I will break down my review of the Anthem of the Seas into different sections. Hopefully this will assist readers if they want to skip to different parts.
1. Background – I have been on a good number of cruises, mostly with Royal ... Read More
I will break down my review of the Anthem of the Seas into different sections. Hopefully this will assist readers if they want to skip to different parts.
1. Background – I have been on a good number of cruises, mostly with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Princess. On this cruise I sailed with my wife, sister and mother. My wife and I had a superior balcony cabin on deck 12 mid-ship. My mother and sister had a superior balcony cabin on deck 6 forward. Our sailing date was January 15, 2016 from Bayonne NJ to the Eastern Caribbean. We were to return on the 25th but due to the Noreaster Jonas we returned a day late, on the 26th.
2. Embarkation – We had completed our online check-in about two weeks before boarding Anthem. We also reserved the main shows, restaurants and North Star before. (Some we reserved weeks before, some we reserved months before) I highly recommend for everyone to take the time prior to boarding to complete these items and to get familiar with the ship/cruise. All of our reservations worked out perfectly and it does not take long to set them up. However, I will say that anything can be reserved and scheduled on the ship itself. We made changes to our schedule on-board and we had no issues at all. As for the actual boarding process, it must have taken about 30 minutes to get on the ship after being dropped off curbside. The process went smoothly for the most part. The only delay was the actual drive up to the pier, due to many passengers arriving the same time.
3. Cabin – Once we boarded, we were able to proceed to our cabin since it was already after 1pm and the rooms were ready by that time. One key was left at the door so we can get in, and the other was already in the room. Different concept, as we were always provided with the key during check-in. Not a huge deal, but I would be annoyed if I got to my cabin and the key was missing. Hopefully this will not occur with this new procedure. We did notice some people having issues with their key not working, but those were resolved very quickly it seemed.
As for the actual room, we were very impressed. It was more spacious than let’s say Oasis. There were nice touches all over the stateroom. It was kept tidy and clean by our cabin steward Yudi. He always knew the right time to make the room and some nights left towel animals for us. Although we did not have monumental conversations with him, he was very nice and we were extremely happy with him.
4. At Sea Days – On this cruise we ended up having 7 sea days. This is when we were able to experience Anthem and all of its glory. Although we wished there were more days at ports, we did enjoy the ship itself very much. The ship is very technologically advanced and she is a beautiful ship. There is nothing better than sailing on a brand new ship. (8 months in to me is still brand new) There were so many new and improved features on this ship, some have been covered in other reviews but I prefer to leave them as surprises for other passengers.
During our first Sea Day after our muster station drill, the Captain announced we will have some rough seas that night into the next morning and early afternoon. As other reviewers already mentioned, it was rougher than expected. The turbulent seas started around midnight on the first night and did not improve until noon the next day. It was a little difficult to sleep at times due to things rolling off counters and the creaking of the ship. The seas were probably some of the roughest we have experienced in quite a while but still, I don’t think it compared to what the more recent 2/6/16 sailing had. I am glad everyone was okay during that sailing even though the cruise was cut short. It is good to see some positive reviews coming out from those passengers. The crew and captain do an awesome job on this ship to make people happy and comfortable.
5. Dining – Overall our dining experience was very pleasant. As mentioned earlier, we reserved some of the complimentary restaurants beforehand. We booked one night for each complimentary restaurant on the internet. (Chic, Grande, American Icon, and Silk) We also purchased the 3 night specialty dining package which will provide for some savings. Once you board you are able to make the times and choose your restaurants for that specialty package. (we chose Jamie’s Italian, Chops, and Wonderland) For the remaining nights, we wanted to see which restaurants we liked most and would book those again. That is exactly what we did and it worked out.
The food at all of the complimentary restaurants was relatively good. My wife and I are foodies however we do have a clear mind and picture of what to expect. There WERE a few dishes that may have been just lukewarm, or over-cooked, or sometimes a little bland. However everything was still good and definitely edible, contrary to what some reviewers post here on Cruise Critic. I suggest for those passengers to reserve an extra luxury cruise such as Crystal or Regent if they would like above 5-star dining for every meal on every night. I will add a note here that service was 5-star at all the restaurants. Antonio from Chic stands out. The specialty dining waiters were all noteworthy as well.
Our favorite restaurants ended up being Chic, Grand, Chops and Jamie’s. Wonderland was a great experience and food was pretty good however we were happy dining there just once. It was not something we wanted a second time on the cruise. Windjammer was decent to very good, despite what some others have described here. We did choose this option for dinner once or twice, and we were very happy with our decision. There are many made-to-order stations on different nights. Crepes and pasta station stood out. They can also cook a steak and other choices of protein right there if you prefer that offering.
Other dining areas we enjoyed were Sorrento’s pizza and Café 270. Pizza was good and Café 270 offered some nice and tasty choices, although limited. We did not get to try the Solarium, Izumi, Coastal, and Johnny Rockets but they sounded/looked good.
6. Entertainment – We feel Royal Caribbean has some of the best entertainment of all the cruise lines. We Will Rock You and The Gift were very good. I noticed some people complain about The Gift on here. These reviewers must have come late to the show or simply do not understand anything that has a little more meaning involved. The Gift might have actually been our favorite show out of all. Skipping gear, we thought Spectra’s Cabaret was an interesting show, definitely worth seeing but our 3rd favorite.
It is interesting to hear some people and their complaints. For example, one morning we overheard a group in the windjammer discussing Spectra’s CABERNET and how they didn’t understand it. I really wonder what is going on in some passenger’s minds and how much of the negative reviews are actually accurate. To actually think it is Cabernet instead of Cabaret, no wonder they did not understand the show. Perhaps too much wine on their minds?
Besides those main shows, there were other Headliners and guest entertainment that was quite good. Our cruise director Abe was a form of entertainment for us. His morning show and easy personality grew on us very quickly. Some shows needed to be rescheduled during the last few days of the cruise due to the winter storm, however they DID successfully and fully completed every show at some point in the remaining days. Everyone was happy about their efforts.
7. Ports – Eastern Caribbean for us involved St. Martin, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, and St. Kitts. Our only complaint here was that we wished we arrived earlier in Puerto Rico, which was our first port stop. We arrived at 3pm, which did not provide enough time to do much. We love the beach, so that is what we did in the other three islands, along with some shopping and sightseeing.
8. Other Public Rooms/Areas – I did go to the casino which was adequate but seemed a little smaller than it should have been. I feel like it should have been similar to Oasis’ casino size. The Music Hall was a nice venue with different things going on each day. 270 was a beautiful room, wish we could have spent more time there. The Fitness Center and Spa were both good, but some gym machines could have been better quality I felt. Michael’s Pub, Royal Theater, Solarium, Vintages, were all great areas as well. There were many other nice spots as well. The Bionic Bar was fun to take part of. If you want to get a stiff drink, change the parts ratio and the robot will take care of the rest.
9. Extra Sea Day/Winter Storm – This section ties in with the earlier one. As the Noreaster Jonas intensified off the east coast of the U.S., it obviously prompted some kind of action by our captain Anders and Royal Caribbean. We would have sailed into 30 feet waves and near 100 mph winds which would have been similar to what the ship experienced two weeks later on the 2/6/16 sailing. Thankfully, the captain and Royal changed course, basically sticking around an extra day near the Bahamas. This helped avoid most of the terrible weather we would have faced. When this decision was made, the captain announced it immediately to let everyone know. Most people were thrilled but there were some sour faces and comments.
In an effort to help every passenger, they provided free Wifi and long distance calling to help with the schedule change for the remainder of the cruise which was 3 full days. Since we live in NJ, this was no worry for us. We would just drive back home whenever we arrived in Bayonne. Another bonus, if you had the beverage package, this was included free on the extra day. That is a $40-70 savings, depending on which package you had. If you purchased the internet package, you were credited for the remaining 3 days. I feel like Royal was very reasonable and accommodating once they changed the itinerary. This seems to be the story with the 2/6 sailing as well. I also heard they helped compensate on an individual basis for flight changes, however I cannot verify this. One last comment about the extra day, they did notify everyone through the loudspeaker, TV, during shows, and finally in a formal paper letter on the next day. I bring this up because another review mentioned they only found out by overhearing other guests. These are the type of complaints people come up with. This is simply not the truth.
10. Gratuities – When we booked our cruise, the only option available was to have our gratuities pre-billed once we boarded. We had forgotten about this and so each day if we checked our folio on the TV, it would add the standard tip for my wife and me. I noticed another reviewer mention this and was very upset about it. I totally agree that tips should never be automatically charged and therefore we chose the simple solution of going to Guest Relations and request for the charges to be removed. The gentleman gladly took care of it and the charges were off our bill within a day. Instead we opted for the standard envelopes on the last two days and tipped accordingly. There are simple ways to address some things. I don’t feel there is a need to give a 1-star rating because you didn’t think to go to Guest Relations.
11. Fellow Passengers – This is one of the driving factors for me writing a review about our cruising experience on Anthem. Combined with the other negative reviews posted here, I feel compelled to write this review. To see that only 46% of cruisers loved their experience really shocks me. That is not how it appeared when I was on the Anthem. Most people were enjoying their vacation from what I saw…
With that being said, there were some passengers that I could not tolerate at all. At some point of the cruise I felt like it was my duty to stand up for the crew and ship overall. I have seen some of the most rudest, disrespectful, and messiest passengers on this cruise. Please keep in mind this made up a smaller percentage than those who were good on the cruise, but still I would estimate it to be around 20% of all passengers acting in this way. (which is very high compared to other cruises I have been on)
I will provide just a few examples of this behavior. I feel it is necessary to bring all of this up in a review because I see a strong correlation between the bad reviews on cruise critic with these unruly passengers that we experienced on the actual cruise. Folks, I have come to realize the bigger problem is not with the crew or the ship, but rather with these types of passengers. I will admit some reviews here address legitimate concerns, but so many are plain out ridiculous, which is what we encountered firsthand.
A. I ordered over-medium eggs each morning in the Windjammer from the same gentleman. As each day passed, he was friendlier and friendlier and always took care of my order perfectly. One morning we were late to Windjammer and I had to go on a different “egg line”. Another woman soon came behind me and started a conversation with me. She begins to explain how the other “egg guy” was completely rude and disrespectful, that she never seen anything like it. She went on to say she tried to order and the chef said “no way, you have to go over there, I am done here”. Meanwhile, this is the gentleman I ordered from every morning and he was always professional and courteous. It did not make sense at all that he would behave like this all of a sudden. I explained this to the woman and she pretended not to hear it. She just kept going and again I repeated how my experience was with him. She eventually turned around and started complaining to the guy behind her, which enjoyed tagging along her complaints. This is just one terrible example of poor behavior of a passenger. First, for probably making up a story about the crew member. Second, for looking to anyone and everyone to complain about this and trying to slander someone for no reason. I find it very unnecessary to act like this. If something is not up to par or someone treats you poorly, go to Guest Relations and report them. Don’t gossip to anyone who will join in on your make-believe issues.
B. At Sorrentos one day for lunch, my wife and I encountered a very disrespectful passenger. This one sticks out like a sore thumb to me because we actually ran into him and his wife a few times before this incident, from leaving big messes in the windjammer, (I am talking about food and crumbs all over the table, how does this happen?) to bumping our chairs multiple times for no reason, to making faces, staring and complaining about everything.
On this one occasion the guy orders gluten free pizza which is made separately from the rest. He takes a seat in Sorrentos, next to us unfortunately, and sits there looking around, maybe for trouble I can safely assume now. We enjoy our lunch when all of a sudden, he gets up and makes a big scene. He walks up to the pizza counter and says, “I was sitting over there, you couldn’t just bring this pizza over to me? Or at least tell me it’s ready?” The pizza chef apologizes and says he didn’t know where he went. The man continues to repeat himself and this time says, “what can I expect from this ship, the service is garbage here.” He starts walking back with his pizza using profanity cursing off the worker and the ship in general. This was very loud and in front of many people, including kids. This is very despicable to me, especially after witnessing different issues multiple times from the same couple. You are in a pizza parlor with 2 crew members making pizza for hundreds of people. You really think you are so special that you deserve to be handed the pizza at some random spot you chose in the midst of 50-75 other passengers? Get real…
C. Windjammer is always known to be very busy, and at times tough to maneuver. This is the first time though that I saw some passengers cutting each other, bumping and almost pushing to get food. The etiquette here of some people is just astonishing. There is plenty of food for everyone, so no need for this type of behavior.
There were so many other stories like this, but it has been a month now since our cruise, so I don’t want to re-hash. However, I hope that this helps people see the truth about Anthem. If you like to complain about anything, and only look negatively on things, then you will fit right in with this 20% of passengers that I estimated. This is probably the majority of the people writing reviews here for Anthem. Some of the complaints on cruise critic are so wild and absurd, they fit right in with the 20% passengers we have encountered. Be respectful and nice to the crew, and they will surely take care of you. The rest will fall right into place.
12. Final Thoughts – Please do not let my comments about the passengers scare you. There were many great people we met on board too and we did have an awesome time. The ship is gorgeous with so many options for everyone. The food and drinks are plenty and very good. As others say, if you normally have a good time on vacation, you will not be disappointed. If you usually complain and bicker, this is not the vacation for you. It is probably best you stay home.
Make the best of your vacation. With this ship and crew, doing so should not be a problem at all. I would sail again on Anthem without a doubt and I highly recommend it to anyone. Read Less