It’s one thing to cruise on a luxury ship – and then again, it’s a whole new world when you sail on Regent Seven Seas Explorer, which is often acknowledged in the industry as “the world’s most luxurious cruise ship.” So great, in fact, that we sailed for 32 days, and it did prove to set the gold standard when it comes to cruising. We fell in love with the ship, the staff, and the ports of call on this Mediterranean cruise. Many industry experts we consulted with confirmed that extended cruising is a hot new trend.

Longer Cruise = More Fun

We met an affluent, ultra-sophisticated couple from Australia who are very frequent cruisers on some of the world’s best cruise lines, and they gave us some good advice. They have taken more than 100 cruises in 30 years; almost all of them extended itineraries. They told us, “The worst thing about cruising is the day you get off. The second-worst day is when you embark. And the more space you can put between those days, the better. We would never do a seven-day cruise.”

Industry experts agree. Marcella Rappoport is Executive Vice President at Ovation Travel Group & Ovation Vacations in New York City. Her experienced view: “Most of my clients prefer longer cruises. By the time you board a ship, and get to know it, as well as the restaurants, your butler, and your fellow passengers, a shorter cruise of maybe 12 – 14 days is almost over and it is time to disembark and go back to the ‘real world.’ By contrast, it is so lovely to be on a longer cruise and really get to know the staff and find your special places on board the ship. My clients with the time and means usually opt for cruises of 21 days up to six months for Around The World Cruises. The ship becomes their home and they are able to conduct their business from onboard the ship and be looked after at the same time. Plus, you can go for three months with almost the same clothing as for three weeks.”

Gayle Takashima of Travel Leaders has been a Cruise Consultant for over 25 years. “Regent Seven Seas Explorer offers a truly carefree experience given its all-inclusive programming.  Also, when cruising for multiple weeks, the staff quickly recognize you and know your preferences, which really enhances the experience.”

We agree. Several close friendships we developed on board with our fellow guests, and we became especially fond of one of the Maitre D’s on Explorer – who may be visiting Boston, and us, with her sister in the Fall. We have already made arrangements to stay in touch and to see each other when they are in town.

And when you meet a staffer you really like and appreciate, you can plan your next voyage around their schedule.

Believe it…

Joe Chabus, Director of Public Relations for Regent says, “Some guests even book their voyages according to which crew members will be on the ship during their extended voyage. That can be a determining factor in the itinerary they plan for. On a previous extended cruise, they will have forged a close bond with the hotel director, the general manager, or a specific butler, and they want to repeat that experience on a follow-up cruise. We’ve been known to sometimes assign certain crew schedules to accommodate guests’ wishes in this regard. That type of personalized service allows the crew and guests to forge friendships on a much deeper level.” Mr. Chabus then made this million-dollar observation, which is so true, “When you’re in the hospitality industry and guests view your staff as family, it’s a prestigious honor; very much so.”

Longer cruises on Regent also give you the golden opportunity to experience more and more of its Go Local Tours, which are intimate, immersive excursions that pair travelers with locals for a taste of daily life. You might learn how to make authentic paella starting in the garden of a farm outside Valencia, Spain; or join a Bordeaux family in their home for a private dinner.

There Is No “No.”

The entire ship knew of our desire to have absolutely no olive oil or fats used in preparation for our meals – and everyone handled this flawlessly and with a big smile. Believe us when we say we disembarked the cruise weighing the same as when we embarked. Regent Explorer also has one of the largest selections of vegan/plant-based cuisine on the ocean, and this provided another whole range of cuisine. Not to mention the fact that, due to the Canyon Ranch SpaClub on board, you can also order delicious fare based on recipes from one of the world’s best destination spas. Whoever said that the average weight gain on a cruise ship is a pound a day – and this is a long-standing anecdote in the cruise industry – didn’t sail on Regent Explorer. We also made special requests for lowfat carrot cake. The pastry chef – to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude – used pumpkin puree in his recipe (instead of oil), and opted for Tahitian-vanilla yogurt frosting instead of lard-laden cream cheese. The result was a delicious dessert that we actually preferred over the more fattening version. Regent Explorer holds just 750 passengers, and that means that your every wish is the staff’s command – and you also reap the benefits of a 1-to-1.3 staff-to-guest ratio.

In fact, we were so enamored that in many ports of call, we simply stayed on board to soak up even more of this special service. The Explorer’s General Manager, Michel Coghlan, put it succinctly when he added, “We have guests that never go ashore. We are a five-star hotel and the ship becomes the destination.”