Royal Caribbean are (rightly) very proud of their Quantum class of ships; hailing them as the most technologically advanced ships at sea.
To help champion their new design of ship they reached out to Jason Bradbury, presenter of Channel 5’s the Gadget Show and self confessed ‘tech geek’. He visited Quantum of the Seas with his family to see how this new technology all came together and with Anthem of the Seas sailing from Southampton we caught up with him to see what he though…
Jason Bradbury – Hello
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – Hi, is that Jason?
Jason Bradbury– Yeah hi, how you doing?
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – Yeah we’re OK, yourself?
Jason Bradbury – Great thanks.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – Excellent.! Before we get started we’ve been told to apologise in advance in case we go all fan crazy on you; so if we do….
Jason Bradbury – Oh that’s all right, don’t worry about it man.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – Well thanks for agreeing to this…
Jason Bradbury – That’s OK.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – So, we understand you haven’t cruised on Anthem of the Seas yet but you’ve been on Quantum of the Seas before, is that correct?
Jason Bradbury – Yeah
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – We’ve seen you on YouTube talking about and it seems like you’re a massive fan; so given a free rein would you have changed anything about Quantum for Anthem or are you hoping Anthem will be an exact replica?
Jason Bradbury – Errr yeah… My understanding is they’re really similar but I wouldn’t change anything. I don’t know enough about cruising to start changing things. My first experience of a cruise was Quantum of the Seas so it’s quite interesting as I didn’t have any expectations as to what it was supposed to be like but I thought it was an amazing experience. I took my three kids with me and they were, you know, they were gobsmacked by it and obviously so much is taken care of by virtue of the fact there’s so much to do on it so yeah it was a holistically positive experience for me as a Father. You know it gets a bit hectic sometimes with little kids!
Jason Bradbury – Yeah it’s really difficult isn’t it to constantly keep them entertained and the ship kind of does that for you.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – So you wouldn’t be adding any more gadgets for Anthem then?
Jason Bradbury – Ummm no, it’s a bit of a boring answer but no, I can’t think of anything else really. I mean it’s got ripcord on it, you know it’s got on-deck skydiving and bumper cars!
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – We guess it’s kind of hard to think what else you could add then isn’t it?
Jason Bradbury – Yeah that’s the thing you know. I think it’s an absolutely extraordinary thing.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – So talking a bit more about the technology and innovations that both Quantum and Anthem have compared to other cruise ships… If we put you on the spot and asked what your favourite was, what would be your top highlight of the ship?
Jason Bradbury – It’s got to be ripcord by I-fly the tube on the aft of the deck where you fly and you actually skydive – I did that and it’s incredible!
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – Oh wow, you actually had a go did you?
Jason Bradbury – Yeah! I had a go on everything man!
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – Oh excellent. So had you been sky diving before? How did it compare?
Jason Bradbury – I’ve done skydiving before. I’ve also done that same concept as skydiving statically as well.
Jason Bradbury – Well it’s beautifully presented isn’t it? Beautifully lit. Just the idea of being at the aft of the ship and seeing the whole sort of panorama of the sea and you know, I imagine doing it in an exotic location would be even more impressive. We were out at sea when I did it in UK waters.
Jason Bradbury – No! Now that would be the ideal location! But wherever you are its still amazing. I mean, when I did it there was a bit of a sunset going on; when we were doing it was twilight and it was really amazing.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – Putting you on the spot a little again… A lot of our readers are quite interested in Royal Caribbean’s Bionic Bar and they sort of fall into two camps; the one group feeling it’s quiet gimmicky the other group really excited; that see it as the future of bars – How do you feel about it?
Jason Bradbury – Yeah, I think it’s an amazing concept, I love robots, I actually collect robots…
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – We really have asked the right person then!
Jason Bradbury – I think it’s a really good piece of robotic technology and makes absolute sense. It makes a theatrical experience out of getting a drink which is quite an achievement really. In fact you asked earlier if I’d add something. I’d add a robotic cappuccino maker. I don’t really drink you see so my real love is tea and coffee and I’d like to see that technology advanced into a sort of robotic barrister; that would be a real achievement! But the idea of those two robots is brilliant and the thing you might not get from it is how well implemented it is. So it’s very elegant, the whole experience is very beautiful. It’s like a sort of crystalline bar with lots of mirrors and great lighting and all the umm, what do they call those things, I don’t really drink… Those things in the ceiling… optics! The optics are all in the ceiling, it’s really stunningly! You know it’s not just about the robots; it’s a really beautiful environment.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – Anthem and Quantum of the Seas… They’re being heralded as the future of cruising; the the most technologically advanced ships at sea. A lot of the cruisers however can be a bit more, shall we say… traditional? What do you think Anthem and Quantum have to offer to fans of traditional cruising?
Jason Bradbury – Yeah, that’s a difficult question for me to answer because I’m not a traditional cruiser but I obviously… Umm, my Mom would be in that category and my wife’s parents as well and her grandmother. You see my wife grew up cruising all over the place so my understanding is all the traditional stuff that people who are into cruise ships expect is there, ok? Even classic dining arrangements, which by my own understanding were where you’re assigned a particular table at a particular time? That option is there if you want it. What you’ve got is this layer of technology that’s not overt, it’s quite covert actually. The use of technology is subtle and integrated and it just means that things like check-in, so when you check in, that process is streamlined and it doesn’t matter whether you’re a young family of the sort of technological age or whether you’re a traditional cruising type person, you’re going to like the fact that the check-in procedure is stream-lined. You’re going to like the fact you can use the RFID or Radio Frequency Identification Chips on your luggage so you know exactly where they are. I don’t think anyone’s going to complain when the rigmarole of getting on-board a ship or booking excursions or booking a restaurant, when those process’ are made smoother and quicker by virtue of technology, no-one’s going to complain about that, so it just depends from what perspective you’re looking at it.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – So you say you’ve never cruised before? After seeing Quantum and Anthem would you be tempted into a cruise? Do you think Anthem will appeal to people who have never cruised before?
Jason Bradbury – Yeah, yeah I’m intending to book a holiday on either Quantum or Anthem just as a result of going on-board for a couple of nights so you know I’m completely sold on it, there’s no question about it. My wife always used to say to me about cruising and I was a bit reticent and you know, I think really that was more about my ignorance than it was about the reality on-board ships but certainly for me and I’m guessing for lots of other people that are like me, so people that ummm… wouldn’t have considered cruising, that these two ships, the Quantum Class of ships, is definitely an eye opener. It’s an introduction to a whole new world of holidaying that I’m now really tuned into!
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – Talking about the Wi-Fi a little… Wi-Fi at sea is notoriously slow but Anthem and Quantum actually have their own dedicated satellite supporting it. With your ‘tech’ expertise, how much of a game changer do you think super-fast Wi-Fi will be for people? Do you think fast Wi-Fi is important for holiday makers these days?
Jason Bradbury – Yeah! I think it’s massively important! I won’t apologise for the need to be connected and I never have done. I want to be connected and have the opportunity to use it whenever I want so the fact that the Quantum Class of ships offer this unprecedented broadband access anywhere in the world is amazing!
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – Whilst you were on-board did you have a chance to see the virtual balconies?
Jason Bradbury – Yeah I did yeah. It’s like an 80’ LED screen. It’s really good actually, it works and is fed by an camera with a view that you would get in that position of the ship so you’re able to mentally orientate yourself – it’s a really nice feature.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – Before the launch of Quantum we saw a couple of videos of you praising the Robo-screens in the 270 theatre. Now you’ve actually seen them on-board did the actual live shows live up to your expectations?
Jason Bradbury – Oh yes! It’s really clever actually because it’s like… ultimately theatre is like anything. It needs to evolve a little bit as you get older; you’ve kind of been there and done it. I’ve been to Vegas, I’ve been to the West End and you know, would be interested in what the next thing is. It’s a fusion of digital and physical. It’s really interesting; I think again, it bridges the gap. I think that most people that are used to that, who just want a normal performance, well it’ll give them what they want but I think if you want another edge, a slightly different dimension to the experience it also offers that. So it’s not so digitally enhanced its kind of funky and futuristic, it’s just a really nice use of the space. I mean we’re talking of 100ft wide screen and I think it’s 20ft high with eighteen projectors, a bunch of robot screens that almost act like dancers, like performers because they move dynamically during the performance. Its really cool but at the centre of it are live performers that are really brilliant dancers. Its great music and visuals, I really enjoyed it.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – When we took a tour of Quantum what surprised us is that a lot of the artwork is quite ‘techy’ as well…
Jason Bradbury – Yeah it’s kinetic, they call it kinetic.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – Yes we saw a video where you described it as kinetic, interactive video artwork. How does that feel? Does it make the ship feel really futuristic, almost as though you’ve made your way onto the set of Blade Runner or….?
Jason Bradbury – Again its quite subtle isn’t it? It’s not in your face. It’s not like going into an amusement arcade or anything or a theme park. In fact if it’s like anything it’s like going into a five star hotel! I thought the décor was far more luxurious than I expected; I thought it would be… I thought it would be ship like or a bit Disney land and it’s not at all. There’s a real elegance to the interior design and the kinetic art. Most of the time it fits into that sort of description so you don’t realise what you’re looking at till it changes. I mean did you see that, it was like a big umm… it was on one of the decks… like a display from a train station where you get the train updates?
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – We did, yes.
Jason Bradbury – They’ve made it do things like animate fish and animate a pebble dropping in water. Yeah, it’s this super low res, physical screen, nothing video about it at all. It was like, there’s probably a name for it, almost like a dot matrix screen that’s been, you know, pulled out of a train station and it’s had an artist go to work on it so they’ve produced this really interesting installation that’s what we’re talking about. There’s another almost like a DNA. Is it called Helix? I think like a DNA structure on the wall and ceiling that’s umm… It’s just a really unusual use of sculpture and traditional art with a kind of digital twist and I loved it. I loved the whole interior design, I loved the carpets, and I loved the use of different materials on the walls, on the floor. So yeah it was really cool. There’s a… the lifts are really cool, the fact that if you get in the lifts it tells you what the day is on a tile on the floor, it’s really nicely done. It reminded me of some of the nice, funky hotels I’ve stayed in and wasn’t what I expected from a ship.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – You said you’re favourite feature of the ship was the skydiving. Do you mind us asking what your kids favourite bit was?
Jason Bradbury – I think they liked the roller-skating. They thought that was pretty spectacular which let’s face it on a ship is pretty bananas! Bumper cars was cool, they enjoyed the restaurants because like a lot of youngsters they’re really orientated around food (Jason laughs at this point) and meal times and they umm… they liked Jamie Oliver and the fact they could get proper decent Italian food.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – So Jamie’s was their favourite restaurant?
Jason Bradbury – Oh without a shadow of a doubt Jamie’s was their favourite restaurant! They liked the H2O zone, which of course is the waterpark. I think we were actually the first people to swim in the pools on Quantum, another human being had never even been in them! They were still filling them that morning and then we dived in and considering it was October in Southampton that was quite something!
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – Brrrr! Moving on as you’re making us feel cold we’re guessing your children grow up with a lot of technology. Do you think they look at Anthem with more or less wonder than adults who are perhaps less used to lots of technology?
Jason Bradbury – Good question, I don’t know really, ummm; I think they’re more accepting of technology but I don’t know. That sort of magic thing that goes on you know, that kind of awe that if you can’t live without the technology you have…? So I don’t know if they have that same relationship. They’re what we call in tech speak digital natives so they possibly expect to have broadband and they expect to log in using RFID and for the ship to have an app but I still think they were amazed though. I mean they were gobsmacked! They didn’t stop talking about it so the magic wasn’t lost on them.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – OK, last question then and we’ll let you go. If you had to name one thing that Royal Caribbean have done with Anthem of the Seas that the other cruise lines need to sit up and take note of what would it be?
Jason Bradbury – Well the whole seamless check-in! Check-in in your details yourself online so the whole process is just ten minutes from dockside to stateroom. That’s huge! Also dynamic dining… It’s something my wife recognised as a big bonus and a big progression from other cruises because my wife has been on about ten cruises in her life. She spent most of her youth with her grandparents going around the world on cruise ships and she expected to have to book into a certain table at a certain time and the fact that we were much freer to do essentially what we wanted to do; she really liked that. I think the diversity of relaxation spaces is really something as well so there’s a real sort of café vibe, a real variety of places to hang out and the fact that I could just get my tablet out and check in. You know I run a website? I’m on social networks so that was obviously very important. There was no question that that amount of data… You know I guess anywhere at sea is strictly termed a remote location, is quite an experience and I would look for other cruise lines to emulate that sort of experience if was going to have to name anything.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team – Thanks Jason we really appreciate your time today and we’ll let you get back to what you were doing.
Jason Bradbury – Thanks Man. I appreciate your interest… thanks for listening. Bye