Quantum of the Seas: Cruising’s First “SmartShip”

Yesterday morning, Royal Caribbean International announced that their newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, will be the first “Smartship” at sea, offering fast connectivity and new technological advancements never before found on a cruise ship. Check out the details:

Personally, I use a week at sea to escape from the outside world, only checking in on occasion to make sure everyone is alright and posting to my Instagram once or twice. (Guilty!).

What do you guys think about this? How do you feel about being connected throughout your entire vacation?

 

Norwegian Getaway Inaugural Experience

On February 6, 2014, Norwegian Getaway arrived to her new permanent home port of Miami, Florida. On February 7, my mother and I drove down to Miami to participate in the ship’s inaugural event, a 1 night sailing dubbed “Norwegian Lights Up Miami”. We had the privilege of joining fellow travel partners, journalists and other VIPs for the event, which offered a chance for us to tour this magnificent ship, dine in the amazing restaurants, enjoy on-board entertainment and party the night away. The cruise was a bit of a tease – being only 1 night – but we had a wonderful time and am looking forward to sailing aboard the ship again!

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Driving up to the terminal, we were immediately impressed with the size of Norwegian Getaway – it was the largest ship in port! Standing tall with 19 decks, she is a sight to behold. The hull art, designed by local Miami artist David “LEBO” Le Batard, gives the ship a flavor all its own. You can sense the Miami culture throughout Norwegian Getaway, from the interior design to the music to the mojito bar. There is no question that this ship belongs in South Florida.

Due to our late invitation to the event, we were lodged in an interior cabin on deck 13. Since the cruise was just one night, this was not a big deal (normally, I’m a balcony girl). We were impressed with the fact that the interior cabins were housed in their own separate hallways, away from the main corridor. Although they are the least expensive cabins on the ship, they offered a feel of exclusivity. Our cabin itself was cozy; interior cabins are small, but well-organized. The bathroom was much larger than we expected. Truth be told, we had no plans in remaining in the cabin for any period of time, so we didn’t need anything larger for that one night. A longer cruise, however, and I would’ve at least wanted an Oceanview. 🙂

After putting down our overnight bags, our next goal was to tour the open cabins. We headed straight for Deck 16, where The Haven is located. I had yet to physically lay eyes on this uber-exclusive area on any Norwegian ship, and this was my chance. For those who do not know: The Haven is where the suites are housed on Norwegian’s newer ships. Guests staying in a Haven suite have a private shared courtyard, restaurant, bar, pool and hot tubs. The Haven can only be accessed via keycard, which explains my lack of prior access to the area. (not “baller” enough, not yet anyway). We were able to tour the Penthouse Suite, the jaw-dropping Deluxe Owner’s Suite with its wraparound balcony and incredible closet (I might’ve literally left some drool on the floor of this cabin), and Owner’s Suite. Amazing, beautiful cabins. I can’t say enough. Anyone who books a cruise in one of them will NOT be sorry.

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Our tour then took us down a few decks to the 2-bedroom Family Villa, which is designed specifically for parents and their children. It even comes with a child-sized shower. J

At this point it was time to eat. We chose to visit Sabor, one of the complimentary dining venues aboard the ship. I had some incredibly yummy calamari, roasted chicken and peanut butter cup cheesecake. This food was DELICIOUS. The drinks were amazing.. (did I mention that there was no charge for alcohol? This was a VERY special cruise, lol)

Our self-guided tour continued to the other entertainment decks on the ship and eventually outside to the AquaPark and pool deck. The AquaPark has an impressive 5 waterslides, including 2 “drop” slides that are too scary for me to try. The main pool is flanked by hot tubs, two pool bars and faces the main entertainment stage. Spice H2O, the adults’ only entertainment venue in the aft of the ship, also features a stage, hot tubs, and grotto-type pool with waterfalls and built-in seating. (This is where the VIP-Only Inaugural Festivities were held, complete with a concert by “Mr. 305” himself, Pitbull).

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One pretty cool feature aboard Norwegian Getaway are the touch-screens throughout the hallways. Although other cruise lines feature these, they add a touch of convenience as you roam about the ship. You have the ability to view a map, see what’s currently happening onboard, reserve show tickets or make your dinner reservations at a specialty restaurant. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t realize that the specialty restaurants were free of charge until they were completely booked for the night. We wanted to check out Ocean Blue or the Imaginarium, but were unable to do either. Next time. Since there are 28 dining venues aboard the ship, we knew we wouldn’t go hungry. We chose to have dinner at The Tropicana Club, another complimentary venue that is designed after a 1920’s Miami supper club. The food was incredible and the ambiance cannot be put into words. There was a live band playing American and Latin-American standards, and several guests got up to dance throughout dinner. My mother said that she’ll dine there every night when she returns to Getaway. 🙂

After eating, it was time to party! The Sail Away party was held in Spice H2O, where everyone was handed glow sticks. The DJ played a mix of house and Top 40 music while we danced and sailed past South Beach. We looked out on the shore and saw a group of about 100 people with their own glowsticks waving at us. And once we were away from shore, we were treated to our own fireworks show. What an incredible and surreal experience; I was so honored to be part of it!

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From there, we headed to Bliss Ultra Lounge for more partying, although at this point we just sat in the curtained “VIP” section and watched everyone else party. It had been a long day, we had walked about 4 miles, and were exhausted. However, since the cruise was just one night, we wanted to take in as much as possible.

Of course, there was plenty we missed – from the aforementioned Imaginarium show, to Legally Blonde, to The Grammy Experience…so much more to see, not enough time. We are planning to re-experience this ship in 2015, so we’ll have time to catch up. I also have cabins available on the 7/26/14 sailing – why not book your space and experience Norwegian Getaway for yourself? Check out this link for more information!

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Norwegian Breakaway is Christened!

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If you’re a cruise junkie like me, the announcement of a new, shiny, pretty ship is like a holiday. For me, Christmas Eve. So imagine how it feels when the new, shiny, pretty  ship actually ARRIVES to its home port and is ready to sail! Well…today was like Christmas Day for the cruising world, as Norwegian Breakaway was christened in her new home of New York City. The ship will offer 7- and 12- day itineraries to Bermuda, Florida and the Caribbean…year round. So for you folks who live in the Midwest and East Coast who don’t feel like flying to Florida, Texas or New Orleans for a cruise and are looking for a tropical getaway in the dead of winter, this may be another great option for you! (Note: Other cruise lines offer East Coast departures from Boston, Baltimore, New York, New Jersey, Norfolk and Charleston…this is just the NEWEST ship in that region).
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Sandals’ new Grenada resort!

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photo credit: Sandals

On December 12, 2013, Sandals Resorts will open their newest (and pretty freakin’ awesome) all-inclusive resort on the island of Grenada: Sandals LaSource Grenada. Featuring 3 distinct villages (Pink Gin Village, Tahiti Village, and Italian Village), 9 restaurants including Sandals’ first prime Steakhouse, 5 pools including 2 river pools, and countless other luxurious all-inclusive amenities, Sandals LaSource is “The Most Alluring Destination in the Caribbean”. Known as the “Island of Spice”, Grenada offers an unspoiled paradise as your own lover’s playground. (source: Sandals.com)

The resort will offer 75 butler suites (a lovely amenity already present in sister resorts) and will introduce three new levels of suites: the Millionaire Suite (I’m already interested..), Rondoval and Skypool Suites. Plus, all of the rooms in the Tahiti and Italian Villages will have en-suite soaking tubs.

Sandals LaSource is already open for booking and they are offering Grand Opening specials, with steep room discounts and airfare credits. Why not be one of the first to check out this amazing and luxurious new spot?

Reveal Day: Quantum of the Seas

This morning at 10 am EST, Royal Caribbean International stopped travel experts, bloggers, agents and aficionados in their tracks with the Quantum of the Seas live reveal event. It had all of the buildup of an Apple Reveal for the newest iPhone and iPad….we just LOVE new, shiny ships. And Royal Caribbean certainly did not disappoint today.

Unfortunately I was unable to tune into the live stream, so I was VERY thankful for the folks on Twitter who chose to live-tweet the event and provide real-time updates. I almost felt like I was there!

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Project Sunshine Materializes!

Earlier today, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line revealed the name of their two new ships: Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas…previously known under the moniker “Project Sunshine”. This is a new class of ship that is “Designed for WOW”.

I don’t know about you, but the name Quantum of the Seas is just SEXY! What do you think?

Preview the Top Deck of “Royal Princess”

Princess Cruise Line’s newest ship, Royal Princess, will have her maiden journey in summer 2013. They just released the following video to give curious cruisers a preview of the ship’s top deck and….WOW. The Seawalk and Light Show are SO cool. But I am not sure if my opinion is in the majority: do features like these inspire you to book a cruise?