So... I actually originally wanted to rate my experience and recommendation as a score of 5/5 stars.
However, I asked my husband what we would/should rate our experience as and how likely we are to recommend Anthem of the Seas and Royal ... Read More
So... I actually originally wanted to rate my experience and recommendation as a score of 5/5 stars.
However, I asked my husband what we would/should rate our experience as and how likely we are to recommend Anthem of the Seas and Royal Caribbean to our friends and family. I was comparing this vacation from Royal Caribbean to the last vacation I took with Royal Caribbean (incidentally my first Royal Caribbean vacation).
The first vacation really was a disaster and would make almost any vacation thereafter better by default. The first cruise on anthem set the bar super low, it would have been hard for them to do any worse than that first cruise. So I wanted to award this most recent vacation a 5. When we thought about it, it really was not a 5.
I chose Royal Caribbean aboard Anthem of the seas because I am fascinated with this ship. It is technologically advanced. It is a very "smart ship." I cruised on Anthem February 2017. It was not what I would expect from Royal Caribbean, so I decided to cruise with RCCL on Anthem again, hoping to prove my belief that my first vacation was a one off and not every vacation is absolutley doomed.
I LOVE Jamie Oliver's and Wonderland. Wonderland is almost worth this cruise alone. Also, Sepctra's Cabaret is a MUST SEE. The ship has lots of cool features all age groups will enjoy. It has lots of robotics. It has MakrShakr at the bionic bar (robot bar) and robotic arms that move flat screen TV's over the dance floor of 270.
The ship also has electronic kiosks and tablets on the main decks to help passengers find their way.
It is a large ship and it's fast and it's built to withstand rough weather.
The ship also has many simple and smart features that new ships will have as well as ships that are refurbished in the future. I'm sure we will see the tablet kiosks, "virtual balconies" and hand wash stations on more ships.
I have stayed in a balcony stateroom and also a "large ocean view" stateroom. I am not sure a balcony stateroom is really worth the money. I personally don't use balconies too much. I am probably enjoying facilities on the ship or out on the town if we're in port. I also find something to be desired when it comes to the view of balcony staterooms.
I find their layout and square footage a bit cramped, but that is essentially normal on any cruise ship. The ceiling of the forward large oceanview stateroom slopes for the last 4 feet of the room and has an armchair for looking out the panoramic window. The footprint under the slope adds roughly an extra 16sqf (or about 5sqm) of floor space. It makes a handy and enjoyable nook. I imagine people that know they will want to camp out in their stateroom or people with children will really enjoy that extra space. I put the armchair next to the couch and made myself a nice cozy private spot to have some quiet time and a sense of privacy and personal space. This small area does somehow look and feel separate in some way from the rest of the cabin and floor space.
You will hear and feel huge bangs, crashes and reverberations and in rough weather, ocean spray will reach up to the 9 or 10 deck or higher. You may see the ship bowunder big waves. It is startling, the front of the ship is more hollow so you will feel and hear when the ship hits a big wave head on. You will feel some "ocean turbulence" but there is less correction in the bow of the ship.
In rough weather, the back of the ship tries to correct and compensate for the front of the ship, so it will apply unnatural forces to the ship and to you and you will feel that "mechanical intervention" on physics. In the back, you do feel a sort of yanking type sensation instead of the smoother (but bigger) motion at the front of the ship. In the front, pitch may also feel significant.
I did not mind the crashing noise from waves or the pitch and rolling in the cabin. It was not bad. We hit a storm big enough to require the pools to be drained. We had 16+ foot waves (5 meters) not including the trough. Including the trough, the waves were probably about 24 feet ( 7 meters).
Most large oceanview staterooms will have the bed near the door and not near the window. I would love to have the layout with the bed near the window.
Anthem has lots of storage space. It has over bed cupboards, a dresser with 4 drawers, a closet with shelves and drawers and hooks and shelving in the bathroom. The layout and thoughtfulness for design and economy
The ship was designed to be versatile. In the staterooms, the desk/vanity pulls away from the wall and can be used for dining or other uses. It is supposed to be put in front of the couch, or really any where you desire in the stateroom.
Our itinerary visited:
San Juan Puerto Rico
Fort De France Maartinique
St Johns Antigua
Basseter St Kitts
I scheduled 3 excursions
I did not really enjoy any of the Royal Caribbean excursions. On the islands where I walked off the boat and took local tours from small businesses, I had a MUCH better time and a better tour. Martinique was super amazing fun. I splashed in River St Pierre during the rain and saw so much on a minibus tour from locals and they served us beer, soda, rum punch and water. They had a parade to greet us on Martinique and a drumline to wish us Bon voyage when we departed the port.
We had a good time on Barbados as well. We took a tour in a van/minibus from locals.
There were problems with our excursions and other people's excursions, across the whole ship. Almost everybody I talked to about their excursions experienced a problem with at least 1 excursion. I had a problem with 2 of the 3... maybe even 3 out of 3 but I can't fault Royal Caribbean for the catamaran hitting a large wave and me getting absolutely soaked, like a freak sized wave, which soaked my phone. I bought the vacation insurance that Royal Caribbean offers and have been waiting to hear back from Aon about my claim for my damaged phone.
In Puerto Rico, our guide never showed up and there was a lot of disorganization and we stood in the rain for an hour before my husband an I decided to leave and get back on the ship. It took them an hour to offer for us to join a similar tour. We had booked the "walk San Juan and Lunch" tour but because the guide never showed up, it took Royal Caribbean and the excursion company an hour to decide to put us in the "walk San Juan and cooking with beer tour" but after standing for an hour in the rain, taking a walking tour, cooking with beer, and then having a meal paired with beer, then walking back in the rain sounded miserable. They have 50% of their electricity restored and most of the island does not have potable water. The island needs our business and needs to have a strong return to their tourism industry. It really is unlucky for them that they delivered such a bad experience for their excursions.
I also took a "hiking" tour that was actually a dangerous mountain climbing tour, with no safety equipment. The excursion was advertised as a "light lunch" which consisted of a cold cut turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato on white bread. I am in good shape. I exercise for an hour or more 3-5 days a week. I lift weights... I am athletic. I hike. I usually go trail hiking in the Appalachian mountains.
The volcano trail itself, on the volcano is about 2 miles and then the trail to the trail to the volcano is about a mile. In total the hike is about 8 miles, according to the pedometer on my phone.
Royal Caribbean schedules the excursion for 6 hours, which stresses the tour guides, because they have to be on time. The tour guides will rush you on a treacherous and muddy trail that is often 6 inches wide at places, with huge boulders as well. it is not mountain hiking, it is mountain climbing. The degree grade is about 30% if I had to guess. sometimes, it probably pushes 70% especially the last half mile toward the summit. Making that ascent and descent at that speed on that trail is not safe for amateurs and should only be done by serious mountaineers and not by children. Children can become exhausted and can suddenly experience cardiac or respiratory complications and radical decompensation (shock). This is not a safe excursion during rainy season. Subtract 2 hours for travel, one hour each way. You must complete this 8 mile round trip in 4 hours with minimal breaks. The beginning of the trail is humid and is very taxing to start a mountain climb with few breaks, that last about 30 seconds. The humidity in the beginning makes the rest of the ascent that much more challenging.
The trail is not as well groomed as I would expect. It was more overgrown than I would have thought. With such a popular trail, I would hope that they errect some more stable and permanent assistive structures (IE a railing) on the trail, instead of slack and knotted rope.
The tour company handed us cold cut turkey sandwiches on white bread for lunch with a 2 oz Dixie cup of lemonade. Not worth $119.
G-d bless my guide. I would not have made it to the top without her.
St Thomas was so heart-wrenching to experience. I wept during the whole tour of St Thomas. They have less than 10% of their power restored. Their roads are washed away. After the first block away from the dock, there is no power. The big stores, such as Walgreens and Home Depot are closed. Kmart barely has anything. That island is in a state of decimation. It was so sad to see an American people so neglected and suffering.
I wish Royal Caribbean had offered more to this island for relief. Royal Caribbean makes millions of dollars from every cruise. Why can't they give a couple hundred thousand more to the islands of Puerto Rico and St Thomas? Then again, money doesn't necessarily solve these problems, they need manpower and goods, but money can buy that.
Also, the shore excursion manager was unpleasant and dismissive. When I made some remarks to her about some of my excursion experiences, she had an answer for everything, including, "I have done that hike before." She did not do the hike during the rainy season or on the day that I did. Not to mention, I'm sure tour operators have generally better behavior and are more likely to deliver a better excursion experience when they know a Royal Caribbean staff member is on their tour. The blonde Canadian Shore Excursion staff associate was very professional and pleasant. She should be the shore excursion manager. She was a gem and kind and personable.
Specialty dining was on point and main dining room dining was more or less hit or miss
I have heard from many people that tried Wonderland when it was brand new and said they didn't like it. I think it may have been too "sciency" but RCCL listened to passengers and made the food more tasty and less far out. Even though there are some neat gimmicks, I really have never had food that tastes the way it does from Wonderland.
The staff in charge of hospitality for dining left much to be desired. The "my time dining" was VERY poorly executed. Guests would have to wait in line for almost a half hour to be told they would have to wait 45 minutes to be sat for dining and could not make reservations and should have made reservations in the Royal IQ app prior to boarding. The staff member had advised us we should have made reservations a few days prior to boarding using the Royal IQ app. The Royal IQ app only works when connected to the ships "Royal WiFi" and the mobile device is registered in the app. The dining rooms were a little chaotic.
On a side note, I can't blame Royal Caribbean for a guest's behavior, but during the second formal night, there was a group of Russians at the table next to ours. They were older and very loud and very rude to the guests around them. Many people were trying to ignore them and just enjoy dinner. Our waitress was Chinese, one of the men at the table grabbed the Chinese waitress by the hand in a warm and friendly way and said, "you are my friend, the Chinese are good friends. Together, Russia and China are strong and we will [take over] America." I had heard some of this and at this point, my husband dropped his silverware on the table because he was sick of hearing these rude dining room guests. I had fallen down the volcano and sprained my knee and was in pain and I could not imagine moving to another table, so I tried listening to music with earphones to try to have some peace and enjoyability during this fancy dinner with my husband. After that last experience in the dining room, we didn't dare eat in the dining room for dinner again and paid extra to eat at Chops the next night.
Also, I wish the photographers could be slightly more accommodating to person's who purchase the $250 "unlimited" photo package. Some of the times they wouldn't take photos seemed arbitrary and effectually made the photo package limited. I needed a picture from the port of Antigua and could not be accommodated and I wanted a picture at each dining room but was told the photographers only take pictures in the dining room on formal nights, which I know is not the case. My picture had been taken plenty of other nights in the other dining rooms. I wanted to be able to remember each night. Also, if people have bought a photo package, I believe they should be allowed to wait in an express line and get preferential photo opportunities over people that will not and have not spent money on the photo package. One night, we were delayed for approximately 30 minutes by a family that insisted that each person in the family take individual and group pictures with the matriarch figure. My husband and I are quick with taking pictures and it was annoying to have a family take probably 50+ pictures in different poses with each couple and child taking their own photos in every pose and configuration of family possible.
Also, the medical clinic on board was deplorable.
I am concerned regarding the general medical preparedness of Royal Caribbean. A guest suffered a sudden cardiac event on an excursion and died. If Royal Caribbean shelled out a few thousand dollars to their excursion operators, they could increase the odds of survival if a guest on an excursion does experience cardiac arrest for almost any reason. The excursions should be required to have on hand basic first aid and life-saving equipment in the event of an emergency. Chances are, one of the guests on the excursion has medical or other basic life-saving skills such as CPR. It seems that Royal Caribbean is putting a risk on their guests' lives all for the sake of a dollar. The profits in one excursion group from one cruise easily pay for an AED. It seems like a no-brainer that all excursions should have a backboard available, C-spine collar, tourniquets, glucose and an AED. For about $5,000 a basic life-saving and first aid kit could be kept and could drastically increase odds of survival from any accident or cardiac arrest.
One doctor and 1 or 2 triage nurses is not enough for a ship of 4900 souls, maximum occupancy, and 1,500+ crew. It really is a mass casualty disaster waiting to happen. Ships are floating towns. One night, the clinic locked its door early because it had a 2-hour line of patients waiting to be seen. They shut the clinic when the rough weather was expected so injured or very seasick patients could not be seen or treated. The ship does have an ample supply of meclizine (non-drowsy Dramamine), but meclizine may not relieve some cases of seasickness.
when I went to the clinic after falling down the volcano and having been stung by a volcano bee, it took them an hour to triage me and my vital signs did indicate a medical emergency, but they had me wait for another hour after taking my vital signs. I know if those vitals were seen in an American ER, I would probably have been treated simultaneously by 2 or more doctors and probably 2 or 3 nurses (speaking from personal experience). My blood pressure was about 90/60 and my pulse was 110. They knew I had possibly had a bug bite/sting and did not address my injury with any urgency. In fact, I iced the sting and it went away in the 2 hours I was waiting for treatment.
To keep the clinic open 24 hours, as it should be on a ship of this size, they should ideally have 3 or 4 doctors on board and in the clinic so the doctors can have rest and rotate and have to time off. Perhaps, Royal Caribbean should also consider "telemedicine" for triage using roving medical machines that are able to visit a guest's stateroom and administer basic care under the guidance of a doctor, such as ice packs and meclizine. I would estimate they need a minimum of 8 triage and medical treatment nurses and not simply dialysis nurses. I know, I know, robots are expensive, but telemedicine could really alleviate the strain on the clinic of the ship and increase the safety of the passengers. Telemedicine aboard the ship could help triage patients and schedule them for time frames in the clinic to reduce waiting time in the waiting room and also reduce the likelihood of the spread of disease from sick passengers in the clinic waiting room.
The housekeeping staff did great, Fritz was so friendly and attentive and really made sure to make everything about our stateroom great. The stateroom attendants made sure to greet us in the halls and were friendly. The housekeeping staff had a complete 180 turn from how discourteous and mismanaged they were on our first cruise.
The dining room waiters and waitresses (not the 'hosts' and 'hospitality' staff at the dining check-in desks) also stood out for their job well done. Irina in at American Icon was exceptional. The head waiters for the dining rooms also were commendable. The staff at the specialty dining were perfect and what all the wait staff should aspire to be. We had Amir at Wonderland and Michaela at Jamie's. They both need to be restaurant managers. They are 100% what Royal Caribbean needs to use as a paragon of good service.
We completely loved Dennis and Enzo on the morning show. I really loved how much they joked and how informative and warm they were. I really missed Kathie Lee and Hoda and the rest of the today show crew from NBC, but Dennis and Enzo really are the best morning show on any cruise ship. They are just so funny and they really add to the whole cruise experience. I love that on the Today Show on NBC eating, jokes and booze are the norm. It's a good formula and Dennis and Enzo seem to have found it and I loved it. Seeing them have such a good time made me have an even better cruise!
All the entertainment was amazing. I love Sepctra's Cabaret, there is nothing like it and The Gift is special. Both shows use aerial acrobatics weather and seas permitting. I did not get to see "We will Rock You" or Mo5aic, I would have loved to see those. Also, because of my knee injury, I did not get to try the FlowRider or rock climbing wall or roller skating. I will have to cruise again to do those activities.
I did do iFly, the simulated skydiving, and also Puzzle Break, escape from the future. Escape from the future was ok. I think it depends on the people you do the escape room with. There was an older lady holding the clipboard that did not understand the hints to the crossword puzzle and she absolutely would not let go of it until my husband basically took it, thank goodness. The activities staff in charge of the challenge made it last longer because she would not give us the necessary hint. My husband and our friends were ready for the last clue in about 15 minutes, but she waited so the other passengers could have more time and fun completing their tasks.
This cruise was pretty good, much better than the last, but not entirely perfect. I don't think there is such a thing as a "perfect cruise." Most vacations are like life and they just don't go according to plan. Read Less