Day 2 – Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

A Quantum Day at Sea

Come with us as we spend a day at sea exploring Royal Caribbean's new Quantum of the Seas! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Exploring Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum of the Seas. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Aaron Saunders, reporting for Avid Cruiser

November 13, 2014

My first full day aboard Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum of the Seas was jam-packed with activities. There was so much to see and do aboard the massive new ship and, with the clock ticking down, I armed myself with a deck plan and set out to cram as much as I possibly could into my day.

As it turns out, I managed to do a lot. I explored nearly every nook and cranny, walked every deck and climbed every staircase. Over the course of 15 hours of activities, both scheduled and unscheduled, I ended up with more than 600 photographs to sort through – yet I still barely scratched the surface.

Elevators all feature individual artwork - and it became a bit of a task to see if you could "collect them all." Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Elevators all feature individual artwork — and it became a bit of a task to see if you could “collect them all.” Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Because there is so much to talk about when it comes to Quantum of the Seas, I’m going to begin with a broad overview of some of the public spaces and technological features of the ship today and then delve into more in-depth articles on the ship’s technological achievements and dining options later this week.

What truly surprised me was that many of the most heavily promoted features of Quantum of the Seas were really only well-designed footnotes. What I mean by that is that as a ship Quantum of the Seas would have been a winner without the SeaPlex. Or the Bionic Bar. Or perhaps even the RipCord by iFly. These things are cool, but you’ll probably only do them once during your voyage, tick it off your list, and move on.

The forward promenade area of Deck 4 (seen from Deck 5) is reminiscent of Celebrity's Solstice class. Throughout the ship, there is a surprising amount of natural light and ocean views. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The forward promenade area of Deck 4 (seen from Deck 5) is reminiscent of Celebrity’s Solstice class. Throughout the ship, there is a surprising amount of natural light and ocean views. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

More significant than the gee-whiz features is how well she’s designed. Quantum of the Seas isn’t a direct evolution of the Voyager and Freedom class; she’s a radically different vessel. She shares more similarities with Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice-Class than she does with her Royal Caribbean predecessors. This was particularly apparent as I walked along the forward section of Deck 4, which featured ceilings that extended to Deck 5 and windows that filled the promenade with natural light. It was a far more elegant ship than Royal Caribbean has built in the past, with the possible exception of the still-gorgeous Radiance Class.

Lifejackets are now provided at individual Muster Stations, and not in staterooms. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
As on Oasis and Allure of the Seas, lifejackets are provided at individual Muster Stations, and not in staterooms. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Quantum of the Seas also does a number of things differently. For example, as on Oasis and Allure of the Seas, you won’t find lifejackets in your stateroom closets. Standard-issue on nearly every cruise ship, the thought was that it makes more sense to provide lifejackets at your muster stations. In the event of an emergency, you would be heading to your muster station anyway.

The Bionic Bar, Enhanced Internet & Smart Apps

The Music Hall spans Decks 3 and 4, and is situated just aft of the Royal Theater. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Music Hall spans Decks 3 and 4, and is situated just aft of the Royal Theater. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

At a press conference held in the Music Hall, Royal Caribbean’s Executive Vice President of Operations, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, revealed that the Bionic Bar was an idea that only came to fruition this past April. Royal Caribbean execs had seen a robot demoed at a technology conference in Las Vegas, discussed the concept, then flew to Italy to meet with the manufacturer. Fast-forward six months and the two robots were installed in their new home in the Bionic Bar. Featuring a DJ at nights, the Bar works far better than I had expected with regard to how well it fits with the flow and design of the ship.

The Bionic Bar was actually a late addition to Quantum of the Seas. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Bionic Bar was a late addition to Quantum of the Seas. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
It also features a DJ with live music by night, and opens up attractively to the Royal Esplanade just off-screen. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The bar also features a DJ with live music by night, and opens up attractively to the Royal Esplanade just off-screen. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

I liked and appreciated the frankness with which Lutoff-Perlo, Chairman Richard D. Fain, and Executive Vice President, Marine, Harri Kulovarra spoke with journalists. When asked about the inclusion of wi-fi onboard and why it was so critical to offer enhanced connectivity, Fain drew a parallel to ATM machines. Twenty or thirty years ago, they were scarce, he said. If you wanted to get cash out, you had to go to your bank. Of course, nowadays we couldn’t live without an ATM. Fain views shipboard enhanced internet connectivity in that same light: something we’re finding we can’t live without.

The Royal iQ app is handy for seeing what you've got booked...but I still don't like having to rely on it. However, many guests will no doubt love this.
The Royal iQ app is handy for seeing what you’ve got booked … but I didn’t like having to rely on it. However, many guests will no doubt love the feature.

I have to admit that the Royal iQ app was handy for making reservations without having to queue up. In that respect, it’s a home-run. The downside, though, was that I was clipped by four people who were walking down the corridor, staring like zombies at their iPhones. I’ve never had that happen on a cruise ship before. Yet, I still caught myself checking my email – and more often than not, I had fun posting photos of my journey to Twitter. Maybe that’s a good way for people to share their vacations? Time will tell.

A Walk Around Quantum Of The Seas

The beautiful decor of The Grande, Deck 3. Waiters use digital technology that transmits orders instantly to the galley. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The beautiful decor of The Grande, Deck 3. Waiters use digital technology that transmits orders instantly to the galley. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

One of the best uses of technology onboard has to be in Quantum of the Seas’ dining venues: waiters all used handheld Windows tablets to place orders, which were transmitted digitally to the galley. Moreover, these handheld tablets tracked guests’ allergies and dietary needs across all venues. As someone who’s allergic to all nuts, that feature alone was worth its weight in gold – and could possibly save someone’s life. At each venue I went to, my nut allergy was treated with the utmost respect and each dish came out with the phrase “no nuts” attached to it. For those without allergies this may seem like overkill, but for someone with allergies – particularly severe ones – it gives them what they need most: peace of mind. Stunning use of technology.

Another use of "technology" - imaginative menus that you "paint" with water to reveal meal options in Wonderland, Deck 5. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Another use of “technology” – imaginative menus that you “paint” with water to reveal meal options in Wonderland, Deck 5. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

I would have loved to have heard more from Kulovarra, who has been a driving force for the design and features of Royal Caribbean’s ships since he joined the company in 1995. Before he came to Royal Caribbean, Kulovarra was Executive Vice President & COO for Silja Line, one of Scandinavia’s largest cruiseferry operators. If you ever get to sail aboard Silja Serenade, you’ll get to see an early example of the Royal Promenade (and the Royal Esplanade) – Harri Kulovarra designed a horizontal, multi-deck interior promenade space for Silja back in the late 1980s.

So, without further ado, let’s have a walk around Quantum of the Seas:

The Casino on Deck 3. This area will be enlarged before Quantum enters into service in Asia next year. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Casino on Deck 3. This area will be enlarged before Quantum enters into service in Asia next year. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Casino. © 2014 Aaron Saunders
At the aft end of The Casino is a staircase that takes guests to the Royal Esplanade on Deck 4. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
At the aft end of The Casino is a staircase that takes guests to the Royal Esplanade on Deck 4. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Michael's Genuine Pub, Deck 4 - an excellent gastropub experience. Pricing here is a'la carte, and you can order everything from a charcuterie plate to a jar of pickles to complement 14 different types of craft beer, seven cocktails, three kinds of whisky flights, and twenty kinds of wine. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Michael’s Genuine Pub, Deck 4 – an excellent gastropub experience. Pricing here is a’la carte, and you can order everything from a charcuterie plate to a jar of pickles to complement 14 types of craft beer, seven cocktails, three kinds of whisky flights, and 20 kinds of wine. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Bolero's Lounge on Deck 4 has live Latin music each evening. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Bolero’s Lounge on Deck 4 has live Latin music each evening. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The gorgeous Schooner Bar on Deck 5 forward. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The gorgeous Schooner Bar on Deck 5 forward. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Quantum of the Seas' all-digital photo display centre. The only photos printed are the ones you order. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Quantum of the Seas’ all-digital photo display centre. The only photos printed are the ones you order. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Shore Excursion "desk" aboard Quantum of the Seas. Use the kiosks to make your bookings (or ask for help from one of the friendly staff on-hand). Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Shore Excursion “desk” aboard Quantum of the Seas. Use the kiosks to make your bookings (or ask for help from one of the friendly staff on-hand). Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Sorrento's Cafe, Deck 4, features pizza and other snacks. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Sorrento’s Cafe, Deck 4, features pizza and other snacks. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Japanese-inspired Izumi is tucked into a cozy corner of Deck 5, just aft of the Schooner Bar. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Japanese-inspired Izumi is tucked into a cozy corner of Deck 5, just aft of the Schooner Bar. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Unique menus in the Music Hall. Each lounge has a completely unique list of cocktails and beverages that reflect the individual style of the lounge. Nice touch! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Menus in the Music Hall. Each lounge has a completely unique list of cocktails and beverages that reflect the individual style of the lounge. Nice touch! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The American Icon Grill on Deck 4 features innovative slatted images known as Lenticular screens. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The American Icon Grill on Deck 4 features innovative slatted images known as Lenticular screens. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Lenticular screen on the left looks like a solid wall, but it is actually merely thin slats that still keep the room open and airy. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The Lenticular screen on the left looks like a solid wall, but it is actually merely thin slats that still keep the room open and airy. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The navigation bridge aboard Quantum of the Seas. It's so large you'd have to pick up the phone and call from one side of the bridge wing to the other. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The navigation bridge aboard Quantum of the Seas. It’s so large you’d have to pick up the phone and call from one side of the bridge wing to the other. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The view from Quantum's portside bridge wing, facing aft. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The view from Quantum’s portside bridge wing, facing aft. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Just one part of Quantum's massive galley. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Just one part of Quantum’s massive galley. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Up on deck, the crew have named the pink creature in the background "Felicity." Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Up on deck, the crew named the pink creature in the background “Felicia.” Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Some mid-Atlantic surfing. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Some mid-Atlantic surfing. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Royal Caribbean's President & CEO, Adam Goldstein, enjoys some table-tennis with a guest in the SeaPlex on Deck 15. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Royal Caribbean’s President & CEO, Adam Goldstein, enjoys some table-tennis with a guest in the SeaPlex on Deck 15. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Skydiving in the RipCord by iFly, Deck 16 aft. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Skydiving in the RipCord by iFly, Deck 16 aft. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Yet, there are still places on Quantum of the Seas where you can get away and just enjoy the quiet of the ocean. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Yet, there are still places on Quantum of the Seas where you can get away and just enjoy the quiet of the ocean. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Of course, these photos barely scratch the surface of what Quantum of the Seas has to offer. In my next post, I’ll explore her multitude of dining options in-depth, and the following day look to learn more about her technical and engineering spaces and explore why some of the ship’s smartest features will never be seen by her passengers.

I came to New York two days ago to experience Quantum of the Seas – to make my mind up about a ship that I just didn’t know if I would appreciate. I didn’t see the point to having a robotic bar, or bumper cars, or the ability to play Xbox. Out of all the buzz surrounding Quantum of the Seas’ most talk-about features, there’s one message that I feel got lost in the shuffle: These features are only the icing on the cake.

At her heart, Quantum of the Seas typifies the new Royal Caribbean. It’s cruising, evolved.

The crew of Quantum of the Seas (well, some of them, anyhow) pose for their first formal portrait. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The crew of Quantum of the Seas (well, some of them, anyhow) pose for their first formal portrait. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The full report, both here and onboard:

Quantum of the Seas Preview

DAYPORTACTIVITIES
Wednesday, November 12, 2014Cape Liberty (Bayonne), New JerseyEmbark Quantum of the Seas. Evening sailaway.
Thursday, November 13At SeaNavigation Bridge and Engine Control Room Tour; Galley Tour and Complete Dining Venue Tour; Accommodations Tour; Pub Craft Beer Session; Evening Entertainment
Friday, November 14, 2014Cape Liberty (Bayonne), New JerseyDisembark Quantum of the Seas; Photo Tour & Recap
Our Thoughts About Quantum Of The Seas
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4 Comments

  • I can’t say enough about our 2 nd voyage on Silversea this 3 weeks ago, Rome to Athens for 10 nights. I think we are hooked on luxury cruising. It makes so much sense be she’s ifs all- inclusive. There’s nothing better than getting back to your veranda suite where your butler gas a chilled bottle of a French champagne chilled for you and canapés after a day of touring. We have sailed on almost every major large cruiseline and at the end of the day you do end more on them then bring pampered by the staff of a shall ship luxury cruise line. The food is over the top, drinks, wine and champagne flow morning to night. Cappuccinos, espressos and lattes all day long and fluffiest oversized robes you’ve ever put on your body. Before we disembarked we booked our next Silversea cruise to Asia! See you soon Silversea. We just may have to do one in March. I won’t be a me to wait!

    Reply
    • Wonderful David! You’re so right about the pampering and the butler and the champagne. It is truly a luxury, an unforgettable experience. See you at sea soon!

      Reply
      • Maybe you can sail with us next October to Vietnam Nam! Maybe Dallas will be a destination. No Ocean but friendly people and great dining !

        Reply

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