Wow - our first cruise since the pandemic emerged did not disappoint. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary: Northern Spain (2 ports), Lisbon, 3 Canary Islands and Madeira, places we have never visited before. Anthem is a large ship at 15 decks and about 4500 passengers and is certainly a much different type of ship than the Oasis Class types. Activities aplenty in board. We loved the Solarium adults only pool, restaraunt and bar, which has a tropical vibe and along with one of the pools, is covered by roof, so you can swim and sun in colder climates. No water slides in the regular outdoor pools. There was the I-fly sky diving simulator, North Star observation pod (free on sea days only) Flow Rider and the Sea Plex, a massive sports auditorium that could be converted into different activities like bumper cars, roller skating, basketball etc. The shows were generally fantastic, highlighted by the full production of We Will Rock You (3 shows), East Coast Boys (Four Seasons tribute singers) Beatles Tribute band and the Jamie Allan Magic show. Other shows, like Spectra's Cabaret and The Gift, were harder to follow, story wise. But all in all, all shows were so well done, with excellent production values, singing and dancing, ably backed by Anthem's own 8 piece orchestra, who played most nights. For fans of Royal cruises, the usual bars are present with lots of live music, sometimes in the Music Hall, sometimes in the 270 lounge at the back of the ship. Usual fare, from bingo to Love and Marriage to Name that Tune, were entertaining and fun as well. We ate in one of four main dining rooms 11 nights. Food was generally delicious and well prepared, impeccably served by our wait staff, Anthony and Caetano, backed by the head waiter, Arnold, They anticipated our every need and gave us extra food and tastes when asked. Excellent lobster dinner and rack of lamb were served during this cruise. We tended to eat breakfast/lunch at 270 or solarium as the Windjammer was awfully busy, especially on sea days.Cabins were clean and held a large assortment of storage options. Glass shower door was a nice touch! Our attendant, Rio, deck 7 port side, was terrific in taking care of us. He greeted us by name, always with a smile and asked about our day and our experiences on board. He always fulfilled our requests promptly. Royal staff was generally very friendly and solicitous when you meet them at a job or just passing by on a deck.
The Voom internet and streaming package, although pricey, worked very well, the best we have had on any cruise in the past.
Note: if you want still water, you can buy it only in cans, not plastic bottles. Sparkling water was sold in bottles. Amongst the passengers, this was a fairly controversial topic. We had the water package, but unless you bring water bottles from home, it is impractical to bring cans of water along on an excursion. If you bought a soda package, you were given a special container to fill up at special stations just for you.
We had a balcony cabin 7166 on the port side. The size and set up is what you would find on most balcony cabins on most cruise lines. We did like the storage in this cabin - drawers, over head bins atop the bed, 2 large closets with hangers, some hooks for hats etc and ample shelf space in the washrooms. Liked the glass shower door and sleek modern design of the sink and porcelain shelving. Also liked the thermostat controls, which allowed us to shut off the air conditioning, which was a frigid 67 degrees F when we entered the cabin. TV had 2 BBC stations, which came in handy with the Queen's funeral plus 2 ESPN stations, amongst others. A nice touch was the electric tea pot, which allowed us to boil water for tea and instant coffee. A first for us since most cruise lines frown on electric devices like kettles for fire safety. Electric plugs had both the British and American types (most were US) and there were plug ins to recarge your smart phone, i-pad etc. Plenty lof lighting available, although to conserve electricity, you had to place your sea pass card into a receptacle by the front door to activate the lights. Doors open outwards, as the urge was to try to open them inwards. Balconies were small but pleasant with 2 chairs, stools and a table. Some days were too cool or rainy to use them. If you lean over, you will see that there is not as much privacy as one might think, given the zig zag nature of the cabin configuration on the ship. We were very comfortable in this cabin, easily sleeping two people.