Registered in the Bahamas, where the ship will be in service most of the time, Quantum of the Seas is the third-largest vessel in the Royal Caribbean fleet. More than 50 yards wide and three football fields long, all 168,000 tons of Quantum cuts through the waves at a cruising speed of 22 knots—about 25 miles per hour—thanks to twin diesel electric engines and their combined 83,000 horsepower. Older cruise ships of similar size and power historically laid a carbon footprint per mile three times as environmentally harmful as civilian aircraft. Studies originating from pro-environmental groups like Friends of the Earth, Tourism Concern, or ClimateCare consistently all handed out negative report cards on cruise ships and their builders’ lack of environmental effort. Royal Caribbean got an overall D rating on the Friends of the Earth report card last year. The group gave Quantum a C-.
Jackie Savitz, U.S. vice president of the global oceans activism group Oceana, said the reaction within the environmental activism community to Quantum of the Seas has been muted. "Some of those [Quantum of the Seas] technologies, like air lubrication, are being discussed more widely in the shipping industry because they increase fuel efficiency and save companies money—while also having environmental benefits," Savitz said. "But there are many other simple things that can be done—such as slow steaming. Reducing speed by as little as 10 percent can increase fuel efficiency even more."
According to Pruitt, fuel efficiency was the first thing Royal Caribbean addressed in its new design. Special jets below the waterline pump out a steady stream of bubbles to coat the bow and allow the hull to slide through the sea more smoothly—maximizing fuel efficiency. “The bubble jets and hull hatches are specially covered so fish can’t be pulled into the ship,” Pruitt explained. “That prevents marine life from invading a destination’s ecosystem.”
Obviously, the Quantum can’t run on good intentions and spared fish. It has to burn some diesel fuel oil to make way. But, Pruitt said the diesel exhaust leaving the ship’s stacks is screened and filter scrubbed back to breathable air quality before it wafts into the sky.
On the inside, the ship is similarly technologically focused. Quantum’s interior largely resembles those of its sister ships—with clean, modern lines highlighted by marble floors, repurposed wood floors and glass elevators. The guest cabins, regardless of size, rely on white linen and light wood hues—comparable to modern rooms at mid-range luxury hotels. Cruise passengers have come to expect technology like ship-wise wi-fi. The Quantum’s stern also includes a walk climbing wall, indoor skydiving, bumper cars, and a surfing simulator. The NorthStar Observation Tower on the top deck lifts a seven-ton glass capsule—like the individual compartments of the London Eye—atop a 40-plus yard crane so up to 14 guests can ascend 300 feet over the ship to look out over the Atlantic. And for those who can’t afford ocean views from their rooms, cabins below the waterline use high-def screens to simulate an ocean view with real-time video from outboard cameras.