Royal Caribbean made announcements regarding features that will be part of its revolutionary Quantum of the Seas ship when it debuts in November. Technology was the focus of a presentation before a group of gathered media members at Meyer Werft shipyard.
New tech will allow passengers to check in online at home and go straight onto the ship, bypassing the traditional check-in lines. Cruisers will be able to upload their own ID photo and receive digital boarding confirmation. Royal says you can go from the curb to the ship in 10 minutes. You also can monitor your luggage through your smartphone when an RFID chip is placed on your bags curbside as you enter the port facility.
Wristbands can serve as your room key, etc. while on your cruise. (You would pay $2 if you want a wristband instead of a keycard.) And bandwidth enhancements will greatly improve Internet connectivity performance, Royal says. At a new venue, Bionic Bar, passengers order up their favorite drinks from robot bartenders. Ummm, OK. But who do you chat with about the game or your troubles at work?
The key details that emerged in the presentation for the frugal, adventure traveler to take away from all the tech talk, though, is that the active amenities all will be free onboard Quantum of the Seas. According to Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain, the line is not charging anything extra to passengers who want to use all the cool new toys.
Quantum of the Seas features a skydiving simulator and a North Star capsule ride. These and the bumper cars are first-in-the-industry amenities that some reports suggested would come with an added fee. Fain says it all will be included, as will standard Royal Caribbean favorites like the zipline, ice skating rink, rock climbing wall and FlowRider surfing simulator.
You've really got to stay on the move to squeeze all these activities into one week.
Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sky will host a theme cruise for Spartan Race competitors. The Spartan Race series has been growing in popularity in recent years along with other obstacle-course competitions. You know these events. The participants swing on ropes, climb walls and slog through mud pits in a grueling challenge on courses ranging from three to 12 miles long or longer.
Well, a special Spartan Race three-night cruise on Norwegian Sky departs March 6, 2015, from Miami bound for the Bahamas, where the race will take place March 7 (a Saturday) on a four-mile course set up on NCL's private beach at Great Stirrup Cay. After you finish, you'll have the rest of the day Saturday and Sunday to relax and recover while enjoying entertainment, food, drink, waters and white sand. For more information about this charter cruise, check out www.thespartancruise.com
Better start training now!
Norwegian Cruise Line also announced that it has extended its deadline until Sept. 30 for booking its new all-inclusive pricing package. The package includes such items as specialty dining, Internet, beverage packages, gratuities and excursion credit for an additional bundled fee. Norwegian says the all-inclusive package represents up to more than $2,400 in value per stateroom. The promotion is available for all 2015 sailings fleetwide for new reservations made by Sept. 30, 2014. The comprehensive package includes signature dining, alcoholic beverages, unlimited soda, shore excursions, Internet access, service charges and more.
The package, available for sailings from three to 14 days, is priced by the number of days and available for all stateroom categories. When adding the all-inclusive package to a cruise, you receive 10 percent off the cruise fare, NCL says. As an example: For a seven-day cruise, the $899 package includes the Ultimate Dining package (a meal each night at a for-fee specialty restaurant), Ultimate Beverage package, $200 per-person shore excursion credit, prepaid daily service charges, a 250-minute Internet package per person, 20 photos of any size, chocolate-covered strawberries, a bottle of wine, one bingo session and six bottles of water.
If you typically buy all these extras, the package will offer you a pretty nice savings. But if you have no interest in some items (I don't need the photos, wine, strawberries or bingo, and I book my excursions independently and pass on the spotty Internet service on cruises, for example), this would not represent a good deal for you.
Check out NCL.com for more details and pricing.