Aboard the ‘smart’ ship
On the maiden voyage of this hi-tech vessel, Jeff Michaels sees the future – and a martini mixed by a robot
HERE’S skydiving, a London Eye-style ride, robot bartenders and Jamie Oliver for dinner. On its maiden voyage out of New York this month, the new Quantum of the Seas lived up to its promise of “wow” factor.
Billed as a “smart” ship, Royal Caribbean International’s first Quantum-class vessel is the world’s third-largest cruise ship. While size matters – at 168,666 gross tonnes Quantum can accommodate 4180 guests – it is the tech-savvy features that will make this a popular choice in a competitive market.
The first new ship for RCI since it launched Allure of the Seas in 2010, Quantum stands out as much for its innovative use of technology as its new fun activities. With wireless speeds to match land-based broadband connections, smartphones are likely to be a ubiquitous onboard accessory.
A smartphone app allows guests to easily manage all their cruising details, including tracking luggage in real time so its arrival in cabin is clear. You can also plan shore excursions, make restaurant reservations and book spa appointments while relaxing by a pool. On my cruise, the Wi-Fi is reliable and fast and I was able to chat on FaceTime with family at home with perfect clarity.
Another handy app feature is the ability to stay in touch with family and friends onboard, which will end the frustration of trying to find one another around the ship or coordinating schedules.
A digital wristband allows onboard purchases and access to cabins. There’s plenty of other innovative uses of technology, notably the Bionic Bar, which has robotic bartenders to make cocktails by the book.
There is also an amazing robotic show in the Two70 theatre. Three-storey high windows transform into projector screens, the “roboscreens” moving as one to a catchy beat, intertwining with live performers and special effects.
If that sounds too overwhelming, take a seat at the Royal Theatre for the hit Broadway musical Mamma Mia. There is also the robot-free Music Hall featuring live music.
Built at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, Quantum of the Seas is 348m long, has 18 decks and cost a cool $1 billion. There are 2090 staterooms, including 28 fairly large solo cabins. Want an ocean view, but can only afford an interior cabin? No problem – there are 375 cabins with “virtual balconies”, which is better than staring at a windowless wall.
For families, Quantum offers up to three interconnected cabins to accommodate