NEW YORK – Royal Caribbean cruise line dazzled cruise aficionados Tuesday with details of its forthcoming Quantum of the Seas ship, which will be the first at sea to offer attractions like bumper cars, simulated skydiving and an observation capsule called The North Star, with a bird's eye view 300 feet (91 meters) above the water.
"Without a doubt, Quantum of the Seas is a game changer with technological innovations never imagined aboard a cruise ship," said Stewart Chiron, who writes at CruiseGuy.com.
"I can't wait to get on it," said Barbara Lippincott, who's taken 160 cruises on Royal Caribbean and was among a number of the company's devotees at a Manhattan event unveiling the ship's features.
Richard Butz, a Pennsylvania-based travel agent with Cruise One, said he'll have no trouble selling trips on Quantum. "Royal Caribbean comes up with things nobody ever thinks of," he said.
Quantum will launch in November 2014 and will homeport in Cape Liberty, in Bayonne, N.J., with winter sailings to the Bahamas and Caribbean.
Royal Caribbean executives said The North Star was inspired by the London Eye. The capsule can hold 14 people and is attached to a crane-like arm.
The skydiving attraction, called RipCord, uses a powerful wind flow to keep participants aloft while floating and spinning over an outdoor deck. "You're not touching anything but the air," said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.
An indoor complex called SeaPlex will host basketball, table tennis, trapeze instruction and bumper cars. The space converts to a dance floor for roller-skaters, with a DJ hovering above in a see-through pod. Another space, Two70, has a 270-degree panoramic view and will host aerialists and other performances.
Cabins have modular features like interior doors so that adjacent bedrooms can be connected for large families or multi-generational groups.
Not everything on Quantum is new to the industry. Norwegian's Epic ship introduced rooms designed for solo travelers, which Quantum will also have. Disney's Dream and Fantasy ships have "virtual portholes" for windowless staterooms offering live views of the sea, and all of Quantum's interior cabins will also have "virtual balconies" consisting of LED screens with projected ocean views.
Tickets for Quantum's first sailing will go on sale to the public June 4, with Royal Caribbean regular cruisers getting an early shot at tickets starting May 27. Prices were not announced but cruise lines typically charge more for new ships than for other cruises. Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said there would be no extra fees for many of the ship's attractions, including The North Star and skydiving.
Royal Caribbean also owns the largest cruise ships in the world, the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas, which carry more than 6,000 people apiece. Quantum will carry 4,180 passengers.