By Grace Ma
May 6, 2022
HAVING A TEENAGER AGREE to go anywhere with you is always a win, much less on one where she is tasked with some KPIs. “You have to try many things with mama! OK?” I reminded in typical Asian tiger mum fashion, ahead of our 48-hour weekend shakedown cruise of the latest and largest Quantum Ultra ship by Royal Caribbean in Asia, Spectrum of the Seas.
With the winding up of Genting Hong Kong and the discontinuation of its Dream Cruises’ voyages from Singapore, Royal Caribbean currently has a total monopoly on sailings from the Lion City. So, while Spectrum of the Seas originally had scheduled sailings from April 11 of this year through January 2023, Royal Caribbean quite logically decided to extend their calendar through next April, for a full year of mega cruises departing from Singapore. Though they’re currently running “cruises to nowhere,” we are told they’re aiming to add ports of call to places like Penang and Phuket from October 2022 (pending health protocols at that point in time), making it an attractive option for families, active voyagers or those who simply want an all-in-one holiday.
The week before our embarkation, I had been plying said teen with the coolest facts about the ship to keep her enticed for this getaway with me. They have a suite with a slide from the second floor to the first! There is a bungee trampoline with VR headsets! We can go skydiving!
I shouldn’t have worried. We had a wonderful mother-daughter time with the simplest things. We crashed into each other (a tad too enthusiastically) in bumper cars and cheered each other on at the heart-pumping RipCord by iFly skydiving experience. I whooped at each basket she scored in a free-throw basketball competition she joined on the spur of the moment, while she laughed as I struggled to launch arrows in the archery section at the Seaplex, the largest indoor activity complex at sea, according to Royal Caribbean.
We hung out often in the Solarium, a cooling indoor light-filled space with Jacuzzi pools, round loungers and expansive sea views. She had her adulting moment with mocktails and juices while finishing off homework before we disembarked on Monday. I sat next to her, sipping cocktails and lattes, enjoying the peace in the adults-only space. The rest of the time, she did what teenagers do best: sleep—in our 74 square-meter Owner’s Suite, which comes with a living and dining area and the largest balcony among the suites.
The Spectrum of the Seas’ 142 Royal Suites across three ascending classes—Sea, Sky and Star—tally 17 more than its smaller counterpart, the Quantum of the Seas. The posh hood is immediately recognizable: the Suite Enclave section is marked by paneled walls and artistic embellishments at each suite doorway. Depending on the class you’re in, you can access the Silver and/or Gold dining lounges for a less crowded meal experience.
Ultimate Family Suite (2)
If you want to leave decisions at the gangway—and moolah isn’t an issue—go for one of the five exclusive Star class suites, stays in which come with everything you can possibly think of, such as meals at all specialty restaurants and a ‘Royal Genie’ butler to handle all your activity and show bookings. You have two options: one of the four 80-square-meter Grand Lofts, or the truly-absurd-on-a-boat, 277-square-meter Ultimate Family Suite that can take up to 11 guests.
It’s fastest fingers first for the lone, two-floor, brightly colored Ultimate Family Suite, which includes three bedrooms, a play area, a cinema cum karaoke area complete with popcorn-making machine, and a two-story slide that even I couldn’t resist a ride down. And when the piano-tinkling staircase and shrieks of excited kids start to grate, the master bathroom with a spa-like shower area and a free-standing bathtub next to floor-to-ceiling views are there for sanctuary.
The myriad dining options calls for a strategy. Hit the specialty restaurants first, especially the new Asian-inspired additions to this ship, then try the others. Sichuan Red has tasty and moderately spicy dishes. Hot Pot is best booked for dinner during sunset. Ingredients are the usual steamboat suspects (although the friendly restaurant manager did point out that we were having USDA beef, Australian lamb and U.K. langoustine), the soup bases are flavorful, and we love that we can adjust the fiery numbness of the spicy beef oil option. Teppanyaki is entertaining if you like cooks that dance, rap and juggle eggs with a masked smile. Get the beef and seafood platters; the chicken breast was too dry.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Sichuan Red; Silver Suites dining room; relaxing in the Solarium (photo courtesy of Grace Ma); Splashway Bay
It would take a persnickety passenger to complain of boredom on this ship. You can surf at the FlowRider, play with your little ‘uns at the Splashaway Bay water play area, and bounce off bungee trampolines at the Sky Pad into a virtual world (not recommended as a post-meal activity). The shows are spectacular, from the family-friendly acrobatics of Gold Art Duo and the high-energy The Silk Road musical to the cheeky Showgirl with stunning vocalists and leggy beauties in glittering costumes. Everything can be booked via the Royal Caribbean app, which can also be used as a contactless key card to your room.
A fortnight on, the daughter still replies unhesitatingly to questions on what she enjoyed most about our time aboard the Spectrum of the Seas: the food, the Solarium and the comfortable suite bed. Which pretty much sums up the ideal cruise holiday—lots of eating, relaxing and sleeping.
Royal Caribbean Spectrum of the Seas three- and four-night Ocean Getaways departing Singapore start from S$429 and S$449 per person respectively; Sea class suites from S$700 per person; Ultimate Family suite approx S$22,000-$30,000 for a family of four, though check with the cruise line for details.
All photos courtesy of Royal Caribbean unless otherwise noted.