There was a lot of hype building up to the launch of Quantum of the Seas in 2014, with Royal Caribbean having promised that the class of ship would be a ‘quantum leap’ in how people holiday and cruise. And certainly the ship doesn’t disappoint in that respect, with a plethora of new multi-purpose venues, beautiful spaces and new concepts such as Dynamic Dining. I’ll cover the 11 night itinerary to the Caribbean in another post.
I had been fortunate to have a preview of the ship back in October 2014 when she was at Southampton, but I was keen to see the ‘finished’ product when we joined her in NYC. So here is my (belated) 12 point review of the ship:
- Space design – You can easily see the attention to detail which has gone into the ship, the spaces are well thought out to accommodate large numbers of people, yet I never found the ship crowded. Spaces like The Via are quite simply stunning, all brought to life with a plethora of artwork. Equally the venues are very well designed, which brings me on to;
- Two70 – easily for me the crown jewel of what the class has to offer. A very clever, intimate, multi-purpose venue. In the day you can leisurely sit and watch the wake of the ship whilst reading a good book from the vast expanse of glass; or grab a bite to eat from Café@Two70 (don’t forget the Kummelveck sandwich!); and yet as the night closes in the venue really does transform into such a unique performance space with avantgarde performers literally popping up from unlikely places, interacting with the crowds, and of course the Vistarama screens transporting you to a variety of places.
- North Star and North Star Bar – Some have cited North Star as a bit of a gimmick, but I have to disagree. I was fortunate enough to be the first person ever to propose to my partner on North Star, so perhaps I’m a little biased, but it really doesn’t disappoint! It is a fantastic idea that allows passengers to see things they never normally would. Equally I loved the North Star Bar, of all bars on the ship it always had a great vibe about it and tried to imbue the South Beach feel on all its patrons.
- Music Hall – Another great venue. This ship is all about multi-purpose venues which can accommodate a whole plethora of activities and Music Hall is another one which doesn’t fail to disappoint. From new parties, such as the Groovy Town, a 70s inspired party to perhaps my favourite activity of the whole cruise, Rock-a-rokie, where people have a chance to perform Karaoke with a live band.
- Outdoor pool deck– whilst I’ve praised the design of the ship for the most part, there is one major niggle I have, and that is the design of the main pool deck. Quantum has three main pool areas, the Solarium which is lovely, the indoor pool (with retractable roof) which again was a lovely if not an under-utilised space, and then the outdoor pool area. On the face of it nothing is actually wrong with this space, however, as soon as the ship hits any form of disturbance the water from the pools tended to cascade across the deck and a couple of times into the Centrum of the ship. I also personally found the H2O zone not to be anywhere nearly as good as on previous ships.
- Vibration and creaking – This ship likes to move it move it! Comparing this ship with her predecessors this ship moves and vibrates a lot. Now I understand this is a prototype and there will be physical things which need to be ironed out over time, in fact the staff said exactly this. They need to understand the gal as they get to know her, but it really was noticeable. It will be interesting to see how Anthem of the Seas (her sister) compares when she debuts..
- Schooner bar vs Music Hall – On a related note to above, there is also an issue between venues competing on board. Most notably between The Schooner Bar, a firm Royal favourite, and Music Hall which it sits above. The sheer noise and vibration from Music Hall drowns out anything which is happening in the Schooner Bar making it quite an undesirable place to have a quiet drink.
- Silk – whilst overall I enjoyed the Dynamic Dining experience, I have to say the main restaurants weren’t on a par with one another, especially when it came to Silk. Almost every table I overheard had some form of complaint about the quality of the food or the service – which is a real disappointment as it let the side down!
Four hopes but disappointments
- Check-in process – I like the concept of ‘sidewalk to ship in 10 minutes’ however both times I’ve tried their new system thus far it’s not entirely lived up to its hype – which is a great shame! Again this is down to a new system needing to have its bugs worked out and staff to be trained effectively. I’ll see how it compares when I get on board Anthem in April!
- Vintages – I love Vintages, nestling up with a good book and a great glass of wine is something I look forward to on every Royal ship, however, despite its great location on The Via for some reason Vintages was always dead and empty. Now, you may argue if you want to sit and have a quiet drink this is perfect, but equally you want some form of atmosphere?
- Activities – This is perhaps a little silly but on my sailing the amount of activists, especially for a Royal ship, was pitiful. Again I understand that in many ways the crew are finding their feet and trying to create a whole host of new experiences but it was a shame there wasn’t more of both the classic activities as well as the new. What activities they did have were brilliant, it’s just a shame about the lack of it!
- Bionic Bar – I love the idea of the Bionic Bar, and when it works it is a really impressive and fun way to have a drink on board, but when it doesn’t work there’s no hiding it as the venue is just so open to the Esplanade. On numerous occasions they broke down, which again as a prototype I understand, but it was a shame all the same. As I say, when they worked they were great! I understand Anthem will have an upgraded version of the robots and system, so I’ll be heading straight there to put them to the test!
Overall I like what the Quantum class has to offer so far, it’s different from what we expect from Royal Caribbean and I don’t think that’s a bad thing in the slightest. There’s something for everything on board and appeals to the new customer but equally not ousting the old. I think Quantum and its sisters are a great addition to the Royal fleet and will become cherished just like many of the other ships.