I opened my eyes and saw a sliver of golden light peaking through the curtains in our room. It had been raining when we left Singapore the night before, but opening the curtains in the morning was a whole other story. The sun was coming up over the Indian Ocean, bathing our entire balcony in a rich golden glow. We weren’t in a hotel though – we were halfway to Kuala Lumpur on board Quantum of the Seas – a billion-dollar cruise ship by Royal Caribbean that was going to be our home for the next three days.
I’ve always been intrigued by cruise holidays, so when one of the best in the business flew me over to Singapore to experience their newest ship Quantum of the Seas as it did a round-trip to Kuala Lumpur, I knew an epic adventure was on the cards. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, I was reuniting with one of my favourite people in the world – uber creative (and occasional TIL photographer) Lizi Hamer who is now based out of Singapore and just casually making ‘Top 20 Women to watch in Asia’ lists in her spare time. Neither of us had been on a cruise before, so we had no expectations. But with a megaliner as our playground and the open ocean as our backdrop, things were looking good.
Once on board the ship, we headed straight to our Stateroom where we settled into cruising life with celebratory gin and tonics on our cute little balcony. Our room was so much bigger than I expected – I had visions of a plastic bathroom and cramped spaces, but it was just like a hotel room only out at sea. Not all of the rooms have balconies, but the interior cabins have ‘virtual balconies’. We’re talking floor-to-ceiling HD display screens that give passengers real-time views of the sights and sounds outside.
After settling into our room it was time to get down to business. With SO many restaurants, bars, shops and activities on the ship, it was hard to know where to start. Do we lounge on a semi-submerged seat in the main pool and watch a movie, or do we head to the adults-only pool for an icy cold beverage? I know it sounds tough, but these are the kind of decisions you’ll need to make on an almost hourly basis if you want to experience it all.
It’s not all about pool life on Quantum of the Seas – there are some pretty crazy things you can do on the ship. Being a cruise ship newbie, I was impressed with the massive running track around the deck and the rock-climbing wall. Then I discovered there were bumper cars and that the ship was home to the world’s first skydiving simulator at sea. And just when I thought I’d seen it all, I came across the ‘FlowRider’ – a surf simulator on the back of the ship where you can get a few waves while out in the open ocean. While I usually give everything a go, I had just visited the day spa to see head stylist Richard for a blow dry as we still had another swimsuit to shoot. Luckily Lizi and her hair are nowhere near as high-maintenance – she grabbed a board and I managed to get a shot before she face-planted it (note our matching surf suits by Bombshell Bay Swimwear).
If that all sounds a bit too high energy, you can watch the world pass by from the North Star – an incredible $200 million observation capsule that takes you 300 feet above sea level using its robotic arm to give you epic 360 degree views.
The fun didn’t just stop when the sun went down. There was so much to do in the evenings, that Lizi and I literally had to smoke bomb every single night. On our first night Lizi and I had sunset drinks at a bar on the deck where we sipped on champagne, we then had dinner at Jamie’s Italian, then drinks at a bar where we were served by robotic bartenders via a tablet. We then managed to squeeze in a full show that had aerial performances and robotic digital screens, followed by a few songs at the piano bar. As our group headed to the next venue, Lizi and I made our first smoke bomb on the trip that would go on to become our regular exit strategy. It was 1am and the night was youngish, but we were arriving in Kuala Lumpur in the morning and we needed to be fresh for adventures.
When your Royal Caribbean ship docks in port, you have the option of staying on the ship or booking a shore excursion. Having never been to Kuala Lumpur, I jumped at the chance to do a day of exploring. There were a whole range of excursions to choose from that included shopping, sightseeing and cultural experiences like the Batu Caves excursion that Lizi and I chose. The Batu Caves are a series of spectacular 400 million year old chambers beneath limestone hills just 30 minutes north of the city that are also the site of a Hindu temple and shrine. Our shore excursion also included city sightseeing at the Petronas Twin Towers and Kuala Lumpur Tower. ☺
While on board Quantum of the Seas, we were treated to some of the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets I’d ever seen (see our Alice McCall pineapple jumpsuit sunrise shoot). There’s something about the stillness of being out in the middle of the ocean – even on a ship with thousands of people, we were able to feel a million miles away from the rest of the world. Cruising with Royal Caribbean was a really unique and fun experience, and something I’d definitely do again.
Royal Caribbean sails 21 of the world’s most innovative cruise ships to incredible destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, South America, the Far East, and Australia and New Zealand. Quantum of the Seas identical sister ship Ovation of the Seas is currently being built and will be based in Australia from December 2016 for the summer season YAY!
To find out more, head to royalcaribbean.com