Anthem of the Seas is the second of three ships in Royal Caribbean's Quantum Class. It debuted in April 2015; sister ship Quantum of the Seas launched November 2014, and the third, Ovation of the Seas, will debut mid-2016.
The 4,180-passenger cruise ship features innovations like RipCord by iFly, a skydiving simulator; North Star, a jewel-shaped glass capsule that rises 300 feet above sea level, providing 360-degree views from high above the ship; and the SeaPlex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea, with attractions ranging from bumper cars, roller skating and video gaming to a circus school complete with flying trapeze classes.
Anthem has 2,090 cabins, which include several new cabin categories that debuted on Quantum of the Seas. The ones that have garnered the most headlines are the 375 rooms with virtual balconies (floor-to-ceiling ultra-HD screens with real-time views of the ocean and destinations visited). The ship also features interconnected family staterooms, which prove more accommodating for large groups, and studio staterooms with balconies that spoil solo travelers.
Onboard entertainment is exceptional, highlighted by West End musical, "We Will Rock You," which rivals anything you'd see on Broadway. At night, the ship's innovative Two70 venue blends technology with live performance, including aerialists, singers and dancers.
Art throughout the ship is whimsical, fun and beautiful. It's epitomized by GiGi, a two-deck giraffe wearing a floatie. We took the time to walk up each set of staircases onboard just to see as much of the art as possible. You can't miss the multi-deck crystal-and-gold cherry blossom piece that begins on the ship's promenade (called the Esplanade) on Deck 4. Another fun piece is an interactive work that allows passengers to place their hands on a podium. Plates on the podium measure your heartbeat, which is then "shown" on a huge chandelier that beats in time. It stores 200 heartbeats, so when someone doesn't have their hands on the podium, the 200 lights blink to reflect each one.
The ship's Esplanade and its adjacent area, called The Via, are the ship's hub of nighttime activity, with bars and restaurants throughout. (The two areas are separated by a stairwell and bank of elevators, and The Via houses high-end shops, as well as bars and restaurants.) In total, the ship features 18 dining venues, including three -- Jamie's Italian, Michael's Genuine Pub and Devinly Decadence -- created in association with celebrity chefs. Also onboard is a restaurant called Wonderland, which is the cruise line's first real foray into molecular gastronomy. You'll pay for a number of the restaurants onboard, including Jamie's Italian, which, inexplicably, has high a la carte pricing; a night out at the family-style restaurant could easily end up costing a family several hundred dollars.
Technology-wise, Anthem raises the bar for the cruise industry. Not only does it offer superfast Internet, but it also uses iPad check-in, RFID bracelets, online bookings for restaurants and activities, and robot bartenders -- and the good news is that it all seems to work.
Anthem is a big, bold, beautiful ship, with more restaurants, bars and entertainment onboard than you can hope to experience in a week. It's fun and flashy, and it reminds us of being in a Las Vegas hotel for a week. The atmosphere is equal parts modern sophistication and straight-up fun.
In general, our one gripe about Anthem of the Seas is that you could spend a lot of money onboard, and the cruise fares are already pretty expensive. But if you're looking to have a blast on your cruise and you like a choice of dining, bars and mind-blowing entertainment, this is the ship for you.