Around the Med in 80 dishes

By Michael McHugh

Around the Med in 80 dishes
MiNDFOOD’S Editor-in-Chief Michael McHugh is teleported to diverse culinary worlds onboard the all-inclusive luxury cruise ship Seven Seas Splendor, as he contemplates the possibility of becoming a stowaway.

I love that very first moment walking onto a ship you have never sailed on before. Strolling from deck to deck on the Seven Seas Splendor there is a feeling of absolute space onboard and I am still not quite sure how the clever designers have pulled this off. Billed as ‘The World’s Most Luxurious Fleet’, a few days into my Regent Seven Seas Cruises Mediterranean cruise, I feel I have the ship’s footprint all figured out and the access point to each deck, lounge, restaurant and bar.

After those first few days of discovery on a new ship, it always feels less maze-like and more like home. Like a well-seasoned traveller, I now know how to get to my suite from every imaginable point onboard.

This is the first time I’ve really understood what ‘all-inclusive’ means, not only with personalised service but also the included shore excursions, pre-cruise hotel packages, transfers from my hotel to the ship, unlimited beverages with a constantly stocked mini bar in my suite, valet laundry service, gratuities, unlimited wi-fi and speciality restaurants.

The personalised service and staff seem so intuitive they already know what I’m thinking. Much like a group of conjuring wizards that understand my every whim – from my butler and suite attendant to the mixologist and barista – they act before I speak or perhaps even think and realise just what I may want or need. The personalised attention makes me feel like I’m the only one onboard, and nothing is a problem. It is one of the best staff-to-guest ratios at sea.

Take your time in each port

RSSC has just announced a new overnight stay program in every port of call on new 2024/2025 itineraries. Their Immersive Overnights invite you to experience something new with in-port overnights and multiple excursions in every port you visit. “Regent’s history of innovation is what made us industry leaders in ultra-luxury cruising, and we continually strive to elevate the unrivalled Regent experience,” says Andrea DeMarco, RSSC President. “Our Immersive Overnights collection featuring an overnight stay in every single port of call will change the way luxury travellers cruise. These extended overnight experiences will allow guests unparalleled immersion in a range of incredible global destinations.”

There is nothing worse than racing back to a ship at 4pm in the afternoon to make the designated time before departure, when you perhaps had only arrived at that port at say, 10am that morning, as you are only just starting to enjoy the destination when you have to leave.

This new initiative and the luxury of an overnight stay allows the opportunity to explore more of that destination, and perhaps book a local restaurant or enjoy a shore excursion during the evening. This is a real game changer when it comes to deciding your cruise itineraries.

Dining par excellence

One of my favourite dining spots onboard was the flagship Compass Rose, a beautifully designed restaurant where I had breakfast most mornings. The entrance lobby in soft silver greys and muted metallic gold palette with geometric patterned carpet and soft diffused lighting make for quite the ‘Ta dah’ moment on arrival. I always managed to get a window seat in the morning, watching as we drew closer to our new port for the day, and ordering a boiled egg with soldiers. Yes it was a throwback to childhood memories, but why not? It’s just what I felt like.

At night the menu is split into dishes that are always available, like Traditional Shrimp Cocktail, Lobster Bisque, and Black Angus Beef Carpaccio, plus a wide range of Executive Chef’s Daily Specials – anything from Risotto Primavera to Baked Alaskan Halibut. Tables are set with Versace tableware, fresh flowers, and beautiful glassware. At night, Compass Rose feels quite different to the relaxed vibe of the morning, as guests hop from table to table greeting each other and catching up on news of the day and their explorations on land.

The cost-inclusive speciality restaurants not only cater to every imaginable taste and appetite but also have a wide range on offer, allowing you to be transported each night to a very different culinary experience onboard.

Pacific Rim restaurant’s lobby has a giant bronze dragon that spins and twirls from the floor up to the ceiling. The menu of dim sum, soups, salads, seafood, sushi and sashimi with signature dishes like Crispy Soft Shell Crab Tempura and Duck Confit Spring Rolls are all simply delicious. The Chinese Barbecue Pork Ribs are the best at sea, eaten in the most luxurious Asian-style restaurant imaginable.

Sette Mari at La Veranda is an authentic Italian restaurant offering wines matched perfectly to the dishes. My pasta dish transported me to those little neighbourhood restaurants in Emilia-Romagna – the epicentre of Italian cuisine. Another night we ate in what felt like a beautiful Parisian restaurant, Chartreuse. I ordered the Soufflé aux Fromages, followed by the Filet de Flétan with Barigoule de Fenouil, Tapenade Citron-Artichaut and Olive Verte. Both dishes were sensational. I began to wonder whether one ever really needs to leave the ship, teleporting as we did to different worlds each night?

Prime 7 features classic steakhouse cuisine with a modern flair.

Best of the best

There is always one restaurant that guests chatter about and want to know if you have tried. And that is Prime 7 steakhouse. This guest favourite served perfectly aged and cooked Filet Mignon, Porterhouse, Prime New York Strip, Surf and Turf, Alaskan King Crab Legs and fresh fish. The chatter was accurate – this was a very, very good steakhouse and I was not disappointed.

And so, as I strolled back to my suite I start to ponder how I might possibly become a stowaway and never leave.

For more information, visit Regent Seven Seas Cruises –



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