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Cruising with Greatness – Anthem Group Cruise – July 4-13, 2019

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Cruising with Greatness – Anthem Group Cruise – July 4-13, 2019

Anthem of the Seas the Reboot (aka Anthem, The Lite Edition).

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For those of you who have been around for a while, you know that we cruised Anthem back in 2018.  For a more in-depth blog of Anthem, check out my blog from March 2018.

This is going to be the “Lite Edition” for several reasons.  I wasn’t even going to blog this cruise as I am not sure how much more I can add to it that would be different from my previous one or the ones that @twangster, @JLMoran, @SweetPeaor @TheHobbys have done.  And…it’s my first Group Cruise!  I might be just a tad busier than usual.  However, the conclusion that I came to is that it would be irresponsible and inconsiderate of me to not blog it because it was the blogs and scopes from last year’s Royal Caribbean Blog Alaska GC that finally pushed me into booking this one.  Again, the best part of live blogs is learning from each other and to pay it forward.

Let’s back up the story a bit on how this cruise came about for us.  I saw this GC as soon as @Matt announced it back in the Fall of 2017.  The itinerary stood out right away for me as it was 9-night sailing that goes to Bermuda (we have never been).  To make it even better, the dates for this GC landed on dates that were actually doable for me.  However, during that time, I was more focused on securing my Symphony July 2019 booking and with both cruises in July, only weeks apart, I decided it wasn’t going to be possible for Anthem. 

In March 2018, we sailed Anthem, and I had very mixed feelings on that sailing with the ship itself.  I usually enjoy most cruises we go on, but Anthem did not sit well with me.  You can see my initial thoughts of Anthem in my previous Anthem blog. 

Fast forward to June 2018, the RC Blog gang went to Alaska, and it looked like so much fun that I truly wanted to try out a GC myself.  Many of you know that I am teacher and my vacation dates are not flexible.  To have the Anthem GC fall over our summer break was an opportunity that I felt I could not let pass.

Booking this cruise was essentially embracing the true YOLO spirit.  As far as our (I mean Hubby’s) bank account goes, booking this one and Symphony to sail in the same month was not wise and made for a very expensive April!  On the bright side, this is going to be our shortest dry dock ever between cruises!  This is the cruise that we probably should not have booked but could not turn it down for the reasons already listed and the best reason of all…Who can possibly turn down an opportunity to meet “Mr. YOLO Book It!” himself?  True Greatness?  Our Fearless Leader? Obviously not us!  So here it goes…

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Who’s Going?

The usual crew:  Hubby, our 2 girls, D10 & D12 (a month shy of 11 &13), and myself.

Flight

Our plan is to fly from DTW to EWR two days before.  Since it is our summer vacation and we are not pressed for time, we are taking an extra day to take our girls around Manhattan the day before the cruise.

Pre-Cruise Stay

I tossed around the idea of staying in Manhattan because the pre-cruise meet up is there but then we decided to book Embassy Suites again in Elizabeth, NJ.  A few friends from our group cruise are also staying there.  At the last minute, and by that, I mean only 3 weeks ago, it dawned on me that I overlooked a very important point.  We booked a one-day tour with Viator for NYC that leaves from Times Square.  I realized that going into NYC on a Wednesday morning from NJ would be a bit of a problem with rush hour.  Not wanting to stress about being stuck in traffic or risk missing our tour, we went ahead, and canceled Embassy Suites and our stay now is at... 

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the Intercontinental New York Times Square! 

We realize that this adds a bit more cost and travel time on embarkation morning, but our girls are so excited to stay in Manhattan and we are steps away from the pre-cruise meet up and our tour pick up point.  The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Itinerary

This 9-night sailing takes us to Bermuda, St. Maarten, San Juan, and Labadee.  We have no real plans for this sailing other than relaxing.  June was such a busy month for all of us.  I am simply burnt out and looking forward to sitting and staring out at the open waters. 

In Bermuda, we booked the Bermuda Island Drive By Minibus Tour through Royal.  In San Juan, we plan to walk around for a bit on our own.  Lastly, for St. Maarten and Labadee, we may not even get off the ship.  Hubby and I will be back at these same ports (minus Bermuda) in a few weeks on Symphony and it’s better to visit “That Yoda Guy” without the kids.

Cabin

We are booked in the exact same cabin category as last cruise.  Formerly a Family Junior Suite (FJ), it has now been re-categorized as a J3.  This cabin makes the most sense for our family as it has the pullman bed and 1 ½ bath.  This time around, we grabbed one on Deck 8 instead of 9 in hopes that it might be slightly better for motion.  Not sure if it will make much of a difference.  See my 2018 live blog for pics of this cabin. 

Pre-Cruise thoughts

-    First Group Cruise!  So excited!  Need I say more?!

-    Because it is a Group Cruise and our kids have started venturing out on their own, we grabbed the VOOM for 3 devices plan this time.  This way, we will be able to contact D12 anytime if needed, especially if we split up from them for group activities.

-    This is also my way of giving Anthem a second chance.  As noted in my previous Anthem blog, there were two things I really did not enjoy about the previous cruise.  One was that crowds did not flow well throughout the ship.  The second was that I vowed to never sail from NJ again in the colder months as it was not enjoyable for us.  We will see if sailing in July makes a difference.

-    Finally, my disclaimer is that this blog may not follow my usual style.  I can’t even promise how “live” it will be this time around.  And there will be many things I may not post to avoid being redundant from my last one.


-    Once again, in the spirit of a live blog, please do not hesitate to ask any questions.  I will do my best to find out whatever I can for you.


-    When responding to a post with a series of pictures, please do not include the pictures in your reply.  It just makes for easier scrolling.


-    Lastly, I will do my best to bring the cruise to you LIVE through Periscope – you can follow me @LoveToCruise2002.
 

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Whoo hoo.  So excited for you and looking forward to following along ( even if you post little, which is totally understandable as you'll be busy with everyone).  Am interested in in hearing what you think of Anthem second time around in warmer weather.  We'll be on Anthem in March (you bad month)  but really looking forward to it.

Safe travels.  We love NY as well do great you're going in early to enjoy!

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1 hour ago, tiny260 said:

I will be following, oh wait I'll be on board with you, lol.

@twangster I don't think @Lovetocruise2002 , could handle you and Matt together on the same cruise ship, it would be like the OK Corral.

That could have happened!  Too bad someone cancelled 😪

And it would have been beyond greatness!

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17 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

Have a great cruise! Not sure I can make it to the pre-cruise meetup, I've already booked up all my vacation time and with work the way it is, doubt I could leave early. But I'll see if I can pull a miracle out.

😔☹️

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I am so glad you booked this cruise (and did not cancel it like a certain photographer)!! It will be great getting to finally meet you after years of knowing you online.  

I think you made the right call moving your pre-cruise hotel to Manhattan. I think you summed up the pros/cons of Jersey vs NYC (minus the smell) but having easy access to the city will be fantastic.

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3 minutes ago, Matt said:

I am so glad you booked this cruise (and did not cancel it like a certain photographer)!! It will be great getting to finally meet you after years of knowing you online.  

I think you made the right call moving your pre-cruise hotel to Manhattan. I think you summed up the pros/cons of Jersey vs NYC (minus the smell) but having easy access to the city will be fantastic.

I know right! Having the bot would have been epic! Now you are just stuck with the Lulubot. 😜

And D12 is so excited for staying in Manhattan (more than the cruise itself) that we feel like we made the right choice. 

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T-4 days until our dog sled takes us from our igloo to NYC. (In the words of @Matt).

I have never so desperately needed a cruise until now. The month of June has been beyond busy and emotionally draining. Between organizing a grad trip, saying goodbye and graduating a group of Grade 8 students that I have taught multiple times since they were in Grade 2, changing work locations, and the usual home chaos, all I want to do is sit on the balcony and watch the waves.  

Because of the craziness of this month, I have barely had time to plan properly for this cruise. It’s a good thing that we have done Anthem before.  In the next few days, the “to-do” list includes:

1. Mani/Pedi with my girls tomorrow.

2. Do laundry.

3. Pack.

4. Do more laundry. 

5. Clean my house. 

6. Finish packing. 

Will start in the morning as I am past tired at this point.

 

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10 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

I know right! Having the bot would have been epic! Now you are just stuck with the Lulubot. 😜

 

You both know you can't mix bots and antibots (or Lulubots) on the same cruise.  The ship's internet would collapse in on itself, or something like that.  

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5 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

Anthem of the Seas the Reboot (aka Anthem, The Lite Edition).

Have a great and safe vacation!

 

3 hours ago, WannaCruise said:

We'll be on Anthem in March (you bad month)  but really looking forward to it

@WannaCruise, for what it is worth, we sailed Anthem in March of 2016 and had no issues at all. The first and last day and a half were cool, but everything else including the Atlantic Ocean was fine. Think positively and happy sailing!

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9 hours ago, Skid said:

 

@WannaCruise, for what it is worth, we sailed Anthem in March of 2016 and had no issues at all. The first and last day and a half were cool, but everything else including the Atlantic Ocean was fine. Think positively and happy sailing!

Thank you Skid. Absolutely...we know it's not a sit by the pool in the warm sunshine holiday at start and end (we're from Toronto so similar weather) but are really looking forward to it.  Our kids will love the Sea Plex and we love cruising, the meals, shows, activities so know we will love it.

@Lovetocruise2002 I can imagine what the end of the school year is like for you....so enjoy a well needed holiday!  And LOVE how you also have Symphony shortly following.  Anthem and then Symphony.  What could be better?

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11 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

T-4 days until our dog sled takes us from our igloo to NYC. (In the words of @Matt).

I have never so desperately needed a cruise until now. The month of June has been beyond busy and emotionally draining. Between organizing a grad trip, saying goodbye and graduating a group of Grade 8 students that I have taught multiple times since they were in Grade 2, changing work locations, and the usual home chaos, all I want to do is sit on the balcony and watch the waves.  

Because of the craziness of this month, I have barely had time to plan properly for this cruise. It’s a good thing that we have done Anthem before.  In the next few days, the “to-do” list includes:

1. Mani/Pedi with my girls tomorrow.

2. Do laundry.

3. Pack.

4. Do more laundry. 

5. Clean my house. 

6. Finish packing. 

Will start in the morning as I am past tired at this point.

 

Yay have a great time!! The last month of school is always the worst for all of the final moments. But soon you will be able to relax and de-stress.

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15 hours ago, tiny260 said:

I will be following, oh wait I'll be on board with you, lol.

@twangster I don't think @Lovetocruise2002 , could handle you and Matt together on the same cruise ship, it would be like the OK Corral.

I thought it was that if two AI bots could converse they could reprogram each other and then hack this ship to harvest its resources. 

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