Singapore already has air and land VTLs in place, but could a sea VTL be next on the cards? That’s an intriguing proposition, now that Royal Caribbean has decided to shift up the arrival of Spectrum of the Seas.
Spectrum was originally set to commence sailings from Singapore in October 2022, but as per an update from travel agency Stamford Discovery Cruise Centre, the ship will now sail from April 2022 instead.
I’ve separately confirmed with Royal Caribbean’s Singapore sales office that Spectrum is indeed coming in April, but the sail dates and itineraries have yet to be confirmed.
Cruise to nowhere, or VTL sea?
The main question at the top of my mind is whether Spectrum has been brought in to operate cruises to nowhere, or whether this heralds the start of a sea VTL arrangement.
A sea VTL could certainly make sense. After all, Spectrum’s original sailings from October 2022 already involve Klang, Penang, and Phuket- all within the scope of VTLs with Malaysia and Thailand.
|🇻🇳 What about Vietnam?|
|Spectrum is also offering a 9-night itinerary that involves Thailand and Vietnam. Vietnam isn’t a VTL country yet, but the earliest departure is 23 February 2023, by which point Vietnam would almost certainly have reopened.|
Cruise passengers typically disembark for the day and spend the night on the ship, and with vaccinations and testing, I don’t see why the risk should be any different compared to an air or land VTL traveller. In fact, a sea VTL was already mooted towards the end of last year, albeit on a smaller scale, involving ferries between Desaru Coast Ferry Terminal and Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.
Cruises to nowhere are great and all, but after more than a year of operations, the concept is at the risk of getting stale. It’s nice to have an actual destination to look forward to, an opportunity to get off the boat and explore the local food and shops, and for those who prefer to stay onboard- a chance to use the facilities with much smaller crowds.
Spectrum of the Seas is currently operating cruises to nowhere out of Hong Kong, but the authorities recently suspended all sailings for two weeks due to an Omicron scare. Given Hong Kong’s zero-COVID approach, I wouldn’t be surprised if Royal Caribbean management decided to move up Spectrum’s Singapore schedule in the hope that a COVID-endemic country would provide a less disruptive space to operate in.
Will Cruise with Confidence apply?
Another factor worth considering is when exactly Spectrum’s revised schedule will be released.
I raise this because Royal Caribbean’s current Cruise with Confidence policy applies to any sailing booked by 31 January 2022 and set sail by 31 May 2022. Customers may cancel their sailing up to 48 hours before departure and redeem a Future Cruise Credit that can be redeemed by 31 May 2022 for any cruise departing up till 31 December 2022.
Assuming Royal Caribbean does not further extend Cruise with Confidence, then booking Spectrum before 31 January 2022 may be the way to go.
Overview: Spectrum of the Seas
Spectrum of the Seas undertook her maiden voyage in 2019, having been designed specifically for the China and Asia market. Although she’s roughly the same size as Quantum (169,379 gross tonnage versus Quantum’s 168,666), Spectrum part of a more modern class known as the Quantum Ultra.
The ship has capacity for 5,622 guests and 1,551 crew, spread across 16 decks. Here’s an infographic provided by Royal Caribbean.
A total of 2,137 staterooms are available, split into 142 suites and 1,995 regular cabins. Suites are divided into the following categories:
|Category||Name||No. of Suites||Capacity|
|Star Class||Ultimate Family Suite||1||11|
|Grand Loft Suite||4||4|
|Sky Class||Owner’s Suite||4||4|
|Golden Junior Suite||5||2|
|Golden Balcony Suite||6||2-4|
|Sea Class||Junior Suite w Large Balcony||28||4|
Regular cabins are split into:
- 1,487 Balcony staterooms
- 142 Oceanview staterooms
- 366 Interior staterooms
Here’s what guests can look forward to:
Quantum veterans will spot familiar attractions like FlowRider, North Star, iFly, and venues such as SeaPlex and Two70.
However, there are some differences to take note of. While Quantum splits the main dining room into four different venues (American Icon Grill, Chic, Silk and The Grande), Spectrum has a single large venue simply called the Main Dining Room.
Suites guests on Quantum enjoy access to the exclusive Concierge Club, but Spectrum takes that one step further by having a Suites-only area of the ship, located at the forward end of decks 13 through 16. This has a special restaurant, lounge and outdoor space, together with a shopping outlet. Solarium fans, take note: on Spectrum, this area is only accessible to suites guests.
In other nods to its Asian audience, Boleros has been replaced by Star Moment (a karaoke joint hopefully more Teo Heng than lup sup KTV), Harp and Horn pub has been replaced by a tea room called Leaf and Bean, and new specialty restaurants like Teppanyaki and Sichuan Red join classics like Wonderland and Chops Grille.
What am I doing?
I had originally planned to sail on Quantum of the Seas in January 2022, having snagged a fantastic rate of S$1,655 for a 4-night cruise in a Grand Suite.
But on further consideration, I decided that since I’d already sailed on Quantum twice, I’d rather preserve those good memories and not spoil them by doing it one time too many. I cancelled the sailing and took a Future Cruise Credit, which I planned to use for the inaugural 5-night Spectrum cruise in October.
If Spectrum does indeed start overseas cruises in April, I’ll definitely be among the first to try it out. If it starts with cruises to nowhere, well, that’ll be a slightly tricker question which I’ll need to give some thought. I love a new ship as much as anyone, but Spectum is not radically different from Quantum, especially if you’re not staying in a suite.
I’ll be keeping a close eye on the updated sailing dates for Spectrum, and post some thoughts once they go live.
Royal Caribbean has decided to bring Spectrum of the Seas to Singapore a full six months ahead of schedule. While it’s still unclear whether Spectrum will do cruises to nowhere or bring with it a sea VTL, it means there’s something new and shiny to look forward to.
Cruise to nowhere or cruise to somewhere- what do you think Spectrum will start with?