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What's longer than five 747s and yet can turn on a dime in NYC's Hudson River?
The Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship and the first to be branded a "smartship," is officially out on the ocean. Godmother Kristin Chenoweth christened her at Cape Liberty, New Jersey on November 14 and, with that crash of a massive bottle of Perrier-Jouët champagne, she begins a year of sailings out of New York Harbor to the Bahamas and Caribbean.
We spent the weekend onboard the Quantum, pushing buttons and opening doors to discover her secrets and put the much boasted about technology to the test. But first, let's take a long look at the shipall 168,000 tonnes of funwith completely original photos:
Cruise ship food: It’s not just for fanny pack-wearing Middle Americans anymore.
Okay, that was harsh; not all Middle Americans wear fanny packs. (Some of my best friends are Nebraskan.) But cruise ships have not often had a reputation for culinary greatness. Or even adequateness.
That reputation deserves revisiting, says David Owen in the new Food Issue of The New Yorker. Owen hopped aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, the second largest cruise ship in the world, and did a little kitchen reconnaissance: How does the food taste, and how do these floating Mall of Americas manage to prepare it? The answers, we surmise, are "pretty darn good” and “with great difficulty and ingenuity.”
Cruise Travel / Travel Fees / Lists / Ships / Royal Caribbean / → All Tags
Now, for example, if you board with a special bottle you're intending to drink in celebration on your cruise, you're welcome to do so without finding a hidden fee later. The policy is thus:
"Passengers are allowed to bring two bottles of wine or Champagne (up to 750 ml each) onboard at embarkation. Previously, they could drink the contents free of charge only in their staterooms. Additional bottles brought onboard or purchased in port are confiscated and returned to the passengers on the last day of the cruise."
The old corkage fee is hardly the only ridiculous extra onboard. Here are a few other exorbitant cruise ship fees we'd like to see eliminated:
Ice-skating rinks. Rock-climbing walls. Planetariums. Mini golf courses. If it seems like cruise ships have it all, that's because they must cater to the whims of thousands of travelers with differing interests, all with the single goal of a good time.
Starting this November, that good time will be enhanced by yet another cruise line first, as Royal Caribbean debuts the 4,900-passenger Quantum of the Seas and her extendable arm viewing capsule, the "North Star." This contraption, which lifts passengers up and over the ship for a 360-degree view, would be a lovely little mid-ocean joyride, if only the key promotional rendering wasn't so misleading.
Google Street View is on the move again, and this time they’re heading somewhere that lacks any roads—the water.
The camera and photo arm of the search giant just finished checking out one of the ships over at Royal Caribbean, as Allure of the Seas smiled and posed for well over 20,000 images of all its goings-on.
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Royal Caribbean is taking their business out of the water and onto the land, as they’re working on starting up some kind of tour company spinoff.
At this point details are limited, but they did confirm things on a recent blog post; however, we’re wondering if that was only because Travel Weekly kind of beat them to sharing the news.
We’re going to go ahead and call it at this point, as we think the food truck craze has finally jumped the shark. Please let us know if you feel differently, but the latest offering by the folks over at Royal Caribbean just takes things to the next level of wrong.
It attempts to cash in on the food truck craze Royal Caribbean is working to install a food truck—or the equivalent sea-worthy version. The plan is to get things up and running aboard Quantum of the Seas, as SeaPlex Dog House will serve up things like hot dogs, sausage, and other to-go eats as part of the ship’s entertainment hub.
Although we’re quick to criticize, we’d probably visit for a bite to eat after taking in a ride on the very first bumper car track aboard a cruise ship.
Fiji Field Trip / Fiji Travel / How To Get There / NAN / Air Pacific / Fiji Airways / Korean Air / Royal Caribbean / P&O Cruises / Carnival Cruises / Island Travel / → All Tags
Last week, we dished on Air Pacific's brand new airplane, new look as Fiji Airways, and even mentioned how to test out the fresh bird.
Just the thought of Fiji seems exotic, pretty far away, and difficult to get to. Exotic, yes. Far away, sure. Hard to get to, not at all. With major airline routes and cruise ship itineraries, you too can set your watches to Fiji-time soon. If you just can't wait and feel the need to wiggle your toes in the sand while enjoying a sunset like the one above, here are our recommendations to get yourself to the middle of paradise:
Friends, we have good news: Your days of sneaking booze past cruise ship security are over.
Royal Caribbean announced a new policy that allows for two 750-milliliter bottles of wine per cabin to be brought on board free of charge so long as it is consumed in the uber-cozy confines of your guest cabin. If you choose to consume it in a public spaceaka a restaurant, lounge, or poolsidethey’ll ding you $25 for the corking fee. Note once again that it is two bottles per cabin, not per person.
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Wedding bells can now ring anywhere Royal Caribbean ships sail with the introduction of onboard nuptials. Leave the details to the experts on the ship and your big day will be just as nice as on terra firma.
This is a first for the cruise line, and the 'Royal Romance' program allows for couples to say their "I dos" and those already wed to renew their vows while on vacation. The ship's captain officiates the ceremony and the registration for the marriage will be based in the Bahamas, the registry of the fleet of ships.
While everyone was reeling at the 2012 Volkswagen Beetles that Oprah gave to her lucky audience in yesterday's final "Ultimate Favorite Things" episode, we were busy scoping out her other picks from the double-episode free-stuff extravaganza. And no, we don't mean the glittery Uggs—really, Oprah? Among the goodies, there were a number of great gifts for travelers on your holiday list, or yourself. We won't judge.
Check out our version of Oprah's Favorite Things: Travelers' Edition after the jump.
Cruise ships these days have though of just about every creative way to squeeze a couple extra dollars out of you, including yoga classes, Johnny Rockets and "premium" restaurants, but they still don't have Starbucks. That is, until today. Royal Caribbean announced this morning that their newest ship, the Allure of the Seas, will be the first to have Starbucks at Sea.
As it is, most modern cruise ships already have specialty coffee stands (like "Creams" onboard the Carnival Glory), and although they can make you all the frappuccinos and venti soy lattes you wanted, they couldn't call them that (because Starbucks owns copyrights, you see). USA Today has the first image of the Starbucks at Sea here, and it looks pretty meh. You could be anywhere, like a suburban mall, from the way it looks. And although we understand that Starbucks has their brand to maintain, but this is just super not exciting.
Anyways, the ship debuts next month and knowing that it'll hold some 5,400 passengers, who wants to place bets that the Starbucks line will be even more annoying than morning rush hour at your nearest local drive-thru 'bucks?