It's hard to keep your eyes off Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas. The new cruise ship is one of the biggest and flashiest at sea -- loaded with jaw-dropping industry firsts like indoor skydiving, bumper cars and robotic bartenders, plus an array of avant-garde decor (that giant giraffe on the top deck is hard to miss). While some of Anthem's fabulous features are exclusive -- there are only so many family suites to go around and the Coastal Kitchen restaurant only opens its doors to residents of Grand Suites and above -- most of its attractions are accessible to everyone. Not sure which trendy, cutting-edge features you should try first? Get inspired by these pictures of seven Anthem of the Seas hot spots no cruise fan should miss.
1. Skydiving Simulator
Ripcord by iFly is a skydiving simulator that lets thrill-seekers soar to great heights on the top deck. Just like real skydiving, you get to wear a jumpsuit, goggles and helmet. The difference: You don't have to jump out of a plane, aren't attached to your instructor and only have two minutes to fly (or fall). Only two ships in the world offer this attraction (sister Quantum currently offers the fun to Chinese cruisers) and you only get one free go, so make sure your travel buddy is ready with a camera.
2. Bionic Bar
We admit -- the Bionic Bar is totally gimmicky. But the robot bartenders in action are fascinating -- and it's worth the wait to get them to whip you up a cocktail. How it works: You place your drink order on a tablet, which lets you select from a menu or create your own concoction. Then, a mechanical arm will mix your drink, pour it into a cup and serve you. Even teetotalers can get in on the ultramodern mixology -- the robots will shake up nonalcoholic "mocktails," no questions asked.
You don't have to fall down a rabbit hole to get to Anthem's Alice-inspired Wonderland, but you should make a beeline for this restaurant that uses molecular gastronomy to create artsy dishes that just scream, "Eat me!" Menu items are themed around the question "What is real and what is imagined?" (You'd think the Japanese breadcrumbs in the "Baby Vegetables in the Garden" dish were real soil -- just tastier.) The whimsical decor, fun starters and succulent large plates will leave you with a smile as wide as the Cheshire Cat's.
Equipped with six "dancing" screens and 270-degree windows (hence the name) that turn into an IMAX-style theater, Two70 is a feast for the eyes -- even when shows aren’t playing. By day, enjoy scrapbooking or snacking with stunning ocean views, or afternoon tea accompanied by a virtual orchestra. By night, live and virtual performances blend technology and talent (singers, dancers and aerialists). There might be no real storyline or acting, but you're sure to be entranced at every show.
5. The Solarium
The adults-only space is a Royal Caribbean staple -- and Anthem of the Seas' Solarium is our favorite, thanks to cascading pools and spacious hot tubs that extend over the side of the ship. (The panoramic, forward-facing ocean views aren't too shabby, either.) Want to cool off without actually getting in? One of the pools has lounge chairs in its shallow waters. Enjoy the peace and quiet, and stay refreshed with drinks from the nearby Sunshine Bar.
Bumper cars and roller rinks may be retro -- but they become high-tech and innovative when added to a cruise ship. You can find these youthful pastimes at the SeaPlex, Anthem of the Seas' two-deck, multi-use sports venue. The lower-level space alternates between a bumper car ride and a roller rink, where you can skate to the tunes of a floating DJ. Active cruisers also can enjoy basketball and trapeze lessons over a padded mat. The second deck is more of a hangout spot, with Xbox video games, air hockey and more.
7. North Star
If SeaPlex is like a carnival arcade then the North Star is the ship's answer to a Ferris wheel. The glass, jewel-shaped capsule -- which protrudes from the top deck -- rises up to 300 feet above sea level and even swings out over the side of the ship. The North Star is free to ride, but you should reserve your spot early. (We recommend trying it on a sea day, as port restrictions limit the ride's movement.) The attraction gives passengers unbeatable 360-degree views of the ship's surroundings, but its own North Star Bar, located just below the ride's entrance, offers its own lovely views over the pool deck, as well.