The three (or more) versions of the Royal Caribbean cruise experience

Quantum of the Seas cruise ship

Quantum of the Seas (image – – Royal Caribbean)

 

I recently had a note from someone who said that he was considering going on Royal Caribbean International’s new ship Quantum of the Seas and since I have sailed with Royal quite often, he wanted to get my insights into the cruise experience on the Royal Caribbean ships. Although this was a seemingly straightforward question, it was difficult to answer because there is more than one Royal Caribbean cruise experience. In fact, there are presently at least three types of cruise experience offered that roughly correspond to the various classes of ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet.

At the outset, I should say that there are a number of things that are done throughout the fleet. Thus, you always know when you are sailing on a Royal Caribbean ship. For example, the daily program is the Cruise Compass, the children’s program is Adventure Ocean, and the loyalty program is the Crown and Anchor Society. They all have a Viking Crown Lounge. But just as both rural Mississippi and urban New York City are both part of the United States, life can be much different depending upon which class of Royal Caribbean ship you are cruising on.

The Radiance (ex. Radiance of the Seas ) and Vision (ex. Vision of the Seas) class ships are medium size cruise ships ranging from approximately 75,000 gross tons to 90,000 gross tons and carrying 2,000 to 2,500 passengers. The cruise experience on these ships is more of a classic cruise experience that is favored with a high percentage of adult passengers. Although the recent fleet-wide revitalization program, the Royal Advantage, has given these ships more specialty restaurants and a number of other features, their size does not permit them to have all of the features of the larger Royal Caribbean ships. Consequently, the emphasis tends to be on friendly and personalized service. In addition, the ships, especially the four Radiance class ships, tend to go to a wider range of ports than their larger fleetmates.

The eight Freedom (ex. Freedom of the Seas ) and Voyager (ex. Explorer of the Seas) class ships are cities at sea. Indeed, the Royal Promenade that runs down the center line of these ships is essentially a main street with shops, bars and restaurants. On the open decks, there are two large pool areas and on the Freedom class, a kids’ aqua park and surfing simulators. Both classes also have ice skating arenas. Thus, there are lots of things to do. Of course, the Freedom class ships are nearly twice the size of the Vision class ships and carry up to 4,375 passengers. So the cruise experience is not as personalized as on the smaller ships. In general, the cruise experience on these ships tends to be a more active experience with a high proportion of families as passengers.

Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas offer yet another cruise experience. These giants are not merely bigger versions of the Freedom class ships, they are a new model of cruising. Traditionally, an evening on a cruise ship revolved around the two seatings in the main dining room and the two performances in the ship’s theater. Even the advent of flexible dining did not change the model significantly because the only real entertainment offerings were, as a practical matter, the two shows in the theater. With Oasis and Allure, you not only have quality dining alternatives but quality entertainment alternatives.

People who have not cruised on Oasis or Allure often express concern to me about the number of passengers on the Oasis class (6,300). However, the boarding and disembarkation goes amazingly quickly and the passenger flow on these ships is so well managed that long lines are a rare exception. Indeed, I have been generally impressed by the sophisticated management of these ships.

The new Quantum class, which is just going into service this week with Quantum of the Seas, may offer yet another version of the Royal Caribbean cruise experience. A little larger than the Freedom class ships, one might expect Quantum to be a bigger version of that model of cruising. However, she has no ice rink nor a traditional Royal Promenade. Nor is she a miniature Oasis. Instead, she has new entertainment venues and a new dining system, which replaces the main dining room with five themed, complimentary restaurants. Thus, Quantum promises yet another version of Royal Caribbean.

I like the fact that Royal offers more than one type of cruise experience. It provides variety. If the experience were the same throughout the fleet, it would be as dull as traveling on an airliner or having dinner every night at the same chain food restaurant where everything is homogeneous. Also, not everyone likes the same thing and so by offering a variety of cruise experiences Royal Caribbean appeals to a wider audience.

On Beyondships this week, we have a new destination guide to cruise port Boston. In addition to looking at the cruise port , we walk the Freedom Trail  , take a look at USS Constitution  and take shore excursions to Fenway Park  and to neighboring Salem, Massachusetts

 

Vision of the Seas, Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Vision of the Seas

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