Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas became the company’s second mega ship in the Alaska cruise fleet, welcoming its first North American-based guests in seven years with a rare 5-day Alaska cruise that sailed on May 4. All sailings on the ship, formerly based in Asia, will be 7-night cruises round-trip from Seattle for the remainder of the season.
Cruise Critic was onboard the first sailing for an early look at the ship and the experience it offers for Alaska cruisers.
Quantum of the Seas is an ideal ship for Alaska sailings for those who want that big-ship feel with all the bells and whistles that come with it. The ship has everything from luxurious Sky Loft suites with Genie butlers to family friendly bumper cars, with a bonus of the famous North Star capsule that lifts you up and over the ship for unprecedented views.
And that’s just one of the ways Quantum’s passengers can enjoy Alaska's stunning scenery while enjoying all the ship has to offer. Our favorite wow-watching spot was the forward-facing Solarium with its handy Sunshine Bar. The glass walls and ceiling make it a popular spot, particularly for those not traveling with children, as it’s reserved for cruisers ages 16 and up. It features cascading shallow pools and two large double hot tubs in a tiered setting, giving everyone a view without a crowded feeling.
In true big-ship fashion, there’s a pool for everyone, including an indoor swimming pool that stayed packed with families throughout most of our cruise. Seating along the sides of the enclosed space offer plenty of relaxation, complete with those views.
On our early-season cruise, the outdoor pool and the splash zone weren’t used as much as the indoor pool, but they were open several times, providing one more thing to look forward to on slightly warmer Alaskan summer days. Even the Flowrider surfing attraction opened on our sailing, despite the chill in the air. Hey, you expect to get cold in Alaska, right?
The biggest ships certainly offer more dining options than their smaller cousins, and Quantum is a shining example of that. There are enough distinctly different eateries that on a typical 7-night sailing, you probably won’t have time to sample all the choices. Of course, Quantum has all the Royal Caribbean favorites like the buffet in Windjammer Café and Sorrento’s Pizza, but the additions of a fish and chips stand at the pool called Splash Away Cafe, chef-inspired Jaime’s Italian, and the deconstructed food magic at Wonderland provide the kind of choices that are the hallmarks of mega ships.
Entertainment venues on Quantum are some of the best at sea, including the innovative robotic screen immersive presentations of the rear facing Two70 venue, reminiscent of a Viking Crown lounge on steroids. The double-deck Music Hall is impressive as well, serving multiple purposes, from evening performances to bingo parlor to pool hall, all within an eclectic decor one would expect to find almost anywhere other than a cruise ship.
The giant indoor space called Seaplex seemed designed purely for prevention of cabin fever on an Alaska cruise. Activities held in Seaplex other than the iconic bumper cars, include laser tag, pickleball, basketball, table tennis, soccer, Xbox games, and dance classes. And if all that isn’t enough to keep your crew actively engaged, there’s the skydiving simulator, iFly by Ripcord, just steps away, as well as the rock wall. Because who doesn’t want to go climbing in Alaska?
The bigger the ship, the more options you are likely to find in terms of your actual accommodations. Because of innovative design features, guests can choose from a range of sizes and configurations, from interior rooms featuring virtual balconies to forward facing ocean view staterooms to two-story loft suites. There are studio balcony staterooms for solo travelers, and something called a spa junior suite.
Quantum can take 4,180 passengers at double capacity. For our early season sailing, there were about 2,500 passengers onboard, according to the captain.
Even if all those choices sound good, you might be asking yourself if spending time onboard a ship carrying 4,000-plus passengers is how you want to see Alaska. While our ship was not full, Quantum has a nicely designed layout that lends itself to a smooth flow of passengers. Matching banks of elevators face one another on either side of the ship, forward, mid-ship, and aft. That adds up to a lot of elevator capacity, and even better, the elevator areas have separation from stateroom hallways, providing a magical sound barrier between the two. Venues that cater to large crowds have wide openings and multiple entryways and exits.
Plus, there are intimate public spaces designed to allow you a pause from the crowds. Lounges like Boleros, Harp & Horn, and Vintages are neatly tucked away like favorite corner bars. And even the specialty restaurant Chops Grille is secluded from passing traffic and noise.
Crown and Anchor loyalty members at the Diamond and Diamond Plus levels have their own quiet Diamond Lounge. Sky and Star level suite guests can enjoy three meals a day at Coastal Kitchen, their private dining room. Those same suite guests and C&A Pinnacle level members can also enjoy a bit of respite from the busy-ness of the ship in the Concierge Lounge (which has stunning aft views from deck 13).
Ports in Alaska can feel crowded, especially during peak summer months. And while some tours take you away from the crowds for a few hours while you find your adventurous self, you will encounter crowded shops, attractions, and tours on land throughout your cruise.
Our advice for Alaska cruises is to choose a ship that suits you and your travel partners in terms of meeting your stateroom needs and your choices for dining and activities. You won’t miss out on your Alaska adventure by cruising on a mega ship, and if you're someone who wants a lot of onboard activity, you just might find that a larger ship enhances the journey.
Updated May 12, 2022