(8:15 p.m. EDT) -- Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's splashy new build that debuts in November 2014, will make Shanghai, China, its homeport beginning in May 2015.
The ship will sail out of Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey, as scheduled before redeploying to China in spring 2015.
“Consumers in China have grown to expect the best the world has to offer, and Quantum of the Seas meets that standard like no other ship,” Adam Goldstein, president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said in a news release. “We are ready to accelerate the growth of this vital market with a ship that will capture the imagination of travelers looking for a one-of-a-kind vacation experience.”
Asia is an increasingly competitive market among cruise lines, with nearly every major line targeting cruisers in Japan and China.
Quantum of the Seas will join fleetmates Mariner of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas in Asia, which Royal Caribbean says increases the line's capacity in the region by 66 percent.
The move, which the line announced Wednesday, is surprising in part because New York has played a large part in the promotion of the ship; even renderings of the Quantum of the Seas show it sailing past the Statue of Liberty. It turns out, the ship's stay in New York is short-lived.
To ensure fans of the line will continue to have options from Bayonne, Royal Caribbean also announced Wednesday it would move Liberty of the Seas to the port for summer and fall 2015. Starting in November, Quantum Class ship Anthem of the Seas, which debuts in Southampton in April 2015, will sail out of Cape Liberty for the winter 2015-16 season.
“We are very mindful of the importance of New York, which is why we are bringing Liberty of the Seas and then Anthem of the Seas to this market,” Goldstein said.
Out of Bayonne, Quantum of the Seas will sail seven- to 12-night itineraries to destinations in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Beginning in June 2015, it will sail three- to eight-night itineraries from Shanghai to Japan and Korea. In summer and fall 2015, Liberty of the Seas will sail to Bermuda, the Caribbean and New England and Canada. Then, starting in November 2015, Anthem of the Seas will sail itineraries to Bermuda and the Caribbean.
Quantum of the Seas is the first ship in the much-anticipated Quantum Class. It will bring to the sea innovations like a sky-diving simulator, the North Star -- a jewel-shaped glass capsule that extends 300 feet above the ship for 360-degree sea views -- the Seaplex sports and entertainment complex and Dynamic Dining, a concept that dispatches with the traditional main dining room in favor of multiple, more flexible options.
--By Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor