Yes, let’s start with the ship herself. She is not a RCI ship in look or feel, she has the stunning class, style, décor and charisma of an X ship (namely the Solstice class). From the stylish two tier shopping area, to the soft furnishings, to the way the elevator lights changed colour to announce they had arrived at your floor, to no Bingo announcements, to the bathroom with the large shower, and the ladies leg shaving bar, to the balcony furniture with the footstool, to the covered solarium... I could go on and on but I think you get the picture. Now this is not a problem for me as I love Celebrity cruises and their ships, but people who have not done their research may have a bit of a shock. I know that Quantum herself is off to the far East but when Anthem sails out of the UK next year I suspect that the ‘tattoo and football shirt crowd’ who are used to the Independence in British waters may have a bit of a shock. Perhaps this design is a conscious effort by RCI to ‘up’ the brand and the clientele they attract. And the prices of the cruises of course as Anthem next year from Southampton is extortionate!
So to the crossing itself. On arrival at Southampton our luggage was quickly tagged with the new tracking bar code bag tags. I was disappointed to see that the peeled off bit was just dropped on the ground though – so at the end of the day there would be approximately 8000 pieces of peeled paper floating in the English wind! It took me about 30minutes from ‘kerb to ship’ so a long way short of the promised 10 minutes; but I was sensible enough to realise that a new ship would have a few ‘glitches’. Many people claimed it took them several hours to check in. I had downloaded the Royal IQ app but apparently I had no luggage registered. Would I spend 8 days with no change of clothes?? The check in process was slightly chaotic with the InterCruise staff standing with iPads so there were many wavy bending lines. A few weeks prior to the cruise the completed online check in details had been lost; of course those of us on CC were alerted to this and resubmitted the info; but many of course did not realise this which aggravated the delay.
On board after the initial WOW feeling and rushing around to take pictures to be posted on FaceBook before she sailed; the word spread that the enigmatic wine machines in the Vintages wine bar was dispensing free wine - Vintages has never been so busy! In fact they were free all week ( a fact I failed to notice!). Then all drinks were free at all bars until 9pm that night. This was the start of the extent of the effort that RCI went to; to keep us all ‘happy’. It has been posted that they gave us $300 per cabin in OBC which was refundable if you did not spend it; and a 25% FCC. They also refunded the internet packages, and all movies in the cabins were free for the duration too.