See USA today:
30th October 2014
Yesterday evening at around 5 PM, Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship ‘Quantum of the Seas arrived at Southampton, UK.
Even the worlds most technological cruise ship, could do nothing about the fog!
After two short voyages for cruise professionals/the press, the ship will sail transatlantic on the 2nd November, to its new homeport in New Jersey, USA.
Quantum: Too Much Technology?
Quantum has now arrived at Southampton. The press and travel agents will sample her over the next few days (where’s my ticket)? On the 2nd November, the ‘real’ fare paying passengers take the transatlantic crossing to her homeport, New Jersey, USA.
I am very excited about Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum class, but also a little worried too.
Royal Caribbean’s move to ‘Dynamic Dining’ clearly emulates NCL’s ‘Freestyle’ dining system, which NCL pioneered several decades ago . Royal Caribbean have finally given up on the ‘one-big-main-dining-room’ concept. However having multiple dining rooms dramatically changes the design and feel of a ship.
RCI’s original trademark was their ‘Wow’ spaces: tall atriums, the Royal Viking crown lounge, the Royal Prom., Studio-B, the Boardwalk and Central Park etc. These ‘big’ features defined their brand. However when you fill a ship with multiple dining rooms, there is not too much room for big ‘Wow’ spaces anymore. Even double-height rooms may be rare.
I note many of Quantum’s unique features (gimmicks?) such as the Seaplex, I-Fly and the North Star (observation pod), are located on or near the top deck. This saves internal space for all of those dining rooms.
RCI are clearly using technology on-board Quantum to create the ‘Wow’ factor. Quantum has been called a smart-ship. The technology is in abundance. This includes a new online cruise planner, an app to track your luggage, a re-imagined Seapass (called a Wowband) virtual balconies, a robot bar-tender and robotic video screens.
Incorporating so much on-board technology is a completely new approach for any cruise line. However is all this technology just a series of ‘gimmicks’, which passengers will quickly tire of, or real enhancements to the cruise experience? Only time will tell.
I believe that all this technological approach is aimed at the younger cruiser and may not appeal so strongly to those of us who are a little more mature. Let’s also be honest, all of this high tech is not going to work all of the time, either.
A chat-forum cruise commentators said “Whatever happened to just cruising?”
At the time of writing no fare paying passengers have been on-board Quantum yet. What I write is second-hand knowledge and speculation. However I am open-minded and will hopefully cruise on Quantum and/or Anthem sooner or later to judge for myself.
Do you agree with my fears? Why not post a comment.
Not all travel news is about ships or ‘Quantum of the Seas’. Here is something different, that may interest many Brits:
Starting in 2016, Eurostar will launch direct services between the British and Dutch capitals. The new link will further expand the high-speed train network after the addition in May 2015 of new destinations in France.
As traffic on the Eurostar network continues to rise (+3% in Q3 2014 to 2.8 million passengers), the company hopes to reinforce the rise in demand by expanding its services.
Due to open in December 2016, the new direct service between London and the Amsterdam-Centraal station will include stops in Antwerp and Rotterdam and at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport. Eurostar hopes to attract some of the around three million travellers per year who travel by plane between the Dutch and British capitals, not to mention customers of rival operator Thalys, which already runs high-speed train services between the cities.
News of the launch follows another significant expansion announcement made by Eurostar last July, when it revealed plans to launch services between London, Lyon, Avignon and Marseille from May 2015. Tickets are due to go on sale this December for the new service linking the British capital to the south of France.
Currently, Eurostar operates trains between Paris, London, Brussels and Lille (France). The rail operator’s expansion announcements coincide with the year of its 20th anniversary, which it will officially celebrate on November 1st.
(Source: MSN Travel)
The Train Guru: www.seat61.com
Malcolm says: Direct trains to destinations in France, as well as Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam could prove very useful for British cruise passengers, if they can easily reach London. Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam all have cruise terminals. Many river boats also depart from Amsterdam
Royal Caribbean accepted delivery today of its newest cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas, from ship builder Meyer Werft.
A ceremony took place in Bremerhaven, Germany, where officials from Royal Caribbean signed paperwork with the Meyer Werft shipyard and welcomed Quantum of the Seas into Royal Caribbean’s fleet.
If you are a big ship fan, I can guarantee that this will EXCITE you:
Royal caribbean’s new ship, ‘Quantum of the Seas’ has a whole host of high-end shops, situated along the ‘Royal Esplanade’, on deck four.
As a Brit most of the shop names mean nothing to me, so I have done a little research. I’ve worked out what most of them sell. Unfortunately I can’t imagine too many bargain!
Kiehl’s (1851, natural skin and body care)
Michael kors (Designer Handbags)
Hublot (Luxury Swiss watches)
Bvlgari (Italian: Jewellery, watches, fragrances)
Regalia Luxury watches & Regalia Luxury jewellery
Prince & Greene (Designer Clothing)
Port Merchants (Unknown?)
Impulse (Computer games?)
Sundials (More watches?)
Quantum of the Seas will feature a brand new area called, The Via, which is an “enclave of elegant dining and boutiques for leisurely moments spent in good company”.
In the Via, you can enjoy a fine wine, do some shopping for fine jewellery, watches, fragrances and more.
The Via will be home to Vintages wine bar and Jamie’s Italian restaurant.
Right around the corner you will find boutique shopping at Hublot and BVLGARI shops. The Via is the place for high-end indulgences.
The Via is a brand new area that we’ve not seen on any other Royal Caribbean ships before. It’s part of the ‘Royal Esplanade’.
Malcolm Says: ‘The Via’ was identified on the cut-away diagram a few months back, although we did not have a name for it.
I believe the art-work which is the centrepiece of ‘The Via’ is entitled “Waves of Light”.
RCI describe “Waves of light” as a sprawling, undulating structure which explores the light’s potential as a structural element.
I assume it is called ‘The Via’ because of the dictionary definition “by a route that touches or passes through”, the ‘Royal Esplanade’ being the ‘route’ between public rooms, shops and dining options.
Stop-Press: Finally one week before Quantum arrives at Southampton, the full deck plans have been released:
31st October 2014
In celebration of Norwegian Escape’s one year to launch milestone, Norwegian Cruise Line today announced that Miami’s oldest and most legendary bar, Tobacco Road, will find a new home aboard the line’s newest and largest ship.
The acclaimed establishment, which was issued Miami’s very first alcohol license, is closing its original location this week after 102 years in business. In an effort to preserve the tradition of this iconic Miami landmark, Tobacco Road and Norwegian Cruise Line partnered to bring the Tobacco Road experience on board Norwegian Escape, which will begin sailing from Miami in November 2015.
Located within 678 Ocean Place, the new location of the celebrated tavern will incorporate elements of the original Tobacco Road, including the iconic neon sign, memorabilia and photographs that will showcase the history of Miami through the lens of events and happenings at the bar over the past century.
In addition to favourite beers and spirits, Tobacco Road Bar on board Norwegian Escape will also feature a selection of cocktails created by Tobacco Road’s resident mixologist, Leo Holtzman. The delicious drinks from Holtzman’s Cocktail Collection will include favourites like the Chili Mule, featuring ginger puree, Cointreau and vodka topped with a sliced seranno pepper; and the Gateway, a rum-based drink that incorporates yuzu juice, elderflower syrup and Prosecco.
Norwegian Escape will begin weekly seven-night cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean on 14 November 2015. The ship will be the largest to home port year-round in Miami, carrying 4,200 guests to tropical Caribbean destinations including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas. The ship’s signature hull artwork is designed by marine wildlife artist and champion of ocean conservation, Guy Harvey, which features an underwater scene of marine wildlife.
Malcolm Says: Norwegian Escape will be NCL’s biggest ship at 163,000gt (10% bigger than Breakaway/Getaway). This class will be the worlds third largest, being slightly smaller than RCI’s ‘Quantum’ class and with RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class being the worlds biggest. Escape’s design will be similar to Breakaway’s with an extra deck. Some of Breakaways public rooms will be substituted for new ones. There will also be some extra ones.
I wonder if ‘Tobacco Road’ will be designated non-smoking? That would be ironic!
‘Quantum of The Seas’ must be the most secret cruise ship ever built by any cruise line.
On 29th October 2014, Quantum arrives at Southampton, yet amazingly we still do not know all of her secrets.
There are still parts of her deck plans that are labelled “More To Come”. We have seem some renderings of her internal spaces, but not all of them. We have seen few real images. Details of some of the cabin grades, the ‘Royal Esplanade’ and the shops are still missing.
I think in the case of ‘Oasis of the Seas’, RCI were so confident that they released all of the details, as soon as they could. They let the concept speak for itself. They knew that the worlds biggest ship would almost promote itself. I recall that very few secrets were held back, for very long.
Quantum is a very different kettle of fish.
I think RCI were worried that Quantum could seem like an anti-climax when compared to ‘Oasis’. After all she’s smaller.
All of Quantum’s dining options leaves little room for too many ‘wow’ type public spaces, which have been RCI’s trademark in the past. Quantum does not have the popular favourites like Central Park, Studio B, the Boardwalk, a Royal Viking Crown or a Royal Prom (as we know it).
On-board Quantum Technology and the Dining are designed to create the new ‘wows’.
‘Dynamic Dining’ is of course a very fundamental change for RCI and not without risk. It will change the design of every RCI ship from now on. RCI probably feared a backlash. After all ‘Dynamic Dining’ is VERY similar to NCL’s ‘Freestyle’ dining system. The latter still has it fans and critics after several decades of operation.
Few people have been on-board Quantum yet, but we may even find that aspects of Quantum’s design are similar to NCL’s newbuilds: Breakaway and Getaway. They were constructed in the same shipyard too, Meyer Werft, in Germany.
I believe RCI decided that they could generate more excitement about Quantum, by releasing the details very, very slowly, rather than presenting all of the facts up front.
Just my take on the events. Do you agree with me?
Stop Press: Some new interior images have been taken by Ingrid-Fiebak:
My ticket to visit ‘Quantum’ at Southampton next week has obviously got lost in the post! If you are going, here are the things that I want to know:
1) The facilities for youngsters look great, but what does the ship have to offer adults?
2) How does the ‘Royal Esplanade’ differ from a ‘Royal Promenade’?
3) Having multiple dining options leaves a lot less room for ‘wow’ spaces (like the Royal Viking Crown, Central Park, Studio B, Royal Prom. tall atriums etc.). How does this affect the ships ‘feel’.
4) It all that technology just silly gimmicks or real enhancements?
5) The ‘BIG’ question is does Quantum feel like an RCI ship or has there product morphed in NCL.
Stop Press – We finally have more details & deck plans: http://wp.me/pfRKD-2LZ
UK: Liverpool city leaders have admitted the dream of turning the Cunard Building into a cruise liner terminal will not be realised.
When the building – one of the city’s Three Graces was bought by the council for 1.5m, it was hoped it could become a spectacular ticket hall for a new city facility.
But Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has now revealed converting the building and the demands of installing border controls would simply cost too much.
It has been suggested that the council only received a consultants’ report showing the “astronomical” price tag after it had gone ahead with buying the building.
Mayor Anderson said the report commissioned by the council – which it is not releasing until the end of the month – suggests the price tag to convert the Cunard would have been anything from £5m to £60m.
In order to satisfy border control requirements, options including creating a monorail from the building to the embarking point would have had to be considered.
“In light of these findings it is clear we will not be able to progress with this plan. “However, I want to reassure the city that we will find a solution and we will create a first class cruise liner terminal for our city and we have already begun conversations about other possible waterfront locations.”
Cllr Kemp said: “Buying this building without checking if it was feasible to pull it off is like somebody buying a house without having the survey done.
“It’s now about 100% certain it won’t be being used as a ticket hall when we were told that’s what it was going to be. “If they’re not doing that, then it’s just another office block.”
(Source: Liverpool Echo)
Malcolm Says: Duh! I think the Council have suddenly realised that building a big B&Q style shed (like Southampton’s new ‘Ocean Terminal’) is a lot cheaper than adapting a historic building. Which do you like best:
Titanic Hotel Opens For Business
It’s not all bad news for Liverpool:
The 30 James Street Hotel, “The Home of the Titanic”, in Liverpool, has opened for business.
The grade-two listed building was once home to the White Star Line HQ, the shipping company responsible for building the Titanic.
The building has been transformed into a luxury 65 bedroom hotel and spa by developers Signature Living.
Malcolm Says: There is now also ‘Titanic Hotel’ in the regenerated Stanley Doc, Liverpool. I belive the building was a disused warehouse. However unlike ’30 James Street’, it has no connection with the Titanic what so ever.