Anthem of the Seas
On 24 October 2015, I embarked on a 3-night sailing onboard Anthem of the Seas to Zeebrugge and Le Havre. It was her last round-trip cruise from Southampton, before crossing the Atlantic to her new home of New York. It was also my first time onboard Royal Caribbean International’s new Quantum-class of cruise ships, so I was eager to experience not only the wonderful features, but also the technological innovations of this ‘Smart Ship’.
I arrived at Southampton’s City Cruise Terminal shortly before 12:30. With Anthem of the Seas, you check in online, so there was no waiting in lines to check in. You even upload your own security photo online, so you can look your best, instead of that awkward moment where the check in assistant fumbles with the webcam for twenty seconds finding the right light, while you stare uncomfortably into the camera, debating whether or not you should smile or look serious! You know where I’m coming from right!? After a brief queue to get through security, I joined a short line to get my passport examined by one of the friendly staff, equipped with a tablet, who also quickly confirmed the details I had provided online. Even the health questionnaire was fully electronic, so there was no foraging in bags, searching for a pen. After my details were checked, the woman stamped my SetSail pass and I was all set to board the ship. Unlike other cruise ships, the SetSail pass acts as your ID to get on the ship. I was finally onboard. Yippee! The ship still had that brand new smell and I couldn’t wait to explore. First stop, however was to my stateroom so I could drop of my small suitcase, which I had opted to self-carry onto the ship.
Waiting outside my Balcony Stateroom was a SeaPass card, so I could open the door. Onboard Anthem of the Seas these cards are contactless, so there’s no inserting the card into the slot waiting for the light to flash green. Instead you simply hold the card up to the scanner. Upon entering the cabin, the remainder of the SeaPass cards were waiting on the bed, along with the new payment wristbands called WOWbands. The stateroom itself was very nicely appointed. Designed by celebrity interior designer Genevieve Gorder, the room made maximum use of the available space, with two wardrobes surrounding the bed as well as plenty of drawer space. The cabin features USB sockets, perfect for charging phones and tablets. The balcony was large and the bathroom was very spacious, however the actual cabin was rather narrow. Despite being designed by celebrity designer Gorder, the cabin lacked coat hooks.
As is tradition when on a cruise, I went straight to the buffet to eat. There are so many different dining options available onboard Anthem of the Seas it’s sometimes very hard to choose!
The Windjammer is the perfect place for a quick bite to eat. Anthem of the Seas features hand wash stations, which are becoming more popular on cruise ship now than the hand santitisers. I was very surprised by how easy it was to find a table. The food was the usual Royal Caribbean International buffet choices – hot dogs, burgers, pizza, roasted meats – and I loved the bakery selection, which served a range of breads and pastries. The fresh bread made an appealing alternative to the stale, dry rolls provided for the hot dogs. There’s also alfresco seating overlooking the aft of the ship, which reminds me very much of the Radiance-class ships.
Anthem of the Seas has four complimentary main dining rooms. During my three-night cruise, I dined in American Icon Grill, Chic, and Silk. Also available is The Grande. American Icon Grill offers delicious steak and seafood classics, such as New England Clam Chowder, Nebraska Short Rib of Beef and Cajun Snapper. For Appetiser, I chose the Calamari, followed by a Beef Consomme. I also enjoyed a delicious New York Sirloin Steak, finishing the meal with a mouth-watering Warm Skillet Cookie.
Chic is very similar to American Icon Grill, but serves a wider range of cuisine, rather than steak and seafood. I loved the decor of this restaurant, especially the glitzy oval-shaped entrance and the quirky tableware!
Out of all the complimentary restaurants onboard, Silk was my favourite. Silk combines exotic dishes from China, India, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. To start, I ordered some delicious Onion Bhajis and Vegetable Samosas, which were amazing! Equally fabulous was the Chicken Tikka Masala I had for my main course. For dessert I decided to order the Chocolate Mousse with a hint of Cinnamon and Orange Zest. The entire meal was fantastic and I could not fault anything.
The Grande is the formal restaurant on the ship. Onboard Anthem of the Seas there is no formal nights, but if you still want the opportunity to dress up, then The Grande is the place to dine, enforcing a strict Black Tie dress code to enter. If you want to escape all the action-packed surroundings of the ship, then The Grande is the perfect place to relax and dine in sophisticated elegance.
Wonderland is a magical new specialty dining restaurant. Inspired by the adventures of Alice in Wonderland, this unique intimate dining experience – which is like being in a real life fairytale – combines unusual food combinations, and artistic presentations.
Located in the beautiful Via, Jamie’s Italian is a popular place to dine onboard Anthem of the Seas. The land-based chain of Italian restaurants created by Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is most famous for their planks of food!
The Café @ Two70 is a new gourmet marketplace serving delicious sandwiches, salads, hearty soups and delicious desserts – not forgetting rejuvenating hot drinks. It’s a great alternative to the Windjammer and conveniently located within the fabulous Two70.
Other dining venues around the ship include Chops Grille, Izumi, Devinly Decadence, SeaPlex Dog House, Johnny Rockets, Cafe Promenade, Sorrento’s, La Patisserie and Coastal Kitchen.
Two70 was one of my favourite venues onboard the ship. With 270 degree views overlooking the aft of the ship, this two-deck high venue is the perfect place to relax in the daytime, but its in the evenings that this incredible venue comes alive! The panoramic windows transform into a giant video wall, projecting stunning visual backdrops to accompany the fabulous performances. I certainly enjoyed Spectra’s Cabaret. It was a really fun show combining vocalists, dancing, aerial artists and the main stars of the show…the six giant roboscreens that beautifully dance in time to the music!
We Will Rock You is the headline show in the Royal Theatre and believe me, it was out of this world! The singing capabilities of the cast as well as the talented musicians who play live, right above the stage in booths, made the performance unforgettable!
Music Hall is a lively venue. With glam-rock style decor, this is the ultimate venue to hit the dancefloor and rock out to your favourite songs! Music Hall also hosts excellent tribute acts and talented vocalists. One thing I didn’t understand was why the front of the drinks menu listed the shows onboard Quantum of the Seas instead of Anthem of the Seas.
Bars and Lounges
The futuristic Bionic Bar onboard Anthem of the Seas is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Only here will you find people willing to wait over 9 minutes to be served a cocktail in a plastic cup by a robotic bartender. Granted it is a novel experience, but once the hype has faded, I can see it becoming unsuccessful, like the Cupcake Cupboard, as it takes up a lot of space and more people seemed to just watch, instead of buying a drink.
Michael’s Genuine Pub is an American gastropub, by award-winning chef Michael Schwartz. Located in the Royal Esplanade, the pub is centered in the heart of the ship. The pub serves craft beers, American ale, as well as wine, cocktails and spirits. Also available for a small charge are several tempting snacks, such as chicken wings, potato chips, and tomato soup. Other bars and lounges include popular Royal Caribbean favourites, Vintages wine bar and Boleros.
The SeaPlex is the largest indoor sports arena at sea. The multi-functional two-deck high venue is a fantastic space buzzing with fun! At the heart of SeaPlex is a large sports court, which also hosts bumper car sessions, roller-skating, and a circus school, where you can learn the trapese! The space can also be transformed into a huge party venue with a floating DJ booth floating above the dancefloor from the ceiling! On the upper floor, four SeaPods extend over the deck below, offering unbeatable views of the sea. Each pod offers various table-top games, including air-hockey, and table-tennis. There is also a dedicated Xbox pod, where teens and game-lovers can play the latest releases and compete with others online. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to try out the bumper cars, during my short time onboard.
Ripcord by iFly was an amazing experience, and one I’ll never forget. Ripcord allows you to experience the sensation of skydiving, without falling from a height. After a brief safety tutorial, I was suited up ready to begin my session. Our small group climbed the stairs up to the outer deck, greeted by curious onlookers. It was as if we were embarking on a space mission, with our bright blue body suits, helmet and goggles. We entered the chamber. Each person gets exactly 1 minute fly time, which may not seem like a long time, but when battling 100 mph+ winds, it’s plenty of time to feel ‘alive’ and rejuvenated.
Equally amazing was the North Star. Inspired by the London Eye capsule, North Star elevates guests into the sky and over the side of the ship 310 feet in the air! The experience is incredible and offers fantastic views of the ship and over the side. During my cruise, the queue was ridiculous every day no matter what time. As I didn’t want to miss out on this experience, I had to wait in line over an hour.
At the front of the ship is the Solarium. This tropical paradise is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Glass-enclosed, the area is the perfect hideaway even on a cold day. The Solarium features several hot tubs and bathing pools.
Anthem of the Seas is one of the most innovative ships in the world. The futuristic ship is geared up for the next-generation of cruisers and will certainly change the old-fashioned perceptions of cruising.