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925inPA

Anthem: Coastal or Speciality?

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I am really struggling with dinner reservations.  Is there is huge difference in the food quality at the Coastal Kitchen and the speciality restaurants like Chops, Jamies, etc.  

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Food is so subjective this is hard to advise.  Some menu items at Coastal Kitchen can be compared to some specialty dining menu items, other items don't compare well.  

Generally speaking for my tastes Coastal Kitchen is better than MDR and in some cases as good as specialty dining and in some cases firmly between MDR and specialty.

For myself I don't always cruise with access to Coastal Kitchen so when I do have access I tend to stick with Coastal Kitchen.

In many cases I don't find specialty dining worth the extra cost.  Occasionally I'll get a free dinner in a specialty restaurant from a travel agent so that tends to be the times I venture in specialty dining.  That's not to say the food isn't good in specialty venues, but considering I'm paying for a meal in my cruise fare, I don't always find the additional cost for specialty dining to be worth it. 

 

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51 minutes ago, twangster said:

Food is so subjective this is hard to advise.  Some menu items at Coastal Kitchen can be compared to some specialty dining menu items, other items don't compare well.  

Generally speaking for my tastes Coastal Kitchen is better than MDR and in some cases as good as specialty dining and in some cases firmly between MDR and specialty.

For myself I don't always cruise with access to Coastal Kitchen so when I do have access I tend to stick with Coastal Kitchen.

In many cases I don't find specialty dining worth the extra cost.  Occasionally I'll get a free dinner in a specialty restaurant from a travel agent so that tends to be the times I venture in specialty dining.  That's not to say the food isn't good in specialty venues, but considering I'm paying for a meal in my cruise fare, I don't always find the additional cost for specialty dining to be worth it. 

 

Our specialty dining is included with our room package so I may just mix it up a bit.  Thanks!

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30 minutes ago, 925inPA said:

Our specialty dining is included with our room package so I may just mix it up a bit.  Thanks!

Sounds like you must be in Star Class.  If that is the case, I encourage you to try all of them.  Your Genie will help you if you have questions.  You will want to try the specialties for sure.

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3 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Sounds like you must be in Star Class.  If that is the case, I encourage you to try all of them.  Your Genie will help you if you have questions.  You will want to try the specialties for sure.

We are.  I was trying to book my reservations online and it keeps trying to charge me for the specialty restaurants.  I am not loving the website to plan.  I think I will count on the 
Genie.  Thank you!
 

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1 hour ago, 925inPA said:

We are.  I was trying to book my reservations online and it keeps trying to charge me for the specialty restaurants.  I am not loving the website to plan.  I think I will count on the 
Genie.  Thank you!
 

Do not book anything now. The Genie will take care of everything for you including all food, entertainment and activities.

It doesn’t hurt to start researching different restaurants and things you might want to do but you do not need to book anything ahead of time. Trust me on this.

What ship and when are you sailing ?  Do you know who your Genie is yet ?

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7 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Do not book anything now. The Genie will take care of everything for you including all food, entertainment and activities.

It doesn’t hurt to start researching different restaurants and things you might want to do but you do not need to book anything ahead of time. Trust me on this.

What ship and when are you sailing ?  Do you know who your Genie is yet ?

Our Genie is Shane Palmer, we are on the Anthem in a few weeks.

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Two things...if Star Class, do CK on Nights 1&5. They have the filet on Night 1 and it is better than Chops. There is also a braised beef on Night 5 that melts in your mouth. Second thing, we just met Shane today. He is @betatke1480‘a genie right now. He is such an amazing guy!  You are in for quite the treat. Definitely a winner for a genie!

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12 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

Two things...if Star Class, do CK on Nights 1&5. They have the filet on Night 1 and it is better than Chops. There is also a braised beef on Night 5 that melts in your mouth. Second thing, we just met Shane today. He is @betatke1480‘a genie right now. He is such an amazing guy!  You are in for quite the treat. Definitely a winner for a genie!

This is our first cruise, so I would LOVE any recommendations.  And thank you so much for the tip on CK for nights 1 & 5.  @betatke1480 I am so glad to hear about Shane!  I've been messaging him a bit with questions.  Please share any good "need to know" info about Anthem if you get a second!  I have booked absolutely nothing at this point.😬

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We did not have Shane as our Genie (we had Yen) but we did B2B Star Class cruises on Anthem in February.  It was the most incredible cruises we have ever had.  

I would recommend that you have Shane book North Star trips so that you can have at least one in the open ocean and at least one in port somewhere.  We had hoped to get up in North Star while in port in NY but unfortunately they do not allow the North Star to go up until after the ship passes beneath the V-N bridge.  Someone suggested that the reason is probably b/c if the NS were to somehow get "stuck" while extended, it would prevent the cruise from even getting under way, so they just do not allow it until after the ship clears the bridge. There is no limit to the number of times that you can go up in the NS.  The Genie can arrange as many trips up as you want.  I think we went either 3 or 4 times during our 2 weeks.  It is amazing. You will not have to wait in line.  The Genie will come and get you and bring you straight to the front of the line when it's time to board. SWEET !

We only did the bumper cars once. Once was enough for us.  If you really enjoy it, Shane can book as many as you want.

I do have some suggestions regarding live shows.  Everyone always assumes that the closer you are to the stage the better....so many (including Dan, BTW) always wants to be right up front.  I suggest that in both the main theater and also in 270, waaay up front is not necessarily the best view.  Especially in 270 for Spectra, if you are way up front, you will find that you will miss some of the action behind you.  I recommend that you ask Shane to book your Spectra show somewhat back so that you have a full view of all of the action.  I don't want to spoil the show for you....just ask Shane for a recommendation and tell him that you want to be able to see everything without wrenching your neck. He will know what to do.  As for We Will Rock You, I also felt that being right up front wasn't the best location.  We saw the show twice (as we did with Spectra as well) - once right up front and once back by the sound/lighting booth.  I enjoyed being back a little bit much more.  Half the fun of WWRY is watching the band, which is located in sound booths on either side of the stage.  It's an amazing setup and you really don't get the best view of the entire stage plus both band booths if you are way up front.  Certainly do NOT miss either of these live shows.  They are the best 2 in the entire fleet as far as I am concerned.  As others have suggested, the other stage show (The Gift) is ok...at best. If you enjoy the lives shows, by all means, see it.  We saw it once.

I don't know if you have friends or family along on this cruise with you...but if you do, do not fail to have Shane set up a party in your suite.  If you stick with beer, soda and water, it will cost you NOTHING (except for tips, of course).  You can have food catered from any of the specialty restaurants.  Room service will bring plates, glasses, silverware, napkins, food - absolutely everything.  ...and they will come and clean it all up !

IMO, Anthem is the best ship to be Star Class.  While, overall, I still prefer the Oasis class ships, Star Class in a Quantum class ship gives you so MANY activities where the Genie is key.  I'm sure you will have at least 1 tribute band on your cruise (we had a Journey band the first week and a Bon Jovi band the second week).  That band will probably play 2 concerts - one in the Music Hall and one in 270.  In the case of the live band, it will not hurt for you to be right up front, if you see them in 270 b/c there won't be any activity behind you.  I suggest, however, that if you only plan to attend one of these concerts, you do it in the Music Hall.  It is a much better (IMO) venue for a concert than 270.  I will say that Yen was extremely reluctant to reserve seats for us in the Music Hall, for some reason.  In the end, however, she did and we really enjoyed it.  I really don't understand the reluctance, but apparently there have been "issues" in the past with reserving Music Hall seats.  That's all I can guess.  So it will have to be up to Shane as to whether or not he will do it for you.

Reserving meals is really a no-brainer.  Just do NOT worry about it.  Shane will do whatever you want to do at whatever time you want to do it.  Period.  We are not fans of Wonderland, but if you have not tried Wonderland, I suggest you give it a try. At least it won't cost you anything extra, if you hate it !

Embarkation is easy if you do 2 things.  First of all, do NOT give your luggage to ANYone until AFTER you have checked with the Star Class greeter at the Star Class banner (Zone 6).  Porters will try and take you bags the entire time but do NOT give them up !  Second, I recommend that you ask Shane to KEEP your bags with you throughout the boarding/security process.  Believe it or not, we shoved our full sized bags RIGHT THROUGH the regular security scanners.  I had no idea the big bags would even fit through there but they did...just barely.  Yen had a porter standing by to push our luggage up the boarding ramp with us and our bags never left our side.  Previously (on 3 separate occasions) our luggage did not come along with us and there was, what I considered to be an unacceptably long, delay in getting our bags.  Also, if you have a loft suite, be SURE to have the porters take your bags upstairs !!  Otherwise, you will have to schlep those heavy bags up the stairs yourself and this is not an easy thing to do !  As others have noted, the Suites/Star Class waiting area at Port Liberty is rather pathetic....but you won't be there long. 

On disembarkation, you will do the same exact thing, in reverse.  Ask Shane to have a porter pick up your bags when you are ready to leave and keep those bags with you until you clear Customs/Immigration.  One note on porters. The porters at Port Liberty are Longshoremen and they have very strict rules about who can handle luggage in their facility.  That means that you will have a porter that can go only so far (cannot go onto the ship) and since ship personnel can go only so far off the ship, the Longshoremen will have to get your luggage soon after it rolls off the ship. That can cause a bit of a delay b/c you will have 2 different porters on each of the 2 (embarkation/disembarkation) trips.  Unavoidable, if you want to keep your luggage with you and trust me, YOU DO.

Tipping is always a topic of discussion when it comes to Star Class (and all cruising, to be honest).  This is always a very personal decision, but I feel it is important so I will just mention it briefly.  You are obligated to tip NO one.  Ever.  While your gratuities are included in your cruise fare, you ARE paying your gratuities.  It's just not a separate charge the way it is on other cruises.  However, the Genie is not included in those gratuities.  Genie tips are all over the map.  I traveled with 2 friends a few years ago that tipped their Genie $1000 EACH and their cabin attendant $500 each.  That is excessive, IMO.  We generally tip the Genie $500-$700 for a week.  We generally give our attendant $100 extra but we have given more when they went above and beyond, which, frankly...they almost always do.  I think this is about average.  I recommend that you have a fair amount of $1 and $5 bills available on embarkation day b/c you will need them to tip those who help you board, if you are so inclined.  We always tip at each and every meal (even when not in Star Class).  I believe this to be especially important for the specialty restaurants b/c the mandatory gratuities cover service in the MDR and do not get to the specialty staff (not directly, anyway).  We tip $5 for breakfast, whether it is in the MDR, the Coastal Kitchen or the Windjammer.  $10 for lunch and $20 at dinner.  Always.  I find the Star Class service to be superior and I believe in rewarding those who make my cruise so very special.  And Star Class is VERY special. Enjoy it !

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@WAAAYTOOO I can not thank you enough for this AMAZING AMAZING advice.  I am such a planner and this is hard for me not to plan. We do have friends that will be there so I love the idea of the party. I hope you don't mind if I shoot you a few questions.   Do you recommend booking another cruise while on the ship........are the savings significant?

 

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31 minutes ago, 925inPA said:

@WAAAYTOOO I can not thank you enough for this AMAZING AMAZING advice.  I am such a planner and this is hard for me not to plan. We do have friends that will be there so I love the idea of the party. I hope you don't mind if I shoot you a few questions.   Do you recommend booking another cruise while on the ship........are the savings significant?

There will be no price savings when you book onboard.  However, you will often get an extra OBC incentive and sometimes reduced deposits.  It really depends on the offer, what kind of booking you are doing (refundable or not), length of cruise, and room type.  Your Genie should be able to arrange a special session for you with Next Cruise so you can sit down and see what is available.  

We've also done Star Class on Anthem and it's an amazing experience.  Your Genie will take care of all your reservations and will change things on the fly if you decide you want to eat at a different restaurant.  You can arrange to have a specialty dinner in your room as well.  Anthem even had an afternoon traveling bar cart that went to all of the rooms and made cocktails.

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30 minutes ago, 925inPA said:

@WAAAYTOOO I can not thank you enough for this AMAZING AMAZING advice.  I am such a planner and this is hard for me not to plan. We do have friends that will be there so I love the idea of the party. I hope you don't mind if I shoot you a few questions.   Do you recommend booking another cruise while on the ship........are the savings significant?

 

You are so very welcome.  I will help you with anything I can.  You can blog it publicly or PM me.  Whatever you feel comfortable doing.

Do you have status with the casino player's program ?  If you do, then you will almost always get a better deal booking a cruise through the casino.  If you do not have casino status then I think there are some benefits to using Next Cruise.  It has been many years since I used Next Cruise and I think the program has changed but it seems to me that the benefits are some amount of onboard credit extended and a lower initial deposit required.  Unfortunately, your being in Star Class will not help you with future bookings so there's really no benefit due to your cabin class on this cruise.

 

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@WAAAYTOOO covered it very well. I would just add that if you let Shane know ahead of time what you like to eat, and what activities you want to do, he will get it all organized. On embarkation day he had a spreadsheet that covered every day, and included the group cruise activities that I emailed him about. Every night he also emails us the next day’s schedule. He has been so great with the group cruise. We communicate with him via email. My wife sends him our desired breakfast order every night for the next morning and it shows up, plus whatever she wants from Starbucks. We see him several times per day, and any changes we’ve wanted to make have been very easy to communicate and change. He booked Northstar multiple times, as well as iFly and the Escape Room, that way if we missed one we could do it later in the sailing. 

 

Attached is an example of the schedule. 

 

 

C6397496-D69A-451B-8B6B-B4028632BD72.jpeg

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30 minutes ago, betatke1480 said:

@WAAAYTOOO covered it very well. I would just add that if you let Shane know ahead of time what you like to eat, and what activities you want to do, he will get it all organized. On embarkation day he had a spreadsheet that covered every day, and included the group cruise activities that I emailed him about. Every night he also emails us the next day’s schedule. He has been so great with the group cruise. We communicate with him via email. My wife sends him our desired breakfast order every night for the next morning and it shows up, plus whatever she wants from Starbucks. We see him several times per day, and any changes we’ve wanted to make have been very easy to communicate and change. He booked Northstar multiple times, as well as iFly and the Escape Room, that way if we missed one we could do it later in the sailing. 

 

Attached is an example of the schedule. 

 

 

C6397496-D69A-451B-8B6B-B4028632BD72.jpeg

THANK YOU SO MUCH!  This is so so so helpful!  I am anxious to here about Labadee and Barefoot Beach.  I asked for an above water cabana.  I hope it works out!!!!

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