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Meet Me On The Starboard Deck

Why going on a cruise is probably the best travel idea for 2019


By Dom Galeon

Images by Chichi Tullao and Dom Galeon

Video by David Clarence Rivera

Here’s a travel idea you might want to explore this 2019. Go on a cruise. A cruise, you say? But what can I do on a boat? Well, as my recent experience aboard Royal Caribbean’s MS Quantum of the Seas has taught me, there is a lot you can do on a cruise.

Truth be told, I didn’t know what to expect. I had never been on a cruise before, so most of what I knew about going on a trip aboard a boat came from TV shows. It turns out, there’s so much you can do on a ship.

We boarded the MS Quantum of the Seas from Shanghai. We flew to this Chinese port city a day before the start of the cruise, so we had time to explore the city a bit. Shanghai left a strange impression. It was beautiful, yes, but not in ways that I had expected. For one, you have to get over the fact that there seemed to be a perpetual smog hanging above you—it was so thick that the night sky in Shanghai turns a strange orange hue.

Nevertheless, it is beautiful. On the one hand, parts of the city looked like it was suspended in the 1970s, while other districts looked very much like any modern city would, with every manner of commercial establishments that scream globalization. Architecturally, though, Shanghai seems unable to decide whether it should look European or Asian.

Then it came our time to board the MS Quantum of the Seas, the largest of Royal Caribbean’s ships in Asia, the third largest in the international cruise line’s fleet. Seeing it up close by the Shanghai harbor, the MS Quantum of the Seas looked like a floating hotel. And a hotel indeed it was, which became immediately evident after we got past all the boarding lines and got inside the ship.

Our itinerary took us to two cities in Japan, Fukuoka and Nagaski, both located on the island of Kyushu. But I’m reserving my Japanese adventure for another day to focus on what we did on the ship instead.


Floating comfort

Following the schedule, we spent two full days in the middle of the sea, crossing through the Pacific Ocean from Shanghai to southern Japan. Two full days with no land in sight might sound scary to some people or even boring for others, but with a ton of activities available on board the MS Quantum of the Seas, you’d hardly realize that you’re sailing on open waters—save for the occasional rocking created by the waves.

We were assigned cabins, which is the sailing term for rooms, on one of the ship’s 14 decks, or the sailing term for floor. We had to get used to these terms to not get lost inside the huge ship—port is left, starboard is right, forward is toward the direction of the ship’s bow (or front) and aft is toward the back. My cabin, a balcony stateroom for two with an amazing view of the seas, was on the seventh deck, starboard side, aft.

A modern adventure

A lot of people think that a cruise is for older folks. While there are certainly seniors that go on a cruise, I’d like to think that it’s really more of a modern adventure designed for anyone to enjoy. Activities aboard the ship, from its third to 16th decks, are quite varied. And, believe it or not, there were enough things to do for the almost 5,000 passengers aboard the cruise. Our group got to try almost all of these, from playing pool to dipping in a pool and to enjoying the arcade and bumper cars on Deck 15.

My personal favorite was the North Star. Located on Deck 16, the North Star is the highest point on the ship. It’s a spherical viewing “deck” that ascends up to 300 feet above sea level, taking passengers to a 360-degree tour of the ship and the sea. If you’re not a fan of going that high, worry not. You could instead try the rock climbing wall on the ships aft, starboard side.

Also on Deck 16 are two other entertainment features on the ship: RipCord by iFly and Flowrider. The former is a sky-diving simulator on the ship’s aft, a perfect activity for thrill seekers of all ages to while away the time. Flowrider, which is found just below RipCord, is a 40-foot-long surfing simulator that features 30,000 gallons of rushing water. If you’ve never surfed before, boogieboarding on such powerful artificial waves aboard a moving ship could be quite a challenge.


You’re at home

These aren’t the only things you could do on the ship, of course. There are also more relaxing activities for those who really just want to chill. Pamper yourself at the spa on Deck 15 or indulge your shopping senses with the luxury stores on Deck Four or spend time reading books in the library on Deck Six. You could do some laps in any of the pools on Deck 14.

Our gastronomic needs were satisfied by the ship’s many restaurants and cafés. Deck Three has The Grande and Chic. On Deck Four, you have the main dining room, the Windjammer for buffets, and the Coastal Kitchen. A deck above, you have signature restaurants like Izumi and Italian restaurant Jamie’s by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. After dinner, you could grab a bottle or two at the Two70 bar, the Schooner Bar, Boleros, and Casino Royale on Deck Four. Or you could have cocktails served for you by a pair of robot arms at the Bionic Bar on Deck Five. On some afternoons and evenings, you could even do karaoke.

What was, perhaps, interesting was how all of these bars and restaurants felt like home. There was always a Filipino who took care of us. Our dinners at The Grande were prepared and served by Filipinos. They even surprised us with two evenings of Pinoy food—adobo, pancit, sinigang, and bistek Tagalog. During a tour of the ships galleys (or kitchens), we saw the Filipino chefs who prepared our food. Equally interesting was the fact that a lot of them have been working for Royal Caribbean for over 10 years now, grateful and happy for the opportunity to travel the world aboard some of the most advanced cruise ships today.

Needless to say, I had an amazing time aboard the MS Quantum of the Seas. It was a truly unique experience, one that went beyond my expectations. Anyone who wants to have a different #travelgoal this new year should definitely consider going on a cruise.

Cruise around Asia with Royal Caribbean. Travel to Japan this April aboard the MS Quantum of the Seas or around Southeast Asia this May on the MS Spectrum of the Seas. | | (02) 892 2701 to 03 | Facebook: @royalcaribbeanPH

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