The future of cruising is here and its name is Quantum of the Seas. at first sight, the ship we notice docked in Cape Liberty is like any other in Royal Caribbean’s arsenal of large ships until you step aboard to notice more, but we’ll get to that in a minute! From the moment we arrive at the pier, our luggage is taken by porters and we notice a totally different check-in process. Rather than finding herds of people standing in long lines waiting to check-in with someone standing in front of a laptop, those representatives are standing around with iPads waiting to be approached by someone! The process is incredibly easy and quick… The process consists of being asked a few mandatory questions concerning Ebola and West Africa. Once you’ve answered the questions, the representative takes your boarding pass and zaps it utilizing what seems to almost be a barcode scanner, which automatically brings up all your information beginning with the picture you uploaded when you initially completed your online check-in via Royal Caribbean’s website.
Due to the fact that it was an inaugural sailing we were a part of, a credit card was not necessary; however, i could not help but take notice of the credit card slider attached to the iPad being utilized to check people in. Unlike Square, which is relatively small and connects to the 3.5mm headset jack located on the upper left-hand side of the iPad, this slider was larger and located on the upper left side of the iPad, enabling the representative to simply slide the card quickly.
Once you’ve been successfully checked in, you move on to boarding the ship where the fun begins… As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, the ship docked in Cape Liberty seemed no different than its two predecessors from afar, but as you enter, you begin to see the distinct difference. Rather than being given key cards upon check-in, your keys are waiting for you in your cabin! That’s Right, and the best part is that you are provided with two different types… The first set is the standard key card reflecting the ship name, dining info, etc… The second set consists of it looking like a watch, but with no hands, numbers, or winding mechanism. The watch will not only be utilized to open your cabin door, it will also serve as your way of purchasing any and all goods, drinks, and services aboard the ship, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg as it pertains to technology. for the first time in cruising history, technology on a ship will be solely be for the user or in this case, cruiser.
The days of tirelessly searching through partition-filled photo decks for the picture taken of you, you & your spouse, or family in front of a blank canvas or replica of the staircase belonging to the Titanic (always found that to be a bit morbid) are over. some of the technology being utilized aboard Quantum of the Seas is in the realm of Facial Recognition! Imagine having been a part of a picture-taking frenzy the night before, and you simply wanted to look for your photos… Rather than going on a scavenger hunt for this photo, all you need is a computer in the photo gallery to take your facial features, and VOILA! In some cases, your facial features may not be enough and it could be because of the angle the picture was taken or the angle your face was in when the picture was taken. In any case, all you would need is to type in your cabin number and date picture was taken, and again – VOILA! At the end of the day, the only type of search you’ll be a part of will be quick and painless.
Who has yet to experience Coca Cola’s Freestyle Soda Machine with over 100 flavors to choose from or mix? My first experience with this machine was in my neighborhood Moe’s restaurant, and it was an absolutely fantastic concept! Imagine a machine unlike the “typical” fountain drink machines that offer you the opportunity to sample over 100 different flavors, rather than the proverbial 5 maybe 7 choices a fountain drink machine offers! Well, for the first time in cruising history, this machine can be found almost everywhere aboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas! now you too will be able to choose between over 100 different flavors of Coca Cola products and flavors, and you’ll have one (1) week to do so.
SeaPlex is the largest indoor active space at sea, and the most groundbreaking. You can roller skate, ride bumper cars, play X-box live, full court basket ball and a circus school that lets you try out being a trapeze artist.
Now that we have covered technology you (The Cruiser) can enjoy on a daily basis, let’s discuss a totally different type of proposition never before seen on any other ship that is fusing technology and entertainment as one… The type of technological phenomenon I’m referring to can be found in TWO70 with a brand new type of show never ever seen before called STARWATER. As a travel consultant (first), I am required to describe certain features of any ship, venue, or show to all my clients in order to paint a picture. When attempting to describe the state of the art technology found in TWO70 and how it is being utilized for STARWATER, the only thing I manage to say or bring together in a cohesive sentence as a description or to describe this phenomenon is that, “it causes the room to come alive”, but what does that really mean? Unfortunately, due to copyright infringement laws, I’m unable to provide you with a full on play by play video depiction of this fantastic show, but I will provide a quick sneak peek of what the venue looks like during the day and how it comes to life at night without giving the show away: the venue itself is a 360 degree round room providing a spectacular 180 degree view of ocean in front of you. The glass seems frosted, covered with silky drapes; however, at night, that same 180 degree window-like partition turns into a giant screen providing fabulous images used throughout the STARWATER show. Furthermore, just in case the first giant screen wasn’t enough, there are six (6) additional screens attached to robotic arms with the capability of turning each screen 360 degrees and collectively cause the screens to be a part of multiple syncronized movements not seen anywhere else. In the words of Royal Caribbean’s Vice President of Entertainment (), “TWO70 is the most technologically advanced room in the world”! My opinion of the show itself was that of a beautiful story of the human condition on how the mind can cause the soul to simply develop a complex, which ultimately debilitates us to be all we can be, and how we must break free from the chains of comformity. The performances paired with the incredible technology, makes for a night you’ll never forget and will be in conversations for years to come.
On the subject of robotic arms, the uses or applications don’t start and conclude in TWO70… In fact it continues not far from this venue, to a nearby bar called the Bionic Bar where two of these arms are utilized to mix drinks for you. Here’s a visual… Literally, a visual! See below:
Along the perimeter of the bar, there are four iPads set to take your order – that’s right, no servers… Each iPad corresponds to one of the four cup sliders located at the main bar, which is how the bionic arms know where to serve the drinks ordered. What makes this feature so incredible is in the movements… At one moment the arms the arms are gently reaching to pour the libation or libations into the attached metal cup that automatically closes once the mix has concluded; however, once the mix has concluded and ice is required, those arms speed up crazy fast to fetch the cubes, and take off once again to either set up the pour or do the shake. It’s an incredible sight to see and one that should not be missed, as you clearly saw above! As I sat there in awe with my GoPro in hand, I could not help but over hear a conversation going on to my left about the costs incurred… Did you know the ship cost a whopping $1 Billion to build? But the convo didn’t stop there as the cost to build the Bionic Bar was $1.5 Million!
There are several fascinating components that went into building Quantum of the Seas, and we will get to some of the biggest in a minute, but before we do, there are a few others I’d like to cover. For example, there is a restaurant on board that in addition to providing some great food, provides some really charming menus that are shaped into picture frames. The best part of the experience at WONDERLAND is that you need to literally paint the frame in order to access the actual menu. After a few brush strokes, the menu magically appears!
On the subject of restaurants, Royal Caribbean decided to go a completely, yet really refreshing route on dining… Rather than including the stale “2-Main Dining Room” approach, RCCL decided to split up the two massive restaurants into four intimate restaurants serving different styles of food beginning with SILK, which is cleverly named after Asia’s greatest trade route, and as I’m sure you’ve guessed, serves oriental food. American Icon Grill is another restaurant that was born of Royal Caribbean’s idea that focuses on the most popular dishes of each American State (Gumbo from New Orleans, Buttermilk Fried Chicken from low-country states, Beet & Goat Cheese Salad from Michigan, and New England Clam Chowder). The third restaurant on the docket is CHIC where fresh traditional ingredients are prepared with a contemporary flair in a visually modern venue with mirrored tabletops & leather chairs with metal mesh skirts. The fourth and final restaurant included with your price of admission is The Grande Restaurant, which is the epitome of glamor, luxury, and sophistication of a bygone era featuring classic favorites such as Truffled Wild Mushroom Risotto, Escargots A La Bourguignonne, Lobster Tail Thermidor, Eggplant Napoleon, and Classic Napoleon Dessert. Once again, converting two standard main dining rooms into four intimate restaurants was genius! Look out NCL, Royal Caribbean seems to be finally getting the concept of dining options.
In addition to the four main, not to mention complimentary restaurants introduced above, there also specialty restaurants available at an extra charge:
WONDERLAND: Centered around the fairytale of Alice in Wonderland, you as the guest are taken down the rabbit hole sort to speak with magical libations & mysterious bite size delights while enjoying it all in a dreamscape atmosphere. The moment you step inside Wonderland, your dream begins with tall bubble-stemmed glasses, heat-curved glass candle sticks, Queen of Hearts faced chairs, and floating keys above the main table. The pièce de résistance; however, can be found included with the menu, which has to be brushed with “invisible” paint (water) for the words to appear, making Wonderland the most interactive restaurant on the ship. Cornelius Gallagher, who is the director of culinary operations at Royal Caribbean International began his career as a chef in New York where he was recognized by Food and Wine Magazine as one of the Top Ten New Chefs in America!
MICHAEL’S GENUINE PUB: First GastroPub at Sea, James Beard Award Winning Chef Michael Schwartz, Craft Beers including the chef’s very own home grown classic “American Ale”, and cozy pub setting makes for one heck of a venue whether it be for a mid-day, dinner, or late night dining option.
I could go on and on about the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship. It is truly amazing!