Is this long-weekend cruise from Brisbane the holiday to tick all boxes? Tiana Templeman boards Quantum of the Seas to find out.
Like most long weekends away, ours starts with an early Friday afternoon knock-off, but instead of battling the afternoon traffic on the freeway, we head to the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal. We’re setting sail on a four-night round-trip weekend getaway on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas which departs from our hometown and holds the promise of a unique way to explore our own backyard.
With a port day in Airlie Beach bookended by sea days, we won’t have to worry about getting from one destination to the next, whose turn it is to cook dinner or what to do each evening. It sounds like heaven and we can’t wait to get onboard.
Enjoy a port day at Airlie Beach. (Image: Tourism & Events Queensland)
Planning ahead with the Royal Caribbean app
With more than 4000 passengers wanting to make the most of their long weekend, we’ve used the Royal Caribbean app to check in online and pre-book our must-do restaurants, shows and activities that range from skydiving to roller skating, boogie boarding, bumper cars and sightseeing in the North Star viewing capsule.
Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas departs from Brisbane.
Plus, there are more dining options than we can poke our forks at. While there are plenty of complimentary restaurants included in our fare, we’ve opted for a three-restaurant speciality dining package so we can eat at all but one of the upmarket for-a-fee restaurants every night.
Watch the sunset from the North Star. (Image: Tiana Templeman)
Friday evening: Dining in Wonderland
With choices ranging from a high-end steakhouse to Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant and sushi at Izumi, it was a tough choice deciding where to eat on our first evening onboard, but Wonderland got our vote for its sense of fun, creativity and tasty food.
From menus that were revealed by ‘painting’ a blank piece of paper with water, to our waiter who delivered each creative dish like he was a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the ship’s most innovative speciality restaurant delivered a fantastical dining adventure.
The next day, we embarked on adventures of a different kind during our first day at sea and discovered our ‘relaxing’ cruise was going to be anything but.
Saturday: Embracing thrilling onboard activities
Jumping out of a perfectly good aeroplane is not for everyone – including us – so we’re keen to try the indoor skydiving simulator on the top deck. The nerves kick in while we’re pulling on our flight suits but once we step into the iFly with our instructor and are (literally) floating on air, we can’t wait to re-enter the wind tunnel for our second flight, which is even more fun than the first.
Soak in the rays by the outdoor pool on deck 14. (Image: Trevor Templeman)
We’re pumped up and ready for more fun so we race downstairs to change into our swimmers and line up to go boogie boarding on the FlowRider surf simulator. Any fears about riding a boogie board with one million litres of water a minute pumping underneath it disappear as we jump onto the simulated wave. Surprisingly, we manage to stay on the board for a while, but it’s going to take a lot more than one weekend cruise before we’re ready to try the stand-up surfing that’s also available.
Later that evening, the North Star viewing capsule is the perfect spot to take in the sunset view over the ocean.
Soar over the ship in the North Star observation pod for epic views. (Image: Tiana Templeman)
Dinner is at Jamie’s Italian, followed by the headliner show in the Two70 theatre. We also try the silent disco, which isn’t that silent, as everyone sings while they’re wearing their headphones. After joining a conga line around the dance floor, we finally call it a night.
Dine at Jamie’s Italian, one of the ship’s specialty restaurants. (Image: Michel Verdure/Verdure Photo)
Sunday: Port day at Airlie Beach
The next morning, we enjoy a sleep-in and wake up to discover catamarans pulling up alongside the ship to provide complimentary transfers to Airlie Beach. Due to Quantum of the Seas’ size, the ship is anchored offshore but the fast ferry has us at the jetty in minutes.
Spend time at Airlie Beach Lagoon. (Image: Tourism & Events Queensland)
While there are plenty of great ship excursions to choose from, we opt for a leisurely float in the public swimming lagoon near the centre of town and coffee and cake at a local cafe.
Airlie Beach is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. (Image: Tourism & Events Queensland)
We’re back onboard in time for a late buffet lunch at the Windjammer marketplace and an afternoon soak in the adults-only Solarium, which has floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic views.
Lounge at the adults-only Solarium onboard Quantum of the Seas. (Image: Simon Brooke-Webb)
Sipping cocktails and listening to a jazz quintet, followed by dinner in the complimentary main dining room and an early night, provides the perfect finish to our day in port.
Monday: From dodgem cars to roller skating at sea
Our last sea day is spent chilling on the pool deck, zooming around the SeaPlex, a larger indoor sports arena, on dodgem cars and roller skating for the first time in more than 30 years.
Tuesday: Time to disembark
The next morning we’re one of many passengers waiting at the gangway at 7am with our carry-on bags, ready to stroll off the ship and into the office without needing to take an extra day off work. Our long weekend at sea flew by and ended up being more action-packed than we expected, but also wonderfully relaxing. In short, it was the perfect mini-break.
Cruise itineraries to explore
A similar five-night Queensland cruise onboard Quantum of the Seas will depart Brisbane on 22 March 2024. A six-night cruise stopping at Airlie Beach, Cairns and Willis Island will depart 4 November 2023.
If you’re short on time, three-night cruises are available from Brisbane (onboard Quantum of the Seas; 17 November 2023 and 19 January 2024) and Sydney (onboard Ovation of the Seas; 10 November 2023 and 22 March 2024). These are sampler cruises with no port stops.
Whitehaven Beach is dazzling from above.
Spend a little longer at sea on a seven-night cruise exploring the Queensland coast, departing Brisbane onboard Quantum of the Seas (12 January 2024) or on a nine-night cruise from Sydney onboard Ovation of the Seas (12 January 2024). Ovation of the Seas will also cruise to Tasmania and Adelaide on an eight-night itinerary from Sydney (21 January 2024).