It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve sailed the Mediterranean, there’s always something new – or possibly very ancient – to discover. Regent Seven Seas Cruises is a seasoned luxury operator in the fabled region and is the only all-inclusive cruise line to offer free unlimited shore excursions in every port – as well as an extensive collection of extra-charge, behind the scenes tours open only to a privileged few.
Getting to the heart of a destination’s history, culture and cuisine is an integral part of the cruise experience. RSSC’s fleet of four elegant ships are small enough to dock in the centre of town in ports such as Portofino, Italy that can’t accommodate megaships – and when its ships call at busier harbours, RSSC’s shore tours will take you far away from the every-day.
Take Marseille, for example. It is a massive port that dozens of cruise lines call at year-round and as the main city in southern France’s beautiful Provence, it is an important stop on many itineraries. Its colourful, cosmopolitan Old Port is a delight to explore on foot, but you’ll gain a completely different perspective of the region if you join an excursion into the countryside and nearby Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Arles, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cassis or St Remy de Provence.
RSSC offers an impressive selection of half- and full-day tours from Marseille. Art-lovers might opt for the free day tour to St Remy and Arles, picturesque towns you’ll recognise from Vincent van Gogh’s now famous paintings and drawings that date back to the time the brilliant but troubled artist spent there in the late 1800s. A day exploring the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Avignon’s Pope’s Palace and remains of St Benezet’s Bridge is another excellent free, in-depth excursion, and there are many more.
A Regent Choice shore excursion allows an even deeper insight into a destination. Meeting Michelin-starred master chef Rene Berard at his private property in Provence for a tour of his gardens and a demonstration of Provencal cooking followed by lunch at Berard’s exclusive bistro is one of those experiences you’ll remember forever. And one that would be pretty much impossible to organise independently.
Behind-the-scenes tours of culturally important places are increasingly sought-after by discerning travellers and RSSC’s excursion portfolio includes some incredible exclusive experiences. Skipping across the Mediterranean to Italy, in Rome, you have the rare opportunity to be in the audience for a blessing from the Pope at the Vatican or visit areas of the Vatican City that are off-limits to the general public. And if exploring the pagan side of the Eternal City is more to your taste, there’s a fascinating guided tour based on ancient monuments detailed in Dan Brown’s novel Angels and Demons.
Another option in every port is booking a private chauffeur-driven car, van or minibus and customising your own tour with your own English-speaking guide. These variously suit solo travellers or couples and small groups of six to 13 people; the ship’s destination manager is on hand to help you organise the perfect individualised itinerary.
RSSC’s renowned levels of service extend to all areas of every voyage – the luxury cruise line’s catch-phrase is, appropriately, ‘Allow us to take care of every detail’.