That time we crossed the Atlantic for next to nothing

Quantum of the Seas

The purpose of a RTW adventure is to see the world, so it came as a surprise to us that one of our best experiences has been being held captive on a cruise ship for eight days. We sailed Royal Caribbean’s newest baby, the Quantum of the Seas, for her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to Cape Liberty, New Jersey, where there was finally no pressure to do anything but relax. This was a much needed break after visiting 32 countries in Europe over four months. The best part, though, was the comedy of errors that occurred on this inaugural sailing that made it the most absurdly affordable way to travel from Europe to the U.S.

Here are the prices we originally paid and what we ultimately paid:

  • $2137.84 (original booking price)
  • $1581.84 (after first price adjustment)
  • $1249.84 (after second price adjustment, with a last-minute free upgrade from an interior cabin to a balcony)

Benefits received upon booking:

  • $100 on-board credit (OBC) from Royal Caribbean for booking on a previous sailing
  • $45 OBC for booking through Costco Travel

As if this wasn’t a steal of a deal already (we couldn’t fly this cheaply, and mind you, this was accommodations, meals and entertainment for eight days), there were so many unforeseen mishaps that Royal Caribbean essentially started giving things away. It began with a truly horrendous experience at the pier: they promised with their new system it would take only 10 minutes from check-in to boarding, but it took at least an hour of shear chaos, two plus for some guests. That prompted the executives to issue a letter of apology on the second day along with:

  • $254.50 credit towards a future cruise (25% of our base fare)
  • $300 additional OBC

What an incredible gesture on behalf of the company! We were already loyal to Royal Caribbean, but this further cemented it. Then the good times kept coming, as other technical issues (and probably compounding complaints by less forgiving guests) generated a bunch of extra freebies, including:

  • $16 worth in wine
  • $48 worth in cocktails
  • $20 worth in specialty coffee
  • $5 worth in other non-alcoholic beverages
  • $100 value for a second iFly (indoor skydiving) experience
  • $72 worth in pay-per-view movies
  • $150 worth of internet access

The effective price we paid in the end was $550 for two people, while receiving $406 in additional perks. Not bad for a pair of homeless and unemployed guys! Money aside, we really loved the Quantum of the Seas—it was a refreshing and new experience compared to our previous cruises. With indoor skydiving, bumper cars, a Broadway production of Mamma Mia, “dynamic dining,” overhauled interior design and more, Royal Caribbean truly outdid themselves this time. If you’ve never cruised before, we highly recommend it as a part of your travel portfolio, even if the chances of scoring another deal like this are next to zero.