Royal Caribbean opened the curtain on its newest cruise ship, the Quantum of the Seas, and it would be hard to miss its most iconic feature.
Like a London Eye at sea, the Quantum of the Seas will feature a ride called the North Star that will send riders aboard a glass capsule attached to a rotating, pivoting crane-arm that can rise to more than 300 feet above the ocean as well as jut out over the side of the ship while offering 360-degree views.
"Quantum of the Seas gave us an opportunity to innovate in yet a whole different way and bring to bear new design techniques, new technologies," said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, LTD. "It gave us a whole new platform to exercise our imagination on."
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The ship, which will sail out of the Cape Liberty cruise port in Bayonne, New Jersey beginning in fall 2014, will also feature several other industry firsts including an indoor sky diving attraction that was developed by former Orlando-based company iFly, bumper cars at sea, virtual balconies and a massive gathering venue offering 270-degree views from the aft of the ship.
"There are probably more innovations on Quantum of the Seas that I can keep in my head at any one moment," said Adam Goldstein, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.
One of these will be RipCord by iFly, a sky diving simulator that uses a massive fan that blows wind up allowing riders to float in the air in a controlled manner. iFly operates a similar attraction on International Drive in Orlando.
The signature gathering space will be called Two70°, named for its panoramic views through three-story, glass walls. Much like some of the transformative features on the latest Disney cruise ships, the venue will transform from day to night using projection technology, allowing for digital scenery to accompany entertainment options such as aerial performances.
The SeaPlex will be an indoor activity center that will be the line's largest to date. It will be home to normal features like a full-size basketball court, but also new activities such as a circus school including how to use a trapeze and nighttime bumper cars and roller skating accompanied by a floating DJ booth above the action.
The main nightlife complex is called the Music Hall, a two-story rock 'n' roll-inspired venue with such offerings as live music, DJs and billiards.
New to the line will be inside cabins that feature virtual balconies, which are digital, real-time projection of the exterior of the ship. This is a larger approach to the virtual porthole that was developed aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. The line also promises a new layout and design for the staterooms, making them 9 percent larger on average to those on the Oasis-class ships.
The ship also offers a larger variety of stateroom categories including studios with balconies for single travelers.
In addition to the new features, the ship will feature other popular Royal Caribbean features such as the adults-only Solarium, Rock Climbing Wall, FlowRider surf simulator, H2O Zone kids' aqua park, Adventure Ocean children's program, Royal Babies and Tots Nursery as well as a DreamWorks partnership featuring characters from movies like "Shrek," "Kung Fu Panda" and "Madagascar."
The line promised more details about the ship's dining and entertainment in the coming months.
Quantum of the Seas will be joined by sister ship the Anthem of the Seas in spring 2015. The Quantum class of ships are the first new ships for the line since the introduction of the two largest cruise ships in the world, the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, which joined the fleet in 2009 and 2010, respectively. The 4,180-passenger, 167,800-ton Quantum class ships will be smaller than these, but larger than any of the line's other ships. Construction of the Quantum of the Seas began at the Meyer Werft shipyards in Papenburg, Germany in January with scheduled delivery in October 2014.
The ship will sail 7- to 12-night itineraries for the winter 2014-2015 season. Royal Caribbean loyalty program members can book cruises starting May 27, 2013. The general public can book cruise beginning June 4.
"Quantum of the Seas I think is clearly a quantum leap forward," said Harri Kulovaara, Royal Caribbean's vice president of new ship construction. "We don't settle for something that has been done before. We don't get satisfaction out of that. We really want to do something that is extraordinary."