I’m back with another cruise review! This time I am reviewing Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas! Have you ever sailed on Anthem of the Seas? Let me know what your favorite part of a cruise is in the comments below!
Last year, I sailed on a nine night sailing of Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. I have been on many cruises before, including mega ships, ships in their inaugural seasons and older ships, but this was my first time sailing on Royal Caribbean. I’ve always heard very good things about Royal Caribbean so my expectations were high before heading on vacation. On this voyage, we visited four ports, which included Kings Wharf, Bermuda, Philipsburg, St. Maarten, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Labadee, Haiti.
The NY/NJ area is home to 3 cruise ports: Manhattan, Redhook and Bayonne. Royal Caribbean calls Bayonne, New Jersey home. We arrived at the pier around 10:30 am. Check-in was very smooth thanks to the high tech process RCL employs. During online check-in, Royal Caribbean has its guests upload a photo and credit card information, that way all you have to do is have an employee scan your e-ticket. With that said, keep in mind that you do not receive your SetSail Pass until you get to your room on Anthem. They do not give them out in the terminal, like most cruise lines, but the key is waiting in your room for you. The paper one that you print out during online check-in serves as your temporary pass to get onto the ship. Also, Anthem of the Seas has the option of using a band instead of an actual key- very similar to a Magic Band. It is totally your choice but usually on cruises I prefer to have my card. Leaving from Bayonne offers amazing views of NYC and the surrounding areas. When you leave from any of the 3 ports in the NYC area, you sail under the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, which connects the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn. This is always a highlight of sail away for guests as it signals the official start of your vacation and starts speculation if the ship will actually fit under the bridge. I actually read somewhere that this ship gets lowered so that it is able to fit under the bridge.
During our cruise, we ate at American Icon, Chops Grille, Jamie’s Italian, Windjammer, Cafe Two70 and Sorrento’s.
We ate at American Icon 7 of the 9 nights that we sailed and thought it was a great experience. Our wait staff, Millicent and Anil, were wonderful and amusing. Royal Caribbean’s main dining room menu had a lot of seafood options and they were delicious. Some of the options I really enjoyed included a seafood risotto, fried shrimp and yummy pasta dishes. The portion sizes on Royal Caribbean were nice as well. I’ve noticed on some other lines, that while you can get more food at any time, the main dishes are lacking slightly, but that wasn’t the case on Anthem.
Chops Grille, one of the specialty restaurants offered great steaks and great service. We were a group of 7 and we were able to order all of the sides on the menu which was really good so we could each try a little of everything. Keep in mind, Chops Grille does have a cover charge, so be sure to check the site before booking.
Jamie’s Italian was not your typical Italian dinner. It offered a unique take on traditional meals. If you prefer traditional or more simple Italian dishes, I would not recommend stopping at Jamie’s. I actually made my own entree at dinner that night.
We ate at the Windjammer Cafe for breakfast and lunch. The food was consistently good and there were many options. Surprisingly, it was easy to find seats at the buffet given the size of our party.
Cafe Two70 was our first spot to eat after we boarded. It was ok. There isn’t a large assortment to choose from, mostly just sandwiches and soups, but if you’re looking for a quick snack, then it would probably be ok.
As a New Yorker, having pizza on a cruise ship doesn’t usually impress me. I just eat it because it’s an easy option. The pizza at Sorrento’s was ok, it wasn’t the worst pizza I’ve had on a ship and did the job for a late night snack.
We had the Deluxe Beverage Package for our sailing and I would definitely recommend it. You were able to get bottled water, specialty coffee and mixed drinks, including shots. You don’t even realize how much you are actually using the package, but it would add up if you didn’t have it. Now I must say, having sailed on other cruise lines, this is one of the better packages. Yes, Royal Caribbean doesn’t have a promotion where you receive the package for free, but the price for a 9 day cruise was excellent. Also, you are able to keep checking the price on your portal and get a cheaper price if there is a sale. Some other cruise lines give you the package for free but charge you for the gratuities which add up to be almost the same as this package and all the packages include are alcohol, no coffee or bottled water. Another plus to this package is that you can get Starbucks and Seattle’s Best Coffee.
Royal Caribbean utilizes VOOM. The VOOM Internet Package is actually not that expensive for what you are getting and it was very fast. Once again, Royal Caribbean is a step above competitors in regards to their internet packages. The internet worked so well that I was even able to accurately check the weather while in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I would recommend getting it to stay in touch.
Entertainment & Activities
Shows & Clubs
I was very impressed with the entertainment and activities available on the Anthem of the Seas. The shows (The Gift, Spectra’s Cabaret and We Will Rock You) had wonderful singers and actors. I enjoyed the We Will Rock You Show, think Rock of Ages, the best of the three. I was a bit confused by the story lines of the other two. The other nightly entertainment was also great. Savannah Jack, a country band that has worked with big names, performed which was amazing. We could have listened to them all night. Also, the house band, Rock the Boat, who played at the Music Hall were great and always entertaining. The Music Hall turned into the club at night, which featured a DJ- DJ Koolio. That was a really great place to hang out. There was always people there and music playing.
In terms of activities, Anthem was full of things to do. I participated in the Bumper Cars, RipCord by iFly and the North Star.
To say that I did Bumper Cars at Sea is pretty cool. They give you quite a bit of time to ride around and they are really fun. Surprisingly enough, you really have to be cognizant of when they are doing the bumper cars. You can’t make a reservation, but at the beginning of the cruise, head to the SeaPlex and take a picture of the board with the times so you are aware for the whole trip.
RipCord by iFly is a simulated skydiving experience. It was definitely unique and looking back is a fun memory with my family. You are essentially suited up into sky diving gear and given 1 minute to skydive in the air tunnel on the ship. It is something that I can say I did although it was quite a rush.
The North Star, which is the small pod that extends 300 feet over sea level, offers amazing 360 degree views. We did it while at sea, but apparently it’s pretty amazing if you do it in port too! Besides these activities, I also saw that the ship had an escape room experience and the famous FlowRider experience.
I visited the Vitality Spa for a 75 minute Swedish Massage. The spa on Anthem is very relaxing and Kendra, the masseuse was great. She took her time, did not rush me out and didn’t push product on me to purchase. For those of you who have sailed on other cruises and been to the spa, you will know it is often used as time for sales and I did not feel that way here. Plus, they offer a nice pre-treatment waiting room. Having been to the spa on another ship and being asked to wait in the middle of the hallway, I appreciate a secluded spot to wait for your massage.
Bars & Lounges
Bars & Lounges were plentiful on Anthem of the Seas. Whether you are looking for a quick drink or a place to hang out, there were a number of places to head to. Another must-have place to stop was the Bionic Bar. You enter your drink order on an iPad and watch the robots mix up your cocktail. You can either select from a list of predetermined drinks or concoct your very own creation. It did experience a few glitches as we were ordering, but nothing that wasn’t resolved within a few minutes. I would recommend at least watching it, if you don’t want to order anything. You are probably wondering, I paid all that money for a drink package, am I able to use it here? Well yes, you actually are able to use it here which is fun!
Anthem of the Seas has an abundance of stores and shops in the Royal Esplanade area of the ship. Besides these store fronts that sell what typical cruise line gift shops sell, Anthem is home to a Bulgari and Hublot store and during peak periods, opens up the Promenade for jewelry and clothing sales.
Looking to take a dip in the pool? Which one! Well Anthem of the Seas has three pools. The main pool outside, an indoor pool and the indoor pool at the Solarium, which is for adults 18 and over. My favorite was the infinity pool at the Solarium that was rarely busy and always relaxing.
Ports of Call
Our first port of call was King’s Wharf, Bermuda. I’ve been there many times, but I always love Bermuda so I don’t mind going back. We went to the local beach, Snorkel Park, that is actually within walking distance of the ship and then did some shopping at the Clock tower.
After a day at sea, our next port was Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Visiting St. Maarten was a new experience for me as I’ve never been there before. We did an Island Tour through the ship that brought us to both the Dutch and French sides. I liked the Dutch side better than the French side of the island. Once the tour was over, we did some shopping at the stores in front of the ship. There was some really amazing stores here and you can get some great deals.
Next up was San Juan, Puerto Rico. This is another port we’ve frequented multiple times. Since we’ve been here, we decided to do something different and take a tour of the Bacardi Factory. They show you around the different areas and give you free samples. Once our tour was over, we headed to Old San Juan’s shopping area and walked around. Word of advice…. San Juan gets very hot so be sure to have some water or beverage with you to stay hydrated.
Our last port of call was Labadee, Haiti, which is Royal Caribbean’s private resort area located in Northern Haiti. To be completely honest, I was so impressed with Labadee. It was absolutely beautiful. We rented a Cabana for the day at Nellie’s Beach. Besides the amazing view of the ship from the cabana and beach, the Cabana has a fan and shade so you don’t have to roast in the heat. Plus, each Cabana comes with an attendant who makes sure you have drinks and anything you may need when your there. Our attendant was Regis who made sure we were taken care of.
Tip…. Get a Labadoozie. It’s basically a rum based drink with different fruit juices and blended. I highly recommend it because it was really good and so refreshing. You are able to order a Labadoozie on the ship as well (I did), but it’s kind of a novelty to get a Labadoozie in Labadee. And don’t forget to take a picture in front of the Labadee sign with your ship the background!
As someone who is accustomed to sailing in balcony rooms, I was interested to try out the virtual balcony interior room that Anthem of the Seas offered. Our cabin was located on deck 8 near the elevators. This room was essentially the same size as a balcony, without an actual balcony. It was a really cool concept to have the virtual balcony and see a live stream of images that made you feel like you had an actual window. If you closed the curtain at night, in the morning some light peeks through mimicking actual sunlight. There were three people that stayed in this room and we were comfortable and didn’t feel squeezed. Our cabin attendant, Honrado, was awesome and kept our room immaculate.
Take note of the artwork in the elevators, each one has a different animal. We almost made it a game to see if we would see them all before the cruise was over. Here are a few of the many on the ship.
As someone who has never sailed on Royal Caribbean before, I would definitely recommend it and sail with them again. If you are looking for a ship with good entertainment, good food and lots of things to do, Anthem of the Seas is for you.
Click here to read the review that I wrote for Cruise Critic.
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