Spice of SouthEast Asia 6D5N Cruise
13 countries but no cruise!?
This cruise is truly something to remember for the following right reasons!
- Our very first cruise! : It’s hard to believe that despite having travelled 13 countries stretching from Australia to Iceland and to US, Japan, Scandinavia with our kids, we have NEVER BEEN ON A CRUISE! I guess this is in part due to our ‘less than desired’ experiences taking overnight ferries in Europe. But to be fair, ferries are not cruises.
- No hubbies!: I’ve never brought the kids on a vacation without the hubs. Unfortunately for this trip, he couldn’t take leave from work but I foresee a cruise vacay would be good for the kids to bond with their maternal Grandma. After all, my Mum’s age makes it difficult for her to join us on our usual ‘action-packed’ DIY trips.
- Two Mums!: As luck has it, my good friend, Summer’s hubs is also tied down with work and she decided to bring her 3 kids to join us on the same cruise. How marvellous! Two Mums on a cruise! When was the last time you and a dear friend went on a cruise together? Two friends, two Mums! If you haven’t already done so, follow our IG hashtag, #TwoMumsOnACruise to see the fun, crazy stuff we did on this vacay!
More about Quantum of the Seas:
The Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas was christened in 2014. At the time of her launch, Quantum was the largest cruise ship in her class with 16 decks, with 2090 staterooms, carrying up to 4905 guests with a crew of 1500 (In short, it’s HUGE!) The ship now serves the Asian leg of the Royal Caribbean’s cruises and will call Singapore home for six months from 2019 to 2020, with a total of 34 planned sailings between November 2019 and April 2020, sailing to destinations in the region like Penang, Phuket, Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Bangkok (Laem Chabang) and Ho Chi Minh City. Our 5 Nights Spices of Southeast Asia cruise took us to KL, Penang and Phuket. I find the duration just right for a family with young kids.
Bag Drop, Check-in and Departure:
Online check-in can be done 90 days before cruise and must be completed no later than 3 days prior to sailing. Guests will also be able to print our own “Royal guest document” e-Docs issued by Royal Caribbean which includes a luggage tag specific to the cruise ship, sailing date, stateroom and deck number. The luggage tag also provides specific information on how it should be used. Since I have already pre-tagged all our luggages at home, it was a breeze to drop off our luggage at the bag check-in area just at the entrance of MBCC.
Testament to our first time on a cruise, we actually got lost trying to find the car park at the Marina Bay Cruise Center (MBCC)! Thankfully, we factored in extra time for such contingencies. After dropping our luggage and with our Set Sail passes (aka boarding passes) in hand, we waited with great anticipation for the call to board. The kids took some shots with their Daddies who would be left behind.
Boarding the cruise was a breeze. Dozens of check-in agents were standing at the counters ready with tablets in hand. They scanned our documents and passports and then directed us to the security line. Once we stepped through the metal detectors, we’re on our way to board the ship. The kids and us were so awed by the sight of the humongous ship as we walked on the gangway which led us directly inside Quantum of the Seas!
The minute we stepped inside the cruise, kids will be given a color-coded wrist-band which they have to wear throughout the trip. These colored wrist-bands will help the RC staff identify and escort the children to the proper muster stations in case of emergencies.
- Check in online early: It’s good to arrive and check-in early. Apart from not squeezing in with the crowd you can enjoy the facilities (and food) before the masses arrive! We were at MBCC at 10.30am and boarded the ship at 11.30am. We advise guests to check-in online to skip the filling up of physical forms at the cruise centre for an accelerated boarding process. You’ll get to board the ship, get to your room, and explore the ship while everyone else is still waiting in line.
- Luggage Tags: Print the luggage tags and pre-tag your luggage before arriving at the cruise terminal so that the bag drop process would be seamless.
- Cruise Planner: Get your drinks or dining packages at a discounted rate when you book them early online via the Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner Website! You can also check out the Internet Package deals and Shore Excursions. Note the Cruise Planner will close 3 days prior to embarkation, similar to online check-in.
- Carry-On bag: Pack the kids’ swim wear and a set of spare clothes in your carry on so they can start enjoying water play once you board. The luggages will be delivered to your staterooms by 8.30pm on the first day.
- Aft, Mid-Ship and Forward: Get acquainted to these terms. These describes the position of your rooms and all facilities on board the cruise. It took me 2 days to orientate myself to the locations of the common places we go simply because the cruise ship is huge!
- RC App: Download the Royal Caribbean App to view real-time activity schedules and reserve your spot for popular activities like the iFly, North Star. No internet is needed to utilise this app.
- Dining Reservations: Make dining reservations early (as soon as you board) since restaurants get filled up really quickly especially on the first day. Aim to try a different restaurant each day.
- Cruise Compass: Refer to the daily Cruise Compass newsletter which is an itinerary delivered to your room daily. It shows all the ship’s activities available for the day as well as timings for shows and activities. Alternatively, you can also check out the ongoing activities and its location from the interactive digital navigation guide found next to the lift lobby on each deck.
- Internet: Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line with high-speed Internet at sea. Go to Guest Services (at Deck 4) to purchase your WIFI package (if you need to stay connected throughout the cruise). The cost of VOOM varies by the number of devices and the service package purchased. I purchased the VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package for 2 devices which costs USD18.99 per day per device. The cheapest Internet plan is the Surf Package for 4 devices at USD12.99 per day per device. Guests who purchase VOOM pre-cruise enjoy the biggest discount from onboard prices. Simply log in to My Cruises, and go to Cruise Planner.
- Free Ship Tour: Join the complimentary ship tour on the first day of the cruise where a RC staff will lead you on a tour of the major facilities on board the ship. This would be the fastest way to get yourself acquainted to this floating hotel which you’ll spend the next few nights in!
Rooms on Quantum of the Seas
There are 4 types of Staterooms on Quantum of the Seas: a. Interior Stateroom (Interior with Virtual Balcony, Studio Interior), b. Ocean View Stateroom (with a window that looks out of the ocean), c. Balcony Stateroom (with a private balcony), d. Suites and Lofts. Upon boarding, the room key cards (known as Sea Pass Cards) will be on our doors. Don’t lose these Sea Pass Cards as they serve dual purposes – as the key to our staterooms and as the card to all activity & dining reservations will be charged.
Our Balcony Stateroom (which sleeps up to 4 guests) took us by complete surprise. It was much larger than what we had imagined! Our room has a large and plush Royal King bed complete with a large sitting area with sofa bed, a full wardrobe, table and space to put our luggage. The ensuite bathroom comes with a standing shower and vanity area. In short, IT IS LIKE A HOTEL ROOM, and I dare say even bigger than some of the city hotels we have stayed in. Impressive. We certainly did not feel like we are on a cruise! In addition, there’s the large balcony, which opens up to the open sea.
One of the things my friends comment when they heard we’re going on a cruise is that we’ll never go hungry. Which turns out to be true because there are so many dining options round the clock, 24/7. Quantum of the Seas provides guests with a whopping 18 restaurant concepts as vast and varied as dining in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. Most are complimentary with some speciality restaurants that are chargeable. Here’s the list:
Main Dining Room (Chic and Grande): Fine-dining ambience, world-class cuisine and the most attentive staff at sea await at the Main Dining Room. We enjoyed the ala-carte breakfast favourites like egg benedict, buttermilk pancakes, granola, fresh fruit platter served at our table. Dinner is served by our very own dedicated wait staff per table with a different menu each evening. I particularly like the Maryland-style crab cake, and the beef tenderloin. The attentive service and the quality of food make the Main Dining Room our preferred dining option on board the Quantum.
Jamie’s Italian : Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver serves Tuscan-inspired dishes crafted Jamie Oliver. This is a specialty dining option which requires extra charges. We dined in here on our final night just for the experience. We ordered the Famous Plank, a shareable plate piled high with cured meats, pickles and tempting cheeses. It was delectable! I also enjoyed the prawn linguine and realised the fresh pasta is made in-house everyday. The menu also serves a gorgeous selection of grills (try the lamb chops!), mains, tapas and decadent desserts (tiramisu!).
Windjammer Marketplace: The Windjammer Marketplace offers buffets 3 meals a day. There are so much to choose from, ranging from indulgent fresh pastries and juices at breakfast, fresh-pressed paninis, pastas, salads, soups, sandwiches, and hearty Asian dishes at lunch to tantalising dishes such as freshly grilled steaks, roast chicken and poached seafood at dinner. There are also decadently sweet desserts every meal, including a chocolate fountain – all part of a menu that changes daily. With so much food, you can also expect a large crowd at meal times.
CafeTwo70: The Café@Two70 is a gourmet marketplace which serves a variety of savoury toasted sandwiches, salads, homemade soups which will be packed to go, picnic-style for us to enjoy them in the Cafe@Two70 or anywhere else onboard.
Sorrento’s Pizzas: Sorrento’s serves authentic NY-style pizzas straight from the oven. Try a different creation every day – from chorizo to Hawaiian. The kids loved pizzas so we dined here twice.
Seaplex Doghouse: The first-ever food truck at sea serves up gourmet hot dogs on the go. Top it with our fav condiments, sides and salads and it’s a light meal in itself!
Café Promenade (24H): Café Promenade serves snacks, pastries, desserts and sandwiches throughout the day 24/7. Great as a pit-stop in between meal times or for days you want a light bite.
In-room Dining: We ordered the in-room breakfast for one of the mornings when the kids needed more time to sleep in. The selection was good and we got the rest we needed before heading out for another full day of play. It was novel to dine in our balcony with the view of Phuket. Continental breakfast, when served in room, is complimentary. Guests who wish to upgrade for American breakfast to be served in-room just have to pay USD7.95 per room delivery. To order in-room breakfast, simply filled out the card found in the room, hang it outside your door before 3am and wait for breakfasts to be served next morning!
Activities and Entertainment
Quantum of the Seas boasts of a large array of activities for the entire family as well as some iconic experiences that truly sets itself apart. Here’s a list of the acitivites with a brief review by the daughter! In alphabetical order:
- Adventure Oceans
Adventure Ocean is the complimentary kids club of the cruise where kids 3 to 11 years old can be dropped off for thematic group play programme led by the friendly RC staff. Adventure Ocean opens at these hours: Morning (9am to 12pm); Afternoon (2pm to 5pm); Evening (7pm to 10pm). The kids would have loved to go to Adventure Oceans more frequently but there are simply too many activities and too little time!
- Arcade Games
The Royal Caribbean Arcade is small but has all the favourite games from the 1980s and 1990s are onboard, as well as modern favourites. Keep a look out for the Free Family Games Night where you get to play these arcade games on the house! We missed it so I paid USD2 per ride for the kids.
- Bumper Cars (5 years and up)
Who would have imagined we can play Bumper Cars on a cruise? And for free?! On board Quantum of the Seas, Bumper Cars and other forms of sporty activities are conducted at this indoor space called SeaPlex. SeaPlex is the largest indoor activity space at sea which offers the first-ever bumper cars at sea onboard. Kids 5 years and up can ride, but must be accompanied by an adult. This is one of our favourite activities on the cruise.
This ranks as one of Dana’s favourite activity on board the Quantum. Attempting to surf on the 12-metre-long FlowRider® surf simulator with 100,000 litres of rushing amazingness headed her way. This is a hit with many guests so go early or be prepared to queue.
- iFly by RipCord
Our little Buddy was so excited when he found out he met the age limit for this iFly activity! This was his first ever iFly experience! The exhilaration of skydiving high above the seas is immense. Flying within the safe groundbreaking simulator gives a whole new thrill for all ages. Reservations required and fees apply.
- Laser Tag (5 years and up)
This is my 5 year old’s fav activity and I was so glad we managed to let him play twice (on two different days). Don the intergalactic gear; grab the blasters and gear up for glow-in-the-dark laser tag battle!
- Outdoor Movie Screening@Pool Deck
Lounge on the pool deck with the gentle ocean breeze caressing our faces, as we gaze up at the the moon and stars on a grand scale. The 20.4 square metre movie screen presents newly released movies and live sporting events at the pool area every night. During our cruise, they were screening The Lion King, Aladdin, Godzilla, Shazam, Pokemon Detective Pikachu.
- North Star (Reservation Required)
The exclusive North Star promises to elevate guests 90 metres above sea level, revealing 360-degree views of the ship and its surrounds! Simply step into the intimate, jewel-shaped capsule and take in breathtaking views. For ages 5 years and up only.
- Rock Climbing
Climb 12 metres above deck on the signature Rock Climbing Wall, where everyone from beginners to speed climbers can strap in and go vertical. With no reservation required at this complimentary activity, guests can climb to their hearts’ content. For ages 6 years and up only.
- Swimming Pools
There are 4 pools on board the Quantum – 2 outdoors and 2 indoors (including a whirlpool in each!). I was pleased to see mini life vests for kids and plenty of life guards on duty at each pool. We can bask in the sun or relax in the shade while the kids indulge in water play. The live music by the poolside adds to the Caribbean calypso vibes!
- Trapeze School (6 years and up)
The complimentary Trapeze School offers the opportunity for guests to swing on the flying trapeze, with safety mats provided to cushion any landing. Dana has done the trapeze many times at Club Med and she was so delighted to try it again on board the cruise. Watch how she swings in our video!
- Evening Entertainment Shows
If anything I learnt, cruises take entertainment very seriously. Every night, there will be two production shows at the Royal Theatre which will enchant and mesmerise guests. Some of their signature headliner acts include: StarWater Show (Reservation Required), Sonic Odyssey, Monique Dehaney, Sequins & Feathers.
Dana’s Top Picks
Here are Dana’s top 6 ‘Die Die Must Try’ experiences (One for each day!)
1. iFly: iFly is the first indoor skydiving simulation at sea, allowing me to defy gravity. Wind was blasting in our faces and we felt like we were birds soaring in the sky. Our instructor, Aaron was very patient when he taught us the basics of skydiving and made the whole experience so relaxed and memorable. 1 minute really goes by too fast. I really miss this and want to go back to try iFly on the cruise soon!
2. Rock Climbing: I bouldered on a boulder on the ship’s signature rock climbing wall, Deck15 at the aft of the ship. The amazing team provided me with chalk, special climbing shoes and a harness. They guided me when I was climbing up the wall and even cheered and clapped for me when I reached the top and rang the bell. The crew including Jade, Andy and Curtis made the experience amazingly fun. Somehow rock climbing on the ocean makes the experience so much more unique. I enjoyed this a lot too!
3. Laser Tag: Whipping out our blasters, we went ‘crazy’ and started to ‘shoot’ everyone that came our way! Located at the revolutionary space within the SeaPlex at Deck15, this activity appeals to all ages. Even my Mum joined in the fun! The creative staff created an interesting story line that made the laser tag play even more exciting. This is definitely a must-do!
4. Bumper Cars: Never did I imagine we would be driving around in bumper cars onboard a cruise! This was high adrenaline fun where the whole family can join in! The queue though long, moves rather quickly. I was glad we get to try it twice on two different days.
5. North Star: Located on deck 15, the North Star gives us a 360 view of the ship as it cruises along the waters. It feels like I’m in the Singapore Flyer, except that I am so high above the open seas. I’ve never quite seen anything like this and made me feel like I’m flying over this huge ship.
6. FlowRider: Water splashed in my face as I surfed on the ship’s FlowRider, a 40-foot-long surf simulator. I was fortunate enough to be able to try both bodyboard and the surf board. I started off on the bodyboard, where I was required to grasp onto the middle of the board and ride the waves. Seeing the I was able to cope well lying flat down on the board, the instructor taught me how the kneel on the board, After a few tries, I mastered it and was able to go hands-free while kneeling! It was a tremendous achievement and I really recommend this to all guests.
Ports of Call:
What’s a holiday without discovering discovering a new place? The Quantum of the Seas’ Spices of Southeast Asia cruise calls at Port Klang, Penang and Phuket, allows us to hop-off and tour the city for several hours. I feel it’s good to get down for a stretch and just take-in the sights and sounds of a new place. We chose to disembark at Penang and Phuket.
Penang: A most enjoyable day in Penang which started with a yummy dim sim breakfast with my Mum in law (who’s a Penangnite!) followed by a visit to the famous Upside-down Museum. I was skeptical and thought it would be an overrated attraction but it turned out, we had so much fun posing for photos against so many backdrops, with the guidance of the friendly staff.
The next touristy thing we did was to hire a trishaw to bring street art hunting around Georgetown. The kids enjoyed this novel experience and we took so many insta-worthy shots as memories! Definitely highly recommended for families! We paid about RM40 for one hour of trishaw ride (which takes 2 pax). We ate a quick Penang Char Kuay Teow lunch before heading back to the ship.
- Dimsum Breakfast
- Upside-down Museum
- Trishaw Ride in Georgetown
- Penang Street Art
- Lunch at a local coffeeshop
Phuket: We had no agenda for Phuket initially but it started to rain so we engaged an honest-looking taxi driver to bring us to a place with ATV rides for the kids. Due to budget, we opted for the off-road buggy ride instead which the two mums (Summer and I) can drive our kids in. The ride took us off-roads to bumpy, muddy terrains and challenged our manuvering skills. Thankfully, we ended the course safely without any accidents, except mud splatters on our pristine white blouses, much to our kids’ amusement. The driver then brought us to a local cafe for authentic Thai lunch. It was overpriced and the wait was seriously too long (almost 90mins!). We headed back to the cruise ship after lunch as it was pouring.
- Off-road buggy ride
- Lunch at Thai restaurant
Disembarkation and Departure
On the final day before the end of the cruise, the housekeeping staff will leave departure luggage tags with a number pre-printed. The tag number will indicate the disembarkation group we belong, the place to gather for disembarkation and the estimated departure times. Ours was group #27, estimated to leave the cruise ship at 8.40am. To avoid any delays, I visited Guests Services counter at Deck 4 on the final night to verify and settle all the bills. We collected back our passports from 3-5pm on the same afternoon at a makeshift counter set up midship on the same deck as our rooms. In the evening, we left our bags with luggage tags attached outside our door by 11pm so that they can be collected and delivered to the arrival hall of Marina Bay Cruise Centre. Guests would still be able to enjoy breakfasts at the dining outlets before bidding the ship goodbye. After disembarking and clearing customs, our luggages are all waiting for our collection back at MBCC. How convenient!
Everything on board Quantum of the Cruise ran like clockwork. This first ever cruise experience far exceeded my expectations and is really THE PERFECT fuss-free, worry-free, vacation for both my aged Mum and my young kids. We had absolute flexibility how we want to spend our time. My kids felt 5 nights were too short! From rock-climbing to going on land for an off-terrain ride, or simply just relaxing on the balcony over in-room breakfast, far from the crowd and just gazing at the alluring sea. The choices are immense and literally ours to choose. Rooms were always promptly cleaned and made up (kudos to the housekeeping crew!), facilities and service were top-notch (Dana’s full of praises for the RC staff manning the sports activities at the SeaPlex). There are many cruise companies but I believe none can match that of Royal Caribbean. We are thankful that to sail with Royal Caribbean for our very first cruise vacation and it has been formed an integral part of our kids’ memories and childhood.
QUANTUM OF THE SEAS
For more information, please visit Royal Caribbean’s pages below. There are awesome sales going on now so don’t miss it!
P.S. We highly recommend you pop over to my friend, Summer A Happy Mum‘s comprehensive blog review of the Royal Carribean Cruise here. She’s a cruise veteran and provides many great tips for families too!