Jump to content
Jax

First Time Star Class 8 night Holiday Bahamas Cruise Anthem 12/20/19

Recommended Posts

We are counting down until our first star class cruise on Anthem of the Seas. We are new to a Royal Caribbean; previous DCL concierge cruises so we can’t wait to experience Royal Caribbean.  I really enjoy following along on as many star class blogs as I can and thought it may be fun to give it a try! 

So, I am Jacquie and my husband Lindsay and 14 year old son Reyd are counting down (34 days). We are from Calgary, Alberta. 🇨🇦 So what made us pick Royal Caribbean....honestly New York was on our bucket list and we love to cruise so we thought why not! Once we narrowed it down to New York, the royal genie and visit to Coco Cay helped us choose Royal Caribbean.  So far the experience has been good. The one notable difference is DCL offered a dedicated team to deal with Pre Cruise needs/questions for their concierge guests 120 days out which I really liked.  I haven’t been super impressed with Royal’s main customer service team but I am hopeful that the Genie will make up for any shortfalls!  We received the royal genie questionnaire 45 days out followed by our luggage tags a couple days later.  From what I have read I should be hearing from our genie soon. 

Cruise Itinerary: 8 nights with stops in Port Canaveral, Coco Cay and Nassau. 

Stateroom: Grand loft suite #10320  

Shore Excursions: Reserved Chill Island Cabana at Coco Cay back in January. Had hoped to get an overwater cabana but opening was delayed to January 2020. 🙁

Cruise Planner: With the Royal Genie, there is not much to plan but I have ordered the unlimited photo package. Will finalize specialty dining, entertainment and on-board activities with our genie. Thinking about reserving the thermal suite but have read mixed reviews. Any feedback on Anthem’s thermal package would be appreciated! We always reserved this on DCL so will likely book it on Anthem.  

Flights: Flying direct from Calgary to JFK a couple days before our cruise. Pre Cruise we are staying in lower Manhattan as we want to visit the 911 Memorial.  Post cruise we are staying at Central Park.  I am in the process of finalizing transportation to Cruise terminal and would be interested to hear any recommendations on reliable limo companies. We do not pack light so an SUV will be needed! The Four Seasons Downtown uses Empire CLS Transportation but I am pretty sure I can arrange something for cheaper. Planning to arrive at cruise terminal around 10:30am. 

Royal Genie Questionnaire:  Have read mixed reviews on whether the genie uses the information provided but I am keeping an open mind.  We had fun completing it and have no expectations.  I have attached a copy of the questionnaire for those that are interested.  

Royal Up :  Received a Royal Up offer email about a month ago for the Royal loft suite.  I put in a lower end bid and expect it to be declined which I am totally fine with.  We really don’t need the additional space but the hot tub would be nice.  

Well I think that’s all for now.  Look forward to answering any of your questions and having you follow along! 

 

 

 

3E13A25F-2FC6-4600-BCB4-9EF9B0E18B02.png

65CC2EE8-03CC-41ED-AF2A-A2BCB6A5978D.png

58230973-9ADD-437F-BCD2-AD7622F57A28.png

C7D50A7F-5319-43C5-AAD5-2687F254ACBA.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the boards @Jax and to cruising Royal. We have done DCL 3 times in the past and we find that Royal gives much better value for your money. And to start with star class? That is the ultimate spoiling right there!

We’ve done Anthem twice. First time we stayed in New Jersey pre-cruise. This past July, we did what you are planning, we stayed in Manhattan and then headed to Cape Liberty the morning of. Here is the blog from that sailing in case you are interested.

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/13683-cruising-with-greatness-–-anthem-group-cruise-–-july-4-13-2019/

I was initially worried too about travel time, but in the end it was a breeze. Less than an hour to the port. We may have gotten lucky as some others have reported longer times. It probably would be wise to leave extra time. Your boarding, either way, will be expedited because of Star Class but it is always better to arrive early. 

Enjoy and soak in the pre-cruise excitement. Nothing really compares to the build up of that first star class sailing.😊

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome, Jax !  I don’t think you will be disappointed with Royal, particularly starting out with Star Class.  
 

We have been SC on both the Oasis class ships and the Quantum class (Anthem is a Q class) and while I will always be an O class gal, I do believe that with the Q class ships, SC is a bigger discriminator that with the O class.  There are simply more activities and venues for which the Genie is critical on the Q class.  I think this is especially true if there are children involved.  If I were a kid and knew that I could go down and ride the bumper cars as many times as I wanted to with minimal waiting, that is where I would be all day !  Many times I have even seen the Genie ride along with the kids and I think that’s a hoot !  Ride the North Star as often as you want.  That’s huge, really.   Go to a Tribute Band concert in the Music Hall and have reserved seats.  True, no ice skating or Aqua Theater but I think the other, unique activities of Q compensate more than enough and having a Genie makes those activities so much easier and more fun.

If you get Yen Lee, tell her Dan and Raye say “hello”.

Each ship is different but we are on Oasis in SC in 2 weeks.  We got our questionnaire 2 months ahead and got our first comm from the Genie 1 month ahead of sailing.  Also remember that the Oasis has been in dry dock so the Genies have no current passengers to care for,  so that may explain why we heard from Joyce so early.

Enjoy your cruise. I think you will soon find the difference between DCL and Royal despite the lackluster pre-cruise communication from Royal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@WAAAYTOOO thanks for your sharing your perspective on Q vs O class. We are definitely looking forward to taking in all the activities Anthem has to offer so it’s good to know the Genie will be a big help! Any tips on luggage at Cape liberty cruise port for star class guests I should be aware of? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Jax said:

Any tips on luggage at Cape liberty cruise port for star class guests I should be aware of? 

Yes !  Boarding is an important and confusing time.  The SC procedure is completely different than that of other guests.

1.  The boarding area for Star Class is Zone 6 at Port Liberty.  Your Genie will tell you this once they contact you.  I don't know how you are getting to the port, but make sure that, if you take a taxi or shuttle, they are able to actually get to Zone 6 !  We have had the WORST luck with getting our rides to actually deliver us to the correct boarding area !  It seems that the SC boarding area is almost always located in an area that regular taxis cannot access !  You will need to be in the far right-hand land (closest to the building) in order to turn right and make it all the way down to the SC flag.  Otherwise, you will be schlepping your bags all the way through the very narrow battlefield of people trying to debark and embark at the same time.

2.  Do NOT surrender your bags to anyone...even if they claim to be SC porters.  Check in with the Star Class greeter FIRST. The greeter will then direct you as to what to do with your luggage.  We now choose to keep our luggage with us but the normal process is to give your luggage to a special porter who will take it to your suite.  We have had very poor results with this process (the bags are significantly delayed and then just "left" at the door) but others have been ok with the process.  I guess my advice to you is just to make sure that the Genie knows that you want the luggage taken UPSTAIRS, whatever that takes.  That's truly the most important thing.  Make sure that the bags that you want upstairs, get taken upstairs for you.

3.  Try not to be disappointed with the suites waiting area at Port Liberty.  It is extremely underwhelming.  Once your Genie comes to get you, it gets WAAAY better.  The Genie will escort you (along with your bags, if you choose for them to remain with you) into a completely separate gangway from the rest of the passengers.  You will go directly to your suite, if it is ready.  I think our suite has only not been ready once but it does happen from time-to-time.  The Genie will make sure you are comfortable, wherever you wait.

Embarkation day is a very very busy time for the Genies so it is almost certain that he/she will have to meet briefly with you, take you to your suite and then go back and escort their next family onboard.  He/she will return later to chat with you about your immediate plans and plans for the rest of the week.  A lot will depend on what you choose to do for lunch on boarding day.  We usually go to Chops but there are many options.  So don't be disappointed if your Genie appears and then very quickly, disappears.  They are running their butts off during embarkation.

IF you are steak lovers, be sure and ask the Genie which night is Filet night at the Coastal Kitchen.  On most ships, it is night #1 but recently, Allure has moved Filet night from night #1 to night #4.  I believe last February Filet night was night #1 on Anthem.  The Filet at Coastal Kitchen is very very good so if you're looking to enjoy the Filet at CK, it might be to your advantage to choose something else OTHER than Chops for lunch on boarding day (unless you really want steak twice in 1 day !!!).

One of my big disappointments (which I quickly recovered from !!) sailing out of Bayonne was that we were not allowed to go up in the North Star while in port.  I was so looking forward to seeing NYC and the Statue of Liberty from the port but it is forbidden for very logical reasons.  If, for some reason, the NS was to go up and get stuck (which has never happened, to my knowledge), then the ship would not be able to sail.  So they just simply don't let it go up until after they have passed all of the bridges.  It makes sense, but it was still disappointing.  That, however, was the only limitation of going up in NS that I can recall.  Go as many times as you want....in the open ocean and at every port, if you choose to do so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great information @WAAAYTOOO!! We had planned to ask our Genie to do North Star while in port at Bayonne but your explanation makes total sense. We are from Alberta so we ❤️ Beef! Will inquire about the filet night in CK when we hear from our Genie.  Am just in the process of finalizing limo transportation to cruise terminal so I will be sure to make sure our driver stays in the right lane and we will NOT surrender our bags to anyone except a Star Class porter.  Your tips are much appreciated! BTW I am still figuring out this blog and am having difficulty directly replying to you. Thanks for your patience as I figure this all out!! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The luggage bag tags are slightly different on Royal than DCL so I wanted to get bag tag holders that would protect against rips and other damage. These ones from amazon.ca arrived super fast with amazon prime and are compatible with Royal Caribbean. A perfect fit! Would highly recommend.  

1D7AF56C-3B2C-459F-8CF1-E7125B81CA30.jpeg

B860E7B1-8FBE-417D-BC41-542AD0F5B97D.jpeg

EA522E47-5F54-490B-B2E0-80571319F8CC.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

@Jax just heard that Yen left for vacation today and Shane leaves December 1st. That means that you should have either Derrick, Romina, or Andreas.  First one is not new. The other two are. Very little info on them.

Thanks for passing this information along! I will let you know who our genie is when I know. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone else love picking out your families Christmas Jammie’s?  These are for my hubby and son this year.  Christmas Vacation movie is a family favourite in our house. As this is our first holiday cruise, we are not sure whether Christmas movies will be playing on board but I will definitely download and take this with us, just in case.  I think I will ask our Genie about access to Christmas movies 🤔27479C5C-1EFE-4BA0-9451-E494DD9BB0BC.thumb.png.653e3569add31d79dfe9475fe06e11b3.pngBC0AE68E-FEFB-4CB0-8E34-5D8522FE4D58.thumb.png.cf140a1d0853b288a78433ce53379a52.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/17/2019 at 2:23 PM, Jax said:

Does anyone else love picking out your families Christmas Jammie’s?  These are for my hubby and son this year.  Christmas Vacation movie is a family favourite in our house. As this is our first holiday cruise, we are not sure whether Christmas movies will be playing on board but I will definitely download and take this with us, just in case.  I think I will ask our Genie about access to Christmas movies 🤔27479C5C-1EFE-4BA0-9451-E494DD9BB0BC.thumb.png.653e3569add31d79dfe9475fe06e11b3.pngBC0AE68E-FEFB-4CB0-8E34-5D8522FE4D58.thumb.png.cf140a1d0853b288a78433ce53379a52.png

Love the shirts and I'm following as well

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone else struggle with the number of checked bags when they cruise? I think it’s because we have evening wear, day wear, beach wear and sometimes even winter wear ❄️❄️. (We are under a snowfall warning today 😫) Add in pre cruise and post cruise land stays and it can be overwhelming.  Our family always gets the unlimited digital photos so we try to avoid rewearing certain clothing items. I was determined to find a solution so I started looking into packing cubes. I purchased Lug packing cubes from Costco.ca as they offered the best price. I did a practice with my evening cruise wear and am impressed with the results! 7 pairs of slacks and 10 tops and sweaters fit easily into 1 large and 1 medium  cube with plenty of room in suitcase. I think these cubes may be a great solution.  I will report more when I actually pack but they look promising.   Star class guests get laundry services provided so this will help reduce the amount of certain clothing items as well. Anyone have experience with packing cubes that they want to share?? 

84AA50E2-A0B5-4B55-9969-082B45E38AD1.jpeg

46870DFC-423B-4C3B-8691-F68C6AF49FEA.jpeg

E5B5B560-1BED-4581-8606-8F084D0B89D1.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I adore packing cubes!  We went on a 2 week trip to Europe last year and we each had only a carry-on suitcase and a backpack.  While I want to take all of the credit myself-it really is the work of the cubes.  Mine our the compression kind with a zipper in the middle to make them a bit flatter.  Totally recommend.   These are the ones we have from Amazon: LeanTravel Compression Packing Cubes Luggage Organizers for Travel with Double Zipper - Set of 3 - Color Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BFK15TW/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_GWg1Db8RXFG80

95665B79-E8F2-4118-9FDC-101B1DF2E1E6.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So with less than a month to go I am planning pre cruise activities. What pre cruise activities have you done in NYC? I have broken up our stays...Pre cruise we are staying in lower Manhattan for walking access to 911 Memorial, One World Observatory and Stadium Goods. Post cruise we are staying at Central Park. 

Pre Cruise: I generally like to avoid pre booking activities in favour of spontaneity, but I think I will make an exception and book the Pre-Fixe menu to at One Dine at One World Observatory. I worry it will sell out if I don’t.  It offers priority and all inclusive access, a dedicated time, and a 2 course lunch. General admission is $45 pp if you want a scheduled time so $70 for a 2 course lunch (includes 18% gratuity) and all the other benefits seems pretty reasonable.  We love dining at the Calgary Tower (626 feet) so One World Observatory  (1776 feet) is something that we will are all looking forward to. 

Stadium Goods (speciality shoe store) is only a short walk from our hotel and is on my sons todo list...in Canada Yeezy’s are almost impossible to buy and shipping, duty and exchange to Canada is a killer. So this will be a great way for Reyd to check them out and possibly save us shipping and duty. Will try to fit in the statue of liberty but we only have 1 full day pre cruise so that’s probably all we can fit in. 

Still working on post cruise activities but disappointed that the Rangers aren’t in town. 🙁 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are going to the 9/11 museum, you need to get a reservation.   The line for general tickets is usually VERY long.  I would definitely recommend going; it is quite a moving experience.   You can get tickets on-line and I think they are about $20/person.

Also, you are going to NYC during the busiest time of year.  Timed tickets to the museums (the Met, Natural History) would even be a must for me.  The lines are outside to get in and at busy times could take 30 min to an hour to purchase tickets.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We love NYC and especially eating in NYC.  Here are some of our favorites:

Buddakan- https://buddakannyc.com. It is expensive, but the food is so good we still talk about it.  A sophisticated and very upscale experience.

 

Ninja NYC- http://mobile.dudasite.com/site/ninjanewyork?url=http%3A%2F%2Fninjanewyork.com%2F&utm_referrer=#3031 this place is a super fun and unique experience.  My boys (10 & 15) loved it.  It is designed as a Japanese village and all of the servers are “Ninjas”, food is on fire, literally, they are sneaking and jumping out at you-it is super fun.   If you take the family-just tell them you are going to an Japanese place-don’t give away the secret-they will be totally surprised. Here’s a pic of our experience:

E92E4BFB-8E49-4D6D-B3E0-E87E5627DA33.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hey guys. 26 days till we leave and 28 until we board the Anthem. I should be hearing from our genie any day! Until then I have been busy finalizing pre and post cruise hotel accommodations and transportation.  I feel like I have spent a lot of time on this but reliable transportation and a great hotel and location is important to us. Hoping some of this may help you with your future planning.  
Hotels: I quickly realized I underestimated the cost of hotels in NYC over Christmas but booking early has helped offset a portion of these costs. I started booking as early as last January and February. I focused on location and our preferred hotels but soon realized that 2 double beds is the norm in NYC when travelling with a family. Downsizing from a king to a queen is a stretch but losing another 6 inches...😩  As a result we have made some compromises to ensure we were able to stay at our preferred properties.  Pre cruise we settled on 2 doubles with a double sleeper sofa and post cruise we have a king with a sleeper sofa. In both cases the sleeper sofa mattress has been recently upgraded to a memory foam mattress for added comfort.  More to follow on the bed situation I am sure!  
Transportation: I was overwhelmed by the number of transportation options available so I read lots of reviews and eliminated all those with consistently crappy reviews. (I was surprised how many bad reviews there were) For us reliability was more important than price.  We will have 4 checked bags so that means an SUV for us at a higher cost. If you can keep your luggage to 3 or less you can definitely save money. 
If you are wondering who I booked with:  
Airport from JFK to Manhattan and return -  NY City Limo $134 + tip each way. Driver meet and greet in airport.  
Manhattan to Cape Liberty Cruise terminal and return - Dial 7. $119 + tip + toll each way. 
Feel free to pass along any transportation raves! 
 
 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy Sunday everyone! Today I thought I would share our list of “must take” travel items. What’s on your list?? 

  • “My Pillow” travel size - I can’t rave enough about how My Pillow has improved my overall quality of sleep. Love their travel size version.  
  • Saje pocket pharmacy is a remedy convenience kit consisting of peppermint halo, immune, eaters digest, stress release and pain release.  I carry immune with me at all times as it acts as a disinfectant .. I put it under my nose on the airplane and use it as a hand sanitizer. There is so much eating on cruises that sometimes eaters digest comes in handy!  I never leave home without this pocket pharmacy; it’s nice and compact and made for travel. 
  • Dr Ho’s Pain therapy system can help relieve most pain and is compact enough that it is easy to take with you.  We have used it while traveling on sore feet, back and neck.  It’s a game changer. 
  • Mouthwash. I know it may sound weird to take this with you but we learned from experience that not all cruise lines sell mouthwash. On our last Disney Cruise my hubby realized he forgot his mouthwash. When we contacted our concierge host we were told that it was not available on the ship. As only Disney can, we had mouthwash delivered to our stateroom within the hour.  We later learned it came from our concierge host’s personal supply. It made for some fun laughs with our concierge host and her husband throughout our cruise. And yes, my husband was mortified when he learned they gave us their mouthwash. 😂
  • The next 2 items are from Beauty Counter, a company that offers safe products without the harmful and toxic ingredients found in so many of our beauty care products.  
  1. Beauty Counter Cleansing balm - has many uses but we use it if we get a bit too much sun. It takes any redness and pain away. 
  2. Sunscreen is a must. This offers the same protection while not compromising on safety. 

Have a great Sunday everyone and for those in Canada planning to watch the Grey Cup enjoy!! It’s expected to be 4 degrees in Calgary today with chinook winds   

DAA8171E-A73F-43AF-9087-22DEB6EABD63.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On 11/17/2019 at 12:21 PM, Lovetocruise2002 said:

@Jax just heard that Yen left for vacation today and Shane leaves December 1st. That means that you should have either Derrick, Romina, or Andreas.  First one is not new. The other two are. Very little info on them.

Just heard from our genie.....it is Andres Villarreal. (male right??)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...