Watching the sun set on the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor is a view made magnificent in the North Star, a jewel-shaped capsule on Quantum of the Seas, whose mechanical arm currently has us extended 300 feet above the water. The ship stretches over 1,000 feet in front of us; stood upright, that’s over twice as tall as the Great Pyramid of Giza. The views from this vantage point make for a jolting, but enjoyable icebreaker. Just ask the 14 people in the pod, who are cautiously trolling for selfies and chatting with each other as if they were not strangers moments ago.
The North Star demonstrates Quantum’s high IQ. It’s an intelligence that plays out through ambitious design and tech innovations—from virtual balconies in interior staterooms with real-time views to the sea’s first robotic bartender. In short, it’s the world’s first smartship, and any number of at-sea ‘firsts’ are ready to back this up.
2,090 Staterooms, 18 Decks & Plenty of WOW
Our introduction to Quantum began with the Royal iQ app, which enabled us to check-in, print all boarding documents and book dining, entertainment and activity reservations prior to our arrival at Cape Liberty Cruise Port. This cut down sidewalk-to-ship time considerably. Onboard, wearable tech in the form of WOWband bracelets linked to reservations, providing quick entry into dining venues and staterooms.
Satellites launched by tech partner O3b Networks enable connectivity speeds comparable to land. We learned this firsthand while partaking in Quantum’s pre-inaugural #selfieatsea Twitter campaign. Streaming, video chats and Xbox Live gaming are also readily enjoyed from the middle of the ocean. The ship seems made for teambuilding, offering bumper cars and a roller rink experience at SeaPlex, a venue that also transforms into a full-size basketball court and trapeze school—all firsts at sea. Adrenaline junkies will also want to check out RipCord by iFly, the first at-sea indoor skydiving experience.
Though unquestionably smart, Quantum of the Seas also has a soft side that is brought to life through a parade of color and art—from a 30-foot-tall magenta polar bear that anchors an outdoor rock climbing wall to digital screens with flittering butterflies and other wildlife and dramatic installations that change color with the time of day. In all, a $5 million art collection—including video, interactive and kinetic art—fans out across the ship. Just outside Two70, a multi-level great room with 270-degree views and floor-to-ceiling glass walls, an eclectic art gallery is surrounded by an array of cozy lounging options. We took in the “Starwater” production at Two70 in the evening and were enthralled by the Cirque du Soleil-like acrobatics and life-like visuals streaming across 7-foot-high mechanical RoboScreens. Eighteen projectors can also create floor-to-ceiling digital shows in Two70 any time of day, making the venue a top choice for meetings and events.
Dine & Drink Around
Rather than having a one-size-fits-all banquet hall typical of the traditional cruise experience, four individually themed restaurants are sectioned off around a central kitchen on Quantum.
We toured the restaurants and galley and were tossed into a coma by the aromas wafting from breads and pastries freshly made. “We took a dining room that was normally around 3,000-sf and made it intimate,” remarks Brian Abel, RCCL’s VP of food & beverage. “By making restaurants more unique and smaller, foods are fresher and better.”
Abel says eleven of the 18 dining options onboard are complimentary. For a dine around, we used the reservation system to book multiple dinners and then darted along from dish to dish, an experience easily booked for groups as well.
Along with its own ambiance, each dining venue offers its own surprise—from the first gastropub at sea to al fresco dining at Jamie’s Italian and the magically appearing menus of Wonderland. Servers take orders via tablets, which not only beeline orders to the kitchen, but store dining preferences. Abel says this drives home the lasting impression that Quantum hopes to deliver: “Technology allows us to personalize experiences.”