Nine things I saw, heard, tasted or learned aboard Quantum of the Seas:
The ship has 2,090 staterooms (including 28 for solo travelers) with room for as many as 4,905 guests. Its 1,500 crew members come from 68 countries, said hotel director Dean Bailey.
At Wonderland, the ship's edgiest restaurant (with a $45-a-head charge), the menus are blank until you daub them with a watery paintbrush and text is revealed. (On the menu: liquid lobster, fingerling potatoes disguised as river rocks, and eggs in a cloud of smoke under glass.)
I feared that Coco Cay, a 140-acre Bahamian island of sandy beaches and lapping waters reserved for cruise passengers only, would be devoid of local culture. So it is. But it's exactly the sunny haven that cruise passengers dream of in winter. Next time, I would happily spend two days there and avoid the souvenir shops and perfumeries of downtown Nassau.
In the ship's American Icon restaurant, my good meal (Atlantic salmon) was made better by the gorgeous dining room — a series of shimmering landscape photos on vertical panels.
Jamie's Italian ($15 for lunch, $25 for dinner), where I had an excellent lunch and dinner (prosciutto and pear salad, wild mushroom risotto), was my favorite shipboard restaurant. It's also where I overheard this conversation. Husband: "You know what they did? They brought this ship over here to work out the kinks on us." Wife: "Yes."
In Michael's Genuine Pub (à la carte menu, with small plates at $4 each), my salad, sandwich and craft beer were memorably tasty. But the pub's not-so-inviting interior had all the warmth of Terminal 7 at LAX.
Although the ship's art-sale-and-lecture program included traditional, sentimental works by Thomas Kinkade, the late "painter of light," Quantum's stairwell landings are filled with striking, playful contemporary art. And on a ship with 16 decks accessible to passengers, that's a lot of art.
Quantum's team was taking the threat of norovirus (acute gastroenteritis) seriously. Purell dispensers were everywhere, with daily hygiene reminders in the shipboard bulletin and live greeters actively urging buffet diners to sanitize before sitting down. (Two weeks before my cruise, Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas had to cut short a trip because more than 190 passengers fell ill.)
Quantum's 16 guest decks are served by 16 elevators, but waits can be long, especially at mealtime. I got in the habit of taking the stairs between my room (deck 10) and the activities on decks 14, 15 and 16.