Royal Caribbean Reveals Unique New Features Of QUANTUM OF THE SEAS
By Shawn J. Dake
We have gotten used to hearing about the latest innovations with the introduction of each new cruise ship. With the latest Royal Caribbean entry QUANTUM OF THE SEAS slated to arrive in the Fall of 2014, the future will be here sooner than expected. This ship truly contains some fascinating, forward thinking ideas about what a vacation at sea has become and what it can be.
Royal Caribbean International has unveiled the first details of their next generation of cruise ships which they label “Quantum cruising.” The QUANTUM OF THE SEAS will be followed by a 167,800 gross ton sistership the ANTHEM OF THE SEAS due in the spring of 2015. Each ship will carry 4,180 passengers based on double occupancy in 2,090 staterooms offering a wide range of accommodations for couples and families. The total increases to 4,905 passengers at maximum capacity. Spanning 18 decks, the Quantum-class of ships will take a dramatic leap forward, introducing more “firsts at sea” such as a simulated skydiving experience; an aerial pod that transports guests more than 300 feet in the air on a breathtaking journey above and beyond the ship; cutting-edge transformative venues including the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; and the cruise line’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever. These new, larger staterooms are nine percent larger than equivalent cabins on the Oasis-class, enabling innovation in design, storage and comfort including the industry’s first virtual balconies. Every stateroom on Quantum of the Seas will have a view, even the interior ones, where reality is replaced by virtual reality.
“This new generation of ships gave us an opportunity to make another leap in vessel design. Innovation has always been part of our DNA and we have taken advantage of all that creativity to design Quantum cruising,” stated Richard D. Fain, chairman & CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. “The unique features on Quantum will boggle our guests’ minds, but the real strength of the design is how our people have integrated all these diverse components to create a comfortable and exciting experience.” He added, “QUANTUM OF THE SEAS gave us an opportunity to innovate in yet a whole different way and bring to bear new design techniques, new technologies; it gave us a whole new platform to exercise our imagination on.” Harri Kulovaara, the executive vice-president of Maritime and Newbuilding at Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., went on to say “QUANTUM OF THE SEAS, I think is clearly a quantum leap forward. We don’t settle for something what has been done before. We don’t get satisfaction out of that. We really want to do something that is extraordinary.”
Future passengers will clearly be the judge of their success in producing a ship that offers something different and unique. Perhaps the most visible feature will be the North Star, a jewel-shaped, glass capsule that takes guests to new heights – literally – lifting and transporting them on a spectacular journey 303 feet above the ocean and over the sides of the ship to deliver 360-degree aerial views of the ship and the sea. The design is said to have been inspired by the London Eye.
Other thrill seekers will be delighted with RipCord by iFly, the first skydiving experience at sea which allows everyone from first-time flyers to seasoned skydivers to enjoy the sheer thrill and exhilaration of skydiving in a safe, controlled, simulated environment. A huge structure near the aft end of the ship houses the complex where guests will be able to free fall, held aloft by a blowing cushion of air.
Moving indoors, the innovations continue within three notable venues. SeaPlex is the largest active interior space at sea. It is a multi-use location that serves as a flexible sporting and entertainment venue with an interesting array of new features. By day, guests of all ages can experience a circus school with flying trapeze, or play basketball on a full-size regulation basketball court which can also be utilized for volleyball, soccer or badminton. By night, the first-ever bumper car experience at sea brings passenger ships one step closer to being floating amusement parks. It can also be used as a roller rink at sea for the fun and excitement of skating. Still later at night, guests can dance to music orchestrated from a floating DJ booth which hovers above the activity below.
The Music Hall is another late night venue that hosts live music performances and DJ entertainment. The two-deck high design is said to be inspired by the spirit of rock and roll; rebellious and edgy. Presumably without the excesses that have been epitomized by so many real rockers over the years. In addition to the intimate live performances, this locale will host theme night parties, tables for billiards and more.
In early renderings, Two70° appears to have the potential of being one of the most beautiful public rooms on any ship at sea. By day it is designed to be a comfortable, modern living room space for guests to sit back and relax with expansive views of the sea. The space is aptly named for its magnificent 270-degree panoramic ocean views through vast, floor-to-ceiling glass walls spanning almost three decks at the stern of the ship. A transformation takes place in Two70° as time passes from day to night. As the sun sets and the lights go down, the dazzling space gradually reveals its evening persona, promising to delight guests with spectacular, mysterious and unexpected entertainment after dark. It seamlessly fuses entertainment and technology to create a multidimensional show experience and immerses the audience through a combination of live performers, including aerialists, as well as breathtaking video and digital scenery. The expansive glass windows looking out at the ocean by day, can become a forest or any setting at all by night, serving as a backdrop to spectacular shows. Two70° is almost certain to become one of the most iconic venues onboard Quantum class, and a space by which all other cruise lines will measure their lounge and entertainment areas.
Besides these new entertainment options and venues, Royal Caribbean guests will still find their old favorites that they have come to expect on the massive newer ships. There’s still the rock climbing wall and the FlowRider which is a wave surfing ride. An adults-only Solarium, along with an outdoor pool, a new indoor pool with sliding domed roof and a H2O Zone kids’ aqua park, will be featured on the top deck. The ship will provide the most flexible dining options and more specialty restaurants than ever before.
Where you sleep is every bit as important as where you play and Royal Caribbean is promising accommodations that are on average more spacious and luxurious than on other equivalent ships, including their own. The stateroom design, layouts and finishes are being planned to create the atmosphere of a home away from home. For multi-generational families, Family-Connected staterooms deliver a good deal of flexibility, using three different stateroom categories which connect to form a special layout that provides separate bedrooms and bathrooms for all. These accommodations allow families and groups of friends traveling together to enjoy the best of both worlds when it comes to spending time together and yet having sufficient privacy. Following up the successful introduction of single cabins on the rival NORWEGIAN EPIC, Royal Caribbean will introduce their own more upscale version of new “Studio” staterooms, some with balconies for single travelers. Often overlooked, the lowly inside cabin is being re-branded as “Virtual Balcony Staterooms.” Instead of looking at a blank wall or being shut in a dark cabin this design concept brings virtual balconies to the 373 interior staterooms offering expansive real-time views of the ocean and port destinations. On the upper end of the scale QUANTUM OF THE SEAS introduces the largest variety of stateroom categories including three Junior Suite categories with a split bathroom concept, Owner’s Suites with separate bedroom and living areas and larger Loft Suites.
It has already been announced that stage, television and film star, Kristin Chenoweth will serve as Godmother of the QUANTUM OF THE SEAS. The ship will be 1,141 feet (348 meters) long and 136 feet (41 meters) wide with a draft of 28 feet (8.5 meters). Cruising speed will be 22 knots. Registry will be at Nassau, Bahamas. The Quantum class ships are both being built at the Meyer Werft Shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Following a trans-Atlantic delivery voyage QUANTUM OF THE SEAS will make it’s debut in fall 2014 with sailings out of New York Harbor from her homeport of Cape Liberty, New Jersey on 7- to 12-night itineraries during the winter 2014/15 season. Bookings will be available to past-guest Crown & Anchor Society members starting May 27, 2013 before opening to the general public on June 4th. With so many new ships constantly being introduced, each touting something more special than the previous entrant, it is easy to become a bit jaded. But if the QUANTUM OF THE SEAS matches up to what is on the designer’s computers and sketch pads, this may truly be a ship of the future to watch.
All images courtesy of Royal Caribbean.