Captain Gus Andersson's vision for Quantum is the same as the vision that he has had for each of the previous Royal Caribbean ships that he has commanded. “I want [the guests] to have the vacation of a lifetime every time that they come aboard a Royal Caribbean ship. We want to wow the guests with everything in every possible way and have a fantastic experience.” Some people have commented upon first seeing Quantum's elegant, premium-style interior that she looks more like the ships of Royal's sister brand, Celebrity Cruises, than like a traditional Royal Caribbean ship. However, after seeing Quantum in operation the cruise experience clearly has a Royal Caribbean flavor.
“It is not a Celebrity ship. Celebrity is a fantastic company but it is not Royal. They are doing there thing really well and hopefully we do our thing really well. We have the different sister companies but we should not overlap each other.”
Still, Captain Andersson admits that the cruise experience on Quantum is different than other Royal Caribbean ships. “We have changed it into something else. The way that we [provide the wow] has changed on this ship because we have a lot of new things that [are not] on other ships and other ships have things that we don't have here. It takes a little while to get used to it.”
With Quantum's polished up-market interior and with the absence of such familiar Royal Caribbean features as the Viking Crown Lounge, the Royal Promenade and the ice skating rink, some Royal Caribbean fans have had some difficulty in adjusting. This has been especially so inasmuch as Quantum's first assignment was to be Royal's New York/New Jersey ship, a role performed by the very popular Explorer of the Seas for nearly a decade.
“I remember when we came with the Enchantment down to Port Canaveral, a lot of the guests came aboard and said we are Monarchies, we love the Monarch, you are not Monarch and nobody can replace the Monarch. I said: 'We are not here to replace the Monarch. You probably loved the Sovereign, then you loved the Monarch, give us a few cruises and you'll see it is going to be like your third child. You love all the children differently but it does not mean that you are going to love one more than the others. Then they came back and said, yes we really liked it.”
“We hope that that is how it is going to be here as well. Guests have come on the first two days of the cruise and have said to me 'Gus, you know what, this is not for me.' And several have come back [later] and said, we really, really like this ship. It is beautiful and we have booked again.”
Perhaps because Quantum is not just more of the same, some of the issues that emerge when a ship enters service, especially one that is first in its class, have been magnified by some critics.
“Always when you do start up ships, there [are changes] in the first couple of months - - a few tweaks and a few changes here and there after starting up. Here, there is a totally new dining concept that we have here so of course there are going to be changes. We never said that there are not going to be changes. We have been taking notes since day one - - what do we need to do, do we need to increase here, do we need to decrease there, do we need to swap, do we need to change.”
“The Seaplex on the upper decks, we thought that that would be popular but we underestimated the popularity for it. The same with 270 and the Cafe 270. People really enjoy being there, sitting, having their salads and their soups and sandwiches and cookies. It became like basically a dining area, not for dinner but it became a very popular place to go and get your food and sit down in a very nice, cushy seats. We underestimated how popular it would be.”
Quantum was also designed to be a smart ship, using modern technology and communications for such things as restaurant reservations, shore excursion purchases, ordering photographs and making other purchases. As anyone familiar with the internet knows, there are sometimes bugs that plague new applications.
“We are a very technology-advanced ship. Technology is there to make things easier and simpler. When it doesn't work, it makes it more difficult than what the previous system was. There have been some areas where we haven't been 100 percent. Most of our guests have been very understanding for the things that have affected them.”
To demonstrate Quantum's technological progress, however, Royal has provided complimentary wi-fi service on some cruises. “It has been good being able to show off. We are the only cruise ship that can have this amount [of users]. We have 5,000 [devices] connected to the system. We have been close to reaching max capacity depending on the time of day but we haven't reached it. We do it because we want to show off the ship.”
Will complimentary wi-fi be a permanent offering on Quantum? “How long is that going to last, I cannot say. If we as a company make a decision to offer that, it is going to have an effect on something somewhere. If it were included in your cruise price, some people would say that is fantastic. Some people would say 'no, I don't want to pay for somebody else's bacuse I am not going to use it.”
In April 2015, Quantum will begin a long cruise half way around the world to her new homeport in China. As she makes this journey changes will have to be made to her restaurants, shops and other facilities to bring her into tune with the preferences of Asian cruisers.
“It is quite extensive changes that we need to go through, not just with the hardware but with the operations that we have. Other ships have gone through similar programs when we have sent ships to Asia before.”
While Quantum will change, it does not mean that all that has been learned during her first six months of operation in Europe and North America will be lost. Her sister ship, Anthem of the Seas, will be starting service, first out of Southampton and later out of the port of New York/New Jersey.
“There are quite a few of us that are going over to Anthem. Hopefully, we will be able to take with us some of the lessons learned. [On the Allure] the lessons learned from Oasis helped us tremendously. We couldn't have done it as good on the Allure if we didn't have the lessons learned from the first in class. Hopefully, we will be able to do the same thing here.”
A mariner's perspective
Looking at Quantum from a mariner's perspective, Captain Andersson is quite pleased. “She is handling great. She was built for cold weather, which in different terms may be [called] bad weather. She is running the waves very nicely, cutting through the waves.”
In particular, Captain Andersson has noticed that the ship is not subject to much bottom slamming. This effect occurs when the bow of a ship rises up on a wave and then the ship is struck on the bottom of the hull by another powerful wave. Quantum's hull “has been optimized for the all weather conditions, not to slam as much. From what I have felt, she is moving very gracefully through the waves. We can all feel that we are moving but it is not that uncomfortable slamming and shaking.”
“She handles well, she maneuvers well. She has two pods of 10 megawatts each, four bow thrusters with three and a half megawatts each. So it is a lot of power. I like her a lot, the more I drive her the more I like it.”
“We are the cruise ship with the smallest [energy] footprint per guest. It is very hard to make an engine more efficient than another engine. You put in x grams of oil and you are going to get x kilwatts out. That part is very difficult to change. But what we can change is how we do the air conditioning, how we insulate, how do we protect the rooms from the sun coming in so we don't have to cool it down as much.”
“We also have something called ALS - - air lubrication system. We have a couple of compressors that are pumping out air underneath the ship, which reduces the friction between the ship and the water because it is sort of rolling on air bubbles. [The reduction in fuel] is between three and five perecent. Whether it is three or five percent, that is a huge reduction in fuel.”
Quantum also meets and exceeds the requirements of the Safe Return to Port protocals. Under these international regulations, new cruise ships must be built so that even with the loss of one section of the ship from fire or other damage, the ship will still be able to return to a safe port while still providing food, air conditioning and saniatation facilitries.
“We were not the first ship but [we are] one of the first ships that is fully developing it. Because there are a few ships that have had it [before us], we have actually gone and done it above and beyond. Many of the inspectors that have been here have said of 'yes, we really didn't think of that.' We [can go] a full 1,000 nautical miles at ten knots or 100 hours steaming.”
Cruise ship interview - - Quantum of the Seas - - Royal Caribbean - - Captain Gus Andersson