Quantum of the Seas

Restaurant Review: Jamie's Italian on Quantum of the Seas

In:
06Apr2015

One of the stand out restaurants that are available on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas has to be Jamie's Italian.  This simple yet tasty take on Italian food by British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver brings a whole different Italian restaurant experience to Royal Caribbean.  

We're excited to share with you what Jamie's Italian offers and if you should give it a try on your cruise as well.

Atmosphere

Jamie's Italian is located in the Via section of the Royal Esplanade, close to Two70.  As you walk towards the restaurant, you will find an open air eatery that reminds you of a city sidewalk restaurant.

Once inside Jamie's Italian, you will find a restaurant that is simple in its look.  There's no traditional red and white checkerboard, Lady and the Tramp style tables either.  There's also not a hint of the formal look you may find in other Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants like Chops Grille or Portofino.

The tables and chairs are an assortment of different styles that almost look like the host called all of their friends to bring tables and chairs because the host did not have enough.  I'm not celebrity chef expert, but I do know that Jamie Oliver, the restaurant's namesake, purposefully makes his restaurants and food simple. 

After a few minutes looking around, Jamie's Italian feels like you're eating in someone's (very large) kitchen.  Tables are located all around the restaurant and the waiters are wearing simple white shirts with jeans.  There are also televisions on the walls showing Jamie Oliver cooking his food and there's an eclectic mix of popular music that we are told Jamie himself listens to.

Sitting down, you will find the restaurant feels very different than most other specialty restaurants.  If not for Wonderland, Jamie's Italian would certainly be the most unconventional specialty restaurant I've ever dined at on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Eats

The food at Jamie's Italian is quite obviously Italian but like the decor, it's not just spaghetti, pizza and other traditional fare.  

One of the neat things Jamie's Italian does is it makes all of its pasta by hand, each day.  When our waiter told us that, I immediately reconsidered what I was going to order because hand-made pasta makes a big difference compared to the boxed stuff.

When you walk into the restaurant, you will likely see many other tables enjoying food served off of a giant wooden plank and there's a good reason for it.  Citing the famous cliche, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, we also ordered the plank.  There are two to choose from: cured meats and seasonal vegetables.

Regardless of which plank you order, the waiter will ask you how many people will be enjoying the plank.  We told him two people and we wanted the cured meats plank.  Soon thereafter, he came out with a generous sampling of meats and cheeses.  There's fennel salami, pistachio mortadella, prosciutto & schiacciata picante.  If antipasti is your thing, this will be heaven for you.

I also sampled the arincini margherita, which are tomato & mozzarella risotto rice balls with arrabbiata sauce & Parmesan.  Of all the appetizers I sampled, this was my favorite.  I loved the texture and the sauce it was served on top of had a bit of kick to it.  

My table mates really liked the mushroom flatbread, which was definitely not pizza.  A mixture of fresh mushrooms and sprinkled cheese on top of a thin breading made for a great choice.  We realized about now that the appetizers alone were really, really good.

The crispy squid was exactly as the name implies.  My friend was the squid fan and reported it was quite good and definitely not chewy.

Perhaps the only disappointment of the meal was the Tuscan bean & single estate Italian olive oil bruschetta.  Ordinarilly, I love bruschetta but this was quite different than any bruschetta I've ever had.  It was cheesy (and not in a good way) and after one bite each, we all went back to our favorites.

A quick side note, I noticed on other tables in the restaurant there were View Finders and asked our waiter why we did not get one.  He informed me it was for children to see what the food they are going to order looks like.  I kindly requested I too get a chance to see our food in faux 3D, 1980's glory and I recommend asking for one too just for the fun of it!

Moving onto the entrees, once I figured out what aubergine meant (it's another name for eggplant), I ordered the aubergine parmigana. It's essentially a stack of baked eggplant slices in a warm pool of tomato sauce topped with cheese.  

Eggplant parmigana is an Italian food classic and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Was it better than the eggplant parm from Giovanni's Table? I'm not ready to go that far.

It is worth noting the freshly baked twisted garlic bread is really, really good and I recommend ordering an entire order of these just for your table to enjoy (or hoard them for yourself while giggling how good they are).

Earlier I had honed in on the fact their pasta was hand-made, so I ordered the penne pomodoro.  To most people, this is penne in a red sauce but again, the fresh pasta makes even a simple dish like this stand out.

The baked lasagna was a real treat as well, with the blend of fresh pasta (notice a trend yet?), mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and beef and pork.

   

I'm no connoisseur of lamb but the lamb chops were also quite good.

By now, we had been through a food war but our waiter insisted we try the desert.  Who am I to argue with a man in jeans?

There's a number of intriguing selections on the dessert menu but the one that caught my eye was the epic homemade brownie.  I mean, who can resist that kind of a title?

I can report that there is no case of false advertising here.  The epic homemade brownie was terrific.  What makes it epic?  There's a freshly baked warm fudgy brownie with vanilla ice cream and caramelized amartetti popcorn on top.  Yup, epic.

Overall

We had eaten at Jamie's Italian towards the end of my cruise and all throughout the voyage, other passengers had always mentioned how good Jamie's Italian was whenever the topic of dinners came up and now I know why.

Jamie's Italian offers a great selection of Italian food that differentiates itself from most other food available on Quantum of the Seas. It's an interesting "reboot" of what we think about when it comes to Italian food.

Nearly everything we offered was very good.  In fact, I think of all the restaurants onboard Quantum of the Seas, Jamie's Italian had the best ratio of hits to misses, in terms of good food to bad food picks.  

I was lucky to have dined with a group of friends because the food here is perfect for sharing and it gives everyone a chance to sample a little of everything.  

Like most Royal Caribbean restaurants, I found the portion sizes to be on the small size, which makes ordering multiple entrees (and appetizers earlier) an easier decision.

Video: Sonic Odyssey brings unique sounds to Quantum of the Seas

In:
31Mar2015

On Quantum of the Seas, custom sounds, unique instruments and elaborate costumes are showcased in Sonic Odyssey. Watch as the Royal Theater transforms into the perfect stage for a musical experience unlike any other.

Where to eat breakfast on Quantum of the Seas

In:
24Mar2015

When you wake up onboard Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas you will probably be wondering where you can get something to eat to start your day.  

There are some obvious choices and there's also some other options less passengers visit too.  Depending on what you're in the mood for, there's something for everyone.

Windjammer

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The place most guests go is the buffet on deck 14 that offers a little of everything.  The Windjammer is a Royal Caribbean staple and it also offers the widest selection of breakfast choices.

For families or just groups that can't all agree on one thing, this is the best option.  There's so much to choose from and the omelette station is wonderful.

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Given it's popularity, it's also commonly the most crowded, especially during the later breakfast hours.  You will get what you want here but you may have to wait in line to get it.

American Icon Grill

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For fans of the main dining room breakfast experience, American Icon Grill is the next best thing.

Having breakfast at the American Icon Grill means you will be seated at a table (sometimes with other guests) and order off a set breakfast menu.  

What attracts most people to breakfast at the American Icon Grill is the table-service experience that is more formal than a buffet. 

Just like the Windjammer, it can get busy here too.

Devinly Decadence

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For something "off the beaten path", try Devinly Decadence on Deck 14 near the Solarium.  It's kind of like "American Icon Grill-light", with table-service breakfast but with less choices.  

What we like about Devinly Decadence for breakfast is the fact it's often less busy than most other places but you can still get your table service option for a more relaxed breakfast.

Cafe Promenade

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If you're in a rush and just want something quick for breakfast, then run over to the Royal Esplanade and stop by Cafe Promenade.

Danishes, croissants and muffins are the kind of quick grab-and-go breakfast options available (along with a cup of coffee).  

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It's great if you're running off the ship for a shore excursion or just want something simple.

Rise & Dine Dreamworks Character Dining

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Whether you have kids or you just enjoy the Dreamworks characters (or both), Royal Caribbean offers a breakfast with some of your favorite Dreamworks characters.

Located in Silk, this is just like breakfast at the American Icon Grill but with the company of characters.

Breakfast here is of the sit-down variety and you get a little entertainment to go with it.  For kids, it's free but anyone over the age of 10 will have to pay a $10 fee.

The Cafe @ Two70

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​Perhaps one of the least-busy places to eat breakfast is the Cafe @ Two70.  Since it's all the way at the end of the ship and not in a busy area of the ship during the morning hours, we've found The Cafe to be frequently uncrowded, even during peak times.

The menu here offers a little of everything, including a full bagel bar.  There's also cereal, pastries, and some hot breakfast items.

The Cafe is the middle ground between the Windjammer and some of the quicker options.  You will still get in and out pretty quickly but there's more variety than Cafe Promenade.

What's your favorite spot for breakast on Quantum of the Seas? Share it with us in the comments below!

Video: Inside look at the IT room on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas

In:
12Feb2015

Recently TechCrunch got a tour of the IT never center behind Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas.

The tour looks at how Royal Caribbean manages to provide a 600 Mbps connection with a satellite and provide Wi-Fi access across the ship for everyone.

8 days of Virtual Balcony Views on Quantum of the Seas

In:
12Feb2015

I'm happy to welcome back guest blogger Don & Heidi from EatSleepCruise.com! They've got another really interesting blog post to share with everyone today about what I consider to be one of the coolest features on any Royal Caribbean ship. Enjoy!

Inside cabins, by their nature, can sometimes feel claustrophobic. While we almost exclusively stay in interior cabins, as a cost saving mechanism, we admit, they do sometimes feel closed off from the rest of the cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean must have heard our pleas when designing the Quantum of the Seas. To enhance the experience in these interior cabins, and bring travelers one step closer to the ocean, this innovative ship offers “virtual balconies”.

Yes, those staying in interior cabins can now have a real time view of the outside world. These virtual balconies are really 80" 4K LED Sharp Aquos screens that pan floor to ceiling, and through the use of technology, project real time video and sound. There are even curtains on the side of screen to complete the effect.

What are these technological wonders like you ask? Well, we recently spent 8 days sailing on Quantum of the Seas and can give you a detailed description of our experiences with these new portals to the outside world.

Day 1-- Embarkation Day

Yes, the virtual balcony is on as soon as you enter your inside cabin. We stayed in room 10-207, portside. This meant that our virtual balcony was actually displaying the view from the starboard side of the ship. Getting on the ship at Cape Liberty, NJ, the view is not too spectacular. But, it was pretty cool to step into your cabin and be able to watch the action outside.

Day 2 and Day 3-- At Sea

Waking up to an ocean view is one of the reasons travelers love to cruise. Now with the virtual balconies, even those in an inside cabin can wake up to the waves in the ocean and the sun. It was our first full sea day that we appreciated the resolution of these screens; the colors of the ocean and sky were crystal clear. It was also great to wake up and get a feel for the weather outside. On Day 3, our second full day at sea, we were able to tell that the weather was much nicer than on Day 2.

Day 4-- San Juan, Puerto Rico

Seeing the Port from your virtual balcony is really quite impressive. The 4K, high definition view gives you a level of detail that is eerily life-like. When we arrived to San Juan, on day 4, there were already two ships in port, and it felt like we could reach out and touch them on our virtual balcony. What was even more amazing was getting to see one of those ships, the NCL Gem, sail away. This is something we would have normally missed on a typical inside cabin, but we were able to experience everything via our virtual balcony.

The virtual balconies are always on (if you so choose), so even at night there is something for you to see. During the overnight we had on Day 4, we got to witness the other ship in port, the HAL Westerdam, turn on its exterior lights at dusk. With the resolution of these screens, you can actually see people walking around the other ship.

Day 5-- San Juan, Puerto Rico

It’s a new dawn, a new ship, and we are feeling good. This morning, we awoke early to see that Disney Fantasy was parked where the NCL Gem had been yesterday. HAL Eurodam also pulled in to port a while later. None of these changes would have been apparent to us if it weren’t for the virtual balcony, or a trip to the top deck.

Day 6-- Labadee, Haiti

Seeing another ship sail away is one thing, but watching the real time sail-in to a port from the virtual balcony is an entirely different experience. During this cruise, we got to watch Quantum of the Seas dock in Labadee, and it was quite the show. We were able to get a few minutes of the sail in on video. While the video does not do it justice, it does give you a sense of how “real time” the displays are as you are able to see the ship’s position in relation to the land as she is being docked.

It was not until day 6 that we learned there is a remote control to turn the virtual balcony on and off. All along, we had been treating the virtual balcony like a real balcony and pulling the curtains closed at nighttime to block the view. But, it was here on day 6, when we returned from Labadee, that we first heard sound. Yes, the virtual balconies have sound, at least when it works. When we arrived back in our room after our outing in Labadee, we could still hear the music from the performers on the dock. After sailaway, we could also hear the sounds of the ocean.

At this point, we realized it might be difficult to sleep now, so we asked our stateroom attendant if there was a way to turn off the sound. Apparently, we were missing our remote control all long that allows you to control the images and sound, a simple on/off and mute function.

Days 7 and 8-- At Sea

On Day 7, we slept in a bit, but when we awoke, we turned on the virtual balcony and were greeted with beautiful sunshine and the sound of the waves. The sound really gives the virtual balcony a much more authentic and realistic experience. Later that day, we returned to this beautiful moonlight night, but noticed that our sound was no longer working. Guess the technology hasn’t been perfected yet.

Day 9-- Disembarkation

Like all good things, they must come to an end. Even when arriving back at port, to begin the trek home, the Quantum of the Seas virtual balconies were there to show us what it was like outside, complete with a trace snow cover. Even though this was our good-bye, the virtual balcony was now ready to greet some new guests and provide real-time views for those more economical cruisers!

Takeaways

While I would not replace the virtual balcony for a real balcony, if you are looking to save some money when sailing on a Quantum class ship, the virtual balconies are a really nice enhancement. We are not sure that we would pay more for a virtual balcony, if there were additional costs down the line, but for the time being, these high tech additions make your cruise more enjoyable and are a definite WOW. We are sailing on Anthem of the Seas in 2016, and we are looking forward to our virtual balcony views on that new ship!

Royal Caribbean will adopt new rotational dining program for Anthem of the Seas

In:
31Jan2015

We've received reports that Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley announced to a group of travel agents aboard Freedom of the Seas that the company's ambitious Dynamic Dining program will be augmented with a new rotational dining program.

Under the new program, guests will dine at different complimentary restaurants each night of their cruise based on their rotational schedule.  At each restaurant, guests will have the same wait staff and table mates each evening.

The new rotational dining program will begin with Anthem of the Seas, but there is no indication yet if it will spread to Quantum of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and/or Allure of the Seas.

Back in March 2014, Royal Caribbean had previously announced its Quantum-class cruise ships would usher in a radically new dining program called Dynamic Dining, where there would be no main dining room and instead would offer a combination of complimentary and specialty restaurants for guests to choose from.  

Then in August 2014, Royal Caribbean announced Dynamic Dining would spread to Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

When Quantum of the Seas launched in November 2014, there were a great deal of negative reports from cruisers that Dynamic Dining was troubled by long lones and poor service.  Then in December, Royal Caribbean postponed Dynamic Dining on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas indefinitely.

If the reports are true, it appears the flow of negative reviews online and to Royal Caribbean have forced the company to try something different from Dynamic Dining that is more like traditional dining.

UPDATE: Video of Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley announcing the rotational dining option called "Classic".

Video by Gina Smythe

Secrets to a better Quantum of the Seas cruise experience

In:
23Jan2015

Royal Caribbean's newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, has a lot to see and do but as Royal Caribbean fans know there's always tips and tricks to getting the most out of your cruise.

We present here a list of our best Quantum of the Seas secrets to help you have a better time.  Enjoy!

Best uncrowded spot for breakfast: Cafe @ Two70

If the Windjammer or American Icon Grill is just too crowded for your taste, a lesser known breakfast spot to check out is the Cafe @ Two70.  It rarely fills up like the other places and offers some tasty options too!

Least crowds for North Star: port days

North Star is always in demand so lines seem to be long all the time but if you want to check it out without the long line, try to go on North Star on port days.  

In addition to there being less people onboard to compete with on port days, when Quantum of the Seas is in port, North Star has more limited movement and can only go up and down and not over the side of the ship like it does on sea days.  Because of this, the North Star rides are shorter and thus, the lines will move faster.

Best spot for sailaway: bridge wings

Leaving Cape Liberty will result in a crowded pool deck because of the amazing views of New York City and the surrounding area.  If you want a less crowded spot, check out the bridge wings, which are accessible from the Solarium on either side at the very front.

Best spot for sailaway for suite guests: Suite sun deck

If you're lucky enough to be in a suite, there's a special sun deck that is accessible from the pool deck just for suite guests.  It's usually empty and offers great views of the Verazanno Bridge and New York City.

Best day for bumper cars: embarkation day

Just like the pools and hot tub, the bumper cars have the shortest line on embarkation day.  Head there on your first day onboard to be able to smash into your fellow guests without a long line.

Book RipCord online in advance

As you might imagine, lots of passengers want to check out RipCord by iFly because it's the kind of experience lots want to try.  Royal Caribbean allows you to book in advance complimentary sessions so you don't have to worry about long lines.

Try to make reservations early in your cruise, so you can get in before others who have not signed up to reserve times.

Speaking of iFly, you cannot bring a camera into iFly, so if you don't want to spend money on buying photos, make sure someone in your party not scheduled to fly at the same time is available to take pictures.

You need your SeaPass card in port (even with a WOWband)

Royal Caribbean's new RFID bracelets, WOWbands, are pretty nifty but when your ship is in port, you will need to bring your SeaPass card too to use as proof of being a current cruise guests to return to the ship.

Catch the RoboShows on sea days

The amazing new robotic screens in Two70 will start performing on sea days starting at 12:30pm on the hour (more shows at 1:30pm, 2:30pm, etc).  These are fun to watch, especially when the weather outside is not so great.

Discover some hidden gems onboard

It's easy to overlook these rooms, but the Library (rear of Two70) and The Workshop (an arts and crafts room) on deck 6 are two nifty little locations.

Easiest place to get a drink: Michael's Genuine Pub

If you just want a quick drink without any crowds, try Michael's Genuine Pub in the Royal Esplanade for a quiet spot with quick service.

Best spot for deck chairs: Near the FlowRider

Getting a deck chair on sea days when the sun is shining is never an easy task, especially at the height of the day.  A good spot to snag a deck chair are on the back of the ship, port side.  You will find it's a good spot to grab a chair and catch some rays, even late in the day.

Use the Coca-Cola FreeStyle Machines

If you get any soda package, you can use the Coca-Cola FreeStyle machines.  There are three of them: Sorentos (deck 4), Windjammer (Deck 14), and SeaPlex (Deck 15).

Best time for Bionic Bar: Later afternoon on sea days

We think the Bionic Bar is a bit of a gimmick but there's no denying it is a really cool concept.  If you want to be able to "belly up to the (bionic) bar", try for late afternoon on sea days.  There will be less people around before the bar starts to get crowded again at night.

Royal Caribbean launches new menus on Quantum of the Seas complimentary restaurants

In:
22Jan2015

Last night Royal Caribbean rolled out new menus to four of its complimentary restaurants onboard.

Reports from cruisers aboard Quantum of the Seas this week say that new menus debuted at Chic, The Grande, Silk and American Icon Grill.

There's speculation that these menu changes are part of a new effort to improve the Dynamic Dining experience overall.  Just last week Royal Caribbean dropped the cover charge at Devinly Decadence to add more complimentary restaurant capacity.

Credit to Debra Hirsh and Daniel VanDam for the photos of the new menus.

Video: Genevieve Gorder Episode 4: Style comes to life

In:
20Jan2015

Quantum Experience Advisor, Genevieve Gorder, is back today with a new webisode as she steps onboard the newly launched Quantum of the Seas for the first time and marvel’s at the spaces she helped design.

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