In 3 months I set sail aboard Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas! To say I’m stoked about it would be a mild understatement. I’ve posted about Quantum frequently, I’ve even added “Quantum of the Seas” as a category here at MJ on Travel to help find Quantum related topics more easily. As more details of the ship have been released, we now have a clearer picture of what kind of vessel Quantum of the Seas will be. In short, she looks to be the most technologically advanced cruise ship sailing. This can be viewed as both a blessing and a curse, because as nice as fast internet and apps will be, one of the advantages of cruising is the sense of getting away. Will that change with Quantum? Perhaps, but I think the technology Quantum of the Seas promises to bring to cruising are just an acknowledgment of what the majority of customers now expect, even on vacation. Without further adieu, here are my three favorite things about Quantum of the Seas.

Power outlets by the nightstand – Sounds simple, I know, but if you’re like me, your smartphone is now your alarm clock, calendar, everything else. Having the alarm clock by the bed is most natural, and now you can charge your smartphone by the bed overnight while you sleep.

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Image courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Bandwidth – While I seek to disconnect when cruising, the truth is that it is very difficult in the modern working world to completely disappear from the grid for vast stretches of time. I write a blog on travel, I upload pictures, video clips, etc. To say that cruise ship internet has been historically frustrating would be an understatement. I’m happy to see an investment in real internet for Royal Caribbean’s newest ship. Nothing is forcing anyone to be connected all the time, and I purposely limit internet to an hour or so per day when cruising, and also declare some days as internet free. That won’t change. What will change is I’ll be a lot less frustrated when I am trying to connect.

SMART Check-In – Royal Caribbean will introduce new processes with Quantum of the Seas that moves even more of the check-in process from the pier to the PC prior to arriving in port. If you’ve been through Terminal 18 at Port Everglades and experienced how much better the process is there, then one could wonder how it could be improved. Royal Caribbean is promising 10 minutes from curbside to ship. I prefer “curbside to cocktail (C2C)” but I’ll take either. A smooth check-in really sets the tone for the cruise, and I’m excited to try SMART Check-In.

My cruising needs are simple, and these are my three favorite things right now. Let’s see if my list evolves after I experience Quantum of the Seas firsthand this December.

-MJ, August 30, 2014

I’m not an art expert, I just report the latest news. :) As Quantum of the Seas nears completion, we’re learning more and more about the new ship. In a unique twist, Royal Caribbean partnered with artist Lawrence Argent to bring his next creation “From Afar” alive on Quantum of the Seas. The whimsical piece encompasses Quantum’s art theme of What Makes Life Worth Living and is the first glimpse of the 2,980 piece, $5.2 million art collection onboard. Watch as this world-renowned Australian artist discusses the challenges and rewards associated with designing and building a piece of art meant to travel the world.

Royal Caribbean’s newest and most innovative ship, Quantum of the Seas, is edging closer to completion at they Meyer-Werft yards in Germany. Not only will Quantum feature the latest cruising from a guest entertainment perspective, she’ll also feature brand new fitness classes like FlyWheel. Here’s a look at Spinning Into Fitness with Quantum’s Sports and Fitness Advisor, Dhani Jones.

Royal Caribbean announced yesterday that it is introducing another innovation at sea, Google Street View technology for its largest ship, Allure of the Seas. According to Royal Caribbean,

With just a few clicks, guests will be able to virtually walk through the various decks of Allure of the Seas including the Royal Promenade, a boulevard that runs nearly the length of the ship, flanked by restaurants, boutiques and lounges; Central Park, an outdoor park longer than a football pitch complete with over 12,000 live plants and trees; the Boardwalk, featuring a hand-crafted carousel, two rock-climbing walls and the AquaTheater, a high-dive aquatic performance venue with the deepest pool at sea; Entertainment Place, with an elaborate theatre, night club, comedy club, jazz club and ice-skating rink, which offers professionally produced ice shows; the Pool and Sports Deck featuring a zip line, twin FlowRider surf simulators, full-size basketball/sports court, nine-hole mini-golf course, 15 pools and whirlpools and 22 restaurants, and many, many more.”

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I think this is a pretty innovative approach to making more details of the world’s largest cruise ship available to potential and current customers. Allure of the Seas is a big ship, and I think it is entirely possible to spend a week on board and not experience everything that is available. I called Allure “shockingly awesome.” Google Street View should make the cruise experience a little more awesome…or at least easier to navigate.

View Allure on Google here.

-MJ, July 8, 2014

Royal Caribbean’s most loyal cruisers can now book next year’s Crown & Anchor member cruise. This morning’s email contained details on the cruise which will be a 12-night southbound Canada and New England itinerary originating in Quebec City, Quebec and ending in Cape Liberty, NJ with 12 days of beautiful sailing in between aboard Serenade of the Seas (which happens to be a favorite ship of mine). (Map image courtesy of Royal Caribbean.)

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Member cruises tend to attract a lot of higher tier elites, and feature special parties dedicated to the cruise line’s most loyal guests. Canada and New England itineraries are on my cruising bucket list, which make this attractive. Alas, I’ll be setting sail on a trans-Atlantic cruise a little too soon after this cruise ends to take advantage this time around. I have to work to pay for all these cruises! :) But if you’re a Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor member, take a look at this itinerary. Looks like a great one.

-MJ, July 2, 2014

A 53 day cruising adventure aboard the most modern cruise ship in the world? Yes please. After an initial appearance in the New York area, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas will reposition to Shanghai, where she will homeport to serve the burgeoning Chinese market. So, how does a ship make it’s way from New York to Shanghai? According to this article in USA Today, by sailing an extraordinary repositioning itinerary:

“Kicking off on May 2, 2015 in the New York area, the sailing will include a trans-Atlantic crossing to the Mediterranean followed by passage through the Suez Canal to the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and Asia. Along the way, the 4,180-passenger vessel will call at nearly two dozens ports including Barcelona; Aqaba, Jordan; Dubai; Cochin, India; Muscat, Oman; Penang, Malaysia; Singapore; and Hong Kong.”

If, like me, you don’t have 53 days of vacation to take, you can book portions of the itinerary ranging from 3 to 16 nights. Would you cruise for 53 days? I know I would if I had the time. But would you be bored?

Keeping it Together for 53 Days

There are a ton of exciting ports of call on this itinerary, so there’ll be plenty to do, and I can’t fathom boredom on this ship. However, if you aren’t careful, 53 days on a cruise ship chock full of opportunities to eat and drink could have a negative impact on one’s waistline. My tips for keeping things in check for a 53 day cruise are the same as a 14 day cruise:

  • drink plenty of water;
  • keep the alcohol consumption in check; and
  • visit the gym at least every other day.

On alternative days, walk a mile on deck or make sure you are participating in active tours. Finally, while food is available 24/7, no one is holding a gun to your head forcing you to eat it. Enjoy your meals, experience things you might not taste at home, but there’s no requirement to order pizza at 1am just because you can. Besides…you can do that at home.

-MJ, May 21, 2014

 

Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, is progressing nicely through construction and is now 60 percent complete. Quantum promises to be an exciting new ship introducing innovative new entertainment options at sea like bumper cars and a sky diving simulator which promises to be the closest thing I ever experience to jumping out of an airplane. :) Quantum will also represent a sea change in Royal Caribbean’s traditional dining concepts with the introduction of Dynamic Dining.

Here’s a video from Royal Caribbean with some scoop on Quantum’s progress.

MJ on Travel will be sampling Quantum of the Seas’ innovations firsthand in just over 6 months. I can’t wait!

-MJ, May 20, 2014

Royal Caribbean announced today that it has reached an agreement to purchase a 4th Oasis Class vessel for delivery in 2018. According to the press release,

“The Oasis Class was a revolution in maritime design when it was launched in 2009. Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas continue to be in a class by themselves both in terms of guest satisfaction and financial returns. Today’s announcement is a reflection of their success,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We are thrilled to announce the order of a fourth Oasis-class ship during the keel-laying milestone of the third. This announcement is also a testament to the men and women of STX France who have worked so hard and so cooperatively on Oasis III.”

Having spent 2 weeks on Allure of the Seas, I can vouch that these ships truly are in a class by themselves. They may not be for everyone, but my own experience was that this was the least crowded cruise ship I’ve sailed on, a minor miracle considering I was sailing with over 6,000 passengers. Seriously, these ships are marvels of engineering, and I don’t think I was exaggerating when I called Allure of the Seas “Shockingly Awesome” in my review.

Given the apparent financial success of these ships, which is touted on every quarterly earnings call, it is not surprising Royal Caribbean has decided to add a 4th Oasis Class ship to the fleet. Speaking from my own experience, there seemed to be far more opportunities to present your onboard charge card to pay for something extra on these ships than any other. It’s not unavoidable, by any means, but there is a lot going on from the Coach Store to upcharge eateries of every description. All that said, these ships are a destination of their own right, and that’s one reason we selected Allure of the Seas for our upcoming first trans-Atlantic cruise.

-MJ, May 9, 2014

Royal Caribbean is offering deals on select 2015-2016 sailings. Canadian and US vacationers booking cruises between May 1 and May 31, 2014 can find some decent deals for cruises. You’ll receive 50 percent off of the cruise fare for the second guest, booked in the same stateroom with a full-fare guest for cruises departing between January 1, 2015 and April 30, 2016. This offer excludes Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, as well as 3rd and additional guests.

Surf over to royalcaribbean.com/BOGO for more details and booking. I’m shopping now.

-MJ, May 2, 2014

Royal Caribbean International announced new dining options today for its newest class of ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas. “Dynamic Dining” will feature five new main restaurants along with both old and new specialty dining favorites, as well as new reservations tools to help ensure you can dine when you want.

According to Royal Caribbean’s press release, “Dynamic Dining” is a completely new culinary experience that gives guests on Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas a landscape of 18 restaurant concepts as vast and varied as dining in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. With a new take on the main dining room, guests can choose from five complimentary, full service restaurants, offering more choice and flexibility than ever before. Guests will also be in full control of their own epicurean journey via a smart, new reservations system that empowers them to decide when, where, with whom to dine, and how to dress each evening.”

New main dining options include:

  • American Icon Grill, a take on the classic American road trip, pulling together best-loved regional favorites into one comfort-style menu
  • Chic, where the height of contemporary cuisine is realized and the freshest ingredients, such as proteins that pack a punch and sauces made from scratch, are evolved for a modern palate
  • Silk, a vibrant and exotic destination where the spices of the Far East bring new flavor to adventurous palates through a Pan-Asian menu
  • The Grande, a luxuriant nod to a bygone era of classic European ocean liners when dining was a time honored ritual, featuring timeless dishes, and where every night is formal night. (emphasis mine)
  • Coastal Kitchen, a concept created exclusively for suite guests, fusing Mediterranean influences with the unmatched riches of California’s bountiful farmlands.
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Roasted scallops with black truffle. Image courtesy of Royal Caribbean International.

On the specialty dining side (meaning extra charge), old standbys like Chops Grille, Izumi, and Chef’s Table will return, but there are some pretty interesting new choices as well.

  • Wonderland, an elaborate feast for the senses in a setting where Royal Caribbean chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes to invent a dreamscape of never-before-seen fare
  • Jamie’s Italian, featuring rustic Italian favorites, handmade – using seasonal ingredients and Jamie’s tried-and-tested crowd pleasers
  • Michael’s Genuine Pub, the first American gastropub at sea and the next evolution of Royal Caribbean’s relationship with James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz, offering simply-prepared food and drinks made with quality ingredients from the best artisanal producers
  • Devinly Decadence at Solarium Bistro, Royal Caribbean’s fittest dining destination, serving the foods you love all under five-hundred calories, designed by Devin Alexander, media personality, New York Times bestselling author and chef of highly-rated television show, “The Biggest Loser”

Of course, more casual options remain, but with a twist. Old favorites like Johnny Rockets, Cafe Promenade, and Sorrento’s remain along with:

  • Windjammer Marketplace, a Royal Caribbean dining mainstay gets a new twist on Quantum class as a global culinary pavilion that invites guests to explore the world, dish by dish through enticing food islands, interactive stations, made-to-order specialties, an on-site bakery and a 24-hour station called The Grill
  • The Café @ Two70 ̊, a new gourmet marketplace serving savory hot-pressed sandwiches, salads made to order, handmade soups and more
  • SeaPlex Dog House, the first food truck at sea offering gourmet hot dogs for all to enjoy in SeaPlex, the largest indoor active space at sea

My Take

Dynamic Dining represents a big change for Royal Caribbean. Their other ships offer flexible dining times as well as the more traditional early and late seating at fixed times. Frankly, I like the old way just fine. MrsMJ and I book the late dinner seating, period. We have a set time to show up somewhere, a schedule to build our day around. Sometimes we choose available specialty offerings, and more often than not, we book those at the same time as our traditional dinner seatings.

But that’s not to say Dynamic Dining is not intriguing to me. I really like the multiple restaurant main-dining concept, and I am looking especially forward to the increased specialty options. A successful implementation of the new reservations system will be key to making all this work. I’m excited to try as many of these new options as possible during our December Quantum of the Seas cruise. Color me pleased with all these new options.

-MJ, March 26, 2014

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