Some things are hard to quantify …

When people talk about destinations around the world whether they be cities, regions or indeed whole countries, their merits tend to be measured in terms of specific and tried and tested attributes such as quality, value-for-money, culture, friendliness and so on. Similarly, specific travel products such as airline catering, hotel facilities, coach bus seating also tend to be referenced against a range of generally agreed upon criteria. Well I’m here to tell you that the bar has just been raised and the water suitably muddied because from November of this year onwards, a new and additional metric will have to be added to this already lengthening list — technology. And the reason for this change? Quantum of the Seas — the first of a new class of super cruise ship about to be launched by Royal Caribbean International. Quantum of the Seas will sail initially from its home base in the USA before being re-positioned to its permanent home port in Shanghai, China. The second of these two Quantum-class ships, Anthem of the Seas, will be based out of its home port in Southampton, England which is exciting news for Irish holidaymakers.

For any of you intrepid travellers who keep abreast of such things, you will likely be familiar with the catchphrase that has been the lynch pin of RCL’s marketing efforts over the course of the past years — Wow! They have wowed us with their Freedom-class ships and more recently with Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, those gigantic, 262,000 tonne floating cities that are really a destination in and of themselves. Well prepared to be wowed even further when Quantum and Anthem come along because they raise the bar even further through the introduction and application of high technology!

So what are we talking about here? Well for starters, even the inside cabins will have their own ‘virtual’ balconies! Long the bane of most if not all cruise companies, inside cabins are a necessary fact of life as some of that inside space on large cruise ships has to be utilised and the larger ships have become in the ‘beam’ (i.e. their width), the harder it is to avoid having cabins that have no access to natural light! Whilst some people don’t appear to be too bothered by that fact, it remains that most people still do not enjoy the claustrophobic feeling of an inside cabin-until now. I recently had the rare pleasure of being invited by Royal Caribbean to visit the giant Meyer shipyard in Pappenberg in Germany to see the finishing touches being made to the Quantum of the Seas before it undertakes its sea trials off Bremerhaven, later this month so I got to see these new ‘virtual balconies. They are actually large, rectangular-shaped high definition monitors countersunk into a false wall at the back of each cabin which reproduce a ‘live feed’ from high definition cameras located on the outside of the ship at various locations in order to create the ‘illusion’ that you are looking out of a large picture window and I have to say that the effect is very convincing. So, for example, when it is night-time outside, the view being simultaneously shown on the cabins’ ‘window’ will also be night, thus reinforcing that illusion. Indeed, high definition is a term that is used repeatedly when talking about the Quantum. Normal high definition is what most modern TV’s and video cameras reproduce and represents an image resolution of 1080p x 1920p, the p standing for pixels. So a typical HD picture would have an overall resolution of 1080 x 1920 or 2,073,600 pixels. The emerging new video standard that we keep on hearing about is called 4K which is sometimes also referred to as ultra high definition and has a resolution that is approximately four times greater than conventional TV or video. Quantum of the Seas will be employing technology that generates images that are up to 8K in resolution — twice as realistic again!  And that is just for starters. More will be revealed in forthcoming blogs about what else, Royal Caribbean have in store for those lucky punters who step aboard Quantum of the Seas. I bet you can’t wait!

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