Cruise ships come in many different styles and configurations, and recognizing different classes is a way to quickly note a ship’s size and features. One of the most distinctive and popular classes in the world is Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-Ultra class, but what exactly do these ships offer that make them stand out so much?
First Came Quantum Class Cruise Ships
Quantum class is the parent class of the Quantum-Ultra subset of ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. The first Quantum class ship set sail in 2014. It is tradition, though not universal, that the first ship of a new class bears the class name, and appropriately, the first Quantum class ship was Quantum of the Seas.
The new class was developed under code name Project Sunshine, and Quantum of the Seas – along with her sister ships – was built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg in northwestern Germany. Since its founding in 1795, Meyer Werft has been known for its innovative ship designs, making it the perfect choice to debut the new Quantum class of vessels.
The second and third Quantum class ships, Anthem of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, quickly followed in 2015 and 2016, respectively, bringing this new class of ships into the forefront of modern cruise vacations.
The Quantum-Ultra Announcement
In 2017, it was announced that the fourth Quantum class ship, Spectrum of the Seas, would be Quantum-Ultra class, involving significant upgrades from the original class but not so different as to become a completely new class of ships.
It is not unusual for ships later in a developed class to be further tweaked and upgraded as the class evolves.
This happens as cruise lines analyze guests’ reactions to new features. Very popular elements of a new class may be further expanded in later sister ships, while less popular features could be discontinued or altered to better appeal to more guests. Later ships may also have completely new features introduced, if those features were not quite ready when the original class debuted.
What Makes Quantum-Ultra Ships Different
Quantum-Ultra ships continue the most successful features of the popular Quantum class ships. These ships are the most technologically advanced ships in the world, and are designed for the ultimate in versatility.
This is particularly true of indoor spaces, which are adaptable to a range of different activities. The SeaPlex, for example, is not only a fun bumper car arena, but can also be converted for soccer shootout tournaments, basketball games, volleyball playoffs, and more.
This adaptation of indoor spaces is particularly important to the Quantum-Ultra ships, as they are designed to operate more northern itineraries and need spaces that can adapt to inclement weather as needed.
As the next evolution of the Quantum class, the Quantum-Ultra ships are home to many innovative features, including:
- North Star observation pod for outstanding views
- Ripcord by iFly skydiving experience
- Two70 lounge with panoramic windows and programmable roboscreens
- SeaPlex indoor, adaptive complex for athletic activities
- Multi-generational suites and suites-only areas
- Windjammer that is 20 percent larger
The Quantum-Ultra class ships also continue the most popular innovations of the Quantum class ships, including the Bionic Bar with its robotic bartenders, the innovative main show lounge, and more.
Ships in the Quantum-Ultra Class
Spectrum of the Seas debuted in 2019 as the first Quantum-Ultra class ship, with great excitement and enthusiasm. Her sister ship, Odyssey of the Seas, was to have debuted as the second Quantum-Ultra class ship in November 2020, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down cruise operations worldwide.
Instead, Odyssey of the Seas debuted first in Europe in April 2021, before moving to her official homeport at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in July 2021.
No further ships have yet been planned or announced for the Quantum-Ultra class. It is not inconceivable, however, that Royal Caribbean may choose to renovate and update the existing Quantum class ships in the future to bring them into the Quantum-Ultra classification.
The Next Royal Caribbean Class
At the moment, Royal Caribbean is working on its next class of ships, the much-anticipated Icon class. This class was first announced in 2016, but due to pandemic-related delays, the first ship – Icon of the Seas – will not enter service until 2023. The second and third ships are already ordered as well, and planned for delivery in 2025 and 2026.
The Icon class ships will be Royal Caribbean’s first vessels powered by liquified natural gas (LNG). While there have not been many additional details yet announced, they are sure to be as innovative and exciting as all of Royal Caribbean’s fleet, and are expected to be among the largest cruise ships in the world when they set sail.