Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the new name for Radisson Seven Seas Cruises which was announced by Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairman of the Carlson Companies, at a function in New York this week.

With the Regent brand of luxury hotels already under its umbrella, Carlson has merged the hotel chain and the cruise line under the Regent banner, promising to deliver the highest levels of luxury and service.

Mark Conroy, president and CEO of the cruise line, will have overall governance for the Regent brand, including responsibility for operations, sales and marketing for the Americas for the hotel side as well.

In addition to the four ships of Regent Seven Seas, the hotels include eight properties with nine more under construction.

The rebranding of the cruise line also includes a fleetwide upgrading estimated to cost some $50 million, which will take place over the 18 months.

All staterooms and suites will be redesigned and upgraded, as well as all public areas, according to the cruise line.

Upgrades include soft comforters and Egyptian cotton percale linens with satin-stitch embroidery, new mattresses, soft bathrobes and towels, as well as new bathroom amenities.

Stateroom technology upgrades include flat screen TVs, DVD players and music systems. High-speed wireless internet access and cell phone service will also be available on the ships.

A new Regent Travel Concierge program will also allow guests to customize their travel based on personal interest and preferences. Guests will also be able to pre-register for shore excursions and pre-book dinner in the ships' specialty restaurants. Guests confirmed in suites with butler service can e-mail any of their special requests ahead of time.

In addition is the so-called "Circle of Interest" enrichment program, featuring 10 themes on select sailings, with onboard lectures and workshops combined with special shore excursions and events led by experts. The themes include food and wine, performing arts, photography, history, archeology and literature, the environment and marine life, jewelry and shopping, active exploration and wellness, art design and museums, families and friends, and romance.

Conroy said that as the new premium ships are offering suites, concierge services and separate checkins for suite passengers, Regent Seven Seas has to continue to differentiate itself, including never having its guests wait in line.

The Thomas Tillberg firm is responsible for the redesign. Some of the work will be performed while the ships are in service, but most of it will be done during drydock, Conroy said.

The work will be done at the Grand Bahama Shipyard where the Seven Seas Vovager and the Seven Seas Navigator will go in December and the Seven Seas Mariner i  April. The fourth ship is the Paul Gauguin which is operated by Regent Seven Seas but is owned by the Grand circle Corporation. Regent' agreement with Grand Circle, which refurbished the ship last year, runs through 2008 so far.

Carlson Nelson added that the intent goes far beyond renaming the cruise line, but will redefine uxury into the realms of the senses and spirit. She referred to the guidelines of the founder of the Regent hotels. Bob Bums: "To serve others is to serve oneself; to hear without being told; to see without being shown; and to know without being asked."

According to Conroy, the affiliation with the hotels will also allow recruitment back and forth between the land properties and the ships.

Commented Jay Witzel, President and CEO of Carlson Hotels and CEO of Carlson Cruises in a prepared statement: "We expect the global Regent brand to play a significant role in Carlson's future growth.

"By aligning our ships and hotels, we're able to create a seamless integration of ship-to-shore experiences, giving our guests such options as pre- and post-cruise stays in Regent hotels around the world and special benefits across brands to reward their loyalty," Witzel said.

"We are committed globally to the ultra luxury segment as potentially one of the most rewarding opportunities for growth," he added.

While there are no immediate plans to add new ships, due to the unfavorable dollar-to-euro rate, according to Conroy, rates are up an average of 9 percent in 2006 and are expected to go up another 7 percent to 8 percent in 2007. Regent Seven Seas makes about 90 percent of its revenue from ticket fares and only 10 percent from onboard spending. And, ±at may become even less important as the line ponders going all-inclusive in 2007.

A Regent cruise will not be so much about where the guests have been as about what they have experienced, added Carlson Nelson.