Unlike the line's other mega-ships, Quantum of the Seas no longer has a Broadway show in its Royal Theater. Instead, the entertainment is more like you'd find on smaller ships, with shows like "Sequins and Feathers," a retro Las Vegas-style revue that we found fairly appalling in its sexist caricatures. The remaining shows in the theater on our sailing were headliners: one juggler, one comedian doing two shows, and two musical acts.
What the Royal Theatre lacks in entertainment originality was adequately made up for in Two70 (Decks 5, 6 and 7). This space at the back of the ship is the piece de resistance of the much-touted advanced technology that Royal has installed onboard Quantum. Two70 has vast windows at the rear, a bar at one side, a stage area with seating in a wide semicircle and more seating on the upper level. During the day, it's part cafe, part activity space. But at night, it transforms into something more akin to Vegas.
You can't miss the "wows." The first you'll notice is the transformation of the windows at the back into Vistarama; the floor-to-ceiling glass walls transform into a vast ambient surface more than 100 feet wide and 20 feet tall. There, any scene, real or imagined, is projected in ultra-HD. Vistarama's resolution is nearly twice that of any IMAX cinema. When there isn't officially a show going on, the screen serves as a backdrop for the room, showing various animations, such as a Zeppelin balloon, a giant musical fish tank and a large red curtain pulled apart to reveal a stage. It's mind-blowing, but it's just the start.
Six robotic screens or "roboscreens," which are fixed to a gantry above and to the right of the stage, really push the innovation envelope. Each is fixed to a robotic arm that -- according to the tech wizards behind them -- is programmed with as many movements as a human arm, calibrated to within a thousandth of a millimeter so they all can move in sync or independently of one another. While they move, they are screening fantastical images onto their ultra-HD screens or interacting with the dancers.
Things to do onboard Quantum range from the typical cruise ship lineup of bingo, trivia, dance class to the athletic and adventurous such as the Royal Escape Room and Ripcord by iFly skydiving. A partial rundown of the week’s activities in the SeaPlex includes laser tag, 3-on-3 basketball, table tennis tournaments, pickleball, soccer, and of course, bumper cars. Scavenger hunts originating in The Music Hall are a daily treat and Casino Royale hosts learn-to-play gaming lessons as well as poker, blackjack, and slot tournaments on sea days.
Both the Cruise Compass paper delivered daily to your stateroom and the Royal App have detailed lists of activities scheduled each day. The app will even allow you to schedule activities, then alert you when you have something planned.
The nightlife onboard Quantum of the Seas offers those who want to party long into the night every opportunity to do so. From live music and dancing at The Music Hall to karaoke at Boleros, it’s easy to find what suits you.
Casino Royale has a good selection of table games and slot machines, though on our sailing, some of the action was still in the process of being swapped out from Chinese games to English equipment. A casino host is there to answer questions about any of the games, host prize giveaways among slot players, and is particularly helpful about the line’s casino loyalty program.
Quantum’s bars and lounges come in two basic varieties: those that are tucked into a strategic corner where you might want a drink or a place to sit and chat with a friend, and “destination” spots where you go looking for entertainment or dancing.
In the center of the action: We loved Boleros. It’s the kind of spot where a crowd gathers at the door to catch glimpses of an amazing Karaoke singer, or where you might while away a sea day afternoon taking part in a cocktail tasting. We joined in on a Caribbean Drink tasting (yes, while sailing to Alaska) and had a fabulous learning experience. The bartender even let us shake the cocktail shaker.
The best place to get brain freeze: The Sunshine Bar inside the Solarium has a blender, and they know how to use it. Ask for a BBC (Bailey’s Banana Colada), then avoid the brain freeze by drinking it in one of the Solarium’s double hot tubs with a perfect forward view as the ship sails to its next port.
For tech lovers: Bionic Bar on Deck 5 is worth stopping by, even if only for a selfie. Most passengers just call it the "robot bar" because it features two robot bartenders that mix drinks via orders from passengers made on tablets. A digital display shows the wait times for drinks, who has ordered what and which ingredients go in each cocktail. It's a lot of fun to watch, but it's really more of a novelty.
If you wanna pretend you’re in Nashville or Austin: The eclectic décor inside the multi-story venue called The Music Hall transports you to your favorite music city. Add a live band on stage, a few couples on the dance floor and you might forget you’re even on a cruise ship. Oh, and you can shoot a game of pool in the back room -- on pool tables designed to level themselves on rough seas. Yes, really.
For the breakfast diva: We kind of loved the bar in the corner of Windjammer on the starboard side. It’s a great spot to snag a mimosa or to give your morning coffee a little kick before you join the hoards at the buffet stations.
There are three main pools, all on Deck 14 -- an outdoor pool, an indoor pool with a retractable roof and a third (tiered) pool in the adults-only Solarium. There are lots of lounge chairs for soaking up the sun, as well as comfy wicker chairs and couches, mostly in the shade. Near the main pool, you can grab a cool treat from two soft serve ice cream machines. Four hot tubs are available.
Toward the aft of the main pool deck area on Deck 14, you'll find the H2O Zone, dedicated to families with young children. It's not entirely separate; it's more an adjunct to the main pools, with a wave pool for youngsters (complete with various Madagascar figures, such as the Penguins and Gloria the hippo). Beside that, there's a little splash pool for babies.
On Quantum, the Solarium space is reserved for guests ages 16 and up. There are three tiers of pools spilling over into the next, with forward-facing ocean views. There are two double hot tubs and an air of serenity. The area has lounge chairs and comfy wicker beds and chairs. On sailings in Alaska, this is one of the most popular spots on the ship while it is underway, making it hard to get a seat.
What Quantum lacks in water slides, it makes up for in innovative features like iFly and North Star. Adrenaline junkies should head straight to the back of Deck 16 for iFly by RipCord, a skydiving simulator. It comes with an extra charge. You’ll need reservations for iFly, as it's incredibly popular. Don't be afraid though; it's really a blast to try out. (Be prepared for a little muscle soreness the next day; you'll find you probably clenched and worked muscles in new ways.) Nearby is the FlowRider surf simulator, as well as a rock-climbing wall.
One of the unique activities to try out is North Star, a jewel-shaped glass globe that rises 300 feet above sea level and provides 360-degree views from high above the ship. Appointments are needed for rides, which are free in port, but come at an extra cost any other time. You can reserve a time slot in person or on the Royal App.
If you want to grab some rays, head up to Deck 15. There, you'll find loungers surrounding the jogging track but little shade.
An exclusive sun deck for suite passengers is found on Deck 16, just forward of the SeaPlex's upper level.
Guest services is in a small, recessed area across from Boleros on Deck 4. A crew member is always nearby to help passengers with everything from reservations to disembarkation or statement questions. The Royal Esplanade is the place to shop, from high-end boutiques like Michael Kors and Bulgari to duty free liquor, it’s all here.
Wi-Fi through Voom is still among the fastest at sea; we had a strong signal in our cabin and throughout the ship using the premium Surf and Stream package. Package prices depend on how many devices you want to connect and are priced lower pre-cruise than onboard.
The Vitality Spa, found on Deck 15, is a peaceful respite on an otherwise busy ship. Decorated in natural tones of light browns and shades of purple, rose and cranberry, the spa has 22 treatment rooms, including two for couples. Before their chosen treatments, passengers wait in the relaxation room in plush armchairs; free water and tea are available. The spa offers a variety of massages, facials and body treatments, while the salon provides hairstyling, manicures and pedicures. Acupuncture, Medi-spa treatments and teeth whitening also are available. An 18 percent auto-gratuity is added to all treatments.
The spa's thermal suite is disappointingly small, with just six heated ceramic loungers, a steam sauna and a dry heat sauna. A limited number of day passes are available on any given day. Weekly passes also are sold. There are no free steam rooms or saunas in the changing areas.
Quantum of the Seas has one of the largest and best-equipped fitness facilities at sea. The variety of fitness equipment would make even land-based gyms jealous. Treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes are positioned window-side, so great views come standard. In addition to weight machines, free weights are available, including dumbbells (up to 90 pounds) and machines that use weight plates. A small stretching area is available, next to a spacious aerobics studio where classes take place. Spinning fans will love the cycling studio, designed for indoor cycling. All fitness classes are for a fee.
Passengers will find a two-lane jogging track on Deck 15. Wall paintings with inspirational quotes -- a la "it's only a crowd if you're in the back" -- encourage runners. Fewer than three laps make a mile (so you won't feel like you're running in circles), and signs around the deck indicate the starting line, as well as the 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer marks. It also includes a small incline (or decline, depending on your perspective) at the front of the ship, where the track goes by the spa.
Quantum of the Seas' family offerings are many and varied, as you would expect on a ship this size and from a line as family oriented as Royal Caribbean. For Alaska cruises it would be an ideal ship for families with children of all ages with its wide range of indoor activities for time spent at sea.
The hotspot for kids on Quantum is Adventure Ocean (AO), located across two floors on Decks 11 and 12, toward the front of the ship. Rooms on Deck 11 are dedicated to babies and toddlers, while space on Deck 12 is for older kids in the AO Junior program (potty trained 3 to 5-year-olds) and AO Kids (6 to 12-year-olds). Parents must sign kids in and out of AO.
The AO Junior space has a small library, a bank of TV screens for educational shows, and lots of tables and chairs for arts and crafts and board games. Kids don't stay in the room all day; there is a whole program of activities -- such as dressing up, scavenger hunts and doing cool science experiments (with lots of exploding volcanoes) -- that take place around the ship.
AO Kids provides a place for older kids ages 6-12. This age group gets to learn about space, the oceans and dinosaurs; paint and draw; take part in theater productions and sport competitions; dress up; and go on scavenger hunts. Activities may include backstage ship tours as well as movie nights, including popcorn. They also have their own line dancing and ice cream parties.
On Deck 11, you'll find three separate play areas for the littlest cruisers, including a nursery and an open play room with hosted play sessions and where parents and tots can play together.
Adventure Ocean Babies (AO Babies) is for ages 6 to 36 months and a fee may apply to some activities. AO Babies also has six strollers onboard, which can be borrowed on a first-come, first-served basis for free. They must be returned at the end of the day.
At the other end of the ship, on Decks 14 and 15, you'll find the teen (ages 12 to 17) facilities, which consist of two rooms: Living Room on Deck 14 and Fuel, the teen-only disco, on Deck 15.
Teens are allowed to come and go as they please in the Living Room -- no need to sign in or out -- and adult staff presence is limited. If it's a cruise during holiday time with a lot of teens, then staff will divide the group into 12- to 14-year-olds and 15- to 17-year-olds. Note that the cut-off age is 17. The ship has a curfew of 1 a.m. for those under 17.
The Living Room is a great space for tweens and teens. Chairs and beanbags are scattered about the room, surrounded by foosball, Xboxes and a widescreen TV for movies. A highlight is the cool hangout area by the windows where you can lie back side by side with a pal and watch the TV placed directly in front of you. Activities include age-appropriate scavenger hunts, trivia, game show-style competitions, painting, foosball tournaments and music video creation.
Staff are there to guide, suggest and organize, but only if your teens want to join in. If they just want to hang out and be moody or cool, they can do that, too. Directly above is Fuel, the teens-only disco.
* May require additional fees