Never has the phrase seeing is believing been more true.
Royal Caribbean‘s Quantum Class of cruise ships contain some of the most cutting edge technology ever seen, not just in the cruise industry but in the world!
Robotic bars, sky diving simulators, state of the art art – the list goes on and on – but you don’t have to take our word for it!
Feel free to take a full tour of the ship – all before you book!
The 02nd November 2014 is a date that will long live on in the annals of cruising history.
This was the date that Royal Caribbean set sail from Southampton with the first of their Quantum Class of cruise ships – Quantum of the Seas!
Quantum of the Seas will soon be based in the Far East and out of reach for all but the most exotic of itinerary hunters but the great news is that the second of the Quantum Class ships, Anthem of the Seas, will be sailing from Southampton permanently in 2015!
These ships are and will be innovative in every sense of the word. There isn’t any aspect of them that Royal Caribbean hasn’t looked at with an eye to making it better!
They’ve done away with the traditional dining format, introduced robot bar tenders (we know!), added shows to the theater that are light years ahead of anything you can get on land, improved the check-in process (shore-side to cabin in ten minutes!) plus much, much more!
Insider Gossip Alert: The Quantum class ships will be Royal Caribbean’s first five star cruise ships. Normally the Royal Caribbean ships would be described as four star vessels whilst their sister company Celebrity Cruises would be the five star offering.
We won’t mention any names but we’ve heard from one of our contacts at Royal Caribbean that it’s causing a little friction between the two departments. The Royal Caribbean sales reps have been calling Quantum of the Seas five star to which the Celebrity Cruise reps have been getting upset, saying “you cant say that! – Celebrity is our five star product” – Royal’s response?
Sssshhhhh though (you didn’t hear that from us!)
In this article we’ll pick the Quantum class design apart for you piece by piece so that there’ll be (almost) no need for you to cruise on them – We did say almost!
Trust us; you’re going to want to cruise on this ship….
Before we get started though feel free to take a video tour of Quantum with us:
Dining on Quantum Class Cruise Ships:
Norwegian Cruise Lines first introduced Freestyle Dining back in 2000 and quickly rolled it out across their entire fleet.
Since then it’s had a reputation as the ‘casual side’ of cruising with many (shall we say traditional?) cruisers looking down on it.
Edward Griffiths, one of our specialist Cruise consultants, says that whenever he’s talking to his customers about Dynamic and Freestyle dining “it really is a mixed bag as to what reaction I get. Some clients find it fantastic that they can choose a different place and type of cuisine to eat each nights, where as some prefer the more set traditional dining. It does tend to be the clients for American cruise lines that are more open minded about their dining options, whereas the British cruise line passengers like structure and continuity”
However, in recent years more and more cruise lines (including Royal Caribbean) have been offering a Freedom or My Time Dining option alongside the traditional first and second dining options (set dining times are at around 6 and 8pm for those that are unsure) and it’s proven more and more popular with cruisers. It’s proven so popular in fact that Royal Caribbean have come up with the concept of Dynamic Dining for the new Quantum Class of ships, (it will also be unrolled on Oasis and Allure of the Seas in 2015).
In concept it’s very similar to Norwegian Cruise Lines Freestyle dining (in fact we compared the two – ( and you can read the full comparison here) but without being quite so ‘casual’.
In essence there’ll be no set dining times and no set dress codes (some restaurants will have dress codes but the point of dynamic dining is freedom of choice; if you don’t want to dress up you can just ignore these restaurants).
Instead you’ll be able to dine at whatever time in the evening you like and pick from eighteen different restaurants!
Of the eighteen different restaurants ten will be complimentary whilst eight will be classed as ‘specialty restaurants ‘ and come with a cover charge.
This is where a lot of the complaints about Dynamic Dining (or Freestyle dining with NCL) comes in. After all you’ve already paid for your cruise and was told it was full board!
Why should you have to pay for dining now!
What that doesn’t take into account however is the ‘traditional’ cruise model . If you were on any other cruise line (or even one of the Royal Caribbean ships that don’t have Dynamic Dining) then you would probably have three dining choices:
- The Main Dining Room
- The Self Service Restaurant (that’s the buffet to you and us)
- And maybe a specialty restaurant with a cover charge
That’s how it’s been for a long time and people are used to it. One restaurant you have to pay to use (maybe for a special occasion) and two you don’t – the main dining room for your evening meal every night or the buffet restaurant if you fancy something slightly more casual.
It’s the number of restaurants with service charges people tend to object to but what they forget is that you’re already ahead of the game with ten (yes TEN) free choices!
Sounds good to us, what about you?
Of the ten complimentary dining venues on Quantum class ships, five will be your typical main dining venues (if anything about these Quantum class ships can be called typical) whilst five will be slightly more casual. Each will offer you something completely different however.
Read on to find out what!
American Icon Grille (Free)
American Icon Grille will be, as it sounds, based on traditional American cuisine.
Don’t however fall into the trap of picturing a McDonalds or KFC however – This is still a five star cruise ship!
Focusing on different cities from around the US, some of the offerings advertised will include a New Orleanstqvwwusexscvyfsqftwv gumbo, a New England clam chowder and Southern buttermilk fried chicken.
The above is a sample menu of just some of the food available in the American Icon Grille and yes, if you really wanted to. you could have a full Thanksgiving dinner every night! We’ve got some of our favourites below for you to drool over but worthy mention has to be given to both Royal Caribbean and their Dry Aged Steak Burger.
Unless you’re a butcher (or you’ve traveled extensively in the US) then dry aged beef might not mean much to you. It’s beef that has been hung or placed on a rack to dry out for several weeks. Dry-aging beef is a very expensive process due to both the cost of the equipment involved; the fact that only the more expensive cuts of meat can be used in this process and that dry aging causes the beef to lose a lot of it’s weight.
What it does do though is make the beef incredibly tender and flavoursome but you’ll normally only find it in high end steak houses or up market butchers – So a big well done to Royal Caribbean for offering it up free in a burger!
Trust us – If you get a chance try it! Be warned though, you’ll never want any other kind of beef again!
Things get even more interesting when you get to the desert menu with the peanut butter and jelly trifle being one of our favourites – Yum!
You’ve probably already noticed it yourself but the only thing to make us uncomfortable was the drinkable desserts menu. We checked, (twice) and this was meant to be a free restaurant! Why then Royal are you charging people for sections of the menu?
There’s other restaurants for that surely?
We guess there was plenty of free desserts to enjoy, especially when you combine it with the other restaurants available but it still left a slightly bitter taste in our mouths.
What do you think?
Should everything on this menu have been orderable for free? Join the debate here.
The other thing that’s very strange for a restaurant purporting to be American is the fact that you can’t order a Steak! For that you’d have to go to Chops and pay a cover charge!
American Icon Grille feels a lot like a traditional main dining room from one of the other Royal Caribbean
Instead it’s actually very tasteful and understated. Not American at all (who said that?). The menu may not be for everyone but this should definitely be one of your ‘must do’s when you find yourself on-board.
What American restaurant would be complete without chicken wings?
Comfort food at it’s best – These were the Louisiana Chicken wings with a ranch dressing and yes – we ate them all without sharing!
Perhaps, (at least for us) this dish sums up American Icon Grille the best.
Buffalo Chicken Mac ‘N Cheese with spicy chicken, blue cheese, chicken and celery.
All the food on the menu is very traditional American comfort food. It’s the kind of thing you’d almost expect from a greasy diner somewhere BUT Royal Caribbean have taken the concept, briefed their chefs and brought it to a whole new five star level.
Looking at the menu we could understand people turning up their noses, perhaps expecting something a bit more refined on a cruise ship but we thought American Icon Grille delivered on that as well.
Chicken and Waffles – Buttermilk southern fried chicken, cheese waffles, bacon collards and a Vermont maple jus.
It may look a little ‘stodgy’ but hey, you’re on a cruise! Just sit back, pile on the pounds and enjoy!
The diet can always start when you get home.
Yankee Franks – Pretzel wrapped smoked sausages, cheddar cheese sauce and whole grain mustard.
This one got mixed reviews. Everybody that tried it loved it (which is perhaps the main thing) but everyone else felt it was pushing the concept of fine dining comfort food a bit too far.
Marie (one of our specialist cruise consultants) said : American Icon for me had the full package, great choice of good traditional American comfort food, warm welcome and fantastic service. My personal choice would be their signature Yankee Franks they are AMAZING!!!! You can read more from Marie here.
Everyone else looking at them though thought they were basically just frankfurters dipped in a huge gooey bowl of American cheese.
Tasty no doubt but fine dining? We’ll let you decide!
Now this is somewhere that you can’t go wrong with comfort food! Especially if you order the Icons Candy Bar! Peanut butter mousse, nougat brittle with a caramel drizzle – Nommy!
So that’ American Icon Grill.
Fine dining comfort food all from the other side of the pond! It may not be for everyone (and we probably wouldn’t want to eat there every night) but it’s definitely worth a visit and hey, with seventeen other restaurants to try it doesn’t need to keep us happy for the whole cruise! That’s the beauty of Dynamic Dining.
What can we say about Chic except it’s……..Chic? (Very helpful we know).
Royal Caribbean describe Chic as the height of contemporary cuisine (a bold claim!) where only the freshest ingredients from the wild are evolved for a modern palate.
Only the finest cuts of meat are used – beef rib-eye, lamb chops or Mediterranean sea bass all treated to delicate sauces made from scratch.
Salt isn’t used in this restaurant,. Oh no, only sea salt will do.
Cream becomes crème.
Oh and did we mention they also use LOTS of truffles and champagne in their sauces?
It would be very easy for a restaurant like Chic to come off as pretentious but it easily manages to avoid this.
Our specialist cruise consultant Holly Crabtree said it’s one of the most sophisticated and elegant restaurants she’d ever eaten in at sea whilst still retaining a very contemporary feel (you can read more about Holly here).
If we’re being picky (and it is us being picky) whilst the food was amazing the choice was very limited. It was almost (but not quite) a set menu with a couple of choices for the fish course, then the same for the meat course etc.
Our recommendation? It’s a great place to eat but not if you’re dining with a fussy eater, they may struggle to find something on the menu.
That being said we didn’t hear many complaints about dessert! Just look at this offering below!
Admit it 0 you would have had two as well wouldn’t you!
The Grande Restaurant (Free)
The Grande Restaurant is where you want to head if you want a fancy schmancy night. This will be Royal Caribbeans formal restaurant.
It’s ‘theme’ if you will is a 1920’s luxury cruise ship but with a contemporary twist. This would explain then why it felt we were dining on the set of James Cameron’s Titanic but the waiters were taking our order on an I-Pad!
The whole point of Grande is to harken back to a golden age of cruising when dinner was an event and not just a meal at the end of the day.
This then, is where we ran into problems.
We entered Grande at just before 8:00pm and ordered drinks. The waiter didn’t then take our food order till 8:30. There was also a good twenty/thirty minute wait between each course!
This wasn’t just slow or bad service!
It’s been done deliberately by Royal Caribbean to fit in with the theme of the restaurant.
A good dinner should be savoured with plenty of time between courses for fine wines and good conversation (or so they say).
What do you think?
As a concept we thought it worked really well – If you were expecting it and hadn’t made plans for afterwards! Slowly enjoying a fine dinner with a group of table-mates you really get on with is an amazing experience.
Just make sure you’re not really hungry first!
Decorated in a gorgeous contemporary Far Eastern style, Silk serves up a variety of Pan Asian flavours. At least, that’s what Royal Caribbean say about it. It never really felt like a pan-Asian fusion restaurant to us though; more a Chinese restaurant. A nice Chinese restaurant, don’t get us wrong but pan Asian fusion may be pushing it slightly!
There’s nothing wrong with having a Chinese restaurant on-board – we’re just saying don’t take the description to literally.
There were a lot of positive points about Silk though. In terms of ambiance it was by far our favourite restaurants.
Although it was a very large room it was sectioned off really well with curtains and screens, meaning you never had that ‘big dining room feeling’.
You know the one we mean – when there’s lots of people all talking and eating at once – Silk didn’t have any of that; instead it felt very intimate despite it’s size. It was by far the best restaurant for a quiet meal.
Quick tip – If you’re with a big group of people try and get one of the round tables. They all have lazy susans on them so ordering and sharing out all the different courses becomes a lot easier. Of course if you don’t want to share then we’d probably recommend one of the square tables!
Probably the biggest disappointment with Silk (for us) was the presentation of the food.
Don’t mistake us here – the food was delicious!
In fact there were many things on the menu we could have ordered thirds and fourths of (let alone seconds) but when you go out for dinner you expect a certain amount of finesse in how your food is presented to you and Silk just didn’t deliver there unfortunately.
Coastal Kitchen (Free)
We said there were five free main restaurants and technically that’s true although we have to fess up and admit that Coastal Kitchen, whilst free, will only be for suite guests. It’s a fusion restaurant with an interesting mixture of Mediterranean influences combined with the Californian Coast – Expect dishes along the lines of Sea Bass Ceviche and homemade blueberry pie to Serrano ham, whipped goats cheese and roasted grapes (yum!).
We didn’t get to eat in Coastal Kitchen unfortunately but we do have an intrepid reporter on Quantum of the Seas maiden voyage across the Atlantic that will be reviewing Coastal Kitchen for you – You can follow her adventures day by day here.
The next five restaurants we’ll be talking about, whilst all still free, can’t really be classed as ‘main dining room replacements’. They’re the places you might head for lunch or an afternoon snack – or even dinner if you just fancied something a bit more simple (dare we say a bit more fast food-ish?)
Cruising is all about fine dining and there’s certainly no lack of that on a Quantum Class vessel but let’s face it, after a few days the urge for a simple slice of pizza arrives, doesn’t it?
Just head on over to Sorrentos……
With an authentic pizza oven serving up all the favourites as well as any custom pizza you can think of this is a great spot to hang out! As you can see it opens out onto the Esplanade so it’s also a pretty good spot for people watching (you can judge them as they head off to the gym whilst you munch down on your pizza!)
All the pizzas are made fresh then and there for you and perhaps even better, there’s also a bar at Sorrentos so you can quite happily order a bottle of beertqvwwusexscvyfsqftwv or glass of wine with your slice!
As you’d expect from a Quantum Class vessel though, even Sorrentos hasn’t escaped the five star brush! One of our favourite pizza’s (we liked it so much we ate it without taking any pictures – sorry) was the seafood pizza.
Prawn and mussels! We’d not seen mussels on a pizza before (don’t worry, they’d been de-shelled) but it worked really well!
Make sure you stop by for an afternoon snack.
Windjammer Marketplace (Free)
Anyone that’s ever cruised with Royal Caribbean will be instantly familiar with the Windjammer cafe.
On other Royal Caribbean ships its the self service buffet restaurant but it’s been completely re-imagined for Quantum and Anthem of the Seas (well not completely – it’s still called Windjammer, just now it’s called the Windjammer Marketplace) into a global pavilion. There’ll be different stations set up around the restaurant each focusing on a different country from around the world.
The foods plentiful, tasty and you’ve an enourmous range of choice!
Much more so than in other self service restaurants we’ve tried at sea! The international stations stations work really well although with Sorrento’s and American Icon Grille the U.S of A station did feel a little redundant!
Windjammer’s also positioned nicely at the back of the ship so that you can eat indoors if you want but if the weathers nice you can pop outside for some amazing views.
By the way – This is the dessert station, not our tray piled up (honest)!
You can get a much closer look at the Windjammer here:
Seaplex Dog House (Free)
Have a hot dog, on us!
If you read Royal Caribbeans blurb about the SeaPlex Dog House you’ll learn it’s the first food truck at sea and serves gourmet hot dogs – That was actually a fair comparison! When you think the Dog House try not to picture a hot dog cart – You almost want to be thinking of it like a subway store. You get to choose your ‘dog’, then your bun and finally your toppings.
Whilst there are many toppings to choose from some of the condiments were a little disappointing. With a hot dog stand (especially a Royal Caribbean gourmet hot dog stand) we were expecting lots of different dispensers of ketchup, mustard and relish but instead all there were were lots of fiddly little sachets to use – a minor point maybe but it did seem strange.
The location of the Dog House is strange as well – just outside the SeaPlex with Johnny Rockets just on the other side. Now we’ll get to the SeaPlex in a bit and it is amazing (it really is) but on a normal cruise we can see the SeaPlex area of the ship being a natural hangout for the teenagers onboard…… and Royal Caribbean have put the two most unhealthy restaurants on either side of the entrance!
Maybe this was deliberate, we can see teenagers loving both of these dining venues but we’re not too sure how happy most parents will be!
The Café Two70 (Free)
A lot of people from Royal Caribbean
It’s a new venue for Royal Caribbean, exclusive to all Quantum class vessels (including Anthem of the Seas) located on the second floor of (as you could probably guess from the name) the 270 theater.
Open from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm it quickly became one of, if not our favourite snack/lunch stop on-board. (we know, we know, we’ve said that about a lot of places but this time it really is our favourite!)
The Cafe @ 270 is a deli style eatery serving sandwiches both hot and cold, hot soups, salads and desserts. Think Pret A Manager but a lot better.
In quality we’d probably compare it to some kind of Central London patisserie – Very stylish, very artisan, extremely tasty with a huge focus on fresh ingredients.
The range of sandwiches available really was huge as was the quality of them – no floppy ham and cheese here thank you!
You can see the scale of choice in the photo above but it’s worth pointing out that you can also have your order created from scratch. If things got busy you’d be given a buzzer and you could collect it when it was ready.
You can see the same quality is carried through with the salad bar as aswell – We loved the windjammer but the quality was just on a whole different level at Cafe@270
Wonderland (Cover Charge)
Wonderland has to be one of our favourite specialty restaurants at sea. It’s not one we could eat in every night (much like Quisine on Celebrity Cruises) but is one of those places that need to be tried at least once.
It’s based on a down the rabbit hole/Alice in Wonderland-esque theme but you should be be thinking Tim Burtons version rather than the original Disney; so everything’s ever so twisted and strange (but in a good way).
When we asked Royal Caribbean about Wonderland they said “our chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes to invent an elaborate dreamscape of never before seen fare.
It’s a beautifully decorated venue with none of the chairs or tableware quite matching up but it all adds to the ambiance – especially as the food starts coming out. In Royal Caribbeans words “using colour, scale and reflection to infuse elements of surprise and delight throughout the entire dining experience”
Sounds good to us!
Collette (another of our specialty cruise consultants commented on Wonderland to say –
I was impressed to see that the food that was served was presented exactly the same as on all the promotional pictures on the website. Lots of attention to detail. Tasted amazing too!
The restaurant itself only seats sixty two people (so make sure you book early if you fancy trying it!) but this does lead to a much more intimate experience (much like Silk).
The decor of a restaurant is always nice but lets face it – It’s the food you come for!
Well that’s good because the food is where Wonderland comes into it’s own. The chef behind the menu is the very talented Cornelius Gallagher although (if we’re being honest – no insult to Cornelius intended) the menu reminded us A LOT of Heston Blumenthal.
The above picture is of Gazpacho Cones crafted with cilantro and avocado mousse but you could also try flash frozen ice-cream topped with pork belly or liquid lobster or even a truffled egg, still in it’s shell – It’s an amazing menu!
Images and descriptions are all well and good but they’re no substitute for being there so why not take a look at the video below which is our tour of Wonderland – made especially for you!
Michael’s Genuine Pub (Cover Charge)
Most American interpretations of British pubs never work. For some reason the Americans have a rather skewed view a typical British ‘local’.
Whilst we’d probably argue that they still haven’t got it quite right that’s probably a good thing – None of our locals have ever looked this good!
As you’d expect there’s a hard wood floor and lots of dark wooden furniture but it felt like very stylish and modern.
The decor of a bar is important but where Michael’s comes into it’s own is the beers.
If you’re not a beer drinker you may want to skip on down to the next section but for those that are you’ll be happy to find out that Michael’s specialises in American craft ales with everything you’d expect – From your Samuel Adams and goose Islands right through to your Stones and several interesting ales from the Flying Dog Brewery (see – We told you you’d have to be interested in beers to get excited!)
Michael’s also does a pretty good range of snackish bar foods – perfect for soaking up some of those specialty ales! Deviled eggs anyone?
Chops Grille (Cover Charge)
It wouldn’t be an American ship without a Steak house now would it!
Royal Caribbean have really out done themselves with Chops Grille though- only serving dry aged steaks, each hand selected and aged for four weeks (remember when we told you about dry aged beef?).
Not interested in beef?
OK, well what about Maine lobster then? Or Veal Parmesan or grilled branzino or, or, or……
If you’re looking for a meat eaters heaven you’re not going to get much closer to it than Chops – Just make sure you send the vegetarians somewhere else for the night!
If you’r mouths already drooling then wait till you take a look at the full menu! Just click here.
Jamie’s Italian (Cover Charge)
Hmm, what can we say about Jamie’s Italian?
Royal Caribbean launched this addition in a blaze of publicity. Now we like Jamie as much as the next person (maybe even more – we’ve got all his cookbooks) so maybe we were just expecting too much from this venue.
Jamie’s Italian for us though was just a……. Jamie’s Italian. It was nice enough but absolutely no different to the Jamie’s Italian you can find on your local high street.
Somehow we just expected a bit more from a restaurant on a five star cruise ship – We weren’t expecting Mr Oliver to pick up his franchise and just drop it onto Quantum and Anthem of the Seas.
Maybe we’re being unfair?
The food was certainly good, excellent in fact; as was the presentation……. but we’d tried it before.
That might be the crux of it.
If you’re a fan of Italian cooking or you’ve loved Jamie’s Italian on land then this is definitely THE venue for you.
(The food was really very good) but with seventeen other options to get through on board it almost felt like we shouldn’t ‘waste’ an evening here – not when we could try it on land (although it was admittedly a lot cheaper here – another point in it’s favour!)
What do you think? Are we being unfair on Mr Oliver and picking on him?
The decor of the restaurant is certainly beautiful!
As is the food – Jamie’s Italian does real Italian food very well – No tinned meatballs in a neon red sauce here thank you very much!
For us Jamie’s Italian will have to remain on the maybe list. It’s probably a great restaurant but Quantum and Anthem just spoils us for choice – With so many other restaurants to pick from we guess one will always get missed (unless you really have a hankering for Italian one night!)
Chefs Table (Cover Charge)
Chef’s table is the most exclusive venue on-board so we can’t stress this enough – If you want to dine here you must, must, must book early!
Did we say you have to book early?
The reason for this is that it can only sit sixteen people in total so really is the most intimate venue on-board. It’s located in it’s own private enclave within Chops Grille and is descriped as an Epicurean experience to rival all others.
The menu is based on Chops but massively expanded with the chef explaining the cooking techniques behind each course as well as why the different ingredients and flavours were chosen whilst an expert sommelier pairs each each course with it’s own specially selected wines.
Exclusive to Quantum and Anthem of the Seast he Chefs table may not be to everyone’s tastes but we’ll be amazed if if it’s not booked up every night.
For the curious you can view the full Chefs Table menu here.
Izumi (Cover Charge)
For those used to Oasis class cruises ships, (Oasis and Allure of the Seas) Izumi will already be familiar to you. It’s Royal Caribbeans Japanese style restaurant serving everything from sushi to sashimi. For those unfamiliar with it, it uses Hot Rocks to prepare your dinner table side for a meal that is three parts great food, one part entertainment.
Solarium Bistro (Cover Charge)
On a cruise ship!
Well we guess some people might be interested in that (our guess would be it’s the same it’s the same people that make us feel jealous by using the gym!)
With an emphasis on freshness and healthy dining the Solarium Bistro serves up ‘spa’ style breakfasts, lunches and light dinners offering the very best at healthy dining at sea.
If you’re one of those crazy people that do eat healthy dining whilst on holiday or you’ve over indulged a bit too much and need a night off then teh Bistro might be for you – You can view the full menu here
Johnny Rockets (Cover Charge)
Johnny Rockets has long been a favourite of Royal Caribbean and it looks like their Quantum class vessels wont be any different!
It’s also casual dining at its best! None of your fine dining here – This is all about 100% pure Americana comfort food!
- A massive range of burgers (all fresh made – none of them will EVER have been frozen)
- Curly fries
- Onion rings
- Home made milkshakes and floats
- Fountain soda pops
- And of course a slice of apple pie a la mode!
So that’s our review of dining on all of Royal Caribbeans Quantum class cruises!
What do you think? Will Dynamic dining work or do you think Royal Caribbean should head back to main dining times with just one or two specialty restaurants?
Have your say below……….
Win a free cruise!
Oh and as an added bonus for getting to the bottom of our review we’re giving you the chance to win a free cruise on Anthem of the Seas in her maiden season (because we’re nice like that!
All you have to do to enter is follow the below link and follow the instructions!