This is an extremely lengthy review but detailed based on my personal experiences on my sailing date of August 16-23, 2018. There are section headings so feel free to skip ahead if it gets too wordy. I learn so much from the information others have shared and I like to give back to the CC community. I find that the Quantum reviews were really lacking while I was doing my information gathering so hopefully this review will help a few passengers that are anxious to get their hands on some firsthand experience.
We are a family of four celebrating two major milestones this year with DD graduating from college and DS graduating from high school earlier this year. This was our 14th cruise (3rd with RC) and 13th for the kids. DH was born in China but the kids I are ABC (American Born Chinese). I have been to China before and the kids have previously traveled to Japan.
We live in Maryland in the DC area and traveled to San Francisco, Beijing and Shanghai before setting sail.
I was surprised that there wasn’t much that could be done online via the Cruise Planner precruise. I checked 90 days out, 60 days out, 30 days out- there was nothing to indicate anything was necessary for dining or entertainment. There were very few excursions offered but this was not a problem as I almost always tour independently.
There was another ship I was contemplating for Asia. However it did not allow booking directly through their site. I ended up choosing RC for the ease and flexibility of controlling my own booking as I usually do. I utilized Costco Travel to receive OBC.
We arrived at the port somewhere around 10:30-10:45. It was not yet crowded but the taxi driver did not seem sure where to drop us off. We had to walk back a little ways as he had proceeded too far. They seemed eager to take our bags and spoke in Chinese to my husband about dropping luggage but we all managed to travel with carryon and wanted to bring it onboard ourselves. We have lost luggage before and not only that, why wait hours to have it delivered. They eventually backed off and relented and though the minority, we did also see others carry on their own luggage.
The process seemed a little confusing but still not overly crowded. I was expecting to find lines just for “foreigners” but did not see anything. Then since we are Gold level members, found a priority line that they allowed us to proceed in. They checked passports and also asked if we had a copy of the passports, fortunately I did. This sped things up. They should have noted online that you should carry a copy but it appeared they had copy machines nearby for those who did not. This was the process for Japan as the ship keeps your passport and you take the paper copy which is stamped and required in each port to get off the ship. Everything up to this point, including boarding the ship was done with the paper set sail pass. We found out that later, the actual seapass is distributed directly to your cabin. This was a bit odd but not a problem.
Soon, after bag checks (security), passport review, embarkation photo… we were on our way up the gangway. I have read other reviews where it took 2-3 hours for embarkation. I don’t remember but it may have taken us 45 minutes to an hour- certainly a much lengthier and complex process than any I have encountered before. As with anything, arrive early. The earlier the better to avoid crowds.
Cabins were not accessible until 1pm but luckily, I booked in a tiny corridor that we were able to access, ditch the bags just outside the cabin with the cabin tags and a quick word to our cabin steward who then later placed into our room. If we had not done this, I suppose Guest Services would have had a place to check bags.
We had an outside cabin on deck 3. The window was a large rectangular window. The two main beds were pushed together and there was a couch with trundle that when made up was flush with the couch. After it was made the first time, our steward left it that way the entire cruise. This was not a problem as we would often come back to crash or nap at various times throughout the day. Pretty standard layout but I thought the furniture was better as there was an actual dresser with drawers and two closet type units on either side of the bed. One of these units contained shelves and a safe. The other unit had two tiers of rods with hangers and some small baskets on the back of the door for small items. Luggage fit under the beds, even under the couch/trundle.
There were also more electrical outlets, and fortunately as the ship was originally sailing in the US, suitable for our use with no need for converters/adapters. However we always travel with gadgets that have multiple plugs/usb ports so there was no shortage of access to charging devices.
Our cabin steward seemed to work alone where in past cruises I am used to seeing a main attendant with an assistant. I have no idea how many rooms he had to clean each day but he was efficient. The room was not necessarily sparkling, I did notice toothpaste splatter that pretty much remained the entire cruise but there were always fresh towels and beds made and turned downed with towel animals each night.
There is a two sided magnet that can be used to Make Up Cabin and Do Not Disturb. Like all newer ships, you do need to leave your keycard in the designated slot to enable the master switch. There is also another master switch on one side of the bed that made it convenient to turn all the lights off.
The window area had a ledge. We propped up the plushies that we accumulated along the trip and had them on lookout when in port. One day when exiting the gangway, we looked back up and saw them there. An attendant noticed us and thought it was cute. Later that day when we returned, he saw us and informed us our dogs (plushies) were still on lookout. I found it amazing that with over 4000 passengers he remembered us.
There is a flat screen television in the cabin and it has the standard cruise channels advertising future cruise planning, cruise information from the cruise director, itinerary map, webcams and some Chinese programming. We did get caught up in one or two movies that were looping. Later we found two of these movies also offered on the plane. There were very little English language channels to watch. I think there was BBC for news and then maybe some kids cartoons and teen programming but didn’t seem to be current programming- for instance mostly Dora which I don’t think that many kids are into anymore. Surprisingly, we found out that Peppa Pig is very popular, if tshirts and phone cases are anything to go by. Lots of adults wearing Power of Peppa tshirts. Very funny, but then why isn’t Peppa featured on the kids channel? Or since RCL has the DreamWorks partnership and character meets why not this type of programming? We don’t watch a lot of tv on a cruise but when you are waiting for everyone to get ready or with jet lag having a hard time to sleep, a little bit of variety would be helpful.
So we soon realized that our Gold status was not the same as the Golden Pass. The Golden Pass is literally a gold (yellow) colored seapass and given to guests who booked special suites. We tried to go into Coastal Kitchen but were denied, we also tried to go into the solarium and were denied. Gold member basically granted us nothing. I thought that I had read somewhere that they sometimes allow foreigners into these areas for a better experience away from the Chinese crowds but that did not appear to be the case.
There was no dining room service for lunch on embarkation day. We went to the Windjammer and fortunately as we had boarded early, we were just ahead of the crowd. There were a lot of Chinese offerings, Western offerings appeared to be hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and pasta. Not sure about embarkation day but other days there were options for breakfast and lunch in the buffet, main dining rooms, Café Two70 and then other times snacks at Sorrentos and Café Promenade as options without a fee.
There are 4 dining rooms- Chic and Grande on deck 3 and American Icon and Silk on deck 4. I believe you always line up on deck 3 though I could be wrong about this. The Cruise Compass would list where meals were being served. We didn’t realize it was set time dining as we are usually used to freestyle or my time dining. The first day, we showed up for first seating despite our keycards showing a time for second seating. They did seem to be checking cards but we told them we wanted to see about changing the time so they let us in and then just proceeded to seat us. Since we had a few package options, we didn’t change the time formally and then it worked out and we kept our later dining time for other days. Seating is then like a restaurant, first come first serve by party size and you may get any of the available dining rooms and taken upstairs if needed.
The team we had the first night encouraged us to feel free to request their section anytime and we did get them again another time on the cruise and they remembered us. The menu always had Chinese items on the left and a rotating theme on the right. These were often on display electronically outside of the dining rooms with pictures. The first night was international, another time Mediterranean, French, and Japanese on the last night. We missed a few nights due to specialty dining or late night in port. Though not an extensive menu, there were always plenty of things to try and like any cruise, they do not even blink their eye if you ask for multiple courses and were happy to accommodate.
The dining rooms had some windows but no wow factor. Some cruise ships have large dining rooms on the aft or multi tiers, but I think the trend is to use those areas for other types of common space. These seem to be the more basic dining room trend that we have been seeing on our latest ships.
There was a big push to sell dining packages. There were display stands everywhere and staff trying to sell in all public spaces on embarkation day. Wonderland and Chef’s Table had their own rates but there was a package to select 3 specialty dining for $88 per person or 4 for $108. They also informed us there was a very limited package for a champagne brunch on the last sea day. We opted for the package of 3 and they even made the reservations for us. We chose Chops, Hot Pot and the champagne brunch. I think there was also some type of special whole fish dish popular with Chinese families in one of the pubs and there was also Izumis for a la carte sushi and Jamie's for Italian but we passed on those.
We had Chops on the second night. We had a reservation at 6pm and as we were seated noticed that it was starting to fill up. Although it seemed like there was enough staff on hand, the service was really slow. We waited at least 25 minutes if not more from the time our orders were taken to the first course arriving. We were told to make only one selection of starter, app/salad, entrée so it was very clear what was included. The portions were plenty so it was not in the dining room where you may feel the meal is too light without doubling up. In fact we were so full we were not able to eat dessert and wanted to make a show so we ended up taking dessert to go. Standard Chops experience, nothing to write home about.
We decided to try the champagne brunch. This included bottomless champagne and galley tour. This was held the second to last sea day. We made a reservation for 11:30 but then later found out doors opened at 10:30. We did have a light breakfast that morning thinking we needed to hold ourselves over as by this point in the cruise you find that you are missing out if you are not eating every 3 hours. We ended up going a little earlier than our reservation because we panicked thinking we were going to miss out on free champagne.
The server that poured champagne was no slacker and I commented that I liked him as he came around every time my glass emptied. But much later in the day I ended up not liking him so much but that was not his fault. We had a nice meal. We had 6 or 7 glasses of champagne- not just a toast pour but fully poured flutes. We were a bit over zealous. Chinese people do not seem to drink a lot. The bars were never crowded when my son went to get sodas. The captain’s reception also did not witness a lot of drinking but instead having juice and non alcoholic options. Non alcoholic options were available at the champagne brunch as well.
The server asked us if we wanted our tour before we began eating or after having soup and salad and we opted for the latter. By then we were a bit tipsy. Groups were taken on tour based on English speaking or Chinese speaking preferences. We opted for English speaking and it ended up being a private tour just the four of us. I have worked in commercial kitchens before as had my son recently doing a hospitality internship. My husband and I have also been on a galley tour before. It is nothing short of miraculous or I suppose just very good design and organization that they can crank out the number of meals that they do each and every day. It was fun and informative. I imagine they have separate similar area on deck 4 as waitstaff has had to comment that they had to run upstairs and I imagine a much larger facility must be needed for the Windjammer but it was still nice to get a glimpse of life behind the scenes.
We finished our meal and were quite giggly at that point. We passed on dessert. I also broke a glass when I accidently knocked over an empty glass while moving it to the side. Oops. My son hasn’t let me live it down. He escorted us back to our cabin and even was considerate enough to grab sickness bags, though we didn’t need it and then we proceeded to pass out. Maybe just maybe this will turn him off to underage drinking, or even of age drinking. In hindsight, was it just the rocky waves from the rough seas or too much champagne, I will never be exactly sure as I usually have a pretty good tolerance and know my limits. I was surprised to find out later that we passed out in slumber, but not only that, I somehow managed to sleep through 3 separate phone alarms for various activities. I never do that. I always wake up to the alarm sound. One of those alarms was to go retrieve our passports. Luckily my son was paying attention and went to get it. I realized what he was doing and tagged along but was useless, then stumbled back to the room. Man, it is embarrassing but pretty funny but it was not economical. I could have had an equally nice meal in the dining room and ordered a bottle or two of champagne. To me the extra surcharge meals were not worth it.
Our last specialty meal was the Hot Pot. Hot Pot is a cook yourself experience, kind of like a Chinese version of fondue. It is held in the Solarium Bistro, I think breakfast for those golden pass holders but Hot Pot for lunch on sea days and dinner in the evenings. That last sea day, I went to request a peek at the night’s menu to decide if we wanted to switch Hot Pot to lunch. The dinner was Japanese and we had missed a port so my son wanted to switch. We went about half hour before lunch stopped but they told us if we were okay with the self serve stations closing then we could proceed. They took our orders for broth preference and lit our individual burners. We went to the cold stations to load up on veggies, noodles and make your own sauce station. There was also a station for dessert and fruit. They brought out the designated raw items of meat and seafood. The seafood tray which had giant prawns, fishballs, fish and squid was limited to one included tray (extra available for fee) but the meats, which included sliced beef and sliced pork, tripe and gyoza was unlimited. We began eating and later they gave us a final warning to reload from the stations that were about to close. Then they allowed us the time we needed to finish cooking/eating. We probably stayed a half hour after they closed the stations (about 1 hour total). I felt a bit bad for the dining staff but this probably happens all the time and another table that was there before we arrived were still there and didn’t feel as bad. We left as soon as they finished. This was a very nice meal. Hot Pot is always fun. The ambiance was not as nice. We couldn’t see the solarium through the dividers but knew it was there and the seating felt like poolside furniture. It was fine, not a problem but not necessarily nice enough for an evening dining experience so I was happy we made the switch to have at lunch.
Overall, although I did enjoy the meals, I did not feel it was worth the upsell. The cruise lines have gotten to be horrible with all the nickel and diming. It just seems to be quite an enormous upsell in price that is not necessarily matched by the upgraded quality. So I guess another way you can put it is that the included main dining is quite a good value in itself. The only thing specialty dining does help with is that it gets you away from the crowds and lines.
There was no information for planning in the Cruise Planner online. I did not know if there would be special shows such as on Oasis. Since I couldn’t do it ahead of time, I decided not to worry about it. Shows were listed in the Cruise Compass and there were often two show times for the headliner shows to account for the two meal periods.
One day while having breakfast in Two70 we discovered performers rehearsing an aerial/acrobat type routine. Come to find this is a special show. I think it was called Starwater. It can be booked on the Royal IQ app or the ipad stations on the ship. I had not heard of Royal IQ before the trip and with no internet, could not download the app. I also did not wander into the ipad station area so I was not aware what I was missing out on.
Apparently you can book special shows such as this one and you can also book other experiences such as the iFly Ripcord and North Star. It was hit or miss if you were going to receive a system error on it and it was also hit or miss if it would switch over correctly to English. By the time I realized this, the Starwater shows were all filled up. No one seemed to be able to tell me if you could line up somewhere to take seats for reservations that were no shows but then we never ventured over to try having given up and participating in other activities.
This itinerary sails from Shanghai on Thursday with a day at sea putting you in Osaka on Saturday, Kobe on Sunday and Nagoya on Monday with two sea days on the return.
There was a process requiring obtaining special passes for group slots to debark the ship independently for the first port day. No one seemed to check these passes but we reported to Two70 where our group was called and we were allowed to proceed to the gangway. This was not required for the second port.
Another reviewer commented that they lost a lot of time in immigration, again my advice is to go early and avoid the crowds. We had no problems getting off the ship quickly, even with the additional immigration step.
We walked off the ship into the little shopping area to explore and get our bearings. There was free wifi there. The kids wanted to check out the Pokemon Center so we returned to the taxi area where there was someone minding the line and more importantly, helping to translate the destination to the driver. She even gave us a tip upon arriving what level of the shopping center to go to. This was very helpful. The taxi ride seemed to take forever despite maps showing it was not too many miles away. The taxi fare was rather expensive. This was an especially great shock perhaps after the much cheaper taxis we had in China. But by the time the meter climbed, we were already committed.
Along the way, we played a game counting the number of 7-11s, Lawsons and Family Marts that we passed along the way. If you don’t already know, 7-11 is a very different experience overseas than from in the US. Yes, they offer beverages and snacks but the type of food and snacks is just not the same! We loved the variety of drinks in both China and Japan but the food was different in Japan. My sister strongly recommended the little sandwiches and Lawson fried chicken but I missed out. There just wasn’t enough opportunity to eat in the short time we were in port. They also have onigiri which is the triangular rice and seaweed paper wrapped snack with filling such as salmon. Yummy. It was just amusing to see these on every street corner instead of Starbucks. We also were on the lookout for shiba inus. We have an 8 month old puppy at home and knew that since it is a Japanese breed it is a much beloved pet in Japan. To our dismay and surprise, we only saw one during the drive. A little surprising as it was the weekend and locals seemed to be out and about. We missed our puppy so much!
The kids spent a good amount of time in the Pokemon Center and making their purchases. From that area, we took the subway to Dotonbori which is where we wanted to be in the evening for all of the food and ambiance. We were not disappointed. We tried takoyaki (octopus in batter type of ball), giant scallops cooked on the half shell, some type of skewers, crab claws and then more takoyaki. We wandered and browsed in shops and watched the people go by. There were also a lot of claw machines that we tried to win shiba inu plushies or bubble gum type machines that dispensed small prizes. We also went to a ramen place where you order and pay from the vending machine, then are seated and served inside. That was fun and we lucked out before the line grew long outside. Delicious!
We were in port from 2pm until 4am but headed back probably around 10-11pm via subway and returned to the ship.
We were not in a hurry to debark since it was a Sunday and we weren’t sure what would be open. We took our time although the ship arrived around 7am. It may have been about 9:30 when we got off. Inside the terminal we stopped for maps and information and found there was a shuttle to the downtown area in Motomatchi which is also their Chinatown. We again searched for shibas and did not spot any. We took our time strolling the shopping area and little side branching alleys. Then we worked our way to the subway and went to visit Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens.
Since Cruise Critic failed me this trip in precruise planning, I turned to another unlikely resource and gathered information by searching for information on YouTube. I don’t know, maybe I am old school and look at travel books and websites for most of my information but since there were so few detailed reviews and threads dedicated to Quantum or the ports, I had to turn elsewhere. It was so much fun that this may be the new way I do all my future trip research.
The Herb Gardens were fun but a little difficult to locate the correct exit from the subway station. We went up on the ropeway (cable car) and requested a one way ticket. This was a mistake in hindsight, we should have done round trip. I though this meant we would miss the gardens but there is a separate pickup point to ride back down after walking through the gardens. The attendant suggested that one way would require a two hour walk down and he was probably correct although we thought his estimate was to allow for those who make their way through the garden at a more leisurely pace. We wandered the gardens and took a lot of photos. We also saw our ship from various points along the way down.
When we exited, we passed that lower cable car stop and had to exit through a side gate completely. Here it was slightly challenging which way to go but there were some sporadic signs along the way to confirm and we had visual of the progress we were making. Some of it was a very winding and an awkward decline to walk. We began to regret our choice. Then about what we thought was halfway, there was a confusing area that overlooked something that looked like a small rest area. We were uncertain if we should proceed on the road or detour into this area. We saw two other “foreigners” turn off here so we thought perhaps we should check it out. There seemed to be restrooms here but no helpful signage so we cautiously proceeded. This detour was perhaps a more scenic route and what I hope to have been a shortcut. It was more dirt path at some points and there were more little shops and vending machines which was helpful as we needed drinks. Somehow at some point maybe it was its own attraction and took us to an area where we saw a waterfall. Definitely an interesting and scenic detour and in the end, got us to the place where we started, which was reassuring. We then took the subway over to the Harborwalk area. There we spent our rapidly declining time in port and was on the hunt for Kobe beef. We did not try Kobe beef while in Dotonbori as we figured it would be even better in Kobe. We found a place in the Mosaic area next to the ferris wheel for a quick bite and then took a taxi back to port as we knew that downtown shuttle stopped and it was getting closer to the all aboard time. We made it just fine and had time to browse the terminal center with the stalls that had been set up that were not present in the morning.
Upon clearing the immigration area, they collected our passport copies. I asked what about tomorrow but no one understood me. Little did we know but this was our last port in Japan.
We never made it to Nagoya as the ship cancelled this port. There were concerns from two typhoons. There was a letter explaining this and port charges were refunded to our onboard account but the other minor compensation was to be handled through a claim form against the insurance that RC purchases for cancelled ports. I have received a claim form from the representative but have not submitted it yet. It is a refund of 400 rmb, about $45USD and possible wire transfer charges will be deducted. Not sure it will be worth the trouble.
I wasn’t sure what to think about activities on this ship. I had concerns that the Chinese crowds would get pushy and if RCL would be able to keep order but those fears were unfounded. In the beginning, we were lucky and happened to be early to the bumper car session and roller skating session. We had no problem participating. Later in the cruise, activities quickly formed long lines. We did not try Flowrider. We did the rock wall on a later sea day, it was particularly windy but not enough to close it and we lucked out being one of the first in line for that time. We also managed to try the trapeze although that was for a later time than we lined up and we just watched until our group was called. I do have to compliment RCL on a good job with the design of the SeaPlex. This was a really good multiuse space. Ping pong tables were nearly impossible to snag though.
In reading some other reviews, I am surprised that there was more than one comment about these items being for a fee. Yes, iFly and North Star were for a fee however each item I mentioned here- bumper cars, roller skating, rock climbing- were free, no fee charged. Just be sure to pack some socks as that was required for some activities. You also need your seapass card for each person participating and a parent to sign for underage children. I was still surprised so many people lined up and then realized they didn’t have their seapass card. Or one time approaching the gangway that they couldn’t find their seapass. I know there are many first time cruisers out there and perhaps that message was not made clear on this ship but you need to carry your seapass card on you.
Beware, there are some air hockey tables in the upper area that require a swipe to turn the machine on and release the puck. Each swipe ended up costing $2 charged to your onboard account.
I have to give this its own category because this seems to me to be an activity that reflects the old leisurely aspect of cruising. Most newer ships do away with this outdoor activity and have opted for a table version instead. Come on, that is just not the same. I was so happy to see a shuffleboard area set up outside. Not one person seemed to know how to play which meant this was available to us personally anytime we wanted to play. We drew some attention and observers. Then upon walking away, we did talk another group into giving it a try and instructed them to put the items away after use. Have no idea if they did but I did try to properly pass along. I love taking photos of my family and will have to compare to earlier cruises as a throwback one day.
There was definitely a heavy presence of Chinese staff on hand to assist with the primary passengers and language. The cruise director was Chinese and gave both Mandarin and English explanations for announcements and intros to the shows. Most of the dining staff and guest services and staff along the promenade were primarily Chinese. However, that being said, there were also a fair amount of non Chinese staff. Room stewards, waitstaff, activities staff and entertainment was a fair mix of Chinese and English speaking crew.
Since we handled our own luggage, we did not need luggage tags or a color. We had a late night flight out after midnight so we treated it as another port day. We had breakfast and did not rush though I felt bad knowing our steward was going to have to turn so many cabins that day. We definitely felt he deserved an extra tip and left one for him. It did take a little bit of time to make it off the ship and through the exit despite having all our bags. No crowds in the elevator surprisingly but they did make us do an extra long loop on the deck to wrap around from the stairs/elevator area to the gangway.
Once outside, the only snafu was the line for taxis. It was moving really slow despite a constant line of available taxis. At one point, a Chinese person started yelling at the cab drivers and the person managing the line that it wasn’t fair to Chinese locals who were trying to get home. They felt the foreigners were holding up the line as often they did not have their destination ready in the local language. They felt there should be two lines to better serve everyone. The attendant told them to hold their horses so the line kept moving in order that they lined up. I agree it was frustrating and perhaps not the most efficient process but at the same time am relieved that they kept everyone in order.
My son got the beverage package and the souvenir cup with chip for the self service fountain machines but those machines were not in use. My guess is that they were either hard to maintain or perhaps there were too many people watching You Tube videos with the hack on how to bypass the system to dispense without a package. As was typical, there was sometimes a slight delay at bars to get sodas. But overall, again since not many people were drinking, the bars seemed underutilized and easy to get a quick soda.
While mentioning hacks, the hack to access internet does not work either. Anytime you try to access the web through the Royal Caribbean page, you were redirected to the Voom login page. Hack does not work. But what is interesting is that if you go on the royal wifi page, we found that we were able to send and receive text messages. We could not send or receive photos or videos but standard texts seemed to go through without any problem. We had phones on airplane mode and roaming turned off so hopefully there are no surprises on next month’s cell phone bill. Wouldn’t you know the billing period ends through the date of our cruise so I will have to wait and keep checking next month.
Dress code on this ship was extremely casual. Being summer I wore shorts or skirts during the day with tops and tshirts. Husband and son did not change for dinner and shorts were perfectly fine. My daughter and I are a bit more used to changing for dinner so I would at least change to a skirt or capris- still casual but made me feel less self conscious. It would not have been a problem though but I did notice other women making an effort for dinner time which was a little surprising.
I read on another review that someone mentioned how they heard the cruise was a way for Chinese passengers to shop in Japan and transport items back home and that they liked the shopping opportunities on the ship. This was evident in the promenade. They said once they looked at it from that viewpoint, everything else made sense and they avoided the shopping areas. In hindsight, I do see this as mostly true.
We did not try the Bionic Bar. On all the promotional videos, it looks like something fun to try but again as Chinese people did not appear to drink, we never saw it in use and ended up forgetting to try.
Only saw the North Star in motion one time and not sure how popular the iFly Ripcord was.
Since Two70 takes over the aft of deck 5, the outdoor areas do not form a full lap of the deck. On many ships we’ve been on in the past, it was nice to have a lower deck walking area separate from the upper sports deck. This usually cuts down on both sun and wind. We did sit out on the deck 5 outer areas but this area did not get much use.
We had our muster drill on the first day and sometime during this, we must have sailed away. So we were not out on deck when we left port. This was a little disappointing as I like the first sailaway to set the mood for the cruise. There was no horn blowing (that we could hear), no announcements, no deck party (well not sure since we didn’t venture up top). We stepped outside on deck 5 to confirm movement and then decided to go to dinner.
Since we were in Osaka so late, we didn’t sailaway until closer to 5am.
When we left Kobe, there was evidence there would be some type of sendoff. We could see balloon clusters that would be ready for release. We also saw drummers along the port area and crowds of observers that were not returning passengers. We stayed out on deck for the sailaway and it was one of my most memorable so far. We did see one or two pier runners- I know this is usually spectator sport in a Caribbean port but not much to see here. We did hear a call for a few passengers. Eventually the drummers started to perform and the mood in the air was spectacular. As we pulled away, the drummers kept on beat and the balloons soon released and a pilot type boat in the harbor accompanied us with the fountain jets going. Soon the water changed colors a few times, red, blue, yellow while seeing us off. The sun was starting to set and it was a beautiful sailaway. I had hoped it would be repeated the next day but then we learned we were missing the port due to typhoon.
We went to the auction to pass some time and have some champagne. In the beginning the staff were clear to review that you are responsible for your bids and cannot back out due to being drunk, not paying attention, letting your child play with your number paddle, etc. I joked with my kids that sometimes a touch of the nose, brushing a strand of hair, scratching your ear, could cost you dearly if the auctioneer thinks you have signaled a bid. It was of course not that extreme. Peter Max items came out costing $60,000. The only reason I recognized his name is because he did the hull artwork on the Norwegian Breakaway which was the last ship we cruised on. Most of those items did not secure the required starting bids so they went back on the auction block. The auctioneer had funny broken English and would usually say in Chinese something to the effect of “Send it back to Peter Max” and then in broken English exclaim to the assistants, “Next one on the block!” At some point, there were prints that started out at a dollar. One item that came up caught our eye. It was of foxes and our puppy often resembles a fox. My son asked if he could bid and I told him sure, but stop at $50. Next thing I know, he is raising it and raising it and raising it and an item went for $180. I panicked. I had no idea what was going on as I was looking around to see if the champagne was coming. Then they consulted with that bidder and somehow must have let him off the hook, next thing I know, they were coming to us and said we won the bid at $60. We were puzzled because my son said he stopped at 50. But then no big deal, we decided what the heck this would be a fun souvenir. They took our info and wrote out a receipt and told us when to stop by for another raffle and finalize the purchase later that evening. Then, finally the champagne was served and I thought to myself this was the most expensive champagne I never had to pay for. This was before the champagne brunch and you can see I will be staying away from champagne going forward.
We did go back to finalize the purchase and with shipping cost us a total of $95 and will be shipped within 12 weeks. I thought I misheard on the ship two weeks but just received an email for twelve weeks which makes a little more sense. This follow up seemed to be another ploy to sell to us because they delayed saying there were computer challenges and kept asking us if there was more artwork we’d like to see, what our styles and interests were. Finally after seeing they were getting nowhere with us, or computer issues resolved, they helped us finalize.
I really never understood why they think there is a market for this on a cruise ship and then with all the displays in a very little security area makes me even wonder if any of this artwork is original. I’m guessing they are mostly prints but then if prints, aren’t people overbidding? I looked up the artist and piece online just now and he said he markets exclusively with Park West and that they are prints. Maybe I was scammed but fortunately this won’t break the bank and will be a funny story we tell when we display this piece in our home.
Was this cruise a hit or a miss? It wasn’t one of the best cruises I’ve ever had but it wasn’t the worst either. I’m of the mindset a bad day at sea is still better than even your average day at home and I was just thrilled we are blessed enough to be able to travel by cruise and see the world. I have no regrets about taking this cruise.
The only misses we had on this trip is that we always take a picture of the kids wearing the lifevests either in the cabin or at the safety drill. Now, they no longer place the lifevests in the room but only have them at the assembly stations in the event of an emergency. Crew members had ones for demonstration only. At one point, I was debating asking them to allow me to use for a photo but then decided to abandon the idea so there is no lifevest photo from this sailing.
The other miss was escargot. The night the French menu was offered, there was no escargot offered. Instead there was some type of a scallop dish offered that looked like escargot but the scallop pieces were no bigger than the tip of your pinky finger if that. They were served in the same type of dish which really fooled your mind. The cheesy sauce was just not the same but the sliver of bread was okay dipped in the cheesy sauce.
Overall in summary, this was a decent value and we got a good price for the trip by booking early. If you are looking at a cruise in Asia, just be sure to research typhoon season. It was a great way to get a taste of Japan and I hope to plan a land trip there in the future so that we can continue our explorative travels. Quantum of the Seas was a great home away from home. Read Less