Haute cuisine on high seas
Author: Josephine McKenna
Once the traveller has registered Seven Seas Explorer's crystal chandeliers (473 of them), the expanses of marble (4,300 square metres) and the museum's worth of artworks (2,200 and counting), thoughts are likely to turn to the defining feature of this new ship: its tables. There are eight restaurants and cafés aboard the 750-passenger ship launched last year by Regent Seven Seas Cruises, the fourth vessel for the Miami-based line. The restaurants span American steakhouse (Prime 7), alfresco Italian (Sette Mari), Asian fusion (Pacific Rim), French (Chartreuse and Signatures) and the main venue, Compass Rose.
For those whose interest extends beyond the plate, there's a state-of-the-art test kitchen with 18 stations to accommodate guests for cooking classes. "Working individually really changes how we teach the classes," says senior chef instructor Noelle Barille. "The experience for the guest is very intimate, only 18 guests at a time." Cooking classes are teamed with a program of meals at destination restaurants and specialist food tours in ports along the way.
Lobster salad at Signatures.
During one of Explorer's early sailings last year, the on-board fare at Chartreuse, in a setting that evokes an archetypal Parisian bistro, was a standout: sole Grenobloise with lemon, capers, meunière sauce and potatoes; seared Barbary duck breast with glazed turnips, candied morello cherries and sour-cherry mustard; and île flottante, a "floating island" of meringue, praline and crème anglaise. "We're trying to create a gastronomic restaurant," says executive chef Jérôme Toumelin. "Take an hour and a half, enjoy the atmosphere, the platings and different flavours. This is not something to rush."
All 375 guest suites on the Explorer feature large marble bathrooms and private balconies, and bars and lounges are furnished in Art Deco-inspired opulence. For unabashed indulgence, the 412-square-metre Regent Suite has a Steinway piano, wraparound balcony and its own spa, with sauna and steam room.