Mums-and-Kids Cruise on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas

Posted by ~Summer~ on January 13, 2020
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We are no strangers to cruises. Having been on Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas previously, I think I have a pretty good idea of what to expect from a floating vacation. That is precisely why I decided to start off our year end holidays with a mum-and-kids cruise last year and it was one of the best things that happened to us in the whole of 2019. Not only did we have lots of fun, we also brought home priceless memories which I am sure the kids will remember for a long time.

This time round, we went onboard Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas for a 5 Night Spice of Southeast Asia Cruise which took us to Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Phuket. It was my first trip with three kids on my own and this being the Asher's first ever cruise, I wasn't sure initially if it would be totally smooth sailing for us (how could it ever be when you have kids with you 24/7?). The hubby raised his concerns and likewise, he was worried if the kids would listen to me, whether we would be safe and if I could handle everything without him too.

Well, it turned out to be a blast and I can safely conclude that going on a cruise is likely the BEST way to start off our mum-and-kids travels and I am so glad we did it. In this post, I will bring you on a tour of the vast ship, introduce to you all the activities that we did and share my tips for your next cruise too. Let's go!


WHY WE LOVE CRUISES

There is a long list of reasons why we love cruises but if I had to pick the main ones, they will be:

- You get to set foot in various cities within a week.  
How cool and convenient is that?

- You don't have to worry about checking in and out of hotels or lugging your suitcases everywhere.
Phew, that is a lifesaver for me.

- Kids can rest or nap on a comfy bed at any time of the day when you are onboard.
No cranky, sleep-deprived kids, yay!

- Endless entertainment programs, activities and performances.  
From young to old, there's bound to be something for everyone.

- Nightly live shows in the theatre - broadway, musical, circus, opera, magic show etc - and late-night parties where kids are welcome.
We look forward to these happenings every night. 

- You get to meet people from different countries all over the world.
We love making new friends. 

- Excellent service from the crew
We have always been blown away by their top-notch service, friendliness and big smiles.

- Feast like kings and queens
We are never, ever hungry on a cruise because there is always yummy food somewhere!

PACKING TIPS

For those who have yet to go on cruises, this might a good start on what to pack. Here's a list of the things that went into our luggage for our 5N cruise:

- Clothes - 1 x casual wear for each day, 1 x smart casual wear for each night, pyjamas, 1 x formal wear (we had 1 formal night where we got to dress up and meet the captain), extra undergarments
- Diapers if needed (be reminded that kids who use the pools need to be toilet trained)
- Footwear - slippers/sandals, formal shoes, running shoes (we wore ours when we boarded)
- Socks
- Swimwear (bath towels are provided on the ship)
- Toiletries
- Formula milk powder in a small, unopened tin (kettle is provided in the room)
- Snacks and candy
- Stuffed toys and bedtime storybooks
- Beach toys (we planned to go to Phuket beach)
- Sunscreen lotion, caps and sunglasses
- Valuables (you need a credit card for your additional expenses or you can settle payment in cash (USD) on your last night)
- Accessories and makeup (if you wish to doll up on formal night, which I would recommend that you do because it's fun when everyone does it together)
- Hair brush (hair dryer is provided)
- Foreign currency for the cities you are visiting
- Water bottles (water coolers are available and you can get refills at the restaurants too)
- Pen and paper
- Cameras, phones and chargers
- Passports and cruise documents 



INTRODUCING QUANTUM OF THE SEAS

Launched in 2014, Quantum of the Seas is a Quantum-class cruise ship owned by Royal Caribbean International (RCI) and serves as the lead ship of her class. Being one of Asia’s largest and most revolutionary ships, it will be operating in Southeast Asia from Singapore till April 2021. The ship measures 348m in length and 41m in width, consists of 16 passenger decks, runs at a speed of 22 knots and has a a maximum occupancy of 4,905 passengers, including 1,500 crew. You can view the deck plans here.

In other words, it is HUGE! In fact, it is so huge that my kids couldn't believe it was a ship and after we went onboard for several hours, Asher asked me "Mummy, I thought we are going on a ship. Where is it ah?" That also shows how steady and stable it is and it seriously didn't feel like we were travelling or moving on the sea.



BEFORE THE CRUISE

Do your online check-in at least 3 days before the cruise so that you will have a swift boarding process. If you can, print out the guest ticket booklet to have a read as it will include your travel summary, port directions and things to know about the cruise. You will also need to print out your assigned luggage tags (print as many as you need) and secure them onto your luggage before dropping them off.

To enjoy discounts, you can consider signing up for the below packages pre-cruise:

1) Internet Package
Royal Caribbean uses a high-speed Internet service called VOOM and boasts the fastest Internet at sea. The cost varies depending on number of devices and service package (whether it's Surf or Surf + Stream). We used the VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package for 2 devices which cost around USD19 per day per device.

2) Dining Package
You can find food everywhere on the cruise ship. However, not all the food onboard is complimentary. Quantum of the Seas features specialty restaurants, including Jamie's Italian, Chops Grille, Wonderland, Johnny Rockets and Izumi, which are for-fee restaurants. You can consider taking up a Dining Package (Unlimited Dining or 3 Restaurant) which will allow you to dine at the specialty restuarants for a flat fee per day. Otherwise, just stick to the complimentary dining options which I will share about below.

3) Beverage Package
While you can get water, coffee/tea and flavoured water from the restaurants (milk and juices are available at breakfast too), most of the beverages onboard the ship are chargeable. Depending on what you need (alchohol or non-alchohol, soda or bottled water), you can purchase a Beverage Package and choose from the Deluxe Beverage Package, Refreshment Package, Classic Soda Package or Water Bottle Package. We had the Refreshment Package at USD29 per day and that includes premium coffee/tea, freshly squeezed juices, fountain sodas, bottled still and sparkling water, mocktails and a Coca-Cola souvenir cup.

4) Shore Excursions 
If you are keen to explore the city and go on a guided tour, you can look through the list of the Shore Excursions for the cruise and reserve your slots beforehand. You can also book them when you board the ship at the Shore Excursions counter on Deck 5. We have gone on several excursions in both Europe and Asia and these are awesome if you are looking at learning about history and culture or doing sports activities and outdoor tours. However, if you are to ask me now, I think taking it free and easy on your own is quite a good option too as you will have the flexibility of time.

I learnt something new on this trip, thanks to the tip from Angeline who writes at Life's Tiny Miracles (read her detailed review here), and that is to download the new Royal Caribbean App beforehand. You can find deck plans of the ship to help you navigate your way and also set up a calendar for your planned activities so that you will have a clear idea of where and when to report. You can also sign up and reserve slots for the onboard activities or book shore excursions via the app.



BOARDING THE SHIP

Once you board the ship, the first thing is to find your bearings! Even though your stateroom might not be ready yet, determine whether it is located on the aft, mid or forward so that it gets easier to find your way later on. Find out where your commonly visited places - swimming pool, Adventure Ocean, Royal Theatre, restaurants - are located and if you have time, bring the kids on a tour first so that they can familiarise themselves. There is a ship tour for all guests on the first day afternoon but from what I saw, it can be quite crowded so I would advise that you do it yourself and check out the surroundings with the kids.

It's not hard because there is an abundance of signage, deck plans and digital directories everywhere you go. The elevators also clearly state what can be found on every deck so make use of that. When you get to your stateroom, the Royal Caribbean channel on the TV also provides the ship information and live TV which can come in useful.


Every day, you will also receive a copy of the cruise compass in your room. This is my favourite source of information and I will refer to the compass when I need to know which deck to to go, find out about the ongoing activities, dress code, weather forecast, port call details and opening hours of the restaurants. My advice is to bring it everywhere you go!

If your kid is in Adventure Ocean, which is the Kids Club, you will also receive the Kids Daily Planner which gives you the information about the scheduled activities and reporting details for the next day.

On a side note, check out our cute rabbit below! I am always in awe by how our housekeeping attendants pay attention to details, how efficient and friendly they are and how they impress us with their towel folding skills. They even helped to arrange the kids' stuffed toys side by side and tucked them into bed neatly. How nice, right?


The most important thing you will receive when you enter your stateroom is your SeaPass card. Since the ship operates on a cashless system, this is your key to everything. Every guest will have a personal SeaPass, including the kids. You can set up a SeaPass onboard account when you check in as a credit card or cash account which will act as a running tab of all your purchases. A final statement will be delivered to your stateroom on the last day for your review and verification. Besides letting you make purchases, your SeaPass also allows you to enter your stateroom, take part in activites and you will need to present it every time you get off or board the ship for identification purposes, so please keep it safe and bring it with you everywhere you go.

Other than the guest name and the ship, you can also find useful details like your stateroom number, dining details, debarkation date and assembly station in case of emergencies. Remind the kids not to lose their cards but if they end up doing so, it is possible to get a replacement card at the Guest Services counter.


ROOMS

Quantum of the Seas consists of 2,090 staterooms, including 1,571 balcony staterooms, 148 outside staterooms and 375 virtual balcony staterooms. We stayed in a balcony stateroom which comes with two twin beds which could convert into a Royal King bed as well as a sofa bed, just nice for the four of us. There is also a sitting area, a vanity area and a private bath with shower. Do note that the shower area is limited, which is the case for all the cruises we went, but hey, I managed to squeeze with three kids and we all bathed together on one occasion when we were rushing for time so it can't be that bad.






I have to say this balcony stateroom is already one of the biggest rooms we've stayed in any of our cruises so far and we had more than enough space for our needs. The best part of it was having our own private balcony which was like a paradise to be in because it gave us a spectacular view of the sea in the day and the stars at night. 


FOOD

Now, let's talk about food, shall we? Remember I mentioned that you get to feast like kings and queens on a cruise? Well, at least that was how it felt like for the kids and I. Even if you don't try out the specialty restaurants, there is a long list of complimentary dining choices and a widespread of food for you to choose from. See below. Note that you will not be permitted to enter if you are in swimwear so do keep to the day's dress code (casual/smart casual/formal) during mealtimes.

> Windjammer Marketplace

This is where you can go to for a buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner which typically serves a combination of American fare and international cuisine. Vegetarian and gluten-free choices are available too and if you have any special dietary preference, you can inform the head waiter. We love the cosy ambience and the fact that it sits on Deck 14 means you get a pretty impressive ocean view too. Seating is on a first-come-first-served basis and the restaurant's opening hours can be found in your cruise compass. We came here for lunch once we boarded the ship and it was full because apparently everyone else wanted to eat too. Haha. Other than that, there is usually quite a lot of space and the waiters are very swift in clearing the tables too.

> Main Dining Rooms on Decks 3 and 4

You can find four complimentary restaurants on Decks 3 and 4 and they serve contemporary cuisine with main course dishes like lamb chops, steak, pork knuckles, grilled salmon and seafood pasta. Appetizers include soups, shrimps, crab cakes and salad while desserts include gelato, tiramisu, pannacotta and crème brûléeThis was where we usually had our dinner and we opted for the first seating which begins at 5:30pm (second seating starts at 8pm). You will be allocated a designated dining restaurant along with a table number and this is printed on your SeaPass for easy reference. Note that you will also receive stickers for the beverage/dinner packages purchased which youare advised to paste onto your SeaPass as you will need to present it to the waitstaff at mealtimes.




There is also a Kids Menu available which includes pasta, burgers, sandwiches, chicken soup, fries, nugget and pizza. Unlike my exciting menu which changes every night, the Kids Menu stays the same throughout so if your kids are more adventurous with their taste buds, let them choose from the adult menu or they can selection a combination from both menus. The best part for my kids was having ice cream every night lor. Haha. Well, we are on holiday after all, right?



> Sorrento's

Anyone loves pizza too? This is one of our favourite joints and the best part is it opens till 3am (yes, that's right!) so you are welcome to hop by for a midnight snack. Sorrento's offers an authentic New York pizzeria experience and casual dining options, offering something for everyone at no additional cost. We even had some porridge here on one afternoon and even though there were not much condiments provided, it was something the little one welcomed. As for the big sisters, they just loved the pizzas here, which are served fresh out of the oven, and ate slice after slice.



> Seaplex Doghouse

This is located right beside Seaplex on Deck 15 so you can hop over for a quick bite and tuck into traditional hot dogs, brats and sausages along with the classic toppings and buns (which we found ours a little hard). Soft drinks and iced water are also available here.


> Café Promenade

This is located beside Sorrento's along the Royal Promenade on Deck 4 and offers coffee, snacks, pastries, and sandwiches around the clock. Yes, we heard it opens 24 hours so hop over if you need a cuppa or some snacks.


> The Café @TWO70

Set in a gourmet marketplace, you can hop over to The Café @TWO70 for some hot-pressed sandwiches (these were yummy!), homemade soups, salads, cakes and pastries. My kids' favourite was the.... potato chips lor and ate not one but two bowls! Haha. 


> In-Room Dining

One of the meals we enjoyed the most during the cruise was our In-Room Breakfast because we got to sleep a little later, have the food delivered to our step and enjoy a beautiful view of Phuket from our private balcony. Yup, see how the kids were still in their PJs and happily tucking into food the moment they woke? Haha.

It's easy to make your breakfast order, just use the door tag menu that is in your room, tick the items you want, choose your preferred timing and hang it outside the night before and Voila! Note that while the Continental menu is free of charge, a fee of $7.95 per order will be charged for the American menu.


> Jamie's Italian

We tried one of the specialty dining restaurants - these come at additional cost and are not included in your cruise fare - and that is the highly raved Jamie's Italian where you get to savour Tuscan-inspired dishes crafted by Jamie Oliver.

My top three picks from this restaurant will be the Famous Anti Plank - we went for the meat one which came with cured meats, pickles and cheeses and was a fantastic appetizer, Jamie's Italian Burger - this came with a super juicy and tender prime beef and the Lamb Chops Scottadita - I love this because it was perfectly grilled and bursting with flavour. The kids also gave their thumbs up for the Mushroom Fritti, Penne Carbonara and Famous Prawn Linguine (the pasta is handmade and very tasty!).

Was it worth paying for? In my opnion, yes, and you should try it one night at least. It's a refreshing change from the usual ala-carte dining in the main dining room or the buffet dinner at Windjammer and since this was our last night on the cruise, I am glad we had a delectable and fulfilling dinner.





ENTERTAINMENT AND FACILITIES

>> Swimming Pools

One of our favourite things to do on a cruise is swimming, splashing around or just lazing by the pool! If your kids are like mine, they will be happy to hit the pool once they board and might even ask to do it every day.



The pools on Quantum of the Seas are generally divided into three zones, namely the Solarium which is for guests over 18 and features a glass canopy and panoramic views, the Indoor Pool which includes two whirlpools, a bar and a shallow pool, as well as the Outdoor Pool which also has two whirlpools, a bar, loungers (some are even in the pool itself) and an LED screen overlooking the main pool. Right at the end is the H2O zone which is our favourite of all because of the wave pool!



Note that some of the pools can be quite deep at 1.51m and 1.61m so do keep a close eye on the kids. For the whirlpools, kids need to be over 0.7m to join in the fun and each session should not last more than 15minutes (the water is really hot!). Due to public health regulations, kids who are not toilet trained are not allowed in the pools, whirlpools and H2O Zone. If your kid is still on diapers and not fully toilet trained yet, he/she is only allowed to play in the Baby Splash Zone. Yup, so please train your child before you head for the cruise if possible!




>> Adventure Ocean 

This is the the name of the Kids Club on Royal Caribbean and it is offered complimentary to kids who are aged between 3 to 11 years of age. It can be a lifesaver for parents who wish to enjoy some couple or me time. Kids in Adventure Ocean will be divided into three groups according to their age, namely Aquanauts (3-5 years old), Explorers (6-8 years old) and Voyagers (9-11 years old). You will need to do a one-time registration on your first visit and after that, you just have to sign in and out every time.

On sea days, Adventure Ocean is typically open from 9am - 12pm, 2pm - 5pm and 7pm - 10pm. On port days, Adventure Ocean is open for the entire duration that the ship is in port. Yes, that means you can go visit the cities on your own and let the kids stay on the ship if you prefer. If you need to let your kids stay on later, say from 10pm to 2am, there is an after-hour option which comes at an hourly cost.

In my case, Asher didn't want to join in so I was basically stuck with him 24/7 for the entire cruise. The girls joined in the fun at Adventure Ocean for a couple of hours and did some art and craft activity, played games and watched cartoons. We chose to stick together most of the time, especially when we got off the ship to explore, but that is up to your individual preference and it's good to know that there is an option available.

For children above 6 months old and below 3 years of age, they can participate in the Royal Babies and Royal Tots program. Parents can accompany them to play in the open space play area or drop them off at the nursery at an hourly charge (USD6 per hour until 6 p.m. and USD8 per hour after 6 p.m.)



>> Arcade

The Challenger's Arcade sits on Deck 15 and even though it does not boast a huge space, there are still some games - claw machines, race cars, gun shooting, reaction games etc - which will interest the kids. The costs of these games vary approximately from USD1.50 to USD2.50. On the first night, there was a Family Free Arcade session from 8:00pm to 9:00pm and even though we didn't manage to make it, we did hear that families will get to enjoy free play during that hour so don't miss it on your trip.



>> Live Shows

Right from my first cruise with Royal Caribbean in 2010, I was blown away by the sheer professionalism and world-class quality of their show productions. Each of them never fails to impress me and that is why up till this date, the kids and I have never missed any of the shows on all our cruises. Yup, we always make sure we are in the Royal Theatre every night after dinner so we can sit back and enjoy the performances. This time round, we watched the signature StarWater Show (reservation is required), were amazed by the talented magician Su Peng Fei, sang oldies with Jamaica-born singer Monique Dehaney, enjoyed the dance choreography at Sequins and Feathers and were totally awestruck by the Earth Harp at Sonic Odyssey. 

My tip is to arrive at the theatre at least 15 minutes in advance so that you can get good seats. The theatre spans two levels with a total capacity of 1,300 seats and sitting on the second level might not be a bad choice after all as you can still get a good view of the stage and it is usually less crowded too. Oh, and let the kids go for a toilet break beforehand because you wouldn't want to make your way out of the theatre in the dark and miss the highlights.




>> Contests, Games, Live Bands and Karaoke

There are many fun games and activities you can take part in throughout the cruise and these include Trivia, Sudoku challenge, Finish the Lyrics competition, Bingo, Charades and many more. For the music lovers, you can also get to enjoy Live Bands, DJ shows and even join in Karaoke sessions too.

The kids and I tried one of our favourite games - Bingo and even though we didn't win, it was the fun process that mattered. We also chilled out in the Music Hall (thanks to our Replenish Beverage Package, we had lots of mocktails on this trip!) and sat back while watching other guests battle it out in fun games like the Pencil Catching Challenge and Pantyhose Bowling.



>> Sports and Recreational Activities

The Seaplex is the largest indoor sports space at sea and home to a variety of activities and events throughout the cruise. You can engage in sports like badminton, table tennis, soccer and basketball, play video games at the Xbox corner or enjoy a game of foosball. Air hockey is available too but this comes at a cost of USD2.50 per game. The Seaplex is also where you will be riding in Bumper Cars, play Laser Tag or swing on the Trapeze too (more to share below).






>> Movie screenings

There are movie screenings at the Royal Theatre at scheduled timings (some of them are 3-D movies!) but if you prefer doing it under the stars, then be sure to head to the pool on nights where they have movie screenings on the LED screen at the pool. There are more than enough loungers so be sure to grab a good seat, order a drink or two, feel the sea breeze and just sit back and enjoy the show. Movies like Aladdin, Godzilla and The Lion King were shown during our stay and it was a pity we didn't get to catch them (there were just too many things to do!).


>> Bionic Bar

Craving for a drink? Don't worry, these robot bartenders, the first in the world, will tend to your needs on this ship. With 30 spirits and 21 mixers to choose from, the cocktail combinations are endless and only limited by your imagination. The kids were so fascinated to watch the robots in action and we learnt that they can make 2 drinks a minute and up to 1,000 a day, that's very impressive!


>> Dance Parties

As some of you might already know, we love to dance so we looked forward to the kid-friendly dance parties every night! Yup, while most kids were in bed, mine were twisting, jumping, shaking and grooving to the beat. I wouldn't change it for anything in the world and I am glad that I could join in the fun too as we did the mass dance and enjoyed the music together. These parties are usually held at Two70° which can accommodate up to 540 guests. On our finale night, there was even a 'fireworks' party where we danced to Gangnam Style, Chocolatte and all kinds of pop songs and guess what, we didn't leave till everyone else left - even the crew - and still, we did so reluctantly. Haha. Check out my video at the end to see us in action on the dance floor.



HIGHLIGHT ACTIVITIES

Now, this is the part most of you have been waiting for! What highlight activites are there onboard Quantum of the Seas, which should you try and which are suitable for kids? Here, I share with you about everything we did and you can decide what fits your family best. To start off, do note that all the activites below are complimentary with the exception of iFly and North Star which are chargeable.

>>> Ripcord by iFly (for aged 3 and above)

Wish to feel the wind in your face and no ground under your feet as you defy gravity in the middle of the ocean? Then don't miss out on this indoor skydiving opportunity onboard Quantum of the Seas.

This was one of our favourite activites from the cruise because it was just too fun and gave all of us an adrenaline rush! Yes, all of us, that means the little boy did it too! To be frank, he couldn't take part in most of the other activities due to the minimum age or height limit but he was welcome at iFly so of course, we couldn't miss it! I was half afraid he would back out at the last minute but thankfully, we were all there to cheer him on and he accomplished it eventually. Hooray! Check out the video below, it was hilarious the way his legs couldn't stop kicking all over the place. He even told me he enjoyed it tremendously and hopes to do it again next time.

Just so you know, although the session is around an hour, including the safety briefing, gearing up and waiting time, the actual flight is only around 1 minute per person. Yes, it sounds short but a minute seems like an eternity when you are in the air chamber. In case you are wondering, if you are not joining the session, you will still be able to stand outside and watch your kids in action at the viewing area. If you are with them in the same session, you will not be able to take photographs or film them as all belongings have to be kept when you suit up.




>>> North Star (minimum height of 107cm to ride with guardian and 122cm to ride alone)

The North Star is an observational pod on RCI's Quantum-class ships which has made it into the Guinness Book of World Record. You will get to enter a jewel-shaped capsule which will ascend and take you to 300 feet above sea level where you can enjoy a panoramic 360-degree view of the surroundings. I'm not sure why the minimum height is set so high at 107cm - fyi the ride is steady and lasts for less than 10minutes - but it did imply that my youngest one was not allowed to ride with us, so that was a bummer. That said, the girls did enjoy our mother-and-daughters ride and loved the view when we were at the top too.




Since both North Star and iFLY require advance reservation and additional cost (USD8 per pax for North Star and USD29 per pax for iFLY), if you had to pick just one, I would recommend going for the latter, especially if you have yet to try skydiving. 

>>> Rock Climbing (for aged 6 and above)

Scaling 30-feet up in the middle of the sea? Yup, these rock walls make it possible and knowing that you are climbing on a ship makes it feel more fun and adventurous too. Ariel totally loved the experience and went on it thrice, despite not being able to reach the top yet. The Rock Climbing activity is free for all to try, whether you are a beginner or seasoned climber. Kids above the age of 6 are welcome too (they will know how old you are by checking your SeaPass so don't try to bluff hor). Shoes and harnesses are provided.


>>> FlowRider (minimum height of 132 cm for body board and 147cm for the flowboard)

Wanna catch some waves and go surfing on a 40-foot-long surf simulator? This was Angel's favourite activity and I have to say I totally enjoyed every moment of it too (Psst, I am so glad I did this despite having my menses as it was one of the best decisions ever). While the big girl tried the body board, I did both the body and flowboard. They were definitely very challenging to master - don't be fooled by how easy the instructors make it look - but we had lots of fun trying, learning, rolling over and picking ourselves up.

While this activity is complimentary for all guests, private sessions can be arranged and that will come at an extra fee. Even if you are not taking part, you can sit down on the wooden benches provided and catch your kids in action up close. I have to give credit to the two younger ones for being so patient under the hot sun for that one hour as they helped the two of us capture photos and videos for memories. Thank you, my dears!




>>> Laser Tag (for aged 5 and above)

If you have more than one kid or friends with you on this trip, this will be a good way to challenge each other and see who has the best marksmanship! During Laser Tag, the SeaPlex will be transformed into a gigantic maze using inflatables and players will be divided into two teams to compete against each other. Even though there wasn't much of a glow-in-the-dark effect because it wasn't dim enough, the girls enjoyed this thoroughly and did it not once but twice, despite having to queue over 30 minutes for it. Yes, it's highly popular! Note that dry clothes and closed toe shoes are required for this activity.



>>> Flying Trapeze (for aged 6 and above)

Thanks to our visits to Club Med, the girls are familiar with trapeze acrobatics and can do a couple of tricks pretty well. Nonetheless, this was the first time they did it on a ship and hanging upside down was an experience like no other. Since adults are welcome too, I plucked up enough courage to go on my first flying trapeze. Yay! Even though I couldn't do the tricks that my kids did, I think I still made them pretty proud of me for trying. One tip is to make sure you check the timings of the activities you wish to join and plan your day to make sure you can reach the venue in time. For instance, we were in Penang on that day and had to make sure we returned back to the ship on time to get to SeaPlex for the trapeze session.


>>> Bumper Cars (5 years old to ride and 8 years old to drive)

Everyone has tried bumper cars before but have you ever done it on a ship? Quantum of the Seas is the first cruise ship with a bumper cars pavilion and it's no wonder that this is a highly popular activity. Kids have to be 5 years old and above to ride with a parent/guardian and 8 years old to drive on their own. I was so thankful that I got to do this with Ariel along with Angeline and Buddy from Life's Tiny Miracles while our firstborns waited for the next round and helped to entertain the little brother, who will just have to wait till he turns older to try this fun activity.




>>> Escape Room (12 and older)

Last but not least, we also heard that there is an Escape Room onboard the ship, how cool is that? I bet the girls would love to uncover hidden clues and solve puzzles but since the minimum age is 12 and none of them qualify yet, we are bookmarking this activity for our next cruise. If you can, try it out and let me know if it's any fun!

PHOTOGRAPHY SERVICES

Many of you have been asking me about the photos we took on the ship so I thought I would write about it here too. I think since our second cruise, we have been purchasing the photo package because to me, it would be a pity not to be able to retain our pictures for keepsake. From experience, it's always cheaper to book your package beforehand or on the first day of the cruise. I went for the all-inclusive digital package which was selling at USD199 but we received a USD20 discount on the first day.

As luck would have it, there was a Black Friday sale on the third day and the package was retailing at USD119 only! So, I did a check with the staff and they managed to refund me the additional cost that I paid. I received all our photos in a thumb drive (you will also receive a link to download the pictures during the cruise) and found out that we had taken over than 200 pictures on the ship. Many of these were done with studio backdrops which were set up on Decks 4 and 5 every night and were professionally taken. Well, of course we made sure we took as many shots as we could to fully utilise the package. Our iFLY pictures were included as well and these are so priceless! Anyway, that works out to less than USD0.60 per photo and is quite a great deal, if you ask me.

The photographers we met were all very friendly and many of them loved seeing Asher and gave him high fives, held him up and even requested to take photos with him too. Awww, thanks for all the wonderful memories you guys helped us to capture. Tip: To access your photos, go to the Photo Gallery on Deck 5 and scan your SeaPass. Even though the photographers might ask you for your stateroom number, not all the photos will be tagged to you correctly so do check through them before purchasing. You can go through all the photos on the computers and add the ones that been missed out before confirming with the staff to transfer the files onto the thumb drive. It will be much harder to do this once the cruise ends so make sure everything is intact on your last night. If you prefer to have just one of two photos printed out, check out their photo frames and albums which might be on sale on the last day.



VISITING THE PORTS OF CALL

Remember I said that one of the best parts of a cruise is to be able to visit different cities? This time, we decided to explore Penang and Phuket and chose to take it free and easy instead of going on the shore excursions. This was so that we could have the flexibility of time and be able to wake up later in the mornings too.

In Penang, we hired a taxi to take us around for 4 hours and visited the Upside Down Museum, had a dim sum breakfast, explored the famous street art and rode on a trishaw where we met a very friendly and hardworking uncle who has been in this trade for four decades.




In Phuket, we went on a off-road buggy adventure which saw us screaming and singing at the top of our voices as we rode through the forest and conquered the muddy, uneven terrain. This was followed by relaxing at Patong Beach - which was where the ship was docked and we took a tender to get to the pier - where we ate street food and enjoyed the feeling of doing nothing at all.





It was easy, quick and hassle-free getting down the ship and in fact, you could say it was almost effortless. All we had to do was join the line, scan our SeaPass cards and we were free to go - yes, no luggage and no passports needed - to explore and have fun. Being alone with three kids, that was something that I truly appreciated.

DISEMBARKATION

Right, we are almost at the end already! Just like getting onboard the ship, the disembarkation process was straightforward and easy too. If you have set up a cash account, make sure you settle your bills before you leave. If you have a credit card account, just make sure the bill has no discrepancy but if it does, make your way to Guest Services and hope for a short queue.

Your luggage tags will be sent to your stateroom the day before so you just have to fill up your details, secure them on your luggage and place them outside your room before you go to bed on the last night. There will be disembarkation timings allocated for the different decks so try to adhere to these timings to avoid overcrowding. Note that while breakfast will still be served at restaurants on the last morning (note that it can get very crowded though), there will be no in-room dining service provided.

Once you disembark and get across the custom, your luggage will be waiting for you at the cruise centre and they will be categorised according to the numbers given on your tags so you can locate them easily.


It was so hard for us to say goodbye and it all felt a little surreal that nearly a week had passed in the blink of an eye. Well, I guess good times are always short lived yet they leave behind a huge impact, right?



8 TIPS FOR A MUM-AND-KIDS CRUISE

Judging from how we had a blast from this experience, here are some tips to share with you so you can have a fun family or mum-and-kids cruise in future too! 

1) Pack all that you need 
Your luggage will be checked in at the cruise centre and sent to your stateroom directly so don't be afraid to pack a little more. I am always afraid that I don't bring enough and, in this case, since I am the only parent looking after three kids and unexpected situations can arise, I think that it is safer to bring more than less. See above for my packing list. You would probably need your elder ones to help pull the luggage and carry their own bags, so prepare them for that beforehand.

2) Bring your necessities in a hand carry bag
That being said, the luggage can take hours to reach you so it is best to bring along what you need in a hand carry bag when you board the ship. This may include a change of clothes, jackets, swimsuits, sunscreen lotion, mobile phone and charger, medicine, camera and anything else you might need for the first few hours.

3) Board early
So as not to rush the kids at the last minute, I suggest that you board early. We were at the cruise centre at 10:30am in the morning (check-in time was from 10:30am to 3:30pm, set sail time was 5:00pm) and the queue was short, thus we didn't have to wait too long for the security screening and checking in. Boarding early means you have more time for play, right? Bear in mind that the staterooms will only be ready after 1pm (which is why your hand carry is important and you have to carry it with you everywhere you go) but you can always go for a swim, have a good lunch and start exploring the ship level by level.

4) Let the older kids familiarise themselves with the ship
Let the kids be able to find their way around the ship and set up a meeting point - your stateroom or the Guest Services counter are good choices - in case you get separated from each other. While I have yet to let the girls sign themselves out of Adventure Ocean (yes, you can grant them permission to do that), I did let the two of them make their way to the restaurants and our room on their own a couple of times (gotta let them learn someday, right?). It is important to ensure that they know where you are at all times and are able to find their way. If not, they just have to learn to ask around too. Of course, it would be much easier if your kid has a WiFi enabled phone and know how to contact you. But since mine don't for the time being, I had to make sure they knew what they were doing and where they were heading. If your kids are younger and not ready to be independent, then my advice is to just make sure they stick to you at all times when they are not in Adventure Ocean, yeah?

5) Remind them to look out for one another
It can be hard for one parent to keep an eye on all the kids all the time, so task them to look out for and take care of each other too. It doesn't mean only the eldest needs to do that; it means all of them need to be vigilant since the kids outnumber the adult in this case. Safety is always top priority so make sure they keep each other out of harm's way. Be careful when you go to the pool because some of them are quite deep (over 1.5m). Make sure you stick close to the kids and that they don't venture off on their own, especially if they are not good swimmers. The good thing is we always saw lifeguards on duty at the ledge of the pool and they were always alert and quick to blow the whistle if anyone was disobeying the rules. Nonetheless, never take safety for granted and take extra caution.

6) Staying onboard might be a good choice during port calls
I know of mums who will prefer to go on shore during port calls so that they can visit a few places of interest. That includes me. Yup, I like getting off the ship for a few hours on some days so that I can bring the kids around to explore the different cities. That said, remember that it's just you and the kids in a foreign land so if you are not comfortable with it, just stay on the ship! It's a smart thing to do too because in most cases, more than half of the guests have left so you can pretty much enjoy most of the facilities without the crowd and have a more peaceful time (is that possible when you have kids?) to yourselves.

7) Don't stick to routine (too much)
I usually tend to open one eye but close the other when we are on vacation, meaning the kids get to eat candy and ice cream almost every day, skip their naps, sleep later than usual and go for dance parties when most of the other kids are in bed. I'm not sure if it's for my sanity or theirs but I do know we have made many precious, irreplaceable memories through all these fun, forget-the-routine moments we had. The important thing is to be flexible and stay positive when things don't go according to plan or when your timings get screwed up. Cheer up, smile and move on!

8) Be a FUN mum
I think I nagged a lot on this trip because that was how I keep all three of them safe and out of trouble but every morning, I woke up and reminded myself to be a fun mum that day. That means I let my hair down, I let loose a little, I put away the phone when I could, I don't just watch but joined in the fun and I danced with them like no one's watching too. It doesn't just make the kids happy, it's the best way for me to have a most awesome vacation, one that I've truly enjoyed myself, too.



Will we go for another week long holiday again without the hubby? Yes, I am actually very much open and looking forward to that because this cruise has been such a great way to begin our travels. In the kids' words, this experience was "Fantastic", "Super fun", "Amazing" and "WE WISH IT DIDN'T HAVE TO END" and I absolutely agree.

Thanks to Royal Caribbean for all the priceless memories and precious fun we had. We will definitely be back again to experience your wonders!

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Here's a video which showcases all the fun we had on Quantum of the Seas! Hopefully, after watching it and reading this lengthy blog post, you will have a good idea of what to expect and be inspired to plan a cruise for your upcoming holiday too. Feel free to DM me more questions on Instagram or Facebook too, I will reply. Till our next holiday!


 
Disclosure: This is sponsored collaboration between Royal Caribbean and A Happy Mum. All opinions and photos, unless stated otherwise, are our own.


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