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  1. Before I begin, let me say that Odyssey is a beautiful ship and -- more importantly -- the service and staff are excellent. Our cruise last week had the best service and easily the best food of any Royal ship I've been on. I can't stress this enough. After several cruises lamenting the quality of MDR service and food quality, and the freshness of food in the Windjammer, everything on this cruise was fantastic. That aside, I've never before been disappointed by a ship on Royal -- and our group (all of us veteran cruisers) was continually underwhelmed by Odyssey's design. You wonder what happened during development of the Quantum Ultra ships that they totally missed the mark after killing it with the Oasis Class. I've been on Wonder, Symphony, Freedom, and Mariner, and I felt even the Freedom & Mariner were superior in so many ways. Quantum boats were developed after Oasis Class but they didn't include Central Park, Boardwalk (+ carousel & Abyss), Aqua Theater, or skating rink -- yet they basically added nothing to replace them. The elevators. OMG The no-touch buttons are a disaster. Of the 50 elevator rides I took during the week, I think I can count on one hand the times I got in and there weren't at least 2 or 3 buttons hit with no one getting off. You couldn't get within 2 feet of the panel without accidentally hitting a button. It was a joke among every passenger on the ship. I get that it's a COVID thing, but Wonder doesn't have this issue. The SeaPlex is a cool room but the big mistake was removing the sports court and skating rink, etc., and thinking the SeaPlex could handle everything. The sports court on every ship I've ever been on is in constant use by kids playing soccer or basketball. But because of the lack of other venues, every time kids would go out to play, within 30 minutes they were kicking everyone off for bumper cars, laser tag, adult sports tournaments, pickleball lessons. It was crazy. You had a boat FULL of kids on spring break and every time they started having fun they'd shut the court down for an adult 3-on-3 basketball tournament and leave all the kids with nothing to do. No waterslides. I realize not everyone cares about waterslides, but at this point they've been an expectation on all ships and cruise lines for 15 years. It's odd that they felt waterslides were unimportant enough to build Quantum class with none and then do a total 180 and decide they're so important that Icon needed SIX. They seem to have sacrificed them for the North Star, which is gimmicky, limited to a small % of passengers, and a clear effort to replace something free with something that drives $$$. The 270 Theater that essentially replaces the skating rink and Aqua Theater is terribly underutilized. We were on the boat for 6 days and never had a reason to go there. In general, I had the overwhelming sense that the amazing job Royal has done with crowd control on other ship classes was totally missed here. I've never felt crowded on a ship, but Odyssey is full of overcrowded venues (SeaPlex and Esplanade, particularly) and they totally screwed up the Windjammer. Half the seating is way in the back far away from the buffets, and as a result the WJ always felt crowded. There are buffet stations in the back but they were never open, even during the busiest of breakfasts, etc. Again, staff, service, food, cleanliness -- all excellent. But Royal totally missed the boat, so to speak, on ship design here. If not for the food I'd go on Mariner 10x again before I'd go Quantum class. Just my opinion
  2. So, the wife and I just returned from our second cruise aboard Spectrum OTS, this time it was a shorter 3-night sailing visiting Penang with one Sea Day. Compared to our previous experience a few months ago (despite the loosened restrictions) - the ship still feels very different than a typical European or North American sailing. A few things of note which I never mentioned in my previous post (which have remained status quo): so for anyone considering a Spectrum OTS out of Singapore - the market is a bit different based on the below: Unlike our previous cruise, the Windjammer is now fully self-serve (and for the North American's on this board) - the WIndjammer on North American ships will typically have 'theme nights' featuring a cuisine of a particular country, look no further as on the Spectrum's Windjammer has dedicated sections for Indian and Chinese cuisine. * Like my previous cruise on Spectrum earlier in the year... the pool decks remain largely 'empty' - hot tubs generally empty and of the people on the pool deck - the demographic on board including families tends to over dress aka pants and sweatshirts on the pool decks (as though it was Alaska) and hardly anyone in the pools as its just not part of the Singapore market. ***no 'chair hogs that we witnessed on this sailing, as most people in this market tend to prefer shade over sun and to avoid spending time at pools or on the outdoor decks generally - so if one is looking for a lounger, even on a Sea Day - there was a ton available... in fact the crew was removing loungers since they weren't even really being used*** * The Casino was extremely crowded (as per usual on sailings from this market) - as was the Windjammer (hard getting a table at any given time). * The solarium remained largely empty and the bartenders were generally 'bored' along with the bartenders at the 'Schooner' Bar. In fact on the occasions we were in both venues... we were able to chat up the bartenders for 30 minutes average before anyone else showed up... and we were advised that drinking and bars are not very 'popular' in this market. * The Flowrider was basically empty for the first two days of the sailing... in fact the Flowrider Instructors were the ones doing all the 'flowriding' for the first two days while people watched - basically 'performing' various stunts (this is something one would never see stateside as the Flowrider fills up on embarkation day). Only on the final day of the sailing did it 'fill up' and even then its nothing like out of Florida or California. Mind you something else you'd never see out of the US market is people waiting for the Flowrider carrying Umbrella's to shade themselves from the sun... and there were A LOT of umbrella holding people in the queue; though luckily no one attempted to flowride with an umbrella . * Masks like the North America market are now 'optional' however the majority of crew about 95 % are still masked as again it makes the people in this market more comfortable, and for the guests... about 90 - 95% masked as well indoors and outdoors despite it being optional. The only ones who went unmasked were those visiting Singapore for this cruise and it was quite obvious who the guests were. * Beverage packages are not very popular according to the F&B staff we interacted with since in this market... people tend to either a la carte beverages or just go with the free options ... in fact the drink of choice was typically hot drinks which the bars don't serve - again different market. * NextCruise was quite a popular spot with many people booking future cruises... though when the wife and I enquired about potentially putting down a deposit for a cruise from Florida or from Seattle, we were met with 'those markets not being very common in Asia' since most people who booked future cruises on board were only booking in the Asian market. * The Cafe270 was a nice upgrade from Cafe Promenade on the other ships, it serves a wide variety of things but closes at 1700 daily. Also Sorrento's is located in the Windjammer rather than on the Esplanade. Speaking to the Hotel Director at a public Q&A, the Hotel Director advised that the vast majority of the 5000 onboard are from Singapore with about 600 Indian Nationals and only 53 from North America (US / Canada) making this the smallest minority of guests on board. This is also the reason why the hotel director further clarified that in Asia... the North Star, Rock Climbing Wall, iFly Skydiving Simulator are chargeable (around $40 and up) in order to 'control crowds' while on US Based ships, these three things are typically non-chargeable at least at on Port Days. Even the sports staff on board knew this though most passengers are not aware of this. When this was also raised in the public Q&A - the Captain also re-iterated that the above are 'novelty attractions' but stateside their 'common'. The Captain of this sailing was Captain Wu Huimin who is from China - though the main speaker at the Q&A was the Australian Hotel Director. * Also there's a big hope that China will open again by late 2023 and 2024 and the plan is for Spectrum to offer cruises from Shanghai again - per the Hotel Director. Was also advised that if the ship does end up returning to China by then... everything would be in Mandarin only (in Singapore everything is still in English). Overall this sailing was pretty much like our previous sailing except masks were 'optional'. It was still a relaxing experience and it was great to interact with the bored bartenders who were standing around, many staff on board have mentioned they prefer this market since its a lot less work at the bars however the Windjammer does have its work cut out since non-stop eating is a big thing in this market. Didn't attend the Art shows this time around, and the SPA was also empty the times we went by as was the fitness center (even on the Sea Day). If anyone has any questions feel free to ask, also let the forum know if you're taking a cruise from Singapore soon, lots of useful tips including the revamped check in process at Marina Bay Cruise Center which is much to be desired.
  3. Royal Caribbean acquired the names, Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Passion of the Seas, Pulse of the Seas and Vantage of the Seas. We later found out the two names of the first 'sunshine project' ships which were Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas. But out of these already acquired names what should the third Quantum and third Oasis class ships be called? Personally I think the third Quantum class should be called Vantage of the Seas and third Oasis class should be Ovation of the Seas. What do you think?
  4. Royal Caribbean UK's Twitter has announced that the first Quantum Ultra-Class cruise ship will be named Spectrum of the Seas. Construction has started today at the Meyer Werft shipyard and is due to make its maiden voyage in 2019. “Today is a very special day in the development of our new Quantum Ultra ship, Spectrum of the Seas. We are now one step closer to delighting our guests in Asia Pacific with this remarkable ship. Spectrum will be another giant leap forward in vessel design and guest experiences that will provide travelers with ample opportunities to create unforgettable memories.” -Michael Bayley CruiseToTravel has also posted an article: http://www.cruisetotravel.com/2017/08/16/royal-caribbean-announces-spectrum-of-the-seas/
  5. Get ready for more changes. In Nov we are going on the Anthem and they have a whole set of new things when you check in. The main new thing is you have to supply a good (RC acceptable) head shot of yourself and all those cruising. And Crown and Anchor Loyals can not just arrive when they want. You are given specific times to board. It states that it will delay your boarding if you arrive at a different time. It appears check in (arrival) will look more like check out (departure). It will be done in small groups. Priority is given to wedding parties and I assume wheel chair cruisers. I didn't notice any priority for Crown and Anchor or Suite cruisers. We'll see how this plays out. This appears to be more of a security thing or maybe just tightening up the boarding process. There were more things but the above seemed the major ones. It's getting harder to check in. This looks like they will be rolling this new boarding procedure to the fleet.
  6. Hi Everyone! This October my best friend and I will be taking the Anthem on her first TA! A few questions: - This is our first TA, we usually love sea days, but it is a little daunting to be on the boat for 8 straight days, any suggestions? Things to pack or do? Are there usually different activities on A TA than a traditional cruise? - I'm very excited to try out ifly and see the anthem's shows. At this point we are less than six months away of departure (not that I'm counting or anything). When can you usually make reservations for these actives? I was hoping to plan these for tackling dynamic dining. Thanks for the advice! Will anyone be joining us?
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