A cruise holiday has always played second fiddle in my vision of an ideal holiday. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that I have not been on one in more than 2 decades. However, that all changed recently after my experience on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas. Stuck without a holiday since Nov 2019 and given that leisure travel is unlikely to resume in 2021, I bit the bullet and booked a Cruise to Nowhere. I paid approx. $1,400 for 2 adults and 1 child for a 5D4N stay in an Ocean View stateroom with balcony, exclusive of any add-ons. The child ticket was free due to an ongoing promotion and Cruise to Nowhere is not eligible under Singapore Rediscover Vouchers (SRV) campaign. To my pleasant surprise, even with the pandemic-enforced restrictions in place, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and made even more memorable as I also celebrated my birthday on international waters. Needless to say, it was Olympia’s first ever experience on a cruise and she was thrilled to bits. She kept asking to go back, never mind that she had to undergo 2 rounds of Covid-19 testing. Here is my review of Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas, a Cruise to Nowhere.
Tips On Planning Before The Trip
Having almost zero experience with a cruise holiday, it was a steep learning curve for me. However, I am the sort of person who enjoys planning holiday itineraries so I actually relished this specific challenge. Having clocked 1 experience under my belt, here are some tips that I am sharing so that you can also maximise your trip on Quantum of the Seas.
Tip #1: Change To Current Sailing To View Calendar of Activities On The RC Mobile App
We all probably know that downloading the Royal Caribbean mobile app is very helpful in planning our activities on the vessel. Amongst other things, it shows the deck plans as well as your calendar. However, the frustrating thing is that we do not know ahead of schedule what activities are available on the days that we are sailing and this complicates planning. Well that all changed when I learnt that it was possible to temporarily switch your itinerary to another cruise that is currently sailing. (Credit goes to another financial blogger who told me about this) I know this concept can be quite confusing so let me explain exactly what I did.
Step 1: I logged into Royal Caribbean mobile app and found that I was automatically synced to my actual cruise reservation, i.e. depart 4 Feb (Thur) and return 8 Feb (Mon)
Step 2: I searched for Quantum of the Seas that was currently sailing on the date of my research, i.e. depart 21 Jan (Thur) and return 25 Jan (Mon).
Step 3: I slowly scrolled through each day (1-5) to see what activities were available as shown in Diagram 2.
For holiday goers like me who plan travel itineraries to the last detail, this was a game-changer! I could now predict which activities were likely to take place on the days that I would actually be on board. Furthermore, this allowed me to narrow down the specific time slots of the entertainment shows that I wanted to watch. Do note that all shows staged on the venues of Royal Theatre, Two70 and Music Hall can only be booked on board after boarding and are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Therefore, your arrival time/boarding time absolutely matters.
Trust me, you will save plenty of time when you have this valuable information beforehand! This is especially the case if you are booked on a “heartlander” stateroom class like me and do not have the benefit of concierge doing the reservations on your behalf (only available to those on Sky Loft Suite and above).
Once you have successfully secured your prized seats to the shows, do turn up early to snag the best seats as they are all free-seating.
Tip #2: Beverage and Dining Packages Are Not Necessities
I discussed with my wife beforehand and we decided not to purchase any dining and beverage packages.
Firstly, the water served on a cruise ship is drinkable. To play it extra safe, you can also boil it before drinking it. As parents, we felt confident enough to serve boiled water from the cruise ship to our 2-year-old. We could also request for water from Café Promenade and Sorrentos which are opened till late. Furthermore, other basic drinks such as coffee, tea, milk and juice were also served during meal times. Therefore, we did not find it necessary to pay extra money (ranging from $10 to $65 per pax) for a Beverage/Drink Package on the Quantum of the Seas. If you like a glass of wine to go with your meal, then the alcohol package is worth considering.
Secondly, specialty dining venues do not come cheap. They range from a low of $31 to $130 per meal while unlimited passes go for S$135 per pax. As we have done our homework and found that the food pictures from the 11 Complimentary restaurants looked appetising on their own, we decided not to purchase dining packages. Well, turned out that appetising was a huge understatement because the food at the complimentary restaurants far exceeded my expectations.
Furthermore, we are not big eaters and are unlikely to extract maximum value from the speciality restaurants on board. Of course, for those who can and would like to, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to splurge on food and drinks while on a cruise holiday!
[Update: Some readers have feedbacked that the quality of the food at the complimentary restaurants have dropped in standards]
Tip #3: Purchase Your wifi on the Cruise Planner
If you are like me who cannot survive without internet, it would be wise to purchase your wifi on the cruise planner before departure. Do take note that the cut-off time for bookings via Cruise Planner is 11.50 Eastern Standard time, 2 days before your departure. VOOM Surf+ Stream packages range from 1 to 4 devices. If you want to save money, you can click the “forget wifi network” and toggle between your devices under the same internet package.
Tip #4: Take note of the restrictions on some activities
There are plenty of exciting activities on board which can fill your schedule completely. However, several restrictions apply and some of them affected my 2-year-old toddler as shown in Diagram 6.
On hindsight, I would have waited till at least Olympia is 3 years old so that she can at least try iFLY. But then again, not sure if the Cruise to Nowhere concept would still be available then?
Tip # 5: Purchase Travel Insurance for additional coverage
It is comforting to know that Royal Caribbean will provide a full refund (whether in cash or future cruise credit) if your travel party or close contacts test positive prior, at boarding terminal or during the cruise. This is in addition to covering onboard medical treatment in the event of Covid-19 related expenses. Nevertheless, being super kiasu, I have decided to purchase travel insurance policy from Starr via SingSaver. (It is running a $10 PayNow cash rebate till 31 Dec 2021)
It has a “cruise rider” that I added on top of the base policy so it obviously covers cruise to nowhere. It helps to cover for events such as:
- Having to cancel the trip (eg: my daughter falls sick which is a high probability event now that she is in preschool), bereavement in the family etc
- Medical expenses from personal accidents on the ship that are not related to Covid-19
- Lost luggage/travel documents etc
The other insurance policy that I did consider was from AXA which also covers cruise to nowhere. Most importantly, I bought travel insurance plan for my family to give us some peace of mind.
Heartland Boy’s Experience on Quantum of the Seas
With all the pre-planning out of the way, here is a look at some of the activities we did on the Quantum of the Seas. Judging from her experience in school, we knew that Olympia would not be comfortable with being dropped off at Adventure Ocean. Despite missing out on that, we were able to keep her occupied with these kid-friendly activities on the cruise.
I spent some quality father-daughter time with Olympia making a holiday card while the mum got to soak in the hot jacuzzis located the adults-only Solarium.
The wife and Olympia enrolled in a cupcake decorating class at Jamie’s Italian restaurant. The end result was a cute looking cupcake to help celebrate my birthday. While they were busy decorating the cup cake, I managed to sneak in a session at the Flow Rider. It was also my first time boogieboarding and I am glad to be able to tick another item off the bucket list.
We were also at the swimming pool every day except on the first and last day as swimming was a good activity for Olympia to work off the additional calories from all the ice cream that she indulged on the cruise. This trip also exposed her to video games for the first time to the extent that we were not allowed to touch her controller. The arcade, located on the same deck as the bumper cars, was a slight let-down in my opinion as I had expected it to be bigger.
This cruise once again confirmed what I already know my whole life, i.e. I cannot dance to save my own life. Despite being born with two left feet, I tried my best to be a positive role model for Olympia. One noteworthy mention is Heartland Boy snagging the coveted gold medal at the Volleyball competition which hanged proudly on Olympia’s neck throughout the trip.
Finally, we ended each night with a different show. I was rewarded for my diligent planning as the family managed to watch all the 4 shows at our preferred time slots. The 10pm time slots were not suitable since they were way past Olympia’s bed time. That pretty much summed up our daily routine on Quantum of the Seas – activities for Olympia in the mornings, exercise in the afternoons ending with enthralling performances at night.
To break the routine, we ordered room service for breakfast on one of the mornings. We dined at the balcony under the full glare of the merciless sun. Despite the heat, it was a refreshing change of scenery, and definitely a breath-taking view that I wouldn’t mind getting accustomed to.
Overall, I am most satisfied with the hospitality of the staff and the food quality on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas. Despite it being a cruise to nowhere, it felt like we were really away on an overseas vacation far away from Singapore. Our decision to prioritize a secation over a staycation also paid off handsomely. If the Covid-19 vaccine situation does not improve, we might even explore another cruise trip (maybe Genting World Dream) at the end of the year? That shows you how hooked we have become on cruising now.
P.S. On 12 May 2022, we sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas which is also a cruise to nowhere. Read my review of our experience in this blogpost.
This blog article is published on 14 Feb 2021. By the way, cruising makes for a perfect Valentine’s gift for your loved one especially when Royal Caribbean’s Cruise to Nowhere has been extended twice till end October 2021. You can book it via Klook to earn Klook credits (cash rebates). Alternatively, score 5% discount by booking your cruise to nowhere trip via HSBC credit card.
Wow.. Nice and useful article.. It’s very much helpful for anyone who sail for first time including me :)..
Thanks! Hope you will have a fantastic trip!
do u happen to have any promo code for the travel insurance?
Nope, I don’t. But when i bought the travel insurance, both AXA and Starr was running some promotion and I took advantage of it.
Thanks! This was very helpful – our family is also a bunch of Cruise novices 🙂 Did you book all of your show tickets/live entertainment the first day right after you boarded or was it possible to wait and book some seats later?
Lovely family you have thanks for sharing your tips 🙂
Thanks for your compliments. I booked everything right after I boarded. Depending on the amount of passengers on your cruise, you might be able to book some seats later on the day of the performances.
Hi Alison, thanks for the useful info. Is there fridge and kettle for boiling water in the room? Thanks!
Yes, there is fridge and kettle. I boil water on the ship daily as I did not purchase the beverage package.
I lol-ed at your “Despite being born with two left feet…” comment, haha. I just booked our cruise to nowhere, 5 adults & 1 4yo, this article is really useful for newbies like us, thanks a lot for sharing. 🙂
Thanks for your compliments! I am excited for your upcoming trip too! It will definitely be a lot of fun and a good getaway!
Hi @heartland boy
I was thinking if reaching by 4:30 could be a good idea. As kids could attend school that day and then we could proceed for the cruise. Would that be late?
Also, what time are we really out of the ship on date of arrival. I saw 6:30 am .. but how quick is the process? Is breakfast included for that morning?
I picked up my girl after her nap time from preschool at 3pm and reached cruise terminal at 330pm. I think 430 is not too late!
On arrival, it is true that you can leave as early as 630am. I had breakfast at 830am!
Hi, as I will be bringing my 2 yo along for the cruise. Can I check if the swab test for children was as thorough as for adults? Because I am kind of worried about that. I read that you mentioned two rounds of test will be done. Meaning it will be done before and after the cruise?
I feel that it is not as thorough as adults’. I understand that measures might have slackened- testing reduced to one round? You can check on the website. Thanks.
Susanna Sng says
Reading your review on the cruise to nowhere on RC. Appreciate your update and information due to covid19 situation.
Really miss cruising. Am considering to take a cruise in May 2021. Am so excited. Even if there are no port of calls, does not matter, can still enjoy the facilities on board.
Btw, is the casino open?
Thank you and Cheers!!
Yes, the casino is opened! approx 2 hours after the ship has sailed so that it’s on international waters 😀
Thanks for sharing. I will be going alone on the cruise later this month and this will be my first cruise. Are there compulsory activities and would you share what to bring along.. are toiletries provided each day what about clothes?
The only compulsory activity is the fire safety briefing once you have checked into your stateroom. If you are not in suite, the toiletries provided are the typical 2 in 1 bathroom and shampoo. Clothes are not provided so bring them!
Thanks for the reply. Actually I meant what clothes to bring as in whether there were attire requirements.. I’ll definitely bring clothes though.. haha
Thanks for sharing your review on the dining options, and now i probably have an idea or whether to get the add-ons or not..
May i ask if you know what is the earliest time that we are allowed on the cruise? Just want to plan my time and not get stuck at the cruise centre nor arrive too late. Appreciate your advice!
You are welcome. I understand the earliest boarding time is 2pm (only applies for now)
I see.. if that is so then its not too bad to go check in and board early. Thanks for the info!
Thanks for the very insightful tips!
Can I check if the in-room dining service will require additional costs? TIA!
There is no extra cost if you order the standard items!
Hi, is it that kids of all ages are required to do the nose swab test?
Yes, all passengers including 6 month-olds
Hi and thanks for the tips, I tried to change the dates as per your tip 1, step 2. But can’t seem to change it. Do you still remember the exact steps you took in the app to change the dates? Thanks and have a great day ahead.
These were the exact steps. You need to search for current sailing- that is 18 March.
Yea I tried to change but they don’t allowed to do so as it leads you to key in new reservation number. Thanks.
I think you need to choose “ships we support” and then you can find the list of cruise dates under “Quantum of the Seas”.
Hi there, can I check if the reservation of the shows and activities on the app is meant for all the people under one booking? Or need to reserve separately for individual names under the booking? Can advise? Thank you!!!!
You can reserve for all the persons under the same booking
Ronald Tan says
How to save money on Wifi package? Can 2 device be share with 1 package?
How the Wifi working?
Yes, multiple devices can log in to the package, provided that you keep to the quota you purchase. Wifi speed was good
Ronald Tan says
What i mean is….. can i buy 1 internet package but share between 2 devices? (phone & laptop)
Is that possible? Any advise?
its possible, but do not log on at the same time.
Hi, thank you for sharing! Great read!
Would you know if Voom Surf+ suffice for phone app games (e.g. Robloox, Mindcraft? or I should take the Voom Surf+ Stream option? *Call centre personnel could not advise.
I could not advise either as I do not play phone app games. I took the Surf+Stream option and internet speed as good
Hi there very informative article you’ve given . Thanks. I too have a 2 year old. Would you be able to let me know what are the activities we can do with a 2 year old on board without extra charges? We are planning to go in may, but before we decide, your advice will greatly help us. Is it really worth going with a 2 yr old and a 5 yr old even though not much we can do with the younger one?
Thanks. Bring your 2yo along since its free anyway! Free activities include the playroom at Royal Tots (provided your kid is fine if there is someone else babysitting). Other daily random activities include origami, holiday card making, towel folding, etc.
hi thanks so much for sharing!
just wondering if there was any reception? since we’re technically still in singapore/
There is no reception as the cruise will travel to international waters.
Thank you! This is very informative.
For balcony room, do all the rooms have unobstructed view or any recommended deck level?
Also, what is the beverage package for? For the in-room or for the daily normal dining in the restaurants?
Thank you again!
Thanks, not all rooms have unobstructed views. It will be stated clearly before you book whether your selected room is obstructed or not. Beverage package is for daily normal dining at restaurants and cafes
Hi Heartland boy and Alison
Thanks for sharing, great info, really!
Can I know more about the different timings for the 4 shows that you’ve watched please? I’ve done the switched cruise date trick that you shared above but some timings are still not available yet it seems.
Thank you for your kind comments. If i recall, show timings are usually (1)7.45/8pm, (2)10/1015pm and (3)5pm. I notice that 5pm slots are not common and probably depends on no.of passengers on board.
Hi can I check with you whether the different complimentary restaurants serve the same menu or different menus? Thanks!
The main dining restaurants serve the same menu. You will be assigned to only 1 main dining restaurant throughout the entire trip
Hi, thanks for the very insightful blog of your experience with RC. May I ask if you are required to reserve slots for the Windjammer meals and also for the swimming pool slots?
Reservation was not necessary when I sailed in Feb
Hello, thank you for sharing your experience. Can i check with you whether we can only make a booking for the entertainment if we purchase wifi?
Nope, you should be able to book the entertainment programmes via their complimentary, on-board wifi (allows access to the app and communication on board only)
thank you for the informative article and tips. May I have a “feel” of the price of drinks on board? ie coke, latte, juice, mocktail if you know any. also the complimentary restaurants do they provide any free water like plain water etc? I’m still contemplating whether to get the beverage package. thanks for the heads up.
I can’t recall the prices but they are definitely prohibitive. Yes, complimentary restaurants provide drinking water, coffee and tea as well.
Thank you Alison. May I ask if you remember how long in advance can we book the check-in timeslot? as in the boarding time slot. we hope to secure the earliest slot to board the ship. thanks
Can I check what type of room is yours that comes with the kettle ….
I’ve seen some guys mentioned they have, some commented they dont have
I had the balcony room. I am pretty sure if you asked for a kettle, they will be more than willing to provide 1 if they have it!
Thanks alot for the info… 😊
Hi, can I please check if your daughter was toilet trained when you went for the cruise? Intending to bring my son when he turns 2, but he is not toilet trained and it seems he can’t enter the pool. Was their a cot provided too for her in your room?
This may be a silly question, but are their high chairs for all restaurants?
There are no silly questions, and as a parent I understand your concerns.
1) there are high chairs at the restaurant
2) yes, baby cot is provided and there are 2 sizes. We took the larger one
3) If i recall, children need not be toilet trained to go to the children’s pool. this one is only thigh-deep
Ck tan says
Hi! For normal drinking water, will they provide free bottles of them throughout the cruise?
If not, is it a hassle to keep topping my existing bottle up?
I’m contemplating whether it’s necessary to get the evian bottle water package.
Hi CK Tan,
If i recall correctly, 2 bottles are provided daily during room cleaning. I did not purchase the beverage package. Instead, I refilled my bottles at the restaurants. Staff are more than happy to help you on this.
Hi Alison, your article is very informative. Pertaining to the part on changing sail date on the app to see the activities in advance, could you elaborate & perhaps show us with screenshots? Cos like one of the readers mentioned earlier, me too can’t change the sailing date. Thanks in advance!
Thanks for your compliments. Unfortunately, I am not able to illustrate with screen shots as I am not travelling on a RCC anytime soon.