photo: Regent Seven Seas

I’ve slated a sea lavender and samphire body polish in Serene Spa & Wellness — what is a sea day without self-pampering? I nearly float off the table at treatment end, and book an organic English rose facial for the next seafaring day. Then I lounge by the adjacent infinity pool, where those in spa-induced comas come to revive themselves long enough to remember their suite numbers.

Later, I push open the casino glass doors. The place is rocking. Blackjack players, intensely watching the croupier, sharply tap the table for cards. The slots play their melodic jingle-jangle as passengers try their luck. Sauntering to the roulette table, I bet on 27 and watch the wheel stop on 35. I shrug and decide to recoup my luck back on my veranda.

Pondering the sea from my precious abode feels much like scoring 21s and 777s nonstop.

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Janice Wald Henderson is a Los Angeles–based food and travel journalist who writes regularly for Brides magazine and online for Epicurious and Gourmet Live. She is also the culinary editor for CruiseMates, the author of two cookbooks, and has appeared in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Cooking Light, German Vogue, and both the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times syndicates.