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Credit: Regent Seven Seas/Harriet Mallinson

Regent Seven Seas Splendor review: What’s six-star luxury cruise ship really like?

Author: Harriet Mallinson

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Regent Seven Seas Splendor is one of the most luxurious cruise ships in the world. We joined her first cruise back post-pandemic to review how the newest Regent ship earned the title.

When your laundered underwear is returned to you folded and wrapped in pristine tissue paper sealed with a gold sticker and presented in a large black box like a sumptuous gift, you know you're sailing with the very best.

It's gestures such as these that I’m sure win Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which provides one of the most inclusive ultra-luxury cruise experiences, its six stars.

The stars are certainly in my eyes as I board Seven Seas Splendor following a very efficient Covid testing process at the terminal. Everywhere I look is gleaming marble and gold, bold and colourful paintings (there's $6mllion of original art onboard) and extravagant chandeliers worthy of a royal palace. It's gorgeous and I can’t help but think my emotions must be akin to Leonardo Di Caprio's character Jack’s upon first boarding the Titanic...

- READ MORE: Regent Seven Seas Cruises celebrates world's most luxurious fleet's return to sea -

No steerage for me though, I'm staying in a Penthouse Suite on Splendor and I quickly fall in love with the spacious room. Not only are we greeted with petit fours and Champagne but there are his n' her sinks and L'Occitane and Guerlain toiletries in the roomy marble bathroom, the bed is enormous, oh-so-comfortable and faced by a huge television and the balcony is vast. There's room for two sun loungers and a table and chairs - perfect for enjoying room-service breakfast or a drink - as well as an astounding view.

Unpacking has never been easier thanks to the roomy walk-in wardrobe with copious hangers, and both ironing and laundry are included in the price of your cruise. I find myself idly wondering if there's a sewing kit somewhere and laugh at myself - of course there is. Regent has thought of everything. There's even a box filled with small essentials such a face wipes, stain remover and under-eye masks.

Most impressive is the butler we are furnished with for the cruise. My finger has barely touched the 'ring for Jeeves' phone button (is what I would call it) than a smartly dressed man arrives at my door as if by magic to take note of any needs and requirements.

RSS Splendor Penthouse suite bathroom
Splendor: There are his n' her sinks and L'Occitane and Guerlain toiletries in the roomy marble bathroom. Credit: Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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The burning desire du jour, given the amazing weather, however, is to head straight to the pool. The pool deck features a bar, the Pool Grill buffet restaurant and an array of sunbeds, ranging from standard loungers to circular cabanas.

The swimming pool itself is not overly large but it's gloriously blue under the azure sky and the two jacuzzis are the optimum place to relax surrounded by bubbles (why not go one step further and have a glass of bubbly in there with you too?). Waiters circulate constantly so you will never go thirsty, although you may need to exercise some self-control when it comes to accepting your fourth cocktail in one hour as I find to my detriment...

Talking of exercise, don't miss the various sporty pastimes offered by the top deck. I enjoy a lovely game of tennis up there - never has the background to my rallying looked so good and it's surprisingly peaceful.

There's also mini golf, shuffleboard and table tennis available to name a few. Of course, if you really want to work up a sweat and burn off the piña coladas, head to the enormous gym in the spa. There are fitness classes, too, if you don't fancy slogging at a machine.

Regent Seven Seas Splendor pool deck
Splendor: The pool deck features a bar, the Pool Grill buffet restaurant and an array of sunbeds. Credit: Regent Seven Seas

Unfortunately, for this cruiser's waistline, it's my jaw and stomach that get the greatest workout during the trip. There are three speciality restaurants onboard plus three other eateries - and I feel obliged to visit them all.

I visit French restaurant Chartreuse on my first night and am rewarded with a spectacular view of the sunset and a receding Southampton as we set sail, glass of champagne in hand. We enjoy the creamy and wholesome lobster bisque before tucking into hor d'oeuvres of succulent and delicate steak tartare and a rich soufflé of decadent, pillowy, cheesy goodness.

For mains I savour the duck breast served with succulent and tangy candied Morello cherries and salty, crunchy asparagus while my companion goes for the well-presented Dover sole which proves a nice blend of crispy exterior and tender interior.

The cheese course with its minuscule potions and absence of chutney is not quite so impressive but the tawny port is delicious and well paired by the sommelier.

Regent Seven Seas Chartreuse restaurant
Splendor: French restaurant Chartreuse serves up delicious food and gorgeous views. Credit: Regent Seven Seas

As Regent is all-inclusive, the wine is all, well, included, but the wine list for those who want to splash out extra is much more expansive. In fact, some parties regularly order bottles of wine over £2,000, our waiter tells me. To make you feel like you're really getting bang for your buck, some of these are served in what first looks like Excalibur but is actually a giant glass pipette! And to think I’ve been previously impressed by mere decanters…

Prime 7 is the restaurant for meat lovers and specialises in steak. The seared diver scallops are a juicy and rich appetiser while the surf and turf and featured prime steaks ae delicious.

The standout dish for me, however, is the potato gratin side. I ordered one and then another, and, if I hadn't been so afraid of judgement, I confess I would have ordered three. To add to the gluttony, I rounded the meal off with the elaborate Caramel Popcorn Sundae filled with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, dark chocolate sauce, Bourbon caramel, whipped cream and salted peanuts. Your inner child will love you for this one.

- READ MORE: Cruise dining, food & drink guide -

Asian fusion Pacific Rim is the third of the speciality restaurants. It's here I note with admiration that allergies pointed out to our butler two days previously have been duly observed, with dishes manually asterisked as allergen-free. The starters are the most impressive here, with the sushi platter particularly tasty (not to mention vibrantly aesthetically pleasing) along with the duck spring rolls.

For mains we sample the chicken curry and Pad Thai before finishing with a mango mochi that comes complete with its own tiny silver cloche which the waitress removes with a flourish. Of course, the most dramatic element of Pacific Rim is its entranceway which boasts a floor-to-ceiling, gigantic serpentine golden dragon; and if you don't pose for a photograph with your neck in its jaws, did you even go there?

There's plenty to keep guests occupied after dinner. Constellations Theater features a different show each night, ranging from stand-up comedy to all-out musicals. One night is western-themed high-tempo Crossroads, packed with admirable energetic all-singing, all-dancing crowd-pleasing numbers and more costume changes than a Taylor Swift concert. It’s brilliant to have such fabulous entertainment just a short walk from dinner and a mere lift-ride away from bed.

Pacific rim dragon 2 min
Splendor: Pacific Rim's entranceway boasts a floor-to-ceiling, gigantic serpentine golden dragon. Credit: Regent Seven Seas

Alternatively, head to the casino where all the classic games await. I'm told some cruisers have won as much as £50,000 at blackjack in the past - I can only assume they rewarded themselves with an enormous pipette of wine.

The Meridian Lounge is the place for cocktails, whether before or after dinner, and has a buzzing atmosphere, even if limited dancing must be done at a distance and with face masks.

I start by ordering the Cinco de Mayo cocktail on the recommendation of Regent's head honcho of food and drink and receive a warning from the waitress about its strength. She's not lying - the mezcal serves up a strong punch but the sweetness of the pineapple and freshness of the basil balance it out. Another favourite is the whisky-based Pepper Jack which comes with a real thwack of jalapeños. It's not for the faint-hearted but if you like a drink with a kick to it, it's just the ticket.

- READ MORE: What to expect on luxury cruise ships -

If you need to sweat out the booze or simply want to take unwinding to the next level, then do head to the spa. It's enormous and hugely relaxing. Mornings and evenings are the quietest times to visit as are afternoons at port when other guests are out on shore excursions. Top tip: If you fancy a treatment during at-sea days, do get your reservation booked in advance as spots can fill up rapidly.

I treat myself to a full body massage, the line's signature treatment, and somehow end up totally naked under a sheet with warm, furry gloves and booties strapped to my creamed-up hands and feet as though participating in some bizarre X-rated ritual. The reality, needless to say, is nothing of the kind and I leave feeling thoroughly pampered, the masseuse having thoroughly dealt with my knots and aches.

Later I plump for a facial and inadvertently end up in a biology lesson as my therapist quizzes me on my routine, peers at my face and informs me "it's not ideal" before drawing diagrams of the epidermis and instructing me to invest in a toner before I end up looking like Robert Redford. There's no denying her expertise, though, and she tweaks the treatment according to my skin and age before lathering me with a myriad Elemis products from masks to cleansers, leaving me feeling tremendously soft on the outside and soothed on the inside. There's also an eye treatment that somehow uses oxygen to plump things up but blow me if I understand how.

Cocktails spa
Splendor: The cocktails in Meridian Lounge are delightful - as it the decor of the ship's spa (right). Credit: Harriet Mallinson

A steam room and sauna can also be found in the spa - perfect for detoxing - and I'm thrilled to discover an infinity pool at the back of the ship, too. When Splendor sails in such hot climes as the Caribbean, the views from there must be quite heavenly.

On the topic of cleanliness, it’s worth pointing out that Regent is very big on fighting the spread of Covid at the moment and guests are required to wear face masks throughout the ship, socially distance and regularly slather on hand sanitiser which some cruisers might find tedious and frustrating although others might consider this reassuring. As with most cruise lines, Regent will adapt its measures in line with local Government’s rules and restrictions, so these strict restrictions may well be in place for quite some time.

I cannot wrap up without singing the praises of a more unlikely part of the ship – the library. I wholeheartedly advise against clogging up your luggage with books as you can find all manner of great reads in this cosy room, complete with armchairs and comfy nooks. Whether you’re after a thriller, a romance or a biography, the library has it all and it’s the perfect place to chill out and have some quiet time.

In short, no matter what sort of cruiser you are, the opulent Regent Seven Seas Splendor probably has what you need - a maritime room of requirement, if you will. As the ultimate luxury escape, it’s the perfect antidote to being cooped up behind the same four bland walls during the pandemic.

I still need to find some toner though.

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