We booked a guarantee balcony only a few months before sailing and were very pleased with the cabin we were assigned, under a quiet part of Windjammer buffet. This was my first time on a Quantum class ship and wondered how it would compare to my favorite Oasis class ships. Here is what I found: Some things I really loved, and a few things I really missed. Typically I spend 90% of my at sea days in the Solarium, but because these ships are designed to sail out of northern climes in the winter, the Solarium is an entirely glassed in space, unlike its Oasis counterparts, where the glass is staggered with open air spaces. I can imagine that if you were embarking in January, it would be lovely to walk into a tropical space right away, but in the middle of summer, I really missed the fresh air. I found the promenade area more crowded as it was much narrower than Oasis class ships. But those are really the only negatives - this is really great ship with some very fun activities!
We missed the pre-cruise online booking window when Ifly and NorthStar were offered, but did book all the shows ahead of time. Thanks to Cruise Critic community members, I knew that I could book Ifly and NorthStar as soon as we had checked in and had access to the Royal IQ wifi. We literally boarded the ship, rounded the corner, and stopped and made our bookings! I cannot tell you how much I loved Ifly! We even dropped by towards the end of the cruise and managed to snag a second fly, even though no time slots were being offered in the app. Worth mentioning is the fact that like Harmony, there is a hole in the firewall on Anthem, which allows IPhone users to IMessage throughout the cruise - even photos and videos worked!
Bumper Cars, Roller skating and NorthStar were very fun. Get there early to sign up for roller skating, as they assign time slots and the spaces go quickly. Once again, Royal Caribbean outdid itself in the entertainment department. The Gift and We Will Rock You were incredible and the headliners were amazing. Particularly loved the U2 tribute band along with the Tribute Shmibute entertainer. Spectras Cabaret was the only show that I didn’t particularly enjoy, but there are always so many other options. We had great meals, both in the main dining room, the Solarium, and Windjammer. We diid not go to any specialty restaurants this time - Wonderland is such a spectacular venue on Oasis class ships and a must-go for me, but the physical venue on this ship was underwhelming so we didn’t bother. We did have a Chops steak in the main dining room and it was like butter. The staff for the most part were great - and the ports delightful. I also loved sailing in and out of New York harbour as that was a first for me. This is the first time in a few cruises that I didn’t purchase the drink package (which, if you want to buy one, get the Buy One Get one 50% off in the pre-cruise sales). I have to say, I really missed it. At $49 / day plus the insane 18% gratuity, it doesn’t take much to justify. I missed my smoothies, specialty coffees, specialty iced coffees, San Pelligrinos, waters and oh yes, martini’s! Even as a Diamond member, the non-alcoholic drinks can get you to $49 a day pretty easily so in future, that will always be my first choice.
Great! Very quiet, even though its under a public space, the Windjammer above is very quiet and we never heard any noise from above. There is a large overhang which provided extra sun protection, and perhaps some people might not like that, or the steel beam that is there, but we loved it. Could run up the stairs to Windjammer so easily to grab a good coffee and snacks.
Flew into Newark. Stayed at Country Inn and Suites in Elizabeth, NJ and took their cruise shuttle to the port - would have been less expensive to just UBER!
Bermuda is a special island! Paid a taxi driver at the port to take us on an island tour which allowed us to get to St. George and a quiet beach in the short time allowed. It was great and we shared it with 2 others. The only issue was that the taxi driver told us it would be $200 US (or $50 US each) and then when he dropped us off, said that it was a 6 hour tour, not 4 hours and he wanted $300. Lesson learned!
As usual, we just took a taxi to our favorite beach resort.
The evidence of the recent riots was very clear. Graffiti and boarded up windows - the delightful umbrellas on Fortaleza Street ripped down, the police boats in the harbour outside the governors mansion . . . Having said that, we were grateful that we were allowed to dock and didn’t have to content ourselves with another sea day. I love San Juan and wish the people of Puerto Rico all the best after suffering through hurricanes and corrupt politicians.
If you want to go to a beach, take the free water taxi from the main ship dock to the dock between Nellie’s Beach and Columbus Cove - the best beaches. This time of year, there were jelly fish in the water, particularly noticeable when we rented paddle boards. If you do rent a paddle board ($15 on your sea pass card at Nellie’s Beach) make sure they don’t give you one without a fin - if you have never paddled before, you might wonder why you can’t steer, and only 2 of the 6 boards actually had fins.