The Cruise With the pandemic hitting us since late 2019, the last trips I managed to head to were to my favourite coastal town Byron Bay in Australia and a weekend visit to Bangkok in Thailand in early March 2020. Being someone with travel plans throughout the year, the past year has been life-changing.
One definite change will be my view of a cruise vacation. I have always brushed off the idea of taking cruise, since the thought of being stuck on a moving vessel for days does not sound like an exciting proposition. Though living in a small island like Singapore, I decided that it is perhaps time to head out on a cruise since I have developed cabin fever after being stuck in Singapore the past year.
With only 2 cruises to choose from, it is an obvious decision for me – my pick will definitely be Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas. The food options and entertainment facilities onboard RC made this an easy option. Unless of course if you are inspired by Chow Yun Fat in God of Gamblers, Genting’s Dream Cruise will be the more obvious cruise option for you.
The Room Since I am heading to cruise on RC to get out of my cabin fever, a stateroom with a balcony for me to look out to the open sea is a must. On Quantum of the Seas, you can pick from 4 general categories of rooms, namely Interior (no windows), Ocean View (with windows), Balcony and Suite. Did some research online, and there are strong recommendations by some specialised websites on cruises to pick rooms between between Deck 8 to 12, and in the middle section of the cruise as you will be in the middle of both lift lobbies.
The Ocean View Balcony staterooms measures 253sqft, and can sleep up to 4 guests with 2 each on a King Bed and a Sofa Bed; though I will discourage against having 4 adults in the room as it can be a rather tight space.
The balcony is definitely a life-saver, and it is the only spot on the cruise where you can afford to bask in the sun without wearing your face mask. Kudos to the cruise staff, wearing of face mask is strictly enforced throughout the entire cruise, except when you are in the swimming pools or on the FlowRider.
The room comes with a well-sized toilet with a standing enclosed shower. Do note that unless you book a suite, which comes with some lovely L’occitane toiletries, do make sure you bring your own. Unless you do not mind the budget 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash the cruise provides.
Do note that all rooms are serviced and sanitised by a dedicated attendant twice daily including a turn-down service in the evening. The attendant for my room was challenged to do a different towel animal everyday, and he did not disappoint with renditions of elephants, bears, birds, dogs and more!
The Restaurants For a start, you have to decide if you will be happy with all the complimentary meals onboard the cruise, or you are good to top-up for Specialty Dining which will allow you to book any of the Specialty Dining restaurants for lunch and dinner throughout your stay onboard. These restaurants includes the Chops Grille steakhouse, Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver, fine-dining concept Wonderland, and Japanese restaurant Izumi. We heard raving reviews of Chops Grille, and dismal ratings of Izumi, so you have to be prepared that not all Specialty Dining restaurants will delight your palates.
Since this is my first time onboard a cruise, with full intention to take life slow, I decided to go with the complimentary dining just so that I will not be pressured to frantically book the restaurants upon boarding since the complimentary dining restaurants will have ample seats for all.
For all-day ala-carte dining, the Main Dining Room is made up by American Icon Grill and Silk, which both serve the same menu with a legit 3-course menu for lunch and dinner daily.
Some highlights from our meals here includes the Escargot, Prime Ribs, local Singapore favourite Laksa and not forgetting the Chocolate Cake that was surprisingly satisfying.
While the food here does not blow my mind, it definitely did not fare badly as a complimentary dining concept. I also appreciate that the lunch and dinner menu rotate a fair bit each day, just so diners will not get too bored easily.
If you are a buffet person, Windjammer will be the place for you. Serving a wide spread of food options throughout the day, with a view of the sea as it is located high up on deck fourteen of the cruise. That said, I did not enjoy my meals here, both times heading back down to Main Dining Room to have a second meal. It is a little too busy, too packed, and lack the finesse of the Main Dining Room.
In between meals, there are other complimentary dining options which you can visit throughout the day. Strongly recommending you to visit the Seaplex Doghouse for some of the good ol’ American sausages. Skip the bread, and just topped your choice of sausages with onions. I returned here daily while cruising.
And before I forget, you can enjoy some complimentary McDonald’s inspired soft-serve ice cream at Deck 14, next to the indoor pool.
Another place you should visit is Sorrentos for its pizzas! Do not expect the pizza to wow, but they are satisfying to say the least. Pair it with the complimentary coffee and tea, and this is one spot to chill at any time of the day when you are craving for some caffine and to satisfy your hunger pangs. Sorrentos operates to the wee hours, perhaps catering to the gamblers at the casino just one floor down.
If you are a coffee snob and the complimentary coffee available across all dining concepts is not your cup of coffee (literally), visit La Patisserie. This is where you find a more proper third wave coffee, though you will need to pay for them.
The Facilities This is perhaps the most important consideration for me when I decided to go for a cruise. Yes, I did mention that my main purpose to head to a cruise is to chill and take life slow(er) since I have barely taken any annual leave from my day job for the past year. Though knowing my restlessness, the cruise better have something for me to do whenever I want to head out from my stateroom.
Starting with activities in the sun, these are located at the upper decks, starting with the best spot on the entire cruise, the Solarium. This adult-only (yay!) indoor jacuzzi hideout allow guests to bask in the sun through its all-glass facade, and dipping into the hot and cold pools while sipping on your choice of drink from the bar.
Read a book, browse through social media, or just close our eyes and enjoy the serenity Solarium offers. Head here during sunrise or sunset, and enjoy some gorgeous views. Be warned though, the better positioned sundeck chairs gets occupied real quick.
There are two warm jacuzzi tubs in the Solarium where only one group of people can soak in it at any one point. Be prepared to queue to enter the tub during the day.
Continuing on Deck 14, head out from the Solarium and you will be greeted with the Indoor and Outdoor Pools with Whirlpools dotting the area. Just a note, you are required to be masked up as long as you are out of your rooms, and there are only other 2 occasions you can remove your face masks – when you are dining, or when you are soaked in any of the pools. The friendly, but stern, lifeguards and crew on the cruise will readily remind you if you fail to observe this.
Moving up to Deck 15, challenge yourself to scale the Rock Climbing Wall. Decided to give it a go during my cruise, and was fighting my acrophobia while scaling the wall. Do recommend you to have a go at this!
Just beside this, you will find both the FlowRider and Ripcord by iFly onboard. The FlowRider is complimentary and you must make sure you head up to ride some wave while on the Quantum of the Sea! Admittedly, I was on the FlowRider twice daily, and managed to do some moves before I disembarked. Fun sport, but be prepared for wait times of up to 45 minutes to an hour during peak times.
Housing all other sports and entertainment activities, the Seaplex on Deck 15 has a central court which can be used for all sort of complimentary sports and Bumper Car throughout the day. The Seaplex also houses the Arcade and Gaming Area if that’s what you are keen on.
There is a Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Centre onboard the cruise as well, though the Fitness Centre was closed during our voyage due to heightened alert in Singapore as with the ongoing pandemic. We heard the fitness centre is a haven for gym-goers, and would have visited it daily should it be opened.
I like the fact that there is ample space on deck 15 to take a stroll around the vessel. For runners, there is an outdoor running track which counts approximately 550m per round. Otherwise, this is also a good spot to catch the sunset as dusk sinks in.
In the evening, there is also movie night at the main outdoor pool, or head to the indoor pool for a quieter moment.
Once the sun goes down, you can head indoors for daily shows at The Royal Theatre, TWO70 and the Music Hall. You can join in the various daily activities organized by the cruise too, including game shows and trivial. Of course, for the folks looking to win big, you can head to the cruise’s Casino Royale. Here’s wishing you luck!
And for the shopaholics, there are various tax-free retail shops and art galleries to tempt you with. Some of the products on the cruise are truly at a discount from the prices in Singapore, just note that everything onboard a cruise are priced in United States Dollars.
Other Tips To Note Note that for Royal Caribbean, they do allow you to bring up to a maximum of 12 cans and bottles of non-alcoholic drinks onboard. As they only provide 2 complimentary bottles of water in the room upon check-in, you might want to bring some bottles of water onboard instead of having to pay up for such essentials. Also, for the folks who are keen to sip your wine while onboard the cruise, you can bring up to 2x750ml bottles of wine and champagne per stateroom without corkage fees.
And yes, make sure you subscribe to Royal Caribbean’s emails once you book your cruise, as there are periodic offers on its beverage and internet packages before you set sail. Book whatever packages that you like, and if a better offer comes along, just cancel your earlier book and rebook them! Just make sure to cancel all your unwanted bookings 4 days prior to boarding (please double check again on the timelines, in case they update this), and you will enjoy your full refunds.
Another essential must have is an adapter to charge your electronics and phones in the call.
Rants As I was on the cruise over a long weekend, it was frankly quite packed with families. I will be more inclined to go for the 3 Nights Cruise package in future which sails from Monday to Thursday, where the cruise will probably be less packed.
While mask wearing is essential in public space, it is really not ideal for a suntan at the deck with a mask on. I wouldn’t want a visible mask-shaped tan line on my face.
Overall Experience I am surprising myself by seriously looking at booking my next cruise during the time of writing this article. The affordable price for a balcony stateroom, the decent complimentary dining, the ample facilities to keep me entertained through my 4 nights onboard Quantum of the Sea, and finally a time in the last 12 months to allow me to “travel” aimlessly again, I am now cruising away to book my next cruise-capade!
Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas
Sailing into the midst of nowhere
For more information, do check out Royal Caribbean website.
Ranted by The Rantee