This is a guest post by Lorenza Bacino, Anglo-Italian journalist and travel writer. Lorenza went to check out Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, on behalf of Mums do travel.
Anthem of the Seas
I’ve just returned from a mini-cruise on Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean and the world’s third largest cruise ship. I was invited on a two-night pre-inaugural trip around the Isle of Wight. It was my first time on a cruise ship and I won’t forget it in a hurry.
Some Fun Facts and Stats
Here are some fun facts and stats – Anthem of the Seas can take a total of 4,905 guests and 1,600 staff. There are 2090 rooms, called Staterooms, including 16 Family Connected Staterooms. There are 34 Wheelchair Accessible Staterooms.
The ship weighs a mind-boggling 168,667 gross tons and is 1,141 feet long. There are 16 guest lifts, some of them glass, that propel you speedily between the decks. Expect a vertiginous experience as there are 16 decks in total.
She’s longer than five Boeing 747 jetliners, three times the size of the International Space Station and 11 times bigger than a blue whale.
Her cruising speed is 22 knots (that’s for cruising experts).
I don’t know about you, but I’m impressed!
In November, the ship sails from Southampton in the UK to her new home in New York and guests will be able to enjoy a whole new Caribbean adventure. Fly and Sail is becoming increasingly popular among UK customers.
The technology on board this ship is phenomenal. Every crew member has a tablet and this helps reduce queuing and generally makes life easier. From checking-in online and making purchases, it can all be done with just a swipe of a wrist-band called a WOW band. Your WOW band is connected to your credit or debit card so there’s no need to carry money around, and it holds your identity. This means that children can be reunited easily with parents should they go astray.
There is more bandwidth on this cruise ship than on any other cruise ship combined. We received complimentary wifi for the 2 days – otherwise it costs $10 per day for a two-device package, $15 for a one-device package, or $29.95 is the daily rate.
I stayed in a Stateroom on Deck 10 with twin beds, a balcony, bathroom, TV screen, comfy sofa and a fair amount of cupboard space. There are 2 safes for your valuables. The bathroom is a decent size, with a powerful shower and endless warm water.
I’m generally a pretty poor sleeper, but the cabin was so soundproof (I couldn’t hear any party music) and dark, as the curtains block out the light, that I slept fantastically. I was amazed too, at how smooth the ship glided on the water.
The ship has 18 restaurants, some of which are complimentary and come within your package, others you’ll pay extra for. A few are casual, and some, such as Prime Table and The Grande define themselves as ‘formal’. It’s a great excuse to dress up anyway.
Speciality restaurants cost $8 for kids aged 6-12 years old and under-fives eat for free.
I ate very well in Deck 14’s Coastal Kitchen which offers a California-Mediterranean fusion of tastes. The Windjammer Marketplace is a more relaxed global culinary experience, with pavilions offering delights from around the world. It’s buffet style so you just help yourself and find a good window seat.
Other options include Izumi Japanese cuisine, or Jamie’s Italian or Michael’s Genuine Pub. But I think you get the picture. There is really something for everyone.
Oh and the Bionic Bar is a huge draw. Simply swipe your WOW band across the tablet, order your cocktail and stand back to enjoy the spectacle of the robot barmen concocting your order.
Things to do for teens (12-17 year olds)
Seaplex on Decks 15 and 16 is where you can find the special area dedicated to teens. It’s a large space where they can run themselves ragged and let off steam.
There’s a special ‘Teen Programme’ which includes evening roller disco fun. All activities are hosted and supervised by Teen Specialist crew members.
The area transforms from a roller skating rink, to a basket-ball court to a (first ever at sea) bumper car arena to a flying trapeze school and there are various other sports activities on offer.
There are secluded spaces around the arena where teens can play on an X-box and other screen-related activities, or there’s a general living room space with comfy seats and tables. They can play laser hockey, table football or table tennis.
Also on deck 16, you’ll find the FlowRider which is a fast-paced water facility where you can learn to surf. Or you can try the gigantic and extremely popular climbing wall. If you’re feeling adventurous, and I was, you can have a skydiving experience at the RipCord iFly skydiving wind tunnel. The iFly Skydiving was the highlight of the cruise for me and I felt on cloud nine after I’d done it. You get a little training video to begin with, and then you’re suited, helmeted and goggled and ready to go with an instructor who is with you at all times. It was exhilarating to spiral upwards and around into the wind tunnel and back down again. I can definitely feel a new career in the making! All equipment for these activities is provided so you needn’t worry about a thing.
Deck 14 has the H20 zone – all of the water-related facilities are here, including indoor and outdoor pools, fun whirly splashy water activities and several jacuzzis. There are places to eat and drink scattered throughout. Also on Deck 14, there’s The Living Room, a teen only lounge where they can chill out and relax with a book whilst reclining in a ‘pod’ with sea views. Lovely.
Although my children, aged 12 and nine years-old, were not with me, I know for certain that they would have LOVED every minute. They would have made full use of all of the water facilities for most of the time, my daughter would have enjoyed the huge climbing wall and my son would have tried the skydiving experience and the bumper cars.
For the younger ones – Adventure Ocean
On Decks 11 and 12 you’ll find Adventure Ocean, with a range of activities for children between the ages of three and 11 years old. There are various activities and games throughout the day, some of which divide the kids into groups according to age.
The ‘Spectra Cabaret’ experience was a multi-screen, multi-sensory, technological extravaganza….utterly mind-blowing. It was a dizzy array of dance, singing and acrobatics all enhanced by six screens moved around by bionic arms, projecting co-ordinated images. It was impressive and great fun.
The Music Hall also hosts live music through the night. It was an 80s disco when I went to investigate. There’s piano music, steel band and jazz on offer in various other restaurants and food outlets.
I was lucky enough to enjoy a 50-minute facial at the Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Programme on Deck 15 (cost $138). It’s a quiet, relaxing space away from it all and it offers a huge selection of treatments including facials, massages, acupuncture, hair, nails and more. There’s even a Teen and Kid Spa.
Or, if you are feeling more energetic, there is the Vitality Fitness Centre with fitness trainers on hand to advise and help. Or you can jog around the ship on the running track around Deck 14.
There are a selection of shops on Decks 4 and 5, but what I would say is that they are all high end. There aren’t places where you can pick up essentials if you’ve forgotten your flip flops, for example.
Jewel in the crown
The North Star is a pod on a kind of bionic arm. It’s on the top deck and it takes you 303 feet above sea level for an evening sunset experience – with a glass of champagne in hand, should you so desire. I was so disappointed not to have the chance of doing this due to a technical glitch, but spoke to others who loved it.
I felt like Alice in Wonderland as I wandered through the ship, wafting in and out of different worlds every few paces. The décor and the atmosphere were ever changing, providing for a varied on-board experience. There were lots of things to do but you could always find a quiet spot to read or relax if you wanted to. Children could never ever be bored on this ship.
Thank you to Lorenza for this review. If you’d like to read more of Lorenza’s work you can do so here.
Disclosure: Lorenza sailed on this Anthem of the Seas mini cruise as a guest of Royal Caribbean for the purposes of this review. You can find out more about Anthem of the Seas cruises by visiting the Royal Caribbean website.