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We are back from a fantastic cruise on the Quantum of the Seas! This was cruise #23 for me. We've sailed on all the major lines before RCL, Celebrity, Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, Princess, MSC and HAL. We've also done an inaugural before on Oasis. I had hoped to start writing this review earlier but the day after we got back my check engine light came on. As I feared, it turned out to be my transmission. One of the few parts remaining that GM has not recalled/replaced on my Enclave. Grrrrrrrrr! At any rate, it’s been a chaotic & expensive return home. This was our annual girl’s trip. So my two daughters, 2 & 7, my mom and I left our DH’s behind and flew across the pond. Was the maiden voyage of Quantum a flawless sailing? No way! There were lots of little things that didn’t go according to plan. Some were RCL’s fault, some were not. However, I applaud Royal for daring to elevate cruising to another level again and again. The things that happened were irritations, not large enough to ruin my cruise. Nor would I be dissuaded from taking another maiden voyage in the future. Once the kinks are worked out Quantum will definitely be a ship to contend with. Pre-cruise We flew in 4 days early for a pre-cruise stay in London. None of us had ever been to London before and we wanted to see as much as possible. We landed at London Heathrow and took the Underground to the hotel. It took nearly two hours from the time we departed the airport to arrive at the hotel. We booked Park Plaza County Hall London. A nice hotel, excellent service, however, a bit overpriced IMO. The location was great adjacent to the Waterloo station, near 2 HO HO stops. Stores, restaurants and Big Ben/Houses of Parliament are within walking distance. The hotel treats kids like royalty. This was one of the main reasons I choose this facility over the nicer, sister property next door, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge. PP County Hall had daily activities, movies, pizza making etc. for the kids. Delivered them candy treats at bed time. They also gave out Park Plaza bucks – hotel dollars that kids could redeem for ice cream, juice, popcorn and other treats. We did sooo much sightseeing. We started really early in the morning and went late into the evening. Unfortunately we kept missing the timeframe to redeem the PP bucks. I told the hotel manager and he prepared huge treat boxes for each of my girls. The hotel also has laundry facilities for its guests to use. This helped reduce the amount of clothing we had to bring. Several times we had to ask for additional hand towels, maid service was at our door before we even got off the phone. As I said…..excellent service. London was awesome! We used the HOHO to get around while we were there. We went to the Tower Bridge, passed Traflgar square, the Marble Arches, Tower of London, The Shard, London Bridge and a few other places. We went to Buckingham Palace and watched the Changing of the Guards. I heard so many times that the Changing of the Guard was a waste of time. We didn’t think so. After all it is a quintessential London thing to do. Just like the fish and chips we had. We spent time at Oxford Circus doing a little shopping. We stopped by Hamley’s, the worlds’ oldest toy store. It’s probably one of the largest too. This is a kid fantasy land. There are seven stories of toys and games, many of which are on display for them to touch and play with. I literally had to extract my kids once it was time to leave. We could have stayed there at least half of a day if I had let them. The toys were pricey though. I felt sure I could have bought some of that stuff far cheaper on Amazon. We also took a day trip to Paris while were there. At an unearthly hour of the morning we went to St. Pancreas and took the first train to Paris. I hadn’t been to Paris in about 20 years so it was great to be there again. We used the HO HO there as well and drove by the Louvre, Notre Dame, Arc D Triumphe, and the River Seine. We chose to spend our time primarily at the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to have tea party there with my girls on the front lawn. Which we did. Afterwards, we went to Musee de Branly. This is more African/Asian art and sculpture. I think this is such an underrated museum. I really enjoyed it. Glad I choose this one over the more popular Louvre. Afterwards, we had time to grab a couple of souvenirs and it was time to make our return to Gare De Nord train station. Is it possible to see all of Paris in a day…no. That wasn’t our goal though. I wanted to take my girls to the Eiffel Tower and give my mom an overview of the city. That was very doable in one day. Southhampton – The next day it was time to make our trip to Southhampton. We booked an excursion through International Friends/The London Toolkit. We were picked up at our hotel promptly at 7:30am. We stopped by several other hotels and the airport to pick up other passengers. Then we stopped for a restroom/coffee break. Finally we were off to Stonehenge. I can see why Stonehenge is one of the “Wonders of the World”. Well worth a visit there. Of course you can’t climb/touch the stones but you can circle it 360 degrees. We spent about an hour and a half there and then we continued on to Southhampton. We also drove through the town of Salisbury. About an hour later we arrived at the cruise ship terminal were most passengers got off. There were several Quantum cruisers on the tour with us and the bus driver agreed to drop the rest of us at our hotels. We booked the Novotel Southhampton because the Holiday Inn was booked solid. The Holiday Inn is literally at the gate of the cruise ship terminal. It doesn’t get any closer than that. However, where we stayed was still very close. I loved the location. We were next door to McDonalds and TGI Fridays, a drug store, shopping mall and a shopping center. It was easy to pick up the last minute cruising items we needed and kill a pre-cruise evening. When I woke up the next morning I could see the Quantum from our hotel room window. The taxi queues were about 45 min to an hour wait. So we decided to walk to the cruise ship terminal. It was a challenge though, only because we had a lot of luggage to manage. We were so excited though that FINALLY Quantum was only minutes away. Embarkation- One hot mess! This was definitely the most chaotic embarkation ever for us. We arrived at the pier around 12:30. We walked right up to the luggage check in area. We had to get new luggage tags because we were upgraded at the last minute (wooohoooo). This process took only a few minutes. Then we walked over to a little old lady who separated us into different lines to go through security. This is where the fun began. We stood for about 15 minutes because they had paused security screenings. Apparently the line on the other side was so backed up they couldn’t let anyone else through. Once the security screening resumed we were through in about 5 minutes. That was pretty uneventful. Next, it was off to the traditional check- in lines. I thought we didn’t have to do this anymore if you completed everything online and uploaded the photos? Nope, the only part that appeared different was that they had regular lines to stand in and they had staff members randomly scattered throughout the room with tablets. The tablet lines were shorter. We walked up to a tablet toting, staff member and he checked us in. He retook 2 of the photos we uploaded and checked our passports. He asked us whether we had traveled to Africa (Ebola screening) and whether we had signs of illness (norovirus screening).  Then he told us we could board. Great….but we were sent to another line. No one seemed to have a clue what was going on. Some people got boarding numbers, some people didn’t. Some people were sitting (unnecessarily) waiting for their boarding numbers to be called. Some were lumped together outside the door. We were in the line outside the door which turned out to be the correct one. We took our embarkation photo. Then it was off to another line. Apparently the gangplank had too many people and we had to be held there for a few minutes. Once we got on the ship security stopped us to take our photos. Why?? Why oh why did I go through the trouble of uploading photos pre-cruise only to have more taken? Really? I’m thinking it took about an hour or so to board. This wouldn’t have been a bad if my expectations weren’t set for the 10-15 minutes from arrival to the ship that they boasted about. In Royals defense, I think it was so messy in part due to the disregard of embarkation times. We were late and missed ours. A few people I spoke with didn’t even realize they had been given embarkation times. So it did seem like everyone chose to arrive at the pier at the same time. That said there was definitely room for improvement here. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ship- Fortunately the chaos was quickly forgotten as soon as I set foot on the vessel. Finally after over a year of waiting we are on the Quantum! She is beautiful. Muted and modern, you can tell that attention was paid to even the smallest of details. There were a few visible signs of things under construction, a pile of stuff under a tarp next to the indoor pool. Some machinery in a corner here and there, for the most part though she is finished. Cabin- We booked an ocean view cabin originally, however, there was a huge price drop a couple of months before sailing that was irresistible to me. So we downgraded to a category Z inside guarantee. Imagine our huge surprise when a few weeks before sailing we were upgraded to category D balcony (9124). Huge upgrade….. thanks RCL! Of course cabins were ready when we boarded. We did go straight to our cabin to set our stuff down. As we had heard, there was one sailing card on the outside of the door. Wow bands and remaining cards were inside. I didn’t use the app to track my luggage. I couldn’t even find the app in the app store to download to my Android. Nevertheless half of our luggage arrived about 2 hours after we boarded. The other half came during dinner. I was impressed with all of the storage/cubbies and overhead bins. There was definitely ample room to put all of our stuff away, including the kid clutter. We were able to stuff the stroller between the dresser and the balcony door. I liked the cabin layout which felt more spacious even though I’m not sure it was actually any larger than the cabins we normally have. I loved the child safety lock on the balcony door. Due to safety concerns, I typically avoid balcony cabins when I am sailing with my kids but RCL thought of me. You could simply pull to engage and even my seven year old couldn’t reach it. The front door was another story though. My 2yr old could easily turn the door and pull it open by herself. The fridge still had the directions in it (ahhh the new ship thrill). It was empty, hadn’t been stocked yet. This was great because there was plenty of space to stow the water, juice and soda we brought onboard. The mini safes were fine, however, they may want to make them larger. Since they are encouraging everyone to bring their technology onboard, a safe large enough to stow your laptop would have been great. The directions to the safe left out the part where you should hit the star key first. The directions just said the number and then the pound sign. We were told that the safes automatically lock down after an incorrect entry to protect from people trying to figure out the combination. The only problem with this…it is easy to do this on accident. There were so many calls from others who were locked out of their safe that we waited a day and half for a locksmith. (Another irritation ) Wow Bands- Thumbs up to the wow bands…free . Prior to sailing I thought this was a solution to a problem that no one had. However, once I used them I thought they were great. It was really great to not need a lanyard/pouch or anything. It was also really great to be able to swipe the band to pay for items in stores, drinks, photos etc. Kids Club Kid’s Club was a positive experience overall. There were 150 kids on our sailing. Royal Babies and Tots was a disappointment. They were not functioning yet. They had 3 events scheduled each day but the room wasn't completed and you must stay with the tots/infants. No sitters were available for this sailing from what I was told. The toy check out wasn't available yet either. The toys didn't arrive in Southhampton as scheduled. There is an awesome play area that is open for all ages. It is unsupervised play space, so parents must stay. Brilliant idea! Basically consists of a climbing structure, sliding board, toys and mats. Both of my girls have really enjoyed playing here. It is open 24/7. My 7 year old was in the Explorers group (There were only 12 kids who signed up). They combined ages 6-11yrs for this sailing. DD really had fun. Several times she didn't want to leave when I came to pick her up. Even though there weren't a lot of kids they still kept them busy. The Science lab wasn't open yet and the room that is for the 9-11yrs is being used for media and electronics equipment. The staff has been wonderful despite all the hiccups. Another great advantage of the Wow band, I could swipe it to pick my kid up. No more signing in and out. My photo pops up in the tablet of the counselor. They can instantly tell if I am who I say I am. You can also add the photos of additional people who are authorized to pick up your kids. AWESOME safety feature! Another new thing with the kids program is the addition of more family activities to the schedule. Twice a day there was an activity in the kids club that you could come and do with your children (all ages together). One day we made bracelets/necklaces of beads, we sculpted pottery (my priceless work of art was left behind as an example to show future cruisers stop by and visit my masterpiece.) we painted, there were egg races, family scavenger hunts etc. It was great to have activities that we could do as a family. I do have copies of the kids’ activities schedule I will try to scan them later. They said that for the next sailing all of the facilities are supposed to be ready. I'm not certain I believe that though. At any rate, there is still tons of stuff for the kids to do. Weather- We were in for it this cruise. The first few days we tossed and turned so much that many were seasick. I was puking again like I had morning sickness. I know TMI. I haven’t gotten sick since my first cruise so I was very surprised that the motion was as bad as it was. I wonder if it was just the weather or were transatlantics always this rough. Once the sea stabilized, we had a few days of mild weather upper 60’s or so. Then we were back to being tossed around again. We were on Deck 9. There was one day when looked out the window and saw swells of water so large it looked like a wall of water. Definitely worse seas than I have experienced on any of my cruises. Food- Overall, I think food quality improved a notch with this class. Typically I find cruise desserts to look really nice and taste really bland. Not so this cruise. There were quite a few desserts that appealed to my non-chocolate eating self. I think I ate a few dozen cookies they were AWESOME. Fresh baked in the Windjammer. I found myself wondering whether I stumbled into Subway. Did they stash Otis Spunkmeyer onboard somewhere? There were different, delicious, flavors every day. I really liked Dynamic Dining. Changing food types was nice. If I had any complaint at all it was the length of time between courses. Since wait staff have many tables who are on different courses. Sometimes I felt like we were forgotten about as they moved on to whomever had just been sat. There were several days where we made reservations (pre-cruise) but there were others were we just showed up waited 5-10 minutes and were seated. The frustration came with Wonderland. I wanted to book (pre-cruise) it the first night however, the only time left was 9pm, didn’t want to eat that late. I thought once we boarded there might be additional times available, but when we went by they said they were out of slots before the ship set sail. Book early if you want to be sure of getting a place. I spoke with someone who said that additional slots were available in your cabin if you booked by TV. I didn’t think to try that. Note to parents- most of these places did NOT have kid’s meals. You had to order from the adult menu. Even a few that did have a “kids menu”, in actuality it was just a few items from the adult menu. For the parents of a finicky child …be warned. Also some of the menus had changed from what RCL said on their website. I was disappointed to find a few items that I was eager to try pre-cruise, absent from the final menu. Chic was good. So was the service. We walked up with no reservation and were sat within 10 minutes. We had the Baby Lettuce Salad, Catalan Shrimp, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Grilled Lamb T Bone, Pan Roasted Australian Barramundi. I remember enjoying my crab cake and the salad but the rest is a blur. American Icon Grill- The most disappointing. I wanted to try this place more than any of the others. The menu was most appealing but the food taste was the least appealing. I was raised a southern girl. If you put greens, macaroni and cheese and fried chicken on your menu, you better come with it…..they didn’t. We went back a second time at lunch hoping it would be better but it wasn’t. The Grande- It was good, but once was enough. They do have lobster on the menu though. Solarium Bistro- We ate here one day for lunch. Good. We got to meet Celebrity chef Devin in the flesh. She was out mingling with her guests. If you have eaten at Seasons 52 before you know this concept. They have great tasting meals under 500 calories. Desserts –tiny portions that are less than 150 cal. Salad dressing was phenomenal. She said they made it from scratch. Free to eat here for lunch, fee for dinner. Silk was our favorite of the free restaurants. We ate there twice because we liked it so much. We loved the couples that were seated next to us. Great ambience, great service, didn’t wait as long between courses. Seaplex hotdogs –Lots of different style hot dogs but it was just so-so. Café 270 –Ate here for lunch one day. Love the salad station-(Think Doc Greens) choose your greens/and your toppings and dressing and they mix it. There were sandwiches hot/cold and soups also. It was hard to find seating here though, many watching the cast rehearse, reading etc. Johnny Rockets – Same as the others. There are great milkshakes and good burgers. Jamie’s Italian was really good. We ate there for lunch. The lunch menu is the same as the dinner menu with the exception of 2 extra pasta dishes. It’s $15 pp for lunch, my 7yr old was charged $8. Under 3yrs is free. This is one of the few restaurants that had a true kid’s meal. The kid’s meal is given to them in a viewfinder. So they have the toy to play with the entire time and can see pictures of the dinner options to choose from. Micheal’s Genuine Pub – The food is a la carte. I had a midnight snack here one night. The menu is a la carte. I had some really good chili & lime wings. Windjammer- Thumbs down to the Vitality drinks. The juice/lemonade alternative for this cruise was not good. So glad I bought juice and soda on board. There were great fruit smoothies available near the pancakes at breakfast. Lots of different food stations so crowds were never really a problem. They had the typical Windjammer variety. Did I mention the awesome cookies? You MUST eat some! Entertainment- RCL raised their game with the entertainment. Starwater was awesome! It was visually stunning. The best show I’ve seen at sea hands down. A little bit of Cirque, which we loved. Loved the background changes on the screen, loved the interaction with all the technology. Come early to get a good seat. The robotic arms that changed were awesome. This is a must see. We went to see it twice. My 7 yr old and 2 yr old were captivated the entire time. Mama Mia- So sad we didn’t get to see this. Everyone I spoke with had very favorable things to say. The day we were scheduled to see it, it was cancelled due to the weather. The next day it showed it conflicted with other things we had planned. So we missed it. I fly- I LOVE I fly! I took my first flight in Orlando earlier this year and I couldn’t wait to get another chance to do this. If you have ever been to an Ifly location it operates the exact same way. The first 1 minute flight per person is free (3yrs and up). Additional flights$49pp I let my 7yr old fly too. The look of sheer joy on her face was something I will not soon forget. She loved it more than I did. Definitely don’t miss your chance to do this. I did sign up the day before. They said they took walk ups but only if there was space available. Roller skating is for ages 3 years and up. There was no cost. You must wear helmets. Knee pads/elbow pads are optional. Skating at times was quite a challenge. Especially until you get use to compensating for the motion of the ship. We watched quite a few collisions. I heard there were a few broken arms and other minor injuries during the cruise. I’m not surprised. When the ship rocked, you were tilted to whatever side the ship was. Stopping was difficult due to the extra momentum. Roller skating was offered once a day but the times changed. Typically they were 2-3 hour sessions. You can skate for as long as you want provided they don’t run out of skates for other guests. Then they will ask you give up your skates if you have been skating awhile. I didn’t see or hear of that happening during our cruise. Bumper cars There is no sign up necessary. Sometimes the wait times were about 30 minutes or so. Ages 8+ could ride alone in the bumper car. Ages 3- 8, minimum of 42” could ride with a parent. Under age 3 couldn’t ride at all. This was great fun. They will have to figure out the battery situation though. In the beginning there were 10-12 cars operating. Then the cars would die off one by one until there were only 3-4 cars able to operate. We always went right at the start time when the maximum number of cars were available. Circus school/Trapeze school. This is not a school at all. It’s just a chance to swing from a trapeze. I believe this was offered daily between 9-11am. This is lots of fun, but a bit scary climbing the very tall, wobbly, ladder. I think we waited about an hour. Don’t go right before closing. They usually have to cut the line early to make sure everyone gets a chance. No sign ups for this. First come first served. Minimum age is 6yrs old. The maximum weight is about 220lbs. He said that they may have to adjust it downward. It seemed to be an approximation. North Star – This was probably the biggest aggravation for me. I never did get to ride. We passed it several times and there was always a long wait. Wait times averaged about 2 hours. I did hear of guests who waited as long as 4 hours to ride. I thought this was ridiculous. I refused to waste so much of my precious vacation time waiting in line. The one time I caught the line when it wasn’t too long of a wait. 30 minutes into waiting a thunderstorm came and they shut it down. I couldn’t believe that they didn’t go to a sign-up system after the first day of long waits. I spoke with one couple who got stuck in the North Star. They were up there about 45 minutes and had to have the machine cranked down manually. I did hear rave reviews from the people who were actually patient enough to wait. Bionic Bar - So cool! I watched many drinks as they were made. I even created my own non-alcoholic drink out of a combination of juices. Someone asked how the machine knew you were of legal drinking age….Wow band or sail and sign has your age information encoded in it. They spent a lot of time trying to get the robots working properly so it was frequently down. However, when it was up they gave away free drinks so that the robots could practice. It was definitely worth a trip there to watch this. There was always a crowd here. Kids Water Play area/Wave Pool – This is great fun for the little ones. Only for the potty trained. Yes, the weather was chilly. I think our warmest day only touched 70 degrees, however, my kids would not have allowed us to debark without a chance test the wave pool. Kids Indoor Pool- So glad there is an indoor pool for kids on this vessel. My kids spent a lot of time here. I was a bit surprised that we were always the only ones. Again, only for the potty trained. The water was about 1ft deep. One big plus the hot tubs are adjacent to the kid pool. Mom and Dad can safely soak and watch while the kids play. The Gym- I did get to exercise a few times while I was on Quantum. There were a lot of treadmills. It was never very crowded when I used the gym. I saw an area for spin classes. There was also a sunken area for yoga and other classes. There were plenty of free weights and other equipment. The Zumba classes seemed pretty popular another thing I never got to. Photo gallery- The Wow band was a great feature here too. The photographers swipe your band before they take your photo. Just swipe the computer screen and all your pictures pop up. You can purchase prints or digital negatives for $20 each. There were packages available. It was great to have the option of purchasing the negatives. I bought a few negatives. When I got home and played the CD there were thumbnails of all the photos that were taken the entire cruise. The photos I purchased were unlocked but there was the option of purchasing additional, locked photos that I hadn’t gotten. This was another very nice touch. Casino- I did get to the Casino once while we were on Quantum. It was your typical casino. I did notice a TON of smoking though. I do wish at least one side could be smoke free. Pricey Internet packages- They were reluctant to give out any pricing, when I went on I could see why. Discount coupons varied I guess based on whether you are gold, platinum etc. I’m platinum, had a 15% of coupon so the prices (before the coupon is applied is a follows) $225.95 unlimited the entire cruise for 2 devices @ a time. $189 unlimited the entire cruise for 1 device @ a time. The daily plan 55.95 for 24 hrs of continuous usage 1 device at a time. Then there was the $29.95 1hr plan 60 minutes could be used throughout the entire cruise (1 device). I had issues with the internet with the first package I bought. (Another irritation) I went to the service desk to complain and they refunded my money. I was also advised to try and Skype in the middle of the night (yes, that is what she said) if I wanted to get through. For all the hoopla about the improved internet…..we didn’t see it. RCL apologized profusely and the rest of the week any internet package I purchased was free. I was able to Skype but I got a better connection in the middle of the night. Cruise critic party-It’s always great to meet the people you have corresponded with. The Meet and Mingle was the largest ever I think, close to 400 registered. We did get some freebies and got to meet a lot of RCL corporate and Cruise Critic staff. The Cabin Crawl was awesome. I finally got to see a gorgeous Loft suite. The Virtual Balcony cabin was really cool too. Movies- There were free movies on demand in your stateroom. -22 Jump street, A Most Wanted Man, America, Begin Again, Blended, Blue Ruin, Canopy, Captain America, Deliver us from evil, Think Like a Man Too, Dinosaur 13, Bear, Draft Day, Earth to Echo, Godzilla,Edge of Tommorow,Life After Beth, Life of Crime, Maleficient, Mom’s Night out, Obvious Child,Rage, Reclaim Take What’s Yours, Repentance, School Dance, Sex Tape, Short Term 12, Snow piercer, Step Up All In, Supermensch, Tammy, Teenage, The Amazing Spider Man 2 The Dog, The Expendables 3, The Fruit hunters, Immigrant, Racing Adventure, The Purge Anarchy, The Rover , We are the Best,Whitewash,Under the Electric Sky, A fighting Man,A Million Ways to Die in the West Debarkation- This was far more orderly than embarkation. There were super long lines to get off the ship. I was glad we had booked the RCL transfer to the airport. They walked us straight off the ship. We still had to wait in a long line for customs but that was much better than the lines to debark. Post cruise Manhattan tour/airport transfer. I would guess this tour lasted about 3-4 hours. We did just get the highlights of Manhattan. I was disappointed we didn’t get to stop anywhere for souvenirs. We stopped twice for a restroom break at the NBC building and a park that had a great view of the statue of liberty. We drove by many of Manhattans best attractions, 911 memorial, Madison Square Gardens, Central Park, Trump Plaza, 5th Avenue, The stock exchange, Soho and we passed near the Empire State Bldg. I wished we would have had more time in NY. Whew! I think I have just about covered everything we did. It was a really great cruise. Despite the seasickness, I’d sail again tomorrow if I had the chance.

Balanced Review of Quantum's Maiden Voyage 11/2-11/10/2014

Quantum of the Seas Cruise Review by queenL

Trip Details
We are back from a fantastic cruise on the Quantum of the Seas! This was cruise #23 for me. We've sailed on all the major lines before RCL, Celebrity, Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, Princess, MSC and HAL. We've also done an inaugural before on Oasis. I had hoped to start writing this review earlier but the day after we got back my check engine light came on. As I feared, it turned out to be my transmission. One of the few parts remaining that GM has not recalled/replaced on my Enclave. Grrrrrrrrr! At any rate, it’s been a chaotic & expensive return home.
This was our annual girl’s trip. So my two daughters, 2 & 7, my mom and I left our DH’s behind and flew across the pond. Was the maiden voyage of Quantum a flawless sailing? No way! There were lots of little things that didn’t go according to plan. Some were RCL’s fault, some were not. However, I applaud Royal for daring to elevate cruising to another level again and again. The things that happened were irritations, not large enough to ruin my cruise. Nor would I be dissuaded from taking another maiden voyage in the future. Once the kinks are worked out Quantum will definitely be a ship to contend with.
Pre-cruise
We flew in 4 days early for a pre-cruise stay in London. None of us had ever been to London before and we wanted to see as much as possible. We landed at London Heathrow and took the Underground to the hotel. It took nearly two hours from the time we departed the airport to arrive at the hotel. We booked Park Plaza County Hall London. A nice hotel, excellent service, however, a bit overpriced IMO. The location was great adjacent to the Waterloo station, near 2 HO HO stops. Stores, restaurants and Big Ben/Houses of Parliament are within walking distance. The hotel treats kids like royalty. This was one of the main reasons I choose this facility over the nicer, sister property next door, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge. PP County Hall had daily activities, movies, pizza making etc. for the kids. Delivered them candy treats at bed time. They also gave out Park Plaza bucks – hotel dollars that kids could redeem for ice cream, juice, popcorn and other treats. We did sooo much sightseeing. We started really early in the morning and went late into the evening. Unfortunately we kept missing the timeframe to redeem the PP bucks. I told the hotel manager and he prepared huge treat boxes for each of my girls. The hotel also has laundry facilities for its guests to use. This helped reduce the amount of clothing we had to bring. Several times we had to ask for additional hand towels, maid service was at our door before we even got off the phone. As I said…..excellent service.
London was awesome! We used the HOHO to get around while we were there. We went to the Tower Bridge, passed Traflgar square, the Marble Arches, Tower of London, The Shard, London Bridge and a few other places. We went to Buckingham Palace and watched the Changing of the Guards. I heard so many times that the Changing of the Guard was a waste of time. We didn’t think so. After all it is a quintessential London thing to do. Just like the fish and chips we had. We spent time at Oxford Circus doing a little shopping. We stopped by Hamley’s, the worlds’ oldest toy store. It’s probably one of the largest too. This is a kid fantasy land. There are seven stories of toys and games, many of which are on display for them to touch and play with. I literally had to extract my kids once it was time to leave. We could have stayed there at least half of a day if I had let them. The toys were pricey though. I felt sure I could have bought some of that stuff far cheaper on Amazon.
We also took a day trip to Paris while were there. At an unearthly hour of the morning we went to St. Pancreas and took the first train to Paris. I hadn’t been to Paris in about 20 years so it was great to be there again. We used the HO HO there as well and drove by the Louvre, Notre Dame, Arc D Triumphe, and the River Seine. We chose to spend our time primarily at the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to have tea party there with my girls on the front lawn. Which we did. Afterwards, we went to Musee de Branly. This is more African/Asian art and sculpture. I think this is such an underrated museum. I really enjoyed it. Glad I choose this one over the more popular Louvre. Afterwards, we had time to grab a couple of souvenirs and it was time to make our return to Gare De Nord train station. Is it possible to see all of Paris in a day…no. That wasn’t our goal though. I wanted to take my girls to the Eiffel Tower and give my mom an overview of the city. That was very doable in one day.
Southhampton –
The next day it was time to make our trip to Southhampton. We booked an excursion through International Friends/The London Toolkit. We were picked up at our hotel promptly at 7:30am. We stopped by several other hotels and the airport to pick up other passengers. Then we stopped for a restroom/coffee break. Finally we were off to Stonehenge. I can see why Stonehenge is one of the “Wonders of the World”. Well worth a visit there. Of course you can’t climb/touch the stones but you can circle it 360 degrees. We spent about an hour and a half there and then we continued on to Southhampton. We also drove through the town of Salisbury. About an hour later we arrived at the cruise ship terminal were most passengers got off. There were several Quantum cruisers on the tour with us and the bus driver agreed to drop the rest of us at our hotels.
We booked the Novotel Southhampton because the Holiday Inn was booked solid. The Holiday Inn is literally at the gate of the cruise ship terminal. It doesn’t get any closer than that. However, where we stayed was still very close. I loved the location. We were next door to McDonalds and TGI Fridays, a drug store, shopping mall and a shopping center. It was easy to pick up the last minute cruising items we needed and kill a pre-cruise evening. When I woke up the next morning I could see the Quantum from our hotel room window. The taxi queues were about 45 min to an hour wait. So we decided to walk to the cruise ship terminal. It was a challenge though, only because we had a lot of luggage to manage. We were so excited though that FINALLY Quantum was only minutes away.
Embarkation-
One hot mess! This was definitely the most chaotic embarkation ever for us. We arrived at the pier around 12:30. We walked right up to the luggage check in area. We had to get new luggage tags because we were upgraded at the last minute (wooohoooo). This process took only a few minutes. Then we walked over to a little old lady who separated us into different lines to go through security. This is where the fun began. We stood for about 15 minutes because they had paused security screenings. Apparently the line on the other side was so backed up they couldn’t let anyone else through. Once the security screening resumed we were through in about 5 minutes. That was pretty uneventful. Next, it was off to the traditional check- in lines. I thought we didn’t have to do this anymore if you completed everything online and uploaded the photos? Nope, the only part that appeared different was that they had regular lines to stand in and they had staff members randomly scattered throughout the room with tablets. The tablet lines were shorter. We walked up to a tablet toting, staff member and he checked us in. He retook 2 of the photos we uploaded and checked our passports. He asked us whether we had traveled to Africa (Ebola screening) and whether we had signs of illness (norovirus screening).  Then he told us we could board. Great….but we were sent to another line. No one seemed to have a clue what was going on. Some people got boarding numbers, some people didn’t. Some people were sitting (unnecessarily) waiting for their boarding numbers to be called. Some were lumped together outside the door. We were in the line outside the door which turned out to be the correct one. We took our embarkation photo. Then it was off to another line. Apparently the gangplank had too many people and we had to be held there for a few minutes. Once we got on the ship security stopped us to take our photos. Why?? Why oh why did I go through the trouble of uploading photos pre-cruise only to have more taken? Really? I’m thinking it took about an hour or so to board. This wouldn’t have been a bad if my expectations weren’t set for the 10-15 minutes from arrival to the ship that they boasted about. In Royals defense, I think it was so messy in part due to the disregard of embarkation times. We were late and missed ours. A few people I spoke with didn’t even realize they had been given embarkation times. So it did seem like everyone chose to arrive at the pier at the same time. That said there was definitely room for improvement here.
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Ship-
Fortunately the chaos was quickly forgotten as soon as I set foot on the vessel. Finally after over a year of waiting we are on the Quantum! She is beautiful. Muted and modern, you can tell that attention was paid to even the smallest of details. There were a few visible signs of things under construction, a pile of stuff under a tarp next to the indoor pool. Some machinery in a corner here and there, for the most part though she is finished.
Cabin-
We booked an ocean view cabin originally, however, there was a huge price drop a couple of months before sailing that was irresistible to me. So we downgraded to a category Z inside guarantee. Imagine our huge surprise when a few weeks before sailing we were upgraded to category D balcony (9124). Huge upgrade….. thanks RCL!
Of course cabins were ready when we boarded. We did go straight to our cabin to set our stuff down. As we had heard, there was one sailing card on the outside of the door. Wow bands and remaining cards were inside. I didn’t use the app to track my luggage. I couldn’t even find the app in the app store to download to my Android. Nevertheless half of our luggage arrived about 2 hours after we boarded. The other half came during dinner.
I was impressed with all of the storage/cubbies and overhead bins. There was definitely ample room to put all of our stuff away, including the kid clutter. We were able to stuff the stroller between the dresser and the balcony door. I liked the cabin layout which felt more spacious even though I’m not sure it was actually any larger than the cabins we normally have.
I loved the child safety lock on the balcony door. Due to safety concerns, I typically avoid balcony cabins when I am sailing with my kids but RCL thought of me. You could simply pull to engage and even my seven year old couldn’t reach it. The front door was another story though. My 2yr old could easily turn the door and pull it open by herself. The fridge still had the directions in it (ahhh the new ship thrill). It was empty, hadn’t been stocked yet. This was great because there was plenty of space to stow the water, juice and soda we brought onboard.
The mini safes were fine, however, they may want to make them larger. Since they are encouraging everyone to bring their technology onboard, a safe large enough to stow your laptop would have been great. The directions to the safe left out the part where you should hit the star key first. The directions just said the number and then the pound sign. We were told that the safes automatically lock down after an incorrect entry to protect from people trying to figure out the combination. The only problem with this…it is easy to do this on accident. There were so many calls from others who were locked out of their safe that we waited a day and half for a locksmith. (Another irritation )
Wow Bands-
Thumbs up to the wow bands…free . Prior to sailing I thought this was a solution to a problem that no one had. However, once I used them I thought they were great. It was really great to not need a lanyard/pouch or anything. It was also really great to be able to swipe the band to pay for items in stores, drinks, photos etc.
Kids Club
Kid’s Club was a positive experience overall. There were 150 kids on our sailing. Royal Babies and Tots was a disappointment. They were not functioning yet. They had 3 events scheduled each day but the room wasn't completed and you must stay with the tots/infants. No sitters were available for this sailing from what I was told. The toy check out wasn't available yet either. The toys didn't arrive in Southhampton as scheduled. There is an awesome play area that is open for all ages. It is unsupervised play space, so parents must stay. Brilliant idea! Basically consists of a climbing structure, sliding board, toys and mats. Both of my girls have really enjoyed playing here. It is open 24/7.
My 7 year old was in the Explorers group (There were only 12 kids who signed up). They combined ages 6-11yrs for this sailing. DD really had fun. Several times she didn't want to leave when I came to pick her up. Even though there weren't a lot of kids they still kept them busy. The Science lab wasn't open yet and the room that is for the 9-11yrs is being used for media and electronics equipment. The staff has been wonderful despite all the hiccups. Another great advantage of the Wow band, I could swipe it to pick my kid up. No more signing in and out. My photo pops up in the tablet of the counselor. They can instantly tell if I am who I say I am. You can also add the photos of additional people who are authorized to pick up your kids. AWESOME safety feature! Another new thing with the kids program is the addition of more family activities to the schedule. Twice a day there was an activity in the kids club that you could come and do with your children (all ages together). One day we made bracelets/necklaces of beads, we sculpted pottery (my priceless work of art was left behind as an example to show future cruisers stop by and visit my masterpiece.) we painted, there were egg races, family scavenger hunts etc. It was great to have activities that we could do as a family. I do have copies of the kids’ activities schedule I will try to scan them later. They said that for the next sailing all of the facilities are supposed to be ready. I'm not certain I believe that though. At any rate, there is still tons of stuff for the kids to do.
Weather-
We were in for it this cruise. The first few days we tossed and turned so much that many were seasick. I was puking again like I had morning sickness. I know TMI. I haven’t gotten sick since my first cruise so I was very surprised that the motion was as bad as it was. I wonder if it was just the weather or were transatlantics always this rough. Once the sea stabilized, we had a few days of mild weather upper 60’s or so. Then we were back to being tossed around again. We were on Deck 9. There was one day when looked out the window and saw swells of water so large it looked like a wall of water. Definitely worse seas than I have experienced on any of my cruises.
Food-
Overall, I think food quality improved a notch with this class. Typically I find cruise desserts to look really nice and taste really bland. Not so this cruise. There were quite a few desserts that appealed to my non-chocolate eating self. I think I ate a few dozen cookies they were AWESOME. Fresh baked in the Windjammer. I found myself wondering whether I stumbled into Subway. Did they stash Otis Spunkmeyer onboard somewhere? There were different, delicious, flavors every day.
I really liked Dynamic Dining. Changing food types was nice. If I had any complaint at all it was the length of time between courses. Since wait staff have many tables who are on different courses. Sometimes I felt like we were forgotten about as they moved on to whomever had just been sat. There were several days where we made reservations (pre-cruise) but there were others were we just showed up waited 5-10 minutes and were seated. The frustration came with Wonderland. I wanted to book (pre-cruise) it the first night however, the only time left was 9pm, didn’t want to eat that late. I thought once we boarded there might be additional times available, but when we went by they said they were out of slots before the ship set sail. Book early if you want to be sure of getting a place. I spoke with someone who said that additional slots were available in your cabin if you booked by TV. I didn’t think to try that.
Note to parents- most of these places did NOT have kid’s meals. You had to order from the adult menu. Even a few that did have a “kids menu”, in actuality it was just a few items from the adult menu. For the parents of a finicky child …be warned. Also some of the menus had changed from what RCL said on their website. I was disappointed to find a few items that I was eager to try pre-cruise, absent from the final menu.
Chic was good. So was the service. We walked up with no reservation and were sat within 10 minutes. We had the Baby Lettuce Salad, Catalan Shrimp, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Grilled Lamb T Bone, Pan Roasted Australian Barramundi. I remember enjoying my crab cake and the salad but the rest is a blur.
American Icon Grill- The most disappointing. I wanted to try this place more than any of the others. The menu was most appealing but the food taste was the least appealing. I was raised a southern girl. If you put greens, macaroni and cheese and fried chicken on your menu, you better come with it…..they didn’t. We went back a second time at lunch hoping it would be better but it wasn’t.
The Grande- It was good, but once was enough. They do have lobster on the menu though.
Solarium Bistro- We ate here one day for lunch. Good. We got to meet Celebrity chef Devin in the flesh. She was out mingling with her guests. If you have eaten at Seasons 52 before you know this concept. They have great tasting meals under 500 calories. Desserts –tiny portions that are less than 150 cal. Salad dressing was phenomenal. She said they made it from scratch. Free to eat here for lunch, fee for dinner.
Silk was our favorite of the free restaurants. We ate there twice because we liked it so much. We loved the couples that were seated next to us. Great ambience, great service, didn’t wait as long between courses.
Seaplex hotdogs –Lots of different style hot dogs but it was just so-so.
Café 270 –Ate here for lunch one day. Love the salad station-(Think Doc Greens) choose your greens/and your toppings and dressing and they mix it. There were sandwiches hot/cold and soups also. It was hard to find seating here though, many watching the cast rehearse, reading etc.
Johnny Rockets – Same as the others. There are great milkshakes and good burgers.
Jamie’s Italian was really good. We ate there for lunch. The lunch menu is the same as the dinner menu with the exception of 2 extra pasta dishes. It’s $15 pp for lunch, my 7yr old was charged $8. Under 3yrs is free. This is one of the few restaurants that had a true kid’s meal. The kid’s meal is given to them in a viewfinder. So they have the toy to play with the entire time and can see pictures of the dinner options to choose from.
Micheal’s Genuine Pub – The food is a la carte. I had a midnight snack here one night. The menu is a la carte. I had some really good chili & lime wings.
Windjammer- Thumbs down to the Vitality drinks. The juice/lemonade alternative for this cruise was not good. So glad I bought juice and soda on board. There were great fruit smoothies available near the pancakes at breakfast. Lots of different food stations so crowds were never really a problem. They had the typical Windjammer variety. Did I mention the awesome cookies? You MUST eat some!
Entertainment-
RCL raised their game with the entertainment. Starwater was awesome! It was visually stunning. The best show I’ve seen at sea hands down. A little bit of Cirque, which we loved. Loved the background changes on the screen, loved the interaction with all the technology. Come early to get a good seat. The robotic arms that changed were awesome. This is a must see. We went to see it twice. My 7 yr old and 2 yr old were captivated the entire time.
Mama Mia- So sad we didn’t get to see this. Everyone I spoke with had very favorable things to say. The day we were scheduled to see it, it was cancelled due to the weather. The next day it showed it conflicted with other things we had planned. So we missed it.
I fly- I LOVE I fly! I took my first flight in Orlando earlier this year and I couldn’t wait to get another chance to do this. If you have ever been to an Ifly location it operates the exact same way. The first 1 minute flight per person is free (3yrs and up). Additional flights$49pp I let my 7yr old fly too. The look of sheer joy on her face was something I will not soon forget. She loved it more than I did. Definitely don’t miss your chance to do this. I did sign up the day before. They said they took walk ups but only if there was space available.
Roller skating is for ages 3 years and up. There was no cost. You must wear helmets. Knee pads/elbow pads are optional. Skating at times was quite a challenge. Especially until you get use to compensating for the motion of the ship. We watched quite a few collisions. I heard there were a few broken arms and other minor injuries during the cruise. I’m not surprised. When the ship rocked, you were tilted to whatever side the ship was. Stopping was difficult due to the extra momentum. Roller skating was offered once a day but the times changed. Typically they were 2-3 hour sessions. You can skate for as long as you want provided they don’t run out of skates for other guests. Then they will ask you give up your skates if you have been skating awhile. I didn’t see or hear of that happening during our cruise.
Bumper cars
There is no sign up necessary. Sometimes the wait times were about 30 minutes or so. Ages 8+ could ride alone in the bumper car. Ages 3- 8, minimum of 42” could ride with a parent. Under age 3 couldn’t ride at all. This was great fun. They will have to figure out the battery situation though. In the beginning there were 10-12 cars operating. Then the cars would die off one by one until there were only 3-4 cars able to operate. We always went right at the start time when the maximum number of cars were available.
Circus school/Trapeze school.
This is not a school at all. It’s just a chance to swing from a trapeze. I believe this was offered daily between 9-11am. This is lots of fun, but a bit scary climbing the very tall, wobbly, ladder. I think we waited about an hour. Don’t go right before closing. They usually have to cut the line early to make sure everyone gets a chance. No sign ups for this. First come first served. Minimum age is 6yrs old. The maximum weight is about 220lbs. He said that they may have to adjust it downward. It seemed to be an approximation.
North Star – This was probably the biggest aggravation for me. I never did get to ride. We passed it several times and there was always a long wait. Wait times averaged about 2 hours. I did hear of guests who waited as long as 4 hours to ride. I thought this was ridiculous. I refused to waste so much of my precious vacation time waiting in line. The one time I caught the line when it wasn’t too long of a wait. 30 minutes into waiting a thunderstorm came and they shut it down. I couldn’t believe that they didn’t go to a sign-up system after the first day of long waits. I spoke with one couple who got stuck in the North Star. They were up there about 45 minutes and had to have the machine cranked down manually. I did hear rave reviews from the people who were actually patient enough to wait.
Bionic Bar - So cool! I watched many drinks as they were made. I even created my own non-alcoholic drink out of a combination of juices. Someone asked how the machine knew you were of legal drinking age….Wow band or sail and sign has your age information encoded in it. They spent a lot of time trying to get the robots working properly so it was frequently down. However, when it was up they gave away free drinks so that the robots could practice. It was definitely worth a trip there to watch this. There was always a crowd here.
Kids Water Play area/Wave Pool – This is great fun for the little ones. Only for the potty trained. Yes, the weather was chilly. I think our warmest day only touched 70 degrees, however, my kids would not have allowed us to debark without a chance test the wave pool.
Kids Indoor Pool- So glad there is an indoor pool for kids on this vessel. My kids spent a lot of time here. I was a bit surprised that we were always the only ones. Again, only for the potty trained. The water was about 1ft deep. One big plus the hot tubs are adjacent to the kid pool. Mom and Dad can safely soak and watch while the kids play.
The Gym- I did get to exercise a few times while I was on Quantum. There were a lot of treadmills. It was never very crowded when I used the gym. I saw an area for spin classes. There was also a sunken area for yoga and other classes. There were plenty of free weights and other equipment. The Zumba classes seemed pretty popular another thing I never got to.
Photo gallery- The Wow band was a great feature here too. The photographers swipe your band before they take your photo. Just swipe the computer screen and all your pictures pop up. You can purchase prints or digital negatives for $20 each. There were packages available. It was great to have the option of purchasing the negatives. I bought a few negatives. When I got home and played the CD there were thumbnails of all the photos that were taken the entire cruise. The photos I purchased were unlocked but there was the option of purchasing additional, locked photos that I hadn’t gotten. This was another very nice touch.
Casino- I did get to the Casino once while we were on Quantum. It was your typical casino. I did notice a TON of smoking though. I do wish at least one side could be smoke free.
Pricey Internet packages- They were reluctant to give out any pricing, when I went on I could see why. Discount coupons varied I guess based on whether you are gold, platinum etc. I’m platinum, had a 15% of coupon so the prices (before the coupon is applied is a follows) $225.95 unlimited the entire cruise for 2 devices @ a time. $189 unlimited the entire cruise for 1 device @ a time. The daily plan 55.95 for 24 hrs of continuous usage 1 device at a time. Then there was the $29.95 1hr plan 60 minutes could be used throughout the entire cruise (1 device). I had issues with the internet with the first package I bought. (Another irritation) I went to the service desk to complain and they refunded my money. I was also advised to try and Skype in the middle of the night (yes, that is what she said) if I wanted to get through. For all the hoopla about the improved internet…..we didn’t see it. RCL apologized profusely and the rest of the week any internet package I purchased was free. I was able to Skype but I got a better connection in the middle of the night.
Cruise critic party-It’s always great to meet the people you have corresponded with. The Meet and Mingle was the largest ever I think, close to 400 registered. We did get some freebies and got to meet a lot of RCL corporate and Cruise Critic staff. The Cabin Crawl was awesome. I finally got to see a gorgeous Loft suite. The Virtual Balcony cabin was really cool too.
Movies-
There were free movies on demand in your stateroom. -22 Jump street, A Most Wanted Man, America, Begin Again, Blended, Blue Ruin, Canopy, Captain America, Deliver us from evil, Think Like a Man Too, Dinosaur 13, Bear, Draft Day, Earth to Echo, Godzilla,Edge of Tommorow,Life After Beth, Life of Crime, Maleficient, Mom’s Night out, Obvious Child,Rage, Reclaim Take What’s Yours, Repentance, School Dance, Sex Tape, Short Term 12, Snow piercer, Step Up All In, Supermensch, Tammy, Teenage, The Amazing Spider Man 2 The Dog, The Expendables 3, The Fruit hunters, Immigrant, Racing Adventure, The Purge Anarchy, The Rover , We are the Best,Whitewash,Under the Electric Sky, A fighting Man,A Million Ways to Die in the West
Debarkation- This was far more orderly than embarkation. There were super long lines to get off the ship. I was glad we had booked the RCL transfer to the airport. They walked us straight off the ship. We still had to wait in a long line for customs but that was much better than the lines to debark.
Post cruise Manhattan tour/airport transfer. I would guess this tour lasted about 3-4 hours. We did just get the highlights of Manhattan. I was disappointed we didn’t get to stop anywhere for souvenirs. We stopped twice for a restroom break at the NBC building and a park that had a great view of the statue of liberty. We drove by many of Manhattans best attractions, 911 memorial, Madison Square Gardens, Central Park, Trump Plaza, 5th Avenue, The stock exchange, Soho and we passed near the Empire State Bldg. I wished we would have had more time in NY.
Whew! I think I have just about covered everything we did. It was a really great cruise. Despite the seasickness, I’d sail again tomorrow if I had the chance.
queenL’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 9124
We booked an ocean view cabin originally, however, there was a huge price drop a couple of months before sailing that was irresistible to me. So we downgraded to a category Z inside guarantee. Imagine our huge surprise when a few weeks before sailing we were upgraded to category D balcony (9124). Huge upgrade….. thanks RCL!Of course cabins were ready when we boarded. We did go straight to our cabin to set our stuff down. As we had heard, there was one sailing card on the outside of the door. Wow bands and remaining cards were inside. I didn’t use the app to track my luggage. I couldn’t even find the app in the app store to download to my Android. Nevertheless half of our luggage arrived about 2 hours after we boarded. The other half came during dinner. I was impressed with all of the storage/cubbies and overhead bins. There was definitely ample room to put all of our stuff away, including the kid clutter. We were able to stuff the stroller between the dresser and the balcony door. I liked the cabin layout which felt more spacious even though I’m not sure it was actually any larger than the cabins we normally have. I loved the child safety lock on the balcony door. Due to safety concerns, I typically avoid balcony cabins when I am sailing with my kids but RCL thought of me. You could simply pull to engage and even my seven year old couldn’t reach it. The front door was another story though. My 2yr old could easily turn the door and pull it open by herself. The fridge still had the directions in it (ahhh the new ship thrill). It was empty, hadn’t been stocked yet. This was great because there was plenty of space to stow the water, juice and soda we brought onboard. The mini safes were fine, however, they may want to make them larger. Since they are encouraging everyone to bring their technology onboard, a safe large enough to stow your laptop would have been great. The directions to the safe left out the part where you should hit the star key first. The directions just said the number and then the pound sign. We were told that the safes automatically lock down after an incorrect entry to protect from people trying to figure out the combination. The only problem with this…it is easy to do this on accident. There were so many calls from others who were locked out of their safe that we waited a day and half for a locksmith. (Another irritation)
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