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Cruise Ship Review

Seven Seas Voyagerfont color=#C81D00 - Inclusive Amenities!/font - Ship Review provided by Cruise Critic

Know before you go: Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Voyager will spoil you silly.

It's not just the stellar service, the inspired itineraries or the outstanding celebrity lecturers, but also the fact that this is a ship with a big personality. Where else will you find a captain who reads poetry over the public address system along with the weather and navigation reports? Or fiercely social passengers -- like "a family afloat," as one repeat passenger frames it -- who return to Voyager year after year, in large part to spend time together? On our Sydney-to-Shanghai cruise, a mere 24 of almost 600 passengers were new to Voyager. That's a telling statistic.

With its sleek, Scandinavian-inspired design, Voyager has an old school sensibility. It's not showy, it's understated. No Aloha Deck or Fiesta Deck here -- simply deck number four, number five and so on. There's also sort of a clubby feel, in part because Voyager now offers complimentary beverages -- from diet Coke to Chivas Regal -- at all its bars. Many suites also have butlers. All very civilized.

That's not to say Voyager isn't au courant. When it launched in 2003, it was the second all-suite, all-balcony cruise ship ever introduced (after sister ship Seven Seas Mariner.) It's also clearly committed to a gold standard when it comes to service. Today, for example, Voyager is fully wireless and a remarkably gracious Internet cafe administrator works pretty much on demand -- both in the computer center and in-suite.

We have been on bigger and smaller ships, and many of them get very high marks. But Voyager provides an experience that raises the bar further. Not surprising to us, the ship boasts the highest staff-to-guest ratio in the industry.

As one woman remarked when asked what she liked most about Voyager: "It's the lifestyle, my dear."

Dining

Seven Seas Voyager satisfies even the most critical palate with four dining venues, each with its own distinctive style. The menus are inspired, taking full advantage of the ship's ports of call. In Sydney, for example, the formal dining room featured pasta with clams fresh from the Sydney fish market. In Saipan, sherbet made from oranges grown on the island made its way onto the menu.

The afternoon pool deck buffets are also imaginative and well-produced. On our cruise, an Aussie "barbie" showcased kangaroo, emu, crocodile and shark. One day, the Filipino deck crew presented guests with some home cooking: chicken adobo, beef caldereta and fish escabeche along with garlic- and ginger-marinated stir fry and glass noodles salad. A poultry fest included an impressive selection of turkey, quail, pheasant and chicken. And so it goes, day after day.

As for the restaurants, Compass Rose is the main dining room, typically open for dinner from 6:30 until 9 p.m. It's roomy and softly lit; my husband and I were pleased to see plenty of tables for two. There's open seating and no reservations are required.

The dinner selection includes appetizers (like buckwheat blinis with smoked salmon and Russian caviar, and vegetable carpaccio with honey sesame dressing), soups (the anise-spiced corn chowder was a hit), salads, a pasta dish, and three main courses. One sampling of the main course choices: broiled white sea bass fillet with fennel foam, veal scaloppini in lemon sauce with fresh homemade linguine, and olive oil grilled Black Angus rib eye steak.

Dinner at Compass Rose also includes a six-tier gourmet tasting menu. An Asian menu, for example, featured vegetable carpaccio; clear chicken consomme flavored with lemongrass, ginger and coconut milk, garnished with tofu; crispy shrimp and vegetable spring rolls; banana passion fruit sherbet; wok of the day; and a passion fruit tart.

Additionally, selections from the main dinner and gourmet tasting menus are combined to produce specialty offerings: "light and healthy" lean alternatives prepared to minimize fat and calories and maximize taste; vegetarian dishes suitable for lacto- and ovo-vegetarians; and unsalted dishes. Finally, there's a "Simplicity" menu, featuring basics like prepared-to-order salmon fillet, boneless breast of chicken and steak.

Along with regular desserts like creme brulee and cheesecake, there are also offerings such as low-carb flourless chocolate cake and sugar-free ice cream.

Wines are complimentary; choices are determined by the ship's sommelier and vary nightly. You can also opt to buy bottles from a reserve list.

Breakfast (8 until 9:30 a.m.) and lunch (noon until 1:30 p.m.) are also served in Compass Rose. Breakfast typically includes a selection of pancakes, waffles and French toast along with all manner of eggs. There are also baby lamb chops, bacon, sausages, North Sea kippers and "cold galley" specials such as smoked Norwegian salmon, brie and prosciutto.

Like dinner, lunch in Compass Rose is something of a production with appetizers, soups, side salads, "light and healthy" offerings, sandwiches, a fresh pasta dish, three main courses and dessert. Here's a sample light lunch: an appetizer of tomato and mozzarella timbale followed by pan-fried marinated fresh baby tuna and low-carb apple crunch to top it all off.

La Veranda, on the pool deck at the stern of the ship, serves as Voyager's buffet -- but it's actually much, much more. With its low ceilings, wooden shutters and white tablecloths, it feels more like a fine restaurant than an all-you-can-eat buffet. That's partly because of a very attentive wait staff.

Breakfast, 7:30 until 10 a.m., includes made-to-order eggs and a daily special such as Eggs Florentine or Belgian waffles and banana pancakes. There's also a counter with fresh fruit, cold cuts, salmon, cheeses, breads and pork products.

Lunch, noon until 2 p.m., at La Veranda is something to celebrate. There are always several salad selections, a cold cut buffet and sandwiches along with several signature hot entrees -- as an example, braised oxtail, lemon sole and salmon and baby back ribs. Also, there's always a pool deck buffet at lunch with a completely different and abundant offering, which we found impressive.

Evenings, 6:30 until 9 p.m., La Veranda becomes somewhat more formal. There's usually a theme -- Aussie Roadhouse, for example, or a Simply Good menu featuring passenger favorites like oven-roasted lamb rack, jerk pork tenderloin and grilled halibut steak. At dinnertime, La Veranda is part-buffet (you gather your own salad and appetizers) and part-formal (a waiter brings you your dinner entree and dessert).

Voyager's specialty restaurants, Prime 7 and Signatures, require reservations and are only open for dinner, 6:30 until 9 p.m. The menu at the intimate, 70-seat Prime 7 steakhouse, features steaks and seafood. (Try the ahi tuna tartar or jumbo lump crab cake starters.) The entrees are pretty huge. All beef products served are U.S.D.A.-approved, and the menu includes Prime New York Strip, Prime Porterhouse (carved tableside, by the way), Prime Fillet Mignon (6- or 10-ounce) and surf-and-turf. There's also lobster, New Zealand lamb chops, pork, veal and a half chicken (cooked and served on an iron skillet). Sides include baked potatoes, creamed spinach, truffle fries and Lyonaise potatoes. Regent Seven Seas' famous, 14-layer cake is on the dessert menu, but how can anyone possibly still have room?

Signatures is another thing altogether. The restaurant, and the one just like it onboard Seven Seas Mariner, is the only restaurant at sea operated under the auspices of Le Cordon Bleu. Yes, that Cordon Bleu. It is, as my mother-in-law would say, "swish." It's very formal and very good. Coddled quail egg, anyone?

Last, but not least, there's room service.

We enjoyed dinner in our cabin a number of times -- enough to make us think of room service as Voyager's fifth dining venue. Room service is 24/7 and meals are served, as they are everywhere else onboard, on a table with a white tablecloth. You can order from Compass Rose or from a fairly lengthy room service menu that covers the basics and then some.

Public Rooms

Just 670 ft. long and 94.5 ft. wide, Voyager isn't a huge ship by today's standards -- but it makes good use of its space.

Deck 5, at the atrium, is the social center of the ship with a cozily furnished "Coffee Corner," the reception desk, the travel concierge, and the Internet cafe. Club.com has 19 computer stations spilling across two rooms. There's also a printer and a refrigerator stocked with sodas and water. There are several ways to pay for Internet access: 250 minutes for $50; 100 minutes for $25; or pay as you go, at 35 cents a minute. A surprisingly poorly stocked boutique is also located on Deck 5. The promenade deck, a good place for reading, is located off of Deck 5. Horizons, a lounge active day and night, is also on Deck 5. The Observation Lounge on Deck 11 is much more intimate. With its curved window and unobstructed view from the bow, it is the interior space where the ship feels most like a ship.

A 24/7 library 8 is located on Deck 6. The two-level Constellation Theatre occupies the bow of Decks 4 and 5. Deck 4 also has a cigar lounge, a card and conference room, a small casino and Voyager Lounge, designated for smokers.

Cabins

This is where Voyager truly excels. All 350 suites are oceanview, each with a private balcony. They are attractive and generously sized, measuring from 356 to 1,403 square ft., including balcony. The largest balcony, at 187 square ft., is larger than at least one cabin I've stayed in on other cruises.

Notably, 12 suites are interconnecting and 4 are wheelchair accessible; select suites can accommodate three guests. All cabins are completely wireless.

Our 320-square-ft. Penthouse Suite had a European king-size bed, which could be separated into twins. For privacy, the sleeping area, which includes a vanity table and desk, can be closed off behind full-length drapes. It's a nice touch if you want to watch a movie and your partner wants to read. One amenity new to Voyager: an on-demand offering of 215 premium movies.

The sitting area has two chairs, a table, a full-size couch, a bar, and a large flat-screen TV and CD/DVD player. (An in-suite bar setup upon embarkation includes both wine and spirits. The refrigerator is replenished daily with soda, beer and bottled water.) The large walk-in closet, with safe, easily handled our clothing for our three-week cruise, though we did use the laundry facility a few times. As for the bathroom, I wish I had one like it at home: marble appointed with a full bathtub and separate shower, and lots of storage space. Anichini bathrobes and bed linens were recently rolled out along with Anichini organic toiletries. Also new in the butler suites: iPod docks with Bose speakers.

As much as our cabin, we enjoyed our 50-square-ft. balcony, a fine perch for watching the night sky fall over the Pacific.

Upper tier cabins have a butler as well as a stewardess (the latter basically tends to cabin cleaning). Our butler, VaSant Mainker, was terrific -- taking care of our room service needs, delivering afternoon canapes, keeping the fridge stocked with our preferred wines, finding me an alarm clock, and, he told me before we disembarked, straightening my shoes. If asked, butlers are prepared to do even more, including unpacking for guests.

Entertainment

As on many other ships, the entertainment offerings onboard Voyager have been perfected to give passengers precisely what they want: big screen movies, a cabaret piano bar, dance parties, after-dinner sing-alongs and, notably, Broadway-style shows accompanied by a nine-piece resident orchestra. The ship also brings on celebrity entertainers; on our cruise it was comedian Mark Russell.

Daytime activities include hugely attended (and brutally competitive) rounds of trivia, organized bridge, sketch classes, art auctions, dance lessons, and deck sports. Voyager's staff also does a good job of pulling the ship's destinations into entertainment and events. For example, on our cruise the crewmembers hosted a hilarious "Crossing the Equator" party -- a pool deck event with music and games. On a quieter note, as we circled Iwo Jima, there was a quite moving ceremony, as a trumpeter played Taps to honor veterans onboard.

But what makes this ship stand out from the crowd is an absolutely compelling intellectual enrichment program. On our three-week segment of Voyager's 2008 World Cruise, Terry Waite -- the English hostage negotiator who was held captive in Lebanon for five years -- gave three talks that I shall never forget.

Voyager also hosts destination-specific lecturers. In our case, a marine historian, Capt. Richard Hayman, gave a wonderful series of lectures on the Pacific and its navigation history. Sandra Bowern, extremely popular with Voyager passengers, was onboard for the entire 115-day world cruise, providing insights into every port of call. The travel concierge desk also does a very nice job, both in live lectures and on TV programming, of telling you what to expect at every destination.

Some days, we attended as many as two to three lectures. How could we not? It made the cruise experience so much richer. Voyager Captain Dag Dvergastein probably said it best when he told us: "Cruisers move on. You move on in life. My people don't lie in the sun all day anymore. They want to see something intelligent."

Fellow Passengers

On our cruise, as is typical, 90 percent of passengers were American. The rest were from Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain. It's an older demographic, primarily retirees.

Gratuity

Gratuities are included in the cruise fare. However, many passengers do tip additionally.

-by Ellen Uzelac, a finance and travel writer based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Dress Code

For the remainder of 2009, evening dress will either be formal, informal or country-club casual; check your cruise documents for the exact number of each night. Beginning with the New Year's 2009-2010 cruise, the dress code will almost always be elegant casual after 6 p.m. Skirts or slacks paired with blouses or sweaters, pant suits or dresses are acceptable for ladies, while men should wear slacks and collared shirts. Sport jackets are optional; jeans, T-shirts, baseball caps, shorts, sneakers and bathrobes are not allowed in any public area in the evening. In addition, cruises of 16 nights or longer will have two formal optional nights, when passengers can either wear elegant casual attire or opt for a more formal look (gowns, cocktail dresses, dark suits or tuxedos).

Dress Code

It's not exactly a jean jacket crowd. All in all, probably because of the older demographic, passengers tend to dress up more. It's not unusual to see men dressed in suits on casual nights.

Officially, evening wear depends on whether it's a formal, informal or casual night. Evening dress begins at 6 p.m. and it's something passengers themselves tend to take very seriously.

Formal evenings require a tuxedo or a dark suit for men and an evening gown or cocktail dress for women. For informal night, a jacket is requested of men but ties are optional. Women are encouraged to wear dresses or pantsuits. Casual wear is considered country club casual or "elegant resort wear." Open necks are okay for men.Know before you go: Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Voyager will spoil you silly.

It's not just the stellar service, the inspired itineraries or the outstanding celebrity lecturers, but also the fact that this is a ship with a big personality. Where else will you find a captain who reads poetry over the public address system along with the weather and navigation reports? Or fiercely social passengers -- like "a family afloat," as one repeat passenger frames it -- who return to Voyager year after year, in large part to spend time together? On our Sydney-to-Shanghai cruise, a mere 24 of almost 600 passengers were new to Voyager. That's a telling statistic.

With its sleek, Scandinavian-inspired design, Voyager has an old school sensibility. It's not showy, it's understated. No Aloha Deck or Fiesta Deck here -- simply deck number four, number five and so on. There's also sort of a clubby feel, in part because Voyager offers complimentary beverages -- from diet Coke to Chivas Regal -- at all its bars. Many suites also have butlers. All very civilized.

That's not to say Voyager isn't au courant. When it launched in 2003, it was the second all-suite, all-balcony cruise ship ever introduced (after sister ship Seven Seas Mariner.) It's also clearly committed to a gold standard when it comes to service. Today, for example, Voyager is fully wireless and a remarkably gracious Internet cafe administrator works pretty much on demand -- both in the computer center and in-suite.

We have been on bigger and smaller ships, and many of them get very high marks. But Voyager provides an experience that raises the bar further. Not surprising to us, the ship boasts the highest staff-to-guest ratio in the industry.

As one woman remarked when asked what she liked most about Voyager: "It's the lifestyle, my dear."

Dining

Seven Seas Voyager satisfies even the most critical palate with four dining venues, each with its own distinctive style. The menus are inspired, taking full advantage of the ship's ports of call. In Sydney, for example, the formal dining room featured pasta with clams fresh from the Sydney fish market. In Saipan, sherbet made from oranges grown on the island made its way onto the menu.

The afternoon pool deck buffets are also imaginative and well-produced. On our cruise, an Aussie "barbie" showcased kangaroo, emu, crocodile and shark. One day, the Filipino deck crew presented guests with some home cooking: chicken adobo, beef caldereta and fish escabeche along with garlic- and ginger-marinated stir fry and glass noodles salad. A poultry fest included an impressive selection of turkey, quail, pheasant and chicken. And so it goes, day after day.

As for the restaurants, Compass Rose is the main dining room, typically open for dinner from 6:30 until 9 p.m. It's roomy and softly lit; my husband and I were pleased to see plenty of tables for two. There's open seating and no reservations are required.

The dinner selection includes appetizers (like buckwheat blinis with smoked salmon and Russian caviar, and vegetable carpaccio with honey sesame dressing), soups (the anise-spiced corn chowder was a hit), salads, a pasta dish, and three main courses. One sampling of the main course choices: broiled white sea bass fillet with fennel foam, veal scaloppini in lemon sauce with fresh homemade linguine, and olive oil grilled Black Angus rib eye steak.

Dinner at Compass Rose also includes a six-tier gourmet tasting menu. An Asian menu, for example, featured vegetable carpaccio; clear chicken consomme flavored with lemongrass, ginger and coconut milk, garnished with tofu; crispy shrimp and vegetable spring rolls; banana passion fruit sherbet; wok of the day; and a passion fruit tart.

Additionally, selections from the main dinner and gourmet tasting menus are combined to produce specialty offerings: "light and healthy" lean alternatives prepared to minimize fat and calories and maximize taste; vegetarian dishes suitable for lacto- and ovo-vegetarians; and unsalted dishes. Finally, there's a "Simplicity" menu, featuring basics like prepared-to-order salmon fillet, boneless breast of chicken and steak.

Along with regular desserts like creme brulee and cheesecake, there are also offerings such as low-carb flourless chocolate cake and sugar-free ice cream.

Wines are complimentary; choices are determined by the ship's sommelier and vary nightly. You can also opt to buy bottles from a reserve list.

Breakfast (8 until 9:30 a.m.) and lunch (noon until 1:30 p.m.) are also served in Compass Rose. Breakfast typically includes a selection of pancakes, waffles and French toast along with all manner of eggs. There are also baby lamb chops, bacon, sausages, North Sea kippers and "cold galley" specials such as smoked Norwegian salmon, brie and prosciutto.

Like dinner, lunch in Compass Rose is something of a production with appetizers, soups, side salads, "light and healthy" offerings, sandwiches, a fresh pasta dish, three main courses and dessert. Here's a sample light lunch: an appetizer of tomato and mozzarella timbale followed by pan-fried marinated fresh baby tuna and low-carb apple crunch to top it all off.

Menus in Compass Rose have also been expanded to include select items from the Signatures and Prime 7 specialty restaurants, as well as a greater emphasis on dishes from the regions visited on each cruise.

La Veranda, on the pool deck at the stern of the ship, serves as Voyager's buffet -- but it's actually much, much more. With its low ceilings, wooden shutters and white tablecloths, it feels more like a fine restaurant than an all-you-can-eat buffet. That's partly because of a very attentive wait staff.

Breakfast, 7:30 until 10 a.m., includes made-to-order eggs and a daily special such as Eggs Florentine or Belgian waffles and banana pancakes. There's also a counter with fresh fruit, cold cuts, salmon, cheeses, breads and pork products.

Lunch, noon until 2 p.m., at La Veranda is something to celebrate. There are always several salad selections, a cold cut buffet and sandwiches along with several signature hot entrees -- as an example, braised oxtail, lemon sole and salmon and baby back ribs. Also, there's always a pool deck buffet at lunch with a completely different and abundant offering, which we found impressive.

Evenings, 6:30 until 9 p.m., La Veranda becomes somewhat more formal. There's usually a theme -- Aussie Roadhouse, for example, or a Simply Good menu featuring passenger favorites like oven-roasted lamb rack, jerk pork tenderloin and grilled halibut steak. At dinnertime, La Veranda is part-buffet (you gather your own salad and appetizers) and part-formal (a waiter brings you your dinner entree and dessert).

Voyager's specialty restaurants, Prime 7 and Signatures, require reservations and are only open for dinner, 6:30 until 9 p.m. The menu at the intimate, 70-seat Prime 7 steakhouse, features steaks and seafood. (Try the ahi tuna tartar or jumbo lump crab cake starters.) The entrees are pretty huge. All beef products served are U.S.D.A.-approved, and the menu includes Prime New York Strip, Prime Porterhouse (carved tableside, by the way), Prime Fillet Mignon (6- or 10-ounce) and surf-and-turf. There's also lobster, New Zealand lamb chops, pork, veal and a half chicken (cooked and served on an iron skillet). Sides include baked potatoes, creamed spinach, truffle fries and Lyonaise potatoes. Regent Seven Seas' famous, 14-layer cake is on the dessert menu, but how can anyone possibly still have room?

Signatures is another thing altogether. The restaurant, and the one just like it onboard Seven Seas Mariner, is the only restaurant at sea operated under the auspices of Le Cordon Bleu. Yes, that Cordon Bleu. It is, as my mother-in-law would say, "swish." It's very formal and very good. Coddled quail egg, anyone?

Last, but not least, there's room service.

We enjoyed dinner in our cabin a number of times -- enough to make us think of room service as Voyager's fifth dining venue. Room service is 24/7 and meals are served, as they are everywhere else onboard, on a table with a white tablecloth. You can order from Compass Rose or from a fairly lengthy room service menu that covers the basics and then some.

Cabins

This is where Voyager truly excels. All 350 suites are oceanview, each with a private balcony. They are attractive and generously sized, measuring from 356 to 1,403 square feet, including balcony. The largest balcony, at 187 square feet, is larger than at least one cabin I've stayed in on other cruises.

Notably, 12 suites are interconnecting and 4 are wheelchair accessible; select suites can accommodate three guests. All cabins are completely wireless.

Our 320-square-foot Penthouse Suite had a European king-size bed, which could be separated into twins. For privacy, the sleeping area, which includes a vanity table and desk, can be closed off behind full-length drapes. It's a nice touch if you want to watch a movie and your partner wants to read. One amenity new to Voyager: an on-demand offering of 215 premium movies.

The sitting area has two chairs, a table, a full-size couch, a bar, and a large flat-screen TV and CD/DVD player. Penthouse and higher-category suites also include iPads. (An in-suite bar setup upon embarkation includes both wine and spirits. The refrigerator is replenished daily with soda, beer and bottled water.) The large walk-in closet, with safe, easily handled our clothing for our three-week cruise, though we did use the laundry facility a few times. As for the bathroom, I wish I had one like it at home: marble appointed with a full bathtub and separate shower, and lots of storage space. Anichini bathrobes and bed linens were recently rolled out along with Anichini organic toiletries. Also new in the butler suites: iPod docks with Bose speakers.

As much as our cabin, we enjoyed our 50-square-foot balcony, a fine perch for watching the night sky fall over the Pacific.

Upper tier cabins have a butler as well as a stewardess (the latter basically tends to cabin cleaning). Our butler, VaSant Mainker, was terrific -- taking care of our room service needs, delivering afternoon canapes, keeping the fridge stocked with our preferred wines, finding me an alarm clock, and, he told me before we disembarked, straightening my shoes. If asked, butlers are prepared to do even more, including unpacking for guests.

Dress Code

The dress code is almost always elegant casual after 6 p.m. Skirts or slacks paired with blouses or sweaters, pant suits or dresses are acceptable for ladies, while men should wear slacks and collared shirts. Sport jackets are optional; jeans, T-shirts, baseball caps, shorts, sneakers and bathrobes are not allowed in any public area in the evening. In addition, cruises of 16 nights or longer have have two formal optional nights, when passengers can either wear elegant casual attire or opt for a more formal look (gowns, cocktail dresses, dark suits or tuxedos).

Gratuity

Gratuities are included in the cruise fare. However, many passengers do tip additionally."Regent is not for those who aspire; it's for those who have arrived," says Frank Del Rio, the line's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Certainly, as far as luxury cruising goes, Regent is one of an elite handful of cruise lines that lay claim to six-star billing. Of course, such pampering doesn't come cheap, but, once onboard, the only things you have to put your hand in your pocket for are spa treatments if you want to pamper yourself, splurges in the onboard shops and pitting your wits against Lady Luck in the casino. Everything else, including shore excursions and gratuities, is included in the price, so there are no unexpected hidden extras that might give you palpitations at the end of the trip.

The fact that it is all-inclusive enhances the onboard social scene, too, because it means there is no debate about whose round it is or awkward moments at dinner about who pays for the wine. Drinks just keep on being poured, without anyone even having to ask. There is no class system onboard; everyone is treated the same, everyone has access to the same facilities and the same restaurants, whichever suite you choose.

Built in 2003, 700-passeger Seven Seas Voyager emerged from its scheduled dry dock in October 2013 with dramatic new interior decor and refreshed exterior decks. Now the ship's public spaces are resplendent with elegant furnishings, rich upholstery, custom-milled carpeting and hand-selected accents. Horizons, the ship's nightclub and bar, and the Observation Lounge each underwent a complete, radical transformation. The venues now sport distinctive new bars, chic furnishings and carpeting, lustrous wall coverings and new lighting throughout. The Constellation Theatre, the ship's two-deck theater, had a complete makeover with fresh carpeting, upholstery, wall coverings, cocktail tables, wall sconces, banquettes and chairs.

The exterior decks didn't miss out, either. New teak was installed on the balconies of all 350 suites, while decks in common areas were resurfaced. The Pool Deck and the ship's outdoor relaxation areas on Decks 5, 11 and 12 now feature upgraded resort furniture. The Pool Grill and La Veranda were spruced up with new mosaic tiling, wall coverings and awnings.

Regent Seven Seas Voyager is a relaxing ship with a cultured but informal ambience. Crewmembers are polite and pleasant; minimal announcements and a lack of queues enhance the feeling of refinement. Voyager has a small-ship feel with big-ship amenities, and if you have a penchant for luxury and understated elegance, this is the vessel for you.

Dining

Diners can choose from four restaurants: Compass Rose, the main restaurant, serving European-inspired Continental cuisine; Prime 7, a contemporary American steakhouse; Signatures, a classic French dining experience; and Sette Mari at La Veranda, offering authentic Italian specialties. All feature an open-seating dining policy, so passengers can choose when to eat and pick their tablemates.

Awash with warm golden and maroon hues, elegant Compass Rose is the 570-seat main dining room located midship on Deck 4. Appetizers on the diverse menu might include tiger prawns with remoulade sauce and celery, or goat cheese and apple tarte tatin with watercress, while main course dishes could be pork medallions with asparagus spears or sea bass fillet with vegetable stuffed calamari wrapped in pancetta. For those who simply can't decide, a six-course tasting menu fits the bill.

For the health-conscious who want to know exactly how many calories they're consuming, the menu also offers Canyon Ranch selections, such as curried fresh black mussels with coconut and tomatoes at 122 calories, 6 grams of fat and 1 gram of fiber. Vegetarians are catered to with safe choices like tagliatelle with cherry tomatoes, artichokes and melted buffalo mozzarella, or tofu with vegetables. Menus occasionally feature local specialties representing the cruise destination.

No reservations are accepted in Compass Rose, and seating is assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who dislike forced intimacy with strangers can access plenty of tables for two. Staff aim to accommodate special requests.

Compass Rose is open for breakfast (8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.), lunch (noon to 1:30 p.m.) and dinner (6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.).

On Deck 5, Prime 7 is the specialty steak and seafood restaurant. Its decor a melange of rich browns and burnished woods, this glamorously intimate space is designed to encourage lingering. The menu features appetizers, soups and desserts, but the stars of the show are the main courses -- eight USDA prime dry-aged steaks including a whopping 32-ounce Porterhouse for those who like their portions large. Less hefty offerings include chicken, pork and seafood dishes.

For those with a sweet tooth, it's worth saving room for the rich cheesecake with sweet raspberry sauce and traditional key lime pie with vanilla mousse. Prime 7 is open only for dinner, between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Reservations are essential, and no alterations to the menu or special requests are accommodated.

French specialty restaurant Signatures, on Deck 5 aft, is directed and staffed by chefs wearing the white toque and blue riband of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Like Prime 7, it's also open for dinner only (6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.). It is necessary to make a reservation if you decide to eat there. For an entree, you might opt for Sevruga caviar on celeriac finished in lemon sauce, or scallops marinated in herb oil, spring onions and mashed potato. Main courses to tempt the palate include Alaskan halibut fillet with pistachio oil, duo of spinach and herb-marinated tomatoes, or camembert, celery and walnut quiche. Whatever you choose will be paired with a French vintage selected by the sommelier. Presentation is top notch. Unlike most cruise ships' speciality restaurants, Prime 7 and Signatures levy no additional charges.

Serving breakfast (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.) and lunch (noon to 2 p.m.), the casually chic La Veranda on Deck 11 offers buffet-style dishes only. For breakfast, there are made-to-order omelets, waffles, pancakes, muesli, cereals and fruit, as well as the usual tomatoes, eggs, sausage, bacon and so on, although serving dishes are not always replenished quickly when running out. Lunch is also buffet style and comprises a selection of soups, good choice of salads, fruits, cold meats and sandwiches, as well as hot dishes like grilled lamb chops or pan-sauteed sea bass. La Veranda also features an authentic pizzeria.

In the evenings, between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., La Veranda is transformed into Sette Mari -- the name translates as "Seven Seas" -- and becomes an Italian dining experience. Salads and appetizers are served buffet-style, but dinner entrees and desserts are ordered from and delivered by waiters.

An extensive a la carte menu of antipasti and Italian speciality items are paired with Italian wines, all complimentary. Soups include the hearty farmer's vegetable soup with barley and pesto, while mains of handmade fresh pasta layered with garlic and minced beef, Bechamel sauce and grated Parmigiano Reggiano may hit the spot. Leave some space for the dessert; the menu offers 10 choices. When the weather is nice, passengers can eat alfresco.

The open-air Pool Grill on Deck 11 is the ultimate come-as-you-are dining venue when you don't want to spend too much time disrupting your sunbathing or swimming schedule. It's open for a fitness breakfast between 6 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and for lunch between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. The menu is average and offers the usual suspects: burgers, sandwiches, salads and milkshakes.

The informal, comfortable Coffee Connection on Deck 5 forward is ideal for relaxing, chatting with friends and enjoying coffee and snacks from 6 a.m. right through to 5 p.m. Breakfast options include cereal, rolls, fruit and bagels, while lunch includes cold meats, cheeses, assorted rolls and sweet pastries. In the afternoon, sandwiches, biscuits, cakes and fruit are on hand. International newspapers and news magazines are placed there when available. However, if you want your afternoon tea to be more of an experience, head for the Horizons Lounge. Now much flashier than before, with pretty beaded walls and a chic bar, it serves sandwiches, sweet pastries, tea and coffee between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to a backdrop of relaxing music.

Of course you can also choose to eat in the privacy of your suite. You won't get your food delivered on a tray; meals are elegantly served on tables with white tablecloths. Complimentary room service is available 24/7, so no need to worry if you have an attack of the munchies in the middle of the night. Whether you feel inclined to savour Greek mezze, a steak sandwich with pesto or comfort food like a traditional hamburger or cheeseburger, you've got it. You can also order room service from the Compass Rose menu during dinner hours. The breakfast menu is fairly extensive, and besides the usual fruit, yogurts and cereal, you can opt for minute steak, smoked salmon and six types of omelets.

Public Rooms

The atrium, the social center of the ship, is where you'll find the reception desk, travel concierge and Club.com, the ship's Internet cafe. The cafe has plenty of computers for passengers to use, and it also holds regular classes in subjects like digital photography and various software programs. Club.com is open around the clock. For travelers with their own laptops, Voyager has Wi-Fi throughout.

Starting with winter 2014/2015 sailings, passengers in Concierge Level suites and higher will receive free Wi-Fi. Seven Seas Society members currently receive free Wi-Fi when they have already sailed 21 or more nights with Regent. Charges for those who have to pay are $0.99 per minute, plus a one-time $3.95 activation fee; $160 per 200 minute package, plus the activation fee; or $29.99 per day for unlimited minutes with no activation fee.

The library contains a sizeable selection of books and DVDs and is open 24/7. There is a small card room on Deck 4, as well as a couple of unremarkable shops on Deck 5. Self-service laundrettes on Decks 6 through 10 aft are free to use and open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Cabins

Whichever grade you choose, every one of the 350 suites comes with a balcony and a welcome bottle of Champagne.

All grades feature separate sitting areas, European king-size beds with premium mattresses to ensure passengers sleep like Rip van Winkle, walk-in wardrobes with safes, plenty of drawer and hanging space and -- a thoughtful touch -- umbrellas in case of inclement weather. Interactive flat-screen televisions have an extensive media library and complimentary movies on demand. There is also a stocked mini bar in each stateroom. Neutral color schemes are comfortable, lighting subtle and artwork easy on the eye. Other touches for all include fluffy white bathrobes and slippers. Toiletries include a generous selection of L'Occitane amenities (soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, shower gel, cotton buds, shower cap and emery boards). Superior suites get Hermes goodies, as well.

The lowest-level Deluxe suites (356 square feet, including balcony) have spacious marble bathrooms, most of which have full-size tubs and separate glass-enclosed showers, although some are shower-only. In some of the Deluxe Suites on Deck 10, passengers don't need alarm clocks because they will be roused from slumber in the early morning by the sound of sunbeds being dragged into position on the deck above. (Why can't staff lift them instead?)

Concierge Suites are the same in size and content as Deluxe Suites with the extra benefit of Concierge-Level amenities (available to passengers in Concierge Suites and higher). These include priority shore excursions and restaurant reservations, a one-night pre-cruise luxury hotel stay, 15 minutes of free ship-to-shore phone time, in-suite binoculars, illy espresso and cashmere blankets.

For those with fat wallets, the top-of-the-line accommodations are the four Master Suites, two on Deck 11 and two on Deck 7. The roomiest are those on Deck 11, with 1,403 square feet of space, including the balcony. They each have a living room/dining area, two bedrooms and a sofa bed (sleeping a total of five people), walk-in wardrobes, and an iPod and Bose docking system. Two marble bathrooms per suite each offer a full-size tub and glass-enclosed shower, bidet and large wash basin; there's also a separate half-bath for guests with a toilet and sink. An added bonus is that passengers also receive upgrades to business-class flights from any destination. It's surely the ultimate indulgence.

In between, two Grand Suites at 876 square feet each have a separate bedroom and, like the Master Suites, have a guest toilet in addition to a large bathroom with tub and separate shower. Voyager Suites (554 square feet with 50-square-foot balcony) have similar amenities.

Seven Seas Suites (from 545 to 681 square feet, including balcony) and Penthouse Suites (370 to 443 square feet, including balcony) are similar in layout to the aforementioned staterooms but have one marble bathroom with tub and shower and no guest toilet. As part of the ship's refurbishment, Penthouse Suites received new decor with custom-crafted elegant furnishings, plush carpeting, curtains, wall coverings, furniture, lighting, original artwork and updated outdoor furniture.

All suites above Concierge level include daily canapes, upgraded bar setup and, best of all, a butler. The butler can serve meals or organize cocktail parties in your cabin, take your clothes for pressing and even unpack if you can't be bothered to do so yourself.

Twelve suites are interconnecting, ideal for families, while four are wheelchair accessible.

Entertainment

Morning activities include instructor-led Pilates or a walk around the jogging track with the fitness director. Cards and board games are always available in the card room; sports enthusiasts can partake in shuffleboard, bocce, Ping-Pong and paddle tennis.

Afternoons include unhosted bridge, seminars covering anything from reflexology to detoxification, and the ever popular "teatime trivia" where teams of up to six take the daily challenge to try to win some Regent Rewards points, which can be exchanged for branded items like Regent caps, collared shirts and tote bags.

A must-mention here for Regent virgins is that the first evening of the cruise is famous for Regent's Block Party. This is where passengers bring a glass from their suite and join their neighbors in the corridors to enjoy drinks and canapes and say hello to one another. Senior staff dash around every deck to try and meet and greet all passengers. It's a nice touch, and one which most cruisers appreciate.

The Constellation Theatre on Decks 4 and 5 offers plush seating and unobstructed sightlines. Passengers can attend Las Vegas-style production shows, revues and Cirque-style productions backed by the nine-piece Regent Signature Orchestra. In the Observation Lounge on Deck 11, singers, guitarists and small musical units perform while passengers sip evening cocktails. The Night Club on Deck 4 is the place for Karaoke fiends to go. Evenings usually begin with some DJ dancing before the Karaoke takes over. Those who prefer to continue dancing can glide across the ballroom floor in the Horizon Lounge on Deck 5.

The elegant Connoisseur Club on Deck 4, with its leather armchairs and clubby atmosphere, is where passengers can order a vintage cognac or port and a Cuban cigar. Smoking is allowed in there.

Other evening options include the Casino on Deck 4, which offers blackjack, roulette, stud poker, mini-craps and slot machines. It's open every day at sea when not restricted by territorial border limits. Passengers can also boost those little grey cells with enrichment lectures on the art of pairing wine with food and the history of the region you're visiting.

There are free, unlimited shore excursions in every port of call. There is plenty of choice, and all tours are capacity-controlled to ensure maximum enjoyment. More adventurous souls who wish to delve deeper into what a region offers can choose the in-depth Regent Choice Shore Excursions. These require a discounted supplementary charge to partially offset their higher cost.

For instance, in Monaco, there are 10 tours to choose from -- the shortest is three hours in duration, the longest eight hours -- and eight of the ten tours are free. Venice offers six, four of which are free. Excursions are graded on activity level to make it easy for passengers to decide which suit them best.

Fitness and Recreation

Open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Canyon Ranch Spa Club offers a choice of treatments from detoxifying seaweed wraps and anti-aging facials to Reiki and Ayurveda massages. A separate space within the spa offers hairdressing and waxing treatments.

A compact fitness center, open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., holds a few treadmills, exercise bikes, elliptical striders, a Nautilus machine, workout mats, step benches and free weights. Fitness experts lead exercise classes that include Pilates, yoga and aerobics. They're also on hand to offer advice and demonstrate the use of fitness equipment. There are a couple of small sauna and steam rooms in the same area. Golf cages, shuffleboard, paddle tennis and a full-circle jogging track (seven laps equal a mile) are up on Deck 12.

A large heated pool and two whirlpools are located on the teak pool deck (Deck 11), which can get very busy when the sun shines. White-covered lounge chairs are comfortable, and several circular white-topped tables with cushioned chairs are dotted round the area, ideal for enjoying a relaxing drink or chat in the sunshine.

Family

Voyager isn't really a ship for children, though those from 1 year old are allowed onboard. For a small charge, parents can have the services of a babysitter, and high chairs, bottle warmers and cribs are available. Club Mariner is a complimentary youth program offered on select voyages; it's designed for age groups 5 to 8, 9 to 12 and 13 to 17.

Fellow Passengers

Expect a smorgasbord of nationalities, mainly well-educated, upscale folks. Fifty percent are repeat passengers. On a recent 10-night Mediterranean cruise, the first sailing after the refurbishment, 20 different nationalities were onboard, including 443 U.S. and 105 U.K. passengers with a sprinkling of Europeans -- mainly German, Italian and French. As Regent originates from and is based in North America, passengers from this part of the world are usually in the majority. To some extent, of course, the variance of nationalities onboard also depends on which part of the world the ship is sailing. However, Regent says the average age is 55 to 65; we found a mixed age group dominated by retirees.

Dress Code

Until 6 p.m. each evening, a daytime dress code applies, and shorts, jeans, deck shoes and track suits are all acceptable. Bare feet are only acceptable on the Pool Deck, and bathing suits are not allowed in any indoor venue, though they can be worn at the Pool Grill and Bar. From 6 p.m. onward, evening dress codes apply. "Elegant Casual" wear, which applies most evenings, means ladies should wear skirts, smart trousers or trouser suits with blouses or sweaters. Definitely no jeans allowed. For men, collared shirts with optional sports jackets are appropriate. No T-shirts, athletic shoes, shorts or bathrobes are allowed in any public rooms in the evening. On cruises of 16 nights or longer, a few evenings are "Formal Optional." On these nights, you can, if you so desire, go the whole hog and dress to impress. On the final evening of the cruise, when everyone is busy packing to go home, the dress code sensibly is "Relaxed Casual."

Gratuity

Gratuities are included in the cruise fares, and there is a no-tipping policy, including on spa treatments.

Cabins

Whichever grade you choose, every one of the 350 suites comes with a balcony and a welcome bottle of Champagne.

All grades feature separate sitting areas, European king-size beds with premium mattresses to ensure passengers sleep like Rip van Winkle, walk-in wardrobes with safes, plenty of drawer and hanging space and -- a thoughtful touch -- umbrellas in case of inclement weather. Interactive flat-screen televisions have an extensive media library and complimentary movies on demand. There is also a stocked mini bar in each stateroom. Neutral color schemes are comfortable, lighting subtle and artwork easy on the eye. Other touches for all include fluffy white bathrobes and slippers. Toiletries include a generous selection of L'Occitane amenities (soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, shower gel, cotton buds, shower cap and emery boards). Superior suites get Hermes goodies, as well.

The lowest-level Deluxe suites (356 square feet, including balcony) have spacious marble bathrooms, most of which have full-size tubs and separate glass-enclosed showers, although some are shower-only. In some of the Deluxe Suites on Deck 10, passengers don't need alarm clocks because they will be roused from slumber in the early morning by the sound of sunbeds being dragged into position on the deck above. (Why can't staff lift them instead?)

Concierge Suites are the same in size and content as Deluxe Suites with the extra benefit of Concierge-Level amenities (available to passengers in Concierge Suites and higher). These include priority shore excursions and restaurant reservations, a one-night pre-cruise luxury hotel stay, 15 minutes of free ship-to-shore phone time, in-suite binoculars, illy espresso and cashmere blankets.

For those with fat wallets, the top-of-the-line accommodations are the four Master Suites, two on Deck 11 and two on Deck 7. The roomiest are those on Deck 11, with 1,403 square feet of space, including the balcony. They each have a living room/dining area, two bedrooms and a sofa bed (sleeping a total of five people), walk-in wardrobes, and an iPod and Bose docking system. Two marble bathrooms per suite each offer a full-size tub and glass-enclosed shower, bidet and large wash basin; there's also a separate half-bath for guests with a toilet and sink. An added bonus is that passengers also receive upgrades to business-class flights from any destination. It's surely the ultimate indulgence.

In between, two Grand Suites at 876 square feet each have a separate bedroom and, like the Master Suites, have a guest toilet in addition to a large bathroom with tub and separate shower. Voyager Suites (554 square feet with 50-square-foot balcony) have similar amenities.

Seven Seas Suites (from 545 to 681 square feet, including balcony) and Penthouse Suites (370 to 443 square feet, including balcony) are similar in layout to the aforementioned staterooms but have one marble bathroom with tub and shower and no guest toilet. As part of the ship's refurbishment, Penthouse Suites received new decor with custom-crafted elegant furnishings, plush carpeting, curtains, wall coverings, furniture, lighting, original artwork and updated outdoor furniture.

All suites above Concierge level include daily canapes, upgraded bar setup and, best of all, a butler. The butler can serve meals or organize cocktail parties in your cabin, take your clothes for pressing and even unpack if you can't be bothered to do so yourself.

As of 2015, passengers who book a Master, Grand, Seven Seas, Horizon, Mariner, Navigator or Voyager suite will receive unlimited free Internet for the duration of their cruise.

Twelve suites are interconnecting, ideal for families, while four are wheelchair accessible.

Fitness and Recreation

The Carita Cruise Spa and fitness center aren't huge -- but they get the job done.

The fitness center, open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m., is fairly basic with four treadmills, five elliptical machines, a few bikes and free weights. The machines were replaced recently and all now have TV screens. There's a complimentary sauna and steam room next to the workout room. Tip: Early mornings, the top deck is also a good place to walk and jog. Seven laps equal a mile.

A fitness instructor offers a daily regimen that includes Pilates, upper and lower body toning exercises, low-impact aerobics, tummy tightening exercises, and yoga.

The spa features a variety of services -- among them a stone facial massage, body exfoliation, anti-cellulite treatments, anti-aging facials, and in-suite massages. There's also a salon that offers hair styling and coloring, and nail, make-up and waxing services.

Dress Code

It's not exactly a jean jacket crowd. All in all, probably because of the older demographic, passengers tend to dress up more. It's not unusual to see men dressed in suits on casual nights.

Officially, evening wear depends on whether it's a formal, informal or casual night. Evening dress begins at 6 p.m. and it's something passengers themselves tend to take very seriously.

Formal evenings require a tuxedo or a dark suit for men and an evening gown or cocktail dress for women. For informal night, a jacket is requested of men but ties are optional. Women are encouraged to wear dresses or pantsuits. Casual wear is considered country club casual or "elegant resort wear." Open necks are okay for men.

Family

Voyager doesn't attract many families with children. Those that do come frequently bring their own tutors and/or nannies. Select cruises do offer a complimentary youth program for kids 5 to 17.

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