My First Cruise on Royal Caribbean
November 2022 was the first time I ever went on a cruise. Before this, I never had any interest to do a cruise. I love to travel and have always been an intrepid traveller. I love to go somewhere and really explore the area. So being locked up on a cruise ship had never interested me. That is until the lockdowns, during the pandemic and I started watching some Youtubers about their experiences on cruise ships. The more I watched, the more I was intrigued to experience a cruise for the first time.
So I booked in a cruise onboard the Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas, an 8 night cruise, leaving Brisbane, visiting New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Sadly Vanuatu got dropped from the itinerary as they had not opened to cruise ships until about a week after my cruise, so we stopped into Noumea in New Caledonia for an extra 2 nights.
So what are my impressions of my first cruise on Royal Caribbean? Short answer is I loved it! It was so different from my typical holiday of exploring a city or country but it was very enjoyable, with great entertainment and activities and awesome food!
First Impressions of the cruise
Getting onboard the Quantum of the Seas I was blown away about how big the ship is. The ship is massive and it is not even the biggest cruise ship, there are many bigger. The only time the ship felt crowded was on the first day, when everyone was onboard, out of their rooms, exploring the ship, After that first afternoon, everyone went off in different directions, some in their rooms, some laying on the deck chairs, or others in the various bars or restaurants.
What I loved about the cruise
I loved the food on Royal Caribbean. I never had a bad meal! See more about the Food onboard below.
The Entertainment – there was so much different entertainment to choose from. I ended up going to see things I would never usually go to like a Theatre production show. There is live music almost all times of the day and evening.
The Royal Caribbean App made it so simple to look up what activities where happening each day, as well as book activities and reservations at the various restaurants.
What I didn’t like about the cruise
The biggest thing that I didn’t like, is being confined to a cruise ship! When I visit a city, every morning I go for a walk in a different direction to explore, find new hidden gems. On the cruise ship, there is only so many times you can walk around the walking trek, or walk through the various decks of the ship.
After I had explored the ship, it really felt like living in a shopping mall. I walked down 2 flights of stairs from my cabin, walked pasts expensive brand names stores, small food outlets and cafes. Once I had seen the sights a few times, it felt like Deja vu every other day.
The other thing I didn’t like is the swimming pool. It is relatively small and always seemed to be overcrowded. When I stay at a hotel, I usually spend the afternoon at the swimming pool, taking a dip to cool down or lay in the shade and read a book. On the cruise I did not go in the pool once.
I had booked into a Studio Balcony Room and was very happy with my choice. The Studio Balcony Cabins are smaller than the standard Balcony Cabins and are only for solo travellers. I felt very comfortable in this Studio room but it would be overcrowded with 2 people.
The Internet connectivity, which you have to pay for, is adequate. I managed to do most things I normally do. A few times watching Youtube videos, there was a fair bit of buffering going on, but generally it was stable. The WiFi is available all through the ship, so no matter where I was, I was connected.
The Internet connection uses a Satellite connection which makes the speed slower than what you would get in a hotel. The weird thing is, this satellite connection gives you weird results in Google Maps and the Weather settings. Once we had left port, Google Maps showed us positioned off the coast of Singapore, even though we were in the South Pacific Ocean. Often the Weather display would be showing the weather in Alaska (which is where the ship came from before we got onboard in Brisbane).
To follow the actual progress of the cruise, the TV in the rooms show a map, current location and speed of the ship.
The food was the highlight of my first cruise! With the cost of the cruise ticket, I got access to 7 different restaurants and I could order as much as I liked and didn’t have to pay a cent more.
I ended up having breakfast in the Windjammer Cafe everyday. Windjammer is the Buffet restaurant, with buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have a fairly simple breakfasts so just kept going back there. I had lunch at Windjammer 2 times during the cruise. They mix up the lunch buffet each day, with a different theme, Italian, Indian, Spanish, Chinese, so different selections each day.
I went to the Main Dining room 3 times for dinner. The food here is awesome, the décor is very cool, service is amazing but I just felt that the service is a bit rushed. I had to book ahead to have a set time for dinner and the dining room was always packed. I just found when you ordered your meal, the food came out within minutes. The first time I went I ordered a steak and that took about 5 minutes to come out. The other meals I ordered, Fish and Chips and the Lasagne came out in less than a minute. The crew member took my order, walked out to the galley and bang they were back with my meal. There must be a serious production line of food preparation in the galley to get food delivered that quickly.
My favourite place to eat was at Sorrento’s which is the pizza restaurant onboard, serving New York style pizza. You can come here and just get a slice of pizza or sit down and get as many slices as you want. I often would go grab a slice before I went to the Harp and Horn Pub, right next door. Or I would have a beer, then wonder over, grab a slice of pizza and take it back to the pub to eat there.
I did try 2 speciality restaurants (at an extra cost) during my 8 night cruise. I got to Izumi’s Japanese for a dinner, which was outstanding. See my review of the food at Izumi’s.
I also had lunch at Jamie’s Italian which was also outstanding. I had some excellent garlic bread to begin, then some delicious home made lasagne and then my favourite Italian dessert Tiramisu.
The Activities – What To Do Onboard
There are so many activities onboard the Quantum of the Seas, there is no way you can get bored. The first few days I actually relaxed alot in my room during the days, but as the cruise progressed, I got out and about and took full advantage of all the entertainment and activities.
There are so many activities I didn’t try like the Dodgem Cars, Rock Climbing, Wave surfing machine, all very popular with kids. I was tempted but didn’t want to get shown up by some pip squeak kid! Also the Simulated Skydiving was very fun to watch but I think I would have broken something doing that!
I think the must try activity on the Quantum of the Seas is the impressive North Star Observation Capsule. This goes up and gives you a birds eye view over the entire ship. I did this as a free event, which was just a 10 minute up and down. You can pay extra for the 20 minute experience which goes out over the side of the ship, picture below. The most popular time to do this is at sunset. I saw some other peoples photos of this ride at sunset, some very impressive pics to put on Instagram!
My favourite music venue was the Music Hall which had a rotation of bands throughout the evening and then it turns into a Nightclub around midnight (past my bed time).
I got to the Gymnasium a few times, which is huge. This is a fully decked out gym with exercise machines, free weights and weight machines. Located right at the front of the ship, on level 16, with impressive views out to sea or over the docks when you are in port. It got a little bit busy in the gym but still plenty of equipment to go round.
Every morning I got to Level 15 and did 10 laps of the Walking / Jogging Track. The track is 553 Meters round the ship, so 10 laps was 5.5 Kilometers, a nice brisk walk before breakfast. Read more about the Walking Track on the Quantum of the Seas.
The service was impressive. Every where. From the Cabin Attendant who serviced my room, to all the restaurants and bars. There were 1500 crew members onboard the Quantum of the Seas. On my cruise they announced that the crew came from 68 different countries. I interacted with staff from Indonesia, Philippines, India, China, Brazil, Guatemala, Kenya and Romania.
While the Quantum of the Seas can carry up to 4905 guests, my cruise only had around 3500 guests but with the full 1500 staff, we definitely got the best of the service.
Final Words about Cruising
So I was very impressed with my first cruise. So impressed I have already booked another cruise, this time on P&O’s Pacific Adventure, 4 nights, sailing from Sydney to Tangalooma Moreton Island in Queensland and back.
I will not be doing a cruise on every holiday I take, I still love to explore a city or town but think maybe every other year I will take a cruise and I definitely found it a very relaxing holiday.