My family sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas in February 2021 and had nothing short of a fantastic time. My daughter, Olympia, has been reminiscing about her time on the cruise and badgering to go on a cruise ship again. Therefore, when news that Spectrum of the Seas would start sailing in Singapore drifted to my household, I promptly made the bookings. Plural for bookings because I also asked my parents-in-law along to enjoy a seacation (and babysit Olympia of course). Since I have already tried balcony stateroom on Quantum of the Seas, I decided to pamper ourselves with Suites class this time round. As part of its opening promotion, we paid S$1,800 for 2 adults and 1 child for a 5-day 4-night Silver Junior Suite. Here is my review of Royal Caribbean Spectrum of the Seas, a Cruise to Nowhere.
Tips On Planning Before The Trip
Most of the pre-departure tips that I shared on my review of Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas in this blog article are still applicable. Anyway, here is a quick summary:
- Know your itinerary in advance by changing sailing date to current day on the Royal Caribbean International Mobile App (still the best hack ever)
- Wait for promotion (25% off) before purchasing wifi on the Cruise Planner. Do also offset the cost with your on-board credits, if any. I regretted purchasing the Voom Surf Voyage Package this time and not the Voom Surf +Stream Package as the former was annoyingly slow.
- Take note of restrictions on some activities that your child may not be allowed to participate. For instance, at only 3+ years old, Olympia was ineligible for bumper car, rock climbing and the Skypad even though these were activities she really wanted to try.
- Save 5% off by booking direct (email, phone, walk-in) with your HSBC credit card. Receive branded bag and luggage with minimum spend of S$1,800.
- Purchase travel insurance offering cruise riders for additional coverage
Given the changing Covid-19 restrictions, I opted for a virtually supervised Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test (ART) from the comfort of my home. I booked with Raffles Medical and each test cost me $23 per pax. Therefore, do add this cost to your budget since the ticket does not cover for this.
Silver Junior Suite Privileges
I was yearning to try Suites class because my last attempt to do so was quashed after Olympia fell sick. On the other hand, I had to balance my budget as I also have plans to travel elsewhere in the second half of 2022. (revenge travel is real). Therefore, during the time of booking, I felt that the Silver Junior Suite offers the best of both worlds – not too hard on the wallet (check out the price of her Ultimate Family Suite) while having a decent exposure to the privileges afforded by Suites.
For comparison, a Silver Junior Suite cost $310 more per pax over 4 nights than an Ocean View Balcony, which works out to $78/pax/night. Spending this additional amount entitles one to the following SEA Class benefits exclusive to Spectrum of the Seas:
1) All day access to Silver Dining covering Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. This is an exclusive area dedicated to passengers on Silver Suites.
For breakfast and lunch, it is served buffet style while dinner is a semi-buffet concept. There are a few standouts from the ala-carte dishes served during dinner as shown in Diagram 3.
I feel that the food at Silver Dining was only slightly better than those served at Windjammer. There are several areas that can be improved upon; a rotating ala-carte dinner menu would be a good start. Overall, the major perk here is definitely the exclusivity and more serene environment afforded.
2) The Silver Lounge is located beside the Silver Dining but my stateroom category did not entitle me to complimentary d’oeuvres and cocktails served between 5-8pm. I simply sat there to have some quiet “me-time” when Olympia was having her afternoon nap. Alternatively, we also spent time soaking in the hot tubs, lounging on the sun beds and lazing in the mini pool of the adults-only Solarium. A significant part of the Solarium has been hived off for Suites guests and it’s a shame that these facilities were grossly under-utilized during my sailing. Nevertheless, it was great self-care to be able to take our minds off the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.
3) A more spacious room at 276 sqft compared to 198 sqft for a balcony stateroom. The extra space is useful as we requested the housekeeper to open up the sofa to serve as a sofa bed for Olympia. As part of sleep training, she has never slept together with us on the same bed since she was born! As we booked early, we also managed to snag one of the best cabins on the higher decks with a wide balcony frontage and a more efficient room layout.
4) Finally, the bigger room comes with a bathtub stocked with luxury bathroom amenities. A bathtub experience is something that Olympia looks forward to on staycations because we don’t have one at home. My wife brought along some bath bombs for their daily daughter-mother bonding activity.
Granted, I do not have concierge access to guarantee the best seats for the performances but this can be easily overcome simply by turning up early. Besides, only the Silk Road production requires reservations these days. Other Gold benefits such as priority boarding is also not as valuable since boarding time is now staggered as part of safe distancing measures. My verdict is that if you do not appreciate the bigger room with better specifications, there may not be a need to splurge on this additional cost. If premium food is something you are after, you might be better off purchasing a dining package instead.
Our Experience on Spectrum of the Seas
Even though we got ourselves a bigger room this time round, we still spend most of our time outside. In fact, we utilised almost all the facilities and participated in almost all the activities on board. This confirms my belief that a cruise vacation is ideal because there are activities catered for all ages and personalities.
For Olympia, her absolute favourite activity turned out to be something very simple- swimming. This was a good activity because she got to spend time outdoors at the kid’s playground, expend her energy and exercise at the same time. Besides, she is also a more confident swimmer these days.
On times when we preferred to stay dry, we brought her to the indoor playground, Aquanauts. There is an open-play zone where parents are allowed to enter and kids get to interact amongst each other.
The grandparents also accompanied Olympia to several activities such as a card making workshop as well as a digital scavenger hunt organised by Adventure Ocean. To our surprise, we came in first for the digital scavenger hunt and walked away with the grand prize of a popper (extremely grand from the perspective of my toddler). The wife said we won because I was overly analytical and this game played on my tendency to be extremely efficient.
Facilities that are new and not present in Quantum of the Seas include the Skypad as well as Sasu Valley. The Skypad involves jumping on a massive trampoline with a safety harness. To my surprise, I was left catching my breath when it ended. Unfortunately, each passenger is only entitled to 1 try even though we had wanted to jump again on other days. One activity that we did get to play multiple times was Sasu Valley, a virtual reality game. The family had a hilarious time watching the videos of Olympia navigating the game in earnest.
We ended each night by watching a performance at the Royal Theatre or Via270. We thoroughly enjoyed Silk Road, Showgirl and Su Pengfei as they made for top quality entertainment. Unfortunately, the magic show by John Taylor was a miss in my opinion. After Olympia sleeps, we continue to enjoy couple time by listening to musical performances at Schooner Bar and Music Hall and the occasional karaoke songs belted out by fellow cruise-goers.
Despite having only sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas in Feb 2021, we still thoroughly enjoyed our experience on Spectrum of the Seas. I will definitely cruise again and would like to try getting off the boat to participate in some shore activities. Singapore Tourism Board stated that international cruises will be possible by the end of 2022, so that is something novel to look forward to again!
This blog article is published on 17 May 2022.