Royal Caribbean’s Futuristic Ship ‘Quantum’ Even Has Robot Bartenders

Rachel Hennessey. FORBESLIFE. 14/11/14

If you didn’t think cruising was a particularly high-tech way to travel, think again. Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, is redefining the modern vacation.

The ship, which launched this November and will begin its usual Caribbean routes around Thanksgiving, is 1,141 feet long, 136 feet wide and has a cruising speed of 22 knots. At 16 stories, it accommodates 4,180 guests, with 1,500 crew members. If that all sounds pretty standard, don’t be fooled; this ship is anything but.
Because there’s nothing like indulging in a quality cocktail on vacation, Quantum has several watering holes. But the Bionic Bar, with its two robotic bartenders, takes the cake. Customers place orders via tablets, and giant screens surrounding the bar display waiting time and menu options, which include everything from classic Long Island Iced Teas and Cosmopolitans, to unique beverage options like Bionic Blast. The robots also take custom orders, so the options are infinite. For the indecisive, there’s a statistics board showing the most popular drink orders of the day, providing inspiration during that tough process of choosing what to order.
The company responsible for creating the robotic bartenders is Makr Shakr. The prototype debuted last year at Google’s offices in San Francisco, but the Quantum installation marks their first commercial project. We asked Carlo Ratti, co-founder of Makr Shakr, how the robots compare to a human bartender in terms of efficiency; he explained that the value isn’t necessarily in speed of drink-making, but in the options. “I think it’s more about how we can empower people to make decisions. If you want, the robot is only an extension of your arm, so you are the bartender.”
To accompany the state-of-the-art drinking options on-board, the ship has eighteen restaurants. Among the finer options are Jamie’s Italian, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s newest venue, and Wonderland, a Tim Burton-esque eatery with dreamlike decor and unusual culinary creations.
Wait a few hours after a Wonderland meal to try out North Star, the ship’s glass capsule ride that takes a handful of passengers at a time 300 feet above the ocean. These fifteen minute journeys provide 360-degree views and are complimentary, though premium packages offer private booking options. North Star runs both in port and while the ship is cruising. The other high-tech experience that is specific to Quantum is RipCord, a simulated skydive machine. A product of iFly, RipCord is the first skydiving experience at sea, and is friendly to both novice and expert skydivers.
Quantum also has an outdoor running track, rock climbing wall, surf simulator, and SeaPlex, the largest indoor active space on any ship, which features bumper cars and rollerskating facilities.
The completion of this ‘smart’ ship, which took eight years to design and five years to build, is a crowning achievement for Royal Caribbean Cruises. “The unique features on Quantum will boggle our guests’ minds, but the real strength of the design is how our people have integrated all these diverse components to create a comfortable and exciting experience,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman & CEO of Royal Caribbean.

Not that you’d want to with all of these activity options, but staying connected to those back home couldn’t be easier on this ship, which has more internet bandwidth than every other cruise ship in the world combined. The ability to use Skype and stream videos while in the middle of the ocean is made possible by Royal Caribbean’s partnership with satellite network O3b.
Being stuck in a stateroom to catch up on work emails isn’t so bad though, since each one has a view. Even the ship’s 375 interior rooms have virtual balconies, which display the views outdoors in real-time. The rooms are also 9% larger, on average, than Royal Caribbean’s previous ship model. Special attention has been placed on decor throughout this ship, too– from paintings, to unique carpeting designs, to funky furniture.
With live theatrical performances running constantly, the main nightlife venue, Two70, is a multi-level-space with capacity for 540 guests. Its name refers to the room’s 270-degree panoramic views through glass walls. For those feeling lucky, there’s also a casino on board; and for the quieter, there’s a library.An identical sister ship to Quantum of the Seas, Anthem is set to launch in April 2015.
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