Anthem of the Seas Live Blog

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Sea Day

In:
25Mar2017

It is our final day on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, and it is a sea day (are there any cruises where the last day is not a sea day?).

The weather today turned out to be very good, despite being in the Mid-Atlantic states for much of the day. The sun came and went, with temperatures in the 60s-70s.

We had breakfast in the Windjammer, and were treated to complimentary mimosas as a “thank you” by the crew for a great sailing.

We spent the rest of our morning taking it easy, making a few stops around the ship. My oldest went for a swim with grandma, while we took our youngest to the playroom in Adventure Ocean.

For lunch, we decided to stop by Coastal Kitchen. The food was great, but I think what endears guests to Coastal Kitchen is the great service.

After lunch there was adult coloring in Vintages, although that just meant the coloring sheets available were a bit more complex. My wife and oldest daughter took advantage of the offering and enjoyed it.

To my (pleasant) surprise, the temperatures actually got high enough in the late afternoon for it to feel hot outside. Any opportunity to not wear jackets is a welcome one!

We received an invite to tour the bridge of the ship from the Suite Concierge. Bridge tours are always a lot of fun, and on a newer ship like Anthem, it is incredible to see how these ships operate.

We spent the afternoon packing up our things, which lead to a late afternoon hankering for a snack. I headed down to Michael’s Genuine Pub to try something that caught my eye since my first day onboard: falafel.

I love falafel and was a little leery about how good cruise ship falafel could be. I can report back it was fresh, crispy and had great flavor.

It was served with sliced beets and tahini sauce, and tasted very good. For $3, I thought it was a great deal!

For our pre-dinner drinks, we started out at the Solarium Bar and regretted we did not spend more time there. The bar staff there were great and you cannot beat that view.

We wandered down to the Schooner Bar as just somewhere to sit for a bit before dinner, and discovered an impromptu show where the cast of We Will Rock You “took over” the piano music being played, and sang Broadway hits along with the music.

The musical director for We Will Rock You was scheduled to be the pianist in the Schooner Bar, but the fact his cast joined him was an added bonus. My wife, who is a big musical fan, absolutely loved the show.

We had seem something like this on Allure of the Seas, but it had been a while since we experienced a show like this again. I hope Royal Caribbean takes advantage of the amazing vocal talents they have onboard and continue to let them entertain guests in this fashion. The guests were loving the performance, and we could tell the cast was enjoying seeing who could sing each song the best.

Dinner was in the main dining room, and we decided to call it an early evening with the impending early start to our departure looming.

I have to say we had a great time on Anthem of the Seas, and it was due to the fantastic crew members, terrific dining onboard and the great places we visited. Having very good weather did not hurt, either.

I believe Anthem of the Seas is a great ship for a first time cruiser because I feel like Royal Caribbean designed this ship with first timers in mind. Likewise, for established cruisers, Anthem is also a very good choice because I liked how it is different from the other classes in the fleet. Those ships tend to have a lot of similarities, but Royal Caribbean built the Quantum class ships to be different, and that made this cruise a bit of a new experience.

We had really great service throughout the cruise, from our stateroom attendant who was always available to help with anything we needed, to the main dining room waiter who figured out I really like coffee ice cream and had it ready for me each evening as a surprise.

I always struggle with how to best wrap up the cruise, so I will list here some of my favorite aspects of the cruise.

  • Favorite port: CocoCay
  • Favorite specialty restaurant: Jamie’s Italian
  • Favorite dish in main dining room: Spaghetti Bolognese (seriously)
  • Favorite show: We Will Rock You

Thank you to everyone for following along in our live blog! I really enjoy sharing these cruises, and I also had a great time reading everyone’s comments and questions along the way.

My next live blog will be coming to you from the world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas in September 2017. In fact, you can join the fun and cruise with me and many other Royal Caribbean fans by joining us for our group cruise! Here are more details on how you can join us!

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Sea Day

In:
25Mar2017

Yesterday’s live blog post briefly mentioned there was a bit more motion in the late evening, but that was just the beginning. Last night saw a lot of movement, thanks to high winds. It extended to this morning as we began our sea day on Anthem of the Seas.

The winds died down as the day progressed, so weather conditions and movement improved each hour of the day and by the afternoon, it felt like a normal day at sea.

We let the kids sleep in, and we rolled into the Windjammer around 10amish.

After breakfast, we went to watch guests trying their hand at circus school in SeaPlex. This entails guests trying to use the trapeze to hang by their knees and do a backflip. The keyword here is “try”. I think we only saw one guest successfully manage to pull it off. Besides the fear factor, it looks to be quite physically challenging.

Later that morning was the Crown and Anchor Top Tier event in the Royal Theater.

It was a well-attended event and it was also the longest Top Tier event I have ever seen. There were a few musical acts that started things off, followed by an introduction to the officers on Anthem of the Seas and culminated with a speech by the Captain.

For lunch, I wanted to try the Japanese restaurant, Izumi. If you have read my previous live blogs, I love sushi and often make multiple stops at Izumi on any given cruise. So the fact my first visit occurred on my second-to-last day of the cruise should indicate I am changing things up (or have been abducted by aliens and replaced by a clone).

The food and service were great, and I was able to get a spot at the sushi bar with no problem. My go-to Izumi dish is the DX Sushi Combo and it did not disappoint. In fact, this one came without a shrimp roll, which is great because I do not eat shrimp.

After lunch, I got to see the hit West End show, We Will Rock You. Based on the music of Queen, this show is a really fun show. I knew very little about the show beforehand, so I did not have much in my mind about what to expect.

The story is silly, but I found myself loving the jokes and plot. Plus, the singing performances were outstanding (especially by the two leads). Bravo!

I managed some time up on the pool deck in the late afternoon just to walk around. I figured today may be the last semi-warm day we have left in this sailing.

Dinner this evening was in Chops Grille. I have been to many Chops Grille locations across the fleet, and this edition was as great as the others.

I tried the dry-aged NY Strip steak just because it has been a few years since I tried it last. I freely admit I am no steak connoisseur, so I am far from any kind of expert. I certainly enjoyed the the taste of the steak, and appreciated the massive size. I think dry-aged steaks are aimed at those that enjoy lots of steak and can discern a good cut from a great cut.


 

After dinner I just had to check out something new to me, the Virtual Fireworks show in Two70.

This was developed by Royal Caribbean originally for New Years Eve 2017, but they decided to keep showing it because it is so far impressive.

It is a quick 7 minute show, but I thought it was really neat to see. Of course, I am a sucker for all Vistarama shows, but I really liked the second half when the camera “floated” between the fireworks explosions. Definitely a cool show!

Tomorrow is our last day onboard, and it is another sea day.

Stray Observations

  • Chops Grille is located near the Schooner Bar, which means there is a lot of noise bleed from the musical performances in the bar. I enjoy music with dinner, but wish it was less noticeable. For what it’s worth, this phenomenon of noise bleed occurred on Brilliance of the Seas too.
  • They sold popcorn in the Royal Esplanade tonight for $3.95 for a large box.
  • Prior to the virtual fireworks was a karaoke show in Two70 and that venue was packed! I guess karaoke is more popular than I ever thought.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - Nassau, Bahamas

In:
23Mar2017

Our final port stop of this cruise is bringing us to Nassau, Bahamas for another day of fun in the sun.

We docked in Nassau at 7am, but we chose not to get off the ship until 9am. I am not sure we could have rounded up the children any earlier than that without some serious ice cream.

Prior to the cruise, we booked day passes to the British Colonial Hilton resort. It provides access to their facilities, as well as a food and beverage credit.

After exiting the ship, we took a quick cab ride to the resort and checked in. The resort has a pool and beach access, and we chose to spend time in the pool because the kids love to jump, swim and repeat ad infinitum.

 

We grabbed some chairs by the pool in the shade. There is some shaded seats near the beach, but not a whole lot of shade near the pool. By getting there early, we had no issues with getting the spot we wanted.

The day pass also includes a $40 food and beverage credit per adult ($20 per child), which we used on their lunch options. Drinks were also readily available. In the case of food and drinks, the prices are pretty high ($20 for most entrees and $14 for drinks).

The facility is quite beautiful and our day spent there was exactly what I had hoped for. The kids barely left the pool, and the weather was great for a day spent enjoying being outdoors.

In the afternoon, we decided to head back but walked this time. It is a short walk to/from the cruise pier (perhaps 10 minutes). We did a bit of window shopping, including a pit stop for ice cream.

I think we had a great day in Nassau, and I enjoyed our stop here a bit more than I thought we would, in part because how much fun the kids had, and also because I liked getting a mix of a pool day and city walk.

Back onboard, the kids took showers and subsequent naps. I do not think I minded some quiet time in our air conditioned stateroom to round out our afternoon.

After the usual routine of feeding the kids and bringing them up to Adventure Ocean, my wife and I had a few Diamond drinks in the Schooner Bar. There was a brass band playing jazz standards there, and it was a great backdrop for cocktails.

For dinner, we were back in the main dining room. We had plans to do some bar hopping, but our day in Nassau sapped all of our energy, so we decided to call it an evening a bit early. We figure sleep now so that we have more energy for a full day tomorrow.

Stray Observations

  • Photo ID was needed to get back through the port in Nassau (in addition to the SeaPass card).
  • Soon after leaving Nassau, it became quickly apparent there was going to a bit of chop in the waves. Nothing crazy, but it is the sort of motion that occasionally occurs where you have to watch your step as walking.
  • The Led Zeppelin cover band was playing tonight in Music Hall.
  • Grandeur of the Seas was in port with us, although she was not listed on any port schedules I could find.
  • Because I am a geek, I bought a SIM card to use. The WiFi at the Hilton would cost $10.99, but the SIM card and 2GB of data cost me $27. 

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - CocoCay

In:
22Mar2017

Our second port stop has brought us to the Bahamas, and to Royal Caribbean’s private destination of CocoCay.

While we have been to CocoCay a few times, this visit would have a few firsts. Visiting CocoCay on Anthem of the Seas is the largest cruise ship that we have been on to visit. You may have read the announcement earlier this month that Royal Caribbean is adding a pier and other enhancements to CocoCay in 2018-2019, but for now we have to tender there.

We had booked a beach bungalow for our visit to CocoCay primarily for the comfort and private space it affords. We are big fans of the cabanas on Labadee, but felt the beach bungalows would offer a similar experience here, and also a bit less expensive.

Unlike other ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, tendering requires tickets because having 4.5 thousand guests contending for a tender might not work out too well. Instead, you can get complimentary tickets for a tender and this avoids lines for tenders.

Since we booked a beach bungalow, we did not have to worry about tickets for tenders. We received a note in our stateroom to report to the Royal Theater at 9am to board a reserved tender.

The weather today was absolutely stunning. High temperatures in the upper 70’s, few clouds and low humidity. It was a picture perfect day and if I could, I would sign up for this kind of weather on every port stop.

The tender ride to CocoCay is quite short (perhaps five minutes) and we met with a tram that provided a private ride to our beach bungalows.

The beach bungalows are located down the beach in their own area. There are quite a few of them, with towels, bottles of water, floating mats and bar service provided.

For my family, the bungalow was perfect because it allowed easy access to the beach for the kids, a napping spot for everyone and waiter service to bring us our lunch and drinks.

Our lunch was different than usual, because instead of a BBQ buffet, we pre-ordered from a menu of sandwiches, fruit and seafood. I have nothing against hot dogs and burgers, but it does not make my favorite food list, so having this menu was a welcome change.

The food we ordered was delivered to our bungalow in the 11:00 hour and it was just as advertised. Of course, any food that is delivered is not going to be as hot as when it comes off the grill, but I enjoyed not having to leave the confines of my bungalow and eating a few fish tacos.

I walked around a little bit, and got to try out the floating bar that was added a few months ago. It is hard to deny the fun atmosphere of enjoying drinks on the water.

Next to the bungalows are some beach beds, which offer a bit less living space than a bungalow, but are also a bit less expensive.

We spent our day on CocoCay enjoying the sun, beach and drinks. A lovely day indeed.

We took the tender back to the ship in the afternoon and headed back to our room for showers and some relaxation.

We saw on the Cruise Compass our first Two70 show that involves the amazing technology, and it was something I had never seen before: Virtual Concert.

Virtual Concert is a show that has a recorded performance by Sante Fe and the Fat City Horns. This is a well-known band that regularly performs in Las Vegas, and the show has the band performing on the Vistarama screens, with select performances highlighted on the Roboscreens.

I thought it was a neat use of the technology,which allows for a performance that would be too large, and too expensive to offer on a cruise, to be performed for everyone on the ship.

I also managed to check out the Concierge Lounge for the first time. It is located all the way aft on deck 12.

The room itself is quite large and has an impressive view of the rear of the ship. My only complaint is that because it is all the way at the end of deck 12, it is along walk so not very convenient.

Dinner this evening was in Jamie’s Italian. Jamie’s Italian is the creation of celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, and I have dined here on Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas.

Tonight’s dinner was excellent, and I think everything we ate resonated with us. A sign of a good meal is when you struggle to figure out what was your favorite dish because everything was great.

Tomorrow we will be visiting Nassau, Bahamas.

Stray Observations

  • All the deck signs still refer to Devinly Decadence, which is a restaurant that changed names in December 2015.
  • The Voom internet onboard works extremely well everywhere, but in my room. Not a big problem, but it is interesting to see that its performance degrades within the walls of my stateroom.
  • Speaking of the internet, it has worked quite well (outside of my room). I have been able to live video stream, post photos and otherwise surf to my geeky heart's content.
  • No visible signs of major construction on CocoCay. They are doing something at the south end of the island, but not certain if it is where the new dock will go or not.
  • I recieved my first crystal block (that I actually earned and did not buy on eBay)!

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Port Canaveral

In:
21Mar2017

Our first port stop has brought us to Port Canaveral, Florida and it is actually a cruise port I have never been to as a port stop. I have taken plenty of cruises out of Port Canaveral, but never stopped here as a stop along the way.

We were not scheduled to dock in Port Canaveral until noon, so the morning was a bit of sea day. We let the kids wake us up, and then decided to try out Coastal Kitchen for breakfast.

Coastal Kitchen is the suites-only restaurant that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is located on deck 14 near the Windjammer.

The breakfast menu has many similarities to the main dining room menu, but there were a few options I had not seen before.

I believe what makes Coastal Kitchen stand out is the excellent service and ease of getting a table. Considering we rolled in a bit after 9am, there were no delays or issues getting a table immediately.

After breakfast we headed back to our stateroom to relax for a little bit. We wandered to the SeaPlex to check things out and they were doing roller skating.

My oldest daughter wanted to try it out, so I got her signed up and took her out on the rink. I think she underestimated the critical necessity of having good balance, because within a few minutes she wanted to be done. Oh well.

Back in our stateroom, we enjoyed some time on our balcony because it was finally warm enough outside to truly enjoy it. The weather today was gorgeous: high temperatures in the upper 70s, no clouds and low humidity. Sign me up for this weather any day!

Our plans today in Port Canaveral were centered around a shore excursion to Kennedy Space Center. Many of the tours met in the Royal Theater at 11:45am and we were called shortly after noon to board our bus.

Once on the bus, we took the very short bus ride to Kennedy Space Center (perhaps 15 minutes). Our tour operator gave us an overview of the Kennedy Space Center facility. We would have about five hours on our own to explore the facility (we booked the Kennedy Space Center Express tour, which is different from the other tour that is guided). Admittedly, I was concerned with what happens if you run out of things to do after 2-3 hours.

After pulling into the entrance, we went through security and into the visitor’s center. Our tour guide recommended taking the bus tour to the Apollo/Saturn V rocket area, because it takes a bit of time. We followed through on her advice and headed straight there.

We boarded another bus and took a tour of the launch area, and got a good look at the Kennedy Space Center facility prior to be dropped off at the Apollo/Saturn V area. Once there, we got to be part of a re-enactment of the Apollo 11 launch, as if we were in the launch bay.

Following the bit of historical drama, we were free to explore the area. The big attraction here is a full Saturn V rocket, which is the same rocket that took the Apollo series astronauts to the moon.

It was so impressive to see in person and it was also quite a moving experience to see this important piece of American (and world) history standing before us.

There were a few other exhibits in the area, including the option to touch a moon rock.

We took the bus back to the Visitor’s Center and headed to the Atlantis space shuttle building.

Here, guests can see the Atlantis space shuttle up close. I had seen the Enterprise space shuttle in New York City, but that shuttle had never been in space. Atlantis conducted many successful missions and it is an incredible sight.

We rounded out our tour with an IMAX film and a tour of the rocket garden.

My fears of running out of things to do were quickly extinguished. In fact, I wish we had more time to explore because we still missed out on a great deal of the exhibits. I will write a full review of the Kennedy Space Center in a future blog post, but rest assured I can recommend this a lot. Frankly, I wish I had done it earlier.  In fact, I really enjoyed our time there and any fears of regret were quickly dismissed seeing this tribute to our history and future in person.

We took the bus back to Anthem of the Seas and got changed quickly so that we could drop the kids off at Adventure Ocean. Since we were in Port Canaveral until 9:30pm, Adventure Ocean is open all day for guests that spend all day on shore.

My wife and I grabbed a few drinks from Michael’s Genuine Pub with our Diamond level coupons.

Next, it was over to the Royal Theater for a showing of The Gift.

The Gift is an original Royal Caribbean production that is difficult to describe because the story is...unique. The storyline is a bit difficult to follow, but the musical numbers were well put together and the sets are very good.

We enjoyed dinner in the main dining room before deciding to take it easy and head back to our room, following a few after-dinner drinks.

Tomorrow we will be in Royal Caribbean’s private destination of CocoCay.

Stray Observations

  • I have tried to reserve specialty restaurants twice via the Royal iQ app. Both times, the app reports an error at the very end of actually placing the reservation. Nonetheless, the reservation appears in my calendar of the app. So I think it has worked, but we shall see.
  • For those keeping score at home, the curry selection tonight in the main dining room was also quite extravagant.
  • This might just be me, but the port stop in Port Canaveral is largely being referred to interchangably as "Orlando".  Sure, they are kind of close, but being 45 minutes away, I think there are bound to be alot of guests surprised by how not so close Orlando really is to Port Canaveral.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
20Mar2017

The second day of a cruise is my favorite day of the cruise, because it is the first full day onboard and you still have a majority of the cruise ahead of you.

We let the children be our alarm clock, and that got us a wakeup around 7am or so. Being that this was a sea day, we had no firm plans so we took things easy getting ready.

My oldest daughter wanted to go to Adventure Ocean morning session because there was an art component to the session, so I took her up to Windjammer for breakfast quickly before dropping her off at Adventure Ocean.

I then met my wife, other daughter and my parents for breakfast in The Grande. Unfortunately, breakfast took much longer than it probably should have. I was not sure where the issue was, but we were sure to mention the problem to the head waiter on duty. An important tip is if something is not to your liking onboard, be sure to mention it to a crew member so that it can be rectified. Too often I hear back from readers who had an unsatisfactory situation but said nothing. It is important to let the crew know so they can make things better.

After breakfast we attended the suite cocktail reception in Vintages. This was a thank you event for the suite guests, and being that I do not have a drink package for this cruise, any opportunity for complimentary alcohol is a welcome event!

We got to meet the Captain, along with a number of other high ranking crew members, while enjoying bloody marys and cheese. Great start to my morning!

We also stopped by the Shore Excursion desk to book a tour in Port Canaveral. Unfortunately all the tours were booked up for Kennedy Space Center because another Royal Caribbean ship will be in port with us (I am guessing Grandeur of the Seas) and the cruise line has a certain allotment of tickets. They put us on a wait list for something, and within about 2 hours, we had a phone call that we could book an unguided tour of Kennedy Space Center. That worked out quite well!

At noon we headed up to the pool deck for our North Star reserved time. North Star is the observational pod that brings you 300 feet above sea level. It is complimentary for all guests, and you can make reservations online via the Cruise Planner. Be certain to make reservations early because they sell out and I saw the crew at North Star turn away a lot of guests.

I have done North Star before, but the experience is still incredible. The views are unparalleled and it is so darn fun being that high up.

I had lunch at the Windjammer and then spent some time exploring the ship and enjoying the company of friends who also happen to be onboard. A relaxing afternoon onboard.

It was a quiet afternoon, with mostly taking this easy. Anthem of the Seas may be a large ship in size and numbers, but she has the “soul” of a smaller ship. What I mean by that is unlike the Oasis Class ships that are a bit larger, there is not the overwhelming amount of activities onboard. There is a lot to do onboard, but it just feels different than when I was on Harmony of the Seas last November.

I also have to point out how smooth the ship has felt, despite some decent waves out there. The ocean is nothing crazy, but even with 2-3 meter waves with white caps earlier in the day, the ship has been remarkably smooth.

As afternoon turned to evening, we were treated to another beautiful sunset at sea. I could also tell the temperature was starting to warm up to where it is no longer cold, just a bit brisk. Jackets optional, although my wife says it is still chilly.

We fed the kids at the Windjammer and then dropped them off at Adventure Ocean. After that, we enjoyed some drinks in the Schooner Bar and Boleros. Since tonight was formal night, Boleros actually had brass jazz music playing and it was lovely.

We were back in the main dining room for dinner this evening, and they really took my Indian curry request to heart. Every cruise, I ask for some curry in addition to whatever is on the menu. The short story is curry used to be a staple of the main dining room menu as the go-to vegetarian option, but in recent years it was left off the menu. Nonetheless, it can still be requested and there has never been an issue.

As usual, I made the request with the head waiter last night to have some curry for us to enjoy at the table. Our serving of curry tonight just blew me away with the variety, size and quality. As soon as it was served, I regretted eating anything earlier that day.

For our evening entertainment, we took in live music around the ship. Schooner Bar, Music Hall and Michael’s Genuine Pub.

Tomorrow is our first port stop in beautiful and exotic, Port Canaveral, Florida.

Stray Observations

  • The Gift and Spectre’s Cabaret were shown today (we have reservations for later this cruise), but no sign of Vistarama or Roboshows yet.
  • We booked a beach bungalow in CocoCay and had a call to come down to Wonderland today to pick out food to be delivered for lunch at our bungalow. You can pick as much as you want, and it is in addition to the regular buffet. I love this idea, because it means no dragging the kids to the buffet and something new to try.
  • I spoke with the ship’s Captain about our speed yesterday after leaving New York Harbor. Evidently we were in a whale activity area, and there was a very tight speed limit.
  • According to a sign in Michael’s Genuine Pub, the word, “genuine” is pronounced “jen-yoo-in”. I read this many times, and questioned whether I normally pronounce it that way or “jen-yoo-eye-n”. I might be over thinking this.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day

In:
19Mar2017

Our next Royal Caribbean cruise is here and we are set for a 7-night Bahamas cruise aboard Anthem of the Seas. It is our oldest daughter’s Spring Break from school, and that is the perfect excuse for a family cruise vacation!

Ordinarily we get to the port quite early, but on this cruise we are sailing with my parents who prefer to take things a bit slower. Plus, they brought my kids from their house, because my wife and I got to spend some time in New York City prior to the cruise.

We grabbed some amazing New York bagels for breakfast, and then took the subway downtown to the World Trade Center to pick up the PATH train to New Jersey. From there we took a Lyft car to Cape Liberty. It was quite a celebration of public transportation options, and worked well.

We arrived at Cape Liberty around noon and check-in was quite quick and easy. We are suite guests, so we had a dedicated security line and check-in line. I think we went from curb to ship in about 10 minutes.

Onboard the ship, we grabbed lunch at the Windjammer and then signed the children up for Adventure Ocean. I have to say, the Adventure Ocean space on Anthem of the Seas is rather large and impressive. As per normal, we were limited to 15 hours of reserved time in the nursery until day 4. This is done to ensure all families have an equal chance at making reservations.

For this cruise, we are staying in a Grand Suite on deck 11. It provides a lot of space for us and the kids. Plus, it is on the same deck as Adventure Ocean and close to the pool deck.

In addition, we wanted to try out how the Royal Suite Class offerings stack up. The Royal Suite Class is Royal Caribbean’s suite program available on Quantum and Oasis class ships. Yes, the struggle of "research" is real.

Our sailaway was scheduled for 3pm, which is earlier than most Caribbean cruises. The advantage of an earlier sailaway is we get to enjoy the afternoon sun when leaving the port. With it being March, the air temperature was still brisk, but nice when standing in the sun.

The great thing about sailing out of New York is the view around New York Harbor, including sailing under the Verazzano Bridge.

With the earlier sailaway time than I am used to, we had more time post-sailaway so I took my oldest daughter for a quick swim in the indoor pool. I can confirm the lifeguards are doing their jobs, because I was instructed not to let me daughter do any canon balls into the pool.


 

We took it easy the rest of the afternoon and got the kids ready for their evening in Adventure Ocean, by feeding them in the Windjammer.

On the first day, Adventure Ocean hours are always odd, and tonight they opened at 8pm. With our 8:15pm dinner time, this worked out quite well.

After dropping the kids off at Adventure Ocean, my wife and I did some exploring. We checked out Two70 briefly, and also the Diamond Lounge.

Dinner was in The Grande, where we got to try the new main dining room menu. Here is a copy of it, and I can tell you the wild mushroom soup was great and the spaghetti Bolognese was very, very good. I also really liked the turkey. Equally important, the service in The Grande was excellent.

To cap off our evening, we enjoyed some piano music in the Schooner Bar. Evidently the normal person was off today, and the We Will Rock You musical coordinator was filling in instead. I am definitely a fan of the live music onboard.

Tomorrow is a sea day, and we have lots to explore still.

Stray Observations

  • The elevators have these signs posted. Guessing Spring Break is in full swing.
  • One of the crew members in the Windjammer for dinner was serving tea in this outfit. Neat!
  • Prior to boarding, we explored the 9/11 memorial at Cape Liberty. It is a beautiful spot that honors the memory of those that died on that fateful day, and is open to anyone to see. Plus, it is a great spot near the ship for photos.
  • Voom performs quite well, but strangely takes a long time to get to the login screen to initially sign in.
  • As I mentioned earlier, there are lifeguards at the pools on Anthem of the Seas.

Live Blogging from Anthem of the Seas - Preamble

In:
14Mar2017

Welcome to our next Royal Caribbean LIVE blog adventure, as we are about to sail on the impressive Anthem of the Seas.  This sleek new ship debuted in 2015, and it will be my family's first foray on a Quantum Class ship.

Beginning on March 19, my family will head to Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey for a 7-night Bahamas cruise. We will visit the ports of Port Canaveral, Florida; Nassau, Bahamas and CocoCay.

While I was briefly on Anthem of the Seas for a 2-night preview cruise in 2015, this sailing will give me plenty of time to check out Royal Caribbean's Quantum Class offerings.  The dining situation changed over the last year or so on Anthem, and being based in the New York City metro area, this ship is a first choice for many who look to take a cruise.

This cruise will depart from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey on Sunday, March 19th. Living in Florida, we are flying up to Connecticut on Friday evening, having some pre-cruise fun in New York City (including a NYC meet-up that everyone is invited to) and then taking public transportation bright and early the morning of our cruise.

In addition to my wife and kids, my parents will also be cruising with us.  This means an extended family cruise, and I think we are all looking forward to exploring this ship and getting some family time in onboad an impressive ship.

In the name of "research", we reserved a Grand Suite room to see what the Royal Suite Class is all about.  We just tried a Grand Suite on Navigator of the Seas, but the Royal Suite Class promises to offer a completely different, and enhanced suite experience.  I am intrigued by the option, and want to see how similar and different itis from a traditional suite cruise.

Of course, Anthem of the Seas has no shortage of activities on its Quantum Class ships.  The SeaPlex, Two70, We Will Rock You, North Star and more are waiting, and having a full sailing to enjoy these activities is very exciting.

 

Itinerary

Our seven night sailing might not be the most exotic itinerary Royal Caribbean offers, but we have found some fun excursions in each place our ship will bring us. Plus, there are a lot of sea days, which means plenty of time to enjoy what Anthem of the Seas has to offer.  In fact, the ship is in large part the major draw for why we booked it.  

Day Ports of Call Arrival Departure
Sunday, March 19, 2017 Cape Liberty, New Jersey -- 3:00 pm
Monday, March 20, 2017 Cruising -- --
Tuesday, March 21, 2017 Orlando (Port Canaveral), Fl 12:01 pm 9:30 pm
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 Cococay, Bahamas 9:30 am 5:00 pm
Thursday, March 23, 2017 Nassau, Bahamas 7:00 am 6:00 pm
Friday, March 24, 2017 Cruising -- --
Saturday, March 25, 2017 Cruising -- --
Sunday, March 26, 2017 Cape Liberty, New Jersey 6:00 am --

Without a doubt, the best part of sailing on Anthem of the Seas is the fact we get to sail from New York harbor and see the New York City skyline, along with the Statue of Liberty.  An added bonus is sailing under the Verrazano Narrows bridge!

Of all the ports we are visiting, I think our stop at Royal Caribbean's private destination of CocoCay is the one I am looking forward to the most.  In general, I love going to Royal Caribbean's private destinations for the sheer beauty and relaxing nature of these areas.  Plus, I reserved for the first time a beach bungalow to try out.

Three things I am excited to try

3. Royal Suite Class

This is our first time trying a stateroom in the Royal Suite Class, which means we should be experiencing an even better/enhanced version of the suite offerings that we had on Navigator of the Seas last month.

While I am not much for spending time in the Concierge Lounge or asking the Concierge for a bunch of favors (just not my style), I do really like the idea of complimentary Voom internet, reserved seating at shows and a private sundeck.  I think these sort of add-ons will be of great use. That and the room!

2. Kennedy Space Center

There is no doubt that the shore excursion to try in Port Canaveral is a tour of Kennedy Space Center. We have been meaning to go for a long time, but this cruise we will finally get a chance to check it out.

With my parents with us on this cruise, we are going to leave the kids with my mother and me, my father and my wife will go take the tour.  I think this will be a lot of fun, and a perfect opportunity to not only learn about an important piece of our nation's history, but take something off our bucket list.

1. Two70


 

Of all the activities, shows and features available on a Quantum Class ship, the Two70 space is without a doubt my favorite spot onboard.  My cruises on Quantum of the Seas taught me that when in doubt, head to Two70 because something is inevitably happening there.

Whether it is Vistarama, a Roboshow or virtual concert, I cannot wait to get a full dose of Two70 goodness in during this sailing!

What's Next

Our Anthem of the Seas cruise begins on Sunday, March 19th, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels. Be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Periscope for live updates throughout the day.

I invite you to share in this experience with me, by posting in the comments for any blog post questions and comments you may have. I try to make these live blogs as interactive as I can, so I want everyone to feel welcome to share their thoughts.

Thanks for reading all of this and welcome aboard our next fun live blog experience!

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
07Nov2015

I started my full day on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas quite early, by waking up at 5:30 so I could watch the sunrise.

My plan was perfect, except for the cloudy start to the day, but it was still quite beautiful and serene.

Besides the sheer beaty of the sky and sea in the morning, it is also great to enjoy the sense of having the ship "to yourself," since most guests are still sleeping.

Breakast was in the Windjammer, naturally, and opted for a custom omelet from the omelet station along with make-your-own miso soup.  

I know this is quite an odd combination but it is something I can only get on Royal Caribbean and has become a definite cruise tradition for me.

Next up was a press conference in Music Hall, which was attended by Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley, Anthem of the Seas' Captain, Royal Caribbean Ltd COO, Adam Goldstein, and Royal Caribbean Vice President of Marketing, Jim Berra.

It was mosty a question and answer session and there were questions about Cuba, Millenials, Anthem of the Seas and everything else between.

I spent the rest of my morning doing a video shoot, that will be posted on this blog sometime soon.  I won't say what it's about yet, but I thought it was a fun!

I had a quick lunch in the Windjammer, followed by getting my game on in the Xbox pod at Seaplex.  

There is something really cool about being able to play Xbox Live from the middle of the ocean!

I spent some time exploring more of the ship I had not seen yet.  Prepare for some photos!

Next up, was the brand new puzzle game, Escape from the Future.

This is new to Royal Caribbean and basically your group has to find and decipher clues in to figure out the solution to the game in 60 minutes or less.

I really enjoyed it because it was something totally different than anything I have ever done and extemely stimulating.

And how about these awesome chairs/couches/whatever this is, in the teen lounge, The Living Room!

I enjoyed a milk shake from Johnny Rockets, because, well, why not!

I spotted the "stowaway" piano player, finally although I missed out on being in the elevator.  

Oh well, maybe next time!

Next up, I spent some quality time in my favorite spot, Two70, to enjoy some beautiful Vistaramas.  

I am amazed by the amazing visuals in Two70 and if you sail on any Quantum class ship, you need to spend a lot of time in Two70.

Dinner this evening was in Jamie's Italian.

I had eaten at Jamie's Italian on Quantum of the Seas, but went back here to get another try.

Jamie's Italian offers a great mix of different Italian dishes and it is definitely not just pastas in a red sauce.

The meat planks and lamb chops are wonderful picks!

I felt like this time around, I enjoyed Jamie's Italian a bit more and I would eat there again (provided I had gotten enough of Izumi or Chops Grille).

Unfortunately, our cruise is coming to an end, but I loved our time onboard.

I have to admit, I really, really loved Anthem of the Seas. More than I was expecting.

It is difficult to explain why Anthem of the Seas stands out in my head so much more than Quantum of the Seas, but I am really impressed by the entire experience onboard.

Anthem of the Seas is a beautiful ship and offers tremendous dining and entertainment options.

I loved every minute of my cruise and cannot wait for our next Royal Caribbean adventure, which will be Brilliance of the Seas in November.  

A big thank you to everyone that followed along and shared their comments, tweets and posts with me during this great weekend!

Live Blog Index

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day

In:
06Nov2015

Here it is, our next Royal Caribbean adventure is here!

Today we boarded Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, Anthem of the Seas, for a quick two-night cruise to nowhere.  It's a media cruise, where the goal is to show off just how impressive Anthem of the Seas is to members of the media and travel agents.

In typical fashion for me, I woke up at 3am and couldn't go back to sleep.  Eventually our alarm went off and it was time to get up and head to the cruise!

The drive to Cape Liberty took longer than I thought (about 3 hours) due to traffic, but we still arrived plenty early.

We parked the car in the new parking garage (as opposed to the open air lot across the street). Pro tip: the garage offers some nice views of the ship in port!

We checked in without any issues but we had arrived much too early, so I walked around the port a bit.

There is a lovely park near the port that has a touching September 11th memorial that was donated by Russia to the United States.  Definitely worth a visit.

At around 11am, we were able to board and I think we were among the first guests onboard Anthem of the Seas.

Naturally, we went up to the Windjammer.  There is something so amazing about Windjammer on Embarkation day. For me, it's the pinnacle of all that anticipation, excitement and happiness.

Following lunch, our rooms were ready, and so we went to our stateroom.

We are in a D3 obstructed view balcony stateroom (6266) and I have to say that our room is much larger in terms of square footage than I expected.

For me and my wife, there is more than enough space.  I could definitely see having a third person in the room and be fine.  Four guests might be a stretch.

Next up, it was back to exploring Anthem of the Seas.

Walking around, I was reminded once again just how beautiful she is.  Anthem, and essentially the entire Quantum class, are beautifuly designed ships.

We walked all the way to the Solarium and enjoyed the views of Manhattan.  Unfortunately, it was still a bit overcast but you could tell the clouds were starting to burn off.

It was also around this time that I realized I had not had my first drink yet, so I went for a pina colada and my wife chose a lava flow.  Great start to a cruise!

Being that it was still early, we went to the North Star for a ride and found no line!  

I had done North Star on Quantum of the Seas a few times but the North Star experience is still quite remarkable and never gets old.  Loved every second of it.

We took in the SeaPlex and I finally got a chance to try the bumper cars!

I never did bumper cars on Quantum of the Seas, so this was my redemption and clearly, I had a good time.

Next up was a tour of the Vitality Spa.

The layout of the spa on Anthem of the Seas is quite nice and I think I like how it is set up compared to other ships.

We also saw the thermal spa, which is $99 per person or $179 for couples for unlimited access to the hot stone chairs, rainforest shower room, infrared sauna and steam room.

My wife really enjoys the elevator art.

We then toured a few of the restaurants to get a sense of what they look like and sample some food.  Enjoy the photos, sans commentary.

After our muster drill, it was time for a special event called, "Anchored in America" ceremony.

Hosted by Royal Caribbean Vice President of Entertainment, Nick Weir, this is essentially an event celebrating Anthem of the Seas' arrival in the United States and it featured Anthem of the Seas godmother, Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley and a lot of theatrics.

It was a fun little event and was followed up by a New Years Eve-style balloon drop at the Royal Esplande!

I made a pit stop in Two70 and took in one of my favorite shows there, Vistarama.  Beautiful!

Now it was finally time for sailaway, and so we left Bayonne and headed up the Hudson River.

We passed the Statue of Liberty before going very close to Manhattan.

We sailed up the Hudson River to midtown before turning around.  The views were spectacular.

For our "pre-dinner", we went to Izumi for what I thought might be just an appetizer.

It turns out Izumi creator and Chef, Travis, was there and invited us in for a special meal.

Chef Travis personally prepared our entire experience and it was the best sushi meal I have ever had. WOW.

Big shout out to Chef Travis for the kind of WOW moment Royal Caribbean talks about.

I was stuffed, so we headed to Boleros to enjoy some music and drinks.  

I finally got a chance to try the frozen mojito that I had seen photos of, and it was a real winner!

Our primary dinner was in Chic, although all the complimentary restaurants are offering a sampler menu from all the restaurants.

Here are some photos from our dinner at Chic.  Good food all around!

We also stopped for a chance to try the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines onboard.  Love these things!

We wandered around after dinner and eventually went to Two70 to get a good seat for Spectra's Cabaret.

Prior to the show, there was a Vistarama and Roboshow and I was blown away by these shows, especially the Leonardo Da Vinci show.

It was a total WOW moment and I was beside myself in terms of how impressive it was.  I am trying to find out if I can see it again this cruise.

To round out our evening, it was time for Spectra's Cabaret.

It is difficult to describe this show, but it is a mashup of music, visual performances and dance. Certainly not something I had seen before.

Tomorrow, it is our last day and another sea day.  Stay tuned for more!

Live Blog Index

Pages