In the movie business, a great movie is a tough act to follow. After all, once the awards have been handed out and the revenues tallied up, the question is inevitably asked: “What next?”
For Royal Caribbean International, the question of how to follow the massive Oasis of the Seas and her sister Allure of the Seas must have been a puzzling one. Not only were these ships bigger and with more frills than anything that had come before them but also had every feature that the design teams could think of. The twin vessels were highly acclaimed by the press and passengers alike, and turned heads in every single port of call.
In short, they were perfect.
The truth of the matter is that two days is not nearly enough to experience everything you can possibly do aboard Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum of the Seas. In fact, two weeks might not be enough. She’s not just a cruise ship that takes you from Point A to Point B; she’s a destination in her own right.
After just shy of 48 hours onboard, that’s my takeaway from Quantum of the Seas: she could do circles in the Atlantic for seven days and her passengers likely wouldn’t complain. There’s too much to do and see right onboard this 168,666-gross-ton ship that is 1,141 feet long, 136 feet wide, and has 16 passenger decks. In fact, you’ll barely notice you’re sailing with 4,180 other guests.
Here’s a look at some of our favorite features onboard:
Without a doubt, Two70 was the highlight of my Quantum of the Seas experience. By day, the area functioned as a spectacular aft-facing lounge that recalls the same kind of grand scale that Royal Caribbean has used in the past for its main dining rooms. By night, Two70 featured entertainment that was innovative and imaginative — a complete departure from cruise ship entertainment as you may know it.
The production values alone are staggering, with a list of technical and creative credits that reads like a feature film. In addition to Starwater, which I enjoyed, Two70 will also offer Virtual Concert and Sonic Odyssey: original shows designed by Royal Caribbean Productions and Montreal-based Moment Factory. I’d sail Quantum again just to see them.
Yes, the London Eye-esque NorthStar capsule was a winner, and it will be for you too, even if you plan to only ride it once. NorthStar gives you a perspective of your cruise ship that has, until now, been impossible to obtain. It will also no doubt turn heads when she sails to the Caribbean in a few weeks and Asia in 2015.
Even better, North Star can operate while the ship is at sea – something I had my doubts about. It’s also free – unless, of course, you’d like to get married on the NorthStar. You can do that, but for a fee.
I’ll be the first to admit that I thought Royal Caribbean’s main dining rooms were some of the most beautiful afloat. Grand and sprawling, the main dining room on Mariner of the Seas still stands as one of the nicest I’ve ever been in. But although these large grand rooms are gone, Quantum of the Seas has something better: a multitude of more intimate venues featuring unique menus and décor.
I didn’t get to try a lot of the dining venues during my two days onboard, but of the ones I ate at (American Icon Grill, The Grande, Silk, and the Windjammer Marketplace), Silk was my undisputed favorite both in terms of ambiance and cuisine.
Elegant Styling; Efficient Flow
Quantum of the Seas absorbs her guests better than the Voyager and Freedom-class ships. On a cruise aboard Mariner of the Seas a few years back, getting a seat in the Schooner Bar or the Café Promenade was damn near impossible at the best of times.
On Quantum of the Seas – which sailed nearly full during my preview – the increased multitude of bars and lounges helped to distribute guests better than her predecessors. Coupled with the fact that most entertainment venues are spread across Decks 3, 4 and 5, the next alternative is only steps away if your favorite watering hole is full.
This stunning space could almost do double-duty as the “new” Viking Crown Lounge. Situated at the bow right above the navigation bridge, this area is part pool, part relaxation area, part bar and lounge. The views from here were unparalleled. My biggest concern was that Quantum of the Seas would have a lack of connection with the sea. It connected well.
The Solarium, in fact, is all about the ocean and the sights around you.
Should You Take The Quantum Leap?
So who is Quantum of the Seas right for? As it turns out, there are plenty of people that will probably find something to enjoy about sailing aboard Royal Caribbean’s latest ship.
Sail Quantum of the Seas if:
- You enjoy sailing on big ships with the latest bells-and-whistles; Quantum has them in spades.
- You’ve sailed with Royal Caribbean before; past guests will find lots to love about Quantum of the Seas.
- You’re are or are not technologically inclined; while high-tech features are offered for those who like to stay connected 24/7, a smartphone is by no means needed to enjoy your experience onboard. Even if you don’t own a smartphone, you can get by without the Royal iQ app.
- You enjoy ships with a multitude of high-quality dining and entertainment options, and are willing to pay a little extra for some of them.
- You’re looking for a one-of-a-kind cruise experience.
Avoid Quantum of the Seas if:
- You want a small-ship cruising experience. This most certainly isn’t it.
- You’re deeply attached to more classic Royal Caribbean features, like the Viking Crown Lounge and traditional set dining.
- You’re put-off by additional costs; Quantum of the Seas has more onboard items that come with a surcharge, including some room service menu items.
For those who have already sailed with Royal Caribbean in the past, it won’t take long to get used to the new features and style of cruising found aboard Quantum of the Seas.
In many ways, I think the technological aspect of Quantum of the Seas was over-hyped. Sure, it’s cool, but this ship stands on her own merits without the tech hype. There are also things – like Two70 – that press releases really don’t do justice to; you have to see one of the shows to truly understand what makes it so special.
What I appreciate most about this ship, though, is that it represents not just the next evolution in the long and storied history of Royal Caribbean, but also an evolution of cruising itself. There are a lot of traditions that I love about cruising, but there are a lot of things that are, frankly, stuck in the Stone Age.
Is she different? Yes. Will she suit everyone’s tastes? No.
Will she put off some Royal Caribbean veterans? Undoubtedly. To those people, I’d say this: I, too, was reluctant to buy in to the hype. Royal Caribbean made a lot of big promises; while it wasn’t quite the gamble they made with Oasis of the Seas five years ago, the stakes were still high for Quantum.
But it paid off: the cruise experience on this ship is every bit as good as Royal Caribbean’s existing fleet. So, give her a try while she’s still here in North America; you just might come away pleasantly surprised.