Asia Cruise Yearbook : Cruise Passenger 57
18 www.cruisepassenger.com.au www.cruisepassenger.com.au 19 Royal Caribbean ripped up the cruising rule book when designing its new Quantum-class vessels. Hold on to your hats for some mind-blowing innovations. Words Sue Bryant LasVegas-stylerazzamatazz, 18 restaurants and a chance to try skydiving at sea are just three of the experiences with which Royal Caribbean is hoping to “wow” guests on its newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, making its debut in November. Royal Caribbean made a big splash, as it were, with its last major launches, Oasis of the Seas and its sister, Allure of the Seas, the two biggest cruise ships in the world at 225,282 tons, carrying 5,400 passengers each. Although Quantum is significantly smaller, at 167,800 tons with a capacity of 4,180, it’s still longer than four-and-a-bit Airbus A380s nose-to-tail, so we’re hardly talking “boutique”. And it’s not a one-off; sister Anthem of the Seas follows in April 2015 and a third Quantum-class vessel in 2016. What’s most exciting about these ships is not size; it’s the way Royal Caribbean has once again ripped up the cruising rule book when it comes to dining and entertainment. “Innovation has always been part of our DNA and we have taken advantage of all that creativity to design Quantum cruising,” says chairman and CEO Richard Fain. “The unique features on Quantum of the Seas will boggle our guests’ minds.” Take the entertainment. A new venue called Two70 will be a high-tech cross between a futuristic circus show and Avatar, with giant 30 x 7-metre projection screens and moving “Roboscreens” making the audience feel as though they’re part of the production. The venue will also be used for “virtual” rock concerts featuring big-name bands. Mamma Mia will be staged in the Royal Theatre in Royal Caribbean’s continuing tradition of bringing Broadway shows to sea (having started with Hairspray and Chicago on Oasis and Allure), as well as 3D movies. The Music Hall will feature tribute bands covering The Beatles, the Bee Gees and Bon Jovi, as well as dance classes, a Mamma Mia cast party, stand-up comedy and a raunchy, adults-only show. Unusually, the ship’s godmother (Kristin Chenoweth, who played fallen Broadway star April Rhodes in Glee) was announced very early on. She is also a consultant for onboard entertainment, sprinkling a genuine dose of QUANTUM OF THE SEAS WOWFACTOR The Nearing completion: Quantum of the Seas CRUISE NEWS Words Teresa Ooi T here is something slightly impertinent about treating the city that was home to one of the world’s greatest civilisations as a 24-hour stop- over. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so it certainly deserves more than that on a visit. But many of the 2 million cruise passengers who pass through Rome each year face this dilemma. There is only one thing for it: when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Rush! As in Africa, there are the Big Five to tick off: the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican and the Pantheon. And then there are the big-label fashion stores... Which is why 7am finds us standing in front of the Vatican with a strange assortment of tourists and nuns waiting for the great gates to roll open. No queues. No touts. Just awe- inspiring architecture and a dozen Sunday ser vices in tiny chapels conducted by priests and incense-carr ying choir boys. We have arrived from a seven- day cruise to Sicily, and the first thing to know is that Rome is 70 kilometres and over an hour away from the port of Civitavecchia. Many cruise companies lay on coaches to the airport or CBD. We are dropped at the door of the perfectly located four-star Forum Hotel, literally opposite the Colosseum. Romans are justly proud of their city, so small wonder the eyebrows of The Forum’s Caesar- lookalike concierge, Roberto, shoot up when we say we’re leaving the next morning. “Why you wait so long to come – you will ’ave to return,” he mutters, before getting a map and planning our next few hours with professional precision. We waste no time after checking in. We take a brisk walk to the Tomb of the Forgotten Soldier. Housed in a vast white building with a burning cauldron, it’s an astonishing construction and we begin to understand we’ ll be spending a lot of the next few hours staring in wonderment at what the ancient Romans created. When they designed a monument, it had to be in epic proportions. There are huge columns and enormous domes everywhere. We soon learn to fend off approaches from touts wanting to sell guided tours to almost every attraction. At every turn, a clutch of them offer the apocryphal last two tickets to the Colosseum at 35 euros each for an hour’s tour when the going rate for a single ticket is 12. The main attractions are also awash with bronzed young Italian men dressed as centurions, complete with brass breastplates. Picture anyone? Buono! That will be five euros. The best way to beat the crowds is to book and pay for tickets online – especially for the Sistine Chapel (the one we missed, thanks to a 40-minute queue). That alone draws 25,000 visitors a day. We board a local bus to visit the Trevi Fountain, which is close to shopping streets and malls. Sadly, the plumbers have moved in to renovate, so we are unable to toss in the customary three coins. We can, however, still marvel at the magnificent statues and white stone through the fencing. Time-poor cruise passengers have their work cut out for them exploring the Italian capital. Rome PORT OF CALL While there, we shop. The Australian dollar is strong, so prices are good. Our branded spectacle frames are half the Sydney price and even a pair of Tod’s shoes 20 per cent cheaper. In the end, as we make our way to Fiumicino Airport, 26 kilometres from the city centre, we have to admit defeat. We missed the Sistine Chapel and the Pantheon (seeing them from the outside, we decided, didn’t count). Sorry, Michelangelo. Cabs to the airport cost 40 euros and the brilliantly named Leonardo Express is 11 euros. And Roberto was right. We will definitely be coming back. Sistine Chapel The chapel’s ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, is the cornerstone of high renaissance art. No wonder it attracts so many millions of travellers. Colosseum Rome’s greatest arena, which staged spectacular gladiatorial games in front of crowds of up to 80,000. Now 5 million a year visit. Pantheon The 2,000-year-old monument is one of the best preserved in Rome. The imposing exterior has 16 Corinthian columns, each made of a single block of stone supporting a triangular pediment. Its dome is considered one of Rome’s greatest architectural achievements. Must see...
ASEAN Yearbook 2015