This weekend, I was lucky enough to join the inaugural voyage of Royal Caribbean’s brand new Quantum Class vessel: Quantum of the Seas. This is the first of the class, to be joined shortly by Anthem of the Seas.
These days, everyone has a smartphone, so Royal Caribbean have ramped up their latest ships into, well, smartships. Here’s what to expect:
The Quantum shares some of the best features of the Oasis Class ships, including our favourite area, the gorgeous Solarium, the lovely outdoor pool areas (plus an added indoor pool with retractable roof), and the vibrant H2O zone full of splashy fountains and fun pool areas for the kids as well as the fabulous FlowRider, climbing wall and all the fun of Royal Caribbean’s ongoing association with Dreamworks, featuring characters from Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon. Wander the corridors very long and you’re bound to bump into a friendly dragon or two:
The North Star – a capsule on an arm with a 360 degree view that takes guests right out over the side of the ship, about 300′ above the sea (it’s actually fantastic and not as scary as it looks!). It’s so worth it, especially for the view over the ship at dusk:
Ripcord by iFly – an incredible onboard sky diving simulator:
Seaplex – a huge indoor interactive space that will morph between all sorts of different activities: a dance floor, a basketball court, a nightclub with a DJ who hovers above the dance floor, a fabulous circus school, a roller skating area, even a bumper car circuit. Amazing.
The bumper cars are AMAZING fun:
Two70°– named after the pretty fabulous 270 degree sea views it provides – is a brand new entertainment space with floor to ceiling glass walls, spanning three decks. During the day it’s a super cool lounge area with panoramic views, and by night it will hosts amazing performances, with new state of the art digital technology transforming the area into all sorts of difference backdrops and landscapes. We saw a brilliant performance of Starwater – featuring incredible dancers as well as acrobatic performers and fabulous singers. The robotic screens are so new there are only about 12 in the world – all going on to Royal Caribbean ships:
And, of course, there’s still a fabulous theatre with waiter service so that you can have your cocktails served while you watch the performance. We were lucky enough to see the very first ever performance of Mamma Mia which was INCREDIBLE. The whole theatre were up on their feet and dancing by the end! (no photography allowed though, sadly).
Not to be outdone, the staterooms are going to be pretty amazing too – all the rooms are larger than the current Oasis class staterooms, plus every single stateroom will be a room with a view, with the introduction of incredible technology that will provide ‘virtual balconies’ showing real-time sea views. There’s loads of storage, with plenty of room to get rid of your suitcase underneath the bed.
There are also loads of new stateroom classes, including some breathtaking new loft suites, and new interconnecting rooms perfect for families and larger groups travelling together, plus new staterooms for single travellers. This was my superior stateroom with balcony (check out the USB ports at the desk so you can plug and charge your gadgets):
Royal Caribbean have introduced new WOWbands – similar to Walt Disney World’s MagicBands – which will hold guest information and allow you to make purchases and serve as your room key onboard (you do still need your room key to put the lights on in your room though – as I found when I lost mine and had to stumble around in the dark).
There’s also a new app, Royal iQ – which allows guests to keep track of things like bookings, their on-board calendar, their bill etc. This technology will also allow guests to keep in touch via messenging technology (great if you’ve got teenagers!).
New smart check-in means that you do most of your pre-cruise ‘paperwork’ at home online, minimising any delay when boarding. In fact, Royal Caribbean promise ‘sidewalk to ship’ in just ten minutes, with no queues or check in procedures. This was brilliant. It’s now SO easy to get on board. And once on the ship, guests can track their luggage from interactive stations dotted about the ship.
Of course all this technology is going to require some pretty serious WiFi, and Royal Caribbean promise superfast satellite broadband connection 24/7, no matter what device you bring onboard. It wasn’t fully working when we were on board, but apparently it’s going to be super whizzy.
The dining experience aboard Quantum of the Seas has taken the main dining room concept of Oasis and Allure and split it into four different complimentary restaurants: The American Icon Grill, Chic, Silk and The Grande Restaurant, all with their own themes. Royal Caribbean’s Dynamic Dining experience – there are no set dinner times and you don’t have to dine in any particular restaurant – gives guests a huge level of choice. I’m writing this up next so I’ll have loads more information about it, but as well as the complimentary dining there are also some pretty hot new fee-paying dining experiences, including a Jamie’s Italian and an American Gastropub, as well as favourites from Oasis and Allure such as Chops Grille steakhouse, Izumi Japanese Cuisine and Chef’s Table, plus the quirky and fabulous Wonderland, my absolute favourite.
The Bionic Bar is going to shake things up a bit too, with state of the art ‘robot bartenders’. Enter your preference into a tablet and the bionic bartenders get busy making your drink for you. There’s an interactive board nearby which tells you how long you have to wait for your drink. It was very popular, as you can imagine!
Quantum of the Seas will set sail from New York in Autumn 2014, and her sister ship, Anthem of the Seas will follow shortly after in Spring 2015. I can’t wait to go and have a proper cruise. This taster was utterly fantastic. What a beautiful ship.