December 2014 - 8 Night Bahamas (Cape Liberty Roundtrip) Cruise on Quantum of the Seas
Great cruise - reservation system needs improvement
Overall, we were very pleased with the cruise. The ship is beautiful and well-decorated, there are many on-board activities, the service staff was uniformly friendly, and the entertainment was very good.
We had a balcony stateroom, which was quite roomy for a ship. We were on Deck 7, which was fine, but avoid Deck 6 since many of the views are blocked by the emergency boats. The bed was very comfortable. The flat-screen TV was excellent quality; it showed primarily ship-produced programs but there were some cable stations as well (CNN, ESPN, TBS, etc).
The food at the complimentary restaurants was generally very good and the service was great. Perhaps we were fortunate, as we had none of the negative experiences cited by others. The menus did not change during the cruise within each restaurant, but they differed between them, so as long as you spend only 2 nights at each one the limited menus are not a problem. On two nights we ate at specialty -- i.e., extra fee -- restaurants (see below on why): Devinely Decadence and Jamie's Italian restaurant. Although the food and service were very good there as well, we did not feel they were worth the extra money. The posted menu for Jamie's Italian restaurant featured several items that were not on the actual restaurant's menu.
The daytime on-board entertainment included several trivia contests and lectures on art, jewelry, and movies; and the staff for these were enthusiastic and fun. Evening entertainment shows consisted of the play Mama Mia, two entertainers (a comedian and a singer), a "virtual" concert, and two "modern" type of shows, StarWater and Sonic Odyssey, both of which featured singing and dance. We enjoyed all these shows and thought they were very well-done. Other evening entertainment included small musical groups in various bars and larger bands in the "Music Hall", which had a dance floor. The bands were very good. DJ music was also provided for late-night entertainment. Finally, there were some enjoyable karaoke shows.
We enjoyed the bumper cars, but they were available for only a limited amount of time since the same venue is used for volleyball, basketball, and skating. We went up on North Star, and it was a nice experience. Unfortunately, space is limited and you need reservations for it, which you obtain the day before, and are quickly filled up. Since the next-day activities are not posted until the evening, obtaining a convenient time can be difficult.
They have a well-equipped fitness center, although the lighting for the treadmills could be better (for reading) and the TV screens, which feature some simulated routes, were not working properly on several of the machines.
Now for the major negative: the reservation system for some shows and dining. We were not made aware of this system, and only came across it about 2 weeks before the cruise. One of the ship’s featured shows is Starwater, but none of the scheduled performances were available. I called the listed telephone number for assistance in planning, and they indicated that we might be able to make reservations on the cruise’s day of departure, but no guarantee that we will get what we want. They also said we can arrive early for one of the shows, wait on line, and that we might be able to get in. Obviously, that was not how we intended to spend our time on the cruise. We asked what percentage of the seats is held for people without reservations but they did not know. (We were ultimately able to obtain reservations on the first day of the cruise.)
As far as making reservations for dinner, on 2 nights none of the complimentary restaurants had openings, and so we were forced to reserve a spot at specialty restaurants, which charge fees. Once again, the customer service for planning assistance could not resolve the situation. As with the entertainment, they said we might be able to make reservations on the ship’s departure date or wait on line for restaurants where we had no reservations. We pointed out that one of the specialty restaurants we reserved was on the first night and so we would be charged a minimum $10 fee since the cancellation would be within 24 hours. Despite the outrageous nature of none of the complimentary restaurants having any openings currently available, we were told that this minimum $10 fee would not be waived. We asked to speak to a manager, but were told the manager would have the same response. Nobody in Customer Service told us about the Windjammer Cafe, which is a large buffet restaurant with many types of food and does not require reservations. While we would not have wanted to eat dinner there on multiple nights, for just 1 or 2 nights it would have been just fine. Our conclusion is that either their Customer Service staff is very poorly informed or they want passengers to reserve spaces at the specialty, fee-required, restaurants (for which there were plenty of openings).