quantum is a new generation of cruise ship, offering unparalleled technologies and cutting edge transformative venues aboard an 18 deck, 167,800 ton vessel, with 2,090 staterooms and 4,180 guest capacity. i’d never been on a cruise trip before, so was overawed by the sheer scale of the cruise liner when we first arrived in southampton but that was nothing compared to the wonder of what was onboard…
accompanied by my bestie charlotte we marvelled at the “giant floating shopping mall” moored at southampton upon which we were going to spend the next 2 nights sailing. as the world’s first “smartship” we had already checked in before we’d left home that morning, uploading our own security pass photos and registering our preferences for evening dining venues and on-board entertainment. i’d even download the all-new royal app to help us plan our time on-board as efficiently and effectively as possible. all we had to do once the porters had taken our bags and we’d boarded the ship was locate our deck 10 cabins, and make ourselves at home! in our rooms we found our RFID passenger bracelets (the white band i’m wearing above), which served as a key to unlock our cabin, as well as allowing us to make onboard purchases, dining and tour reservations – pretty cool, right?
naturally, our first port of call given the unseasonably glorious weather was to locate the pool bar on deck 16, and we were deliriously happy to discover classic american burger bar johnny rockets next door. given that our last girly holiday together had been to manhattan (over 8 years ago!) we thought it would be rude not to celebrate the start of our weekend away with fries, soda and shakes! as an aside, being dairy-free totally sucks when you can’t enjoy a vanilla malt with your bestie anymore..
as we reclined on deck munching away happily, we watched the first flights of quantum‘s north star in action. one of the most anticipated new features aboard the ship, north star is a jewel-shaped glass capsule similar to those on the london eye, which gently rises to more than 300 feet above the sea affording guests a stunning 360° view of their surroundings and spectacular bird’s eye view of the ship.
as we remained docked in southampton awaiting our final guests and imminent departure charlotte and i explored the upper decks of the boat, reveling in the sunshine and the party atmosphere it imbued upon all the media guests enjoying this pre-inaugural trip. frozen mojitos in hand, i tried my hand at a little more fashion-blogger posing…
having satisfied my inner-diva we headed across deck to check out the windjammer marketplace; a global culinary pavilion with enticing food islands, made-to-order specialties, an on-site bakery and 24 hour food station, the grill.
after heading back to our cabin to change for dinner, we made our way down to the lower decks which were bustling with activity. in the bionic bar, a pair of robotic arms took the place of a human mixologist and were capable of mixing two drinks per minute or 1,000 per day. created by makr shakr the robotic bartenders can muddle, stir, shake, and strain, and are preloaded with 30 spirits and 21 mixers, as well as a selection of garnishes. the idea is that customers will be able to order their drinks via tablets, then sit back and watch as the machine prepares them, although inevitably there were a few maiden voyage teething problems.
continuing the emphasis on high spec technology aboard the ship, along in the two70 multimedia theatre at the bow of the vessel we found ourselves both cocktails and a troupe of robotic performers; retractable robotic arms with flat screens instead of manipulators that move in a choreographed dance set to music.
dazzled by all the robotic spectacles thus far we headed for dinner at chic, one of quantum’s five fine dining restaurants each with their own distinctive menu and ambiance designed to immerse guests in new tastes, sights and settings each night of their cruise vacation. with a spectacular sculptural entrance and grand communal tables, chic is glamorous and sophisticated in both menu and design. serving contemporary food with an emphasis on lightness and freshness in preparation, we enjoyed grilled catalan shrimp and fresh mozzarella & beet salad to start, followed by crispy chicken and grilled vegetable napoleon; a feta cheese and marcona almond crumble.
i’d have loved to have had a) the time and b) the space to squeeze in dessert but alas we were running late for the evening’s entertainment: broadway’s global smash hit mamma mia!
yes, you read that right. charlotte and i were lucky enough to witness the debut performance of royal caribbean’s fourth fully-licensed broadway production onboard its fleet and trust me, it was pretty darn impressive! so much so that we completely forgot we were aboard a cruise ship at all – right up until the point the ship began to turn as it made it’s way out of the english channel and into the north sea. after a moment of confusion as to why we suddenly felt a slight motion sickness we remembered where we were! the acoustics in the royal theatre might not be quite what they are on broadway but the performances were certainly world class and had the whole audience clapping and dancing along.
all in all, it was a pretty fantastic first day aboard the quantum!