Quantum of the Seas To Home Port In Shanghai

Quantum of the Seas China

Royal Caribbean International has announced that its newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, will make its home port in Shanghai (Baoshan), China, bringing the company’s most innovative ship to the world’s fastest-growing cruise market. The ship will reposition to China in May 2015, following her inaugural winter season sailing out of New York Harbor to the Caribbean. In China, Quantum of the Seas will join Mariner of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas in Asia.

“These incredible ships will meet the sophisticated expectations of consumers in Shanghai, New York and London. Our mantra for the new Quantum class of ships is ‘this changes everything’ – and upping our game in these key markets achieves just that,” said Dominic Paul, Vice President, International, Royal Caribbean International. “Our distinctive style of high quality innovative cruises has become known to travellers around the world and we will continue to deploy our most technologically advanced ships where the demand is, with the expectation of winning new converts to cruising.”

“Consumers in China have grown to expect the best the world has to offer, and Quantum of the Seas meets that standard like no other ship,” added Adam Goldstein, President and COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We are ready to accelerate the growth of this vital market with a ship that will capture the imagination of travellers looking for a one-of-a-kind holiday experience.”

Goldstein said the company was able to make the move because its new-ship pipeline will keep the New York region supplied with top-rate ships as well. 

“We are very mindful of the importance of New York, which is why we are bringing Liberty of the Seas and then Anthem of the Seas to this market.”

Quantum of the Seas will debut in November 2014, and will spend its inaugural season sailing from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J., before repositioning to China in May 2015. Beginning late June 2015, the ship will sail three- to eight-night itineraries year-round from Shanghai to Japan and Korea. Liberty of the Seas will then arrive to Cape Liberty to sail to Bermuda, the Caribbean, and Canada and New England for the 2015 summer and autumn seasons. The Freedom-class ship will be the company’s newest and largest ship to offer cruises to Bermuda from the New York-metropolitan area.  Finally, Quantum of the Seas’ sister ship, Anthem of the Seas, which launches in April 2015, will complete her inaugural Europe season from London (Southampton), U.K., before arriving to Cape Liberty in November 2015 to continue Quantum-class cruising to the Bahamas and Caribbean for the winter 2015-16 season.

The groundbreaking Quantum-class ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, will debut a new set of first-at-sea onboard experiences, such as Ripcord by iFLY, a heart-pounding skydiving experience; North Star, a thrilling adventure that transports guests more than 300 feet in the air on a breathtaking journey; cutting-edge transformative venues including SeaPlex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; and the cruise line’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever.  Guests also will enjoy the new Quantum-class “Dynamic Dining,” a completely new culinary experience that offers a landscape of 18 restaurant concepts as vast and varied as dining in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, including specialty restaurants created with partner-chefs Jamie Oliver, Devin Alexander and Michael Schwartz.

The Quantum Class spans 18 decks, encompass 167,800 gross registered tons, carry 4,180 guests at double occupancy and feature 2,090 staterooms. 

Info courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

 

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Posted in Cruise News, Royal Caribbean International

Drink To The Spirit Of France With Saga Sapphire

Saga-SapphireThe title says it all, you don’t have to tell me twice! But getting back to the basis of the blog…..

Something a little different for you today, in fact this is only the second time I have covered Saga on my blog, but I thought some of you would be interested in the mentioned cruise, which sails from Dover on July 1st 2014. Plus you have to admit the Saga Sapphire is a beautiful ship!

Calling all French wine lovers (and I know there are a few of you! ;) ) Saga Sapphire’s week-long Spirit of France cruise this summer will include tours to the wine regions of Bordeaux and Muscadet.

Master of Wine Conal Gregory will be on board to host tastings, talks and wine clinics, as well as leading excursions to world-famous vineyards. Conal’s enthusiasm for French wine is contagious and passengers will also be invited to join his lively food and wine matching sessions.

This no-fly cruise giving guests the perfect opportunity to bring home a case or two of wine (pack the euros!) and who will be able to resist a Saint-Émilion vintage after touring the pristine vineyard?

Saga Sapphire Wine Cruise

The chic Saga Sapphire boasts a competitively-priced fine wine list to accompany quality dishes of game, meat and fish. During this themed cruise the executive chef will also be creating special menus so guests can further immerse themselves in French gastronomy.

As well as visiting the wine-growing areas, passengers can get a taste of French history in medieval Guérande, in the western Loire. This medieval town, complete with ramparts and soaring turrets, is surrounded by miles of salt marshes where the prized fleur de sel is panned.

After all the activity, recline with a glass in hand on the Verandah Deck as Saga Sapphire sails along the verdant Atlantic coast in the sunshine! Perfect!

Wine themed cruises are becoming more and more popular, so popular in fact I can barely keep up with them all. This looks like a great cruise and if any of you decide to give it a try I would love to get your feedback, ideally before you open a bottle of French wine! ;)

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Posted in Saga Cruises

Queen Mary And Her Ghosts!

The_Queen_Mary

The Queen Mary has become infamous for her ghost sightings and general spooky goings on and I wanted to shed more light on that today! I did briefly cover some sightings and stories in a blog last year titled Haunted Cruise Ships, but I thought it only right that she now have her own piece!

Since the 1980’s the rumours surrounding the haunting of the Queen Mary have been used significantly in her marketing and promotion and there are now various ghost tours available for those that want to do some investigating of their own. The ship was named “one of the top 10 most haunted places in America” by Time Magazine in 2008 and has been investigated several times by some highly credited paranormal investigation teams from all over the world!

There are 49 recorded deaths onboard the Queen Mary (16 crew, 31 passengers and 2 General Infantry) and given her amazing history I am not surprised that some of the souls don’t want to leave!

Queen Mary Hauntings

 First-Class Swimming Pool

Queen Mary first class swimming  Pool

There have been dozens of reports of spooky goings on in this area including wet footprints that appear on the floor and lead from the pool to the changing rooms. Women in vintage bathing suits have also been seen along with the spirit of a young girl carrying her teddy bear. One of the most famous spirits here is a young girl named Jackie. She sadly drowned in the second-class pool (which has since been transformed into a theatre) and has haunted both areas for more than 50-years! People also report hearing disembodied voices and splashing sounds. Now this would all seem pretty normal if the pool had not been closed for more than THREE decades! Evidence suggests that the first-class pool is actually one of the most haunted areas aboard the ship.

Watertight Door #13

Queen Mary Watertight Door 13

John Pedder, an 18-year old crew member was sadly crushed to death by watertight door #13 on July 10, 1966 and ever since there have been strange goings on along what is commonly referred to as “shaft alley”. People have reported seeing a young man in blue overalls pacing along Shaft Alley before disappearing beside door #13. There are also reports of unexplained knocking from the door. Several people have reported finding greasy handprints in the area and one couple back in 1991 were convinced they had come into contact with the spirit of Pedder during their Queen Mary visit. The couple stepped through door #13 and when climbing the stairs had the feeling that they were being watched, they turned to look back at the door when the gentlemen felt something brush across his face. Concerned, the couple turned around and went outside where his wife noticed a small patch of grease on her husband’s face. Ironic as before they stepped through the door he had invited Pedder to join them!

Cabin B340

Cabin-B340-Queen-Mary

Cabin B340 is a hive of poltergeist activity! Reports include lights being turned on and off in the middle of the night, taps being turned on and even the bed covers being ripped from the bed. Some guests also reported a man’s voice screaming at them to “get out”. Rumour has it that the spirit behind the disturbances is that of a murdered purser. I don’t know if we will ever know exactly, but the fact that the room lies sealed up with the door number missing and is completely out of bounds to guests says it all.

Archives and Cargo Area

Does this image show an orb?

Does this image show an orb?

 The ghost of a young girl named Dana is said to haunt these areas and can sometimes be found in what was the second class pool area (now the Royal Theatre). According to some, Dana was murdered by her father along with her mother and two sisters in cabin B474.

Queens Salon

Is this the Lady in White?

Is this the Lady in White?

The Queens Salon (at one time the main lounge) is said to be home to the famous “Lady in White” who is often seen dancing to unheard music. She is also seen in the ships lobby area, which is now home to a piano that was once a feature in the Queens Salon. She is obviously attached to the piano and a lover of music!

Visiting the Queen Mary and doing a ghost hunt is on my bucket list! I am confident I would be a nervous wreck (the slightest little thing spooks me) but I am definitely willing to try it!

Have you any stories of your own to share about this wonderful ship and her spooky goings on?

Author: Danielle

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Posted in Cunard Cruise Line, General Cruise Articles, Great Ocean Liners, White Star Line

Ships That Make You Go Oooh!

Ships that make you go oooh! There are a fair few of them in the world. You see one and your eyes are completely hooked by it. Today’s blog is all about how they look, it has nothing to do with innovative features or facilities we are going on hull value alone on this one! ;)

Celebrity Solstice

Celebrity Solstice

I think Celebrity Cruises has one of the most attractive fleets at sea but the Solstice class is something else! The first Celebrity Cruises ship I ever set eyes upon was in fact Celebrity Solstice and I remember thinking to myself  WOW! that is some ship! The ship I was on at the time was nice, but Solstice was far more attractive!

Queen Elizabeth

Cunard QE

I think all three of Cunard’s Queens offer us ship lovers something special but I decided to highlight Queen Elizabeth because every time I see her I am in awe. The colour scheme definitely has a lot to do with it. Her cousins over at Holland America Line are attractive too but there’s just something about that red funnel that pushes Elizabeth ahead. She is elegant and she lets you know it.

Ventura

P&O-Cruises-Ventura

Ventura is my over-sized baby! I love that ship! She may not be quite as easy on the eye as the above but she has a little something that works for me. Her big long bow almost kissing you as she welcomes you back after a day exploring ashore. I am curious to see how she will flaunt her new Union Jack and blue funnel in 2015.

SS Normandie #ThrowbackThursday

SS_Normandie

 

Now she was a ship! Excuse me, ocean liner!  Visually she was a real beauty but surprisingly she wasn’t a commercial success. She met a miserable end in New York but when she was in her prime and sailing the open ocean she owned it completely! I know I said today’s blog was all about visual treats but I really do wish I could go back in time and experience what she was like onboard.

Oasis and Allure of the Seas

Oasis-of-the-Seas

Now these two BIG sisters leave me totally transfixed! Royal Caribbean really did break the mould when they introduced the Oasis class. I am yet to see either of these beauties in the flesh but I am hoping to see Oasis when she visits Southampton in October. Until then I shall continue to admire them from afar.

Seabourn Sojourn

Seabourn Sojourn

If ever a ship SCREAMED luxury without you even having to step foot aboard then that ship is Seabourn Sojourn. I was lucky enough to get onboard in 2012 and trust me, her interior is just as impressive as her exterior. I love her sleek design and the fact she has a hot tub right at the end of her bow! I know…..I mentioned a feature, i’m sorry!

Norwegian Getaway

S692_NCL_Getaway@Meyer Werft_07-11-2013

Of all NCL’s ships, Getaway is the only one that has ever really grabbed my attention and in a good way. I am not a huge lover of hull art but I do quite like the design that hugs Norwegian Getaway.  She is wrapped in happy, light and inviting colours and I think that’s what drew me to her – her positive colour vibes!

What ships make you go oooh?

Don’t forget you can still nominate me in the ‘Best Cruise Blogger’ category in the Cruise International Awards 2014! Simply click here  and enter your favourites! Thank you!! :)

Author: Danielle

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Posted in General Cruise Articles

Celebrity Cruises 2015-16 South America and Panama Canal Voyages

Celebrity Infinity Panama Canal

Celebrity Cruises has unveiled its new range of South America and Panama Canal itineraries for 2015-16, with 34 different destinations in 15 countries to choose from. New for this season is the opportunity for guests to spend two nights in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) during the country’s most famous and vibrant annual event – Carnival.

Experience the sights and sounds of Brazil’s internationally renowned Carnival festivities for three full days and two nights in Rio de Janeiro with Celebrity Cruises’ South America and Rio Carnival itinerary departing on 31 January 2016. The 14-night sailing onboard Celebrity Infinity will sail from Buenos Aires and visit Sao Paulo, Ilhabela, Buzios and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil; as well as Punta del Este and Montevideo in Uruguay.

Those looking to explore the Panama Canal can embark on a series of sailings between South Florida and San Diego (California) or Valparaiso (Chile) from 5 November 2015. The 15-night itineraries include extended visits to Panama, providing two ways to take in the Canal’s grand operation – from the ship and on land.

Guests sailing to South America have the option to explore Peru’s historical Machu Picchu – one of the new Seven Wonders of the World – during Celebrity Infinity’s sailings on 5 December 2015 and 13 March 2016.

The 2,170-guest ship will also offer a series of 14-night itineraries sailing to destinations between Buenos Aires, Argentina and Valparaiso, including the must-see Chilean Fjords, Cape Horn, the Straits of Magellan, and overnight stays in Buenos Aires. Guests can sail to the world’s southernmost continent – Antarctica – on a 14-night adventure. In addition, the roundtrip from Buenos Aires features breathtaking passages through Schollart Channel and Dalhan Bay, Paradise Bay and the Gerlache Strait; Elephant Island, Antarctica; and the Falkland Islands.

Info courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

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Posted in Celebrity Cruises, Cruise News

Carnival Triumph To Offer Unique Caribbean Voyages in 2015-16

Carnival-TriumphFor the very first time, Carnival Cruise Lines is offering 10- and 11-day cruises between Galveston and San Juan featuring visits to six different Caribbean destinations on one itinerary.

Two 11-day cruises sail from Galveston to San Juan Oct. 24, 2015, and Jan. 16, 2016, and two 10-day cruises from San Juan to Galveston depart Nov. 4, 2015, and Jan. 27, 2016.

These longer-length tropical itineraries feature an array of beautiful Caribbean ports and are a first in terms of Carnival’s Texas-based cruise program, which also includes year-round four-and five-day Mexico cruises and seven-day Caribbean itineraries.  A number of the ports featured on the 10- and 11-day voyages are among the most pristine, unique and less visited islands in the Caribbean. Those are combined with several of the region’s most popular destinations to create highly attractive and diverse itineraries that provide the opportunity to enjoy a multitude of islands featuring gorgeous beaches, turquoise waters and endless sightseeing, shopping and water sports activities.

Also offered for the first time on a Carnival itinerary is Bonaire, which is featured on 11-day cruises.  An island nestled in the Dutch Antilles, Bonaire is known for its brightly coloured scenery and some of the best diving in the world. Other islands on these new itineraries rarely visited by Carnival ships include Antigua, Grenada and Martinique — all known for their stunning scenery and relaxing Caribbean ambiance.

The 11-day voyages on Carnival Triumph originate in Galveston and include stops at Grand Cayman, Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada, Martinique and St. Maarten with the voyage ending in San Juan.

The 10-day San Juan-to-Galveston itinerary calls at St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Antigua, Grand Turk, and the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay.

With non-repeating ports on the two different itineraries, guests looking to take an even longer Carnival getaway can book back-to-back cruises and take a memorable three-week voyage roundtrip from Galveston that visits all of these magnificent destinations.

Info courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

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Posted in Carnival Cruise Lines, Cruise News

Dynamic Dining – A Quantum Leap With Royal Caribbean

Dynamic Dining is a new world of culinary exploration that will be found onboard Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum Class vessels. They say it is ‘dining at sea reimagined, to give you more distinct options and the flexibility to shape your own delectable journey’ via one of the 18 possible options. Sounds interesting, right? There have been mixed reviews about the Dynamic Dining concept but I wanted to take a closer look and see exactly what will be on offer.

American Icon Grill

american_icon_grill_royal_caribbean

American Icon Grill is the classic American road trip of the culinary world.  A stylish eatery showcasing the very best in comfort foods. Guests can enjoy dishes like New Orleans Gumbo and Southern buttermilk fried chicken all in the welcoming environment of natural landscapes.

American Icon Grill is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is complimentary. Dress code is smart casual.

CHIC

CHIC Royal Caribbean

CHIC is at the height of contemporary cuisine where the freshest ingredients of the wild are evolved for a modern palate. Here one can enjoy beef rib eye, lamb chops and Mediterranean sea bass just to name a few. CHIC is sophisticated and inviting and one dining area that is sure to have you visit several times.

CHIC is open for dinner and is complimentary. Dress code is smart casual.

The Grande Restaurant

Scallops

You are cordially invited to discover a few timeless classics. The Grande is a luxuriant nod to a bygone era, when dining was a time honoured ritual and you dressed up for an unforgettable evening. From beef wellington to roasted scallops and sole almondine – the world’s classic dishes come together at Quantum Class’ most elegant restaurant.

The Grande Restaurant is open for dinner and is complimentary. Every night is formal night here.

SILK

silk_royal_caribbean_international

Silk promises to be a vibrant tapestry of pan-Asian flavours as diverse and nuanced as the Far East itself. Available dishes include teriyaki steak, ginger and sesame on crusted tuna and sake-glazed salmon. Silk is a dining experience inspired by Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian cooking and I have to say I love the sound of it!

SILK is open for dinner and is complimentary. Dress code is smart casual.

Wonderland

RCI-WONDERLAND-SmokingEggs

Wonderland was certainly created with Alice and the rabbit in mind and is said to be a place where imagination brings to life a true feast for the senses. Find your element – wind, fire, ice, water, earth or dreams – and enjoy a small or shareable culinary fantasy. Sriracha eggs appear in a plume of smoke and magical elixirs whisper “drink me”. This is certainly another favourite for me, probably the dining experience I would opt to try first!

Wonderland is open for dinner and there is a small cover charge. Dress code is smart casual.

Coastal Kitchen

coastal_kitchen_royal_caribbean_international

Coastal Kitchen is EXCLUSIVE to suite guests and fuses Mediterranean influences with California’s farmlands. From pacific coast favourites like sea bass ceviche, to Med inspired flavours like Serrano ham, whipped goat’s cheese and roasted grapes. Coastal Kitchen really is a dining experience offering the freshest ideas and ingredients.

Coastal Kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is complimentary for suite guests. Dress code is formal.

Michael’s Genuine Pub

michaels_genuine_pub_royal_caribbean_international

Food and drink. It doesn’t have to be so complicated. That’s the philosophy at Michaels’ Genuine pub. The first American gastro-pub at sea, from James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but done well it can be truly exceptional.

Michael’s Genuine Pub is open for lunch and dinner and is A La Carte. Dress code is casual.

Jamie’s Italian

Royal Caribbean Jamie's Italian

This is the one I know you have all been waiting for! Jamie Oliver, one of Britain’s most famous chefs brings that Italian flare to sea in Jamie’s Italian. Here, dishes are handmade using seasonal ingredients and tried and tested recipes. Antipasti favourites like Tuscan bean bruschetta precede delicious pastas made in-house every day including Pumpkin panzerotti and Prawn linguine. Plus more main courses, small plates, a gorgeous selection of grills and tempting desserts.

Jamie’s Italian is open for lunch and dinner and there is a small cover charge. Dress code is smart casual.

Signature Dining

Izumi Royal Caribbean

As well as a selection of new speciality dining venues, Quantum Class will also offer some Royal Caribbean favourites. Chops Grille serves fine cuts of steak and seafood in a contemporary setting, while at Izumi order sushi rolls and sashimi or cook your meal ishi-yaki style, on a hot rock placed at your table. In the evening the Solarium pool transforms into a fine dining bistro with healthy yet indulgent meals, and for a truly exquisite dining affair, try Chef’s Table, where no more than 16-guests enjoy a five course meal presented by the Executive Chef.

Meals Served: Lunch and dinner – Small cover charges apply. Dress code is smart casual.

Laid Back Options

Johnny Rockets Royal Caribbean

When it comes to laid back meals and snacks there will be plenty of choice aboard the new Quantum Class. Windjammer Marketplace invites you to explore the world dish by dish. The Café at Two70° offers a variety of sandwiches and soups. Sorrento’s offers authentic Italian pizza. SeaPlex Dog House of course offers yummy hot dogs. Grab a light bite at the Café Promenade or settle in to a 1950’s-style American diner at Johnny Rockets.

Meals Served: Breakfast, lunch and dinner – Complimentary. Dress code is casual.

So what do you think?

Personally I think that all of the above sounds very exciting! I am a very picky eater (although in my own defence I am getting better) but I am confident I would find at least one dish in every venue that would make my taste-buds explode. At first I wasn’t sure of the idea but we now have a convert right here! ;)

Info courtesy of Royal Caribbean International.

 

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Posted in Food and Drink, Royal Caribbean International

I Love Cruising!

I love cruising

People ask me ALL OF THE TIME what it is I enjoy so much about cruising and every time I tell them each the same thing – EVERYTHING!

Bear with me on today’s blog as it could get a little unorganised! I never know in which direction my cruise ramblings will take me! ;)

I really am hooked on the entire experience but I think overall I just love being at sea and the excitement of travelling all the time. There is an incredibly freeing feeling about the open ocean and something thrilling about that first glimpse of land as you head towards your next port of call. I enjoy the atmosphere onboard, the excitement of arriving and leaving a port, the food, the terminology, the rough weather and even the smell of the ship as you step aboard! I am truly never happier than when I am at sea. Looking back I wish I had discovered my passion for the open ocean earlier in life then maybe I could have spent every day at sea. Literally! Although I guess there is still time yet!

My friend recently said to me that she hadn’t fully bonded with a ship because it didn’t have “that smell”. Now unless you REALLY are a cruise addict you are probably about to click off the page thinking this post is about to turn into something you really don’t want to read, but just trust me for a minute. Our beloved ships have distinct smells, and having just returned from a cruise on the ship she mentioned I could totally relate to her as I couldn’t smell it either. We had a full conversation about this I might point out, which went along the lines of “Yeah, I could smell it when I first boarded but after that there was nothing”. How many people do you know that can have a full scale conversation about the way a ship smells? ;) Now those of you that have cruised with MSC Cruises will know EXACTLY what I am talking about! Never was there a sweeter smelling fleet!!! If I could bottle the MSC scent and bring it home I would!

Cruise Ship Sunset

If I had to mention one thing about cruising that keeps me going back for more it would have to be evenings at sea like the one you see above. You can’t get that anywhere else but on the open ocean and the sound that goes with it is priceless! Many a time on this ship I have sat in the exact same spot and aside from one or two bar staff, for several hours I was the ONLY one there! Some say you can never have a moment’s peace on a cruise ship. I guess I just proved you wrong! The ship mentioned is Ventura, not exactly a small lady, she can accommodate over 3,000 passengers yet there I was time and time again just me, myself and I!

I eat, sleep and breathe cruise, I work in cruise when I am not at sea so I really do have the best of both worlds and I thank my lucky stars every single day!

Join the cruise ship madness on Facebook too!

My ramblings weren’t as bad today as they usually are, were they? ;)

Author: Danielle

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Posted in General Cruise Articles

Food For Thought – Dynamic Dining With Royal Caribbean

 

Royal Caribbean Dynamic Dining

Today guest blogger, Scott, looks at the new Dynamic Dining option from Royal Caribbean and what impact it may well have on his Anthem of the Seas cruise in 2015.

Royal Caribbean’s announcement earlier this week that their new Quantum ll class ships, Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and the third as yet unnamed ship will feature a revolutionary new dining experience known as ‘Dynamic Dining’ came as something of a surprise to me.

I’ve been so excited about the new class of ship from learning about it a couple of years ago when it was known simply as Project Sunshine and have avidly followed every snippet of news about it since then. I was even lucky enough to go to the UK press conference announcing that Anthem would be based in Southampton. This just roused my excitement further and solidified my intent to be among the first to sail on her when she arrives in 2015.

When she went on sale to Crown and Anchor loyalty club members, I jumped straight in and booked, knowing that it’d be well worth booking early to ensure my place on such a revolutionary and exciting new ship. However, I didn’t see the news of this quantum leap (pun intended) in the approach to dining coming. Maybe I should have. When I booked there was no option to select a dining sitting. The only option was freedom dining. The travel agent assured me that it was probably just a temporary booking issue that would soon be resolved and we would be able to select our preferred dining sitting later.

Royal Caribbean Jamie's Italian

I wouldn’t say I’m a traditional cruiser by any means. I wholeheartedly love the RCI product and usually I like the fact they offer a modern twist on cruising with some exciting and lively entertainment options like the surf simulators or the climbing walls and on the new ships the bumper cars, viewing pods and sky diving simulator. But I do also like some of the more traditional features that can still be found on RCI ships; the good old fashioned wrap around promenade, shuffleboard and the gloriously glamorous formal nights in stunningly elegant open, multi-deck main dining rooms.

‘Dynamic Dining’ will see RCI adopting a modern approach to dining, akin to that offered by rivals NCL with their Freestyle Cruising. Instead of a main dining room there will be four complimentary themed restaurants. If you are lucky enough to be a suite guest, you will also have a fifth complimentary option. There will be no more set dining times and you have the freedom to dine where you like and when you like. The downside to this, in my mind, is that you will be less likely to build such a rapport with your dining staff, unless you go back to the same restaurant often and get the same table. Also, there will be no more set formal nights. One of the restaurants is billed as being a formal restaurant where formal dress will be required every night, so you can effectively choose your own formal night instead.

The four/five complimentary main restaurants are all going to be themed. For example, one offers spicy and oriental food and another provides traditional American dishes. The menus in each restaurant, however, will remain the same every night. There will also be a wealth of other casual eateries such as a hot dog ‘truck’ and the usual pizzeria and alongside them, many premium dining experiences, the most on any RCI ship yet, including a signature Jamie Oliver Italian restaurant.

Johnny Rockets Royal Caribbean

The menus are available to view on RCI’s website already and the dishes look amazing – if you have a wide taste in food. One option that was always offered in the main dining room that will be no more though, is the choice for a simple meal, such as a plain chicken breast or a basic beef dish.  If you have a person in your party who, say, can’t eat anything spicy or with garlic in it, you are going to be severely restricted in your choice of dinner venue.  Do you then eat separately, or do you forego the more flamboyant meals to eat together in the American restaurant or buffet every night?!  With the menu not changing either, if you end up with only one restaurant as an option you are going to get very bored of the few suitable choices on offer.

I realise that there will be less people with such a restricted palette than those with more adventurous tastes, but I am certain I am not alone in being in a group where several people will have their choices severely limited by this move to informal themed dining.  It may be that they will offer plain choices in each restaurant too and Adam Goldstein (RCI Chairman) did allude to this in a video conference, but the menus do not currently reflect this and the question I posed on a live forum on launch night didn’t get the same answer.

I’m also a little concerned over the logistics of 4000 people trying to arrange their dynamic dining.  Apparently you will be able to book in advance and use the pre-cruise planning facilities to do so.  That’s great and if you have a particular preference (or limitation) you can make sure you get the table you want, in the restaurant you want, at the time you want…. if you can choose what you want to eat well in advance, that is! I myself struggle on a day to day basis to choose what I want to eat let alone choosing months in advance! The bookings will be flexible and can be changed once onboard of course, but realistically with 4000 people scrabbling for bookings, the reality will probably be that you may not always get your preferred option. Apparently it sounds as though there will be an app that you will be able to use when onboard to book your dining venue, so that may make the process a bit easier for passengers with smart phone technology at their disposal.

Quantum-of-the-seas-bow

On the live forum on launch night I saw many people embracing the idea of this new style of dining. However, there were some genuine concerns being voiced by quite a few people. Some were concerned about food intolerances and having to deal with multiple staff in different restaurants, whereas under the current fixed dining system it was easy as one person took care of their needs.  Others, like me, would miss the regular contact with their own table staff and some would be restricted by the adventurous menus.

RCI are definitely making a steep change with the introduction of ‘Dynamic Dining’. It is sure to upset some of their customers, but with their mission seemingly to attract new, younger, family cruisers by providing modern, ground-breaking facilities and options, they will probably still gain more than they lose and for most of their target demographic, it is certain to be a sure fire hit.

I do have my reservations….no not in the restaurants, well not yet anyway, but I will have to get on the pre-cruise planner as soon as I can to make sure I get at least a couple of nights booked in the formal restaurant so we have an excuse to dress up.  I’m not sure how I’m going to get to eat in the oriental one though without abandoning my wife as she just doesn’t do spicy! She may just have to sit and watch me eat and then we’ll go to the buffet afterwards.

For me, ‘Dynamic Dining’ won’t be ideal, but I am prepared to embrace it and give it a go.  If it serves up what RCI promises, ‘the flexibility to shape my own culinary journey onboard’, maybe they’ll win me over….just so long as I get at least one curry night somehow!!!

Author: Scott

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Posted in Royal Caribbean International

Explorer Of The Seas To Homeport In Southampton In 2015

 Explorer of the Seas Southampton 2015

Royal Caribbean International’s Explorer of the Seas will sail its very first Europe season in summer 2015. The cruise line’s Adventure of the Seas, which was originally announced to homeport at Southampton, U.K., is being exchanged for Explorer of the Seas, which will take over three- to 16-night, round-trip itineraries from late-April through Sept. 2015.

Cruisers can choose among three- and eight-night Northern Europe itineraries, 11- to 16-night Mediterranean itineraries, or 10- to 14-night Madeira, Azores and Canary Islands itineraries. Adventure of the Seas will remain at San Juan, Puerto Rico, to sail seven-night Southern Caribbean cruises throughout the summer season.

Explorer of the Seas will complete an extensive, month-long drydock revitalisation before starting seasonal service and boast a wide range of new innovative features to offer guests an unforgettable onboard experience. Guests can test their surfing skills on our new Flowrider surf simulator, watch a film come to life in our magical 3-D Movie Theatre, sample cuisine from around the world in one of the many excellent onboard restaurants. There will also be all-new staterooms and luxurious suites, plus new virtual balconies that bring the outside into interior staterooms. Additional features will be unveiled at a later date.

Voyager-class Explorer of the Seas was amongst the first to pioneer many of the exclusive amenities onboard Royal Caribbean that remain unmatched by any other cruise line. The Voyager class of ships was the first to introduce the active cruise holiday and features the cruise line’s iconic rock-climbing wall, a real ice-skating rink, a full-size basketball and sports court, and the Royal Promenade, an interior boulevard that runs nearly the length of the ship that is flanked by restaurants, lounges and boutiques and where spectacular parades and evening dance parties are held.

Explorer of the Seas will be joined in the U.K. by the industry’s ground-breaking Quantum-class ship Anthem of the Seas at Southampton and Radiance-class Brilliance of the Seas at Harwich, England.

Explorer of the Seas will go on sale 3rd April 2014.

Info courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

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Posted in Cruise News, Royal Caribbean International
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