After more than a year of no travel, I was salivating over a trip to the airport. I didn’t even need to go anywhere. I just wanted that feeling of checking in, strolling around the airport, even packing a suitcase! So when the idea of a ‘Cruise To Nowhere’ came knocking, boy was I interested. Actually that’s not strictly true. I scoffed at first. Why would I want to go on a cruise to nowhere? Was it safe? Did I really want to cruise wearing a face mask all day? Well, first a bit of background…
Royal Caribbean operates 24 cruise ships. At present, there is only one officially ship officially sailing, the ‘Quantum of the Seas’. This is the ship that runs the ‘Cruise To Nowhere’ out of Singapore. Despite being expensive to operate, it’s even more pricey to keep a cruise ship idle. Royal Caribbean came up with the plan to keep Quantum running, albeit at one-third capacity.
Booking The Cruise To Nowhere
If you are living in Singapore and fancy a cruise, it’s best to book soon. Quantum Of The Seas is running until the end of June and open to Singapore residents only. There are both two, three and four night options available. You can also check out Genting’s Cruise to Nowhere which runs on their World Dream Ship.
I chose a three night cruise, which departs on a Monday and returns on Thursday. The timing is slightly misleading. The ship sets sail at 9pm and returns at 6.30am. Although you can board as early as 2pm on Day One.
There are four room types; Interior, Ocean, Balcony and Suites. Prices are hugely discounted with various offers including ‘Kids Sail Free’ and flash sales. Suites class gives you priority boarding and departure. I chose the cheapest Suites Category, the Junior Suite with balcony. I paid roughly SGD 1800 for four passengers for the three nights, which includes food, drink and entertainment. Quite frankly a bargain.
A few weeks after booking, you start to receive discounts on items such as the Deluxe Drinks Package and Wifi. It’s best to book these prior to your trip as it’s much cheaper.
What You Need To Plan In Advance
Download the Royal Caribbean app which will allow you to plan your cruise. After you link your booking, keep an eye on the check-in. Once you are able to, select the time for your ‘Health Check’, which is essentially your boarding allocation time. Bear in mind, the earlier you get on board, the earlier you can connect to the ship’s wifi which will allow you to book the entertainment.
There are a few paid activities you can reserve in advance on the app. I booked iFly and the North Star and there’s also speciality dining.
The price includes two Covid tests, organised and operated by Royal Caribbean. A few weeks prior to departure, you will receive a message asking you to register for the test. This is to be taken between minus 3 to minus 1 days in advance. The test result will then be uploaded to the Trustone app or website. On disembarking, you will also have a Covid test.
The test itself was fine, I promise, despite the cries coming from within the testing centre! The first one felt like a tickle. The second one more of a prod up the nose.
What To Pack
My advice is to go into packing assuming you may have to quarantine (if you met my dad, the king of the backup plan, it’s in my genes). This meant some extra snacks, electronics for all, a few activities and extra underwear.. The boat sails in international waters (hello casino) so you will need passports and ID cards for all.
Take socks and trainers for sports activities e.g. rock climbing, ifly and the dance lessons. Pack a jumper/scarf as it can be quite cool inside the theatres. As it’s a US boat so you will need US plug adaptors and also USD for the casino. I tipped using a mix of USD and SGD (they provide envelopes at the end if you want to thank any staff in particular).
If you are in a suite, you will get lovely L’Occitane goodies. For Interior/Ocean, bring your own shower gel, conditioner etc as I have heard what’s provided is more basic.
Top tip – bring lanyards and Trace Together tokens. You will each receive a ‘Seapass’ which you have to tap in and tap out, every 25 metres and to each activity. It’s much easier to put this in a lanyard, along with your token (for the kids).
You are pretty much allowed to take as much luggage as you want onboard. We didn’t check anything in, and carried it all as hand luggage. It didn’t look like it mattered what size your hand luggage was.
They recommend to print your Covid certificate but we didn’t need to show this. You also need to watch the safety video on the Royal Caribbean app.
The ship departs from the Marina Bay Cruise Centre. You will have an allocated boarding time e.g. your ‘health check’. I’d arrive about 20 minutes in advance of this so you can start queueing.
Having not done check in or immigration for a year, I actually found the process much more exciting than usual. You will receive a wristband which you are to wear at all times.
Once you are on, connect to the ship’s wifi and you can start booking all the entertainment. Remember it will be a good few hours until everyone else gets onboard. So you if you get on early, use this chance to go and do the fun activities!
You will need to do a safety check at your muster station, check your Seapass for the number. You will then get a sticker on your Seapass.
Your Stateroom (aka the room)
The ship has 15 levels, of which 15 is the top. Our Junior Suite was on the 9th floor but next time I’d try to book one on a higher level. I say ‘suite’ in the loosest sense. What you’re looking at is a relatively straight forward hotel room with a small balcony.
Ours had two bathrooms, one just with a toilet and the other had a bath/shower. There is a Queen size bed and a sofa bed which is made up later in the day.
Having been deprived of live theatre and music, this was one of the highlights of the ship for me. The shows are SPECTACULAR. You will need to book these in advance. It’s worth showing up about 20 minutes early for decent seating. The theatres only fit about a third of guests due to social distancing. Sequins & Feathers in the Royal Theatre is a Vegas style spectacular with fun songs. If you’re into Cirque du Soleil, Starwater is outstanding. This is held in the spectacular Two70 with its cutting edge multimedia theatre. I had planned to see all the live music e.g. the Beatles show but quite frankly, ran out of time!
As soon as you’re out in international water, you can hit the casino. This is a pretty decent size. There’s everything from the slots to blackjack, all at a manageable minimum bet.
An enormous well-stocked gym at the front of the ship. In theory, you need to book slots but I just showed up. There is also a glorious running track stretching around the top deck.
This area is an indoor entertainment centre, located on the 15th floor. It’s a multi-use space depending on the activity. They switch it up between things like bumper cars (must book!), dance class, crossbar challenge and basketball. You’ll also find foosball, table tennis and an arcade. Top tip – either block or put a limit on the amount your kids spend in the arcade. My daughter didn’t realise the machines weren’t free!
Ripcord by iFly
Just incredible that an activity like this is on the boat. iFly is a chance to try skydiving indoors. Book this in advance. You can call Royal Caribbean on 6675 0413 to organise. Kids will need an adult to sign them in and then you can go and watch on the viewing gallery.
This is the surf simulator. We didn’t get the chance to do this but it looked like a lot of fun. The trick is to queue just before it opens to secure a spot.
This is popular so you might want to pick a random time to climb. We took the kids around 9pm and they got straight on it.
This is an observation capsule which takes you over 90 metres above sea level. You get about 15 minutes in the capsule and the sweeping views over the ship and sea are a fun experience. You need to pay extra for this activity and it’s worth booking in advance of your trip.
There are three pool areas; the outside, indoor and adults only Solarium. Pool rules are pretty strict and you may find yourself queuing to get in. Don’t expect to spend all day splashing around and having fun. The outdoor pool is also freezing!
The adults Solarium is a lovely place to hang out with plentiful deck chairs. However it’s a very strict jacuzzi policy – you have to be part of same household, 5 max and 10 minutes only during busy times.
Adventure Ocean Kids Club
There are various kids clubs depending on the ages of kids. Each child age 3+ is entitled to 4 hours access to the Kids Club during your stay. You will need to register your children at the 12th floor and they can have the option to sign themselves in and out. There is also another Teen Hangout for 12+ on the 14th floor.
My kids didn’t spend much time in there. On the night they did (I was in the casino), they were handed out some games and colouring sheets.
The Royal Caribbean app will detail what’s on. You can easily add to your personalised calendar. I love a class and we enjoyed everything from Napkin Folding to K Pop Dancing.
There’s also quizzes running for parts of the day, everything from ‘Flags of the World’ to ‘Name That Michael Jackson’ tune.
The cost of admission includes all you can eat (Mr Jetlag’s favourite bit). You can also pay extra for speciality dining including Chef’s Table, Jamie’s Italian, Chops Grille and Izumi. We didn’t do any of these ‘extra’ dining options.
Overall the food was far better than I expected and in some cases (Coastal Kitchen), exemplary.
Windjammer is a casual buffet affair. The perfect place for kids to run riot at the breakfast buffet. Instead of serving your own, servers stand with the food behind plexiglass waiting to dish it out. Far more hygienic in my opinion. Head to the back for quieter tables and there are also outside tables if you want the wind in your hair.
A la carte is served at American Icon Grill, Silk and Chic. It is the same menu for all. On making your booking, you choose a dining slot, either 6pm or 8pm. This ensures there’s always a table for you at your allocated time. I preferred the a la carte menu at American Icon Grill for breakfast than the buffet at Windjammer.
Coastal Kitchen is exclusively for suites guests and Pinnacle members. Depending on the level of suite, you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. As a Junior Suite resident, we were only allowed dinner bookings. The food is amazing and I highly recommend making a booking as soon as you are onboard.
Sorrento’s is an awesome casual pizzeria. You’ll be sure to find Mr Jetlag in there having an afternoon slice at 3pm.
Dog House is located at the Seaplex, serving up hot dogs.
Two70 has sandwiches and soups but I never made it in there.
If you like to drink, purchase the deluxe drinks package. We managed to get it at the promotional 40% off. This entitles you to even more delicious cocktail options up to the value of $12 or less. There are various bars onboard depending on what you’re looking for. I loved the Sky Bar by the pool and Sunshine in the adults only Solarium.
At night Boleros is fun for a cocktail and there’s a robot making the drinks at Bionic Bar. If you’re craving a pub, the Harp & Horn is as close as you’ll get and there’s a bar in the casino.
There’s a strict 10pm curfew on the drinks which is no bad thing. You also need to maintain strict social distancing and wear your mask.
Can you tell I LOVED it? I did not think I was a cruise person. But this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to go on a cruise at a fraction of capacity and cost. I felt incredibly safe, in fact the staff are tested every 3 days and aren’t allowed to mix from their assigned working groups.
Royal Caribbean have done an amazing job to keep it feeling ‘normal’, despite constant reminders to wear masks, check temperatures and social distance. Yes it can be annoying but it’s a small price to pay for the feeling of going on holiday.
We loved it so much, we are returning again in 6 weeks. I look forward to sharing more!
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