With 16 guest decks, 20 dining options, 2,090 staterooms, 16 passenger elevators and enough room for 4,905 guests and 1,500 crew members, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas is said to be one of the biggest and most modern cruise ships in its class. And it’s now sailing in Asia.
As more people, including Filipinos, take to cruising, Royal Caribbean is venturing beyond traditional markets like Europe and North America by sending some of its biggest and newest cruise ships to service Asia.
After a brief stint in the Middle East, Quantum recently went on an extended one-way cruise from Dubai to Singapore. To mark her entry to Asia, she went on a special three-night round-trip cruise from Singapore that took passengers to Port Klang in Malaysia and back to the Lion City.
The trip included a half-day shore excursion in Kuala Lumpur on day two, including selfie ops at KL’s postcard-pretty colonial-era courthouse and iconic Petronas Twin Towers. Guests were also able to squeeze in some shopping time at Suria KLCC.
“The latest” isn’t an empty boast, as Quantum offers guests a number of features and amenities not found in many of Royal Caribbean’s fleet of luxury liners. These include the Bionic Bar, North Star, RipCord by iFly, FlowRider, SeaPlex and state-of-the-art performance venues like Two70.
If endless blue seas and clear skies from stateroom balconies aren’t enough, guests get a free 15-minute ride on the North Star, an enclosed, climate-controlled viewing capsule that gently hoists 14 riders at a time 300 feet above sea level.
As tall as the Statue of Liberty, the North Star rotates upwards and from side to side to give guests the most breathtaking views possible.
If rock climbing, a feature introduced and popularized by Royal Caribbean in its cruise ships, does not sound exciting enough, guests can still safely indulge their inner daredevil by signing up at RipCord by iFly.
An air simulator that supposedly mimics the sensation felt during skydiving, RipCord is also an indoor attraction that allows riders to defy gravity through strong jets of air current pumped from the venue’s floor.
Face down inside a huge glass chamber, once the air current is turned on, one starts to float this way and that like a skydiver would, without a parachute. Like all extreme attractions on the ship, RipCord is closely supervised by trained personnel.
To lure younger, more physically active guests, Royal Caribbean is known to have introduced several adrenaline-filled attractions such as rock-climbing walls, skating rinks, zip lines and indoor surfing facilities like the FlowRider. RipCord simply takes this thrust to the next level.
I was trying to muster enough courage to experience the unknown until I found the perfect excuse not to. Long lines led to RipCord during the days we were at sea.
An ideal way to burn off calories is to check out SeaPlex. As huge as an ice skating rink, the place hosts a number of indoor sports and fun activities such as parties, roller skating, basketball, and ’70s-style bump car rides. On long cruises, the venue even holds a circus-training school.
Our last night at sea ended at SeaPlex with a “glow” dance party led by Quantum’s affable program director Ken Rush. With backup dancers, Rush led guests in doing a number of classic group dances—from “Conga” lines to “Macarena.”
Quantum also prides itself in being the first ship to have a robot for a bartender.
Just above Quantum’s duty-free Royal Esplanade, Bionic Bar packs in the crowd, as a pair of giant robotic arms does the mixing, shaking and stirring of alcoholic drinks to the beat of classic dance tunes.
Quantum also offers guests a number of entertainment options. There’s no need to pay extra, but advanced booking is required to see certain shows.
One of the most popular among the attractions is Two70. With its huge three-deck tall picture windows, it’s the ideal lounge bar with an awesome view of sea and sky by day, and a performance venue by night.
As darkness falls, the picture windows morph into video walls equipped with robotic lights and projectors that provide the perfect backdrop for Two70’s featured production: “Star Water.”
Part variety show and part Cirque du Soleil, “Star Water” is a mishmash of song, dance and acrobatic acts made livelier by good-looking dancers and live-wire singers and musicians. Everything about it, from the costumes to the synchronized routines, is grand and over the top.
With many dining options, it takes a Herculean effort not to gain weight on a cruise.
All-day, eat-all-you-can spots like the Windjammer, Johnny Rockets and The Café @ Two70 come free with the cruise package, while signature restaurants like Wonderland, Chops Grille, Jamie’s Italian, Michael’s Genuine Pub, Izumi Japanese Cuisine and Chef’s Table charge extra.
Dynamic dining system
Royal Caribbean is doing away with the main dining hall concept typical in older ships. Instead, it has a “dynamic dining” system that’s now in place in newer cruise ships.
Instead of dining together in one big hall, guests now have several “main-dining” restaurant options to choose from: American Icon Grill, Chic, Silk, The Grande, Devinly Decadence and Coastal Kitchen.
Like Quantum’s signature restaurants, each of these free venues has its list of specialties.
For shopaholic guests, especially Filipinos, all items are sold duty-free once Quantum is out in the open sea.
Among the Royal Esplanade’s shops are Michael Kors and Swarovski. A more high-end lane dubbed as the Via has Kiehl’s and such luxury brands as Bulgari, Hublot and Cartier.
As in most cruises, the second to the last day is devoted to huge discounts. Almost every high-street brand—from watches to shawls, faux jewelry pieces and leather goods—is marked down.
Watching busy shoppers stock up on gift items like there’s no tomorrow is in itself a form of entertainment.
Even after guests set foot on dry land, the good times never seem to end, as they lug suitcases filled with gifts and happy memories of carefree and eventful days at sea.
Quantum’s sister ship, Ovation of the Seas, will cruise Asian waters in June 2016.
Similar in features to Quantum, Ovation will offer the following packages starting May 2016: 14-night, one-way cruise from Dubai to Muscat, Cochin, Penang and Singapore; 3-night round-trip cruise from Singapore to KL; 12-night one-way cruise from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Xiamen, Seoul and Tianjin.
Arpan Air Inc.-Royal Caribbean International Philippines, tel. 8922701 to 03 or 8943954; e-mail: [email protected]