Regent vs. Silversea, a comparative review
Food & Wine
During the course of last summer I had the opportunity to try two very similar products in the ultra-luxury cruising segment: a nine-day circumnavigation cruise of Iceland and the Faroe Islands onboard Regent’s Seven Seas Splendor; and an eight-day cruise of Alaska onboard Silversea’s Silver Muse. These two ships are the most recent additions to the respective fleets of these two high-end ultra-luxury cruise lines. This article sets out how they fare when compared against each other.
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Regent Seven Seas Cruises
This all-inclusive luxury cruise line travels across the world, offering spacious suits with private balconies, fine dining and onboard entertainment.
Offers a luxurious and intimate cruising experience, with an emphasis on personalized service, all-inclusive amenities, and itineraries that cover over 900 destinations worldwide, including remote and exotic locations.
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Here’s what I found:
1. The Ship: both ships are of a similar age and almost brand new, and while Splendor is marginally bigger in terms of size and capacity, the passenger/crew ratio on both ships is almost identical. In terms of feel and appearance, Splendor errs more on the side of luxury and opulence, while Muse favours a more modern and sophisticated look. Other than that, the facilities on both ships are second to none, offering a wide array of bars (four each) and restaurants (five on Splendor versus seven on Muse). Standard cabins on both ships are similar in size and layout. One aspect Splendor excels over Muse is in the two-story wellness and fitness facilities, which include a large infinity pool; gender-segregated saunas, steam rooms, and cold rooms; and state of the art gym. If one is looking for the best spa/gym at sea, Splendor is the winner hands down.
2. F&B: Food and drink menus on both ships are extensive, verging on extravagant. However, there is a gulf of differences between the two ships. Silversea tries to differentiate themselves from their competitors, offering seven restaurants to choose from and charging extra for two (La Dame and Kaiseki, serving French and Japanese cuisine) for supposedly better food and wines. Caviar is included and available on demand, including room service. However, quantity does not necessarily mean quality. Although Regent only has five inclusive restaurants, including the infamous pan-Asian restaurant Pacific Rim, all of them excel in every way in terms of quality and execution. One of the main disadvantages Silver Muse suffers from is the fact that some of the restaurants share the same kitchen, meaning some of the food items have to travel between decks before they get to the table. This results in delays and less than optimal quality. On top of all that, the quality and choice of wines on Splendor was considerably better than Muse, and that applies to bar drinks as well. One saving grace was coffee, where Silversea tops Regent.
3. Excursions: Both Regent and Silversea are all-inclusive cruises so excursions are part of the package, although they both offer an extensive list of extra excursions for a fee. While Regent claims to offer “free, unlimited shore excursions in every port-of-call in every destination”, that was far from the truth during my Iceland cruise. As a result, there were constant queues at the Shore Excursions Desk, with guests having to check daily whether they managed to get a place in one of the excursions they were waitlisted for, often without success. In stark contrast to Regent, Silversea’s shore excursion desk appeared much better organised, there was no shortage of excursions, and average group sizes were considerably smaller. I wonder whether this was to do with a somewhat more limited tourist infrastructure in Iceland versus Alaska.
4. Service: Silversea offers a “dedicated butler service in all suites” (all cabins are considered suites) and it does make a difference: service is a lot more personalized and always available when needed. Regent cabin attendants are only available in the morning and right before turn down, and one rarely gets a chance to interact with them. However, the quality of the housekeeping service is unquestionable on both ships. The same cannot be said about F&B service levels: the Regent crew is much better trained and come across as more professional: restaurants and bars operate like clockwork at all levels, from the maître d’ to all the waiting staff. Silversea’s crew often appeared clumsy, verging on inexperienced.
5. Entertainment and enrichment lectures: Silver Muse’s ability to deliver on the entertainment front is gravely limited by the less than adequate theatre venue, being too small for a ship of that size, making shows more of an afterthought than anything else. Besides that, the Cruise Director at the time was mostly absent. Conversely, Splendor’s shows appeared more professional, were more fun, and certainly more popular among passengers; and last but not least, the Cruise Director was outstanding, both on and off the stage. On the enrichment lecture front, Silver Muse fared much better, with plenty more lectures and significantly more relevant to the destination than those on Seven Seas Splendor.
6. Target audience: while it would be easy to assume both cruise lines target a similar market segment, it quickly became apparent the two ships attract very different people. The crowd on Regent’s Splendor was significantly more homogenous and of an older age, while passengers on Silversea’s Muse were more varied both in terms of age and origin. As a result, evenings on Splendor were short and rather quiet, wrapping up as the night show ended, while on Muse they were significantly more animated and went on for longer.
Need to Know
Overall, both cruises were enjoyable, but considering this is the ultra-luxury segment, neither cruise was perfect. Post Covid, cruise lines still need time to catch up, and there is certainly room for improvement for both of them. Given the market is getting more crowded than ever before, with new challengers such as Explora Journeys getting into this segment, and the revival of Crystal Cruises, both Regent and Silversea will have to really up their game in order to stay on top of this fiercely competitive market
In need of further inspiration? Check out Haile Brant’s guide, Virgin Voyages Guide: A Cruise That Will Surprise You.
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