Two Nights Aboard Royal Caribbean’s Newest Marvel
When Royal Caribbean first introduced Sovereign of the Seas back in 1988, she literally revolutionized the cruise industry. Not only was she the largest cruise ship constructed since the S.S. France of 1961, she succeeded in capturing the imagination of the travelling public with her soaring atrium and unheard-of amenities.
Eleven years later, in 1999, the line turned the cruising world on its head once again with Voyager of the Seas. She introduced concepts like rock-climbing walls and ice skating rinks at sea, along with the architectural marvel that was the Royal Promenade – a horizontal atrium spanning four decks in height and running over a quarter of the length of the entire ship, bordered by two soaring vertical atriums. Many doubted these features would work; after all, why would anyone want to go rock climbing at sea? Fifteen years later, rock-climbing walls are de-facto equipment on most mainstream cruise ships, and Royal Caribbean’s atrium styling is often imitated but never duplicated.
One decade later, they brought the world Oasis of the Seas – the largest cruise ship in the world. Again, many doubted she would succeed. Who wants to sail with nearly six thousand other guests? As it turned out, lots of folks. Not only did she work, Royal Caribbean is currently constructing a third Oasis-class vessel in order to meet demand.
Which brings us to Quantum of the Seas. Although not on the same massive scale as Oasis of the Seas, she’s plenty big: 1,141 feet long, 136 feet wide, and sporting draft (the amount of the ship that’s under water) of 28 feet. She’ll carry 4,180 guests at double-occupancy, served by a crew of 1,490. In many ways, this could be the most important ship in the history of Royal Caribbean. From ten-minute embarkation to robotic bartenders to venues the likes of which the world has never seen before, a lot is riding on her becoming the same out-of-the-gate success that her predecessors were.
In the past, I’ve been, shall we say, critical of some of Quantum of the Seas’ new features – for the simple reason that they’re not personally what I’d look for in a cruise. I can’t fathom why I’d want a skydiving simulator on a ship, or have the ability to play Xbox around the world from the middle of the Atlantic. I’m on a cruise! Who needs Xbox? Real life is freakin’ awesome!
But, my job is to understand why this appeals, and who it appeals to; to discover what the WOW-factor is that Royal Caribbean is always talking about, and how it relates to cruisers of all types. That’s why I’ll be sailing aboard Quantum of the Seas on her first New York media preview cruise on November 12, 2014 – to discover my own WOW. This is a ship that, to be honest, I just can’t make up my mind about. When that happens, there’s only one solution: I have to see it for myself.
Initially, I wasn’t planning on travelling during the first half of this month. I’m swamped with a book I am writing at the moment, and the deadlines are piling up. I even cancelled another cruise I had originally scheduled for this time period. But when opportunity knocked, I couldn’t pass this one up.