Planning A Regent Seven Seas Cruise? What To Know

by Beth Graham

True confession: I’m not a big fan of mega cruises, (you might remember how much fun I had on a 24-person schooner) but in my never-ending quest to check more countries off of my “been there” list, I let friends convince me to accompany them on a South American cruise aboard a Regent Seven Seas cruise. Chile (Patagonia to be specific) was the only South American country I had visited so the opportunity to pop into Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina and check three more countries off my list was enticing. 

(Caveat: I didn’t take great photos on this trip as I wasn’t planning to write about it. Mea culpa. Lesson learned.)

Since we were going to be on a larger ship, the Seven Seas Voyager with 700 other guests, we opted to upgrade to a Penthouse Suite off the back of the boat. Bottle service, a butler, and a large balcony were perks of the deal and boy did they make the trip extra special. 

On our Regent Seven Seas cruise, we would be sailing out of Rio de Janeiro and since I’m a diva flyer, I always finagle my way into a business class lie-flat seat for long overnight flights. But these post-pandemic airfares are killing me!  We opted for premium economy on American Airlines, our preferred airline (I don’t know why anymore as in the words of Drew Carey on Whose Line is it Anyway, “Points don’t matter”, but I digress).  The food was good, the seats are slightly wider with only two at the window, but as a stomach-sleeper, they didn’t recline enough for me to get comfortable. Plus, I ate a gummy before takeoff and drank a glass of wine – bad idea!

But we made it to Rio. Just in time for a deluge of rain. We met up with our friends for a blustery, but caipirinha-fueled sunset sail, the perfect way to ease into a new city after a rather long, sleepless, gummy-disrupted night. The following morning, we did a whirlwind 4-hour personal tour just to see the highlights like the Selaron Steps and Christ the Redeemer (well, we saw his lower half thanks to the fog). So I can check Rio off my “been there, done that, won’t be going back” list. 

We boarded the ship mid-day and were pleasantly surprised upon arriving to our cabin. It was unlike any other stateroom I’ve ever had the pleasure or displeasure of staying in.  It was spacious, with a sitting area and walk-in closet but by far, the most surprising and welcome feature? A bathtub! On a cruise ship! 

Our friends were in the adjacent cabin and our balconies almost connected – we may or may not have slipped underneath the divider on occasion to share cocktail concoctions. As we unpacked, our butler arrived to give us our room briefing. Stock the fridge with our favorite beverages, check. Bring us a canapé snack at 5pm daily, yes please. Do our laundry daily, ummm, okay!  We sent him off with our first request – scavenge for the makings for Old Fashioneds – we needed simple syrup, Luxardo cherries, and fresh oranges. Voila! Within 30-minutes, he arrived back with our provisions. I think I’m gonna like it here!

Then, it was time to explore the ship. It had the usual bars, lounges, fitness center, pool deck, and restaurants, but I will say they were definitely a bit more elevated. And although there were close to 700 guests on board, I never once felt crowded. (The day at sea, lounge chairs were hard to score as people “reserved” them in the morning with a book and sunhat and then disappeared for hours. If airlines have ‘gate lice’, these are the equivalent on a cruise ship.)

I will say the food on board was quite good. There was an extensive selection of menu items for dinner, something to please every palate. Despite my “Eat less meat” mantra for 2024, I did indulge in everything from veal to beef to chicken. The food was always fresh and well prepared. Breakfast was the usual buffet with plenty of options as well, although there was an elusive smoothie bar I never found (it was NOT near the croissants, I can tell you that!).  Lunch options were suitable as well from the burger bar on the pool deck to buffet options indoors. Two nights, we dined at the reservations-only restaurants, one a steakhouse and the other a French restaurant. They were both exceptional!  As the couple who eat dinner sitting on the couch watching Jeopardy, it was nice to be forced to get dressed up every night. My favorite part of the day? Returning to our room at night and enjoying a digestivo on our balcony as we sailed off into the dark. 

Our first port was Ilha Grande, a tiny, pristine island south of Rio. We opted out of a morning tour (we’re lazy like that) and tendered in for an afternoon snorkeling trip. The island itself was charming with a beachfront of little shops and restaurants. The snorkeling trip was, shall I say, more like a pirate boat, only we were held captive instead of your usual pirate-themed-booze-cruise. It was three hours of incredibly boring sailing to a snorkeling destination that we could only laughingly refer to as the dirty lake. I’m surprised there were any living creatures in those waters. We all agreed it was three hours of our life that we’d never get back. Truth be told, I had read that the excursions on this ship were not so great, and being the introvert girl who likes to hang back on the ship when everyone else goes ashore, I was fine with it. 

Our next port was Santos, where I became fascinated with port operations. It wasn’t the beautiful tropical port I had become accustomed to, but I was fine to lounge on my balcony while my OCD mind watched the symphonic movement of containers and cranes. We made an additional stop at yet another industrial port, Itajai, where we opted, once again, to stay onboard and enjoy a less-crowded ship.

Finally, our port in Montevideo, Uruguay offered something that was of interest to us – wine tasting! We ventured an hour inland to a winery where the wine did not disappoint. In our classic wine travel style, we bought bottles that we had to figure out how to get home since we normally only pack carryons (we opted to check one bag, filled with wine and olive oil, for the trip home).

Our final stop, Buenos Aires was actually the highlight of the trip for me. We took a day tour our first day there that gave us a great positive vibe of the city. The tour included a trip down the Tigres River where residents, islanders, are cut off from daily conveniences and rely on daily or weekly boats to deliver things like groceries, water, gas, medical care, and even a veterinarian. I could get used to that!

We boarded the ship for our last night and enjoyed a pool deck party that was festive and celebratory – where were all of these people all week? They were vivacious, and fun, and dancing. We often felt like we were the ones closing down the bars at 10:30pm having an after-dinner drink. 

I had booked a food tour our final day in Buenos Aires because I really wanted to experience the meat culture (yeah, yeah, remind me of my Less Meat resolution).  Our flight did not depart until 1am the next morning so we needed a place to stash our bags for the day, nap, and shower before boarding our flight. We had planned to tough it out for the day and freshen up at the airport lounge but last minute, I found these adorable, quite cheap, apartments in the San Telmo district.  This proved to be a brilliant decision as we were in the most adorable, walkable neighborhood and it was the perfect way to spend our last day in Buenos Aires. This city, I WILL return to and explore in more depth. 

All in all, it was a really positive experience on Regent. The ship was beautiful (despite reviews I had read saying it was in need of refurbishment), our rooms was incredibly spacious, our butler was amazing, and two of the ports were great fun. Again, I’m not a huge fan of these large ships so we’ll see if I opt for another. 

We’re setting sail again in a few weeks, this time in the Mediterranean on a much smaller ship, the Windstar Wind Spirit, with only 148 guests. As always, I’ll share my experience with you!

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