Quantum of the Seas

Quantum of the Seas construction photo update

In:
17Mar2014

Blog reader Niclas Jakob had the opportunity recently to check out construction progress of Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas, at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany.

He took a few photos to share. Enjoy!

An inside look behind the making of Royal Caribbean's virtual balcony

In:
20Feb2014

Of all the new and intriguing innovations coming to Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas, few have captured the public's imagination quite like the virtual balcony.

Photo by Control Group

These 80-inch LED screens offer cruisers in select inside staterooms the opportunity to get views around the cruise ship in real-time displayed in their cabin.  We had a chance to talk with the technical lead of the virtual balcony, Tim Mattison from Control Group, and dive into the details of how he and his team created these new virtual windows to the sea.

From the project's creation, Mattison and his team had a good idea of how they wanted to tackle the project but there definitely some technical hurdles to overcome, "We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to accomplish. There were a few features that were trickier to implement than we thought, but I think the bulk of it was tying together all the different systems it talks to."

So what's so difficult about getting a video feed from one end of the ship and displaying it somewhere else on the ship?  The answer is far more complex than you might think.  Mattison said it took a team of network engineers and software engineers just to get it working in a prototype environment, "there's so much behind the scenes to make it happen."

Tim Mattison and team member working on RED camera. Photo by Control Group

Mattison was particularly proud of the two RED Epic cinematic cameras mounted at the stem and stern of the ship to deliver the video to the virtual balcony displays.

"We had a couple of requirements for a camera and we spent a very, very long time finding a camera that met them.  RED was the only company that would warranty the camera and said it would run indefinitely.  According to RED, we have the record for the longest running RED camera.

We approached plenty of them [other manufacturers] and all of them said our camera will not do this and if we find out that you're doing this, we will not honor your warranty.  RED said please do this, this is what we want you to do with our camera.

The RED camera has fantastic dynamic range and it supports incredible resolutions and the sensor is huge.  This camera supports up to 240 frames per second in certain resolutions."

Interestingly the camera itself supports 4k resolution, which is a generic term for ultra high definition television (UHDTV), and while the output in the virtual balcony is currently downsampled to the virtual balcony's native resolution. In fact, in the future with a few upgrades, the virtual balcony could upgrade to deliver a true 4k experience without major hurdles thanks largely to the RED cameras.

One of the questions our readers wanted to ask Mattison was what happens at night and how good the picture is during the evening.  

Mattison replied simply, "You see basically what you see when you look out the [real] balcony.   But if you have moonlight coming off the waves, you see that.  They wanted it to be as authentic as possible; if you were to look out your balcony and see nothing, that's what you're going to see."

Another good question from our readers was why the virtual balcony shows a view forward or aft but not sideways, like a real balcony does.

Mattison responded, "There was no place to place a port or starboard screen.  If you have a forward screen, you want have it face forward. There were some concerns about sea sickness and things like that. There may be port and starboard views eventually, but that's about all I can say."

From my talk with Mattison and others from Control Group, I got the subtle notion that what we know about virtual balconies today will not be the final version and that more virtual balcony features will be announced in the future.

We also wanted to know if guests can change the view between forward and aft currently.  Mattison said, "No, it was one of the things that was under consideration. We wanted to keep the remote control as simple as possible. And again, with wanting to have an authentic view they wanted to make sure that people couldn't change the view. At least for now.  If you had a real balcony, you can't just say I'd want to see the balcony on the other side."

Mattison did indicate there were no limits to what the technology could do and if Royal Caribbean wanted to allow guests to change the view or offer other views, it could be done, "If people are interested in it, it's totally possible.  There are no limits to the technology that would stop us from doing that.  So if you want it, request it."

Video: Royal Caribbean and Meyer Werft Take Ship Building to the Next Level

In:
18Feb2014

Royal Caribbean and Meyer Werft have joined forces again to build Quantum of the Seas & Anthem of the Seas. This collaborative partnership has led to new levels in shipbuilding.

Royal Caribbean VP hints at dining options for Quantum of the Seas

In:
17Feb2014

Royal Caribbean Executive Vice President of Operations Lisa Lutoff-Perlo hinted in a blog post a couple of dining options making their debut first on Navigator of the Seas that we can expect to see on Royal Caribbean's brand new ship, Quantum of the Seas.

Lutoff-Perlo writes, "Meanwhile, Navigator of the Seas’ guests will be the first to get a sneak peek of some of the dining options making their debut on Quantum of the Seas this fall.  Guests on board Navigator will be among the first to enjoy the fully revamped Chops Grille: The New American Steakhouse, featuring traditional steakhouse offerings with a contemporary flair.  Chops Grille on Navigator of the Seas will showcase brand new selections, such as the Veal Chop Parmesan and a Slow-braised Short Rib of Beef with Bordelaise sauce."

Royal Caribbean has been quiet regarding the dining choices coming to Quantum of the Seas and this is the first indication that we will likely see Chops Grille onboard and its new menu.  

Chops Grille has been a staple of Royal Caribbean cruise ships fleetwide, so it's inclusion on Quantum of the Seas is hardly a surprise but one more piece in the puzzle for guests trying to get a sense of everything that will be on the new ship.

Video: Quantum of the Seas adviser Dhani Jones explores activities onboard

In:
05Feb2014

Quantum of the Seas adviser Dhani Jones has a new video out today that shows him exploring activities to bring aboard Royal Caribbean's next cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas.

Previewing Royal Caribbean's virtual balconies

In:
31Jan2014

When Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas emerges from dry dock next week, among the new changes onboard the ship will be virtual balcony staterooms that feature an 80 inch high definition LCD screen in select inside staterooms.

Fox News interviewed Ronnie Farzad, Royal Caribbean’s head of entertainment technology, and he says the new screens stretch from nearly floor to ceiling and wall to wall, complete with the sound of the seas in real-time from the camera location. Royal Caribbean is also included a banister for a feeling of safety.

Why a banister?  Well, Royal Caribbean told Fox News that they tested a simulated virtual balcony with 30 to 40 people at Royal Caribbean headquarters, and many of the testers complained that an open ocean view is a little scary because there was nothing to keep passengers from “falling in,” especially if the ship is moving in high seas, Farzad said.  

While Navigator of the Seas only has about 80 staterooms with virtual balconies, there will be a virtual balcony in every interior cabin on Quantum of the Seas. There will even be smaller virtual balconies in the studio staterooms that accomodate solo cruisers on Quamtum of the Seas.

Charlie Miller of Control Systems, the concept design company behind the virtual balconies, spoke to Fox News about several of the challenges in creating an authentic feel to Royal Caribbean’s virtual balconies. 

Another challenge was making it all look the way designers envisioned, as Fox News reports, "Designers wanted to create virtual banisters and even balusters, the vertical poles that hold the banisters in place. But the banister had to appear to be outside the window, like on a real balcony. And that created a whole new set of visual challenges, because the look of a real banister changes all the time as the sun and the ship change directions. The answer was to incorporate sun movement charts and powerful GPS data to add “real” shadows and highlights to the virtual banisters. At the same time, they decided not to put virtual glass between the balusters."

 

Quantum of the Seas cruise port construction looks to be back on track

In:
31Jan2014

Last week plans for construction to begin on the renovations of Cape Liberty's cruise terminal were halted after the construction plans impacted a September 11th memorial.  The renovation plans are back on track now after the Port Authority has come up with a plan for ensuring the 9/11 memorial is not destroyed.

NJ.com is reporting the small group of memorial pavers that encircle the 9/11 Teardrop Memorial at the south end of the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor will be temporarily removed when repair work at the site begins.

The renovation work on the terminal is necessary to allow the port to accomodate Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship Quantum of the Seas for her November 2014 arrival.

“The start of the construction is contingent on the city of Bayonne’s approval,” said Port Authority spokesman, Steve Coleman.

Coleman estimates the pavers will be out of the 9/11 memorial ground for roughly three to five months.

“These pavers will be restored to their original locations when the work is finished,” said Coleman.

Quantum of the Seas cruise port construction halted

In:
21Jan2014

Preliminary construction of the new cruise port facility in Bayonne, New Jersey was halted on Friday after it was discovered plans for the port makeover included the removal of hundreds of memorial pavers that surround the September 11 "teardrop" memorial.

Residents were "outraged" according to NJ.com, after learning the $50 million project would include the "temporary" removal of about 300 pavers.

Frank Perrucci, chairman of the Sept. 11 Bayonne Remembers Committee, said he was told by workers at the site that the construction project would cut through a portion of Harborview Park -- where the "To the Struggle Against World Terrorism" memorial is located --  and would mean the "temporary" removal of about 300 pavers.

The memorial will not be affected and workers indicated that the pavers would be put back into place when the construction is complete in May.

The cruise port makeover includes a new Cape Liberty Cruise Port terminal building, a parking garage, an overflow paved parking area and berth improvements on land owned by Port Authority.

Quantum of the Seas to be used as backdrop for music concert

In:
17Jan2014

During the roll out of Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, it will be involved in a music concert in Papenburg, Germany as a backdrop.

The event, "NDR 2 Papenburg Festival: The yard is calling!", will be held on September 6 at the Meyer Werft shipyard with "the imposing backdrop of the luxury liner Quantum Of The Seas."

There's no indication how much the new ship will be involved in the event.  It may just be a coincidence that Quantum of the Seas will be outside when the concert is scheduled or perhaps Royal Caribbean is deliberately using the event to market the new ship.  

Video: Genevieve Gorder Episode 3: Bringing design details to Quantum of the Seas in the shipyard

In:
15Jan2014

Quantum Experience Advisor, Genevieve Gorder, is back today with a new webisode detailing her trip to Papenburg, Germany, with Royal Caribbean's newbuild and design team to see Quantum of the Seas first hand and finalize the last few details for the Lofts and Suites.

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