Wednesday 18 September 2019

Quantum of the Seas: Who said cruising was dull?

Prepare to have your preconceptions about cruise holidays blown away, says Mark Evans, as he marvels at Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas

Ripcord by Iflyer skydiving simulator, Quantum of the Seas.
Ripcord by Iflyer skydiving simulator, Quantum of the Seas.
Quantum of the Seas, Bionic Bar.
People sit in dodgem cars onboard the cruise ship Quantum of the Seas. Royal Caribbean's latest is claimed to be the most high-tech cruise ship in the world.
Royal Caribbean's brand new cruise ship Quantum of the Seas, the worlds first smartship, arrives in Southampton, UK.

Mark Evans

IT'S incredible the amount of people who ask me if cruising is just for the rich and retired. Royal Caribbean have been at the forefront of disproving this idea for years.

From rock climbing walls to ice-skating at sea to boxing rings and surfing areas on deck, it's got activities to keep every family member busy and happy on an ocean voyage.

Now Quantum of the Seas, the first of three next-generation cruise ships, is going all out with the kind of tech that would make last week's Web Summit-goers salivate.

It's got its own version of the London Eye for stunning sea views.

It boasts an outdoor pool with a large video screen.

It's even got bumper cars.

Bumper cars! What are you waiting for - check it out!

Billed as the most technologically advanced ship at sea, the high tech starts even before you board.

If you've been disappointed with wifi at sea before, think again - Quantum has as much bandwith as every other cruise ship combined. So good in fact that it will offer video streaming and XBox Live gaming.

A new cruise planner app promises to get you from check-in onto the ship within 10 minutes, while Royal IQ will allow you to communicate with fellow passengers by text.

Bars are nothing new on cruise ships - but a robot bartender in the Bionic Bar, where you order via a tablet, is unique. Even staterooms are futuristic, with some offering "virtual balconies", where, even in inside rooms, video technology will show you the sea outside.

All the things we love about deck life are there - from hot tubs to pools (one with retractable roof) and, of course, the FlowRider surfing area.

What's new is a skydiving simulator, Ripcord by iFly, a glass capsule wind tunnel in which you can fly. Yes, really - and for free.

North Star is Quantum's equivalent of the London Eye. From 300 feet up in the air, get the best view of an approaching port, or stunning city or seascapes.

The technology doesn't stop there, and a highlight is Two70°, a lounge featuring three-story-high 270-degree panoramic ocean views, a café and an ice bar.

By day, 13 projectors show live views from outside the ship while at night the space is transformed into a performance venue for a cirque-style shows or discos.

And now to the bumper cars, located in the SeaPlex, a huge indoor gym with basketball court that can be converted into a dance floor, a flying trapeze school, a roller-skating arena, or bumper car circuit.

If you're feeling lazy, grab a hot dog at the food truck, and try your hand at table tennis, air hockey and foosball tables.

And hot dogs are only the tip of the iceberg on a ship where you'll be hard-pressed to eat in all of its restaurants on one sailing.

In a love-it-or-hate-it move, Royal has done away with the idea of a main dining room, with the introduction of "Dynamic Dining".

With the new system, guests make reservations for their choice of restaurant for each night, so it's a godsend for those who don't want to be dining with the same group each evening.

And there's a world of choice, with complimentary options including the American Icon Grill, with its, yes, American cuisine; Chic, serving contemporary cuisine; Coastal Kitchen for California/Mediterranean fusion; and Silk, with its Asian Rim fusion food.

If you're into very casual dining, you can get made-to-order sandwiches at The Cafe, takeaway food at the Cafe Promenade, or a slice or two at Sorrentos Pizza.

There's also the old favourite - stuffing your face at the Windjammer Marketplace with its full-on buffet.

Quantum will be sailing from the New York area around the Bahamas or Caribbean for its inaugural season - then it's off to China.

But the good news is that her sister ship, Anthem of the Seas, will be launched next spring and sailing out of Southampton from the summer, making it a handy trip for the Irish market.

Who said cruising was dull?

With the new system, guests make reservations for their choice of restaurant for each night, so it's a godsend for those who don't want to be dining with the same group each night.

And there's a world of choice, with complimentary options including the American Icon Grill, with its, yes, American cuisine; Chic, with its contemporary cuisine; Coastal Kitchen for California/Mediterranean fusion; and Silk, with its Asian Rim fusion food.

If you're into very casual dining, you can get made-to-order sandwiches at The Cafe, takeaway food at the Cafe Promenade, or a slice or two at Sorrentos Pizza.

There's also the old favourite - stuffing your face at the Windjammer Marketplace with its full-on buffet.

Quantum will be sailing from the New York area around the Bahamas or Caribbean for its inaugural season - then it's off to China.

But the good news is that her sister ship, Anthem of the Seas, will be launched next spring and sailing out of Southampton from the summer, making it a handy trip for the Irish market.

Who said cruising was dull?

Getting there...

Voyage on Quantum of the Seas on an Orlando/Bahamas cruise in the coming spring.

Priced from €1599, based on two people sharing an interior stateroom, it includes return flights from Dublin to New York, one-night pre-hotel stay, transfers and an eight-night cruise departing from Cape Liberty in New Jersey, calling at Port Canaveral, Florida; Nassau and Coco Cay, Bahamas; before returning to Cape Liberty to fly home. Includes meals and entertainment onboard and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. Fare is based on departure on February 12, 2015. See www.royalcaribbean.ie for more info and check out www.sunway.ie, or call 01-2311853 for more cruise deals.

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