Anthem of the Seas, the second of three 167,800-ton, 4,180-passenger next-generation Royal Caribbean cruise ships, will launch April 2015 in Southampton, England, with 2,090 cabins including 375 virtual balconies -- inside cabins featuring real-time views of the ocean and destinations visited. The first of the Quantum-class ships, Quantum of the Seas launched November 2014 and the third ship, Ovation of the Seas, will debut mid-2016.
Like Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas will feature many first-at-sea innovations including 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 SeaPlex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment comoplex at sea with attractions ranging from bumper cars, roller skating and video gaming to a circus school complete with flying trapeze classes.
Several new cabin categories that debuted on Quantum of the Seas return on Anthem: virtual balconies that dispel the traditional idea of an inside cabin, family-connected staterooms that prove more accommodating for large groups and studio staterooms with balconies that spoil the single traveler.
Anthem of the Seas will see the line's controversial Dynamic Dining concept, which debuted on Quantum, tweaked slightly so that passengers have a choice between traditional seating times provided on a rotational basis among several restaurants, or a dine-when-you-want system that requires reservations.
Other features announced so far include:
Cabins will be nine percent larger, on average, than those on the Oasis-class ships (Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas).
Standard amenities will include modern touches such as USB outlets, larger storage solutions and multifunctional furniture.
Of 2,090 cabins, 1,571 will be balconies, 148 will be outside cabins, 375 will have virtual balconies (inside) and 34 cabins will be wheelchair accessible.
Sixteen family-connected cabins will offer flexibility for multigenerational families, connecting three cabin categories to create layouts that provide separate bedrooms and bathrooms for each occupant. The layouts provide shared space with the benefit of added individual privacy.
Studio cabins will allow solo travelers to enjoy their spaces, inside and out, with 12 of the 28 cabins including balconies.
Loft suites will be the largest suite class, located across the stern of the ship. Anthem will also feature three junior suite categories with spa-inspired amenities and a family junior suite featuring a full bath.
The long-running Queen tribute musical "We Will Rock You" will be the main show onboard the ship. There will also be an after-show party with the cast of the musical, similar in nature to the Mamma Mia! after-party on Quantum of the Seas.
Also in the Royal Theater will be "The Gift," an original production created just for Anthem of the Seas. Royal Caribbean describes "The Gift" as "a musical journey of fantasy and illusion that begins one stormy night with the arrival of a magical gift."
The multilevel Two70 promises an interactive experience day or night with 270-degree panoramic views of the sea scaling almost three decks of floor-to-ceiling windows. A combination of live performers (including aerialists) and audiovisual elements will transform Two70 into a feast for the senses. Top to bottom, this event space will be outfitted with digital projections, 100-inch LED TV screens on robotic arms that descend from the ceiling and illuminating floor lights.
Created just Two70 on Anthem, "Spectra's Cabaret" features "the Maestro and his Agents of Rhythm as they invite you to an electric multi-dimensional cabaret." Like other Two70 shows, "Spectra's Cabaret" blends live performances with pop music and digital imagery.
Two70 also will be home to The Cafe @ Two70, a gourmet marketplace serving breakfast, lunch and snacks. A library and workshop is located on the second level and will feature guest lecturers, demos, and arts and crafts activities.
Meanwhile, Music Hall, a rock-and-roll inspired venue, will channel a "rebellious and edgy" aesthetic and will feature live performances, DJs and theme nights.
Billed as the largest indoor active space at sea, SeaPlex will be a sporting and entertainment venue with everything from a full-sized regulation basketball court to the first flying trapeze at sea. Did we mention roller skating and a bumper car space that grooves to the sounds of a floating DJ booth above? Four activity rooms, each with a view and a custom theme, will be located on the mezzanine level. On the first level you will find a gourmet food truck, serving up fancy hot dogs and sausages to the masses at play. SeaPlex, along with the outdoor sports court, will be located on deck 15 on all three Quantum-class ships.
Skydiving at sea will be made possible with the simulator RipCord by iFly. Feel like you're flying with ocean views as far as the eye can see inside a 23-foot tall glass chamber for two one-minute simulations. A viewing platform allows family and friends (along with curious spectators) to observe your flight. Located on the outdoor sports court at the stern of the ship, you will be close to other signature Royal Caribbean activities, overlooking the FlowRider surf simulator and nestled by the rock climbing wall.
Rise well above the sea in a gem-like transparent pod called the North Star, for 360-degree views 300 feet above sea level. Available at sea and in port, this 15-minute experience will be located on the top deck toward the bow. While complimentary, three North Star premium packages will also be available for advance purchase, including private flights and flights during the most sought-after viewing times, expected to be sunrise and sunset. All packages will include a preflight reception, in-flight Champagne toast, commemorative certificate and a postflight brunch or dinner.
Dynamic Dining, first introduced on Quantum of the Seas, gets tweaked on Anthem of the Seas. In addition to offering dine when you want flexibility, Royal Caribbean will allow fans of the main dining room to eat at one of two set times (early or late) with the same table mates and waiters each night, albeit at a rotating group of four main restaurants.
As with Quantum, passengers may choose from 18 restaurants, including both free and for-fee options. The Dynamic Dining option, both in its original form and "classic" variety, includes free dining at four of the 18 restaurants.
Among the restaurant offerings on the ship, Royal Caribbean has partnered with some familiar names from the world of dining. Celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver (Jamie's Italian), Michael Schwartz (Michael's Genuine Pub) and Devin Alexander (Devinly Decadence at Solarium Bistro) shape the menus at three of the restaurant options (Jamie's and Michael's require an additional cover, Devinly Decadence is complimentary).
The ship's complimentary dining options include:
Devinly Decadence: A sit-down restaurant designed by the chef for television show The Biggest Loser. All dishes, such as chicken satay with peanut dipping sauce, will have fewer than 500 calories.
American Icon Grill: Specializing in American classics -- with a modern touch. Dishes include items such as New England clam chowder and Reuben turnovers. Part of the Dynamic Dining rotation.
Chic: Modern dishes with big flavors. Menu items include mint-crusted lamb chops and Mediterranean sea bass. Part of the Dynamic Dining rotation.
Silk: Pan-Asian food with bold-yet-familiar options like crispy Beijing Duck and Saigon style shrimp. Part of the Dynamic Dining rotation.
The Grande: The ship's true formal restaurant. (Rather than having formal nights, Anthem will have only one formal restaurant.) The menu is inspired by classic dishes once served on European liners. Options include chateaubriand wellington and chicken a l'orange. Part of the Dynamic Dining rotation.
Coastal Kitchen (open to suite passengers only): California-Mediterranean fare, with dishes like sea bass ceviche and flatbread pizzas.
The Cafe @ Two70: Soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts.
Cafe Promenade: Serving sandwiches, quick bites and pastries.
SeaPlex Dog House: A genuine food truck at sea, offering gourmet hot dogs and sausages.
Sorrento's: A casual Italian joint offering pizza, paninnis and pasta.
Windjammer Marketplace: Royal Caribbean's signature buffet option.
The ship's for-fee options include:
Jamie's Italian: An Italian menu created by celeb chef Jamie Oliver. Dishes will feature seasonal ingredients.
Michael's Genuine Pub: The pub will offer simply prepared gastropub fare including pulled pork sliders and deviled eggs at a la carte prices.
Wonderland: A journey in molecular gastronomy with dishes like disappearing noodles and wasabi and apple crisps.
Chops Grille: The line's classic steakhouse.
Izumi Japanese Cuisine: An a la carte sushi option.
Chef's Table: Available to only a small group per sailing, it's an upscale dining experience.
Johnny Rockets: A walk-up counter version of the classic burger joint famous for its milkshakes.
Most menus also will feature traditional "everyday" favorites such as salmon, pasta and chicken.
Many of Royal's signature family features return on Anthem of the Seas including its Adventure Ocean children's program, Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, and DreamWorks entertainment and events with live character appearances from Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar.
An H2O Zone kids' water park will be featured on the top deck.
Anthem of the Seas will be based in Southampton during summer 2015, offering Mediterranean itineraries. It will be based in Cape Liberty, New Jersey, offering seven- to 12-night Bahamas and Caribbean cruises starting November 2015.