As I packed my bags ahead of my December 14 sailing on Quantum of the Seas, it struck me how this voyage would be a series of firsts.
Quantum is Royal Caribbean’s first ship to sail with passengers since the start of the pandemic. This was also my first cruise on Quantum, having sailed with Spectrum last year.
For many, it’s the first Royal sailing after a passenger tested positive for COVID-19 just the week before. It was found to be a false positive, but the ship was required to return to port on the third day, with passengers quarantined in their rooms until disembarkation in the evening.
With that incident fresh in my mind, I, and I’m sure many others, harboured some uncertainty about the trip.
Our pre-boarding PCR COVID test was a seamless experience. After receiving an email from Royal Caribbean, we scheduled a test slot two days prior to embarkation. On the day of our test, the entire process took barely 10 minutes.
Onboard the ship, the COVID measures Royal Caribbean has taken are extensive. Aside from rigorous cleaning protocols, every Royal Caribbean guest is required to wear a waterproof ‘tracelet’ around your arm in all public areas. Your SeaPass card, which once was just used to order drinks and enter your room, now also acts as your contact tracing tool. In places like the Royal Theatre, you have to tap your card before entering.
Understandably, there were less activities on the cruise compass compared to pre-COVID days.
Nevertheless, we were kept occupied with rock-climbing, dance classes and game shows on general knowledge and celebrities.
All these measures did seem a tad excessive, but I completely understand. After all, the ship could have its CruiseSafe certification revoked if the liner fails to comply with rules outlined by Singapore’s government. This would mean the end of ‘seacations’ as we know it, and a further blow to the already struggling cruise industry.
The heightened safety measures didn’t stop me and my travel party from having an enjoyable holiday. I travelled with my partner and four other friends in three separate staterooms. We could only sit in groups of five during mealtimes, but the waitstaff were kind enough to allocate us tables near each other. Even though we had to split up during shows, we managed to secure seats in the same row too.
During our three-night sailing, we ate ourselves silly, enjoyed relaxing soaks in the Solarium, lost a little at Casino Royale’s Scratch & Win and laughed out loud during trivia game shows.
We were not the only happy passengers. Observing fellow guests, it seemed like everyone was truly excited to be cruising again. There were smiles everywhere, and enthusiastic participation in activities from both young and old.
The lovely crew are undoubtedly delighted about the restart of cruising too. As we got on the elevator during disembarkation, they exclaimed how great it was to finally see passengers on a ship, after almost a year of suspended sailings.
My thoughts about the rest of my voyage:
Understandably, there were less activities on the cruise compass compared to pre-COVID days. Nevertheless, we were kept occupied with rock-climbing, dance classes and game shows on general knowledge and celebrities.
I got to try indoor skydiving experience iFly for the first time. Though nervous at first, my fears were alleviated thanks to my skilled Ukrainian instructor. He made sure I was safe at all times, adjusting my position so I didn’t hit the sides of the wind tunnel or go too far up. As I floated around, it was truly exhilarating to experience the sensation of flight!
When it comes to performances, Royal doesn’t disappoint. The comedy juggling act on our first night was a little underwhelming, but we loved headlining act Gold Art Duo. The pair performed death-defying acrobatic stunts, along with an impressive circus repertoire. And it was great to see the Royal Theatre cast back in action, as they wowed us with their energetic vocals and dancing.
At present, the Royal Theatre has 250-person capacity. There are at least two shows per day to cater to passengers, and we reserved seats beforehand through the reservations hotline.
It was a bit of a bummer that bars at the music lounges were closed due to restrictions though. After all, late-night music is best enjoyed with a drink in hand!
We stayed in a balcony stateroom. The cabin was spotless and well-maintained, and stateroom attendants were efficient in making up our room when we left each day.
Amenities are rather minimal if you’re not staying in a suite. A hairdryer is provided, but you won’t receive shower caps, dental kits or separate shampoo and conditioner sets. Only two bottles of water are given out on the first sailing day, so we had to either boil water or refill bottles at the Windjammer restaurant.
I travelled with a group of people who really love to eat. As such, we ended up having multiple main courses and visits to both the Windjammer and Main Dining Room for lunch. And with Cafe Promenade and Sorrento’s Pizza opened till late at night, none of us ever went hungry.
Food at the Main Dining Room was one of the highlights of our trip. We requested for Traditional Dining, which meant being seated at the same table each night at 6pm. Our favourite items included the baked escargots, roasted tenderloin, steak Diane, cream pasta with mussels and pulled pork BBQ sandwich.
Highs: Fabulous food, fun activities and the friendly crew who were concerned for our health & safety.
Lows: Waiting for a breakfast table for 20 minutes and queues for pools and hot tubs. Here’s hoping there will be better crowd control when capacity limits are loosened.
Best suited to: Cruisers of all ages, especially groups of families.
You can read Rebecca’s full review in Cruise Passenger’s March edition – subscribe here:https://crmdb.crmaus.com.au/CruisePassengerMobile/index.aspx
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