Royal Caribbean cruises will have some fancy new toys

Elissa Richard

Royal Caribbean, known for their cruise-industry innovation, is at it again. Their next-generation Quantum class of ships, set to roll out over the next two years, will take a big leap forward on wow-factor amenities, including a series of industry firsts, à la onboard bumper cars, a skydiving experience, a soaring observation capsule, and more.

Thrill seekers can take the plunge on RipCord by iFly, the first skydiving adventure at sea. Granted, it’s a simulated experience, but considering that participants will actually get to float and experience a sensation of free fall, it still scores cool points with us. Or, opt in for a whirl in the London Eye-inspired North Star — a top-deck glass capsule that transports up to 14 guests, via a crane-like moveable arm, more than 300 feet above the sea and over the ship’s side for 360-degree panoramas.

The behemoth 18-deck boats, which will include the 4,180-passenger Quantum of the Seas (launching in fall 2014) and Anthem of the Seas (launching in spring 2015), will also be outfitted with three new signature venues, including the Music Hall, a rock-and-roll-inspired live music venue, and the multilevel Two70°, which will tout floor-to-ceiling windows with 270-degree ocean views, along with dazzling nighttime entertainment (aerialists, anyone?).

Also look for the SeaPlex indoor activity venue, where the bumper cars and roller skating will be joined by a circus school (for all your trapeze or juggling needs); come nightfall, all the buzzing activity is amped up with dancing and a floating DJ booth that hovers above the crowd.

Expect high-design contemporary staterooms that will count among the line’s largest, each offering views—even inside cabins will feature a “virtual” balcony, essentially projected digital images of real-time ocean and port views. A series of new designed-for-singles studio cabins (some come with balconies) and adjoining family-friendly connected cabins will also be available.

Word on the culinary front is that dining venues will feature Royal Caribbean’s most flexible options to dates, and highlight a slew of specialty restaurants (more details to come over the next few months).

Look, too, for the reappearance of Royal Caribbean favorites, including the adults-only Solarium area and H2O Zone kids’ aqua park; the good ole rock-climbing wall and FlowRider surf simulator; and DreamWorks-inspired entertainment and events anchored on family favorites like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda.

Quantum of the Seas will homeport in Bayonne, N.J. , come November 2014, offering 7- to 12-night itineraries to the Bahamas and Caribbean (prices have yet to be announced); bookings open on June 4 at