On June 3, at Shanghai’s International Cruise Terminal, 4000+ media and travel agents from different countries in Asia boarded Spectrum of the Seas, the newest member ship of the Royal Caribbean. The 3 day “cruise to nowhere” media trip will be a celebration of its inaugural season which includes the naming ceremony.
I have been on a cruise ship before. My family celebrated New Years Eve 2017 aboard Mariners of the Seas, incidentally part of the Royal Caribbean fleet. Before I was not keen on the idea of spending so many days at sea that isn’t about scuba diving. I was sure it would be confining and boring. But I was obviously very wrong because a cruise ship like this is virtually a floating city – and not just any city, I mean Las Vegas! It has so many things going on at the same time, it’s actually impossible to experience everything on a single trip. In other words, I quite enjoyed it and so when I was invited to this event, I was more than happy to accept it.
First Look at Spectrum of the Seas
Spectrum of the Seas will cruise around the sea for 3 days without docking at a port of call. This is called “a cruise to nowhere”. Normally, when you take a cruise ship, you will have a chance to visit several cities where it docks. But since this is a special trip for media, we will just be cruising non-stop for 3 full days. Royal Caribbean have prepared a full program to showcase this newly built ship and its many exciting amenities. And all we have to do is focus on experiencing everything it has to offer, or as much as we can.
Day 1 – Shanghai (Baoshan)
I’ve forgotten how big an international cruise terminal is. It’s like an airport where you have to check-in get a boarding pass, go through immigration, walk for miles to get to the ship, but it’s 1000x more relaxed.
It was almost 4pm when I got into my cabin. I was happy to find that I will have the room to myself, with my cruise bffs (Astrid, Mae, and Hannah) just next door. But what I love the most (well, first of the many things I would love on this cruise) is that I was in a BALCONY CABIN! It’s always a treat to have a window on a ship/boat, but to also have a balcony, that is really great. I almost wish I was still smoking. I had little time to do my celebratory dance because the Guest Assembly Drill is scheduled in 30minutes.
The Guest Assembly Drill is mandatory on all passenger ships within the first cruise day. The drill simulates a nautical emergency, so that each passenger will know where to go when they hear the emergency bell and what to do to stay safe. Imagine 4,000 panicked passengers – no, let’s not
The Naming Ceremony is a maritime tradition the supposedly assures your ship, boat, ocean vessel fair winds and smooth seas. Even with sophisticated navigational system we have today, we still want the gods to the seas and winds to look down upon us favorably.
A typical ceremony involves breaking a bottle of champagne on the bow of the ship. After which, the godparents of the ship officially declares the name. For this particular occasion, selected guests, us included, are invited to the Royal Theater and treated to a full hour of variety show leading up to the breaking of the champagne bottle. We were not at the bow to witness the breaking of the bottle, but it was broadcast live at the giant screen inside the theater.
Don’t feel bad for those not invited to the party, because at any given time on a cruise ship, there are about a million different things you can do. It’s hard to imagine if you’ve never been on a cruise ship, but to give you an idea, the are 18 restaurants, 5 bars, 3 swimming pools, theaters, casino, spa, and features you wouldn’t imagine being available at sea, like a surfing simulator, a rock climbing wall, anti-gravity flying simulator to name a few.
It’s a freaking dilemma since we only have 3 full days on the ship! We can only try our very best. There are 7 complementary restaurants (included in your fare) and 11 specialty restaurants (pay what you order). But don’t think that the complementary restaurants are not good, because they are absolutely fantastic! For example, these are our food on our first night at the Main Dining Room.
I have to say though that this might be an extraordinary trip, since it is a celebratory cruise, so food and drink might be better than usual. But having said that, I remember our meals aboard Mariner of the Seas’ main dining as excellent, steak and lobsters too. The difference is wine and champagne are not free.
Spectrum of the Seas Set Sail
The ship is scheduled to set sail from Shanghai dock at 10pm. We went to the main pool deck to join the Sailaway party with DJ and free flowing champagne, first of the many on this fabulous cruise! Everyone cheered like it’s New Years Eve as the ship pulled away from the dock and a laser light show on the pier to send us off.
The night is still young so after the party at the pool deck, we went around the ship to check out the features and see what else is happening that night. We went to the Music Hall to listened to a few Beatles songs by a tribute band (ordered champagne). At the Schooner Bar, there was a live piano entertainment. And finally before retiring to bed, we went to Sorrento’s Pizzeria for midnight snack!
To know what’s happening where at any time, download the easy to navigate Royal Caribbean app or refer to the Cruise Compass daily newsletter that you find in your room everyday.
Day 2 – The Suite Life
Ultimate Family Suite Viewing
Because this is a trip for media and travel agents, part of the agenda is an open house style viewing of the staterooms and suites, including the much talked about Ultimate Family Suite.
The Ultimate Family Suite is the mother of all suites. This 2-level, 260-sqm suite can accommodate up to 11 guests (1 infant). It has 3 bedrooms with ensuite toilet and bath. The master bathroom has glass wall facing the ocean. The kids area at the 2nd level has 4 bunk beds and a slide that transports you down the large living area. There is also an entertainment room with surround sound system and popcorn machine.
How much does the Ultimate Family Suite Costs?
Everybody wants to know when I posted this dream suite in my instagram story. One of the on site agent said that for 2020 schedule cruising in Asia (China, Korea, Japan), the Ultimate Family Suite of Spectrum of the Seas costs between RMB 180K—260K (USD 28,000-38,000) per trip (or 2,800–3,800 per berth), depending on the season, no. of nights, and the cruise route.
To put it in perspective, in 2012, I paid 4,500 USD for my 8-day Galapagos liveaboard dive trip. This year, the 8-day liveaboard dive trip in Socorro (Mexico) was 3,400 USD. Next year we will dive Banda Sea (Indonesia) for 10 days at the price of 4,000 USD per berth. Sorry but this perspective is relatable by scuba divers who love liveaboard.
All About the Suites
If you don’t care for a slide in your suite but still enjoy luxury and space, there are several types of suites available. In fact, Spectrum of the Seas is all about the suite life. The only Royal Caribbean cruise ship where it’s possible to not mingle with the common people if you choose to, as cruising has become more mainstream, no longer reserved for the rich and famous.
Spectrum of the Seas have exclusive and private area for suites, where you will find the luxurious Golden and Silver suites, located in a privileged space at the bow of the ship. Elite passengers will have a special access card, private elevator, as well as their own restaurant and lounge. In addition, you can access exclusive areas such as The Balcony, an outdoor area to sunbathe and relax, and The Boutique, a commercial area where you can book private shopping experiences.
The Regular Staterooms
- Interior Rooms: The cheapest rooms are the ones without windows. The rooms still look really nice though and with all the things going on on the ship, you really shouldn’t be spending your time inside your room
- Interior Room with Virtual Balcony: but if you suffer from claustrophobia, you can get a room with a fake balcony with the live feed of the ocean. I find this very amusing!
- Ocean View Rooms: enjoy the ocean view from your own window
- Balcony Rooms: this for me is the balance of luxury and economy. I do want to spend time inside my room, sit on the balcony enjoy the ocean view while having coffee or wine.
Disclaimer: Food served may differ per sailing, but let me tell you the possibilities. Spoiler Alert: Lobsters at the Buffet!
Windjammer Marketplace is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s where you go when you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for – Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Steak, Seafood, Pasta, Pastries, Desserts… Although buffet style eating is not my favorite because I get overwhelmed with the choices, but when we came here during lunch, I was immediately drawn to the lobsters which was sitting there at the buffet tray unassumingly.
Bvlgari Grand Opening
After a satisfying meal, we went back to our cabins to rest before coming out for the Captain’s Welcome Reception at 6:30p.m. But then over the PA system there was an invitation to the ribbon cutting ceremony of the about to open Bulgari Boutique. I’m not a big luxury watch enthusiast like some of my sisters. In fact, for the longest time I only wear an Apple watch. But I do like the the style of Bulgari and still have the Classic Diagono Titanium I wore for many years pre Apple Watch.
It was standard boutique opening with flutes of champagne being handed out, some Bulgari people gave welcome speeches and a ship representative made some speeches and finally a scissor was handed to a VIP (the captain) , ribbon cut, and shop declared open.
People headed to different directions. The emerald green bags and wallets are getting a lot of attention, as well as B.Zero, but what caught my eye was the Bulgari Carbon Gold Automatic with Woven Leather Strap. It was so sleek and elegant at the same time. It was also very lightweight.
Bionic Bar – Robot Bartender
I’m listing these places in the order that I visit them while I was there. So yes, after having a glass of champagne (I don’t know why I couldn’t resist champagne), I went to the Schooner bar to meet up with the girls. We sat down and ordered free champagne. There was Billy playing on the piano and when he had a break, he sat with us to chat. He’s Mexican-American and has been on several cruise contract. Sorry but during regular cruise trip, champagne or any alcohol is not free.
Our next stop, the Bionic Bar, the bar that sounds like it’s straight out of a science fiction movie. Two robotic bartenders stir, mix, and pour your perfect cocktail. I thought you actually get to see the arms grab bottles and mix them in front of you. But it’s still a good show if you seeing it for the first time. Even children hangout and order virgin cocktails. See it in action on this shop video, including how you order.
The Captain’s Cocktail is essentially the Captain’s meet & greet. They served champagne, the captain came down the semi spiral staircase like a pageant contestant, said a few words, then guests can have photo taken with the captain. I really don’t care all that much but since Hannah wanted to, I went with her.
Jamie’s Italian Restaurant
Jamie Oliver is a famous TV chef whose restaurant empire fell just last month but apparently new restaurants continue to open. I’ve never been to any of his formal restaurant before but have taken a sandwich at the LAX airport restaurant this February.
Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver is one of the 12 ala carte (not free) restaurants inside Spectrum of the Seas. We were very excited to try out the famous dishes. We started with the humongous meat and cheese platter called the Famous Plank. We of course had pastas, other famous dishes, and sampled all the desserts! Honestly, I would gain very hard to shed 5 pounds after this trip.
The Silk Road Live Show
We went to check out the stunning Silk Road, original show produced just for Spectrum of the Seas. It’s a live show that features state-of-the-art entertainment technology with enchanting songs, graceful dances, and spectrum of colors.
I pass by the Schooner Bar on the way back to my cabin and had to stop because there was this white guy on the piano singing contemporary Chinese songs. So I ordered a champagne and sat around the piano a little bit. I don’t know any of the songs but the girls around me do.
Day 3 – Sports and Adventure
It’s out last full day and our last chance to experience the Adventure Highlights of Spectrum of the Seas. We also got invitation to do the All Access Tour.
The North Star
Reminds me of a cable car, the North Star is a capsule that takes you up and around so you can have a 360 degree drone view of the ship and the ocean. Since you are not allowed to take your drone to the cruise ship, you can take your drone eye view yourself. This is a popular attraction so I suggest you go early in the morning like we did. A capsule can take about 8 people inside.
RipCord® by iFLY®
Experience what it is like to fly in this simulator. It’s also used by certified skydivers to train. You can do all sorts of trick in tube. It seems like a new standard for Royal Caribbean cruises to have this attraction. Every “flight” is overseen by an actual skydiving instructor. You have to go thru a safety training and instruction. It’s very fun. I’ve done tandem skydiving in South Africa and I still think this is fun thing to do. In fact I would like to have enough experience to do those flying tricks.
Sky Pad℠ Bungee Trampoline
Bungee trampoline is another activity that lets you experience flying around the air. The added attraction the virtual reality goggles that transports you to a virtual world where you smash balloons, collect candies, or fly through space. It’s not as fun as it sound but it is good to try. The virtual reality is not that interesting nor that interactive. I think it might be better to just skip the virtual reality mask and do free style jumping with the bungee and trampoline.
FlowRider® Surf Simulator
I’ve seen Flowrider in many different water parks but have never tried it. was here while waiting for the girls to do their iFly because I was their designated photographer. I’ve tried surfing in La Union though. This surfing simulator is good to practice your surfing balance. I don’t know if it helps in catching surf. There are life guards and surf instructors around who keep everyone safe.
All Access Tour
There are endless of activities on board a cruise ship – those mentioned above and many, many more. But one of the more interesting tour available on board is something called All Access Tour. It’s only available on certain cruise ships, and is luckily available at the Spectrum of the Seas.
An All Access Tour will showcase the behind-the-scene of a cruise ship. You get to walk through the main galley to see where food are prepared, and see for yourself the provision a cruise ship of this size has – very hard to imagine! We also went to the laundry facilities – oh, the number of bed sheets, table cloth, towels, etc. It would be interesting to see that giant machine where you feed a wet king size bedsheet from one end, and it comes out the other end dry and folded. Unfortunately, it was not in operation when we passed thru. We also got to peek at the recycling facility and the crew’s living area.