Royal Caribbean is one of the largest and most luxurious cruise lines in the world with 24 massive ships. Right now, their Quantum of the Seas is their only ship that has received the coveted permit to be sailing in such turbulent times.
Check out our video review for all the sights and sounds we found on our journey:
Due to COVID regulations, the ship is limited to 50% capacity and is only available to Singapore residents. Vaccination was not required.
Quantum of the Seas
Since November 2020, the Quantum of the Seas has been based in Singapore and for locals, we bring you great news–their contract has just recently been extended till October 2021.
Sidebar: this is not a sponsored post. We’re recommending this cruise because we had a whale of a time and thought it was worth every penny we paid.
This was no ordinary cruise. There were no ports of call, and we were bound to strict COVID-safety protocols from the moment we booked our cruise.
We were required to undergo a PCR COVID-19 test a couple of days before boarding — the test was included in the price of the cruise. For anyone who hasn’t had one of these, it’s an eye (and nostril)-opening experience. It’s uncomfortable but not unbearable. Looking back on all the fond memories we had on our cruise, I can confirm that the swab test was a worthwhile discomfort to endure. It really isn’t so bad. The process was quick and our results were available within a few hours.
Booking our test was the most painful part of the entire trip. Not only did I not receive any information about booking the test, the website for booking was also buggy. All these were probably not Royal Caribbean’s fault since the test was conducted by a third-party company. In any case, with a little extra effort, all was remedied and we managed to get a test slot we could make.
For departure day, we signed up as far in advance as possible for the earliest possible boarding time slots, which became very very important for our enjoyment of the trip, as I’ll later explain.
Insider Tip: Book the earliest possible barding time slot.
These assigned slots were a COVID-safety measure to prevent unsafe crowding and to reduce wait times due to the extra boarding procedures.
In addition to the usual ID checks and immigration/customs clearance that you’d expect on any cruise, because of COVID-19, we had to complete a brief wellness checkup (in the form of an interview), a health declaration questionnaire, and contact tracing check-ins. Before boarding the ship, we were each issued a tracelet (contact-tracing bracelet) that we had to wear at all times except when in water or in our (state)rooms.
The tracelet was but 1 of 3 ways contact tracing was consistently conducted. Besides wearing a tracelet, we had to tap our key cards when entering and exiting a venue in the ship. All these were on top of keeping the Singaporean government’s Trace Together app or token connected at all times.
After about 30 minutes, we were through and in paradise (aka the Quantum of the Seas)! We were among the first to board and rushed to Guest Services to reserve seats on the headliner shows. Lim at Guest Services very kindly helped me with my reservation and even booked bumper cars, which I didn’t know I needed to book fast as well. If you’re thinking of taking one of these cruises, we HIGHLY recommend you board early and book your entertainment first thing.
Insider Tip: Book headliner shows and bumper cars as soon as you can get connected to the ship’s wifi.
Thanks to Lim’s helpfulness, we were one of the few lucky ducks that got to watch all the shows that required a reservation and when we could, we would go as early as possible to “chope” (save) the best available seats at the show. Because of the need to space out for safe-distancing, great seats are few and – literally – far between. There was one show that we arrived only 5 minutes before the show time and ended up watching some of the performance from the back and also had some part of our view obscured by gigantic lamps. Given that the doors open 30 minutes before each show, when we arrived 15 minutes before our 1st show, I was surprised when we got seats in the 3rd row (albeit on the side). We were close enough to the Gold Art Duo from Ukraine’s Got Talent, we could see their entertaining facial expressions. Yes, all stage performers from singers to dancers (in small groups) had their masks off.
The only times performers had to wear masks is if the dance ensemble consisted of a large number of dancers. When that was the case, the masks were aesthetic and alluring, arguably adding to the show. In Royal Caribbean’s original show, “Starwater”, there were certain moments where dancers/models would press up against the glass panels that separate them from the audience, getting closer than what you’ll expect in our COVID circumstance.
All in all, I’m truly impressed by how Royal Caribbean has turned COVID restrictions into platforms for creativity, producing unique works of art that are an exclusive treat for the audience on the cruise. We had a FANTASTIC time at these shows and were pleasantly surprised by the variety of entertainment on offer; we enjoyed everything from acrobatics to comedy to musical performances! Each and every performance was amazing, with Gold Art Duo and the BeatleManiacs being our personal favorites.
Watching all the headliner shows, one per evening, was the highlight of each of our evenings; I wish more had the opportunity to do so. Given the limited seats available at each performance venue, it was the minority of passengers who got to enjoy the headliner shows. Why is that so, given that the on-board theatres typically accommodate the majority of passengers? Even though the ship is only at 50% capacity, the activities and entertainment are also at reduced capacity for safe distancing. The main venues where the shows and concerts took place, for example, were only at about 25% capacity with plenty of space between each section of open seats so guests could not mingle with other guests from other rooms.
The trickiest part about booking the very limited slots for entertainment is that most reservations cannot be booked prior to boarding. Except for the North Star (which we booked) and Ripcord by iFly, no other activities could be pre-booked. Only once on board and connected to the ship’s wi-fi could we make almost all reservations through Royal Caribbean’s very handy app that helps us customize our daily itineraries.
After noticing guests playing pickleball at the Sports Deck, I learned that there were also additional activities that can only be reserved in-person at the Sports Deck–foosball, pickleball, ping pong, and Xbox. These activities weren’t listed anywhere else, not on the app or the Cruise Compass which supposedly had all the available activities. By the time I tried to book these on Day 2, there were only a handful of available slots remaining.
Insider Tip: Book activities at the Sports Deck ASAP!
Each stateroom was limited to a maximum of 4 bookings at the Sports Deck (excluding Bumper Cars). Late arrivals lose their booking to any guests willing to wait around.
At the Sports Deck, we unleashed our inner child. The bumper cars had us laughing uncontrollably and also allowed us to forget for a few minutes the craziness of the outside world we left on shore. When we weren’t playing bumper cars here, we were taking part in the adult archery competition (which we won a silver medal in!) and having a blast at various dance classes.
Sports competitions, dance classes and other small-scale activities were on a first-come-first-served basis (no reservations were available) and once the maximum capacity was reached, no more could participate. Given the wide variety of concurrent activities available, I didn’t see anyone being turned away. From craft to live entertainment, sports and trivia, there was something for everyone.
Our favorite activity was the Scavenger Hunt, in which we had to find crew members from the various nationalities on the ship and get passwords from the Cruise Director Staff. We loved that this gave us an excuse for more interaction with the friendly crew. We were so into the game, we ended up winning! We were surprised by the generous gifts we won and were eager to share our joy. After winning the full collection of Royal Caribbean merchandise, we were more than happy to play more games in the periphery where we could not win prizes but could eat and drink.
Eating and drinking was not allowed in venues where activities were being held. Eating and drinking just outside where activities were held allowed us to have fun while giving us and our respiratory issues a much-needed break from our masks. It was nice to be able to enjoy brief moments of respite and a sense of normalcy in such abnormal times.
At every step of the way, the crew were extremely diligent and prioritized health and safety alongside fun: groups were kept distanced, high-touch surfaces were cleaned after every use, and masks were required in all public areas except when exercising, using the hot tubs, eating, and drinking. In the dining areas, tables were spaced apart and kept to groups of 8 or fewer, with about half marked off and not to be used. Temperatures were checked at each venue and we were frequently asked to sanitize our hands using the myriad of stations before entering.
Violations of COVID regulations would result not only in on-board penalties, but violators would be referred to the Singapore Government, which had inspectors onboard and routinely patrolling to ensure rules were adhered to. The local authorities have done a fantastic job managing the virus–Singapore had no local COVID cases during the time we took our cruise.
To ensure a safe and enjoyable vacation for everyone, the crew was constantly cleaning and crowd-managing, and always with a smile…. Well, we couldn’t actually see their smile behind the mask, but each person wore a button so we could imagine the smiles behind their masks.
The ship and her crew were AMAZING and we are so grateful to them for everything they did to make our vacation extra special. Most of the crew has been on the ship, away from their families for over 6 months with the pandemic still raging in many countries. We are so incredibly grateful to them for making our trip memorable and really going above and beyond. We’d like to give a shout out to Sezai, Yitzhak, Raz, Eka, and all other Crew members for the unforgettably wonderful vacation we had.
This was the first vacation we have taken in 18 months, and our first time on a cruise ship since 2018, when we sailed with Royal Caribbean to beautiful Norway (aboard the Independence of the Seas). As you’d expect, this experience was completely different given the COVID-era protocols. Thanks to the hard work and creativity of the crew, it still very much felt like a vacation, and it was a GREAT vacation, even if a very different one.
This was also our first time onboard a Quantum class ship, and it was absolutely massive, with multiple pools, shops and restaurants. On board a Royal Caribbean ship, it’s impossible to be hungry or bored. There’s free flow of free food and if you don’t wish to pay for internet, you can enjoy a digital detox just as we did and not suffer a moment of boredom. If you haven’t been onboard one of these Quantum-class ships, it’s basically a floating city. There’s even a running track along the outside of the top deck that’s a third of a mile long. If you get the chance to cruise on the Quantum of the Seas, don’t miss the Robot Bar that serves non-alcoholic drinks too. The whole cruise is very family friendly with great activities for children and teens who can be left in the care of the crew members while adults play like kids.
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