Royal Caribbean is a cruise line on a quest, or so it seems. In recent years, they have come out with the biggest and most futuristic ships sailing the oceans, packed with innovative features and filled with amazing entertainment experiences. While their Oasis Class vessels focus on superlative size, the new Quantum Class ships are slightly smaller but boast some amazing modern concepts and entertainment facilities.
Those looking for fun at sea need look no further than Royal Caribbean cruises, that's for sure! While it all may seem a little whizz-bang and newfangled to seasoned cruise lovers, these fantastical new features just mean more options - and it's not all bumper cars and aerobatics, either. The creative and modern ideas extend to food, layout, design and all aspects of the cruise experience.
There are so many amazing things on the newest ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, it would be impossible to name them all. The following are a few of our favourites! Luckily for Australian cruisers, the Ovation of the Seas will soon be sailing Down Under and bringing many of these exciting new things to our market. Some of the Cruise Sale Finder team were lucky enough to get onboard the Ovation in China recently so many of these have a personal stamp of approval from Sarah V or Meghan!
Internet on a cruise ship can be a controversial topic. It is expensive, and can be a little unreliable, and that won't change quickly - but it has certainly come a very long way! Royal Caribbean is of course at the forefront of cruise internet technology, and their VOOM internet is being rolled out across the entire fleet. Meghan reports that it "worked amazingly well" and was worth the cost - she and Sarah paid $90 for 5 days of unlimited access, and were able to split this across their two devices.
They used it for social media and of course watching cat videos but were also able to use if for those practical things that you really miss when you're not connected - checking your bank balance, looking up exchange rates for ports your visiting, reading reviews about where to go, etc. Downloading images and podcasts were not a problem but they found the limit with heavy downloads - like TV shows.
Take a look at our VOOM internet post for more information and details about prices and allowances. This is a very well-appreciated and long-awaited innovation by Royal Caribbean!
We had to include this one for its sheer futuristic appeal. Bionic Bars come standard on Quantum Class ships, and they can do both pre-programmed and custom cocktails. Passengers submit their order via tablet, and sit back and watch (it is a fascinating sight!) as the robotic arms select, pour, shake, muddle and stir as necessary.
To claim the drink and pay for it, the passenger swipes their cruise card and it is released down a short lane to their possession. Here's our team testing it out:
The SeaPlex multi-purpose venue is revolutionary in its clever use of space, offering all kinds of active pursuits throughout the day and evening. These include basketball, dodgeball and other sport tournaments, roller skating, bumper cars and a trapeze school. Passengers can check their schedules to find out what's on when.
The venue also has a mezzanine level with plenty of permanent attractions. Here passengers can try their hand at table tennis, foosball and playstation games among other fun activities.
Royal IQ app
This app can be downloaded to any Apple or Android device before you leave port, and it is also available publicly at freestanding stations around the ships - namely the Quantum, Anthem, Ovation and Harmony, which are currently the only four using the app.
With just a few touches and swipes, passengers can make dinner and activity reservations, check menus, look at the plans for the day and more. It's intuitive and allows you to schedule and reserve activities directly from the digital Cruise Compass daily newsletter. You can also do all of the above for other members of your party.
The Royal IQ app helps passengers to stay in touch too. When they download the app they will receive a unique onboard number and can then purchase plans for unlimited calling and texting to those on the ship, and make ship-to-shore calls billed by the minute. While this isn't cheap, it's also unique and something which has not been offered at sea before.
The way you eat on the newer Royal Caribbean ships is different to the cruising norm, catering to modern holidaymakers who want more variety and freedom. Essentially, rather than one big traditional main dining room where most passengers dine in the evening, the ship has four different formal options included in the cruise fare: Chic with contemporary cuisine, Silk serving Pan-Asian dishes, American Icon Grill with comfort food favourites, and the grande Restaurant which has a formal atmosphere and delectable dishes. There is also a separate Coastal Kitchen which is available to suite guests.
With Dynamic Dining Choice, cruisers choose where they want to go, and go at whatever time they choose! If their ship or sailing is operating Dynamic Dining Classic, passengers are given a set dining time and a set restaurant to dine in - although you will rotate to experience them all! There are also casual dining options available which can include the Windjammer buffet, cafe fare, hot dogs, pizzerias and more. Meghan especially enjoyed the meals and snacks with a stunning view from the 'Cafe @ Two70'.
An amazing concept, the North Star sees passengers flying high above the decks in a viewing capsule to maximise those sea vistas and get a fascinating birds-eye view of the ship. It rises more than 300 feet above sea level - just imagine the scenery you'll enjoy from up there! Inspired by the London Eye, it is a great feature for cruise lovers who think they've seen it all.
Sea days are especially good for North Star rides, or when the ship is at anchor in a tender port - when docked, it can't swing out from side to side but just rise up and down. It can take 13 guests and an operator, and is wheelchair accessible. The North Star is available on all Quantum Class ships.
Contemporary art collections
The Ovation of the Seas is particularly well decked-out in amazing art pieces! Meghan and Sarah were wowed by the huge "Mama and Baby" panda sculpture on the top deck, the interactive butterflies, the "Sky Wave" kinetic sculpture and more.
It's certainly different than you usual landscapes and abstract art, with art expressed in many different mediums across the ship. There was also something for the cat lovers!
These are far from all the exciting new innovations you'll find on Royal Caribbean's latest batch of vessels - there's also the Ripcord by iFly skydiving simulator, the FlowRider surf simulator, the virtual balconies for inside cabins, great waterparks and freshly designed staterooms.
Here's a short video of what Sarah and Meghan found aboard the Ovation of the Seas last month to get you excited for your next cruise holiday - we recommend checking out the Royal Caribbean winter sale! Cruise Sale Finder can also help you out with cheap cruises and cruises from Australia of all kinds.