A look at Royal Caribbean’s brand new Quantum of the Seas

Quantum of the Seas as seen from the North Star capsule ride
Quantum of the Seas as seen from the North Star capsule ride

Royal Caribbean’s revolutionary new Quantum of the Seas, now cruising out of New York City, is billed as the first “smart ship.”

Quantum, the world’s third largest cruise ship behind Royal Caribbean’s sisters, Oasis and Allure, carries 4,180 passengers and offers a bunch of “firsts at sea.” I found these firsts great fun on a two-day cruise out of Bayonne, New Jersey, in mid-November.

I joined a group of about a dozen other passengers on the top deck for a lift 300 feet above the sea on the North Star, a big glass capsule that has some of the same feel as the Eye in London, though not as high.

Bumper cars on Quantum of the Seas
Bumper cars on Quantum of the Seas

I jumped at the opportunity to drive a bumper car, which reminded me of similar car bumpings at Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio. Some passengers didn’t seem all that thrilled to have their bumper cars rammed by mine, but they should have chosen another activity.

My biggest thrill was a skydiving experience called RipCord that uses wind tunnel technology in a glass chamber where you fly, with a trainer’s help, in a flak suit, helmet and goggles. Was I nervous? Yes. Did the one-minute adventure seem like five minutes? Yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely.

Pour me a drink Mr Robot
Pour me a drink Mr Robot

Not as successful was my attempt to buy a $12 drink at a bar where robots do all the mixing, including complicated concoctions. My simple Jack Daniels on the rocks got hung up in computer freeze-land for at least 10 minutes, so I decided move on to a bar with human hands.

High tech on the high seas

Quantum’s new technology includes a huge capability to be connected to the world around you, if you choose, and new methods for navigating your own days at sea.

You will be armed with a high tech plastic wristband and an app for your cellphone to keep track of ship activities and excursions.

Anti-tech passengers can skirt the robot bar, but they can’t get away from the technology that has taken over such tasks as boarding (no standing in line at check-in), restaurant reservations (do it on your phone or tablet computer), and entering your cabin (just wave your plastic wristband at the lock).

Wristband on Quantum of the Seas
Wristband on Quantum of the Seas

If you are planning to sail on this vessel during the six months, before it heads from New York to China, you will want to do more preparation than normal for a vacation cruise.

Downloading before you leave home

Royal Caribbean asks Quantum passengers to connect online and download its Royal IQ apps at home.

Savvy cruisers will do all their boarding “paperwork,” restaurant reservations, shore excursions, and activities requiring advance preparations well before they leave home.

If they don’t, the boarding process will be longer, and passengers take a chance that a specialty restaurant, an excursion, or a show will be fully booked by the time they get onboard.

David Molyneaux writes regularly about cruising news, tips and trends at TravelMavenBlog.com. His cruise trends column appears monthly  in U.S. newspapers and on other Internet sites, including AllThingsCruise  He is editor of TheTravelMavens.com

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