Royal Caribbean International took the wraps off its newest class of ship last week, and, true to form, the ship will come laden with the “wow” factor: thrill rides, gadgets and fun features.
What will be new to the seas on the Quantum of the Seas: a sky-diving machine, a circus school and a crane-operated glass observation pod that will suspend guests 300 feet above the ocean.
Company Chairman Richard Fain and cruise line CEO Adam Goldstein arrived at the unveiling in a pair of bumper cars, to show off another of the only-on-the-Quantum activities.
Agents who attended the event were suitably wowed.
“Just when you think it can’t be more innovative, they push against the limit,” said Kimberly Wilson Wetty, co-president of Valerie Wilson Travel International of New York.
But Wetty added that, to her, one of the most impressive features is tucked below the action-packed top decks.
“I love what they’ve done with interconnecting rooms,” she said. “Hotels have done a great job recently with that, and it’s nice to see a cruise line paying attention to that, too.”
The Quantum will have four “super categories” of combinable cabins. For example, the 15 Family-Connected Junior Suites link a junior suite with a balcony cabin and a studio interior through a shared vestibule, creating a 575-square-foot living space with three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a 216-square-foot balcony.
The 4,180-passenger ship will have 28 studio cabins that will be sold without single supplement, including 12 with balconies, the first time that amenity has been granted to solo travelers. Standard cabins will be 9% larger than on Royal’s most recent ship, the Allure of the Seas.
And furthering the Magic Porthole concept pioneered by Disney Cruise Line, the 373 interior cabins will come with “virtual balconies”: floor-to-ceiling, 80-inch LED projection screens that will show images of the ocean taken from elsewhere on the ship.
“We wanted to take a quantum leap forward in stateroom design,” said Fain, playing to the ship’s name. “Every stateroom on the vessel has a view.”
The Quantum will homeport at the Cape Liberty cruise terminal in Bayonne, N.J., directly across the harbor from New York. It marks the first time a new Royal ship is being homeported in the Northeast.
Charlene Failla, president of Luxury Cruises and Tours in Fairfield, N.J., said her clients are already buzzing about the Quantum.
“I think you’ll have all the people who do not want to fly” to Florida, Failla said.
Jackie Friedman, president of the host agency Nexion, said she liked that it would be based in the New York area. “We have a lot of clients in the Northeast, and it’s great to have a ship with so much to do onboard, because there’s going to be more sea time,” she said.
Royal has posted four itineraries for the Quantum, from seven-day sailings to the Bahamas and Florida to a 12-day southern Caribbean itinerary that stretches down to Martinique and Barbados.
The Quantum is 25% smaller than the Oasis-class ships that it and its sister ship, the Anthem of the Seas, will succeed.
“It’s smaller than Oasis for a couple of reasons,” Fain said. He cited the need to serve different ports and different markets. “We don’t believe that one size fits all.”
The ship’s most startling feature appears to be the North Star, the glass observation pod at the end of a giant mechanical arm that is fastened to the forward top deck.
“There’s obviously never been anything remotely like that before,” Goldstein said.
The 15-minute experience, which will be wheelchair-accessible, is free. Three premium packages will also be offered: Sunrise and Brunch; Sunset and Specialty Dining; and Private Flights, which will be marketed for weddings and other romantic occasions.
Another first at sea is the RipCord by iFly, which will add simulated skydiving to Royal’s stable of extreme activities at sea.
Housed in a two-story, vertical wind tunnel, the cruisers can take a RipCord course that includes instruction and gear and culminates in two one-minute “flights” during which passengers will hover in the air.
Goldstein cited it as his favorite new features on the Quantum. “You are out at sea, you’re on the top of a ship and you’re not touching anything but air,” he said.
Moving inside, at the aft of the ship, decks four, five and six are given over to a space called Two70˚, with floor-to-ceiling windows providing a 270-degree view. During the day, the room will be a lounge with casual dining, and its upper level will include a library and room for quiet activities, workshops, lectures and demonstrations.
At night, Two70˚ becomes an immersive performance space with aerial artists, digital projections, light effects and an ice bar.
Similarly, the midship SeaPlex will transform when the sun sets. During the day, it will house a full-size basketball court or circus arts training, ringed by a second level of windowed activity rooms for table tennis, air hockey and foosball.
At night, depending on the theme, the floor may be filled with bumper cars, roller skaters or dancers.
Quite a few Royal standard-bearers will be on the Quantum class, as well, including the rock climbing walls, FlowRider, the Solarium, Dream Works Experience, an outdoor movie screen and a nursery for young children.
But one “wow” that had become a staple of Royal’s post-Panamax fleet since it was introduced with the Voyager-class ships will be missing: the ice skating rink.
“We had a lot of elements we were looking to achieve that wouldn’t have been possible to accomplish if we had continued to place the ice skating rink in the center of the ship,” Goldstein said.
Arnie Weissmann contributed to this report.