The first keel plates of the ultra luxury Seven Seas Explorer were laid today in Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard.
The 54,000 ton ship, due into service in 2016, will carry just 750 guests, and will be only the fourth all outside balcony suite vessel in the world. She joins her sister ships, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager, as part of a very exclusive quartet. Interestingly, the only non -Regent member of this club is Hapag Lloyd Cruises’ superb new Europa 2.
Seven Seas Explorer is the first new ship to be built for Regent Seven Seas since 2003, and it is interesting to note that she is only marginally larger than her two fleet mates mentioned above. And, with a capacity of only fifty in excess of her siblings, it is obvious that Regent has decided to stick with a tried and tested style and size of ship design.
This is hardly surprising, as the rest of the fleet has been sailing at near capacity for quite some time. People gravitate to the Regent brand, with its hallmarks of casual, indulgent luxury, all inclusive fares including drinks, shore excursions and non extra tariff dining, as well as the smart casual dress codes that distinguish the ships.
While the new vessel might include some as yet to be revealed twists on the previous ships, it is obvious that consolidation is the name of the game here. It makes for an interesting comparison with the other luxury lines.
For instance, the sublime Seabourn new builds were each three times the size of their predecessors, mainly to accommodate extra dining options, plus the balcony suites lacking on the earlier ships. And each new generation of Silversea ships has been on average half as large again as the generation before her; a trend maintained with the 2009 debut of the Silver Spirit.
Interestingly, both Seabourn and Silversea also included several window-only suites on all of their new tonnage. But Regent obviously thinks it is worthwhile to stick with the all balcony suite concept, for now at least.
None the less, the 2016 debut of the Seven Seas Explorer adds a new, very welcome addition to the small, select family of upscale vessels in the top end luxury market. Recent, expensive refurbishments of both Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager have greatly enhanced and expanded the appeal of this already hugely popular pair of sisters, offering a foretaste of the new ship in many of their signature elements.
As always, stay tuned for future developments.