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Royal Disappointment: South Pacific Plans Axed for Queensland
I recently got off Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas doing a South Pacific cruise (10/11/23), while I do love Royal and their ships this getaway was a bit of a disaster. I’m going to go over the interesting things that happened, the great and the Royal disappointment. This post serves to show what happens when your itinerary is canceled or changed last minute.
Table of Contents
We woke up excited but nervous about the day we had before us, after going over all our documents and watching a small storm pass through the airport we headed down to the cafe. While at the cafe we’d overheard more people cruising with us saying that someone doing b2b (Back-to-back sailing) was claiming that our itinerary to the South Pacific had been canceled. Although we slightly expected it, I was still hoping we’d make it there – I checked our Royal app, Royal Carribean’s website, and my emails, and couldn’t see anything about any changes – I could see we were still going to the South Pacific.
We headed to the port to see what was happening – Once at the port, we could finally see the amazing and beautiful Quantum Of The Seas. We were then handed a piece of paper that did, in fact, state that our itinerary had changed, not only was it changed but we were only stopping at one location. Queensland (Airlie Beach, Roughly a 10-hour drive from where we left), so our South Pacific Plans Had Been Axed for Queensland – How wonderful. A lot of people were choosing not to board and were understandably upset. We were set and excited to board although disappointed with the itinerary, we like many others wanted to relax and have an international holiday.
This was our itinerary we sailed
The Royal Disappointment
After we had found our cabin near the front of the ship, our room was ready to settle into. The first thing we noticed was the odd room design. I’ve sailed a lot with Royal but this was the first time that I’d had no room on the side of the bed, there was about a foot or less on either side, with one side blocked by the draws – although a very minor problem it’s something to note especially for those who have mobility issues. The next thing was the separating beds and horrible-feeling mattresses, If you or your partner ended up near the center of the bed – they’d simply separate. Even just slightly pushing the bed they’d move apart. Unfortunately, we only got 2 Towel animals during our 7-night cruise! While this didn’t matter to us, all of our friends got one each night.
Another thing to note is the TV while small but decent, is mounted off the side on a Vesa mount. Meaning it can swing out, although the swing angel is very, very small. This means you get a fairly awkward viewing angle of the TV. The TV itself was fine to use – While watching movies at night the audio wasn’t synced to the movie, so we’d hear the audio for a scene then 5 seconds later the lips would move. It, unfortunately, made it unwatchable this only happened twice, both times we’re very late at night on the free movie channel.
The Virtual Balcony
We typically always opt for a virtual balcony to save a few dollars, being younger we’re always out of the room so it isn’t much of a loss for us not having a balcony room. We’ve both never had any issues with the virtual balcony until this cruise, a lot of the time the screen would glitch out with green and black squares all over the screen then drop out, and come back. It would do this all during the night and day – while not ruining our experience, it was a shame to see it playing up so much. We didn’t have anything to really see on our itinerary so it didn’t affect us so much personally.
While this isn’t my first time on Quantum, it has been a few years. In Alaska (2022) she had suffered an engine failure and this time she was a little worse for wear. The Northstar is down due to a broken window, the bionic bar is working at half capacity as one arm is broken – the rust is showing in a fair few spots. I love the Quantum Class ships and Quantum Of The Seas being the first of her class, is certainly due for its refit.
The North Star
While we can’t get official word on what happened to the north star, it appears that the port side (left) window has been removed – for what we’re assuming has been smashed or cracked. On Facebook, a user posted a photo of a bolt on the ground near the North Star bar.
The beloved Bionic bar is working currently at half capacity, with the main arm glitching out too. We personally experienced this, with having a dedicated staff member watching to fix the bionic bar in case it breaks. While making my drink, the arm stopped halfway through for about 10 minutes until the staff reset the arm, it finished my drink as per usual but added an extra 10 minutes onto the 30-minute wait. Drinks typically are a 15 to 30-minute wait as only one arm is working.
Touch Ups Needed
While on board we noticed a fair amount of rust in common places, such as around the Quantum Of The Seas sign near the clock although being very minimal, a larger amount under the roof when looking up from deck 5, and around the bow of the ship. Although the Bow is to be expected, some of the other places require touch-ups. In Windjammer some of the buffet lounge seating is torn and worn away from 8 years of use.
Lack of activities
Let me be clear this wasn’t like any other Royal sailing I’ve done – normally the boat is jam-packed with things to do and activities. However, on this sailing they were few and far between, with only a few notable activities taking place – there were still a few trivia’s and hunts taking place for the younger cruisers but not much for anyone older. With the ship staying at Airlie Beach for 2 days and most of the passengers not getting off – it would have been nice for everyone to have something to do. Even during Sea Days, we didn’t have too much to do, other than the belly-flop competition and hottest man competition it felt like there wasn’t anything.
Notable attractions were also down such as Northstar which has a broken window, that is reported to be fixed in NOV 2024. Bionic Bar is also down to 50% capacity due to an arm being broken, causing drinks to take up to 30 minutes with a small line of people.
Something that had me taken aback was the lack of bands, typically Royal will pick up bands along the voyage. The music on board wasn’t bad by any means and cruise director John can absolutely play the guitar. It still would have been nice to see more mixes or bands on board as this was the only one (Other than small bars having guitars and piano players)
It has been a hot and sore topic lately, we personally experienced a few interesting situations with kids running down halls, around the pool and even running into me while taking photos and holding a drink. On Facebook, it seems to be a hit-and-miss topic with a lot of parents speaking out and saying people need to stop hating on their kids and they are on holiday too. I totally understand that and agree but also I’m trying to enjoy a holiday where kids should not be in the solarium or running down a hall or in the windjammer, I have no issue with a lot of kids on a cruise – it’s to be expected after all. Especially going to the South Pacific – but it is still up to the parents to teach their kids respect and manners, they’re legally responsible for said kid(s). I’m not saying kids can’t have fun, simply just say sorry if you run into someone – don’t run around hundreds of people trying to get dinner, and don’t kick the room service food left in the hallway.
I’ve always said it’s the people and staff that truly make a cruise, and this couldn’t be more true. Although the ship definitely plays a role, it really is the people on board. I made so many memories with the amazing staff and fellow cruises. Inparticlur the staff at the North Star Bar was amazing (This is where I was found most of the time)
The food was amazing as always, from the buffet to Jamie’s and the main dining room it was all such an amazing experience. With shows being put on by the staff while we enjoyed the amazing food there wasn’t anything to really fault here at all.
A small refund
Now we were given 2 refunds per cabin and depending on the cabin the value changed. We had an interior virtual balcony, so we had a 75USD refund along with a later 15USD port fee refund. Although it is better than nothing, a common topic voiced on the sailing was “It’s not enough” which is a fair opinion to have. Some people have spent upwards of $6000 AUD to go on this cruise when they lived in Airlie Beach – just to end up sailing back home. Although I would have liked more than $75 per cabin – an option of free dining at a specialty location, more activity options and other such things would have gone a long way I personally think.
What truly makes a cruise is the friends you make along the way, and I made the most of it. I had the weirdest, most funny conversations with so many people. I made so many memories that I’ll take with me forever, just about everyone was so lovely and friendly and wanted to share their life stories with me including the staff. The staff on board Quantum is up with some of the best staff I’ve seen on Royal.
Honestly, we knew there was a chance it’d be canned and we happily took that risk, however, the fact that we just cruised up to Airlie Beach Queensland, when we had left Brisbane Queensland was very disappointing. Even if we had gone to Carins, honestly anywhere else instead of 2 days in Airlie – this is something a lot of people voiced on board many of whom were locals to Airlie. There was the usual outbreak of gastro and COVID-19 as well, which is to be expected, but the amount of passengers that were openly coughing in the buffet. Even a child ate mashed potato right off the serving spoon (A fellow cruiser told staff and it was replaced). We also had a lot of annoyed passengers regarding children who were running around on the cruise “causing havoc” – a lot of cruisers said kids were running into them, and one that I experienced holding up the elevators and playing in them.
Amongst all of this, we still enjoyed it while making friends and having an amazing time getting to know the staff on Quantum. It wasn’t my favorite cruise but far from my worst.
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