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Courtney Ffyshe

RSSC Explorer 'Round the Isles' June 2018 - A Review

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Background information

All four of our previous cruises were on-board Regent’s Mariner and Voyager in the Mediterranean but this time we wanted to try the new Explorer and enjoy the convenience of a Southampton round trip which meant our holiday could begin with a comfortable car journey.

Ship information

The Seven Seas Explorer has been in service for less than a year and is described by Regent as ‘the most luxurious ship ever built’. As with Mariner and Voyager, the vessel is very spacious both in terms of cabin sizes and public areas. Although we sailed full, at no time on board did it feel at all crowded. The staff to passenger ratio is amongst the highest of all the cruise lines so that service is always at hand.


We have always found service on board Regent ships very good but on Explorer it was even better! As many of the crew seemed to have started on the Explorer, Regent has done a really excellent job of training them up to its wonderful standard.


We were in an E category ‘Concierge’ suite midships on deck 6 and it was generally excellent in terms of space, fittings and finish. The king-size (6ft x 6ft) bed was extremely comfortable and as it faces the sea, provided a lovely view to wake up to. In the bathroom, there were two hand basins,  a bath and a spacious shower all in marble. There is also a large walk-in closet with ample storage and a large safe.

Two minor criticisms: first the curtain separating bed from sitting area was too close to the end of the bed so that we couldn't use it at night for fear it would cause trips if we had to stumble around in the (semi) darkness at night. Second, the tiles on the floor of the shower and nearby were beginning to show yellow/brown staining. They are regularly cleaned, of course, so it would seem to be the effect of water lying on them as the drainage was unable to cope quickly with the copious output of the shower.

Our cabin stewards were very efficient, slotting in with our comings and goings and maintaining our stock of champagne, gin and mixers.


As most excursions are included in the fare on Regent, they are of course very popular. We were unlucky with the weather except for the final two days of our 11 night cruise – grey skies, light rain and lowish temperatures do not make for very happy tourists, particularly if they come from Miami, Texas or Florida! Almost all the excursions began with a bus ride and we were disappointed to find that Regent seemed to be filling the buses almost to capacity whereas in the past they have only been two-thirds full at the very most – takes the edge off the ‘luxury’ tag a bit to be on a crowded bus.

Generally, the tour guides were of a high standard – particularly in Belfast, where we visited Mount Stewart House and gardens which even though it was raining we really enjoyed.  Our guide on the coach was very good as was the guide in the house. There were interesting portraits of the family and various horses, one of the latter being one of the last painted by Stubbs when he was 70. The gardens were superb.

The best excursion, however, was in Dartmouth – a port rarely visited by cruise ships apparently.  This tour which consisted of a river cruise up the Dart and a steam train ride back.  We boarded the ferry straight from the ship and the guide on the river cruise was both informative and amusing - taking the trouble to point out buildings of interest like the Royal Naval College, vineyards, riverside salmon-fishing villages, as well as seals swimming beside the boat, egrets on the river bank and the largest elm tree in the country.  It took about an hour and 20 minutes with many beautiful views. We had a brief coach ride from Totness to Paignton in order to catch the steam train back to Dartmouth.  It followed a beautiful coastline with many coves and colourful beach huts.  From the train we had views of both the coast and the river depending on which side you sat. 


Compass Rose

The main dining room with no reservations required and you can choose to share or not, as you wish. Sunday was a sea day so we had the chance to try the famous Brunch in CR - very impressive! But so difficult to decide where to start and, even more, where to stop! We have now dined twice in Compass Rose. Once we tried for a table around 8.15 pm and had a 15 minute wait to be seated. When we were it was in a section near the entrance. It was very noisy, making normal conversation difficult. The food was adequate rather than exceptional and the large rectangular area, combined with the lack of any features gives the ambience of an, admittedly upmarket, refectory. The menu lacks the variety that we have found previously - I know there is the 'mix & match' of different entrees and sauces but think the chefs must find it rather inhibits creativity. The sauces also tend toward the bland - certainly the green pepper was almost flavour free.

The next time (last night) was better. We dined around 6.45pm and managed to secure a table in the rear section where, despite the rather low ceiling, it was pleasantly quiet except for a young couple making and taking calls on their cell phones! Service in both sections was very good, certainly as good as any other Regent ship we've sailed and maybe a notch or two better.

La Veranda

At breakfast and lunch features a copious buffet including a selection of hot dishes and, in good weather one can eat al fresco.

Sette Mari

At night La Veranda becomes Sette Mari, an Italian restaurant with a la carte ordering of main courses and a buffet for starters and desserts. No reservations required or permitted and very popular so that a wait for a table was not unusual. We dined here on the last night of the cruise when there were many tables free and enjoyed the pasta and lamb chops particularly.


A French restaurant available by reservation only. Our first dinner was to have been in Compass Rose but there was a long line and, rather than wait for a two-top, we accepted the offer of a table in Chartreuse. I'm not sure but it seemed to me that it was a bigger venue than Signatures had been (the previous French restaurant on Mariner & Voyager). Although it was our favourite, not many seemed to share our preference if the availability of tables at short notice was a reliable indicator. The service from all the staff was both efficient and charming. The food is to our tastes generally although the slow-cooked beef ribs were lacking in flavour but not in quantity! We were keen to try the rack of lamb but were deterred by reports that it could be tough. Otherwise the meat and fish were top quality. The cheese soufflé was consistently excellent as were the desserts.

Prime 7

A steakhouse type restaurant available by reservation only. We also tried Prime 7 which is definitely bigger and better laid out than on the older ships. Again it was not full at any time that night. We enjoyed P7 which seemed to be the most popular of the specialty restaurants we actually visited. It is a very consistent, quality product but we are not great steak eaters - 6 oz is more than enough for us - so we don't seek extra visits.

Pacific Rim

An Asian – fusion style restaurant available by reservation only. We were not overwhelmed by Pacific Rim. While the ingredients were fine, the spicing was too bland to our taste. It was very good to find an Alsace Gewürztraminer on offer - although the Sommelier described it as German. Luckily there were no French passengers within earshot!


The Explorer may or may not be ‘the most luxurious ship ever built’ as Regent claims but it is certainly very well appointed, sails beautifully and has a marvellous crew. We received food and service better than on any of our previous Regent cruises. As many of the crew seemed to have started on the Explorer, Regent has done a really excellent job of training them up to its wonderful standard.




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