New Quantum Of The Seas Cruise Ship Is A Quantum Leap Forward

Quantum of the Seas

When Royal Caribbean International debuted their Oasis-class ships, complete with dual Flow-rider surf simulators, a zip-line across the deck and a host of other over-the-top features, they created an at-sea travel experience like no other. As the world’s largest cruise ships, twin sisters Oasis and Allure of the Seas are so big that the vessel is divided up into neighborhoods. Either can only call at ports designed to handle the massive ship and those who have sailed the 225,000-ton ships agree; there is nothing quite like them – until now.

Now, Quantum of the Seas has arrived.

Today, in New York City, Royal Caribbean revealed details on the line’s new Quantum class of ships. A big secret that Gadling first reported in 2011’s, “The Secret is Out: Royal Caribbean to Build New Class of Ships,” the vessels were code-named “Project Sunshine” and very few details were given. We knew they would be smaller ships, weighing in at 158,000 tons, and carry fewer people, a mere 4,100, but that was it.

Fast-forward to February of this year and names for the new ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, were revealed. At the time, Royal Caribbean President and CEO Adam Goldstein simply said, “The new ship will be such a leap forward in terms of vessel design and guest experiences that we thought the name Quantum of the Seas was perfectly appropriate,” and left it at that.

Today’s reveal begins to put a face on the ship and define what the new Quantum-class will be about.%Gallery-185758%

Continuing to focus on families and occupying their time, how about some bumper car action while cruising the Caribbean? Quantum of the Seas will have that, roller-skating, a full, regulation-sized basketball court and more. But the big features, those designed to satisfy Royal Caribbean’s trademark “wow” factor will no doubt redefine cruise travel as never before.

Those who thought pro-quality, rock-climbing walls were impressive will like RipCord by iFly, a skydiving wind tunnel like the ones professional skydivers use for practice, mounted on the back of the ship. Looking out of the ship-mounted RipCord tunnel, visitors will be able to see the ocean as they simulate free fall. Pretty impressive.

Moving from impressive to bizarre (but in a good way), we have North Star, a jewel-shaped glass capsule that careens visitors 300 feet over the side of the ship on a breathtaking journey. This is where Royal Caribbean shows its depth and how well it understands the nature of big ship cruise travel.

Included as part of the cruise fare, North Star will be available at sea as well as in port, and Royal Caribbean promises that no two “flights” will be the same. Premium packages also will be available for sunrise and sunset flights, or a private flight, which looks to be good for marriage proposals and wedding ceremonies. All packages include a pre-flight reception, in-flight Champagne toast, a commemorative flight certificate and a post-flight brunch or dinner.

Coming back down to earth, briefly, Quantum of the Seas will also feature some multi-use areas that transform throughout the day, utilizing space efficiently.

Two70° is a multi-level great room named for its 270-degree panoramic views via floor-to-ceiling glass walls, three decks high at the stern of the ship. By day, Two70° brings a modern and comfortable living room space for guests to sit back and relax. At night, the space gradually transforms to a venue featuring spectacular, mysterious and unexpected entertainment via new technology that immerses the audience through a combination of live performers, including aerialists, as well as breathtaking video and digital scenery.

SeaPlex will be the largest indoor activity area at sea. This transformational sporting and entertainment venue will begin the day with activities like a circus school with a flying trapeze and a full-sized basketball court. At night, its bumper cars and roller skates deliver the fun and excitement. Not into either? Guests can dance to music orchestrated from a floating DJ booth, which hovers above the activity below.

The two-story Music Hall will have live performances, DJs, theme night parties, billiards and more.

Known for well-appointed, roomy staterooms on their newest ships, Royal Caribbean is making no exception with Quantum class vessels. Averaging nearly 10 percent larger that those on previous Oasis class ships and crafted using Royal Caribbean’s new smart design concept, each stateroom features customizable layouts and larger storage solutions.

Remember Disney Cruise Line’s Virtual Porthole cabins? The inside cabins will feature Virtual Balcony Staterooms, interior cabins with real-time (simulated) views of the ocean.

Further smart use ideas on Quantum feature Family-Connected staterooms that use three different cabin categories that produce separate bedrooms and bathrooms for everyone. New studio staterooms, some with balconies, will appeal to solo travelers. New Junior Suite categories expand the possibilities of the popular mini-suite option and the top-end Loft Suites are even bigger.

Quantum of the Seas will still have popular venues like the adults-only Solarium, an outdoor pool, a rock climbing wall, FlowRider surf simulator and other standard entertainment and dining venues too. But more new features are yet to be announced.

The new Quantum class ships debut in the fall of 2014 with Quantum of the Seas, followed by sister-ship Anthem of the Seas in spring 2015, sailing out of the New York Harbor from her homeport of Cape Liberty on seven- to 12-night itineraries during the winter 2014/15 season.

[Photo Credit – Royal Caribbean International]

Beyond The Floating Hotel, Travelers Find Value Ashore

floating hotel

If I say “cruise,” odds are good that the first thought that comes to mind is that of a big floating hotel that ambles from island to island in the Caribbean. That’s not totally wrong either; a lot of cruise ships do just that. But looking at a cruise ship as a mode of transportation, like a commercial airliner that flies from airport A to airport B, should bring different thoughts. Thinking of cruise ports as a gateway to new worlds we may never have experienced before, it’s a whole different ballgame.

So often cruise itineraries focus on what lies at the port itself, and for good reason. Many cruise ships do not stay in port long enough for travelers to go very far and get back before the ship leaves. But some cruise lines are staying longer, often well into the night – if not overnight – allowing more time to explore. That gives the notion of a cruise ship being a “floating hotel” an entirely different, much more positive meaning.

A good example of a port of call that is far more than what one might see just walking off the ship for a few hours is the UK’s Port of Tyne.

Located in Northeast England, the Port of Tyne is home to miles of coastline dotted with castles, cathedrals, stately homes and gardens, plus one of Europe’s most culturally exciting cities. Interspersed along the way are historic regions that spawned the English language, are home to dual UNESCO world heritage sites and that make the Port of Tyne a world-class destination. But it is not the port itself that draws travelers but Newcastle, the city that came back to life in the 1990s after a rebirth of the downtown Quayside area.

An interesting contrast of historic landmark buildings alongside new, modern structures, Newcastle sits on the north bank of the river Tyne. Known today as home of Newcastle Brown Ale (which is actually no longer brewed there) and the Great North Run, the world’s most popular half marathon, Newcastle offers a wide variety of attractions.

Structures dating back to 124 A.D. sit not far from modern engineering marvels like the world’s only tilting bridge.

%Gallery-184993%So which cruise lines sail this sort of an itinerary – one that allows travelers to linger longer in port? Azamara Club Cruises, Seabourn, Crystal Cruises and others with smaller ocean-going ships do. River cruise lines like Viking River Cruises, AMA Waterways and others have a shore-side focus as well.

But larger ships also offer overnights from time to time, although it is not their main focus.

Carnival Cruise Lines, for example, will overnight in Venice, Italy, on a Mediterranean sailing, as will Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. Still, big ships full of features need people onboard using them – playing in their casinos and shopping in their stores – to make a profit.

Expect to pay more on small ship lines that have a destination focus to make up for you not being on the ship, spending. Still, that premium price might well be worth it if compared to a land travel option that requires airfare, hotel accommodations and meals, any or all of which might be discounted or included with a small ship cruise.

Planning on traveling the world in a cost and time-efficient way? Including travel by ship in your travel toolbox can help.



[Photo credit – Port of Tyne]

Cruise Line Takes Sustainability From Sea To Shore, Wins Award

cruise lineSustainable Travel International (STI) is a global non-profit charged to help destinations, businesses and travelers protect the environment, adapt to climate change, preserve cultural heritage and more. This week, STI awarded their first-ever, Gold-Level Eco-Certification to a cruise line, honoring Royal Caribbean International for attractions and tour operations at their island in the Bahamas, CocoCay.

Encouraging green travel, STI awards certification for businesses that are engaged in responsible travel practices that focus on economic, socio-cultural and environmental sustainability.

CocoCay is the first operation of its kind to receive the certification, which rates on-island tours, island operations, workplace practices, guest communications and environmental management policies. Rated by an expert third-party, independent of Sustainable Travel International and Royal Caribbean, the CocoCay operation demonstrated an ability to successfully apply its at-sea sustainability initiatives to its on-shore operations.But Royal Caribbean did not just get lucky. Winning the award took a global focus, much like we saw when sailing to their private destination of Labadee in Haiti, just after the major earthquake of a few years ago. Then, Royal Caribbean was self-charged to deliver thousands of pounds of food and supplies to the devastated island, which was also home to resident Royal Caribbean employees who work at Labadee when ships come calling.

“Royal Caribbean developed a very thorough, attainable action plan, designed to implement higher levels of sustainability over time,” said Robert Chappell, Sustainable Travel International’s Senior Director of Standards and Certification in a press release.

Will more cruise lines follow Royal Caribbean and work to get their own private islands certified green and sustainable? Probably. Other cruise lines as well have been working to make a green impact. By recycling cooking oil used on ships as fuel for vehicles on Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line is making a difference.

Princess Cruises shore power program made history debuting in environmentally sensitive Juneau, Alaska, in 2001, expanding to Seattle in 2005, and then to Vancouver in 2009. Currently nine of the line’s ships have the capability to “plug in” to a shore-side power source, representing an investment for Princess of nearly $7 million in equipment.

“I’m excited to see them expand their action plan while developing innovative new solutions that are leading the way in the cruise industry,” added Chappell.

STEP is among the first global standards to be formally recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay is the first cruise line private island to receive the certification.

Want to know more about Sustainable Travel International? Check this video:



[Photo Credit – Flickr user kuddlyteddybear2004]

Secret Cruise Ships Named, Construction Begins

cruise shipsIt has been almost two years since Gadling published “The Secret Is Out: Royal Caribbean To Build New Class Of Ships.” Details were few at the time, only that the mysterious new class of cruise ships would be referred to as code name “Project Sunshine” during development, which had already been underway for a year. This week, Royal Caribbean released a few details about the two new ships set to debut in 2014 and 2015.

This week, the first piece of steel was cut for Quantum of the Seas at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, where both ships will be built. Quantum of the Seas will debut in the fall of 2014 and sister-ship Anthem of the Seas in the spring of 2015.

“After three years of design and advance planning this is the first step of the construction of the ship and I look forward to seeing it all come together in the coming months,” said Adam Goldstein, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International in a press release.

Short on details about the two new “Quantum-class” ships, Royal Caribbean reminded fans of their rich history of being first with unique ship features like rock-climbing walls, ice skating rinks, zip lines across decks and more. Expect more of the same wow-factor features on new Quantum and Anthem of the Seas.”The new ship will be such a leap forward in terms of vessel design and guest experiences that we thought the name Quantum of the Seas was perfectly appropriate,” added Goldstein.

Royal Caribbean plans to release details of the ships over time, typical of most cruise lines constructing new vessels. Unique to Royal Caribbean’s rollout of all things Quantum-class, the line will release details first on its new Tumblr page.

The 158,000-ton Quantum-Class ships will be smaller than giant Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, carrying just over 4,100 passengers based on double occupancy. Oasis-class ships are 225,000 tons and over 5,400 passengers.

Here’s more about the steel-cutting in Germany and a (very) few details about the ships:




[Photo credit – Flickr user LinksmanJD]

Cruise Line Brings Dining From The Sea To New York City

cruise lineEach cruise line seems to have its own focus and Celebrity Cruises is no exception. On board their “Modern Luxury” ships, Celebrity Cruises chefs create relevant, unforgettable dining experiences.

To take that message to New York City, perhaps to those who have never sailed before, Celebrity is coming to town with a pop-up restaurant featuring favorites from their onboard menus along with items that reflect the culinary feel of Manhattan.

Celebrity’s own James Beard-featured chef, John Suley, will be on hand for the event, which is open to the public with advance reservations.

To be held at The Kitchen NYC on January 29, 31, and February 1, 2013 for lunch ($40) or dinner ($75), the fresh-from-scratch meal also includes the services of master mixologist Junior Merino, aka The Liquid Chef, on hand with special (and included) concocted libations.
Proceeds from ticket sales will support the Celebrity Cruises Scholarship at The Culinary Institute of America, with a $10,000 donation guaranteed. Attendees will also be entered to win a Caribbean cruise for two on a Celebrity Cruises ship. Reservations are available from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch and 5:30 to 8:45 p.m. for dinner at celebritycruisespopupnyc.eventbrite.com.

This is not a first for Celebrity Cruises. Their pop-up restaurant debuted in San Francisco in 2012.

Want to know more about pop-up restaurants? Check out this video: