Editor's Blog

The shipping news

Where to begin with the Seven Seas Explorer? Is it the portside infinity pool? The penthouse apartments? The signature restaurants? How about the £50 million worth of fine art hanging on its cabin walls?

No, let’s start with the fact that last week it was moored up in Southampton for a short stopover awaiting a new influx of silver-haired seafaring guests. M&IT was lucky enough to be invited on board by Associated Luxury Hotels International chief of sales Mark Sergot for a head-spinning tour of what is essentially the most expensive cruise ship ever built.

Try these numbers on for size. The ship cost a staggering £340m to build and a 10-day cruise can cost between £30,000 and £11,000 depending on what level of mind-blowing luxury you expect. The construction was so complex and detailed it took five years to build. This is no 4,000 guest ocean-going tower block; all cabins are ocean-facing and some have terraces large enough to hold cocktail parties on. 

The attention to detail is extraordinary with special attention to any cruise ship's most valuable commodity: space. The passageways and corridors are avenues of carpeted luxury, the spa is spacious and filled with natural light; it’s also one of the few places, alongside the casino, where you’ll actually have to pay for anything.

The on-board art collection features works by Picasso, Rembrandt and Matisse, there’s an original Buddhist prayer-wheel installation outside an Asian restaurant, it’s so massive and so heavy they had to cut a hole in the side of the ship to install it, the floors beneath it are reinforced to accommodate its massive weight.

Everything is bespoke, from the dinnerware (Versace) to the bar in your cabin (you pre-select what premium booze you’d like it stocked with. The penthouse cabin has a baby grand Steinway.

The best part is you can charter the whole thing; if you do they’ll retro-fit to whatever takes your fancy, you’ll just need to give them 18 months’ notice or more realistically five years. It's booked years in advance but there are huge opportunities for event planners here - the biggest draw is that everything you could possibly need is on site.

For meetings and events, it’s a dream venue, outstanding staff and facilities, their tech and AV situation is right up there with the space shuttle, so you won’t have to worry about that. They’ve had car launches on board; they once hoisted a smaller luxury yacht on to the main deck for a launch event. This is a can-do cruise liner that’s exploring the very edges of known luxury - and long may she sail. 

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