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303 Royal Caribbean Canary Islands Cruise Reviews

We've just returned from a 13 night Canary Island Cruise on Anthem Of the Seas. Our favourite cruise line is Celebrity but we have also sailed on Royal Caribbean on The Independence and Adventure and several times with the British ... Read More
We've just returned from a 13 night Canary Island Cruise on Anthem Of the Seas. Our favourite cruise line is Celebrity but we have also sailed on Royal Caribbean on The Independence and Adventure and several times with the British cruise line P&O.. We wanted to try Anthem on her maiden Southampton season before she becomes based year round in New Jersey. Embarkation We reserved a check in slot of 11.15 to 11.45 but arrived early at 10.30. We walked straight up to a person with a tablet, they scanned our seapass papers and checked our passports and that was it, we were onboard within 5 minutes of arrival. Superbly smooth and hassle free. Cabin The cabins were released at 1pm with the doors to the corridors kept shut until then. We had a standard balcony on Deck 6 (Obstructed). The cabin is probably the best designed of any we have stayed in. It had a feeling of space and has plenty of room to move around. There are two separate wardrobes, 1 each side of each bed with storage above the bed. There is a desk with a large light up mirror above and the desk is freestanding and can be moved say in front of the couch if you want to eat meals from the (mostly chargeable) room service menu. Then there is a unit with 6 drawers and the mini fridge, the top drawer containing the hairdryer. The couch is a good size if somewhat firm. Above the desk area are three sockets plus two USB outlets for charging devices which is a nice touch. We liked the lighting options including lights above the curtains and a large table lamp on the drawer unit however the bedside lights are a touch too bright. There is a 40” flat screen TV neatly sat against the wall which can be pulled out at an angle. The bathroom is very similar to those on Celebrity S class ships but with open shelves rather than cabinets. The shower has a glass screen and is a good size. Like Celebrity, there is a courtesy light in the bathroom making it easy to find and see at night without waking others in the room. The cabin was kept spotless by our attendant. The air con worked very well and is quiet and unobtrusive as its outlet is built into the cupboards over the bed. The cabin probably surpassed the design of Celebrity's S class cabins which we thought could not be beaten and the midships location on Deck 6 was really convenient to access the decks below by stairs. Food We were on dynamic dining choice. We pre-booked all our evenings across the 4 free main dining rooms. We did check out Devinly Decadence on embarkation which is great if you like salad but has limited main meals at lunch and very little for vegetarians (OH is a veggie) as none of the cheese used is suitable for vegetarians (animal rennet). Their evening menu offered no mains for vegetarians so it wasn't an option for us. We thought that there were much better dining options elsewhere and don't cruise to count our calories but I'm sure many will enjoy the relative peace of this venue. Out of the other 4 main dining rooms we rated them in this order: 1) The Grande 2) American Icon/Chic (neck and neck) 3) Silk We loved The Grande. The ambience and decor are superb and we enjoyed the food options the most here. We wore blazers without ties and it was nice to see the majority adhering to the dress code with very few having to be given a jacket to walk in with. There was little to choose between American Icon and Chic and we thought the options quite similarly good.. We tried Silk on one menu and we both left during our mains. We thought the food was quite poor. It all sounded nice but the execution wasn't good, onion bhaji was cold and soggy and stir fry broccoli and beef was gloopy. We decided to try it on the alternate menu and this confirmed it wasn't the place for us (Shrimp Korma was insipid and not creamy, just gravy like). Others liked Silk but we’ve eaten better Asian food from local takeaways. The menus in the 4 restaurants switched every 4 days and the choice of options was superb. The food was well prepared and presented and the portions were large. Service in all restaurants was excellent without exception. Just a note about the reservation system for Dynamic Dining Choice. Our reservations made from home were all transferred to the ship and appeared on the Cabin TV and the Royal IQ App. When you turn up for dinner, if there is a queue in front of you there appears to be no differentiation between those who have reserved and those who have not. Everyone is dealt with in turn. Therefore after around night 3 we ignored our reservations and just turned up at our restaurant of choice. They don't keep a table open for those who have reserved so the suggestion to reserve restaurants is probably more to do with Royal trying to spread the load across restaurants and times. We ate usually between 7-7.30 and never encountered a queue or wait time. Meals were served briskly but you could ask to take it slower if you preferred. We've previously said the the food on Celebrity was the best included food we've had. However, the food on Anthem in the main dining rooms topped it. We also preferred the smaller dining rooms to a large single dining room which can get quite noisy and bustling and it was nice to eat in different venues. Quality, portions, presentation and choice all tipped the balance from Celebrity to Anthem. I should point out that the Anthem food was way ahead of the food served on Adventure 2 years ago. The only speciality dining we tried was Jamie’s Italian. We got a 30% discount by asking onboard. The service was superb and the food was extremely good. Make sure you are hungry as the portions are very large. It was great value with the discount and highly recommended. For breakfast we ate in either American Icon or the Windjammer. American Icon was very good. Good service and a nice choice of food. We asked for and always got a table for 2. The eggs benedict was excellent and my OH enjoyed the Beignet. The Windjammer has a great selection but is of course busier. Interestingly American Icon is a la carte for breakfast with not help yourself options but next door in Silk they offer a buffet selection which is a good option if you want to help yourself in a quieter location than the Windjammer. Lunch was usually the Windjammer too but a couple of times we ate in Two70 where the roast beef sandwiches are superb. They also have paninis, sandwiches and cakes and a large gluten free selection. The salads are a 'point and select' type and though the ingredients are limited they are very nice. We snacked on pizza at Sorrentos a couple of times and this was always busy (beware the cheese is not Vegetarian but after a discussion they obtained some veggie cheese for my OH). I tried a hot dog from the Seaplex Doghouse and it was very good. We didn't try Johnny Rockets as we did not feel the need to pay for fast food with all the other free options. We had snacks from Cafe Promenade a few times. Opposite is a chargeable Patisserie. We didn't see a single person buy food from there and the space as a result is wasted. We had the free included Select drinks packages but I upgraded to the Premium Package and my OH downgraded (doesn't drink alcohol) to the Royal Replenish Package to access the sparkling waters and Mocktails. We both had lots of choice and had no issue getting a drink and the choice was excellent. We liked that every bar had its own unique cocktail menu in addition to any other cocktail you might choose. Entertainment Of course the big show is We Will Rock You. We booked in advance and they scan your card or Wow band on entry to ensure you have booked. 10 minutes before the start they allow people who haven't booked to fill any empty seats. The theatre has some obstructed views so it's best to arrive early. Doors open 45 mins before the show. It was great fun, very professional with good sets and of course all those well known Queen songs. For UK cruisers it was interesting to see Kevin Kennedy, aka Curly Watts from Coronation Street, in one of the main roles and he was good. It got a great reaction and standing ovation at the end. Another show to book was Spectra's Cabaret in Two70. Whilst mentioning Two70 I have to say it's possibly the best single venue on any ship we have been on. The design of it allows it to switch from library to cafe seating, to bar to general lounging area and at night it becomes a showbar. The surrounding 50ft high windows become projection screens at night and the roboscreens are amazing and superbly flexible. We loved Spectra's Cabaret. The singing and dancing were superb and the show had amazing energy. The final bookable show was The Gift. We missed our booked performance as I was under the weather however almost universally everyone we met said it was technically impressive but they had no idea what it was about. The next night we popped in and watched for 5 mins and we could see that a lot of design had gone into the production but we didn't stay given the feedback from others. Onboard Activities Of course you have the rock wall and the flowrider. But on Quantum Class the headline activities are the Ripcord by I-Fly and the Seaplex. We prebooked the skydiving simulation in advance and took part on day 3. All I Can say is it was superb. Exhilarating and exciting. After day 7 you could book another go one day at a time. We did it 5 times in total and loved every one. We saw a 3 year old and a 70 year old take part and most we talked to thought it was excellent too. If you have done it previously you can skip the video instruction at the start but still have to wait for the rest of your group to see the video. The seaplex is multipurpose and hosts roller skating, trapeze, basketball and of course the bumper cars. The latter looked a little tame but after we gave it a go we loved it and took part about 8 times. It was great fun and well organised and by the end of the 2 weeks there were some seriously competitive bumper car drivers. The daily compass was full of activities, lots of quizzes, fitness, Zumba, port talks etc. We didn't care for the cruise director (Luke Aerosmith) whose specialist ability seemed to be reading out the activities in the daily compass both on the TV channel and on the tannoy announcements. The Ship in general. The decor is very smart and modern certainly more Celebrity than Royal. Classy and with some modern high tech touches. The Bionic Bar is interesting briefly but had several mishaps and was pretty quiet mostly. Vintages is a lovely large wine bar with a lot of options within the premium package price point. The other bars are a touch small for the amount of passengers (Beleros and Schooner) and Michael's Genuine Pub is like no UK pub I've frequented, dark and a tad depressing with barmen wearing braces and flat caps. However they had a wide beer selection and it proved popular though we thought the food options a little on the expensive side. So did most others as we never saw anyone eating in there. Music Hall is a superb area. Two floors, each with a bar and the top level has pool tables. There is always something going on here and in the evening it was always busy. Rock The Boat were the house band and were excellent. On deck the outside pool areas are smaller than Independence however she has the indoor pool plus the Solarium area for cooler/wetter days. Both of the latter two are lovely areas. We've been on Independance on cool and wet days out of Southampton and there is nowhere to go apart from inside a packed ship with limited seating so it was nice to have other options on the first and last cooler days. A lot of the UK cruisers had previously been on the Independance as she has been based in Southampton most summers since her launch. Many made the comparison between her and Anthem. Some missed the 3 level MDR and some missed the larger Royal Promenade. Not sure why they chose Anthem knowing she had neither but we like that the venues on Anthem were more spread out as it made it feel less busy and the separate dining rooms kept that division of passengers possible such that you never thought you were on a ship with this volume of passengers. Ok, so overall. We loved Anthem. If she was going to be based in Southampton each summer she would be our Go To cruise ship of choice but that's not to be unfortunately. We loved the cabins, food, entertainment, decor and service. We liked the flexibility, and quality, of the dining options and interestingly there were a lot of new cruisers onboard so Royal must be doing something right in their marketing to entice people to try cruising for the first time. Clearly she is designed for mixed climate cruising and would not work in a solely caribbean itinerary but for her Southampton maiden season and her New Jersey home I'm sure she is expertly suited. Overall, a 9 out of 10 for us. Interestingly we have sailed on 3 ships out of Southampton this year, the new P&O Britannia, Celebrity Eclipse and Anthem Of The Seas. Anthem was the best of the 3 in our opinion. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
My wife and I have done several previous cruises with RCL and other operators. Like so many other people, our favourite RCL ship is "Indy" and we were interested to see how Anthem compared. Embarkation and disembarkation at ... Read More
My wife and I have done several previous cruises with RCL and other operators. Like so many other people, our favourite RCL ship is "Indy" and we were interested to see how Anthem compared. Embarkation and disembarkation at Southampton were quick and easy as we have come to expect from RCL so no complaints there. The ship's appearance is lovely. Indeed, it is very elegant in places and everywhere looks new and is kept spotlessly clean. The passenger/space ratio is generally good and we never felt crowded except on the sun decks on fine days and, sometimes, in the popular show venues and some of the bars. Some have complained that the layout is confusing but, really, it's not that much different from more traditional ships in that the spa, fitness, pools and main buffet restaurant are all on the upper decks; shops, bars cafes, Guest Relations and casino on decks 3, 4 and 5 and staterooms on the other decks with most of the complimentary restaurants being towards the stern on decks 3 and 4. The speciality restaurants are scattered around the ship. Signage is good and we never got lost. The crew and staff were invariably friendly and helpful My wife is disabled so uses a mobility scooter and this caused a problem in our stateroom which was a superior balcony on Deck 13. We have had this type of room on RCL ships before and never had a problem storing the scooter, usually parking it next to the sofa. However, our cabin was configured so that the bed was nearest the door with the sofa and dressing table beyond, nearest the balcony. Unfortunately, the gap between the end of the bed and the wall was too narrow to get the scooter through to our 'normal' parking position next to the sofa and the only place we could put it was just inside the door. This made access into and out of of the room quite difficult and was a considerable inconvenience. We spoke to Guest Relations as soon as we discovered the problem and asked if we could have a more suitable room, paying for an upgrade if necessary but we were told that this was not possible because the ship was full, a statement which we took with a pinch of salt. We were told that if another stateroom became available during the cruise we would be moved immediately but, needless to say, that never happened so we just had to live with the situation. Ironically, we later discovered that some staterooms have the reverse configuration i.e, with the sofa nearest the door so if we'd had one of those there wouldn't have been a problem. I guess we were just unlucky. Incidentally, information regarding facilities for the disabled was sparse (unusual with RCL) and catering for disabled passengers on tour buses and shuttles was very limited. Apart from the above, the room and balcony were fine except that the bed was extremely hard and uncomfortable to each of us and no foam mattress toppers were available to soften it as there are on other RCL ships. Also, there was a shortage of hanging space in the wardrobes for long garments (my wife had to leave a large proportion of her dresses in her suitcase). The Dynamic Dining concept was disliked by almost everyone we spoke to (although I myself didn't mind it) and most people much preferred the traditional way of dinner in a Main Restaurant at set times, at the same table and with the same waiters. The four main complimentary restaurants (Chic, the Grande, American Icon and Silk) were laid out and done up very nicely but the food quality was inconsistent, ranging from (sometimes) good to mediocre and occasionally poor. The main complaints were the repetitive menus which, as far as we could tell, never changed throughout the cruise, tough steaks and food being served cold or lukewarm. In our view, the best of them was the Grande but even in there the dress code (formal) was not enforced so was abused by some. We didn't try any of the speciality restaurants because, to us, there wasn't anything on the menu to warrant paying the supplement which, in some cases, was very steep. And in that regard we knew that RCL had abandoned the singing and dancing wait staff in Johnny Rockets because, they say, people didn't like it (really?) but what is left on Anthem is a draughty burger bar on a par with MacDonalds. And RCL have the nerve to charge a supplement for eating there! Similarly, the equivalent of the very popular Dog & Badger pub on Indy is Michael's Genuine American Pub. It's a gloomy place lacking atmosphere and it never seemed to be very busy. And they charge a supplement for things like fish and chips and cottage pie! It didn't seem to make any difference whether or not you made a restaurant reservation because you still had to queue although usually not for more than ten minutes The other casual eateries (Sorrento's, Cafe Promenade, Cafe 270 etc) were fine. In particular, the notorious Windjammer is a vast inprovement on the Indy. It's more spacious, better laid out and has a good selection of dishes of excellent quality. In fact, for the first time ever, we ate there in the evenings as many times as in the more formal restaurants. Getting a table was never a problem except at peak times and we particularly liked eating al fresco on a fine day or evening in the open area overlooking the stern. Magic! We didn't go to many shows but we enjoyed those that we did, particularly the Spectra Cabaret and We Will Rock You. The rest of the entertainment seemed to be on a par with other ships. The shops were the usual boutiques selling overpriced designer clothes, watches and jewellery. The one general shop was quite small and had only a limited stock range. The North Star was good but the much vaunted Bionic Bar is, in our view, a total gimmick. We watched it in action once and never bothered again. Beware of the shuttle in Lisbon! RCL's mooring used to be next to the suspension bridge which is quite a distance from the city centre so using the shuttle bus was essential. However, Anthem docks much further upstream closer to the city centre and we didn't realise how much closer until we had taken the bus which made a slow and tortuous journey through busy streets to cover a distance of about half a mile as the crow flies. But it was the return journey that was a fiasco. For some reason which was never explained, the bus (which was exclusively for Anthem passengers) dropped us at the Celebrity Eclipse which was moored next to us. We were told that another bus would take us to the Anthem but there was no sign of it and, anyway, we didn't relish the hassle of loading/unloading the scooter on and off a second bus. So we made our own way back. We complained about this and, in fairness, RCL refunded our shuttle fares without argument. The moral of this is don't take the shuttle unless the ship docks next to the bridge because it's quicker, easier and cheaper to walk. Drinks are, as usual, expensive, particularly when the ship is in Spanish waters, because by the time the 18% gratuity and Spanish VAT is added a small glass of mediocre wine cost about £8.50. Fortunately, we didn't have to pay for too many drinks because we are Diamond Members which gave us a number of daily free drinks. It also gave us use of the Diamond Lounge which is a very nice relaxing venue. And the pre-dinner nibbles are very good too. RCL boast that Anthem is highly technologically advanced and so it is, too much so in our opinion and some features either didn't work properly or are a retrogade step. For example, on other ships there's an A4 booklet in your room listing all the available tours in order of the itinerary. You decde which ones you want, book them via your TV and the tickets are delivered to your room. Not so on Anthem because there's no booklet and no facility for booking a tour via the TV. You have to go to Guest Relations, sign in at one of the iPad stations, scroll through every tour available throughout the fleet (or so it seemed to me) and print your own tickets all of which is very laborious. It may be that it's possible to do this with RCL's IQ App but I want to get away from my phone when on holiday and, moreover, not everyone has a Smartphone or is IT literate. Also,you can no longer have breakfast in the room by ticking boxes on a card and hanging it outside you door. You now have to do it all via your TV which takes much longer, plus the fact that only items such as cereals and rolls are free. Cooked items are chargeable. And you're supposed to receive a printout of your onboard account on the last night of your cruise. We didn't get one. I'm sorry that this review has gone on for much longer than I intended but I wanted to try to give an objective view of as many aspects as possible. In summary we say, "Nice ship but we're looking forward to Indy coming back." Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Like so many others we were very apprehensive about this cruise following so many negative reviews here on CC and other review sites. However we are so pleased that we resisted the urge to cancel and re-book on a different ship. Anthem ... Read More
Like so many others we were very apprehensive about this cruise following so many negative reviews here on CC and other review sites. However we are so pleased that we resisted the urge to cancel and re-book on a different ship. Anthem was a fantastic experience from start to finish! This was our 8th cruise, all with RCI on Vision, Radiance, Voyager classes and our first at Diamond level. Just the two of us travelling without family or children. The ship was fully booked with over 4200 passengers. Embarkation at Southampton was fine but not really any quicker than the conventional queuing system. We had completed all the pre cruise on line check-in requirements, photos, charge cards etc but still found ourselves waiting while the roving (and slightly random) check-in person took photos and entered charge card details of the family ahead of us that had not gone to the trouble of doing it all in advance. This is about the only niggle we had for the entire cruise and we were still "car to Promenade Café" in about 20 mins. The ship was pretty jaw-dropping. At first, the promenade area seemed more like a high end shopping mall but we soon realised what a sociable area this was with numerous bar, café, snack area options both day and night. Yes there were the usual on-board shopping special functions set up here most days but there was plenty of room and none of the crowding problems we'd read about. As you walk aft on deck 4, the ship seems to stretch further and further with some incredible open spaces before you then enter the amazing Two70 space. The Two70 area at the rear of the ship spans 3 deck levels (4,5 and 6) and is a brilliant space with a glass wall spanning floor to ceiling across the stern and around the stern quarters. It's a vast light, airy space with lots of seating options and the glass windows can be transformed into a huge projection area for some great special effects. The ship has almost endless food and bar options, we had no chance of trying them all. The main theatre also doubled as a 3D cinema complete with 3D specs. We wanted to try one of the "Virtual Balcony" inside cabins (8185). The cabin itself was spacious, well laid out (but different to our previous ships so had to find new places for things), full length hanging space was a bit limited but not an issue. The bathroom was excellent with a large GLASS door shower with proper (not aerated) shower flow. The virtual balcony screen was fantastic, so realistic that both of us bumped our heads trying to "see around the corner" as you would with a real window. No more trying to guess the weather before leaving the cabin. A kettle/coffee maker was provided (but we never used it). There seemed to be plenty of entertainment options, we had nowhere near enough time to try them all. The We Will Rock You stage show was excellent, I had expected a shortened version of the stage show, but it was the full length show and really well done. Spectre's Cabaret was entertaining and spectacular but not really our thing, the same goes for The Gift. However, these represent just a fraction of the entertainment on offer, I'd be amazed if there wasn't something for everyone. The Dynamic Dining (DD) worked just fine and was in fact quite flexible. We were more than fashionably late for our (pre cruise booked) reservation several times without a problem and often with impromptu dining partners from the Diamond lounge which the restaurant took in their stride. They coped with my wife's gluten free requirement just fine, passing the information from venue to venue very smoothly throughout the cruise. The menus in each complimentary restaurant changed every 4 days but there was plenty of choice anyway. True, they were sometimes the same core ingredients prepared in different ways but we found plenty of variety and loved it. Tip: American Icon's surf and turf is to die for. Think filet mignon with skewered giant prawns........! Dress Code for the Grande (formal restaurant) was sensibly enforced with jacket and collared shirt the minimum standard, but many male diners wore black tie every night in the Grande. The mix of dining (and drinking) venues gave rise to plenty of varied apparel but rest assured those that like to "dress up" would never feel out of place on any evening A few very minor negatives such as the main outdoor pool area was small without enough surrounding sun lounger space (there were plenty of other areas away from the pool), the gym/fitness suite no longer includes a free sauna/ steam room (you now have to pay for these as part of the spa). These were minor things and were far outweighed by the many positives. It was really something to sail on an almost new ship (Anthem's 16th voyage). The ship was immaculate, little things like the perfectly smooth high gloss handrails around the outer decks I loved. I'm no computer geek, but even I loved the technology, so many great features. I went on the iFly free fall simulator, great experience. We rode the North Star capsule shortly after sunrise on our anniversary, brilliant, 300ft high and about 100ft to the side of the ship while underway at about 20knots, great photo opportunity. Bumper cars, Flowrider, we had a blast! Disembarkation went very smoothly, we were going to self-carry but in the end thought why struggle? So left it to the crew and after a very civilised coffee and pastries we sauntered ashore to collect our luggage and were away no problem. She is a very different ship to the others we've sailed on. The layout does not suit everyone and does not really lend itself to having that central area where everyone gathers for the party type events that we were used to. As a result of this, plus having different table waiters most evenings, you do not quite develop the same sense of "belonging" as on previous ships, however all the crew were fantastic and there are many really great features that we absolutely loved. None of the above is to say that we would, for a second, abandon the other classes of ships that we have loved so much, but we would not hesitate to book a Quantum class again if the price and itinerary were right. It has to be said, there were only about 100 children on our cruise, there had been 1000+ on the previous cruises that received such poor reviews and a couple of the crew we spoke to confirmed that the high numbers of children had put the ship under a strain. So avoid school vacation periods if you can. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was one of the best cruises we have ever been on and we have done quite a few. The embarkation process was slick and first class. Some of this was due to the fact that we had completed all the necessary information online before we ... Read More
This was one of the best cruises we have ever been on and we have done quite a few. The embarkation process was slick and first class. Some of this was due to the fact that we had completed all the necessary information online before we sailed. From the minute we arrived at the port, we were on the ship in less than 15 minutes. The North Star experience was excellent but sometimes there was a bit of a queue to this attraction. We experienced Ripcord iFly, what a fantastic experience. The seaplex complex was fantastic too especially the dodgems. All bars were easily accessible with great service. The entertainment on board was first class. We found Luke the cruise director to be very helpful and informative. Booking all the shows and restaurants online before we sailed was definitely the thing to do as some people were complaining they couldn't get into some of the shows and restaurants. We tried all the restaurants with a cover charge. Wonderland and Jamie's Italian were our favourites. We also had the drinks package which offered a great selection of beer, wine, spirits and cocktails. Some people complained about the Windjammer being very busy. This was the biggest self serve buffet we have ever encountered and we never struggled to get a seat. The selection and variety of food was excellent probably too much choice. The food was always fresh and hot. We had been previously to most of the ports of call. We booked this cruise mainly for the ship experience and we were not disappointed. The staff throughout the ship were fantastic and nothing was too much of a problem for them. The WOW wristbands did tend to come off quite easily so we referred back to the sea pass. Overall the ship was first class, very clean with plenty of things to do during the day and at night but the one thing that was missing was things like barbecues on the deck, ice carving etc. We would definitely go on this ship again. It did have the WOW factor. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
I've waited almost a year for this cruise, with very high expectations. After seeing the negative reviews of Quantum, I've lowered them quite a bit. My DH was with me, and a couple of friends - first time cruisers, coming with us ... Read More
I've waited almost a year for this cruise, with very high expectations. After seeing the negative reviews of Quantum, I've lowered them quite a bit. My DH was with me, and a couple of friends - first time cruisers, coming with us based on our recommendation. Our cruise was marred by a very big group (almost a quarter of the total pax), which I'll call "The group". I've waited quite some time to write this review, since I've written first to C&A (being platinum). To make it very short, it told them that I was very disappointed to find out that public spaces like the Solarium and 270 were closed, mainly on sea days, in order to accommodate "The group", that I felt that RC's first priority was the well being of "The group", and that I'll greatly appreciate being advised before hand if such a big group will travel on a specific cruise. RC took their time in replying. In the end, it was along the lines of "we value the privacy of our customers and we cannot advise of them being present in a certain cruise...". It made me laugh. As if I asked names, addresses and SS # .... I wrote again, saying that I'd like the choice of deciding whether or not to join "The group" .... After waiting more than 2 weeks, I decided the write my review anyhow. Besides taking over public spaces, as mentioned above, "The group" has been reserved prime location tables on all the complimentary restaurants, along with a special "direct" line, without having to queue like us, mere mortals. Also, on the only for fee restaurant we decided to try, Jaimie's, there was also a representative for "The group", making sure that every one of them could get in immediately. The "best" part was being in Loro Park (Tenerife), finding no places to sit for a show, but guess what ... the central aisle, with the choice views, was also reserved for "The group" !!! Now to the good part. The ship is beautiful, sparkling clean, the staff very helpful, we enjoyed the North Star (only in port), i-Fly,bumper cars, puzzle room. We could have enjoyed more all the shows which could be reserved before hand (Spectra, the Gift and We will rock you), if the sound was not so loud. We've seen Wicked while in London, and found it also very loud, so may be it is us.... I've spent a lot of time reserving the 4 "complimentary" restaurants and then, when the entertainment could be booked, changing the hours again. BUT, after trying every one of them once, and waiting for a lot time (in Chic - 2 hours!!!) for average food, we cancelled all the remaining reservations, and opted for WJ, which was quiet and had a very nice variety of food. Jaimie's we tried once and were not impressed. One star minus because of "The group", and one star for the average food and service in the 4 "complimentary" restaurants. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
14 Night Cruise on the Explorer of the Seas September 2015 A little apprehension kicked in when for ecological reasons you print your own luggage tags, forgive me but to get four it took four sheets of paper instead of the eight you ... Read More
14 Night Cruise on the Explorer of the Seas September 2015 A little apprehension kicked in when for ecological reasons you print your own luggage tags, forgive me but to get four it took four sheets of paper instead of the eight you used to get on a single A4 sheet, methinks that it is for economical not ecological reasons. The last time we sailed with Royal Caribbean was in 2011, and then these were printed for you We looked forward to this cruise and on first impressions the ship is beautiful. Sailing out of Southampton, Royal Caribbean seem to have tailored thing to the European style with tea and coffee making facilities in your cabins. The food service on the first night was acceptable, but the drinks service was well below standard, at the end of the meal when the head waiter came round asking if everything was OK he was told in no uncertain terms that it was not, after this we were served expertly by the food and beverage staff. Unlike most cruise ships on the pool deck the beverage staff are not continually trying to get you to purchase a drink but seem reluctant to circulate, it appears to save money staff have been reduced, as well as the chocolates on you pillow. The ship is acceptable and the staff are friendly and approachable, very professional. Royal Caribbean have a couple of policies, these must have been introduced since 2011, which step back to the last century, firstly the smoking areas externally state pool deck starboard side, however some people smoke in non smoking areas, and when questioned suggest you move. People who partake of e-cigarettes are informed that they can only Vape in designated smoking areas,THIS IS WHOLLY IGNORED AND NOT POLICED AT ALL The second ancient policy is regarding bringing alcohol on board, all alcohol has to be surrendered on returning to the ship, even if you have a drinks package why, because you have already paid for any alcohol why would I buy more other than to take it home. On board there is a connoisseur cigar club as a designated smoking area, and 50 meters away the biggest mistake, the casino, which has a smoking and non smoking section, the smoking section is allegedly for gamers only, it says so in the daily literature, in reality this is the gathering area for those who smoke, they chose to ignore the non smoking area and put ashtrays over the no smoking signs. Due to the design of the ship this opens the whole of the Royal promenade to getting anything from zephyrs of smoke to full range smog, making the whole central area smell like an old ashtray. We were offered complimentary laundry for some items of clothing, and the manager of the casino promised his staff would be more vigilant, this was not obvious to us. Complaining to the Crown and Anchor loyalty ambassador was a complete waste of time, I realised why, after she admitted to being a smoker herself. Complaint to future cruise sales team asking to cancel an earlier booking, received possibly the worse customer service we have ever had, with fierce pro smoking and the comment "the majority of Royal Caribbean cruisers smoke" talking to her manager sorted things out and hopefully she will be on a putting the customer first course. The daily newspapers were only produced for the first week and when asked something had gone wrong but no further information was supplied, not good on a ship that had a major refit earlier this year. The entertainment staff were very professional and great fun, always ensuring that the events they ran were as enjoyable as they could be. Some of the shows were acceptable, some amateur and some very poor obvious cost cutting here. There are four ‘Speciality Restaurants’ on board Jonny Rockets a 50’s style burger joint, this was acceptable, worth the $6.95pp cover charge, it was empty most of the time as people are reluctant to pay. Uzumi A Japanese style restaurant with a very confusing pricing structure, we decided to avoid this. Giovanni’s Table- This was the pick of the bunch with a one off cover charge, however even with RCI’s ultimate drinks package it was impossible to get a glass of red wine in the pricing policy, this was due to it being out of stock, and us having to dig our heels in and insisting the staff to go and get one. Again we feel this is due to cost cutting taking effect. Chopp’s Grill A cover charge to eat here, but if you require the best air dried steak or the lobster then you are asked to pay again on top of the cover charge, DISGUSTING RIP OFF and even more evidence of cost cutting. Royal Caribbean have also removed lobster as a main in the Sapphire Dining room unless you are prepared to pay over $30, again the cost cutting is showing through. It appears that Royal Caribbean have a new sponsor in British American Tobacco and should rename the ships the Ashtrays of the seas, and as this policy is fleet wide, and not widely printed on their glossy website, people should be made well aware of this. The cost cutting has taken such an effect that quality on board has dropped to an unacceptable level, the coffee is the most disgusting I have ever tasted. We will not sail with them until they make the interior of the ship non smoking, apart from the cigar lounge, which you can choose to avoid. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
I’m a regular on RCL and normally travel on my own in a GS grade suite. I would very much agree with nearly all reviewers that embarkation could not get any smoother. The agents that run the service for RCL are first rate. I boarded ... Read More
I’m a regular on RCL and normally travel on my own in a GS grade suite. I would very much agree with nearly all reviewers that embarkation could not get any smoother. The agents that run the service for RCL are first rate. I boarded at about 2.00pm and was in my cabin within 15 minutes. The usual extras were there including a new brand of coffee supplied I think by Starbucks. Plenty of fruit and some complimentary bottles of water. It was just as I expected. There were a choice of restaurants on board. Giovanies, Izumi’s and Chops. I ate in Giovanies several times over the next two weeks and I couldn’t fault them. It’s when they greet you by name that you know that they pay attention to detail. With the restaurant manager insisting I try a new sweet as I was leaving one night. Chops was a total waste of money. Having paid $30 excess for dining there I was charged another $21 for a “Surf and Turf” which included lobster. This wouldn’t have been too bad except that the lobster consisted of two bites of white meat plus a reasonable steak. But then to want to charge you $8 for a coffee was just too much. I cancelled my remaining reservations. Then they charged me a cancellation fee (or tried to). Just not good enough. I guess as a profit centre they were not earning the bucks. The food and service in the MDR was quite acceptable. But I still wish they had silver service. One day the Americans will learn that there are other types of potato than mash. I also noticed that the number of men wearing dinner jackets was on the wane. The entertainment was better than average with several decent shows plus a tribute act. However the magician was hopeless and I missed the hypnotist. Plenty of room in the theatre and the reserved seating worked well. Worth additional mention was the ice show which was par excellence. In fact this was so popular that entry was staggered according to lifeboat stations. The parades in the main shopping area were well presented with an enthusiastic cruise director. Moving onto the shops there was as usual plenty for sale and RCL have cut down the tables lining the centre of the prom. Cigars were overpriced and I could have bought cheaper in the UK tax paid. I do wish that RCL wouldn’t take us all as fools announcing all products were tax and duty free. This might have been so but what they didn’t say was that they had increased their mark up accordingly. There seem to have been a considerable amount of complaints regarding seating. Although RCL have done away with one “nite spot” increasing cabins accordingly (more revenue) and a new specialty restaurant (yet more revenue). There was difficulty in finding spare seats for two or more people, and the extra two hundred plus people has certainly not eased seat availability. In fact overall guest space has been reduced and revenue raising areas increased. Prices in the bars was as excessive as ever with a Pinot Grigio priced at $9. A lager was $7. The ports chosen by the company were very acceptable other than Bilbao which is just a glorified port. I can thoroughly recommend The Azores which is administered by Portugal. A first rate island that deserves more visits. A two night stopover in Madeira was well worth the extra time. It gave cruisers the chance to explore the night life. Wifi was a bone of contention. As part of my package I was allowed one full (24 hours) of free Wifi. I’m glad that I didn’t buy the package priced at some $20 per day. The speed was so slow it hardly registered on my Nexus. My terminal came up with 0.27m per second. This so slow it took 5 minutes to download a lengthy email. Video was impossible. RCI really need to upgrade this service. Even the switchboard operator had the authority to credit dissatisfied guests. I could only get my copy of The Times on a couple of occasions. To put this into context I could catch up on the BBC iplayer whilst I was on the coach going home. No problems with a speed of 25mg per second. Being in a suite plus being a Diamond member of the Crown and Anchor program, I could use the Concierge Lounge from 5.00pm to 8.30pm (with free drinks). as a lounge to meet with fellow guests. I guess that there was seating for about 50 people. Unfortunately for me was that Crown an Anchor members with the status of Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle were also allowed in. The aforesaid members have their own Diamond Lounge on another deck. This is quite large and could accommodate 150 people. I understand that there were 13 Pinnacle members on board. With greatest of respect to Diamond and grades above, clients in Suites have paid many thousands of pounds for their onboard status and quite rightly expect to be able gain a seat when in the lounge. My suggestion is that RCL only allow into the Concierge Lounge guests with suite status. The present situation only devalues the value of the lounge. It was also noticeable that the lounge concierge did not check any of the gold passes for entry with their guests (or children under 18) If the door opened with your card - then you and your party were allowed access regardless of their status. As I had no children with me, I am not in a position to comment on their facilities. I would say though that there were less than a dozen children onboard. There were no zip wires, no bumper cars or air tunnels on this ship - although a wave rider had been added during the refit - not that I would have taken advantage anyway. Overall the ship fulfilled my expectations, but as always there is room for improvement. However, I’m back with P&O next year. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Having been on IOS two years ago, we booked this cruise knowing that the Explorer was a "sister" ship, with all the same facilities and layout. This Cruise was also visiting many Ports that we had never been to before. We choose ... Read More
Having been on IOS two years ago, we booked this cruise knowing that the Explorer was a "sister" ship, with all the same facilities and layout. This Cruise was also visiting many Ports that we had never been to before. We choose a Stateroom with Balcony on Deck Seven (7272). At the outset I must say that we found neither outstanding nor awful aspects though some were better than others. Embarkation was fairly quick and with a short stop to upgrade our complementary "Drink Package", we were in our stateroom within half an hour of arrival from Eastleigh Airport. Similarly, Disembarkation was also really straightforward and well managed and luggage easily found with the numbering system. (Pity our pre-arranged taxi (O.T.S) didn't turn up, causing anxiety on getting to airport for flight home) The Stateroom was fairly compact but with adequate space for clothes. Queen size bed took up most of the room, along with a two seater couch. The bed mattress was rather firm and may not suit everyone. The Shower room/Toilet area was also fairly small, though the shower did have sliding doors rather than a curtain. The room was maintained to a good standard by our steward, who seemed to know when we were leaving, morning and night, as he was always outside the door. He kept us entertained by the towel animals, when changing the towels daily, though shower gel was not replaced. We took all our meals in the Windjammer Buffet, more for speed than anything else , as we had a busy schedule of events. There was always plenty of choices in various styles of cuisine. We never found any need to queue for a table and although there were busy times, again we never had any problems in finding what we wished to eat. Breakfast had all the normal aspects, with a dedicated grill for either fried eggs or omelettes to your requirements. Lunch and dinner were a mixture of many cuisines and all were well cooked and always hot. Trays were replenished immediately. The Main Dining Room had the normal timed serving along with "Mytime". You could also use, at extra costs, the "Speciallty" Restaurants of Chops Grill. Giovanni's Table, Izumi and Johnny Rockets Burger bar, along with Starbucks Special Coffees and Ben and Jerry's Ice Creams. The entertainment was split between the RCI Team and Professional acts. The day time activities ranged from quizzes, wall climbing, Flowrider to Seminars on various subjects including the Ports of Call and Art Auctions. For those who said that the RCI Team didn't put much effort into the activities obviously did not have Kevin, Amy or Katie with them. They made every activity, especially the "Quizzes" something special and hilarious with their "pronunciations" whilst taking it all in good spirit. The Pool side entertainment was a Caribbean group, "Belly Flop" competition, Water Volleyball and films on the "Big Screen". The various lounges had their own type of entertainment, with pianist in the Schooner Bar, Singer Guitarist in the "Crown and Kettle" Pub The Showtime acts in the Theatre were all well appreciated with full houses and ranged from Bohemians (Queen Tribute), Comedian Andy Watkins (could be funnier !), Julie Maguire and Jacqui Scott singing songs from Musicals (different nights), Juggler Pete Matthews (more juggling less running around as if breathless), Livewire a musical duo on guitar and fiddle (excellent show), Magician Martin Brock (more adept for close up rather than stage magic), Hypnotist David Knight (took 30 minutes of 45 minute show to get started), Westcoast a Beach boys tribute, BMX Acrobat Rob Alton and two Song/Dance shows by the RCI Entertainment Team. The PORTS of CALL included VIGO a nice town but rather hilly to reach town centre; ARRICEFE in Lanzerote with still a long walk to town centre from bus drop off point; SANTA CRUZ in Tenerife again a bus ride to town, though short free shuttle took you to outskirts of town; Overnight in FUNCHAL, Madeira which is well worth the visit for Architecture, Open Top Bus Tour and the Cable Car to the top of Monte and ride back down on the Funchal Toboggan; PONTE DELGADO, Azores which is really only a walk from port to town but not much to see or do; BILBAO a 12 Km bus to town from Getxo Port and is really a sightseeing tour for architecture and expensive shopping. All ports had organized tours but at a fairly expensive costs. Other main points of note through the Cruise included Captain Rick Sullivan's midday report in his "dry wit" giving ship's position and not knowing nautical terms, weather report, speed to next port, where he will be eating at night and selling of products around ship, There was the normal "Reserving" of sunbeds on "sea days" especially in the Solarium Pool area where the better sunbeds are found. One deck up there were still plenty to be found. The ship's "Smoking Policy" restricted people to the Starboard on certain decks,the Connoisseur Cigar Lounge and a part of Casino. However stale smoke has no way of telling boundaries and the smell drifted to many other parts of the ship, whilst creating a "fog" in that part of the Casino. The shops and stalls on the Royal Promenade were well stocked and had fairly competitive prices, whilst the Promenade Cafe served Coffee, sandwiches and sweet treats on a 24 hour basis, so good for early morning coffee or late night snack. All in all an enjoyable cruise where we met like minded people, visited new places, though might not return to some, enjoyed the entertainment, won some quizzes, though the Schooner Bar became very crowded during the quizzes, and never found any problems with meal times. Finally, one special mention for a staff member by name. ANCA BOUDAIN in the Schooner Bar is by far the outstanding member of RCI Staff. Within one visit to the bar she knew our name, our preference of drink at any particular time of day and always had a smile and time for a quick word asking how we were and what we had done. I'm sure she did this with many other people and deserves all the plaudits around. Always doing something but never looking harassed. A note to RCI Management, a PROMOTION to Bar Manager would not be out of the question but an enhancement to your Staff. By now this Review will only be appropriate for those taking a Far East or Australian Cruise as the Explorer Of The Seas is on its way to the Far East and Australia for the winter season. Thanks for reading this and hope it helps in deciding whether to cruise with RCI and the Explorer Of The Sea. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Our cruise out of Southampton was below my expectations. Fortunately, the Canary Islands, Madeira and Azores balanced out a somewhat lackluster Vigo, Spain and Bilbao, Spain. The problem was not the ports however but rather the Explorer ... Read More
Our cruise out of Southampton was below my expectations. Fortunately, the Canary Islands, Madeira and Azores balanced out a somewhat lackluster Vigo, Spain and Bilbao, Spain. The problem was not the ports however but rather the Explorer itself. It was overcrowded with nary a seat to be had during evening hours at any of the lounges. And, because there was such an overcrowding, the Schooner was used for trivia and other games during cocktail time, which eliminated any attempts to have conversation. During the day it was impossible to find a seat at a table on the promenade. Forget about getting a chair on any of the sun decks. Passengers claimed their chair for the day and staked it out with towels or friends saving them. I didn't use Windjammer, but imagine it was a madhouse most days. The main dining room was quite pleasant, although the food selection was boring on some days. As a non-meat eater, selections were limited by my choice, but some of the fish was awful. Very chewy and obviously frozen. The cod was especially horrible. Whoever writes the menus are creative in their descriptions, but not accurate. Luckily, the staff were wonderful and always had vegetables for me. The entertainment was second rate other than the ice show and Livewire. Karaoke was popular and well attended. The smoking in the casino was totally out of control. In order to get to the Palace Theater, one has to go through the casino. For non-smokers, it is so smoky that you can choke. And, instead of adhering to their own rules, the casino workers allowed smoking throughout the casino, instead of a designated area. It was so bad that if you were near the steps on the promenade it wafted up and was annoying. I was in a junior suite and when I came onboard, I didn't have any shampoos or excursions tickets. There was no information greeting me as I expected. I shouldn't have to complain about something so basic. Shopping was lackluster. I have traveled on other cruise lines such as Princess and they have always had local crafts and items available when traveling to a specific port. When we went to St. Petersberg we had icons and nesting dolls, Poland we were able to purchase amber. When traveling though the Greek Islands we were offered packaged local delicacies. The selections were not creative and the same throughout the cruise. HoHum. Boring. Didn't make me want to spend any money, how much perfume or Invicta watches can one person use? The selection of excursions was limited. When an excursion at Vigo was canceled, it was impossible to choose another one. When cruising through the Caribbean one expects to have limited selection beyond the beaches, but not in Europe. There should be more of an effort to offer some variety in every port. The meeting place for all excursions was the ice skating rink. It was miserable cold and we had to wait for sometimes half an hour or more. Why not meet in Palace Theater? It was very disorganized and ill-run. The guides were not able to control some of the groups and some of us didn't even know what to do because of lack of clear direction. My husband and I have never experienced these problems on any other Royal ship. In fact, we sailed Radiance through Alaska in June and had a wonderful experience and have been on other ships through the fleet without this level of complaint. I am returning to Celebrity for the next two cruises. Hopefully they won't disappoint inasmuch as it is the same umbrella fleet. It will take a really interesting itinerary for me to return to Royal any time soon. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Never thought i would start my reveiw with that title, but theres just something that is not right with the flow of the ship. Getting aboard was brilliant, less than 20 mins and then the selling started. as with all rci ships products are ... Read More
Never thought i would start my reveiw with that title, but theres just something that is not right with the flow of the ship. Getting aboard was brilliant, less than 20 mins and then the selling started. as with all rci ships products are pushed your way, but on the anthem it is relentless. every time you turned a corner somebody wanted your dollars. we parted with seveal hundred dollars for two drink packages, which for us all in all were value for money compared to the sky high pay as you go drink prices. beware as they dont stock large amounts of certain lagers and once its gone they dont stock up until back in southampton. I raised this issue with the beverage manager and quickly realised i was talking to a very arrogant man, who seemed to be trying, simply to belittle me. this he failed to do. And that goes for the rest of the customer service, if your not handing over dollars, there not really that intrested. The dynamic dining feels like they only started it a week ago, quite chaotic at times though food was generally good. winjammer was like a rugby scrum where some people had clearly left their mannors in the previous port of call. Food again was generally good, but luke warm most of the time. We dined in coastal kitchen a few times and the service and food were fantastic. Sunbeds by the pool need to be grabbed on your first hour on board, and you need to lay on them 24hrs a day or you will never get another, people where putting towels out from 5.30 am, and the deck team do nothing about this. if you get a sunbed on deck 15 you have to get on it from the front as there is no space between them, which is slightly off putting, when you wake up with your nose in some strangers armpit. Stateroom was a junior suite and was superb, though the cleaning and attention to detail was not always up to scratch. The bar venues where good, just too many people tring to use them. You cant get to most bars as they have seating around every bar so you need to order your drinks form six feet away. Overall i will use royal caribbean again as i have sailed with them many times in the past, but it will not be on a quantum class ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
I have just returned from a 13 night voyage on the Anthem Of The Seas and I feel that I must express my views having read so many negative reviews. I don't confess to being what some may call an experienced cruiser but I have ... Read More
I have just returned from a 13 night voyage on the Anthem Of The Seas and I feel that I must express my views having read so many negative reviews. I don't confess to being what some may call an experienced cruiser but I have completed 12+ cruises on different cruise liners including Royal Caribbean, Princess, Cunard, Celebrity and P&O. I have travelled on the same cruise liner on more than one occasion but never the same ship twice. I like to try different cruise liners to see how each of them compare. They each have plus and negative points but it's the overall feeling at the end of the cruise which I base my opinion on. I am neither young or old and I do have a walking disability and therefore I can review different aspects of the ship from a mobility point of view. Lets start with the ship itself. There is no denying the fact that this is a huge ship with over 5,000 passengers and crew. At no time did I feel that the ship was over crowded because there are so many different public areas to visit. Breakfast time at Windjammer's was very busy and patience was required when trying to find a seat but this is no different to any other ship i've been on at peak times. Plus I didn't feel the need 'to eat my monies worth' so most of the time I opted for room service which was delivered on time every time even though some jam or butter was missing on a couple of occasions. EMBARKATION: Embarkation I wasn't overly keen on. Checking in with a rep at the entrance to the terminal on a hand held device with no desk to rest on wasn't personal enough for my liking but having said that all went well and we embarked within our allotted time on time. I have rated embarkation 4 stars. CABIN: Our stateroom had the WOW factor for me. Having tried mini suites and balcony cabins in the past we opted for the large interior stateroom with the virtual balcony which was brilliant. Having realised that we spend very little time sat on a balcony we decided to try the alternative and we were not disappointed. Everything was obviously new (15 previous cruises) so everything worked as it should with no issues. Large TV, bed, sofa, vanity table and chair and of course a large glass shower cubicle. It felt more than a hotel room than a cabin. I had no issues with the stateroom and therefore rated it 5 stars. DINING We tried all the dining options expect the Costal Kitchen (suite guests only). The dining options does away with the traditional 2 sittings and opts for a more smart casual approach. The only dining area which required any type of formal dress was the Grande dining room which required a jacket only. When I say a jacket only that was the only stipulation. I was disappointed to see open neck shirts, jumpers and sandals. The Grande should insist on complete formal dress code for those guests who like to dress up, as it is the only formal type restaurant. I'm not a jacket and tie type person myself but I will do it on a couple of occasions when needs must and I was disappointed with the dress code for the restaurant. I was disappointed with some of the meals, wrong order, chipped plates, missing food, dirty glasses and 1/2 hr wait for a starter was not the best of experiences when compared to other cruise liners. I felt at times there were too many staff serving each table and serving staff not knowing what the other one has or has not done. Don't get me wrong all the dining staff were very pleasant and well mannered but inexperience did show at times. The best dining experience was Chops Grill by far with one experienced waiter. Fantastic food. Some of the restaurants had supplements attached to them so it was a personal choice. Jamies restaurant was the most expensive but my least favourite for food and service. The Windjammer had some excellent self service choices. Insisting guests wash their hands prior to dining was good to see. I gave dining 3 1/2 stars due to my experience but in time i'm sure it will raise to 4 stars after a couple more cruises. ENRICHMENT ACTIVITIES: Unable to comment as I didn't use the Spa treatments. ENTERTAINMENT: We saw the show Spectre Cabaret in Two/70 - excellent performance with a great backdrop. The Gift (Theatre)- very good but I lost the plot (father, son and daughter in a tug boat), We Will Rock you (Theatre)- West End show - Queens musical - brilliant and Soul Boys (Theatre) - fantastic. All the visual effects were sensational especially in the Two/70 area at the back of the boat with the rotating TV screens and huge virtual screens. My favourite was the Rock The Boat rock band who played most nights in the large music hall. They played many songs from different eras to an audience of 17 - 85 year olds. Great live band. There were other smaller bands in a couple of other bars who were also good if you liked that type of music. There were other shows but we opted out due to personal choice. Entertainment scores 5 stars. FITNESS & RECREATION: Superb gym with plenty of machines and free weights. Full size 5 a side / basketball court. Flow rider, indoor sky diving, trapeze training and a climbing wall for the more adventurous. Table tennis / xbox 360 area and even dodgems which was very entertaining and a good laugh with no queues. These were the obvious activities with even more organised activities on the daily planner for the more sedate passengers. Fitness and recreation score a strong 5 stars. PUBLIC ROOMS: Excellent - clean, bright and on the whole spotless. Plenty of seating although at busy times (adverse weather or peak times) you may struggle for good seats but no different to any other ship in my opinion. All areas accessible for wheel chairs / motor scooters. Toilets - spotless with automatic doors for cleanliness / prevent germs from spreading. I rate public rooms a 5 star. SERVICE: First class customer services. All staff senior and junior were very pleasant, chatty and highly visible. I never experienced one bad mannered or disgruntled staff member. My only gripe was with some of the service I experienced in the dining rooms but I honestly believe that was due to lack of experience in that field because most of the serving staff work in both the restaurants and the bar areas. For service I rate 4 star only because of my dining experience. SHORE EXCURSIONS: Will never score high in my books because it's either good or very poor but once again it's no different to any other cruise liner. Some shore excursions are a waste of money because the hype in the brochure rarely lives up to expectations. Sometimes there is nothing to see on so called scenic tours. I suppose it all depends on what you expect from a tour. They were mainly well organised apart from the usual passengers wanting to sit on the front of the coach because "i'm more disabled than you" attitude; pathetic really. This is an area where the cruise liners make their money because they are so expensive for what you get in return but at the end of the day it's your choice whether to go on a shore excursion or not. Shore Excursions score a 3 star. VALUE FOR MONEY: Difficult this one. If the price you pay at the time is all you have to pay then very good value for money but there is always add ons ie. Speciality restaurants, drinks packages, shuttle bus and various other bits and bobs. What I don't like is the way all the cruise liners leave gratuity envelopes in your stateroom to reward individuals for the extra WOW treatment you may have received from them during your cruise. This is all well and good but surely not after you have already paid your gratuities at the time of booking. What will they think of next; the WOW WOW factor envelope. I would much rather not pay gratuities and reward individuals because at the end of the day you never know whether gratuities are used to pay staff their basic wage and therefore save the company even more money. Value for money score 3 1/2 - 4 stars for me. CONCLUSION: What I found irritating on the ship was the number of passengers complaining that it wasn't like the Independence of the Seas. No they are right that is why it is called Anthem of the Seas and is a total different class of ship. The only advantage the Independence has over the Anthem is the Royal Promenade which I must admit is a great feature but other than that the Anthem wins hands down. If you don't like big ships then the Anthem is not for you - simples. If you are expecting a promenade like the Independence then you will be disappointed. I have been on both ships and the Anthem is the winner in my book. It is the best ship I have been on to date and even though I have downgraded several areas of my rating I will still give it an overall 5 star rating. It is one ship I will return to. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Yes, as a lot has been said before reading previous reviews. We as a party of 6, one being 95 and in a wheel chair thought why did we book this but we kept a fairly open mind having traveled on various different cruises over the years ... Read More
Yes, as a lot has been said before reading previous reviews. We as a party of 6, one being 95 and in a wheel chair thought why did we book this but we kept a fairly open mind having traveled on various different cruises over the years with RC. At Southampton, the check in was very easy and took less than 20minutes before we were all on the ship as we set everything up before hand. Got to our rooms ok and 1 room even though ordered was incorrectly made as meant to had 2 singles in but they changed it during our evening meal so no real issue for us. Only issue had was one our party had to wait for her cases too arrive after we left port, so 4 1/2 hrs for her bags and when we was in the grande restaurant straight away as we had selected Classic dynamic dining she felted pressured to get ready in 20 minutes. Food overall was a hit and miss, we still don't know why they changed to the dynamic dining as it doesn't give you variety, just the same food with a title change in a different restaurant, you definitely had more variety in the old system. The waiters we had, Veerapan and Casar were excellent so no issues with the staff although they seemed pushed some days mainly because of the problems with the menu titles, not the same as the food that came out. For instance in silk one night was duck a'lorange- but what came out was a hoisin sauce type ? funniest was a crepe dessert title but was more a cake 15mm depth round circle item with ice cream on the side (Not sure how the french would reacted to it but we had such a laugh with the waiters as a Discus thrower would have more use than eating it) Apparently there a totally new menu in a few weeks time for when the ship leaves to America. Divine Decadence I tried for lunch, tried it once and had there version of the Big Mac, it was a brand new burger that came out from the Chef and looked good, bite into it and stone Cold!!! so didn't eat there again. Windjammer was pretty good overall, yes its cramped and trying to get a table you have a few circles around but couldn't fault the food. Johnny Rockets, now tried this on a number of ships and loved it. This design they have destroyed the atmosphere with it open plan and just a corner of a ship next that's soul less, might as well make your own in windjammer down the hall. Also on a windy day food goes cold very quickly as open to the elements. Chops grille, excellent steaks and our waitress Olivia was very good but now a larger restaurant than other ships you feel like there packing the tables in. Outside areas- Ripcord was fun to try and good on a sea day and can book as many times as like for 1 min of fun. Flowrider was good, less crowds as very few teenagers, Seaplex was good, if like waiting in the line up the Northstar a good trip. Pools- well all been said before, the Muppet's at 7am are out to put their towels out by the pool loungers. The towels sit there and no one on them, stayed on ship one day in port, all these towels out by 9am and no one there until just before ship leaves port. So 30 mins and RC staff remove them rule is fiction, they might say it on the daily sheet but never happens. Yes might get crowded on windy days inside but the pools are nice to sit in at the front and relax and most of the time can find a space to lounge. We didn't do any excursions as cheaper to get a taxi most of the time e.g 40 euros for the 6 of us to top of Madeira, then toboggan ride, then taxi back up to cable car and down to the shore. Worked out 160 euro in total, instead of $82 i think PP with RC. Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lisbon, Bilbao were excellent stops. Lanzarote - ok was a Sunday so everything virtually closed, but where they dropped you was nothing really there and had to walk 10 mins to the town to find it closed anyway. There was enough sailing time between the stops to go on a different day, I mean one night the ships traveled at 5 knots for the night?? The biggest gripe with RC was how they looked after the wheelchair bound people on the shuttles, for 1st time Ive experienced being a 3rd rate forgotten people. Lanzarote -2 mini buses that could handle 2 chairs at a time, with a ship having 150 wheel chairs on board this cruise! 1 hour waits with no sun shades, even going to 1 disable shuttle coming back in Lanzarote is unacceptable. In Bilbao , we had similar problems. we found out from the coach staff that out of 26 shuttle buses RC had ordered ZERO coaches for the disable and that they had put on 3 coaches themselves as they knew of the 150 wheel chairs. RC should be ashamed of themselves! Entertainment was pretty good overall I thought and especially liked the virtual Orchestra and comedians on the ship. Cruise Director- think of Sheldon Cooper but not funny. Made boring be a fine art Dont download the RC app- trying to book Ripcord for over a hour with little success, 5 min walk to the nice guys at there desk was quicker Disembarkation- well usual no staff and mass scrum trying to get your bags in the line up So there are good points like the staff trying their best, cabins pretty good and selective on food, but overall its soulless ship trying to be something it not. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We are frequent Royal Caribbean customers and were looking forward to being on a brand new ship... We booked for car parking and arrived at the pier 1.15pm. The process should be superfast for this hi-tech brand new ship. If ... Read More
We are frequent Royal Caribbean customers and were looking forward to being on a brand new ship... We booked for car parking and arrived at the pier 1.15pm. The process should be superfast for this hi-tech brand new ship. If you've checked in online, you will be greeted with someone with an ipad and they'd check your photo and documents, and give you a sticker. You go to security and then straight onboard. Easy if it's quiet and with a steady stream of arrivals. However, it was busy and slow at our alloted time, there were nowhere near enough check in attendants. So a bit of a disappointing start to the #royalwow... TOP TIPS: Go see Hugh in the lower Pool Bar, he's a true star. And ask to sit with Courtney in The Grande. Ride the North Star around sailaway time and the queues should be short. Don't miss dinner at Jamie's Italian...breakfast/lunch in Cafe270 is so good and is much quieter than the Windjammer. Finally 'We Will Rock You' in the theatre is the star attraction of a cruise on Anthem, make sure you prebook. Cabin 11680 very spacious with sofa by the window, beautiful shower and plenty storage. You appreciate the ship is newly built with the sleek furnishings. Our cabin steward Beni was fantastic and very helpful with any requests. Sofa by the window in this cabin with 2 reclining chairs and footstools on the balcony. We had chosen Dynamic Dining with the freedom of choosing a restaurant at a time to suit us. The majority of passengers on this cruise seemed to dine around 630/7pm. Therefore many of the restaurants were quiet later on which meant less atmosphere. We had some great service and lovely food but at other times it was disappointing. The 1st night we went to The Grande and got a very good waiter, Courtney. The following night in Chic we were placed at a table near to the kitchen and all you could hear was dishes being sorted, despite lots of empty tables. The food was average. Onto American Icon, we found on both occasions the food was good in flavour but only luke warm through all dishes, others we spoke with thought the same. We chose not to try Silk as the menus were not to our taste... So it was back to The Grande and got a waiter Abdi who was apologising for his poor service to each table before he even took our orders, yes really (1st time I'd ever heard a waiter do that)...it was so slow we left after the main course. Thereon we requested to the Maitre D to sit with Courtney. She said no problem as we ate generally at the same time each evening. The next night we got that table and had a lovely meal. The following night at the same dining time we were placed with another waiter ... and so the story went on... The Grande has lovely food, which was hot and well presented and definitely a favourite. Highly recommend the halibut and the beef tenderloin. A couple of evenings we ate in The Windjammer which was always popular. Dont forget the the DogHouse in SeaPlex for top snack late afternoon or Sorrentos for made to order pizzas. Overall we found the dining concept erratic, it could be exceptional but equally disappointing. Personally we prefer My Time dining with a rotating menu in a two or three tier dining room that the other ships in the fleet still offer. Perhaps I'm more traditional in my cruise ship preferences than I thought :) And how much do we miss that Filet Steak option on the other ships at a supplement of $20, not available on Anthem unfortunately. The entertainment was varied. The 80s tribute act 'The Wild Boys' were absolutely fantastic and did three separate performances in Two70 and the Music Hall. 'Rock the Boat' are a firm favourite, mainly playing the Music Hall. This is a great venue and the band love it. They sound great too, however there is a lack of seating. Way fewer seats for example than the Pyramid Lounge on the Freedom Class, and Anthem is much bigger. The limited seats were taken early so after 9pm there was absolutely no option but to stand. The 'Beatles' tribute played this venue twice to a packed house, unfortunately we missed them due to a lack of seats. Two70 is a stunning venue but also does not have many seats for popular shows. The other alternatives are Boleros and the Schooner Bar which are also both small. It's a pity because the entertainment was actually really good. This is a design fault unfortunately with the Quantum class ships. There was the usual juggler, comedian and illusionist. Plus the other main shows, Spectres Cabaret and The Gift. It can be difficult to get served at the bars, there is a lack of waiters and lots of passengers on drinks packages so demand is high. Poolside, bar stewards do circulate the upper decks during the day but only stock alcoholic drinks on their carts. The ports of call were good, starting with Vigo in Galicia, Spain. An easy walk off port with shopping. A shore excursion in Lanzarote took us to Playa del Carmen, excellent value at £18 each. Almost 3 hrs on your own for the beach, bars and restaurants and shopping. Next up was the Southern Delights excursion in Gran Canaria. An excellent tour guide took us to Maspalomas to see the dunes, then a drive to Puerto Mogan marina. Again good value at around £20 each. Tenerife, we took the Puerto de la Cruz excursion. Another good value with a few hours alone in this popular resort. Lisbon, the ship docked at the old Tobacco pier which is close to the centre of town and shopping. The Celebrity Eclipse berthed at the more usual Alcantara pier. Stunning sail way under the bridge over the river not to be missed. Bilbao, shuttle buses offered for €10 from the pier, 20 min into the city. A delightful prosperous city. See the Guggenheim Museum and riverside. Cruise Director, Luke Aerowsmith, very enthusiastic and a good replacement for Joff Eaton who was on vacation. We did notice a lack of officers around the ship in the public areas, usually you know who the Hotel Director is or the Chief Officers, but unfortunately not on this cruise. Captain Claus was very entertaining with his daily updates. The deck area directly around the main outside pool is always busy and popular. But there were sun loungers to be had further along towards the aft. The Solarium is a stunning venue, popular on sea days. I had the 4 tier pool to myself after 6pm each day and the water was beautifully warm. There a multiple hot tubs available too. The fitness centre is very well appointed with fabulous sea views and some state of the art equipment. The Diamond Lounge is very busy in the evenings and overflows into the Music Hall. There were 4 waiters serving and they never had a minute, demand was so high. It is a nice venue but not big enough either. The concierge, Andrew was the poorest concierge we have ever had. He never circulated amongst the guests at all during the cruise. Overall a nice cruise, on a beautiful ship but let down personally by inconsistent dining and lack of seating in evening venues for 4000+ passengers. Everyone seemed to stay all evening in a chosen venue once they found a seat rather than circulate between venues and performances. But you've got bumper cars at sea, I FLY skydiving simulator and the North Star #justwow Download the Royal IQ app on your phone before you sail, it's fabulous. Lets you track dining, onboard account, entertainment and activities. Wifi is very fast and consistent. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
-This whole ship is a work of art with spectacular venues fore and aft. The only time you are aware of the number of people on board is at the mandatory muster drill to find your lifeboat. At all other times there are so many different ... Read More
-This whole ship is a work of art with spectacular venues fore and aft. The only time you are aware of the number of people on board is at the mandatory muster drill to find your lifeboat. At all other times there are so many different venues there is more than enough space to spare for everybody. -The crew without exception were customer focused on you being comfortable/having fun/ enjoying yourself and having an amazing time. The ship has a multiplicity of restaurants to choose from with excellent food. The sports hall, solarium, gym and show venues exceed comparable facilities on shore. Where else can you have trapeze lessons, jazz and tap, join a choir, drive dodgem cars, relax in the superb solarium or on deck or in one of the pools watching a film or the football on screen listen to a concert pianist and classical violinist or a rock band or go to truly amazing shows which were so good there are no words to describe them, top class is the least you can say. -You will enjoy the fun quiz's and the cruise director's early/late shows on the television and also the dear captain's daily updates to his guests and crew. There is always something going on if you don't want to simply relax.There were so many high spots on this cruise it is hard to pick out any in particular. We dined in divinely decadent with Alina, Romulus, Marigold, Velinka and all the waiters making the front of house so welcoming it was more like being invited into their home than just getting a meal. Special mention must go to Fortune and the sous chef Sadeki Edwards who prepared such succulent food ,again with smiles. Who could have thought healthy food could be so filling and enjoyable- a true artist. Just all totally wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
just returned from our cruise on Anthem of the Seas and was very disappointed. We have previously cruised on Independence and this cruise ship is no where near that standard. Main problems were too many people on board. We could not get a ... Read More
just returned from our cruise on Anthem of the Seas and was very disappointed. We have previously cruised on Independence and this cruise ship is no where near that standard. Main problems were too many people on board. We could not get a seat in any of the bars in the evening. We had pre booked for the two shows "The Gift" and "We will Rock You" which were both very poor. The entertainment in general was very poor not anywhere near the standard we have had on either the Independence or on P & O. Other problems were unable to get a sun lounger on deck and also did not manage to get any loungers in the Solarium all holiday. Complained to the pool manager and he just shrugged his shoulders. The staff in general were no where near as professional as we have been used to and some of the Eastern Eiropean staff in the Grand Restaurant and the American Icon Grill were frankly quite rude. There were no sail away parties and no pool parties. We hardly saw the entertainment crew. The food in the Windjammer was very good with an excellent choice however we thought that the food in the Grand Restaurant was poor with the same menu every night. All in all we were very disappointed with this cruise and would never go on a Qantum Class ship again Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
My wife and I travelled to Southampton from Essex with our daughter and husband and their little girl aged 2 1/2 on The Explorer of the Seas. We arrived about 11.30 and were pointed in the direction of the car park. Our bags were collected ... Read More
My wife and I travelled to Southampton from Essex with our daughter and husband and their little girl aged 2 1/2 on The Explorer of the Seas. We arrived about 11.30 and were pointed in the direction of the car park. Our bags were collected off us and put into a van and we had a couple of minutes walk to the terminal. We were through check-in and on board by 12.15, really easy and no real queuing. The Explorer is a large ship and was fully booked for the trip to the Canary Islands this included about 960 children. After reading various bad reviews about the Explorer I must say I had some concerns but I am of the opinion that these people must have been on a different cruise ship! Overall you could not have told that this was a 15 year old ship.There were new carpets throughout the ship and everywhere was kept clean. Our first day out across the Bay of Biscay was fairly rough and windy so not many people on deck (plenty of room round the pool!] so was pretty busy inside so if you have bad weather you must expect this. After the first day weather changed and became calmer and warmer and that's when it becomes really crowded around the pool, not easy to get a lounger and although they say about removing towels it is not a practical operation. Having said that there are plenty of places to find a lounger, on top of where the new cabins were put is a large area and also a lot quieter than round the pool and on deck 4 where you can walk right round the ship. We ate most of our meals in the Windjammer because with a toddler it is easier than the MDR. Found the selection of foods well varied and probably aimed more toward U.K voyagers but still an interesting mix. Seating which seems to have been a big problem for some people according to reviews is no hassle if you time it right. If you are there for breakfast around 8 am plenty of space, same with lunch go a little bit earlier and also evening meal. We used to go in about 6.45 and hardly anyone there.Cannot really comment on MDR as we only ate there once but menus varied. The entertainment on the ship is varied and what appeals to some will not to others you just have to pick and choose. The Headliner acts, we saw two, the Queen tribute band and the ventriloquist were both excellent and whatever you do do not miss the ice show as that is brilliant. For the kids they have a club for 3 year olds and above which must have been well used for despite there being so many children on board you would not have realised it. For children under 3 there is a playroom in the Conference centre which is not supervised, so you must be with your children, which has a varied selection of toys for the kids to play with. Kept our granddaughter amused anyway. We were slightly disappointed that they took the pool away at the back of the ship to make way for the Flowrider but we were still able to take her in the hot tubs at the main pool [they must be potty trained] A lot of kids at the pools and in the hottubs as you would expect but they do keep one tub for adults and also there are two in the Solarium and one in the gym for adults as well as the pool in the Solarium. Service on the ship was excellent, very friendly from all staff. washy washy's at Windjammer a blast always funny. waiters in Windjammer very good always making a fuss of our granddaughter, I think they miss their own children. They work hard and give them respect and they will return it, unfortunately some people treated them not as people but as servants which I didn't think was very nice. The other venues on the ship do get crowded at night and seating is limited but it is no different to a busy pub or club but nobody had to wait long for a drink. don't know where these queues for drinks came from. Excursions. Madeira we just had shuttle into town, o.k nothing special although the excursions looked alright. Tenerife. We had transfer to the beach which was fantastic, lovely sand crystal clear water and beautiful scenery. Gran Canaria. Loved it. Walk of the ship into town,lots of shops and 10 minute walk through town to fantastic beach and promenade. Lanzarote. Went on trip to Aloe Vera farm and and underground volcanic pool, very good. Vigo. Our trip had to be cancelled so walked into town 2 minutes. Loads of shops really nice place. Most of the excursions were expensive, not sure that you would get value for money on some, so need to pick and choose. Lastly our room steward Chris was great, been away from home for seven months and has two children, looked after us and my daughter and grandchild. Should only have towel animal every other day but he and one of the other stewards were leaving them once or twice a day for my granddaughter which was very nice. Always friendly and smiling,not easy sometimes I would imagine. Arrival back at Southampton. Left cases out night before. Told to be in our designated waiting area by 7.30[we chose 8-9 am disembarkation] and were called straight away and off the ship and through customs by 7.50, a breeze. Hope I've covered most things but will happily answer any questions.We had a great time, some things were not to our taste but then we are all different but I cannot fault RCI for there efforts and would recommend. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Embarkation at approximately 1.00pm was quick and easy. From arrival in the City Cruise Terminal to entering our stateroom took approximately 15 minutes. Having checked in on-line prior to the holiday probably helped speed the ... Read More
Embarkation at approximately 1.00pm was quick and easy. From arrival in the City Cruise Terminal to entering our stateroom took approximately 15 minutes. Having checked in on-line prior to the holiday probably helped speed the process. Disembarkation was just as easy and quick. We had opted to carry our own luggage off the ship and had an early departure at 6.15 am as soon as the gangways were in place and were out of the terminal by 6.20! Travellers should note that the RCI gangways meet the cruise terminal at first floor level and to get to the ground floor you have 2 very slow lifts and an escalator – an obvious congestion area during busy departure times for those struggling with 2/3 heavy cases! Our first impressions of the Explorer were good . Some recent reviews were critical describing the ship as tired despite the 2015 refurbishment. That was not our impression. We thought everything was immaculate and spotlessly clean. The new interactive information panels on each deck were great and provided instant information on what was on and where and how to get there. The Saphire Dining Room which is three decks high is impressive with excellent furniture, fine cutlery and china. All the public areas, bars and the Windjammer buffet room were well appointed and well laid out. The toilets were always immaculately clean. The Palace Theatre is excellent with good sight lines, Studio B - the ice rink - was another impressive venue. We had a promenade stateroom [6605] on Deck 6 with a bow window that overlooked the Grand Promenade on Deck 5. We thought it might suffer from noise from the Promenade but the room was well insulated and there was no disturbance. The window seat was a good vantage point even though we were away from the centre of the Promenade The cabin was well equipped with a flat screen tv, tea and coffee making facilities, excellent king size bed, plenty of storage space, dressing table and a double seat sofa. The shower was excellent, piping hot water at all times, with a glass door - not curtains, and fine 100% Egyptian cotton bath towels. Towards the end of the cruise our shower developed a fault but was back in full working order in less than an hour after a telephone call to ‘Maintenance’. Full marks to RCI. The ship was full and had about 1,000 children on board but much to our surprise we had no problems finding seats in bars and other public areas. The loungers around the pools on deck were invariably full or reserved by selfish travellers who seldom occupied them. Unfortunately this was not policed by the staff. However we always found loungers or seats in lovely sunny locations a short walk away towards the stern or near the Flowrider. Dining in the Saphire main dining room was a pleasure. The venue is impressive and on three levels. Deck 5 was reserved for Mytime dining which meant you could dine at any time between 5.30pm and 9.00pm whilst decks 4 and 3 were for those on fixed dinner times. This was our first experience of Mytime dining and to ensure an early dining time we had booked on-line for 6.00pm. We presented ourselves on the first evening at that time and were taken immediately to a table for two. This table was reserved for us for the rest of the cruise so we were served by the same waiter and assistant just as if we were on a fixed dining time. The food and the choice in the Saphire was excellent and though we had planned to dine in one of the speciality restaurants we were happy to stay in the Saphire for the whole cruise. We also breakfasted and lunched a la carte [ Brasserie 30] in the Saphire and cannot fault the service, choice or the quality of the food. We thought it better than on P&O. The wine as usual was overpriced but when you’re on holiday………!! Our only other gripe was the quality of the coffee served on board. Even after paying extra for what was described as cappuccino it proved no better. In fact the biggest downside of the cruise for us was the absence of a proper coffee shop. Apart from the Windjammer the only venue was the Promenade Cafe which served Starbucks coffee in cardboard cups! This was the first cruise ship we have been on which did not have a nice coffee shop. Our only visits to the Windjammer were for afternoon tea or a quick snack after arriving back on ship after being ashore. We thought the buffet well planned and laid out and were happy with what was on offer. We were pleasantly surprised by the standard of dress in the Saphire with something like 90% of diners on the three formal evenings abiding by the dress code. Ladies were particularly well dressed but sadly a small minority of men opted for short sleeved shirts and one or two dined in flip flops and shorts! Unfortunately it appears that RCI have adopted a policy of turning a blind eye to their declared dress code and one is left to wonder how long it will be before formal evenings disappear from some cruise lines. On the other hand we did witness one brave member of staff refuse entry to a bare chested man to the Windjammer buffet but that was the only enforcement of the dress code that we saw. We were disappointed with the entertainment on offer in the theatre. There were only three full production shows featuring the orchestra, dancers and singers during the 10 night cruise. These fell well below the standard we have enjoyed on our three last cruises with P&O. The other evenings were taken up by solo performers – a singer and a comedian again of not a particularly high standard. However a ventriloquist did have a very funny act and the family of violinists were impressive. The most enjoyable entertainment for us was the ice show which was excellent. An added bonus for Crown and Anchor members was an invitation to the Captain’s reception and another ‘private’ ice show in ice rink. A minor irritant was the high noise levels in the theatre and the Grand Promenade discos. Our itinerary included Madeira, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Vigo. Unfortunately it was not the best planned itinerary principally because of the short stays in some of the stops. Having taken two and a half days to reach Madeira which is a beautiful island the time ashore was limited to some 5 hours just enough time for a coffee and a glass of wine. Time was also at a premium in Tenerife. We opted to take the ship’s bus ride to Puerto de la Cruz a lovely 40 minute ride away but which left just two hours in the resort before heading back to the ship. Gran Canaria on the other hand was the only full day [10 hours] in port. We opted to do our own thing and took the hop on hop off bus tour of what turned out to be a disappointing city. The visits to Lanzarote and Vigo were also limited to a morning and an afternoon respectively. Both were attractive locations particularly Vigo with its bustling fish restaurants. Any prospective travellers opting for a similar itinerary should consider opting for out of port excursions particularly in Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Lanzarote but beware cruise line excursions [and shuttles] can seriously damage your finances. Overall, it was a lovely and leisurely cruise which my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed. The ship is in fine shape, our stateroom was delightful and well placed close to the Grand Promenade and the Saphire dining room. The food and service in the Saphire was excellent and we only have praise for the friendly and efficient staff of the Explorer of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Just returned from a ten night cruise around the Canary Islands on the Explorer of the Seas....we could not wait to get home! We have sailed previous with Disney who were fabulous....RC don't even come close. First of all, ... Read More
Just returned from a ten night cruise around the Canary Islands on the Explorer of the Seas....we could not wait to get home! We have sailed previous with Disney who were fabulous....RC don't even come close. First of all, embarking at Southampton was superb, no complaints or issues at all. From parking the car, to actually setting foot on the ship took less than 30 mins. It's from there that it starts to go downhill.....fast. It took the majority of the day to receive our luggage even though we were allowed to enter our cabin from 1pm onwards. I'd advise future passengers to carry the necessities in a hold-all etc just in case this is the norm. It was very frustrating. We'd arranged weeks prior to our holiday for a birthday cake to be in our stateroom when we arrived. This didn't happen. After a long wait at Customer Services we finally received it well into the evening. Customer Service staff are very helpful and polite by the way. The ship is spotless....our cabin was clean and comfortable but for people who haven't sailed before, inside staterooms aren't the biggest! The entertainment was a huge let down. Very very disappointing. The main shows were just amateur, unlike the shows on Disney that could have slotted in on the WestEnd easily. The ice show was very good and it was a shame more shows can't be done, especially for the children. At the start of our voyage there were quizzes being held in the Star Lounge....quite a large venue on the ship...but as the days passed the quizzes were transferred to small bars around the ship. Why!? The bars could only seat 30-40 people! What's the point! Food. Oh dear! Not good! The Windjammer is just a place of chaos! There is no order when queing for food, tables....the food itself is very samey, rather bland.... I understand why the buffet has to exist. It would be impossible to accommodate every passenger in the main dining rooms, but the place needs to be managed. We ate at Johnny Rockets one evening. The place empty, probably because you had to pay! However, food was very good as was the service. I spent a lot of time in the Fitness suite as there was so little to do during the day, unless you fancied climbing up the side of the ship or risking injury on the flo-rider....a disclaimer must be signed for both! I think that tells you something! The gym was well equipped but quite a few machines were broken and remained so for the whole ten days. The kids arcade is a great idea, but beware you can easily spend a fortune in there!!! Drinks are very expensive unless you buy a drinks package which just aren't thought through properly. In order to get your money's worth you would need to be drinking 7-8 bottles are lager say, per day. So if you are a person who just fancies a couple of drinks during the evening, they don't offer any sort of 'deal' like that. So per drink...a bottle of lager would set you back £5 ! Even Dick Turpin wore a mask! That's the biggest issue with RC. From the moment you set foot on the ship, they are just after your money! Every penny they can squeeze out of you, they will! To sum it up....it was Butlins on Water! Full of people wanting to gorge on food and drink....hence the ship running out of both after six days. I would NOT travel with RC again. The staff do an excellent job for very little wages no doubt but this ship is hugely overcrowded that lead to soooo many standards being jeopardised. Try Disney! They are fab! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
The ship was absolutely amazing. For my first time going on a cruise I was amazed by the explorer of the seas. The staff were so helpful and provided a fabulous service along with many smiles and even interacted with the children very ... Read More
The ship was absolutely amazing. For my first time going on a cruise I was amazed by the explorer of the seas. The staff were so helpful and provided a fabulous service along with many smiles and even interacted with the children very well. From the cleaners to the waiters and waitresses, they were all great (special mention to our waiter in the sapphire lounge) There is plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants so it will never be too crowded and lots of things to do when cruising. I personally didn't like the pools as they were salt water (that's just me) and they were very deep which is why the hot tubs would always have the children in and splashing everyone. Though when shows would finish it would be very very busy and hard to get a seat but everyone soon filters out. Though expensive, the shore excursions were wonderful, we went on one in lanzarote and seen many things and learnt many facts. Cabins were as good as any hotel room, but it was lovely having a balcony if you wanted to just sit somewhere. The most exciting thing on our cruise was seeing dolphins almost everyday! Of probably about 100 or more dolphins was absolutely fantastic and watching them jump out together was even better. The captain would interact with the people from the bridge and was very funny. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We have over the last ten years been cruising with our family with Royal Caribbean and are at this point Diamond members. However this cruise was disappointing to say the least. It seems RCI are no longer really interested in their ... Read More
We have over the last ten years been cruising with our family with Royal Caribbean and are at this point Diamond members. However this cruise was disappointing to say the least. It seems RCI are no longer really interested in their customers at all and service is being cut back drastically! The entertainment on this cruise was appalling. The sail away was no more appropriate with Rule Britannia being belted out over the speakers, followed by some kind of tranquil music you would normally hear in a spa and moving on to ABBA slowly lowered down to nothing... no live band, no entertainment team dancing and involving the guests and that was the start to a very bad entertainment package for the rest of the holiday! The shows were aimed not to entertain everyone but an older crowd of people which is fine if they tell you that before you book with young adults. The night club has been taken out altogether and replaced with a restaurant that you can pay for your dinner in. I feel I have paid for my food already and should not be constantly have to have the option of paid restaurants pushed at me. So as the nightclub is gone there was no real place for the younger adults and including ourselves to really go. The place that was allocated was Dizzy's which is a lounge then the DJ Bombay showed up and had no interest what so ever in what he was there for. There was an on going battle to have music played from the last two decades so not representing a night club! The shows were low quality and as we were on the second seating for dinner we had to either go before dinner or not at all as they were I think expecting everyone to watch the show and head off to bed. I book the later sitting for dinner for a reason not so we could be back in our room at 5.30 to shower and get ready if we wanted to watch a bad show. RCI also increase the prices of drinks I can only assume to push people towards buying packages. They are now under staffed at the bars and so always a queue to get a drink as they don't care if you wait they already have your money. The security was not up to standard either. No one at the door of the so called night club making sure no children were in there which of course on occasion resulted in under age people in there. There was also an issue with one drunken man trying to attack my son at the end of the night,when the bar man was asked to call security he refused. We eventually did get rid of the man who could hardly stand only to watch him go and start annoying the young adults on the pool deck. This resulted in us calling security who instead of detaining the man thought the best option was to follow him! Eventually when my husband and son insisted they remove him and do their job as he was upsetting our daughter they finally did. There was meeting conducted the following day but this should never have happened, RCI are not protecting their guests and ensuring safety we had to do this ourselves. The food was ok but not up to standard in the windjammer as was on previous years. The standard in general is dropping as they seem to be doing away with the little extras, no ice sculptures, no chocolates on your pillow, poorly trained staff who plainly just didn't care. The only really good thing I could say about this cruise was our waiter and room attendant were excellent, having said that you could see that they had not had the same training but simply doing their best. Also I have noticed that there seems to be a massive difference in the prices to cruise in Europe than in America. It seems we are just not as important as guests or they really think we are just fools in Europe? Really just turning into a money grabbing fest. If a cruise line cannot look after people who have cruised with them for years then its not looking good. We will have to look for a better alternatives. Karen. Diamond member. Dublin, Ireland. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I don't normally write reviews but as this was our first cruise we read all the reviews on this site and asked lots of questions so hope it may help others like us. We travelled with our two Young boys, 3 (turned 4 during cruise) ... Read More
I don't normally write reviews but as this was our first cruise we read all the reviews on this site and asked lots of questions so hope it may help others like us. We travelled with our two Young boys, 3 (turned 4 during cruise) and 2 year old on the 12 night canaries and North Africa cruise. We booked one of the new panoramic rooms of deck 12. For us the room was fantastic. Spotless, amazing views and great location. Quiet and easy quick access to pool. Our room attendant Andrei was great also. Checking in: Quick and easy, once on the ship we did have difficulty finding room, but once found all was good. Food: We only ate in the main dinning room once. We made the mistake of booking the early sitting. For us with two Young kids the later one would have worked best. On the one occasion we did eat there the food was very good. Windjammer was very good, no complaints, food was varied, always hot and staff were always efficient. Chops grill was simply amazing. Food was incredible and staff were fantastic. Johnny rockets was great fun and good food. Drinks We had all inclusive package. Select and premium. The choice of drinks was endless, so much to choose from. Entertainment was very good although there was little to do after 10 pm other than hit the bars which was hard with kids. Could have done with something or somewhere quieter to sit for families. Great if your kid free though, lots of bars, music playing, disco and casino. Pool was very clean and tidy. They changed the water regularly in the pools. We knew the policy on potty trained kids which did cause us a bit of an issue but we found this out a few months before we left so endured our youngest was trained before we left. All they did was paddle their feet anyhow. Passengers on board were varied in age but everyone was great and freindly, we met some great people. Yes there were a lot of older people but we found these to be the nicest who always had tone for you. Staff were great, everyone had time for us, always friendly and were great with our two boys, especially washy washy. For us we had a great family holiday. We loved the ship, found it clean, with lots to do and will certainly return to cruise to RCI. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
I would always say that people generally will only review if they haven't had a good experience and I therefore am going to defy the negative critics and give a positive review of our experiences on the Explorer of the Seas in June ... Read More
I would always say that people generally will only review if they haven't had a good experience and I therefore am going to defy the negative critics and give a positive review of our experiences on the Explorer of the Seas in June 2015. I would say that we chose RC to be on a family friendly Ship, which was the case with our family holiday, we travelled with our 5 & 10 year old children and they also had a great time, kids club was fantastic and the loved their time in the club and there is a reasonable amount of activities to keep the kids entertained with Ice skating, Rock climbing etc etc. There were a fair few slightly older guests on board the ship more than I had thought there would be, perhaps Cunard cruising might have been more their cup of tea and they did tend to be the worst culprits for hogging sun beds in two locations and for some reason they always wanted to be right next to the pools that they never used but to be fair most families with young children got their heads around getting up and reserving sun beds nice and early! That said there was only a problem on cruise days reply as lots of people go out for the days while in port! We upgraded our Al Inclusive Package to Premium Package which was excellent and we also treated ourselves to Fine Dining in the Italian and Chops Grill, they were excellent but so to was the Sapphire Dining Experience was also superb with My time Dining, no queues for a table and the best waiting service I have experienced for a while, we were treated like royalty by our waiting Team, who gave us the ability to feed the kids early and then enjoy a more leisurely meal while they played in Kids Club, but we did mix it up a fair bit with kids eating with us on the three formal nights plus others! The Wine on offer on our package was superb, but equally the wine offered on the package below was equally nice too! Food was fantastic and reasonably varied with some nice Indian dishes as an alternative to eating steaks, seafood etc. Getting on at Southampton was superb on the boat within 35mins and boom you are on holiday, Our destinations were superb can't really grumble about anything really. The staff are really friendly and attentive, we never really had a problem finding a seat in a bar but beware if you time it badly the Show lovers come out at 10pm so if you arrive at a bar at 10.05pm, there might be a slight wait and you might have to stand for 10mins! Room cleanliness was superb, Room Steward was very friendly and helpful we had a Oceanview Stateroom so as a family of four it was a bit tight but for all of you worrying it's going to be cramped don't panic as it's bearable as you spend so little time.in the room, you are only sleeping in the room at night, but if you can afford two cabins with an adjoining door then go for it as we did that previously but we gambled this time and if paid off :) If you are a couple with kids, try to use the kids club to give yourselves time together as its a really nice plus point to be able to enjoy one another's company and there are lots of bars to try out together or walks around the deck whatever takes your fancy :) I hope my honest review might set some people concerns at rest, we had an amazing holiday and met many other people who were also enjoying theirselves both young alike! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Let me also state by saying that we do not make a habit of writing reviews, however in this case we felt as if we should make our feelings known. These are our true and honest thoughts. We have done over 15 cruises so are not newbies. ... Read More
Let me also state by saying that we do not make a habit of writing reviews, however in this case we felt as if we should make our feelings known. These are our true and honest thoughts. We have done over 15 cruises so are not newbies. We embarked the Explorer of the Seas at Southampton for our 12 night trip to the Canary Islands. We had a balcony cabin on deck 6 - this proved to be very quite and no problems arose. When we purchased the cruise we were given a select drinks package, which as I am not allowed to drink was really of no use, however once on board we had it changed to the Royal Replenish package. The first real thing that we noticed was that the food in the MDR was over the 12 nights somewhat limited. Several of the same things appeared every night and I am not talking about the classic section. No real steak or lobster unless you paid extra. These items used to be on the menu all the time. However what was on offer was cooked and presented very well. The Windjammer was a real turn off, the same food every day. 4 types of potatoes and no vegatables (well one lot) that was cooked. You could have raw carrots, broccoli, cauliflower etc. All the deserts were the same, called something different the next day. Even the rolls and sandwiches in the Promande Café were always the same. On to the entertainment most of the outside entertainers were pretty good apart from Darren Day, he should stick to singing. The in house singers and dancers however were a different matter - they put on 3 shows and if you hadn't of known you would haver said that they just repeated one show 3 times, they were almost identical. Same era 30's, 40's music no get up and go at all. No real special customs or scenery. As I have mobility issues we did a number of the ships excursions, these were all organised very well. They were however all very expensive compared to what could have been obtained if we were more able. On the whole we were satisfied. There were a number of very good quizzes and of course bingo that one could take part in. But there were no really good lectures on the places we visited. or anything else for that matter. Usual Captains Q & A session. Shopping on board as usual was a joke, expensive shops selling expensive tat. More and more watches. But you can't buy a bar of chocolate or a packet of sweets. The only sweets available were those in the mini bar which cost $3.75 approx. £2.25 - they cost 89p in the shops normally. The shop assistances appeared to be very bored all the time. The price we paid for the cruise was probably the highest we have ever paid, but what we got back has not gone up to match, the cut backs are becoming very obvious. The gap between what was on offer 2/3 years ago and what you get now has widened quite considerably. Oil is cheap at the moment so we should be getting more, but we are not. However one thing has not decreased and that is the service we received from the staff, all of them that we had dealings with without exception were excellent and in same cases went further than they had to. If RCCI continue to increase their prices, which they probably will if the oil prices start to go up, but decrease what is on offer than perhaps my husband and I will be sailing with someone different next year. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We recently returned from a 12 night cruise on the Explorer to the Canary Islands, Morocco, and Spain. The reason we selected this cruise was that our vacation time is limited and the Canaries are rarely visited during the summer months, I ... Read More
We recently returned from a 12 night cruise on the Explorer to the Canary Islands, Morocco, and Spain. The reason we selected this cruise was that our vacation time is limited and the Canaries are rarely visited during the summer months, I don't know if RCCL is slipping a bit, or it was the ship, or because of the mostly UK guests, but from our perspective the food especially was pretty bland and uninteresting. NO AMERICAN BACON for breakfast - heartbreaking for a woman who only eats bacon on a cruise. Now that's not to say that we (my husband and I) didn't enjoy the cruise or couldn't find enough to eat, it was just not quite what we expected. We've done over 40 cruises and are diamond plus with RCCL. We've also done cruises from the UK that were also predominantly from the British Isles before. The best things about the trip were the people we met, the ports (except for Agadir, which deserves a minus 100 rating, avoid at all costs) entertainment and the wonderful service. We played some pretty serious trivia with my brother and new friends from Australia and England. If you read this John, Angie and Dave, drop me a line. Lanzarote was outstanding and every other port interesting. Embarkation and debarkation easy and smooth. In general a very nice cruise except for the food. I guess that I should be more specific about the food. Very heavy on starches, limited selection of fresh fruit, very limited selection of fish for dinner, ordinary and bland deserts, they ran out of cookies at the Windjammer every day, limited options for pizza, NO AMERICAN BACON, pastries were heavy and not much variety of fillings, and the self serve ice cream machine was very thin and watery. One bright spot was the Indian food and the evening selections at the Windjammer - much more interesting. I hope that the readers find this review helpful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
To start with the positive,embarkment and disembarkment excellent,no delays,very well managed,our promenade cabin great space and well maintained by our attendant,food was of a very good standard in main restaurant,service was ... Read More
To start with the positive,embarkment and disembarkment excellent,no delays,very well managed,our promenade cabin great space and well maintained by our attendant,food was of a very good standard in main restaurant,service was excellent,booking our table before sailing was a huge advantage with mytime dining,enjoyed the shows in theatre espcially the ventriloquist and violinist,all the staff worked very hard as usual and were very pleasant at all times.Now the negatives,overcrowding,not good enough that we had to sit on stairs at the price we paid,drink prices outrageous,had to go for a drinks package which was the cheapest option but still expensive,entertainment in the promenade had in my view health and safety issues,it was impossible to move up or down an area which i considered a lovely area to stroll after an evening meal however not on this cruise,no shop stocking normal everyday toiletries,shops with a lot of overpriced stock,the resident band horizon left a lot to be desired,did not play suitable dance music for the age bracket of the audience,on every night .no variety,a definate lack of music at pool,the large screen what a joke ,you couldnt even see it just supplied background noise,we didnt do tours but i object to having to pay for shuttle buses,the one to agadir was a joke,a complete ripoff and led us to believe that we would be dropped in middle,left at taxi rank and a taxi was required to get to markets,some people got money back but we didnt when we complained, our major problem was being left at heathrow 8 hours before departure of our flight,what a disgace and spoiled an otherwise enjoyable holiday,was in contact with airsupport but got no satisfactory explanation,was supposed to be free flights which might explain it Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
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