I've never been the kind of person who ever wanted to go on a cruise. For one, I have a deep-seated fear of the ocean and for two, I only really entertain sea-friendly fantasies if there's a possibility of meeting my own Jack Dawson onboard. But when Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas announced its media preview sail opportunity for two people, something inside me was like: just go on the cruise, Rahat. Maybe it was the being cooped-up indoors for the last two years, or just the promise of adventure, but I called a friend and accepted the invite – and boy, I do not regret it.
The Spectrum of the Seas prides itself on being the most technologically advanced cruise-ship of its time, and from the experience onboard, I'd be inclined to agree. You'll find everything from dancing robots serving you cocktails galore (at the popular Bionic Bar), to Asia’s first virtual reality bungee trampoline Sky Pad, to a surfing simulator and the RipCord by iFly – the first skydiving experience at sea. This ship really does seem to have it all. There's even the North Star, a jewel-shaped glass capsule that takes guests 300 feet above sea level to get an uninterrupted view of their surroundings. Pretty spectacular if I say so myself.
Spanning across over 347m in length and having a gross registered tonnage of 168,666t, the Spectrum of the Seas is one for the avid explorer. Boasting 16 decks and 17 elevators, it can accommodate over 5,600 passengers onboard. Guests are taken care of and served by over 1,500 members of crew. Sheer size aside, this is what makes this cruise so unique. At every turn and every bar, we were greeted by the most multi-cultural and friendly crew I've ever seen. From Trinidad and Tobago to Indonesia to Italy to France to the Middle East, I found myself traveling around the world just through conversations with the crew alone. Each had their own unique story to share, with most having worked with Royal Caribbean for years, and their passion for the experience really shone through.
We stayed in the Junior Silver Suite – a spacious and airy room perfect for 2 occupants, complete with its own balcony. The Silver sailing class comes with all-day access to the Silver Lounge – a breezy and stunning space compete with its own private bars, buffet, pool and lounge chairs for your relaxation. This was easily my favourite part of the ship, and the perfect spot to unwind with a chilled, icy cocktail.
Moving about the ship is also simple. You just need to download the Royal Caribbean app, process all the health and safety checks and access. It becomes a sort of a convenient navigation guide through your journey – allowing you to make dinner reservations, show bookings, slot in massages and more.
For those looking for a more family-friendly experience and to sail away in luxury, there's also the option of the Gold Suites complete with access to the Gold Class Lounge and a selection of rooms sleeping up to 4 guests. But if you're really looking to make a splash, check out the Star Class suites – comprising the Grand Loft and Ultimate Family Suite – that can sleep up to 11 guests. If luxury is what you're after, luxury is what you'll get with this room. The room comes with an in-built slide between floors, your own in-room jacuzzi, games corner, staff service a balcony you can truly entertain on. The Family Suite is an experience of its own. You can also unwind and watch a movie in your in-suite cinema (complete with a popcorn machine), access special areas of the ship and live the ultimate red carpet VIP family experience.
Prices for this suite start at SGD$30,000 for their 3 – 4 night cruises. With over 1,700 state rooms to choose from, trust me when I say this is the one you really want to be in.
Now, if you're thinking what I'm always thinking: what about the food, drinks and entertainment aboard this ship – is it any good? If you're a fan of live shows and musical entertainment, contortionists and an overall stage performance vibe, you'll really enjoy yourself. If you're an adrenaline junkie, you'll also enjoy yourself. There are a good number of drinking hotspots aboard the ship, be it in the lounge or Schooner Bar – where you can dip in for a quick pint and a sultry piano performance. Prices are all in USD, but an average cocktail will set you back around SGD$12 – 15 depending on if you choose to drink the house specials or not. Bottle service is also available onboard the Spectrum of the Seas, with a selection of wines, spirits, champagnes and others on offer.
If you're one to catch a show, there's an onboard movie theatre that plays a selection of popular films at different showings during the day, a sprawling casino for you to win back your drinking money and shows on every evening for you to enjoy. The highlight and one not to be missed is Showgirl – a spectacular performance put on by a bevy of over 50 dancers and artists from around the world, as they take you through a journey of music and fashion through past, present and future. Also one to watch – Silk Road, a dance and musical-based performance taking you through the streets and sounds of Asia.
Finally, let's talk about the food. There's definitely no shortage of options when it comes to dining on the Spectrum of the Seas. Boasting a wide spread of restaurants from the popular Grand Windjammer's buffet (there are so many choices, you'll be eating more plates than you can count), to the late-night pizza hangout Sorrento's and the local onboard cafe to grab a quick cup of coffee (Leaf and Bean) to the new speciality restaurants, there's a myriad of options tailored for the Asian market. You can eat a melt-in-your mouth steak at Chop's Grill, grab a bowl of comfort gourmet pasta at Jamie's Italian (by Chef Jamie Oliver) or explore the decadent (and I mean DELICIOUS) lobster noodles at Sichuan Red. If you want to experience onboard teppanyaki, you can do that too – now available for both lunch and dinner. All non-speciality restaurants are included in the price of your ticket, but speciality restaurants are priced for individual dining purchases. If you really do want to feel the luxury dining vibes a la Titanic, you can head to the main Dining Hall, where you'll feel just like you're living your best celluloid dreams.
If you're looking for a quick 3 to 4 night getaway around Asian waters, complete with a luxurious touch and a hint of charm and glamour, this trip may be for you. I recommend grabbing a group of friends, booking out a few rooms and planning your itinerary for a short but sweet vacay. The variety of what you get for what you pay, gives you the chance to have a pretty decent and very convenient holiday, all without the hassle of booking hotels, transport and multiple restaurants. Instead, you're left with a lot of spare time to actually unwind and relax. For all the long weekends you weren't sure where to go on, book yourself on this boat and sail away. You'll be cruisin' in no time.
Prices for a 3-night getaway start from $279* (++) per person and can be booked directly at the Royal Caribbean website.
ImagesRoyal Caribbean and Rahat Kapur