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Our teenaged son has gazed longingly at Royal Caribbean ships whenever we've been in the same port. He was thrilled by the size and variety of activities he could see. As a gift to him, we purchased a holiday cruise on Anthem of the Seas since the port was easy to reach and the date worked for his school vacations. The Anthem is a big ship. We logged thousands of steps each day just getting from the elevator/stairway lobby in the middle of the ship to our room in the aft. This is the first ship I've been on (my 8th cruise) which had only two banks of elevators. It was really inconvenient and we often wished for better access to the rear of the ship. Our cabin was a balcony on deck 9. The layout was good, though with the sofa bed open we struggled to get to the balcony. Closet space was adequate and decor is pleasant. The balcony was very nice - we liked having the footstools (which we could see are not available on other RCCL ships). My husband found the bed too hard and complained that it hurt his back. I didn't mind it. The bathroom is small but fine for one person. Sharing it between three of us was somewhat of a challenge. Little things made it harder, such as a hook design that dumped towels on the floor whenever they were brushed up against. Public areas in the ship were attractive. The layout of the main public decks (4 and 5) was confusing as they are divided into two zones (The Royal Promenade an the Via) but telling those apart was difficult. It took us longer to learn the layout of this ship than we have before. The various bars and entertainment spaces were comfortable. One thing Royal does really well is moving large numbers of people around. Though our sailing was nearly full, the ship rarely felt crowded and we almost always had a choice of places to sit. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze - the best we've ever seen. Kudos to Royal for that. The one place we had consistent issues with crowds was the jogging track. As it winds in between other activities it was often blocked and walking and/or jogging was frustrating. We wished for the dedicated promenade decks we've had on other ships. The Anthem has a lot of activities suited for active families. Our teen made friends immediately and went off with his posse every day. My husband and I were not really interested in bumper cars or scavenger hunts so many of the activities were wasted on us. I think for the many families on board these choices were great. For us, the lack of alternative adult programming was a disappointment. We did enjoy the lectures on astronomy given on sea days by an amateur astronomer from New Jersey. The evening entertainment was a real disappointment to us. We saw the three shows done by cruise performers and thought all three were weak. The Gift is visually stunning with great costumes and sets. But the plot, such as it is, was almost impossible to follow and the characters were so undeveloped we often couldn't tell them apart. Spectra's Cabaret had lots of interesting acrobatics, but they were done in the dark which may have created a mood but it left us wondering what was happening. We Will Rock You, like The Gift, had good sets and costumes but felt like it had been cut down, badly, from a longer show. I should note that the performers seemed very talented - it was the material they were given that was the problem. On top of all of that, the shows were all very loud. And each was introduced by Mercedes, the cruise director, who screamed every word she said every time we saw her. There were three guest entertainers on the cruise, all comedians of a sort. The best of the bunch was ventriloquist Ronn Lucas who did a funny show that featured a great bit using a guest in a dummy mask. We really enjoyed that show. Impressionist Jeff Tracta was a mix. Some of his observations on pop culture were cute but when he ventured into political commentary it left us very uncomfortable. We spoke the next day with some other guests who said they also felt the political humor was inappropriate. The final night Steven Thomas did a tired set of jokes about his wife, his in laws and farting that were just not funny. The biggest disappointment on the cruise for us was the food and the overall dining experience. This was the one place where it was obvious that Royal had thousands of people on board. The main dining rooms were crowded and service felt rushed. We were surprised to see that the menus changed only slightly each night, so that we had few new items to choose from. Most of the entrees were under seasoned and uninteresting. The Windjammer, though not overly crowded, felt more like a school cafeteria than a buffet. It was clear that the staff prepped for meals well in advance. The fresh vegetables often looked tired - wilted or discolored. The entrees were a broad mix - these too repeated several times in the cruise. It was the first cruise I've been on where I was sure we were getting leftovers. Worst of all were the desserts. With the exceptions of the cookies, we almost never had anything good for dessert. We did try one specialty restaurant - Jaime's Italian. There the service and food were much better. But for $170 for three people, one would hope so. On other cruise lines specialty restaurants charge an additional fee - with the idea that you've paid for your meals in your ticket but a small extra fee will give you an extra special meal. On Royal we paid for our meals in the ticket, then spent twice what we would have on land for a meal that was better but not as good as we could have had on land for less. Overall the staff were pleasant and friendly. Our cabin steward did the minimum. The ship was not as clean as others we've been on but it was good enough. We had the usual mix ups with guest services. One thing that confounded us was the Royal App. As the cruise went o it was less and less accurate. We felt like there was no on on board who could update it so it just became useless. Which is a shame as it could have been very helpful. We stopped at Port Canaveral and Nassau, both of which we've visited before. Our third stop was Coco Cay. That was really nice. Royal has done a great job developing the island. We were there along with Mariner of the Seas and it still didn't feel crowded. Our son liked the water park and we enjoyed stretching out in the beach chairs and swimming in the sea. The Anthem has lots of strengths as a ship and I think for many people it would be a great fit. It was not the right ship for us but it could be a perfect fit for others.

Not the ship for us

Anthem of the Seas Cruise Review by lupaglupa

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2020
  • Destination: Bahamas
  • Cabin Type: Ocean View Balcony
Our teenaged son has gazed longingly at Royal Caribbean ships whenever we've been in the same port. He was thrilled by the size and variety of activities he could see. As a gift to him, we purchased a holiday cruise on Anthem of the Seas since the port was easy to reach and the date worked for his school vacations.

The Anthem is a big ship. We logged thousands of steps each day just getting from the elevator/stairway lobby in the middle of the ship to our room in the aft. This is the first ship I've been on (my 8th cruise) which had only two banks of elevators. It was really inconvenient and we often wished for better access to the rear of the ship.

Our cabin was a balcony on deck 9. The layout was good, though with the sofa bed open we struggled to get to the balcony. Closet space was adequate and decor is pleasant. The balcony was very nice - we liked having the footstools (which we could see are not available on other RCCL ships). My husband found the bed too hard and complained that it hurt his back. I didn't mind it. The bathroom is small but fine for one person. Sharing it between three of us was somewhat of a challenge. Little things made it harder, such as a hook design that dumped towels on the floor whenever they were brushed up against.

Public areas in the ship were attractive. The layout of the main public decks (4 and 5) was confusing as they are divided into two zones (The Royal Promenade an the Via) but telling those apart was difficult. It took us longer to learn the layout of this ship than we have before. The various bars and entertainment spaces were comfortable.

One thing Royal does really well is moving large numbers of people around. Though our sailing was nearly full, the ship rarely felt crowded and we almost always had a choice of places to sit. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze - the best we've ever seen. Kudos to Royal for that. The one place we had consistent issues with crowds was the jogging track. As it winds in between other activities it was often blocked and walking and/or jogging was frustrating. We wished for the dedicated promenade decks we've had on other ships.

The Anthem has a lot of activities suited for active families. Our teen made friends immediately and went off with his posse every day. My husband and I were not really interested in bumper cars or scavenger hunts so many of the activities were wasted on us. I think for the many families on board these choices were great. For us, the lack of alternative adult programming was a disappointment. We did enjoy the lectures on astronomy given on sea days by an amateur astronomer from New Jersey.

The evening entertainment was a real disappointment to us. We saw the three shows done by cruise performers and thought all three were weak. The Gift is visually stunning with great costumes and sets. But the plot, such as it is, was almost impossible to follow and the characters were so undeveloped we often couldn't tell them apart. Spectra's Cabaret had lots of interesting acrobatics, but they were done in the dark which may have created a mood but it left us wondering what was happening. We Will Rock You, like The Gift, had good sets and costumes but felt like it had been cut down, badly, from a longer show. I should note that the performers seemed very talented - it was the material they were given that was the problem. On top of all of that, the shows were all very loud. And each was introduced by Mercedes, the cruise director, who screamed every word she said every time we saw her.

There were three guest entertainers on the cruise, all comedians of a sort. The best of the bunch was ventriloquist Ronn Lucas who did a funny show that featured a great bit using a guest in a dummy mask. We really enjoyed that show. Impressionist Jeff Tracta was a mix. Some of his observations on pop culture were cute but when he ventured into political commentary it left us very uncomfortable. We spoke the next day with some other guests who said they also felt the political humor was inappropriate. The final night Steven Thomas did a tired set of jokes about his wife, his in laws and farting that were just not funny.

The biggest disappointment on the cruise for us was the food and the overall dining experience. This was the one place where it was obvious that Royal had thousands of people on board. The main dining rooms were crowded and service felt rushed. We were surprised to see that the menus changed only slightly each night, so that we had few new items to choose from. Most of the entrees were under seasoned and uninteresting. The Windjammer, though not overly crowded, felt more like a school cafeteria than a buffet. It was clear that the staff prepped for meals well in advance. The fresh vegetables often looked tired - wilted or discolored. The entrees were a broad mix - these too repeated several times in the cruise. It was the first cruise I've been on where I was sure we were getting leftovers. Worst of all were the desserts. With the exceptions of the cookies, we almost never had anything good for dessert.

We did try one specialty restaurant - Jaime's Italian. There the service and food were much better. But for $170 for three people, one would hope so. On other cruise lines specialty restaurants charge an additional fee - with the idea that you've paid for your meals in your ticket but a small extra fee will give you an extra special meal. On Royal we paid for our meals in the ticket, then spent twice what we would have on land for a meal that was better but not as good as we could have had on land for less.

Overall the staff were pleasant and friendly. Our cabin steward did the minimum. The ship was not as clean as others we've been on but it was good enough. We had the usual mix ups with guest services.

One thing that confounded us was the Royal App. As the cruise went o it was less and less accurate. We felt like there was no on on board who could update it so it just became useless. Which is a shame as it could have been very helpful.

We stopped at Port Canaveral and Nassau, both of which we've visited before. Our third stop was Coco Cay. That was really nice. Royal has done a great job developing the island. We were there along with Mariner of the Seas and it still didn't feel crowded. Our son liked the water park and we enjoyed stretching out in the beach chairs and swimming in the sea.

The Anthem has lots of strengths as a ship and I think for many people it would be a great fit. It was not the right ship for us but it could be a perfect fit for others.
lupaglupa’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Ages 13 to 15
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Ocean View Balcony
Cabin 3D
A nice layout, though hard to negotiate with the couch opened up into a bed. Closets were adequate. Bathroom is small but has decent shelves. The balcony is nice.
Deck 7 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

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