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JLMoran

Second Anthem - NJ to Bermuda - Oct 19 to Oct 24 - LIVE(ISH)

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Final Thoughts and Impressions About the Ship

Cabin:

  • The balcony cabins, even those on the hump, are much narrower than the J4 Junior Suite we stayed in last year. There were times it was a bit tricky navigating around each other as we'd go past the bed to the balcony, or around the desk to the bathroom. But seeing as we paid less than half the price of a JS, seems like a fair trade.
  • The shower in the bathroom didn't have sliding doors like on Freedom, but a swing-out one that didn't seem to close as tightly and, just like our shower in the JS, leaked some water onto the floor; I can only assume they just allow for this in ship designs, but it's still annoying to step onto a wet shower mat.
  • Storage was plentiful, and even on an 11-night sailing I think Cathy and I would have no problem getting everything tucked away.

Dining:

  • Late seating in the MDR was totally fine for us, as expected; it was nice having folks to chat with at the end of each night
  • The wait staff were visibly rushed and looked like they were struggling to keep up with everything. This only seemed to become more noticeable as the cruise went on.
    • One couple at our table said it was the worst MDR service they'd had in any of their several cruises on Royal; they also said they were underwhelmed by Coastal Kitchen the one night they tried it, so I'm a little dubious about that statement.
    • The times I spoke to our assistant waiter to thank her or ask for something and made sure to say her name, she just seemed to glow in response; made me feel like she normally doesn't get that much courtesy from the guests or something, which if true is kind of sad
    • I really feel like Royal needs to increase the wait staff in the dining rooms so they aren't so rushed and overwhelmed-looking; said as much in my post-cruise survey
  • Food-wise, it was OK. Nothing came out cold, thank goodness, but I did have one time where the escargots came out only slightly warm. The menu on night 3 was the one time where both Cathy and I struggled to find something we wanted for both entree and dessert. Never had that experience in CK, don't remember it happening on Freedom last year, either.
  • Jamie's Italian was good, but not stellar. Personally, I think it's on par with Macaroni Grill and not any genuine Italian or even Italian-American restaurants. Glad we had the chance to try it, but also glad that chance was on Royal's nickel.
  • Sorrento's, as noted earlier, was way better than before. Still not stellar, but good enough that Cathy and I both ate there twice for lunch.

Beverages:

  • Not getting the Deluxe package was totally the right call. I ordered all the alcoholic beverages that I wanted, never felt like I was holding back; yet over the 5 nights I only had 7 drinks, one of those a beer from the pub that was only $10 after auto-gratuity.
    • In total I spent just over $100 on alcohol
    • If I had bought the DBP at $52/night, that would have cost me $210 more than what I'd paid for the Refreshment Package after factoring in gratuities
    • To be fair, I did bring my allowed two bottles of wine and drank only from those each night at dinner, so that saved me about 10 drink purchases over the course of the trip (2 glasses per night)
    • Moral of the story here is that I will now always bring my allowed wine on board with me for with dinner, and only get the Refreshment Package to cover my non-alcoholic drinks
  • Speaking of the Refreshment Package -- at $17/night both Cathy and I just barely broke even
    • We both got two large cappuccinos / lattes every day, and I got fresh-squeezed OJ most days while Cathy would get a couple of sodas from the Freestyle machines; and we both got at least two bottles of water each day.
    • We also both ordered specialty non-alcoholic beverages at Two70, and Cathy also got one of the ones offered at Jamie's
    • So the moral of this story is that the Refreshment Package can actually be a good purchase, but only if you get it for a really good sale price; I'd still buy it for the convenience factor at $19 or $20, but anything over $20 would leave me feeling like I'm getting fleeced; $25 or higher is a definite no-go.

General:

  • Entertainment options on board were a lot better this time around, even though it was still the final Bermuda sailing of the year; Royal must have listened to guest feedback after last year's really poor options, because we got Vistarama shows, what appeared to be a better headliner act (and I'm annoyed we had to miss it!), a comedian who was really good, and a lot more!
  • Even though the ship sailed full, for some reason it didn't feel as crowded this time; even walking around the Esplanade or the Via, the crowds seemed to flow better; I can't say I noticed anything different about the arrangement of floor kiosks in the Esplanade or other things, so maybe I just got lucky and only went into those places when the crowds were smaller.
  • While I already covered this at length when it happened, it bears repeating: The staff on board truly went above and beyond in handling that issue with the hunk of metal inside the sausage I'd gotten. If they'd done nothing, it wouldn't have changed my mind about sailing with them again; but the fact that they did so much to fix the experience and leave me with a smile instead of a frown has ensured that I'll feel happy about sailing with them again. And this is another item I pointed out in my post-cruise survey, including mentioning the folks who'd helped me by name.
  • I ran into a couple who got married on Day 5 in the Music Hall; very small service from what I saw, just the bride and groom with their parents. My brother just got engaged and said he and his fiancée are also looking to do a tiny wedding, I may suggest they look into that as an option (followed by a longer sailing for their honeymoon, of course! 😉).

It's funny, I went into this cruise feeling a little ambivalent about being more "stuck on board" because of the foot issue. Yet I've come out of this cruise liking Anthem better than I did last year. I probably won't be sailing her again until at least 2021, when she's back in NJ (or maybe it'll be Odyssey at that point, who knows?), but I'm feeling like I want a third round on her that's a longer sailing or a B2B so I can really experience all the entertainment and other things the ship can offer. I still feel like I haven't experienced everything they use the Two70 space for, and I really want have a proper cover band instead of a generalized group like the Royal Swedes on board.

I guess that's the best way that Royal could hope to have me feeling once I'm off the ship.

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Thoughts about Bermuda

One thing I wanted to mention here was that, while Bermuda is definitely an island to do it all on your own, it's really important to be aware of things that may have happened recently and properly factor that into your plans. Cathy and I winged it for our full day, and quite honestly wasted much of our morning with that trip to the botanical gardens when we could have just gone to the aquarium. If I'd paid more attention to the effects of that hurricane that hit a couple weeks earlier, and not only thought about "will they have the lights back on?", I would have realized that the gardens should be saved for another time.

Also, we made the mistake of thinking that Hamilton would be an easy to explore place like St. George's. Let me be clear -- Hamilton is nothing like St. George's when it comes to wandering around!

Where St. George's is a relatively small community with not much more to explore than the main road with all the shops, plus the little historical section in the center of town by the channel, Hamilton is a true city. It is huge compared to St. George's, and it has all of the sprawl and varying "regions" that come with being a city. I would advise reading up on the place before you go there and picking a spot or two to walk to, not just wandering around at random. Front Street seems to be the shopping and dining center of the city, but there are side streets where you'll find other places to check out. Whenever we make our way to Bermuda next, I'm going to make sure to properly read up on the place so we can figure out what we want to do, if anything that time beyond getting to the bus terminal to reach our true destinations for the day.

The other thing I learned this trip was that I should really expand my beach horizons beyond Horseshoe Bay (and Tobacco Bay when up by St. George's). There are many more beaches, including Admiralty Beach, Long Bay Beach, and Elbow Beach; from pictures that other passengers showed me, or descriptions I got from my table-mates at dinner, more than a few of them are just as nice as Horseshoe Bay without the massive tourist crowds, and even have some neat features of their own. The main draw for Horseshoe is convenience, thanks to the constantly running shuttle vans; but if I'm paying for an all-day commuter pass then why not use it to find some of these other beaches and spend some time on them instead? A lot of them even have their own restaurants and amenities, so I wouldn't even be giving up anything I'd have at Horseshoe Bay.

 

So that's it. This blog is done, and now there's only one thing left to note....

 

🎶 Two hundred eighty-one days 'til we go on the next cruise,

That's nine months and five days 'til we goooo! 🎶

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Great blog Joe!

I like Quantum class because it offers something different compared to Voyager, Voyager Plus (Freedom) and Oasis class.   After sailing other classes it's always nice to return to Q class and find new appreciation for those items that are unique to this class. 

Just like Chops is not the best steakhouse, Jamie, Giovanni's, Hooked, etc. will never be the best restaurant within that specialty.  Few chain restaurants on land ever succeed at being the best within their niche so it should come as no surprise that the Royal chain restaurants don't either.   They are after all pretty much a chain restaurant preparing a menu that a head chef somewhere else created. 

When you make it to Diamond you'll really appreciate not requiring a beverage package every cruise.  Despite the naysayers Crown and Anchor is still the best cruise loyalty program out there.  

Great job on the photos, glad that new(old) camera worked out for you :).

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@Lovetocruise2002, a little epilogue for you: Cathy really is the female version for your hubby; when I mentioned the idea of taking an 11-night Caribbean sailing in the winter, when both of the kids are in college and it’s easy for us to get away for that long, she asked me what ship. I told her Anthem, and she sighed and said, “Anthem again?!? Why can’t we do that on a different ship?” 🤣

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26 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

@Lovetocruise2002, a little epilogue for you: Cathy really is the female version for your hubby; when I mentioned the idea of taking an 11-night Caribbean sailing in the winter, when both of the kids are in college and it’s easy for us to get away for that long, she asked me what ship. I told her Anthem, and she sighed and said, “Anthem again?!? Why can’t we do that on a different ship?” 🤣

This is my thinking too (similar to you...can cruise longer when kids are grown up).  An 11 nighter, or even 9 nighter would be perfect.  But...DH loves cruising like me but gets restless and finds for the 7 nights he'd had enough. So doubt I'll ever convince him.  Sigh.

Love your review. Can't wait for Anthem.

Hope that foot heals up for you real soon.

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33 minutes ago, WannaCruise said:

gets restless and finds for the 7 nights he'd had enough.

For Hubby it's not the longer length, it's the repeat ships he doesn't like.  To be more specific, it's the repeat entertainment.  We both love the shows but to watch it over and over again, he will be bored.  He's already complaining about Harmony next year, it will be the 4th time seeing Grease.  This is going to be the problem heading into summer 2021, with Wonder not coming to North America, not sure what that leaves us.  By summer 2021, we will have sailed all 4 Oasis class (minus Wonder)..Oasis/Allure pre and post amp, Harmony 3 times, and Symphony.  I don't mind, but Hubby, that's another story.  Hoping that @Matt makes the decision easy for us by announcing a summer 2021 GC.  Then it won't matter cause we'll be there, even on Empress. 😉😄

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@Lovetocruise2002 got it.  That is one of the downsides of repeating a ship (such am awful problem...lol).  I'm one who sees Broadway shows again (have seen Mamma Mia 25 times, Wicked 8 times...ha ha) so not an issue for me but do get it.  And so guess it's hard for you and Joe to convince that we should go on Harmony...again (or whataver ship).  Hope a group cruise comes up for your timing...or the convincing works. It's a Royal cruise after all. 

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3 hours ago, WannaCruise said:

I'm one who sees Broadway shows again (have seen Mamma Mia 25 times, Wicked 8 times...ha ha) so not an issue for me but do get it.  And so guess it's hard for you and Joe to convince that we should go on Harmony...again (or whataver ship).

I’m like you, and will happily rewatch movies or shows I’ve loved up to dozens of times. My wife is always looking for the new and rarely wants to rewatch anything, in spite of the massive library I’ve built up over the years.

But I think with the ships it’s really not the entertainment; she was very happy to see Spectra again, and was ok with a second showing of WWRY. But she wants to try out completely different ships with different spaces and venues. Might just just be that she hasn’t yet found “her” Goldilocks ship or ship class. So even if it’s a new itinerary, she’ll be less interested if she’s repeating a ship she’s been on.

I do wonder how she’s going to like Celebrity Summit, as she’s already told me that while she likes the itinerary we’ll be sailing, she’s not feeling enthusiastic about the ship at this point. Feels like there won’t be enough to do on board during sea days, but I don’t think she realizes yet how packed our port days are going to be.

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1 hour ago, JLMoran said:

But she wants to try out completely different ships with different spaces and venues. Might just just be that she hasn’t yet found “her” Goldilocks ship or ship class. So even if it’s a new itinerary, she’ll be less interested if she’s repeating a ship she’s been on.

I do wonder how she’s going to like Celebrity Summit, as she’s already told me that while she likes the itinerary we’ll be sailing, she’s not feeling enthusiastic about the ship at this point.

Two words....

OASIS CLASS!!!

It's time lol

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48 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

Two words....

OASIS CLASS!!!

It's time lol

She does keep asking about it, and I keep telling her that those ships don’t go to very many ports. But she’s wondering if Oasis will come back up here in 2021. 😜

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1 hour ago, JLMoran said:

But she’s wondering if Oasis will come back up here in 2021

Praying for the Anthem. One cruise on her and she's my wife's favorite. She has a big birthday in 2021 and I want to surprise with the 5 day Bermuda out of Bayonne again. 🙏

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I just hope that whichever ship returns/comes to Cape Liberty in 2021 resumes an itinerary that includes Bermuda!

I'm assuming Oasis class is too large to dock at Kings Wharf, etc.?

Love the Bermuda (my profile photo ☺️) and Eastern Caribbean itinerary! We did that once on Liberty back in 2015. Right now, we're newer or amped ship snobs! :27_sunglasses:

Still haven't had the chance to sail on Anthem!

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