“There’s nothing to do on a cruise except eat and gamble,” goes the common refrain.
Perhaps that was the case in the past, but modern day cruise ships have reinvented themselves as floating theme parks, filled with every manner of distractions. Whether it’s simulated skydiving, dance classes, bumper cars, big budget productions, rock wall climbing, video games or just lazing by the pool, there’s a plenty of activities to keep you from getting bored.
|🚢 Cruise to Nowhere: Royal Caribbean|
In this post, we’ll run through the options available on Quantum of the Seas.
Planning Activities & Entertainment: Overview
One of the most annoying things about Royal Caribbean is that they don’t provide guests with advance copies of the Cruise Compass. This is a comprehensive listing of all the day’s activities, entertainment, facilities and restaurant hours, showing you at a glance where and when things will be held.
|Update: It’s possible to see the full cruising schedule including timings for activities and shows via the Royal app around 48 hours before departure. Showtimes will only be uploaded 24 hours before departure. This at least helps you plan ahead a bit.|
Theoretically, you could get the same info from the app, but having it all on a single sheet of paper makes it much easier to digest.
To help you with your planning, I’ve uploaded the Cruise Compass from my 28 January – 1 February 2021 sailing to the link above. Activities and timings are subject to change, but it doesn’t change all that much between cruises.
Physical Cruise Compasses are no longer distributed to staterooms by default; however they can be collected daily from Guest Services or in the Concierge Lounge.
Quantum of the Seas Activities
Quantum of the Seas’ gym is located on Deck 15, and prior reservations are required. These can be made 3 weeks before departure in the Cruise Planner (do note it’s found under “Onboard Activities”, not “Spa and Fitness”), or through the Royal app once onboard.
It’s a very large facility, although every alternate machine is blocked off for social distancing. You’ll find every manner of fitness equipment you need, and some machines are situated by the full length windows, letting you appreciate the ocean as you work out. Do remember to bring water from your stateroom, as the communal water dispensers are not in service now thank to COVID-19.
Quantum of the Seas has both outdoor and indoor swimming pools on Deck 14, so you can take a dip regardless of the weather. The pool will be closed during certain hours of the day for cleaning, and the schedule can be found in the Cruise Compass.
The outdoor pool area has a large movie screen, but to prevent large gatherings, movies aren’t screened at the moment. Instead, random clickbaity YouTube videos are flashed throughout the day (I’m convinced these make people vacate faster than they normally would have).
The indoor pool has both a wading section and a more regular shaped one, where limited lap swimming can be done. Take note that neither pool is heated, and the water can be, shall we say, refreshing.
Reservations are not required for any of the pools, though capacity restrictions apply. The ever-present lifeguards will monitor and restrict access as required.
But if you don’t like screaming kids, you might be more interested in the Solarium. This is an adults-only area (min. age: 16), set amidst a glass-canopied indoor garden.
The Solarium features several cascading lagoons, which aren’t big enough for swimming, but then again that’s not the idea here. This is a chill-out spot where you can sip a drink from the nearby bar and soak in the sun.
There’s also a few jacuzzi tubs, each of which (the two pools below are considered as one jacuzzi) can take a maximum of five people. There’s no requirement that they all be from the same group. During peak periods, lifeguards will monitor usage and request overstaying guests to leave so that others can have a turn.
The SeaPlex is a multi-purpose activity hall that hosts bumper cars, pickleball, dance classes, soccer, volleyball, and other physical activities (check the Cruise Compass for schedules). Around the periphery, you can also find foosball tables, table tennis tables, air hockey tables and video game consoles.
Naturally, the biggest attraction are the bumper cars- who doesn’t love a bit of demolition derby? Bumper cars run for several hours a day, and are the only SeaPlex attraction that can be booked through the Royal app (it’s possible to make reservations for pickleball etc, but you’ll need to go down in person). For those of you with kids, do note that they have to be at least 5 years old or taller than 42″(106 cm) to drive the bumper cars.
The Xbox One consoles have a variety of racing, fighting and shooting games. As expected, it’s swarmed with teenagers throughout the day, but reservations can be made with the counter.
The SeaPlex also hosts the ship’s arcade, but all games here will cost additional money to play.
It’s possible to pre-purchase credits at 20% off via the Cruise Planner (confusingly, the prices are in SGD but the credit you buy is in USD, hence the weird visual of paying $108.80 for $100).
Social distancing regulations have led to some absurd restrictions, like the one below where the second controller is blocked off, because everyone knows you go to an arcade to play single player games.
FlowRider is a 12-meter long surfing simulator that blasts water at a high speed across an inflated ramp, simulating surfing on the ocean. This is a complimentary activity that does not require pre-reservation (although private sessions are chargeable).
There are two types of boards that can be used- a boogie board (where you lie stomach down) and a stand up board (where you channel your Beach Boy dreams [did you know only one member of the band could actually surf?]). Guests must be at least 132 cm tall to use the boogie boards, and 147 cm to use the stand up ones. Needless to say, the stand up boards are not for beginners- it’s hard enough to stay on the boogie board.
I’ve seen previous videos where the FlowRider area is segmented into two, effectively doubling its capacity and halving queue times. That’s not being done right now, and you can expect to wait up to 60 minutes for a turn. I’d advise you come early in the morning (you get to avoid the sun too), or else try this on embarkation day.
Oh, one final thing. The fast-moving water spat out by FlowRider is notorious for causing wardrobe malfunctions, so it’s best to wear a one piece bathing suit and/or t-shirts and (tightly tied) shorts. When we visited, an adventurous aunty had her bikini bottoms torn clean off by the water, exposing her behind for the whole world to see.
RipCord by iFly
RipCord by iFly used to be free on Quantum of the Seas, but it’s now a chargeable activity that costs S$54.40 per person (adult or child). Reservations can be made through the Cruise Planner before boarding, starting from ~12 days before departure.
If you’ve done iFly on land, it’s pretty much the same at sea. You get suited up and safety briefed, after which you’ll get 60 seconds of simulated free falling in a wind tunnel. It could be the priciest 60 seconds of your life, but it is whole lot of fun, especially if you never see yourself doing an actual skydive.
If you want a recording or photo of your experience, it’s best to ask a bystander for help. Royal Caribbean’s official photographers are on site, but they will only use their official cameras to take photos (you’ll need to pay through the nose for them).
Rock Wall Climbing
Next to Ripcord by iFly you’ll find Quantum of the Seas’ rock wall. There’s not much to say about this- it’s a wall that you climb, if you have arm core strength. If you don’t, you take a photo and tell people you climbed it anyway.
No reservations are required, and no fee is charged. Climbers must be at least six years of age and sign a liability waiver; all necessary safety equipment is provided. Bring a pair of socks, because you’ll need to wear special shoes.
I didn’t visit North Star (hence the stock photo above), but it costs S$27.20 for a 15-minute ride in this observation capsule that lifts you 300 feet above sea level. This would be splendid if you were sailing somewhere interesting, but I doubt the Strait of Malacca offers any views worth savoring (I mean, I’d love to do this in Alaska…)
North Star can also be reserved for proposals, although I imagine she’ll sort of know it’s coming if the two of you are the only passengers inside.
I suppose we have to talk about the casino at some point, although I don’t know enough about gambling to write a meaningful review.
Quantum of the Seas’ casino is called Casino Royale, and opens once the ship hits international waters. You can expect all your usual games, like slot machines, blackjack, poker and roulette. This is the only place on the ship where indoor smoking is permitted, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the air here no worse than elsewhere on the ship (this coming from someone with very bad dust allergies).
On the first night of the cruise, they had a tutorial session where the rules of each game were taught. I tried to learn Texas Hold ‘Em, and failed miserably.
I love me a good pub quiz, and Quantum of the Seas holds several sessions per day, usually at Schooner Bar. Thankfully, each session is unique and questions aren’t repeated, so coming for a previous one gives you no advantage. Some quizzes have specific themes like music, others are a free-for-all.
Having put together a lot of quizzes myself, I’m sympathetic to the dilemma of a quizmaster (how do you create questions that are not too hard, not too easy?), but I’d like to point out that some of the answers were either based on urban legends (Q: What’s the only mammal that can’t jump?/ A: Elephants (false!)) or flat out wrong (Q: What’s the busiest airport in the world?/ A: London Heathrow or Dubai (I said Atlanta, which is correct if you look at total passengers)
The prizes, you ask? Don’t expect anything fabulous. Plastic pens, keychains, and highlighters were the loot.
Quantum of the Seas Entertainment
While those staying in suites can get pre-access to the show schedule through the concierge (released one day before boarding), everyone else will only learn the showtimes once they board the ship.
Again, this is annoying because it interferes with your ability to make dining reservations. For the record, Quantum of the Seas uses the following time slots for performances:
- 5 p.m (only once on my cruise)
- 7.45 p.m
- 8 p.m
- 10 p.m
- 10.15 p.m
Performances last about 45 minutes on average, and take place across three venues:
- Royal Theatre
- Music Hall
Shows in the Music Hall do not require reservations; shows in Two70° and Royal Theatre do. Reservations can be made once onboard, either through the box office (call them from your phone), or by visiting guest services. I can’t remember offhand if they were available for booking through the app.
I’d recommend you make a beeline for Guest Services (Deck 4) once you board and pick up a copy of the show schedule. Once you’ve completed your muster drill, you’ll be able to make reservations- and make them quickly! On crowded sailings, seats can disappear just like that.
While Star Class guests have their own reserved seats, it’s free seating for everyone else. Sky and Sea Class guests can enter the venue 30 minutes before and choose better seats (everyone else is let in at the 20 minute mark), but they’ll basically have to sit around and wait without anything in the way of pre-show entertainment.
During our cruise, the following productions were playing:
- Comedy Juggling by Steve Rawlings (comedy- this wasn’t originally scheduled, but replaced Starwater on the final night)
- Gold Art Duo (gymnastics)
- Sequins and Feathers (cabaret show)
- Starwater (musical)
- Viktoria Stryzhak (violin performance)
All the performances were entertaining in their own way, but if you’re pressed for time, I’d say I enjoyed Starwater, Gold Art Duo, and Sequins and Feathers the most.
Starwater is undoubtedly the blockbuster, an original performance created just for Royal Caribbean. I didn’t understand an ounce of the storyline, but the costumes, singing and production values were top notch. The performance makes full use of Two70°’s technological fixtures, with the roboscreens, stage lifts and Vistarama (a 100-foot wide, 20-foot tall curve projection backdrop) all called into action.
Sequins and Feathers may be a bit too racy for the kids, but it’s a spectacular extravaganza paying tribute to cabaret acts from all eras. Fun fact, this replaced Mamma Mia when Quantum of the Seas relocated to the Asia market- the idea was that this would work better for a non-English speaking audience. Ain’t non-verbal communication grand?
Gold Art Duo were semi-finalists on Ukraine’s Got Talent 2012, and their show is a best described as a mash-up of acrobatics, dance, comedy magic and aerial performances. The language barrier tended to be an issue, as the comedy sections were probably the weakest of all. But I’m hardly in a position to criticise, at least not until I can do things like this:
As an aside, those who love the Beatles will definitely want to catch the BeatleManiacs at the Music Hall. They’re one of the best cover bands I’ve ever heard, and the lead singer does an amazing George Harrison impression. They don’t take requests, but feel free to shout “anything by Yoko!” in the lull moments.
Royal Caribbean has made a concerted effort to offer a range of entertainment with broad appeal, and I can say I never felt bored throughout my four nights.
I was lucky enough that my sailing only had ~800 passengers (on a boat that normally takes 4,000, or 2,000 with the Safe Distancing restrictions), and I was in a suite, so reservations were easy to come by. I imagine that will be different during the March school holidays, so be sure to book as many things as you can once you board.
Quantum veterans- any other entertainment highlights?