Dining in style
To celebrate our first night at sea, my partner and I booked the most exclusive and intimate dining experience on board: Chef’s Table. The lavish experience is described as a five-course dinner with wine pairings, hosted by an executive chef and sommelier. Seated in a private dining room with a handful of fellow foodies dressed to the nines (one guest even wearing a très chic couture dress from the season two wardrobe of Emily in Paris), we perused the evening’s courses over a glass of Chandon.
On the menu? Scallop carpaccio with yuzu vinaigrette; Maine lobster salad; roasted branzino with grilled zucchini; and grilled filet mignon, the latter paired with a seductive glass of Duckhorn merlot. This epicurean journey was an apt introduction for a week filled with limitless food.
Besides fine dining, you’ll find an array of other speciality restaurants on board. Enjoy Tuscan cuisine at Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver, an American steakhouse menu at Chops Grille, and hand-rolled sushi courtesy of Izumi Japanese. Or book a table at Wonderland, where fantasy gourmet dishes are served with a twist (fancy an edible bird’s nest for your appetiser?).
Whilst these restaurants come at an extra cost, there are buffet-style bistros, and dining halls that provide complimentary three-course meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, complete with white-clothed tables and personalised service. Then there’s the plethora of bars available, from poolside bars to Vintages Wine Bar and Bionic Bar, where robot-crafted cocktails are the norm.
High seas hint: Book the three-restaurant dining package to experience a range of venues and cuisines.
Rest and relaxation
After a night of indulgence, it’s time to slow down and unwind. During each sailing day, my partner and I often wandered to the Solarium, the adults-only pool area with panoramic views of the ocean, to claim a couple of daybeds. Read by the pool, soak in the hot spas, or order a cocktail at the Solarium bar; the day is yours for the taking.
To reach a state of total relaxation, a visit to the ship’s Vitality Spa is non-negotiable. From massages to facials, fitness classes and a beauty salon, the spa is your sanctuary at sea. I booked myself into the Vitality Spa for an aroma stone therapy massage, which combines hot Basalt stones with traditional massage techniques and warmed oils. It was as deeply serene as it sounds and worth the extra expense (my 100-minute treatment was priced at $250 USD) for a morning of tranquillity.
High seas hint: Take a guided tour of the ship’s Vitality Spa on your first sailing day to get a glimpse of everything on offer.
Play to your heart’s content
No matter your age or interests, there’s an abundance of activities and venues on board to entice you. My partner and I are in our mid-20s and enjoyed a range of events—including Friends trivia, a 70s disco party, live comedy performances, and a Caribbean-inspired cocktail tasting.
For the kids (and the kids at heart), there are bumper cars, a roller-skating rink, rock climbing wall and revolutionary ways to play at sea. Add-on experiences include the North Star observation capsule, the FlowRider surf simulator, and a first-of-its-kind Ripcord by iFly skydiving simulator.
On such a large ship, it can sometimes be hard to eschew the crowd, so remember to book ahead and take full advantage of Quantum of the Sea's Royal App. It plays a central part in the cruise experience, letting you check out the timetable for the day, create a personalised calendar, and book activities.
High seas hint: Reserve entertainment, activities, and shore excursions on the Quantum of the Seas Royal App as soon as possible, as they are likely to fill up fast.
Explore a tropical island
There’s nothing more exhilarating than waking up in a new island paradise. From the comfort of our stateroom, I pulled back the curtains to our private balcony on the fourth morning and was greeted by the verdant vista of Mystery Island.
Located near the southernmost point of the Vanuatu archipelago, Mystery Island is a hidden gem only accessible by cruise ship. You can book a shore excursion organised by the cruise (such as a glass-bottom kayak tour), or venture out on your own. We brought our own snorkels from home and spent the day exploring the coral reefs — delighted by the splendour in colour and sea life — and tasting the local coconuts.
The ship’s second port of call was Port Vila, the harbourside capital of Vanuatu on the island of Éfaté. Again, we opted to travel at our own pace and hired a local guide to ferry us around the island and show us his local haunts. Joined by new friends, we browsed colourful market stalls, visited natural waterfalls, and swam at the crystal-clear Blue Lagoon. Between the variety of shore excursions and opportunities to explore on your own, each destination promises a fulfilling day of adventure.
By the end of our seven nights at sea, we disembarked feeling equal parts joyous and relaxed (and slightly off balance!). We travelled to a new country, ate like royalty for a week, and — above all — made friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.
The writer was a guest of Royal Caribbean International.