Just Back from… Quantum of the Seas: Two70

November 19, 2014 | By | No Comments

The Two70 Lounge on Quantum of the Seas - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Much about the Quantum of the Seas smart ship coverage has focused on the robot bartenders in the Bionic Bar. And that’s understandable (I had visions of the bar in Star Wars before I boarded).

But the real tech wows of Royal Caribbean’s newest ship are, in my opinion, “Vistarama” and the “roboscreens” in Two70. This space at the back of the ship is where cutting-edge technology is being pioneered.

The double-height space has an enormous window, which takes up the whole of the back wall. Press a button and a screen slides down, transforming into Vistarama – an ultra-HD screen more than 100 feet wide and 20 feet tall. Vistarama’s 12k resolution is nearly twice that of any IMAX cinema and can’t be seen anywhere else in the world.

On my sailing, I sat in on a tech talk with Nick Weir, the Brit-born vice president of entertainment at Royal Caribbean, who has overseen the 14-month project. He was understandably keen to show off some of the techno wizardry on offer, and during the afternoon demo we saw a Zeppelin balloon animation, a giant musical fish tank and a large red curtain, pulled apart to reveal a stage.

Read about the tech behind Two70

    Wanderlust Wednesday: Back to the Future

    November 19, 2014 | By | No Comments

    City of Arts and Sciences Complex, Valencia, Spain - photo courtesy of Delray2002/Cruise Critic Forums

    Every Wednesday, we’ll be taking you on a journey around the world to some of the most interesting places our members have trekked, swum or merely witnessed from afar while cruising.

    Whether these photos inspire you to plan a relaxing escape or walk on the wild side, we hope they ignite your senses and give you ideas for your next cruising adventure. If you have a photo you’d love to share, send it to us at photos@cruisecritic.com or post it in our member photo gallery. Feel free to send us your Twitter handle. Maybe you’ll get a shoutout next #WanderlustWednesday!

    Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences is one of a number of stops along Oceania Cruises’ Majestic Masterpieces itineraries. A mecca of art, culture and entertainment, it’s a must-see if sailing to the Spanish city. We love this shot taken by Cruise Critic member Delray2002 on a recent cruise aboard Oceania Nautica.

    Find interesting places to visit based on region.
    Everything you need to know about planning a cruise.
    Explore Trip Reports of unique itineraries.

      Just Back From… Quantum of the Seas: Fitness Onboard

      November 18, 2014 | By | No Comments

      Fitness Center on Quantum of the Seas - photo by Colleen McDaniel

      There was a time when the fitness area on a cruise ship was roughly the size of a closet. Equipment consisted of a few rusty pneumatic machines, a self-propelled treadmill or two and maybe a giant stationary air bike that produced more noise than sweat.

      Thankfully, cruise lines got the message that their passengers wanted more. Old ships have been retrofit with bigger and better spaces, and new ships debut with amazing spaces that could entice even the staunchest couch potatoes to give exercise a shot.

      The gym is usually the first place I visit when I’m sailing, and I generally visit several times during a cruise.  So when I heard former NFL player Dhani Jones had been named and experience adviser for sports and fitness on Quantum of the Seas, I was thrilled at the possibilities.

      Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, which debuted in the U.S. last week, didn’t disappoint. In fact, the fitness center itself is the best I’ve ever seen on a cruise ship. (And that’s not taking into account the great two-lane jogging track, where each lap nets you a third of a mile.) Here’s why you’ll love it:

      Quantum of the Seas gets fitness right

        Member Review of the Week: An Active 50-Something Ventures with HAL

        November 18, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

        Capuchin in a tree - Puerto Limon, Costa Rica - photo Courtesy of Kuzmin/Shutterstock

        Each week, we choose five cruise reviews written by our members, and showcase one as the Member Review of the Week. In the spotlight this week is Cruise Critic member Ladygmfd1’s recent cruise to the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Central America on Holland America’s Zuiderdam.

        Overall Impression: A smooth embarkation is never guaranteed, so when it happens you feel like a million bucks. Ladygmfd1 and her husband made it a point to start their cruise on the right foot. A special parking service saved them time and money, and prepaid packages eliminated the hassle and shock some cruisers experience when they get the bill at the end of their cruise. As Ladygmfd1 put it, “You get what you put in.” And this couldn’t have applied more to them.

        Onboard Highlight: The crew, whose charm and attentiveness made a lasting impression.

        Port Highlight: Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, where Ladygmfd1 and her hubby opted for the eco-boat, train and banana plantation tour.

        Don’t Miss: The chilled coconut soup in the main dining room.

        Watch Out For: If you book HAL’s Hato caves excursion in Curacao, be mindful of the ascending stairs you’ll need to climb and how hot the caves can get.

        More: Read Ladygmfd1’s full review for more details about their cabin, the food and adventures in port, plus more useful planning tips.

        For their efforts, Ladygmfd1, StephandFred, tkcakes, sarvin4 and Lovefuninthesun receive Cruise Critic logo items.

        Read more reviews or write your own cruise review

          Just Back From…Quantum of the Seas: Shoutout to the Crew

          November 17, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

          photo of chefs from Izumi on Quantum of the Seas

          All this week, we’ll be reporting back on our Quantum of the Seas experiences (we’ve already given you a taste of what’s hot and what’s not in our Hits and Misses post).

          But what we’ve found to be true on this ship, as well as all others, is that even the most fabulous food and activities in the world mean nothing without a great crew. Despite the challenges of transforming an innovative, prototypical ship that’s just off the yard – one that came with technological bugs and quirks, and all sorts of the snafus that you’d expect with a brand-new design – we rarely saw crewmembers do anything but smile, lend a hand, and make us feel welcome.

          Take a look at our Facebook album for some of the unsung heroes of a new ship launch.

          Have you ever had a crewmember go above and beyond their duties? Tell us in the comments!

            Where in the World is Cruise Critic?

            November 17, 2014 | By | No Comments

            Jamey sailing on the MSC Armonia

            Cruise Critic staffers set sail every week, traveling the globe to bring you the latest cruise ship trends, port sneak peeks and onboard observations. Here’s where we are this week.

            (Got questions about any of the ships we’re boarding or ports we are visiting? Ask us in the comments!)

            Ship: MSC Armonia

            Where: We’ll be sailing from Genoa, stopping in Marseilles, spending a day at sea and then disembarking in Spain.

            Who: Jamey Bergman, Production Editor

            Why There? MSC Armonia has undergone a “stretching” operation whereby the ship was cut in two and had an 80-foot section wedged in. I visited the ship in August as it made its way into dry dock for the surgery; look for photos documenting the ship before and after.

            We Can’t Wait: Aside from the fact that it’ll be a unique experience to take the inaugural cruise on a ship that’s just been cut in half and sewn back together, I’m also interested to check out all the new features, including the LEGO-themed playrooms in the kids’ club. (Yes, I’m too old for this, but I don’t care.)

              Observed Onboard: Wedding Photo Shoots Gone Mad

              November 14, 2014 | By | 1 Comment

              Wedding Party - photo by Chris Gray Faust

              The first time the four brides showed up for the cruise ship tender in their wedding finest, we were entranced.

              Our group, onboard Louis Olympia (redubbed Celestyal Olympia just this week) for a four-night sailing around the Greek Isles, called out "congrats" to the beaming couples as we prepared to disembark for Mykonos.

              "They aren’t getting married," the assistant cruise director informed us. Instead, the four Portuguese couples — who hadn’t known each other before getting onboard — were taking the cruise solely as an intense post-wedding photo shoot.

              Read on for the full story

                Hot on the Forums: Terrible Towel Animals

                November 14, 2014 | By | 11 Comments

                Towel Crab

                Some passengers love them, and others are – quite literally – happy to wash their hands of them. While I drew the line at a sinister bedspread figure lurking in shadows when I returned to my cabin on a Nile cruise, I personally love towel animals!

                So much so, I went to the towel animal demonstration on another cruise and ended up buying the book on how to make them. I tried to perfect a crab (shown above). It seemed the easiest, as it requires just one bath sheet without a complicated mix of large and medium towels or the added intricacy of washcloths. With its lop sided tissue eyes, my effort wouldn’t have won any prizes, and was far eclipsed by the perfect penguin my room steward created as a companion.

                Read on to find out more.

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