When a new ship is announced, there is great excitement in the cruise industry as this highlights the growth of this great way of travelling. Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas, the second of Quantum class ships, was presented to the trade week-end 18/19th April 2015.
As my train neared Southampton port, my experienced eye spotted her distinguishable North Star arm, a very beautiful site indeed. As we passed through security and entered the ship I instantly knew I had entered into a whole new "world of cruising".
The staff were very attentive and we were guided to the TWO70 cafe, whilst our cabins were being prepared. After a short stay, and some fine food, we went into our balcony stateroom. As with most modern enterprises technology is taking a leading part and long gone are the old keys and bulky passes. This time you are provided with a "watch like" colour coded wristband which allows you to make all your purchases. As well as opening the door (RFID WOW band) each guest in the room has a different colour wristband. (The card is still required when leaving the ship).
With all her 167,800 tons she is a marvel carrying approximately 4100 passengers. There are 2090 cabins of which 375 are virtual cabins (inside grades). Here you can have your own "virtual balcony" boasting real time views of the Ocean as well as destinations visited. Other firsts include family connected staterooms to accommodate large groups and, for the solo passenger, studios are also on the list.
What is new on this ship? It is this question that sums up why we were invited for two days sailing. As her sister ship, Quantum of the Seas, Anthem will feature the first at sea innovations such as RipCord℠ by iFLY® (skydiving simulator) and the trademark North Star. A glass capsule rising up to 300 feet giving you birds eye view of the ship and all the surrounding areas. The whole "ride" takes about 9 minutes, a modern version of climbing the crow’s nest!
Moving down the 14th deck you come across SeaPlex, a large indoor arena that doubles up into several activities. Bumper cars, roller skating and flying trapeze classes! For those more creature comforts on the next level, you have the X-Box area (8 large screens) as well as more traditional games such as bar football, table tennis and air hockey. At night time, this gets converted into a disco - where you can dance away.
Speciality restaurants have been cleverly selected and strategically placed. The Dynamic Dining option, where guests are rotated accordingly in the restaurants, giving them that extra ingredient of the different dining choices on board. Jamie Oliver, Sushi, Alice in Wonderland are just some of different choices you have. The classic sit down is still available, which is still favoured by many cruisers.
With all her 16 decks there is something to do for all guests alike. The swimming pools are inviting as ever. Solarium has the "infinity like pools" where someone can just get lost in a world of relaxation. Towards the aft part of the ship, you have Royals own FlowRider® and the climbing wall.
The different types of drinking venues are also inviting as they all have a different concept, from samba music themed bars such as Boleros to Michael's traditional pub, you can find a place to drink and socialise. If you prefer to be move inventive, make your way to the Bionic Bar on deck 5 - where 2 robots will gladly mix your favourite cocktail ordered via an iPad!
When the evening comes, there are two areas for sit down entertainment: the Royal Theatre and TWO70, which is transformed into a computerised singing and performing stage. Six high-tech (and very expensive) screens will rotate and show ground breaking images. Not forgetting the backdrop, where it becomes a giant screen that blends into the performers’ acts.
If you prefer the more traditional theatre, the award winning "We Will Rock You" show is a must for music lovers and it really captures Queen's iconic music. If you feel lucky; head to the Casino Royale. Black or red? Just a few feet away, you have a great place to really let your hair down at the music hall. A real feet tapping venue, where tribute bands play great songs well into the evening.
In the spine of the ship - alongside the many relaxation areas - you will find selective gift shops on deck 4, as well as the Guest service area. Finally, when taking a cruise on this ship, the secret is to explore her slowly and enjoy the delights of each section. This is where the digital “Wayfinders” come into good effect - providing an interactive guide for guests to plan out their days.
The only downside is that you eventually have to leave. But why stop there? Book your next cruise whilst on the ship and receive extra benefits such as on board credit and a low deposit.