Full disclosure, I have never been on a cruise, nor have I ever felt the pull towards a cruising vacation. I never even considered it an option. In my mind, cruising was for people my parent’s age (the boomer generation) and those with children, all lined up and pushing each other at the buffet line. So when I was given the opportunity to attend the inaugural cruise of the newest Royal Caribbean Cruisliner, The Quantum of the Seas, I thought I knew exactly what I was getting into, or in this case, on to. For this adventure, I brought along my partner Paul, who had also never cruised before. I figured it would be a nice way for us to try something new, so we went with an open mind ready to experience anything and everything this ship tossed our way. We were ready for the families, line ups and early bird dinners.
Our experience began as soon as we received our confirmation, about three weeks out from departure. The first unexpected surprised was the Royal Caribbean cruise planner, literally everything was at our fingertips. We were able to check our reservation, see our stateroom, scope out all the restaurants and book our meals and entertainment all online before we even left Ottawa. It was fast and convenient; I could access it anytime and from anywhere. If we can plan it from our smart phone, you’ve won us over!
We were able to upload everything required for check in, which included pictures of ourselves so that all we had to do when we arrived to the port was have our passports scanned and go through security. Bonus? We didn’t even wait in line; there were a ton of customer service attendees roaming around ready to check-in people with their tablets. It was maybe 10 minutes from when we got off the shuttle to when we were on the ship. All that info was then inputted into a wristwatch, and that was all we needed to carry with us. No more silly room keys or swipe cards. Our reservations, our account and even our access to get back into our room were all worn on the wrist. I never once needed to worry about carrying a purse. Which was a huge bonus, because with all the onboard activities, it would have gotten in the way.
As it was the inaugural sailing, we only had three days to experience as much as we could. We started in the Seaplex, the largest indoor activity space at sea. It had everything: circus school activities, a full-size basketball court, and the first-ever roller rink and bumper cars at sea. For the record, roller-skating on 4-wheeled skates is not easy. It was a blast, but for all our sakes, I won’t share those pictures!
(Testing out my trapeze moves inside the Seaplex, during one of the Circus School activities offered daily)
As we moved south down the coast, and the weather got warmer, we were able to explore the outside decks where the North Star was located. This jewel-shaped capsule gently rises up over 300 feet above sea level, where you can experience breathtaking views of the ocean and the ship. It’s a unique piece to the Quantum of the Seas, and while waiting to board it was similar to waiting in line for a ride a Universal Studios, it was well worth it.
We also took full advantage of a few other cruising firsts with RipCord by iFly®, the first ever sky diving simulator at sea and the outdoor rock-climbing wall. In my opinion with the rock wall, the iFly and the flow rider all located at the back of the ship, made that the place to be during the day.
(The outdoor rock wall proved harder to climb than I had anticipated)
(The flow rider and iFly tube made the back of the ship that much more enjoyable)
Paul getting his iFly on – to see how amazing this actually is visit our Facebook Page
Those buffet lines I was so worried about on cruises were nonexistent for us. With the development of the Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has also introduced what they call “Dynamic Dining”. The idea is to give passengers more distinct options and total flexibility. There are no set dinner times, no required formal nights and over 18 options to choose from. We ate, and we ate well. This was honestly the most surprising aspect of the cruising experience for both Paul and I. We could not have been more satisfied with what we ate and what options we had. Especially late night options!
Sushi from Izumi Japanese Cuisine. We are sushi fanatics and this was in the top 3 sushi dining experiences we have ever had
After we over-indulged at dinner, we would check out the evening shows, which for us were Mamma Mia and a stand-up comedian. I was pleasantly surprised at the production level, as a former entertainment publicist, I have seen my fair share of stand-ups and Broadway shows and both these far exceeded my expectations. Then finally to work off the day’s eats, we took ourselves to the Music Hall. For us, this was the place to be on ship past 11 p.m. It is truly the heart of the ship's entertainment featuring bands, musicians, djs, theme night parties and more. We aren’t the dancing type, but we danced, a lot.
The Quantum of the Seas had been promoted as “the cruise vacation reinvented” and while I don’t have another cruise to compare it to, I have to admit I was completely blown away by what I had been missing. My outlook on cruising has completely changed and it will now be on the list of options for when I travel again. Thank you Royal Caribbean for truly WOWing us.
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This post was written by Amy Orfanakos, Media and Public Affairs specialist for CAA North & East Ontario