When I arrived a City Cruise Terminal, Southampton with my set sail pass and photo already uploaded (see previous blog), I sheepishly approached a staff member standing with a tablet and asked her where I needed to go. She zapped the barcode on my set sail pass and went through a series of steps on the screen, asked a couple of questions and then pointed me in the direction of security. No sea pass card, no health questionnaire to fill out, nothing. I thought that would be coming later, so carried on through security, again straight through, no queues and into the departure lounge. As I entered there had been an announcement for people to board so I carried straight through to the ship. No time to check my bag, go to the bathroom, get a coffee, get bored and restless, just straight onto the ship. It felt very strange, I couldn’t figure out how they would let me on board, I didn’t have my sea pass card. I thought there had been a mistake! But sure enough, as I walked through the ship security they scanned the barcode on my set sail pass and let me on.
I stood in what appeared to be an atrium wondering what to do. Do I need to go somewhere now? Is that it? and how the hell do I get into my room? I looked around me thinking “this does not feel like a Royal Caribbean ship”. To be honest I didn’t feel like I was on a ship at all! It was light, sophisticated, arty and just downright cool. I must have looked out of place because ‘cool’ places are where other people go, not me. But with a quick glance around, I saw the familiar sight of Sorrento’s and new I was in the right place. It was just different. The Royal Promenade was no longer and instead there is a Royal Esplanade.
I went to the Windjammer to get some lunch to find, again, no queues. If you have cruised on Celebrity Solstice class ships you will be familiar with the Oceanview Cafe layout. This has been adopted on the Quantum class and eliminated queuing.
Having introduced Dynamic Dining I was unsure how I would feel about the absence of the main dining room. The reason for Royal Caribbean moving away from the traditional dining structure of a cruise is to encourage and appeal to the ‘new to cruise’ market. As a big fan of the main dining room and formal night, we opted to dine in The Grand where every night is formal night. The 1920’s theme and white glove service gave it a truly ‘Grand’ experience. Having 12 complimentary dining restaurants options include the American Icon Grill which speaks for itself, a Pan Asian restaurant, Silk, contemporary dining in Chic as well as the Solarium Bistro, Sorrentos, Windjammer and Two70 Cafe there is a restaurant to suit most palettes and preferences.
After a lovely meal it was time to check out the entertainment. The one of a kind Two70 is an iconic venue that fuses technology with entertainment. The production of Starwater was enchanting and edgy, mixed with the incredibly talented singer and a cellist performing on aerial wires.
For lovers of musicals and fun Mamma Mia is a must. Superb acting, singing and dancing that was equalled to that of Broadway and the West End.
It seemed the the Music Hall was a favourite with most passengers. The dance floor was nearly always packed and as the evening turned into the early hours, you could see this really was the ‘place to be’. I wonder if Royal Caribbean have anticipated exactly how popular it will be with guests.
Having amazing additions such as the Bionic Bar, Wonderland, Two70, Music Hall and a fabulous array of unique and quirky art features, this new ‘Smart Ship’ really does offer the WOW that Royal Caribbean have promised. It’s also added a touch of class for the more discerning traveller.