After years of waiting, my cruise vacation on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas is finally here and today begins with getting onboard.
Embarkation day is always a combination of joy, trekking, indulgence and satisfaction. I woke up right at 9am and got my things together before departing the hotel for Cape Liberty.
The entire embarkation process could not have been faster or simpler. Dropped the luggage off, parked the car and checked-in all within probably 15 minutes (I parked a long walk from the terminal). Once inside the terminal, at around 11am, we were able to get onboard immediately.
Royal Caribbean did assign boarding times as part of the online check-in but these times seem to be suggestions more than requirements. We boarded well before our time and others were doing the same.
Once onboard the ship, I naturally went to my favorite spot onboard, the Windjammer. It appeared a lot of other people had the same idea and the place was packed. Many Quantum of the Seas veterans will advise to eat at Two70 Cafe or Devinely Decadence as less-crowded alternatives but I wanted the Windjammer experience and after a few minutes of searching, we found a table.
I took my time at lunch and then headed to my stateroom to drop off my stuff and see my home for the next eight nights.
I booked an inside stateroom with a virtual balcony. It was a larger inside stateroom and this was my first time staying in a stateroom with the virtual balcony. I'm looking forward to waking up and turning the balcony on to enjoy the view.
The room itself has a good amount of space. I could see two to three people (one kid) having no problem and I like how there are two comfy chairs included with the room as well. So far, so good!
After dropping my stuff off, grabbing my WOWband and looking around the room, I decided to do some exploring around the ship. I headed up to the pool deck and walked around. Given the temperature outside is around 40 degrees, the pool was empty but the indoor pool and Solarium were a balmy 70-80 degrees and a few folks were already swimming.
I also took an opportunity to tour the spa and fitness center. I had not seen either on my two-night cruise and the facilities were quite nice. I did not se anything I haven't seen on other ships with perhaps the exception of the couples massage room, which had a shower.
The fitness center is really quite large and the equipment is in top-notch conditiion. I took the liberty of signing up for a spin class tomorrow morning. I hope I can stay hydrated this time around!
All around the ship, other passengers were exploring as well, taking in the sights and it's fun to catch parts of others conversations where others talk openly about how impressive some aspect of the ship is. Needless to say, everyone seems quite excited to get this vacation underway.
UPDATE 5:00pm: Muster drill for this cruise was in Silk restaurant, which is also the restaurant I'll have dinner later this evening. Nothing unusual but I did meet someone who has a job of going on cruises to assist with dialysis machines. From the sounds of it, I think I need to seriously reconsider my professional career choices.
For sailaway, I braved the brisk March air and went up to the Sky Bar for a quick meet up with other Royal Caribbean Blog readers. It was great to formally say hello to everyone and put names to faces. The next meet is tomorrow at bumper cars!
I also realized around this point I had not yet had a drink to officially kick off my cruise so I had to quickly remedy the situation. One of the waiters, Ricky, helped me with my "problem" and hooked me up with the drink of the day. Honestly, I don't know what it was but it looked like the perfect drink and it came in a souvenir cup that changes colors when it's cold!
After some drinks and enjoying sailaway, I headed back to my stateroom to change for dinner. My luggage was waiting for me at the door, which was good to see because I and many other guests noted the RFID luggage tracking feature in Royal Caribbean's app was not working (it would report you have no luggage to track).
Dinner tonight was at Silk, which on my 2-night cruise was a bit of a disappointment. It was disappointing in I love Asian food, especialy Indian food and it didn't really live up to what I expected. Silk, and all the compimentary restaurants onboard have since undergone a menu update so I was hoping for a better experience.
Our dinner reservation was at 5:30pm and we were able to walk right up to the Silk entrance and check-in with nearly no wait. We were seated immediately at a table by the window and we were off to a good start.
The new Silk menu appears to be expanded from what I remember and it also included some of the Royal Caribbean classic options, like steak, chicken soup, pasta, etc.
I started off with the vegetable spring rolls and chicken noodle soup (I know, not Asian at all).
They were both good, not the best I've ever eaten of either but okay.
For my entrees I went with the chicken tikka masalla and a vegetable curry. I figured I would double down on my favorite dish.
Both curries tasted fine but they had no spice at all and frankly, not a lot of flavor either. I had two curries in the Windjammer at lunch that were wonderful but I felt like these dishes lacked some character.
My tablemates went with Chinese dishes and they looked good and they reported their dishes also tasted good too. Perhaps my curry love needs to be relegated to the Windjammer.
I also should note service was great. There's now an assistant waiter to help and I brought my bottle of wine with me that they were all too eager to pour and store for my dinner tomorrow night.
Making sure to end on a high note, I wrapped up dinner with strawberry ice cream. Awesome!
After dinner we headed over to Michael's Genuine Pub and I was quite happy to see them offering buy one, get one free on Michael's Genuine Beer. Clearly Royal Caribbean really, really loves BOGO deals.
We enjoyed drinks, chatted and had a great time. It was not too busy in Michael's at this point so it was nice to be able to just sit around and talk without too much noise.
I was wrapping up drinks when a fellow blog reader came into the pub to tell me there was an unannounced comedy show that was about to go on so I decided to check it out. One of the benefits of cruising solo is late night entertainment is tough with kids because it's bed time.
First out was cruise director Ken Rush, who I had never seen before. Ken was funny and gave a good introduction to the show we were about to see.
The comedian was Steve Shaffer and he was amusing. I was afraid he would tell the stereotypical cruise jokes but his jokes were all over the place and really never talked about the ship. He did a 40 minute set, which is impressive and I laughed at a few jokes. Can't ask for much else.
I wandered around the ship a little more after the comedy show but it was getting near 11pm now and I have some morning plans tomorrow. I stopped by Music Hall, which had a band covering a lot of different hits, which was fun. They had a good crowd there listening and dancing.
All in all, a good first day and I'm excited for my first full day onboard tomorrow.
Here is tomorrow's Cruise Compass.
- I haven't met my stateroom attendant yet. I think it's because without kids, I'm barely here.
- The captain announced we should have good weather and smooth sailing. At first I assumed he probably always says this but someone at my muster drill, who was on the cruise last week, said the captain announced the rough seas they experienced so hoping no issues this week!
- On my first day I only paid for two drinks so far, which is no where near what the drink package would need to "break even". Let's see what a full day holds for me.
- Being in the Atlantic, there's just enough rocking of the ship to put me to sleep perfectly!