Before this cruise I had only been on NCL 5 times, so I had expectations of Royal Caribbean to exceed the experiences I have had on NCL. Unfortunately I was disappointed in several areas, and amazed at others. So in the round it was ok, ... Read More
Before this cruise I had only been on NCL 5 times, so I had expectations of Royal Caribbean to exceed the experiences I have had on NCL. Unfortunately I was disappointed in several areas, and amazed at others. So in the round it was ok, but there are lots of issues.
This was an absolute joy, we were given a time to arrive to board the ship. We were foot passengers so finding where to leave our luggage was not signposted but not impossible. This was the only blip in the perfect boarding. We had previously uploaded photos and arranged a payment card on the website, much to our advantage. Once we entered the terminal we were greeted by a guy with a tablet who found our details very quickly, logged our luggage barcodes, and checked our passports. This took about 2 minutes! We then proceeded to security which was very quiet, this took about 5 minutes. We were on time so could proceed straight to the ship and board. That was it, about 15 minutes from arrival to ship!
We had an inside stateroom, which is where we found our sea passes and chipped wristbands, more on those later. Our room was spacious, well planned and had lots of storage. I had been in an interior stateroom on NCL Breakaway and that had felt compact, and tight. This was the opposite, we didnt feel our stateroom was just a bed, it was also a space you didnt mind spending a bit of time in. The TV balcony was excellent, a large TV on it's side displayed a live feed from a webcam, with sound if wanted. Complete with curtains and remote control it added a touch of excellence to this fine stateroom. The bathroom felt nice and spacious also.
A beautiful ship, very well presented and very clean. Lots of things available to choose from such as the Waverider, the skydiving thing we called the Blender, the North Star viewing POD, a large theatre, a casino, shops and numerous bars and restaurants. We particularly like the Solarium at the front on deck 14 with its relaxing pools and atmosphere. Other than the top decks the ship is really missing some nice outside space, I suppose we were spoilt on Breakaway but that new ship really catered for spending time outside.
There are only 2 lots of lifts although one lot had 10 lifts and the other had 8 lifts. But because they are concentrated in 2 areas it means they are often not near to where you want to get to. Our stateroom was a 5 minute walk from the nearest lift, maybe that was bad choice on our part?
Buffet & Restaurants:
Being on the ship for only 3 nights meant we couldnt try everything, but we got a good idea. The buffet was standard fayre, in fact I felt they didnt have as much variety as you get on even the smaller NCL ships. But the bread counter was lovely and offered freshly baked cookies all day long. For breakfast you have to visit the correct egg station or you get told to go away as they only do omelettes! One morning we went to Silk one of the main dining rooms for breakfast. It all started so well, nice welcome order taken, coffee, water and juice. My huevos rancheros was 2 fried eggs with some sliced tomatoes & avocado, and a couple of chilli rings. I was disgusted, but no-one asked how we were doing, no-one offered any more coffee or anything. We noticed this was not just our problem as you could see people all over lacking coffee refills. Needless to say I ate my 2 fried eggs and then went back to the buffet. Of course we proceeded to tell the restaurant manager about our bad experience, who took our stateroom number and then we never heard anything else.
For my partners birthday we made the tragic mistake of visiting the American Icon main dining room, we had seen online before our cruise a lovely menu. What we got offered was a mish mash of tastes from all 4 main dining rooms. Nothing matched each other and it was not very good at all. The following night we went to Chops Grille which thank god was amazing, the best food on the ship. The Devilishly Divine or something similar restaurant provided a very nice lunch buffet one day too. The hot dog stand & Johnny Rockets were tasty too.
The shows and other activities:
We Will Rock You is the resident musical and was expertly put on, I believe it was not edited from the West End version I had seen before. Bingo did not make an appearance until the last night when we were eating at Chops Grille at the only time we could book. I did notice a quiz going on once, but most promoted activities were the things built into the ship. Crew were not being utilized to engage with passengers, no dancing classes, no daily bingo, no poolside line dancing. So if you dont wanna pay to rock climb, get blended or WaveRider then all thats pretty much left is to swim or drink more alcohol!
This is where my biggest gripe is. On NCL the crew really engage with passengers and try to make everyone feel special, they make the cruise special. On Anthem the passengers felt incidental. Only the room stewards said hello, and ours was great. They did not seem happy, or pleased to serve or make anyone's experience a great one. It just made me frustrated that they were so distant. There was only one crew member who was amazing, she was our waitress in Chops Grille, she was so attentive and happy to do anything to make us feel like valued guests. She was what was missing across the rest of the ship. If it hadnt been for her I would probably avoid Royal Caribbean in the future. If they have one member of crew like her, there is hope that other ships will have more of them.
We were provided with wristbands that we could use to open our stateroom door with and pay for stuff, but they were just annoying to us so we just used our sea passes instead, but we could see some good advantages for kids etc for them.
Leaving The Ship:
This was a nice simple process, you were given bag tags which related to a departure time, our time was reasonable and after breakfast we only had to wait about 20 mins before our number was called to depart. We got off quickly and found our bags easily. No issues here.
The ship is lovely, maybe missing some outside dining possibilities. Our stateroom was great, and the food was distinctly average until you went to a paid for restaurant, where the quality went up dramatically. The crew were dismissive and inattentive. Getting on and off was very easy and stress-less.
We did not choose to pay for any of the extremely expensive excursions so no opinions of how they were run.
There were no organised gay meetups, you had to visit the library to see the gay noticeboard to see if anything was happening. Read Less