Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas, “the world’s first smartship” – which sailed into New York Harbour yesterday, Monday 10th November 2014 following her eight-day inaugural voyage from Southampton – was the venue for this year’s well-attended Irish Travel Agents Association conference.
The 168,666-ton, 16-guest-deck, ship – the third largest cruise ship ever built – is offering an eight-night cruise to the Bahamas for prices ranging from $1,049 for an interior room to $2,699 for a deluxe suite. Quantum of the Seas can carry 4,180 guests (double occupancy) or 4,905 in total and has a crew of 1,500.
The 2,090 staterooms include 1,571 with balcony, 148 with ocean view, 375 with virtual balcony, 16 family connected staterooms, and 34 wheelchair accessible staterooms.
Onboard features include superfast wireless connectivity (RCI has a share in a satellite), the world’s first robotic bartenders, a skydiving simulator, bumper cars, futuristic entertainment, and partnerships with celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver, Michael Schwartz and Devin Alexander.
The Irish Travel Agents Association held its annual conference onboard Quantum of the Seas during a two-night ‘test cruise’ prior to the ship’s inaugural sailing from Southampton to New York.
ITTN’s first task on boarding was to have lunch with Lorenzo Davidoiu and Brian Abel, Director and Vice President respectively of Food & Beverage Operations, in Jamie Oliver’s first onboard restaurant, Jamie’s Italian.
They have both personally tasted “everything served on this ship” and were interested in launching the Dynamic Dining system that is being introduced on Quantum and Oasis class ships. “We are also talking about introducing dynamic dining on other classes, but we have to work closely with entertainment with regard to use of the spaces,” said Lorenzo.
At the start of the Irish Travel Agents Association conference onboard Quantum of the Seas, ITTN’s News & Features Editor Neil Steedman presented ITAA President Martin Skelly with a copy of the special publication ‘50 Years in Irish Travel: A Look at the Past, Present and Future of Travel’, which includes the results of ITTN’s September 2014 Industry Survey of Irish travel agents throughout Ireland.
Tara Hynes of Travelport told the conference that Travelport was “blown away” by the amount and calibre of entries in the company’s Inspiring Innovation promotion, and announced the finalists as FCm Travel Solutions, eTravel and Tour America – with eTravel being selected as the overall winner.
Larry Pimental, President and Chief Executive, Azamara Club Cruises, made a concise but telling presentation on the concept of luxury and selling to the affluent and upmarket sector. “Your customers can find the price on the Internet,” he said, “but you are a value interpreter. One person’s luxury is not necessarily another’s.”
Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Executive Vice President – Operations, Royal Caribbean International, also outlined the dynamic dining concept and confirmed that it would be included on Allure of the Seas, due to be launched in spring 2015.
Mamma Mia and StarWater
Two great shows are currently being presented on Quantum of the Seas: a full-length Mamma Mia and StarWater, which involves 16 actors, 110 animators and a total team of 1,000!
The Two70 lounge on deck 5 is transformed into a theatre with a 5:1 screen with a 12k pixel resolution, 18 projectors and six robot-controlled panel screens that have been programmed to “move like humans”.