My daughter wanted a cruise for her birthday but since her birthday is in December around Christmas, we decided to do a summer cruise instead. We liked the itinerary for the Anthem of Seas, the convenience of leaving from New Jersey ... Read More
My daughter wanted a cruise for her birthday but since her birthday is in December around Christmas, we decided to do a summer cruise instead. We liked the itinerary for the Anthem of Seas, the convenience of leaving from New Jersey (since we live in Philadelphia), and the fact that this was a new ship with so much to do on board. We invited our friends whose daughter is my daughter's BFF, and we reserved three cabins for three families in August of 2015. With a whole year ahead of us, I read a lot of negative reviews, and then of course, all the mishaps with this ship (storm, norovirus, and the tragic drowning of the little boy that happened about three weeks before we left). Needless to say, I was a little nervous, not for myself, but for my friends who had never cruised before. I am happy to report that our fears were unfounded. This ship is absolutely beautiful. The art work is amazing (although it was sad to see that some disgraceful people had carved their initials into the posters in the elevators), the open spaces beautifully decorated and spacious, and for the most part, the staff was attentive, courteous and friendly. Was everything perfect? Of course not, but I also think that when some people are on vacation, they leave their manners behind and expect that staff is there to treat them like royalty and at times act like spoiled brats. Fortunately, I didn't witness any of that, although another passenger told me while we were waiting to disembark that there had been a fight in the Windjammer the night before when one passenger called another a nasty, horrible name that I will not repeat. Interestingly, we did hear calls for an emergency medical situation while we were in Chic that night, so it may have been related.
Embarkation was a breeze. We got there around 10:30 am and there were employees with iPads waiting to greet you and sign you in. I don't think we took more than 5 minutes to check in. We waited about a half hour before they let us get on board and headed straight for Cafe 270 for a lovely lunch. A bit of a line, but I'm sure it was easier than the Windjammer, which I never actually stepped foot in. Not that I don't like buffets, but I prefer the sit down restaurants or cafe-style where portions are more controlled. I took the girls to the SeaPlex where they were able to get on the bumper cars twice. It was a good thing we did because the lines later in the cruise were ridiculous!
I found the restaurants on board to be, for the most part, very good. Our favorites were Grande, Chic and the Solarium Bistro both for service and food. We did not do any of the paid restaurants. I wanted to do Jaime's for lunch, but there were no openings. We found the service and food in American Icon and Silk to be OK. They do change the menus, so maybe, just like any other restaurant, we may have liked it the next time, but we actually cancelled our reservation at AI and rebooked the Solarium Bistro. I think the SB is an little known gem. The food and the service were fabulous. You order an entree, but appetizers and dessert are buffet-style. It was all Greek and Mediterranean fare and it was amazing! I ended up going to breakfast there a few times and it was equally wonderful.
Entertainment for us was mixed. I honestly did not get the Gift, Spectra's Cabaret was interesting, but We Will Rock You was excellent! We did a lot of trivia and spent a lot of time at Schooner's Bar. We tried to go to Billy Joel night at the Music Hall, but it was standing room only. Our girls loved the Kids Club (which they loved) so we had some time to ourselves. I found the pool situation too small for the size of this ship. The outdoor pool was always packed, but you would get breaks in the indoor pool which luckily, our girls preferred. They also loved the Current Pool and the Kids H2O Zone. Overall, this is a ship where you can do nothing or be busy all the time.
We were in cabin 7176 (D3 Superior Balcony). The cabin was very comfortable and the bathroom larger than I had pictured. There was plenty of storage space and my only complaint (if any) is that when the pull out bed is open, there really is not much space to move out to the balcony (which was also very comfortable).
The other thing I was confused about was the complaint I read about the Fitness Center being small. I don't understand this because the space was huge and there were plenty of machines. We did a Yoga class which was just OK. I've never done yoga before, but my friend does it frequently and she said that the instructor was not very detailed.
Our ports were Bermuda, St. Maarten, San Juan and Labadee. Bermuda was beautiful, but St. Maarten was our favorite. We booked the Glassbottom Ship tour and it was very nice. You sit upstairs on the way to the reef and then go downstairs when you reach the reef. The reef is not very colorful, but it was very nice. The two young men who ran the tour were 8th Generation Bermudians and very knowledgeable about the island. After we got back from the tour, we paid $5 pp each way to go to Hamilton via water taxi. We just walked around and had a very nice lunch at the Pickled Onion. We did not book a tour in St. Maarten and just paid $8 pp each way to take us to Maho Beach where it was very cool to see the planes flying in. Cabs are very reasonable there and you can get them right on the pier. Unless you are an early bird, there really isn't enough time to do anything in San Juan, so only my husband got off to get his requisite magnet and Christmas ornament. Labadee was nice, but the beaches weren't that great and I hate the nickel-and-diming where you have to pay for chairs (tip to the guy who pulls it out for you although you can do it yourself), zip lining, water park, etc. There was a nice water park on land for the kids so they had a good time.
Was everything perfect? No, as I noted with the restaurants and Labadee, but these are not deal breakers. My only other "complaint" is that I thought the Character Breakfast was rather lame. They only had two characters (King Julien and Skipper) even though Princess Fiona, Puss in Boots, Po, Gloria were also on board. Quite honestly, I was shocked when they said thanks for coming because I was sure there were more characters to come.
I think the problem for some people is that if you want a traditional cruise, this is not it. The technology on board is not perfect, especially if everyone is on Royal IQ at the same time, but it beats having to stand in line at Customer Service to get them to print your bill. Would I do this cruise again? Absolutely! And so would the first time cruisers who went with us. Read Less