Regent Seven Seas Cruises® announced in 2019 that Captain Serena Melani will helm the cruise line’s newest luxury ship, Seven Seas Splendor™, making her the first woman in cruise industry history to captain a new ocean cruise ship at launch. Here, we speak to her about exciting firsts for the cruise line, the Regent experience and what it’s really like to captain a luxury cruise ship…
1. You have made history as the first female Captain in the cruise industry to launch a new luxury ship – Regent Seven Seas Cruises luxurious Seven Seas Splendor. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
I am very proud and honoured to be taking the helm of Seven Seas Splendor, it’s an important achievement for a captain to lead a new ship regardless of gender. In the early 1990s, when I started my career, discrimination and prejudice were common. I’m glad that there are many more opportunities for women now. There is a growing number of very talented female captains emerging in our industry, and we’re proud to be pioneers for those women who aspire to lead ship crew.
2. You have over 30 years of maritime experience behind you, what are some of your favourite things about the cruise travel industry?
A voyage is not only about travelling to some of the world’s most fascinating destinations. There is a parallel holiday experience to be enjoyed on board our ships with its own charm and tempo. Some guests love the life on board so much they decide to stay on the ship even while in port!
It’s like a being in a small village. You can find any kind of personality and it’s an opportunity to create fantastic shared memories with friends new and old. My main advice is to approach everyone with a friendly curiosity, and you’ll have a holiday like no other.
3. You will be the Captain of Seven Seas Splendor, Regent’s newest luxury ship. What do you think are the main highlights of this beautiful new ship?
Not only will Seven Seas Splendor continue Regent’s tradition of elevating the luxury cruise experience, she will also introduce a number of exciting firsts for guests to enjoy, including new destination-inspired menus, al fresco and over-sea dining experiences and new Gourmet Explorer Tours, which will deliver one-of-a-kind epicurean adventures on land.
Seven Seas Splendor will raise the bar for luxury travel, from twinkling crystal chandeliers overhead to the intricate details, exquisite finishing’s and enormous balcony space of her suites. The brand-new ship will essentially perfect luxury, surrounding guests with tasteful elegance.
The ship will also feature Serene Spa & Wellness, a new globally inspired spa that offers treatments using techniques and ingredients from around the world. Serene Spa & Wellness was created for Seven Seas Splendor and will open in all five ships in our fleet by February 2020.
4. Do you get to spend much time with guests on board? What do you think some of their favourite things about sailing with Regent?
Regent ships have a very welcoming, convivial atmosphere and Regent attracts guests of the same personality who desire to explore the world in luxury. Many of our guests love to make new friends, spending time chatting about their adventures ashore in the beautiful bars and lounges on board.
Since my very first-time on board Regent, back in March 2010, I understood and felt that Regent would be a different experience to other cruise lines. For example, there is a calming ambiance on board – we do not broadcast loud music or make too many announcements because we want our guests to relax and enjoy the ship in an elegant environment.
This ambiance makes my job easier as, when my navigation and safety obligations allow me, I host cocktail parties, dinners and other events. These opportunities mean that I’m able to really connect with guests rather than just meet them. Connecting with our guests is a part of my job that I love.
5. You’ve no doubt visited many destinations across the world, are you able to tell us about some of your favourites?
I have travelled much of the world over the last 30 years at sea, so it is difficult to say what is my favourite place but I will always remember my first call to Istanbul when I was on a cargo ship sailing to the Black Sea. It’s a fascinating city with peerless views when approached by sea. I would suggest the Istanbul Archaeology Museum for a unique journey through history. I was amazed by the natural wonders of Alaska and to be able to see the bubble-net feeding by a group of humpback whales. Sailing through the Amazon River is another unique experience and very difficult to describe in few words!
6. What are you most excited about for Regent’s future?
I’m grateful to be working for a company that has placed so much trust in me with the launch of Seven Seas Splendor, and it’s very exciting that Regent will launch a third sister ship to Seven Seas Explorer and Seven Seas Splendor in 2023.
With the talented teams both shore-side and on board our ships, the future is incredibly exciting, and I can’t wait to see where the next chapter of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises story takes me.