Simulated skydiving. A glass observation pod at the end of a giant, swiveling mechanical arm. A circus arts training school. Bumper cars.
These, as well as larger standard cabins and several new stateroom classifications, will be among the defining features of Royal Caribbean International’s new Quantum-class ships, introduced in renderings to travel agents and the press. (Click here or on the photos for a slideshow to view renderings of some of the new features.)
In an interview with Travel Weekly, Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein said that with Quantum, designers started with only a blank sheet of paper and the instructions to develop the ships “farther in the direction we’ve been going throughout our history, [with] a lot of new 'wows.' It’s what people expect of us, and what we expect from ourselves.”
The ship will hold 4,180 passengers (double occupancy) at 167,800 gross registered tons — a bit bigger than the 154,410 for the Freedom-class vessels.
Members of the line’s loyalty program, Crown & Anchor Society, can begin booking May 27 to 31, depending upon their level of status, and general bookings will begin June 4.
The renderings and descriptions of the Quantum of the Seas, scheduled to launch in fall 2014, and the Anthem of the Seas, which will follow in spring 2015, convey a sense of lofty ambition, literally and figuratively.
Each will have two distinctive ascenders to their profiles: RipCord by iFly and North Star.
North Star features a glass capsule at the end of a boom that extends from atop the ship on Deck 16. The 14-passenger observation pod will — weather, destination and sea conditions permitting — move beyond the perimeter of the ship and to a height of 300 feet above the sea, delivering 360-degree views.
The 15-minute experience, which will be wheelchair-accessible, is complimentary with the exception of three premium packages: Sunrise and Brunch; Sunset and Specialty Dining; and Private Flights, marketed for weddings and other romantic occasions. All are available through travel agents via Pre-Cruise Planners.
At the stern of the ship, on the Sports Deck, a two-story vertical wind tunnel will be home to RipCord by iFly. The complimentary simulated skydiving experience, which lasts 75 minutes, includes instruction and gear, and culminates in two one-minute “flights” during which passengers will hover in the air.
RipCord will accommodate 13 people per class, with two classes offered per hour. Inventory will also be available through Pre-Cruise Planners.
The line is also experimenting with space that is not merely multi-use, but could be said to have multiple personalities.
At the aft of the ship, decks four, five and six are given over to Two70°, with floor-to-ceiling windows providing a 270-degree panoramic view.
During the day, the room will be a lounge with casual dining, its upper level offering a library and room for quiet activities, workshops, lectures and demonstrations.
However, at night, Two70° becomes an immersive performance space featuring a combination of 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 feature a full-size basketball court or circus arts training, ringed by a second level of windowed activity rooms featuring table tennis, air hockey and foosball, among other diversions.
At night, depending on the theme, the floor may be filled with bumper cars, roller skaters or dancers.
Another multi-purpose, two-deck venue will be Music Hall, which features dance classes and workshops during the day and bands or DJs at night.
Familiar is back, but something’s missing
Quite a few Royal Caribbean standard-bearers will be on the Quantum ships as well: the rock climbing walls, FlowRider, Vitality Spa and Fitness Center, the H2O Zone, the Solarium, DreamWorks Experience, an outdoor movie screen and nursery for young children.
The line promises a Broadway musical, to be announced later.
But one "wow" that had become a staple of Royal Caribbean's fleet since it was introduced with the Voyager-class ships in 1998 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.
Likewise, “there isn’t the Royal Promenade in the way it’s been known,” he said, though he added there would be “a similar environment.”
New stateroom classifications
In all, there are 2,090 staterooms, and the standard cabin is 9% larger than the standard cabins on the Oasis-class ships.
Many interior staterooms will feature 80-inch video display monitors offering live feed from cameras on the exterior of the ship, providing what the line is promoting as “virtual balconies.”
A new stateroom classification, family connected, combines interconnecting rooms configured with multigenerational travel in mind.
The 15 “family-connected junior suites” connect a junior suite, balcony room and interior studio through a shared vestibule, creating a 575-square-foot living space with three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a 216-square-foot balcony.
Overall, a higher percentage of staterooms have connecting doors than previous classes of ships, allowing for four “super categories” of connected stateroom combinations.
In addition, 16 studio staterooms, 12 with balconies, will be sold with no single supplement.
Other new suite categories include superior grand suites (full bathroom with tub, living room, wraparound balcony — eight per ship) and the spa junior suite with balcony (includes soaking tub and sitting area with corner settee — 42 per ship).
And two new loft categories have been added, the 975-square-foot owner’s loft (two decks high, accommodating four guests, with a 501-square-foot balcony), and the grand loft (two decks high, accommodating four guests, size varies with deck).
The travel adviser website, CruisingPower.com/QuantumoftheSeas, will go live at 11:00 a.m. on April 16, as will a University of Wow training module and agent tool kits.
Follow Arnie Weissmann on Twitter @awtravelweekly.