Regent Seven Seas vs. Crystal Cruises

Jun 12, 2012 Avatar Dan Ilves Dan Ilves

A number of travelers ask us which cruise line is better: Regent Seven Seas Cruises or Crystal Cruises. Both are favored cruise lines that have excelled in catering to sophisticated and discerning travelers.

Staterooms. One can readily suggest that, bottom line, it’s a matter of different strokes for different folks. Regent Seven Seas offers ships averaging some 700+ passengers. Regent’s staterooms are quite exceptional, featuring a walk-in closet and marble bathrooms a bit more spacious than Crystal’s. Crystal’s ships average closer to 1,000 passengers when the ship is full, but the ships are larger than Regent’s. So the elbow room is actually better on Crystal. Of course, the differences depend on what stateroom category one might compare, but overall, we give Regent the edge on staterooms.

Cuisine. Both cruise lines generally offer a very fine dining experience onboard. As far as evening dining is concerned, Crystal gets my vote for consistently providing exceptional dining at sea, combined with top-notch service. Crystal’s alternative dining venues (Asian and Italian) also edge out Regent’s (Cordon Bleu and Pan-Asian). However, there’s something to be said in Regent’s favor with respect to open-seating dining. (For the alternative dining venues on either ship one requests their reservation times.) An open-seating dining policy is preferred by more travelers, and on this basis Regent has a more desirable dining policy. But based on cuisine and service, Crystal fares better.

Wine and alcohol. Regent’s cruise fare is alcohol inclusive. Very good wines are served, and drinks at the bar are included, as is a mini-bar set up in staterooms. Premium wines and liquor are available for a charge. For those that enjoy wine with dinner or their pre- or post-dinner cocktails, there’s no question Regent’s policy is a convenient luxury. There’s also a different ambience created on a cruise with an “open bar” policy, as it’s easier to socialize with guests without the “pressures” of paying or signing for drinks onboard. (Crystal suggests that guests that don’t drink alcoholic beverages, or drink sparingly, shouldn’t have to absorb a pro-rated cost for those that do.)

Service. Both lines offer a high-level of service, as one would expect. But from my experience, Crystal’s service culture is more refined and evident than on Regent, where service was at times spotty, and rarely accompanied by an apology.

Entertainment. Unfortunately, cruise line entertainment seems to follow a rather fixed formula, and few lines seem to figure out how to offer something far more compelling, creative and diverse in appeal. (Cunard, for one, offers a more unique complement of entertainment and education onboard, on far more populated ships.) Having said that, Crystal has always focused on visually appealing shows that showcase strong talent on the stage. Regent’s entertainment was far less imaginative, and the talent fair. For in-room entertainment, both lines offer a DVD and book library onboard. Regent offered a series of pre-recorded talks, and a new interactive TV system will make it easier for guests to view programs “on demand.” (Not sure about Crystal’s.)

Shore Excursions. Both lines do a fine job offering an array of desirable shore excursions with good guides. Crystal may take the edge, as they have developed some rather unique and compelling choices in select ports around the world. However, for an extra charge, Regent cruises offers a Circle of Interest program on select voyages, on which a small complement of guests enjoy a program of events built around a theme, and featuring a specialist.

So is there a better line? Many times the itinerary is the deciding factor for our clients. Our cruise experts’ orientation is to provide each traveler the cruise experience that best suit their preferences and needs. Both Regent Severn Seas and Crystal offer exceptional experiences, and each excels slightly in some aspect of the overall experience.