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1st Covid Sailing on the Anthem OTS


leesam82
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Hello All 

I wanted to just share my experience as my just returned the Anthem OTS sailing from Bayonne with a multi generational family group with one family member in a wheel chair and unvaccinated kids. 

The first thing I suggest is even if you have a set embarkation time is give yourself 30 minutes to an hour leeway. This is really for unplanned things that occur on any family trip (eg grandparents or kids needing to stop to use the restroom etc). To build upon this if you have unvaccinated kids build in at least 45 minutes as test results will not come out for about 30-45 minutes. You will not be allowed to board till the kiddos test negative. Plan on bringing a snack or drinks in your carry on.  I saw many hangry children including my own as the Bayonne cruise terminal only had a single snack machine available.  Also be aware that as you are waiting for your test results, you will need to be escorted to the restroom if you need to use it as the only restrooms available are in the general embarkation area.  Another thing I saw many parents complain about is that the service inside cruise terminal maybe spotty. I have T-moblie and I was not able to get cell phone service where I was sitting. This was a issue because my kids test results are sent via text msg and email. Luckily I was able to walk around the waiting area, found a spot with good reception forwarded the results to my wife who had another carrier with better reception.  I saw other families distraught as some had to repeat testing as the first set of results were invalid meaning they had to wait even longer to board the ship. Also keep in mind that only parents are allowed to wait with their children in the waiting area. So those traveling in a larger group should have grandparents or other travelers without kids get on board first. My embarkation time was at 1pm. I got to the terminal around 12:30 unloaded and parked. I waiting in the testing line with the kids from about 12:45 till they were finally tested at around 2 ish. We got test results in about an hour later and boarded little after 3pm. I would say that if you want to board at your embarkation time to plan for at least 1 to 2 hours of waiting around. 

The second thing I noticed on board is to plan a head as much as you can. I know this is annoying as you want to just be able to not plan when you are on vacation, but if you wanted to participate in the activities that require a reservation, plan it out as early as possible. My older one wanted to do the complimentary Ifly. However by the time I got on board and got the app working, every complimentary ifly was booked. I think next time I may try to get those that went on board first to try and book for my kids. Reservations right now for shows and activities are must. I did not mind going through the app to make reservations, but I don't think the app was designed in the most user friendly manner and there were many glitches with the app while I was on board. There were also some times onboard where I made a reservation for the whole party as all the staterooms were linked but there were other times where I could not make a reservation for some members of the party. Also I would state for parents with unvaccinated children that you maybe asked to split your part as the unvaccinated area became full. This occurred a few times on my cruise so I sent some vaccinated members of the party down to the lower level of the royal theater and stayed with the kids upstairs. I think if the app was better equipped i.e stating how many guests are vaccinated/unvaccinated, perhaps RCL could done a better job of ensuring that if you had a reservation that you could enter the show. I did see some very angry family as they were turned away even though they did have a reservation for the showtime due to capacity and seating. Maybe what they need to is actually have the ability to pick seats in the app itself and have assigned seating.  

Another takeaway came from the perspective of my disabled family member who travelled in his electric wheelchair. Overall there were always wheelchair spots available and accessibility with in the ship was never a problem. Also having the accessible stateroom allowed him plenty of space to maneuver his wheelchair around the room. The only times where accessibility was a small issue was during my time dining for breakfast at the main dining room. The tables that were available for the large party where more towards the interior of the MDR which was alittle annoying as the wheelchair did have a hard time getting to the table we were given for breakfast. But almost all the time the waiters helped moved chairs and even tables out of the way to ensure a clear path to where we were sitting. 

 

Overall this was another great cruise that was fun for my multigenerational family. I think with all the things I observed I will have a different approach the next time I sail out of Bayonne. I am already planning an even larger family trip on the Oasis. I hope this helps out parents and others on future sailings. 

 

 

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15 hours ago, leesam82 said:

Overall this was another great cruise that was fun for my multigenerational family.

Great post…lots of good information for those who travel with family groups. Especially being port-specific to Bayonne. Glad you guys had a great, fun cruise. Thanks for posting this!😁

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Thanks for posting your experience and giving heads up and tips to others.  We have Anthem booked over xmas (hopefully going as it depends on what happens with this variant).  We are all vaccinated but will want to join in the activities...ifly, north star, bumper cars, etc.  If we have to pay for ifly and north star then we will but obviously complimentary is more preferred.

Did you find it hard to get reservations for bumper cars?

Do all shows and activities require reservations? I'm thinking of things like the game shows as Anthem seems to have a lot of those offered, which are fun to attend.

We're planning on loading the app on our kids phones just in case the linking doesn't work from DH or mine.  

Glad you were able to get an accessible cabin for the member that needed it.  My mom was in a wheelchair so I can appreciate how important it is to be able to get to venues wherever you are going.

Great to hear you still had a good time and so nice you were able to travel with multiple generations.

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21 hours ago, leesam82 said:

....I did see some very angry family as they were turned away even though they did have a reservation for the showtime due to capacity and seating. Maybe what they need to is actually have the ability to pick seats in the app itself and have assigned seating.  

 

 

 

Glad you had a great time and thank you for posting your experience. For new to Royal cruisers like myself, posts like yours are very valuable.

I did have a question about what you said about booking a showtime but people were still being turned away. Am I wrong in assuming that they only provide a set number of reservations for the capacity? Do you know why they were turned away? Were there certain seats that became closed off? Just wondering why they were able to book, but weren't given a seat.

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2 hours ago, cruiserccl said:

Glad you had a great time and thank you for posting your experience. For new to Royal cruisers like myself, posts like yours are very valuable.

I did have a question about what you said about booking a showtime but people were still being turned away. Am I wrong in assuming that they only provide a set number of reservations for the capacity? Do you know why they were turned away? Were there certain seats that became closed off? Just wondering why they were able to book, but weren't given a seat.

I thought  that this would be the case when i first boarded. However because the app does not distinguish between the family floor (the upper level of the royal theater) and the lower floor (the vaccinated guest only level), there is not a good way to keep track of how many seats are available in each section. That is why many families were turned away or asked to split their group up.  What they should do is what they did to the north start have the show time split into two groups vaccinated and the everyone group. This way there is a more accurate count on how many people are sitting in their respective sections. 

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6 hours ago, WannaCruise said:

Thanks for posting your experience and giving heads up and tips to others.  We have Anthem booked over xmas (hopefully going as it depends on what happens with this variant).  We are all vaccinated but will want to join in the activities...ifly, north star, bumper cars, etc.  If we have to pay for ifly and north star then we will but obviously complimentary is more preferred.

Did you find it hard to get reservations for bumper cars?

Do all shows and activities require reservations? I'm thinking of things like the game shows as Anthem seems to have a lot of those offered, which are fun to attend.

We're planning on loading the app on our kids phones just in case the linking doesn't work from DH or mine.  

Glad you were able to get an accessible cabin for the member that needed it.  My mom was in a wheelchair so I can appreciate how important it is to be able to get to venues wherever you are going.

Great to hear you still had a good time and so nice you were able to travel with multiple generations.

It was little hard to find a reservation time for bumper cars. Our first two choices were taken but we were able to get our third choice. My suggestion would be to try and book as early as possible. 

Not all shows/activities required reservations. For example the towel folding demo and the game shows at the music hall did not have any reservation required. The reservations for shows seem to be limited to more of the headliners and the bigger shows. For activities the only reservations that i saw were for the north star, bumper cars,flowrider & ifly. Activities such as rock climbing did not require a reservation but many times were canceled due to high winds. 

Also on my sailing RCL was charging the $1.99/per day/ per passenger to utilize the app's chat feature.  The thing that was annoying about this is that you needed to purchase it for the whole cruise. You could purchase it in the middle of the cruise but you would still be charged for the whole cruise. 

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