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twangster

Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP

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At one point I looked up from my balcony and saw something I did a few years back here in St. Maarten.   The America's Cup 12 metre Regatta boats "Stars and Stripes" and "True North IV".

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They do somewhat simulate a race but I'd use that term loosely.  True North IV "won" this one.  It's more about just having fun and experiencing what these boats can do.  They are very agile.

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It's a lot of fun 

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9 minutes ago, twangster said:

At one point I looked up from my balcony and saw something I did a few years back here in St. Maarten.   The America's Cup 12 metre Regatta boats "Stars and Stripes" and "True North IV".

 

I looked long and hard at this one.  I think I'll put it on my list of something to book on another trip to St. Maarten (I promised Mr Speednoodles an ATV tour this year).

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18 minutes ago, SpeedNoodles said:

I looked long and hard at this one.  I think I'll put it on my list of something to book on another trip to St. Maarten (I promised Mr Speednoodles an ATV tour this year).

I have done it twice and highly recommend it for "active type" people.  They assign positions on the boat with the guests as the real crew, working the sails, winches, ect.  Some positions are easier (in charge of the drinks cooler handing out the drinks) than others.  As Twangster said, it's lots of fun, and something unique you won't find elsewhere.

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29 minutes ago, twangster said:

At one point I looked up from my balcony and saw something I did a few years back here in St. Maarten.   The America's Cup 12 metre Regatta boats "Stars and Stripes" and "True North IV".

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They do somewhat simulate a race but I'd use that term loosely.  True North IV "won" this one.  It's more about just having fun and experiencing what these boats can do.  They are very agile.

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It's a lot of fun 

Sorry for "quoting" the post.  The pictures are stunning.  This is the best excursion I have had in over 20 Caribbean Cruises.  Highly recommended, and I would love to hear from anyone who has a better record than 5-0.  

😉

If you want to win, there is a secret ... all contributions to the "Curt from Canada" Retirement Fund will be gratefully accepted.

😉

Curt from Canada 

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Day 6 - Antigua

Or at least that was the plan...

When I woke I noted an NCL ship sailing close but in the opposite direction.    If we are sailing into Antigua, why is that ship sailing away from Antigua?  Things that make you go hmmm.

I went up for breakfast as we did a normal approach.  Sitting outdoors behind the WJ it was a beautiful morning.  Then we started to turn.  Then the wind that I wasn't aware of started coming across the outdoor seating area.  The wind was so strong it was blowing my almost empty glass of orange juice across the table.   Then my plate started to slide.  It was getting really windy.   We had been sailing directly into the wind so on the aft WJ seating area it had been completely sheltered.

Finished with my breakfast I carried my stuff to a sheltered food cleaning station because if I left it on the table, it was going flying.

St. John's is to the left in this picture, we had almost completed out turn back towards the sea.

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That little spec to the right near an island is the pilot boat that came back and retrieved the local pilot.  Yep, we were skipping Antigua today.

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The Captain came over the PA right at 8am to inform us it was too windy.  An NCL and a Princess ship both had skipped as well.  On to our next stop but at a more leisurely pace.  This was now another sea day.

Originally my excursion was supposed to be a helicopter ride over to the Montserrat Volcano.  Several months ago that was cancelled due to the tour operator cancelling.  That was a moot point because in these winds it would have been cancelled anyways and now that we skipped Antigua it really wouldn't have mattered.

None the less as we sailed South towards St. Lucia the Montserrat Volcano was on starboard. 

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We are quite far from the volcano but with my telephoto lens I was able to get a pretty good picture of it.

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You can really see the flows from the past several eruptions and where they reached the sea.

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Still active you can see how this island is growing taller with each eruption.

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Our CD advised us to refresh the app and that a new Cruise Compass would be distributed by noon.  New activities were planned.  Lot's to do.

They set up a waffle station in the Esplanade with all the fixings.  

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One of the things I did today was try the new Expedition 270 game in the Royal Caribbean app.

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It's an augmented reality game that uses your device's camera and motion sensors.  After finding the symbols found within the Two70° venue and scanning them in the game it presented a series of challenges.  In this one you control light that you aim through different gems to deflect the light to the next gem and so on until you use the light to destroy an object.  By moving your device and walking around the virtual mountain and I was able to send the light where it needed to go and complete this series of challenges

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At another station I had to shoot moving targets that floated around the room (virtually).

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By completing all four stations you collect all the masks and finish the game.

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One of the stations requires you to point your phone and move around a particular seating area in Two70°.  On my first attempt there was a couple sitting and reading right where I needed to point my phone.  It felt super awkward pointing my phone at them so I left to return later hoping the seats would be unoccupied (they were).

Later on RCTV I watched the Captain's explanation of why we had to skip Antigua. 

As we approached the channel the ship had to sail at at angle to compensate for the wind.  In open seas that isn't a problem.  In a narrow channel the ship can only use the channel in a straight line staying within the center of the channel.  With the ship at an angle due to the wind, we would use too much of the channel's width leaving no margin for safety.  Nearing the start of the channel the Captain made the call to abort so that is when we turned and our local pilot got off the ship.

The Captain provided a great overview and detailed explanation of the situation.  I love that he took the time to keep us informed of why he had to make this unfortunate decision.

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Day 6 Dinner

You guessed it, Coastal Kitchen.

I met up with a CC user at the Diamond happy hour and since we were both eligible for CK we shared a table tonight.  It was kind of entertaining.  Our table wasn't my usual table so not my regular waiter.  My waiter still came over even though it wasn't his table, greeted me and brought me my regular glass of wine that he knew I liked.  Excellent service!

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Another Caesar Salad but I've shown that a few times so no picture.

Braised Lamb Shank

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For dessert I kept it simple with some no sugar added ice cream.  It's ice cream, served in a martini glass.  No picture needed

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Day 7 - St. Lucia

I was concerned with the winds still up a bit that our stop in St. Lucia would be in jeopardy but the Captain turned the ship and backed us in like a boss.  The direction of the wind and channel into the harbor worked in our favor today.  

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Today's excursion would be a Coastal Cruise to the Pitons booked through Royal on sale.  When booking excursions through Royal check prices often because excursions routinely change in price irrespective of an any announced cruise planner sales.

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It was a pleasant sail down the coast.  This catamaran type sailboat featured a covered section and open seating on top with mesh netting at the bow. 

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After an hour or so our destination started to appear over the coastal hills.

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Along the way our guide pointed out various communities and spoke about their history.

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Then as we approached our destination and namesake for the tour the rains came.  Short lived but enough to send everyone under cover.

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Cruise to the Pitons - 

To be honest it was rather anticlimactic but it was nice to get out on the water and see the coast.

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On the way back up the coast we hugged the shore a little closer.  

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The tour also included a 30 minute swimming break.

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Waves and surf were up from the winds so we couldn't beach.  Instead they tied off at a buoy and we were given the choice to go swimming or start into the rum punch.  They wouldn't serve the punch before swimming for safety reasons but those who chose not to swim were given a head start on the punch.

Noodles and/or life jackets were available for swimming for anyone who wanted them.

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Feeling good from the choice to not go swimming we gathered everyone back on board and continued back up the coast.

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Along the way we sailed past some beautiful beaches and resort areas.

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Back to the port area.

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Very enjoyable as a catamaran sailboat experience.  The crew were good and very friendly.  

Notes: 

  • The catamaran featured separate mens and ladies facilities although small and a marine pump action toilet.
  • The total tour length on the water was around 4 1/2 hours.
  • No food offered but bottled water and some soda like ginger ale were available the whole tour while rum punch was only available after the swimming activity.
  • No other adult beverages, just rum punch.
  • Music was played during the tour and paused during the guide's announcements.
  • The vessel was mostly under power with the aid of a partial jib for effect

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Day 7 Dinner

You betcha - Coastal Kitchen.

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Spinach Salad

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I was hoping the fillet would return to the menu because I felt like having steak so instead I had the Grilled NY Strip.  As strip steaks go it was good with nice flavors but nothing like the fillet.

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More ice cream for dessert.  #boring

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Arriving back to my cabin I discovered an invitation to a sail away party.

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Having sailed in full suites on Oasis class I have enjoyed these events because like Quantum class the helipad is not open to the public. The only opportunity is visit the helipad is by invitation to an event.  Normally on Quantum class there is no suite sail away party on the helipad so this is indeed an uncommon and unexpected event.  

I've always wanted to visit the Anthem helipad (winch pad) so I was hoping for good weather tomorrow.

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Day 8 - St. Kitts

Arriving in St. Kitts it seems my streak continues.  It always seem to rain in St. Kitts in the morning.

The heavy rain even knocked Voom offline for a spell.  Fortunately these were isolated showers so 10 minutes later it was sunny.

The new pier (in the distance) at St. Kitts is nearly complete.  In fact it looks complete but along the shore you can see signs of ongoing construction activity so it's got to be very close.

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Through the rain and morning mist I could a see a ship approaching but it seemed to have this large array above it.  In my morning haze I thought maybe it was a glitch in the matrix but my telephoto lens proved it be one of those small ships that can sail under wind power as well.

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Breakfast this morning at the café @ two70°

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This is a somewhat lesser known gem on Anthem both for breakfast and lunch and it's included. 

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Not going to lie.  I have a hard time not inserting "Mc" when ordering the Egg Muffin.  The salads are part of the lunch offering.

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Lunch sandwiches.  It's probably not good for me but the B & B is heavenly.  This is also where I get my Kümmelweck fix at lunch.

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The coffee bar has an additional charge.

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Shortly after breakfast and a little more rain it dawned on me another ship was attempting to make the pier.

I hadn't appreciated the wind today because I was on the sheltered side of the ship.  This other ship was starting straight behind us and letting the wind push them into position to slide into the berth beside us.  

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The angles made it look like it was headed straight for the mooring point and I was thinking the tug boat was on the wrong side but the strong wind prevailed and the ship aligned with the pier as it moved forward.

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For a few moments I had visions of the Glory-Oasis miss a few weeks ago but as it turns out this approach was just about perfect despite it looking like it was heading into the pier earlier on.

That's how strong the wind was acting on this much smaller ship compared to Anthem.  

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I didn't have an excursion booked for today.  My plans were to wander into town and along the black sand beach.  

Every time I got ready to leave the ship another passing rain cloud washed more salt off the ship and sent be back inside.  

I really didn't feel like getting my camera wet so I used the opportunity  to grab some more pictures around a more empty ship.  

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The VIA.

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Jamie's Italian in the VIA.

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Vintages on this ship is one of my favorite Vintages.  It is the bar used by Jamie's to fulfil dinner drink orders so it's a more of a full service bar unlike some ships where Vintages only has wine.  It's more open to the VIA so you don't feel like you stuck in a box and there are some truly knowledgeable bartenders who have taken care of me on this and other Anthem cruises.

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Some leisure seating across from Vintages in the VIA.

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Sail away party on the Helipad.

I've always called it a Winch Pad because that's what the big letters on it say but when the Captain invites you to the Helipad, I'm going with his wording.  His ship, his rules.

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Like Oasis class, the Quantum class Helipad is not open to the public.  Oasis class has often held special sail away events for Suites and Pinnacles but they are much less common on Quantum class ships.

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The Hotel Director mentioned this was only the second time he has put on this event using the Helipad so it was truly special enjoying the sail away and a fabulous sunset from here.

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Loyalty pays.  #Loyal2Royal

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Dinner tonight - not Coastal Kitchen.  Shocker, I know.

My TA had given me a specialty dinner for two so I invited a new solo friend I met at Diamond happy hour in the Music Hall to Jamie's Italian for dinner.

Having dinner with a new friend I decided to switch off trip report mode and enjoy the moment.  No pictures.

I have a collection of menu pictures from various restaurants including Jamie's I'll post at the end.  

It occurs to me that had I been able access to the CL I probably wouldn't have met my new Diamond friend so while access to the CL for D+ is a hot topic these days, the Music Hall Diamond Lounge overflow approach worked in my favor this trip.

For those following along with the Coastal Kitchen menus, tonight we repeated day 5

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Day 8 Late

Getting up from dinner I questioned if I had truly only had one glass of wine at dinner.  Either I was rocking or the ship was.  Turns out it was the ship.

All that weather that was causing trouble in the Bahamas and putting CocoCay calls in jeopardy was also impacting us.  A strong area of high pressure and a strong area of low pressure caused a wind tunnel effect between them and that's right where we were as well as a number of other ships give or take several hundred miles.  

This sort of thing doesn't bother me, it wasn't that bad but it certainly made everyone look like they were walking funny.

We went up to the Schooner Bar to listen to some piano tunes and even the entertainer was commenting on it.  

Fortunately this motion makes me sleep like a baby and that's exactly what I did.    

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Day 9 - Sea Day

Now we begin our return to Bayonne consisting of three sea days.  Morning found us still in the rougher weather but I noted we had put on speed.  Looking at the Windy app I think I knew what the Captain was up to.

By going faster this morning he would get us through this rougher stuff faster and by afternoon it should be getting better.  Sure enough during his noon update that is exactly what the plan was.  

My nice clean balcony was a layer of salt.  Down on deck 6 the wind driven waves were causing a lot of sea spray.  Outer areas on deck 5 were closed as was deck 15.  The Captain reported gale force winds across the decks.  

Despite the winds I thought the ship handled it quite well.  There was some rolling at times but I used the stairs without using the hand railing so it wasn't that bad.  

I had run into the Digital Entertainment Manager a few days ago and talked to him about the new game.  He mentioned it's better on calm sea days as the motion of the ocean can impact the gyros in a phone and cause unpredictable behavior in the game.  Being the inquisitive type I wanted to see how the game would handle these rougher seas.  

Sure enough the virtual mountain was all over the place.

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The game was impossible to play so if you want to try the game, don't wait until a rough sea day to play.

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