Cruising in the Far East with RCI: Big Ship, Big Excitement

ABOARD QUANTUM of the SEAS – Upon first seeing a megaship, I was a bit overwhelmed.  Yes, they are huge, if that isn’t an understatement. In order to further describe megaships, cruise writers and bloggers have invented a few analogies that I’d like to explore aboard the Quantum of the Seas.

The first analogy for the largest Oasis-class ships is that their split “open-atrium” structure is made possible by their hulls extraordinary width that is double most other cruise ships and permits roomier staterooms.  With their shopping, restaurant, and outdoor areas running down the middle of the ship, and verandas on all decks, the ships resemble “balcony-laden floating condominiums.”

Perhaps a more grand analogy is the description of a megaship as “a skyscraper laid on its side.”

The aesthetic beauty of skyscrapers has been defined, according to architecture critic Paul Goldberger, by how they meet the ground and the sky, the bottom and the top.  Using these standards to evaluate the equivalent bow and stern of the Quantum, particularly the stern, leads me to the conclusion that this ship is quite attractively sleek and strikingly shapely.  A cliché that a sailor might use in appreciation is “I like the cut of her jib.”

A “megamall on waves” is another analogy that seems somewhat applicable.  Think of megamalls such at Canada’s West Edmonton Mall or Mall of America, although Asia sports more than a dozen even larger ones.

The 2 story Royal Esplanade on Quantum of the Seas resembles a suburban mall

With a full day at sea to explore the ship, I’m excited to check out all of Royal Caribbean’s imaginative entertainment innovations meant to appeal especially to young families and couples.  

In addition to established Royal Caribbean favorites — the DreamWorks® Experience offering exclusive shows and character breakfasts, the 40-foot-long FlowRider® surf simulator, the signature Rock Wall with a view 220 feet above the water, the AquaTheater, and new RipCord by iFly®, one of the most unique wind tunnel installations in the world to simulate skydiving at sea.  Introduced first on Quantum of the Seas, it is now featured on all of RCI’s Quantum-class ships.

Clockwise from upper left: Flow Rider Surf Simulator with air tunnel above, climber on rock wall, and instructor with passenger learning to fly in Ripcord

I can’t help being attracted by looking up above the ship to be amazed by something truly unique for a cruise ship.  The first Royal Caribbean ship to offer North StarSM, Quantum gives guests a 360-degree view from a glass gondola suspended by a mechanical arm 300 feet in the air that can extend out over the water for an exciting photo opportunity.

Additional at-sea firsts for the Quantum are bumper cars and roller skating.  Their robotic bartender, I believe, is another; one I fail to understand.  Seriously, what good is a bartender when you can’t tell them your troubles?

Bumper cars in action

I can’t help but be impressed by all the whiz-bang gadgetry and the feeling of being happily immersed in a theme park with adventure-after -adventure lurking around ever corner of the ship.  It all seems very ostentatious, yet I’m fascinated by the ostentatiousness of it all. With all of this on board, some critics have even wondered why anyone would ever get off the ship at port stops.

A stairwell intended to make mainland Chinese feel at home on Quantum of the Seas

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