Agents often get sneak peeks of new ships and destinations—Michael Consoli, franchise owner of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, recently had such an opportunity when he boarded Royal Caribbean International’s new Quantum of the Seas in Germany, which doesn’t embark on its first journey for another 75 days. Here’s the scoop he gave our Associate Editor about his visit.
Michelle Marie Arean (MMA): What did you do when visiting the shipyard to see the new Quantum?
Michael Consoli (MC): When we arrived in Germany, we toured the cabin factory and then the steel-cutting area. We were able to see where the steel was cut and how it was assembled and soldered. When we arrived at the shipyard, Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas was in full view in the lake of the shipyard. We also got to view the Anthem of the Seas, which is currently under construction. After our tours, we were seated on a section of Anthem for the live-streaming reveal with Richard Fain, chairman & CEO of Royal Caribbean International. One of the first things we received were the Royal Caribbean RFID wristbands, which are replacing the room key for those who choose to use it.
MMA: What new offerings were available on the ship?
MC: We were not able to see all the cabin categories, however, we were able to see three or four of them, which offered some amazing options for travelers including:
- Beautiful Junior Suites with a split bath concept. On the left of the entry was a beautiful marble bath with a large tub, separate stand-up shower and sink area, and on the right was a separate water closet with an additional sink—perfect set up so that two guests could be getting ready at one time.
- Impressive industry first with single-balcony cabins that were nicely sized, had plenty of storage, and a great bathroom, all with a large private verandah.
- Family “suites” which consist of three rooms that connect in a single vestibule to make one big cabin. A Junior Suite, a Standard Balcony and an Interior Cabin all connect with a common vestibule, so the whole family can be together.
- Interior “virtual balcony” cabins that have a floor-to-ceiling LCD screen with a real-time view of the outside, flanked on each side by a set of curtains, which makes you feel like you are in a true balcony cabin. The screen is very realistic and shows the guest exactly what they would see if they were in a balcony cabin because the image is fed from one of 14 cameras on the outside of the ship based on the cabin’s location.
These among several other industry firsts:
- RipCord by iFly—For the first time ever, guests can experience the thrill of skydiving out on the deep blue ocean.
- North Star—A jewel-shaped gondola that swings out over the ocean and ascends over 300 ft. to provide amazing 360-degree views of the ocean or port of call.
- SeaPlex—A multi-use complex that converts from a full basketball court to bumper cars, roller rink, or even a nightclub, which is a versatile space for travelers.
- Bionic Bar—Passengers can place their order through a tablet and then watch as humanoid mixologists prepare their cocktails and it is served by robotic bartenders.
MMA: What was new in the technology offered on the ship?
MC: The technology throughout the ship is by far one of the most exciting innovations that Quantum of the Seas brings to the market. It uses smart-ship technology allowing guests to spend less time in line, less time waiting to pay for incidentals, less time waiting to send emails or connect via Internet, and less time waiting in their cabin for luggage so they can spend more time enjoying their vacation.
Quantum of the Seas will utilize radio-frequency identification (RFID) for cruiser check-in, tracking luggage, opening cabin doors and paying for drinks and spa treatments. It will boast the fastest Internet speeds at sea with new satellite technology that will bring DSL speeds to your laptop or smartphone. Guests can use their smartphone to track their luggage, view the cruise line’s daily newsletter (although they will still receive a printed version if they wish), and be able to connect and share posts and images on social media.
MMA: Did you notice any upgrades or changes to the rooms?
MC: There were so many upgrades on Quantum of the Seas! The most significant of which is storage space—there is plenty of it and in true Royal Caribbean International fashion, they were very innovative in how they designed the storage. For example, a split closet with cabinets on both sides of the bed, plenty of deep drawer space and hanging space. The cabins had lamps, as opposed to only ceiling and wall lighting, which adds to the warmth of the cabin.
The desks areas in many of the cabins are moveable and can be utilized as a desk or a dining table. Once they are moved out from the wall, they function as a work area in front of the sofa, or on the side of the bed. Also, with the fastest Internet at sea, this versatile workspace will be great for clients (and travel agents) who can never really disconnect while cruising.
MMA: Were there any changes or additions to the dining offerings?
MC: Quantum of the Seas will introduce “Dynamic Dining” to its guests. It’s dining at sea, reimagined, to give more distinct options and total flexibility. There are no set dinner times and no required formal nights. There are five complimentary, full-service main restaurants; three new restaurants with award-winning chefs at the helm; and much more, from upscale to casual to the wonderfully whimsical. Guests can use their smartphone, tablet or laptop to pre-book their dining on Royal Caribbean’s website as they do now, but they will have the opportunity to have a different experience every night, if they wish. Also, since they will have strong Internet connection while on board, they can make these changes via the mobile app while cruising, too.
MMA: What was your favorite part of the Quantum of the Seas?
MC: That would have to be room Two70—I loved the size of this entertainment venue with high-tech updates. It’s very exciting to see what they will be showcasing in this venue—from dancing to virtual concerts, the whole space can be transformed from a beautiful venue with sweeping views in the day time to a full entertainment “theater” at night. The large 270-degree windows can be transformed into large screens which can change the venue into a theater, or a jungle, by using amazing projection technology. And as if that weren’t enough, six large robotic arms will each hold 100-inch plasma screens that are so high definition, they are eight times the resolution most of us have at home. These screens will move and dance around to create a show in itself. Royal Caribbean International is pairing up with some very innovative entertainers to create a one-of-kind experience.
MMA: Why should agents book their clients on this ship?
MC: Because there is nothing out there like it. Just when we thought Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas were the show stoppers, Royal Caribbean International raised the bar even higher with Quantum of the Seas. This is the new age of cruising—with total connectivity.
MMA: What benefits are offered for agents?
MC: Clients will be running back for more, which will increase repeat business opportunities. This is a ship like no other, and families, singles and grandparents are all going to love it. Also, since clients will be so connected while on board, they will create a viral effect of other travelers who will want to experience the product and its sister ship, which leaves the door open for client referrals.
For more information, visit royalcaribbean.com/quantumoftheseas.