I’ve written rather extensively about Quantum of the Seas. Royal Caribbean’s newest vessel promises to be a game-changer within the industry. The company refers to her as the industry’s first Smart Ship. I tend to agree that they are finally taking technology to the next level for vacations at sea. I’ve heard many veteran cruisers complain that they cruise to “get away from it all” and I can’t disagree. While writing a blog doesn’t lend itself to being totally disconnected, in reality, I can take care of blog business for a set period of time each day and then disconnect. Further, no one is holding a gun to any cruiser’s head and making them use the internet options available at sea. So frankly, the idea of being unable to disconnect on a “connected” ship doesn’t float with me. Sure you can.

However, there is one thing I’m really going to miss – the personal connection with the dining room staff. No question, a big part of cruising is the dining. While I can’t call most of the main dining room dishes 5-star when thousands must be served, I’ve almost always been able to call the service 5-star. A big reason for that is the connection you make with your dining room server team. After a few days they know your wants and desires and you get to know them. It’s not unusual for new cruisers to tell me the stories of their first experiences at sea and the only names they remember will be those of their dining room staff or the people they meet at their dining room table.

With the advent of Dynamic Dining, that connection will be gone. You’ll pick one of many restaurants each night, and perhaps never have the same server twice. I suspect that most of the cruise market is indifferent to this, and in fact, I’m looking forward to giving Dynamic Dining a try. There’s certainly a lot to love about Quantum of the Seas, and I can’t wait to board. But I expect I’ll miss the personal connections made at the dining room table….not just with the service staff, but my fellow cruisers too.

-MJ, October 22, 2014

Royal Caribbean International is offering free wi-fi in New York City subway stations! Why would a cruise line sponsor free wi-fi? To celebrate the coming arrival of Quantum of the Seas in the New York area, of course! Quantum of the Seas, the world’s first “smartship,” promises to be a marvel in many ways. I can’t wait to sail aboard Quantum in December! According to Royal Caribbean,

“The world’s first smartship Quantum of the Seas is set to arrive into New York Harbor on Nov. 10, 2014, and Royal Caribbean is counting down the days until her big debut. In anticipation of the ship’s arrival, Quantum of the Seas is making waves across NYC billboards, screens and digital displays capturing the attention of New Yorkers everywhere…including underground. With Quantum of the Seas introducing a wave of technological features that have never before been possible at sea, including ultrafast wireless capability that allows for unprecedented connectivity, the cruise line partnered with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to bring free Wi-Fi to underground subway platforms in Manhattan and Queens.”

So check your email while waiting for your train. Or better yet, book a cruise aboard Quantum of the Seas!

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A staple of Royal Caribbean ships since the 1970’s, the Viking Crown Lounge has graced the upper decks of Royal’s ships all the way back to Song of Norway and Sun Viking. On most Royal Caribbean ships, the lounge sit up high, either around the stacks or looking down on the pools. Many appreciate the lounges because of their stunning sea views. They can be a great place to watch sail away if temps are chilly or weather is inclement. MJ on Travel has been known to enjoy a libation or two in the Viking Crown from time to time.

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Well, it seems that the traditional dining room is not the only thing that’s changing with Royal Caribbean. According to this Travel Weekly article, the recent refit of Oasis of the Seas will see the end of the traditional Viking Crown Lounge on that ship. The ship’s Viking Crown has been converted into a lounge and restaurant for suite guests. In honesty, I didn’t even make it to the Viking Crown aboard Oasis’ sister ship, Allure of the Seas, until the last night of 2 weeks on board. There are just too many other things to do! However, I was struck by the views of the sea as the Viking Crown was one of a few places, other than ocean view cabins, where you could enjoy great views of the ocean. (Image of Oasis of the Seas in dry dock courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

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Quantum of the Seas and her upcoming sister ships will not have a Viking Crown, but the Two70 lounge will offer great views, and fabulous entertainment too. All in all, I’m not too stressed. Things change, and there are plenty of other Royal ships that offer the Viking Crown for now.

-MJ, October 15, 2014

Of the many unique features of Quantum of the Seas, none is more unique than North Star. I can think of no better way than a mechanical arm with a gondola attached, but I’ll go with Royal Caribbean’s description – an engineering marvel that takes guests to new heights in a jewel-shaped glass capsule that gently rises more than 300 feet in the air, taking guests on a spectacular journey and delivering awe-inspiring, 360-degree views. Here’s an image (courtesy of Royal Caribbean) of the newly installed North Star on Quantum of the Seas.

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I’d call it a novelty more than anything else, but it’s a novelty I’m looking forward to trying when I board Quantum of the Seas in December. Like most things cruise ship, there’s more to designing and installing North Star than meets the eye. Here’s an excellent video describing the process.

Sea trials and final preparation of Quantum of the Seas are exciting events. It’s hard to believe that I’ll be boarding Quantum in just 55 days! However, Quantum of the Seas is merely the first ship in the Quantum Class family. Sister ship Anthem of the Seas is already under construction, with plans for delivery just 6 months after Quantum. In order to pull this off, the shipyard had to employ special manufacturing techniques, manufacturing the ship in blocks that are now being joined. Here’s a fascinating video from Royal Caribbean describing the process.

MJ, October 7, 2014

I know it barely shines through, but I’m seriously stoked for our upcoming cruise aboard Quantum of the Seas. I posted about her conveyance down the River Ems, and the ship is now undergoing sea trials. There have been a lot of Quantum videos, but I think this is my favorite. Video using an unmanned aircraft (aka drone), this video is very well done. Quantum of the Seas is a beautiful ship, and I can’t wait to sail. Enjoy your Friday night, and enjoy this great video!

-MJ, September 26, 2014

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

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