This was my 35th cruise, approximately the 10th on Royal Caribbean, and my first on the Anthem. I sailed with my husband on a 9-day cruise from Bayonne to Bermuda, St. Maarten, San Juan and Labadee, Let me say right from the start, that ... Read More
This was my 35th cruise, approximately the 10th on Royal Caribbean, and my first on the Anthem. I sailed with my husband on a 9-day cruise from Bayonne to Bermuda, St. Maarten, San Juan and Labadee, Let me say right from the start, that the service on this ship was outstanding, and that the crew exceeded my expectations and gave 110% of themselves in order to ensure that I had a wonderful experience onboard. I was hesitant to go on such a large ship, but my worries proved to be unfounded.
Embarkation was the fastest ever. After literally one minute speaking to the agent with an iPad, we were on the ship. Our disembarkation was equally fast and easy!
The ship is absolutely gorgeous -- with decor that balances art deco and high-tech. It is spotless and shiny -- with something beautiful and interesting to look at around every turn, including interactive works of art. From the Seaplex to the Solarium to the North Star, you just have to say, "Wow!"
The cabin was probably the biggest we've ever had for a verandah stateroom. There was plenty of well-laid-out closet and drawer space, and the bathroom with its glass shower door was immaculate.
Dining was one area where there could be improvement. Because I believe they want guests to try the for-a-fee specialty restaurants, the menu, sadly, has shrunk -- with fewer appetizer, entree and dessert choices, and more upcharge items. The food -- let's face it -- is good, not great. Some items were better than others, like the chicken cordon bleu and the mushroom ravioli, and I had to return the mushy, fishy-smelling salmon one night. Our waiter, Siti from Indonesia, and Wilmer from the Phillippines, were phenomenal, and they went out of their way to please us.
Nevertheless, despite the OK food,I learned that if you ask, you will receive -- which is why I give the service such high marks. For instance, on the second morning of the cruise, I had commented to a maitre d' that the menu no longer offered my favorite cold soups, which were always a cruise ship treat. That night, my waiter offered me cold soup (whether it was made just for me I do not know), but it was at the table every night thereafter. Similarly, at the Windjammer (which by the way, is also good but not great), I asked if there was any half grapefruit. The manager said that the restaurant had it, then proceeded to travel from deck 14 to deck 4 to get me some grapefruit.
One area in which the food service excels is desserts. This ship has the richest, yummiest desserts Ive ever had on a cruise!
Free activities were limited to mostly trivia and promotions for onboard services and activities. The bumper cars were lots of fun, and the Rip Cord was literally a blast. The North Star is not to be missed! The shops onboard are a little high-end for my taste. You can either buy expensive watches and $450 Bvlgari scarves ... or $10 items, but not much in-between. I would have loved to have seen more costume jewelry and value-priced cruisewear. Interestingly, I had put this fact on the mid-cruise comment card and actually received a phone message from the Marketing Manager!
About the entertainment -- it was simply amazing. The casts of We Will Rock You, Spectra's Cabaret and The Gift were THE BEST I have ever seen. There was a premiere of a new show called In Concert that was wonderful, and the Name That Tune show was the perfect combination of a game show and a production show. I have to say that The Gift had a confusing plot, but the sets and costumes were beautiful. Royal Caribbean spares no expense in bringing fabulous entertainment, including a fantastic live band, the best I've ever seen. Of course, the Love and Marriage game show and The Quest never disappoint.
I'd like to mention that the Diamond Lounge was very crowded, spilling into another lounge, and for the first few nights, the concierge was nowhere to be found, but after I noted this fact on the mid-cruise comment card, she welcomed us to the lounge both by phone and in person, and also send a bottle of wine to the room. Sometimes we couldn't find a Diamond Lounge bar waiter (they seemed understaffed) and would often get our drinks at other bars and bring them to the lounge.
The ports we went to were all terrific:
In Bermuda, we went to the beach right there at King's Wharf, which was great -- without the crowds of Horseshoe Beach and the big hill you have to get up and down to get to Horseshoe Beach. I would definitely recommend the beach near the pier, and go look at the pretty crafts on your way there!
In St. Maarten, we did a $59 shore excursion, which was a catamaran ride to Mullet Bay beach. The catamaran anchors at 8 feet of water, so you've got to swim to the beach. I got exhausted swimming to the beach, so I took the dinghy back. We did not have an opportunity to see St. Maarten's post-hurricane destruction, but we were told that Phillipsburg got it pretty bad. The shopping area by the pier looked just fine.
In San Juan, we did what we always do in San Juan -- shop for bargains at the Coach Outlet on Calle Cristo, eat piraguas, and snack on empanadas and other treats from the food truck in the park. I did not feel as if Old San Juan was still suffering from the hurricane.
Finally, Labadee -- my favorite place in the entire Caribbean! We were among the first off the ship, parked ourselves under a shady tree at Nellie's Beach, and were among the last to get back to the ship.
I would definitely go on the Anthem of the Seas again, especially because it is so convenient for me (I live in the New York area). It's a gorgeous ship with impeccable service, and crew members who go out of the way to make you feel special. Read Less