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Anthem of the Seas to Bermuda, Oct 13-18, 2018; Not Even REMOTELY Live, Because 20th Anniversary


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Just back a few hours ago from our 5-night trip to Bermuda that @ellcee and @Broons77 were also on. I have a ton of photos to go through and edit, and I'm taking my older daughter to SUNY New Paltz tomorrow for a campus tour and maybe interview before she applies to transfer, so I probably won't be posting anything detailed before early next week or even next weekend. But here's a quick preamble of what, where, and why:

This was a double surprise cruise for my wife and me. First surprise was that I even booked the thing, as we had only booked our cruise on Freedom in December 2016, still had nearly a year to go to sail that cruise, and here I was going and booking another one! Why? My wife had mentioned a while back that she's never been to Bermuda, so when I saw this itinerary I figured I'd jump on it. While we were "officially" declaring the cruise on Freedom as our 20th anniversary celebration, I wanted something for just the two of us where we could have a chance to reconnect over a few days.

The second surprise, as most here have known for quite a long while now, is that when a BOGO 60 sale came along I upgraded us from a D2 Balcony cabin to a J4 Spa Junior Suite on deck 7. I managed to keep that secret until embarkation day, and I'll give the details about the reveal and reaction when I start making the real posts.

You all already know from @ellcee's great live blog that this was a single-stop cruise to just Bermuda, nowhere else, with an overnight stay that gave us basically two full days on the island. Since we had free rein of the island for that whole time, we'd worked out a plan for what mattered most to us and when we'd try and see it:

  • First port day – St. George, Crystal Cave and the nearby Swizzle Inn, and if time permitted, Hamilton
  • Second port day – Horseshoe Bay Beach and the shops / sights around Royal Naval Dockyard

In addition to our time in Bermuda, we made plans to check out the North Star and try out Ripcord by iFly, see all the on-board shows, and have dinner at Wonderland. We also wanted to buy the Thermal Spa package and have a chance to enjoy that throughout the trip. It was a pretty packed itinerary for a 5-night sailing; stay tuned to see how it all turned out!

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I will certainly follow along.  I was actually in Bermuda while you were there.  I used to live there and was back visiting friends.  I flew out on the evening of the 15th when i assume you would have arrived and I did notice the familiar influx of people when I got the bus in to Hamilton earlier in the day and when I visited some South Shore beaches later in the day.

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Day 1 - Embarkation Day

After over a year and a half of waiting, but a "scant" six months from our very first cruise, my wife and I were finally heading out for our long-awaited trip to Bermuda! We'd packed only the night before; partly because it was such a short trip that we didn't need to pack much, partly because work was crazy busy for me the previous two weeks and I just didn't have the time or energy to pack before then! ?

Since we live only 45-60 minutes from the port, depending on traffic, we didn't need to get up at the crack of dawn. I was still up at 7:30, because ? come sail away, come sail away, come saiiiilll awayyyy with meeeeee! ? I ate an early breakfast with my younger daughter, and my wife came down a short time later. While we were sitting at the table, our daughter asked what kind of room we had, and my wife answered, "A balcony, like last time."

The time for the big reveal had finally come. ?

I said, "Well, actually... there was a really good sale about three months after I'd booked, and... I upgraded us to a Junior Suite."

Cathy was very happily surprised by this, and as I told her about the room (tub and shower, bigger balcony with loungers instead of chairs, access to CK each night for dinner), she just got happier and happier. This was the kind of surprise she really liked! She was excited for the trip before, but now she was really excited!

With breakfast done, we wrapped up the last of our packing, I went to the bank for cash, and we took care of some final things to make sure the kids would be OK while we were gone. It ended up taking longer than expected (doesn't it always? ?); I'd planned to be on the road at 9:30 to do our checkin right when the terminal opened at 10:30, but we didn't actually back out of the driveway until just after 10. Traffic was still pretty light, and we pulled into Cape Liberty port a little bit after 11.

I'd seen from a Periscope that @KathyC did a while back that the terminal road just leads right up to the terminal entrance and porters, so I just stayed in the outside lane I was in and waited for the traffic to crawl its way forward. Other drivers weren't so patient; I saw one guy try to go into the left breakdown lane and cut off some other drivers, only to be halted by the port staffer who was directing traffic there. Guy was forced to wait his turn like everyone else, and I was glad to see it! And then the really crazy driver appeared; someone driving a minivan, possibly an Uber/Lyft, refused to stop when the port worker said to wait a moment, and just blazed on through the road to the pickup area! That port worker was livid, especially since he'd just narrowly avoided being clipped by the driver!

After that bit of excitement, we were directed to one of the drop-off zones at the terminal entrance. A porter took our suitcases, and we made our way to the parking garage where I had the first nice surprise of the trip; the entire ground floor is reserved for drivers with handicap placards! I was directed to a spot and parked the car, we grabbed our carry-ons, and in short order we were inside the terminal building.

Now I've only seen Port Everglades before this, but talk about a night and day difference! Where Terminal 29 in PE looks every inch like the refurbished cargo warehouse I'm guessing it once was, Cape Liberty is a bright, airy, modern looking building with nice decor inside. We made our way to the security checkpoint lines, and thankfully I thought to look for a suites line because the woman who looked at our Set Sail passes had us enter the general access security line. We jumped over to "our" line, which had only a few people waiting in front of us, got through the scanners without incident, and made our way to the suites and pinnacle checkin line.

There were about a dozen passengers in front of us, with four port staff handling checkin. We got our turn in about 10 or 15 minutes; I know many here have said they ended up having their pictures re-taken after submitting them online for pre-checkin, but we must have done it to their liking because as soon as our passports were scanned, we were good to board! From garage to ship was maybe 20 or 25 minutes total.

No pics of the terminal, our line, or the regular access line (which was a lot more crowded but also being serviced by a lot more people and moving noticeably faster than the one I was on); I'd promised my wife I wasn't going to go overboard with the picture taking (at least until we were in Bermuda and both of us were gawking), and I was not going to break that promise in the first hour!

Before we could start exploring the ship, we had two important things to take care of first -- Making our reservations for CK each night, and getting a couple's pass to the Thermal Spa. We hit CK first, since it was the deck below the spa, and I was happy to see there was no line. We got our reservations squared away in just a couple of minutes, and there was no problem getting the times we wanted for each night. As we walked away, some other passengers had lined up behind us to make their own reservations, so we made the right call going there first. I found a Royal IQ terminal nearby and used that to cancel our MTD reservations.

Next up was the spa. We went up one deck and all the way forward, and while waiting for a chance to ask about the pass, who should we run into but @ellcee! She recognized us from the pictures I'd posted of our last trip. We chatted for a couple of minutes, then went our separate ways to take care of our appointments at the spa and get on with exploring the ship.

I found out that the thermal spa's steam room was having mechanical issues and wasn't going to be available until the next day, and the spa staff were giving a small discount for the passes as a result. This was fine by us, and our OBC (and then some!) was gone in a swipe of a pen on the receipt. We were instructed to come back to the spa after rooms opened and we got our SeaPass cards, as they would need to be stamped to show we had access.

By now it was after noon and we were getting hungry, so we headed down to deck 5 and Cafe Two70. Sorry, guys, but no kummelweck for us (not fans of roast beef). I started off my drink package with a Royal Dream spirited coffee along with the sandwich and pasta salad I'd taken; it was very tasty, and very strong!


After finishing our food, I wandered to the far back of Two70, where the panoramic windows are located, and found this interesting chair that from where we'd been sitting just looked like some kind of decorative piece.



Just after 1, while still in Two70, we got the announcement that our rooms were available. We headed up to deck 7 and finally got to see our Spa Junior Suite in person. Sorry, but once again no pics; my wife hates when I take a bunch of room pics and hold up the start of unpacking. ? But suffice to say that we both loved this room. It's located right next to the aft stairwell, so there's no travel down the hall whatsoever. And being on deck 7, we could easily use the stairs for access to everything except the amenities on decks 14 and 15. The balcony, while not huge, was a good deal bigger than what we'd had in our balcony cabin on Freedom. Being 6' 3" (1.9m) and long-legged, I was grateful to be able to stretch my legs out while sitting in the chairs.

We went to the general info session and raffle at 2:30, didn't win a single thing. Since most of what they were offering was stuff we'd already bought on the Cruise Planner, it was just as well! We cut out a little early and went to Silk, which was our designated station for muster drill. We were a smidge early, but the bars had already closed and I didn't want a repeat of the standing room only experience we'd had on Freedom. We grabbed a seat at one of the tables and waited for the presentation, which was delayed a bit by 4 passengers who didn't bother to show up when the general notice went out. Like @monorailmedic says, they were closing bars and taking names!!

No in-person explanation of the procedures, we just watched the washy-washy song, the secret agent video (with a crew member showing the life jackets), and we were free to begin our cruise in earnest! With sail away close at hand, we headed over to Boleros for a proper beverage; I got their Mango and Melon Rita, while Cathy got a virgin cocktail. Drinks in hand, we headed up to our room and sat out on the balcony in the still-chilly air to enjoy sail away and watch as we went under the Verazzano Narrows bridge. We were underway at 4 as scheduled, even with the slight delay in starting muster drill.


We had a coast guard ship escorting out of the harbor, a fire fighting vessel by the look of it.


The Manhattan skyline was receding behind us faster than I'd thought would happen. I always thought the Hudson was narrower for a longer time and that we'd be following the coast of Manhattan for longer, but it was far off in just a few minutes. Had to use my tele lens to get this shot.


We quickly approached the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. A Chinese cargo ship was coming the other way, and we passed close by. As big as that ship was, ours was bigger still.


And then we were passing under the bridge, maybe all of 10 minutes after we'd left port.

I thought that the bridge would be the boundary between New York and entering the Atlantic, but the channel actually goes on for a really long way.


When it looked like we were reaching the end of the channel and getting close to the Atlantic, our escort was joined by another Coast Guard fire vessel. They sent us off with a water gun salute, which I honestly wasn't expecting to see. Does anyone know if this is standard for all cruise ships that depart from New Jersey and Manhattan?

I thought that our escort was leaving us after this, but it stayed with us and made sure the other smaller vessels that were out kept a good distance from us.


At this point we went back out to explore the ship for a bit. The logo wear store was having a two for $30 sale on hats, towels, and tees, but it was tough finding a pair that was valid and that we liked. In the end we got a tee shirt, a hat, and also found a couple small items for souvenirs for the girls. We saw through one of the windows that the sun was setting, and we stepped outside to enjoy the first sunset of our cruise. It was truly spectacular, as the now-distant remnants of hurricane Michael made for a "sailors delight"; these pictures don't do it justice.



To be continued.... Coastal Kitchen awaits!

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10 hours ago, JLMoran said:

Now I've only seen Port Everglades before this, but talk about a night and day difference! Where Terminal 29 in PE looks every inch like the refurbished cargo warehouse I'm guessing it once was, Cape Liberty is a bright, airy, modern looking building with nice decor inside. 


Oof - the last time we saw Cape Liberty was in 2014, and it was an absolute atrocity then compared to PE lol.  I'm definitely looking forward to the upgraded terminal this time around!

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Glad  my scope was helpful in getting into the port!  And no, the coast guard "salute" is not standard.  You got them on a good day. ?  Bayonne is directly across from Brooklyn, so the Manhattan skyline definitely disappears quickly.  It's too bad all the ships leaving from Bayonne can't get to sail north a bit, for a better show. 

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