Anthem of the Seas Live Blog

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 9 - Sea Day

In:
13Jul2019

Our final day is here, and we are finishing our nine-night cruise with a sea day. The final sea day is that last opportunity to revisit a favorite activity, or finally get around to that one thing you have been meaning to do.

We started off with an exclusive roller skating event in the SeaPlex. Just like the bumper cars earlier in the cruise, we rented out the SeaPlex for a private roller skating session for those that booked with our travel agency partner on this sailing.

This was my first time roller skating, and I think I got the hang of it pretty well.  It helped that I had ice skated quite a few times on other Royal Caribbean ships.

Roller skating worked up quite an appetite, so I took the family up to the Windjammer for breakfast.

After breakfast, there were a series of trivia events in the Schooner Bar. I lost track of how many we did, but it was at least three.

The rest of my afternoon was spent with our friends onboard the cruise.  I think we all took this time to hang out and enjoy each other's company.  We even tried out a new (to me) card game, Moniker.

Later in the day, we got together to record an episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast.  That episode will be available to download next week, but it highlights what we did onboard and talked about our cruise in general terms.

Dinner this evening was in the Windjammer because we wanted to have time to see one of our favorite hidden gem events, where the cast of "We Will Rock You" perform their favorite songs live.

It was held in the Schooner Bar and I broadcast the entire event on Periscope for you to enjoy at home. It is an incredible display of how talented the cast is, and I would love for this event to be held more regularly. 

As a final send off, we headed down to the pub for a final evening of singalongs.

That wraps up our Anthem of the Seas cruise adventure. It was a fantastic vacation, and I am so happy that I got to experience this ship and itinerary with so many other RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com readers.

Thank you to everyone who followed along with this live blog. It was a real treat for me.  Our next live blog kicks off next month for a quick Labor Day Weekend sailing on Mariner of the Seas.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 8 - Sea Day

In:
12Jul2019

Second to last day on Anthem of the Seas and it is a sea day.  We are making our way back to Bayonne, and it is hot, hot, hot.

Our first stop is breakfast at Cafe @ Two70, which coincided with a NextCruise presentation and raffle giveaway.

One of my favorite sea day activities is trivia, and we did general trivia as well as cartoon dog trivia. Sadly, no wins to report.

For lunch, we had some of the food at the pub.  There is food available at the pub for an extra cost that is pretty darn tasty.

After lunch, we headed up to the SeaPlex for essentially part two of our lunch at the Doghouse. Their hot dogs are really, really good!

Our next stop was the Royal Theater for a performance of the West End hit "We Will Rock You".

The cast is incredibly talented, and I guess the entire ship knew it because seats filled up so incredibly quickly. 

After the show, I was overdue for a nap and headed back to the room to enjoy a mid-afternoon slumber.

This was our second formal night, and some of us gathered to take a formal photo together.

Dinner tonight brought us to Wonderland. I have been to Wonderland a few times, but this was my parents' first visit and I think we all really enjoyed it.  Service was fantastic and the food had some really good flavor.

Following dinner, I started out in the pub, but opted to call it an early night and grab some extra sleep.

Tomorrow is another sea day.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Labadee

In:
11Jul2019

Our final port stop on this sailing brings us to Royal Caribbean's private destination of Labadee.

I have been to Labadee on numerous occasions, and I have always enjoyed my visits for the natural beauty of this corner of Haiti.

The ship was cleared to begin disembarkation around 9:30am, and I think we walked off the ship at around 10am. 

Prior to the cruise, I had reserved an over the water cabana.  For many years, I have booked cabanas at Labadee because I think it is a terrific value for a family. I love having our own little "refuge" from the elements, personalized service and prime napping spot. 

On this particular visit, we reserved a cabana at Nellie's Beach and it was exactly what we wanted.

The weather today was excellent. It was hot, and less oppressively humid as it was in San Juan yesterday. Moreover, there was more sunshine than clouds. This is the right equation for a day at the beach.

Throughout the day I also noticed some smaller enhancements that I did not recall seeing on past trips. Primarily seating areas along the paths.

Our day in Labadee went by quickly, and around 3pm or so we decided to head back to the ship. 

Back onboard, we showered and napped. The Captain said our weather for the return to Bayonne looks great.

We headed back to the main dining room for dinner, and the wait staff provided another excellent meal.  The service in the dining room is certainly in the upper echelon that I have encountered in recent memory.

After dinner we went to Two70 to see the Vistarama show, however, they played a virtual concert featuring Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns. I asked one of the tech guys and he indicated this was one of the dozen or so Vistarama shows they have, but I think everyone in Two70 was hoping for something else. 

Instead, we headed over to the pub for singalongs.  It was jam packed in the pub, as I think by now the word is out about the talent of the pub singer.

Tomorrow is a sea day.

 

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - San Juan

In:
10Jul2019

Next up on our Anthem of the Seas cruise is a stop at one of my favorite ports, San Juan.

I love visiting Puerto Rico, and we got into port a bit early. Our hours were 7am to 3pm, so it was a "front-loaded" day in port.

We dropped the kids off at Adventure Ocean and then were off the ship right around 9am.  Even at 9am, it was quite warm.

We had no plans for the day, just to walk around and explore Old San Juan. Since the ships visiting Old San Juan for the day dock right in the city, it is super easy to walk off the ship and walk around.  There is so much great history, art and dining around the city.

We started off with a visit down Fortaleza Street for the famous street with all the umbrellas. Getting there early was great, because once the crowds hit that area, it was swamped later.

We checked out a few art shops along the way, and actually picked up a couple pieces that we will bring home.  I am not much of an art connoisseur, but the paintings of Puerto Rico are quite vibrant and beautiful to admire.

By 10am it was getting quite warm out and we sought refuge in a coffee shop to reevaluate our day (and enjoy some much needed air conditioning). We thought perhaps to go back to the ship since it was so warm, humid and muggy.  Ultimately, we decided to take a short taxi ride to visit one of the synagogues in San Juan.

Temple Beth Shalom is in San Juan, and has about 80 or so families part of their congregation. We met the administrator of the building, and he graciously took us around and told us about what it is like to be Jewish in Puerto Rico.  

It was really insightful, and a nice quick visit.

We took a taxi back to Old San Juan and went to find somewhere to eat lunch. We wanted Puerto Rican food in a restaurant with good air conditioning. That proved to be more difficult to locate than I anticipated, but we eventually found a great spot with fabulous air conditioning and great food too.

I opted for the berenjena (eggplant) with a side of mofongo.  The mofongo may not have been the absolute best on the island, but it was all very tasty and I enjoyed it.  

My wife ordered the skirt steak and that was a real winner.

All aboard was 2:30pm, so we got back on the ship by 1:30pm and took the most refreshing shower of my life.

Freshly showered and having regained the will to live, it was time for today's RoyalCaribbeanBlog group cruise event! We rented out a private session on the North Star, exlusively for those in our group that booked with MEI Travel and are RoyalCaribbeanBlog Insiders.

We managed to get in four rides on North Star, and despite the hazy conditions, we got a great view of the ship.

Dinner was back in the main dining room, followed by a rousing game of Jenga in the pub.

Tomrorow we will be in Labadee.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - St. Maarten

In:
09Jul2019

Our second port stop takes us to St. Maarten, but we will get to that later.  We were not scheduled to dock in St. Maarten until noon, so we had a half sea day to start out.

I slept in a bit and then headed up to the Windjammer for breakfast with the group at my favorite hidden gem, the outdoor dining deck at the aft.

The outdoor dining area at the back of the Windjammer is easily overlooked, so we decided to head there for a beautiful morning view with our breakfast.

Soon enough we began docking in St. Maarten and came alongside Freedom of the Seas right on time.

Our plans for today were to travel around St. Maarten and visit a few of our favorite spots.

We started out with a quick trip to Maho Beach to see the planes land. This is a famous spot where airplanes land very close to the beach below. Unfortunately it was incredibly hot and we managed to time it during a lull in the schedule, so we missed the big planes. Plus, it down poured on us to top things off.  Oh well, onto the next stop!

We were going to go to Grand Case beach, but opted to go to Mullet Bay instead since they had umbrellas and chairs for rent.

This was my first time here, and the water was beautiful.  Very rocky in some spots, but we found areas to enjoy a swim.  The current was also very strong, so we had to keep a closer eye on the kids.

The beach was nice, although there was a significant drop off in the beach from where the chairs were located to the water. Nonetheless, we had a great time.  The cost of two chairs and an umbrella was $10.

After our swim, we piled back into the van for a ride to the capital of the French side, Marigot.  

We wanted to make a quick stop at a French bakery and our driver recommended a good one.  They had bread, pastries, chocolate and of course, beer. 

We decided to head back to the ship to shower and relax before dinner. Another fun day in St. Maarten was in the books.

We showered and changed to get ready for dinner and headed back to the main dining room for dinner.

The dining room wait staff outdid themselves with the assortment of Mediterranean small plates. It was like our own little specialty restaurant!

After dinner, many of us in the group enjoyed drinks in Vintages, followed by a few good songs in the pub.

Tomorrow we are in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Sea Day

In:
08Jul2019

It is another sea day on Anthem of the Seas, and we also got back that hour we shifted ahead for the other day.  Ordinarily that would be the recipe for sleeping in, but we had morning plans.

One of our group cruise activities for today was bumper cars in the SeaPlex.  In fact, we rented out bumper cars for an hour, so our group was able to enjoy unlimited bumper car rides for an hour.  

The kids in the group absolutely loved all the time to enjoy bumper cars, and they took exceptional pride in ganging up on hitting me in there. I think everyone really enjoyed this exclusive event.

After our session was up, we grabbed breakfast at Cafe @ Two70. It is proving to be our preferred breakfast spot onboard.

While enjoying breakfast, there was a speaker in Two70 who discussed the naval blockade during the U.S. Civil War. Always nice to see learning opportunities onboard.

There was time for a quick trivia session, which was called "table trivia", where you have 25 words that end in the letters "table" and you have to figure out which words they are based on their definition. For example, stable, relatable, et al.

We met Natalie and Frank, and managed to win trivia!

Many of us in the group organized a cabin crawl, where we get to see different stateroom types of those in the group.  We saw solo cabins, junior suites, balconies and even a Grand Loft Suite that culminated with a snack and drink reception by the Royal Genie. 

I opted for a light lunch in the Windjammer.

After lunch, we went back to the room for a bit to relax.  Later in the afternoon, we grabbed drinks in Two70 while the American Philharmonic performed virtually with songs such as Rhapsody in Blue, musical selections from West Side Story and John Williams.

By this point, I was in need of a nap and headed back to the room for a wonderful afternoon slumber.

Dinner this evening was at Jamie's Italian.  They seem to have the "original" Jamie's Italian menu, which means they still have two plank options (meat and veggie), various bruschettas and more entree options.  

The meal itself was great, and our waiter was excellent in his attentiveness.

After dinner, we enjoyed more time in the pub.

Tomorrow, we will be in St. Maarten.

Stray Observations

  • The US/Netherlands world cup final game was shown at the pool deck and in the pub. While I did not watch the game, it was incredibly popular activity today.
  • During the cabin crawl I stopped by the Concierge Lounge. As a Diamond Plus guest, I have access to this venue in addition to the Diamond Lounge. It is located aft on deck 12 and has a great view.

 

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Bermuda

In:
07Jul2019

Our first port of call brings us to Bermuda, and Anthem of the Seas arrived into port fairly early in the morning. I certainly was not awake for it.

We got up around 7:30am and got everyone ready for a day at the beach, then headed down to Cafe @ Two70 for a quick breakfast. 

Cafe @ Two70 is not only quick, there are barely any lines there and the view you get with your meal is fantastic.

We walked off the gangway at about 9am and met up with our group, which was headed to Horseshoe Bay beach.  In fact, everyone who booked with our travel partner, MEI Travel, was provided with complimentary transportation to and from the beach.

The bus ride to the beach is about 30 minutes, and one added benefit of not taking the public bus is we were not dropped off at the top of the big hill that leads to the beach.

Once dropped off, it is a short walk to the beach. There is no admission fee for the beach, but chairs, umbrellas and other amenities cost extra. Two chairs and an umbrella will run you about $45.

Horseshoe Bay is beautiful, with stunning blue water, extra fine sand and just a few waves to make things interesting.

In addition to the main beach, there is a smaller cove to the right that is protected from the surf and ideal for young children.

There is also rock formations that everyone seems to climb, despite warnings against it.

If you walk all the way down the beach, you will find caves and other rock formations that are quite far from the crowds.

We had perfect weather for a picture perfect beach day. 

At 1pm we loaded back into the bus and took a ride back to the ship. I thought I would go into the Naval Dock Yard shops, but with only an hour and a half before all aboard, I thought it best to take a shower and relax onboard.

Relaxation time was short lived, as it was time to head up to the pool deck to enjoy sail away. The view was fantastic, and we hugged the coast of Bermuda, which provided some wonderful views.

For dinner, we were back in the main dining room. On day one we noticed a table next to us had some great Mediterranean selections and today the head waiter provided us with our own assortment of hummus, olives, babaganoush and more.

We rounded out our evening with the pub singer. The singer has a great stage presence, along with great vocals.

Tomorrow is a sea day.

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
05Jul2019

Our first full day onboard Anthem of the Seas is a sea day, and that is the international code word for "sleep in".  Given the fact we shifted an hour ahead to get in line with local time in Bermuda.

After getting the family moving, we grabbed breakfast in the Windjammer, which was quite busy.

The weather today was fantastic, with clear skies and warm temperatures.  The perfect weather made for a very busy pool deck throughout the day.

My parents took our kids to the pool, so my wife and I enjoyed a leisurely morning around the ship.  We wandered around, checking out Two70 and the SeaPlex.

With the late start this morning, we skipped lunch and went to the first meet up of the day, which was a private event for those of us in our group at Vintages. We enjoyed a cocktail hour, and officially welcomed everyone onboard.

The welcome party lead straight into a pub crawl around the ship. We hit up the Bionic Bar, Two70 bar, Pub and Solarium Bar.  

A good time was had by all!

By this point in the day, it was time to head back to the room for a change for dinner. I also managed to sneak in a power nap along the way.

Prior to dinner, we grabbed a drink at Boleros and enjoyed some big band music.

Tonight is formal night, and we had dinner at Chops Grille. We purchased a 3-night dining package and this was our first restaurant with the package benefits.

The meal was great, and the steak was as good as I ever recall having at Chops.

After dinner, we went to the Royal Theater to see the comedian, Jim David.  Lately I have seen the adult comedy showns onboard and this was another hit.  I could not believe how full the theater was for the show.

It was a fun first full day onboard, and we have some fun things lined up for Bermuda tomorrow.

Stray Observations

  • The Women's Soccer final will be shown onboard.
  • Devinly Decadence is still on the deck map. It was replaced/renamed to Solarium Bistro very shortly after Anthem launched. 

Anthem of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day

In:
04Jul2019

Today is finally the day we get to start our Anthem of the Seas cruise and I think everyone in our family was ready to get this next adventure going.

We spent a few days before the cruise in Manhattan, enjoying the best that New York City has to offer.  We stayed at the Springhill Suites at 37th street and sixth avenue, which was a great location.  It was walking distance from Times Square, but far enough away not to feel like you were in the middle of all that madness.

To get to Cape Liberty in New Jersey, we had a few options but ultimately went with taking a Lyft ride for the simplicity. Given the fact it was July 4th, there was no traffic at all, so deciding to take a car ride over in lieu of mass transportation was a whole lot easier.

Our Lyft picked us up in front of the hotel a smidge before 10am, and we were at the port by 10:30am or so. The only hiccup was the long line of cars to drop off, but that was quickly over and done with.

Boarding began right at 11am and by the time we got through check-in and security, we were able to walk right onto Anthem.

Stepping foot onboard Anthem, it was great to be back onboard for my third sailing on her. She is still a beautiful looking ship, and we headed up to the Windjammer for our traditional first cruise stop...the Windjammer.

With it being the Fourth of July, there were a lot of festive decorations around the ship, special drinks, and events on the Cruise Planner. The activities staff were certainly trying hard to make the ship feel like a giant July 4th party.

The staterooms were ready at 1:30pm, and for this sailing we have two connecting balcony rooms on deck 8 aft. These are your typical balcony rooms and the best part of these rooms is all the storage space you get. 

We took the kids up to Adventure Ocean to get registered and then headed back to the room for a bit of relaxation prior to sail away.

This sailing is a RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com group cruise, which means we have over 80 friends cruising with us.  Our first meet up was at the Schooner Bar for a celebratory first drink onboard. If you want to join us for one of our 2020 Group Cruise sailings, check out our schedule.

Immediately after muster drill, the ship set sail, which was a surprise to me. Usually there is about a half hour or so after muster drill before the ship actually sails, but the ship departed likely as soon as muster drill concluded.

The best part of sailing from Cape Liberty are the views.  You start off with a view of the New York City skyline, and then follow it up by passing underneath the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.

After the sailaway festivities, we got ready for dinner and the evening. I took the opportunity to walk to my favorite venue onboard, Two70 and enjoy the view.

After getting dressed for dinner, I stopped by quickly at the Diamond Lounge and grabbed a pre-dinner cocktail.

Adventure Ocean did not open until 8pm on the first day, so we took the kids up to the Windjammer for dinner.  We then dropped them off at Adventure Ocean before heading to dinner.

Dinner was in the Chic dining room. You are assigned one of the four dining rooms, but it is the same menu in every room, just a different motif. Usually the first day in the dining room can be a bit slow, but the wait staff were really on top of things and the service was excellent.

After dinner, we stopped by the Red, White and Blue dance party in Two70. There was a salute to veterans, singing of the national anthem and a lot of dancing!

We rounded out our evening with some classic rock tunes by Austin in the pub.

Tomorrow is a sea day.

Stray Observations

  • Everyone's favorite extra cost option showed up today, popcorn! $2.50 for a bag.

  • There is a large family from Egypt in the main dining room and they requested before the cruise an assortment of Mediterranean dishes for their table (hummus, falafel, kababs, etc) and I was quite jealous.
  • Speaking of food, this is our first time in the pub since it switched over from Michael's Genuine Pub. The menu still features some menu choices not found elsewhere, including some great craft beer selections!
  • The Captain announced we would move our clocks forward an hour tonight to get on the right time zone for Bermuda.

Anthem of the Seas 2019 Live Blog - Preview

In:
01Jul2019

It is time once again to pack our bags, stock up on sunscreen, and get ready for our next Royal Caribbean adventure.  This time, we are going on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas for a 9-night Bermuda & Caribbean sailing.  Each day, I will be LIVE blogging to share with you what it is like to cruise on one of Royal Caribbean's most innovative ships. 

This particular sailing happens to be a RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com Group Cruise, which means we have over 80 blog readers joining us on this sailing.  We have been doing group cruises for a few years now, and it remains a favorite way to enjoy a cruise because we get to share the cruise experience with friends who understand the excitement and pleasure of a Royal Caribbean cruise.

The Cruise

I picked this sailing because of the intriguing itinerary that combines Bermuda and a Caribbean sailing. Usually you have to pick one or the other, so to have both in one sailing is a real treat.

Our nine-night sailing will depart on Thursday, July 4th and take us to four ports. We will visit Bermuda, Labadee, San Juan and St. Maarten. It is a perfect blend of port stops and sea days to provide the right balance of rest and adventure.

This is my third time on Anthem of the Seas, and I am excited to return to this innovative class of ship. I have always enjoyed the great blend of entertainment and dining choices the Quantum Class offers, and to sail from the New York City area is an added bonus.

Stateroom

We employed one of my favorite strategies for family cruising on this sailing by booking two connecting balcony staterooms. Rather than put four of us in one room, or upgrade to a suite for added space, we went with two balcony rooms to not only keep the costs down but also provide separation between my wife and I and the kids, as well as provide another bathroom!

Our rooms are on deck eight, and that means we are essentially equidistant from the pool deck fun and the Royal Esplanade.

Itinerary

DayDateLocationPort of Call Guide
1Thursday, 07/04/2019Depart from CAPE LIBERTY - NJ (NY METRO)Cape Liberty, NJ
2Friday, 07/05/2019CRUISING 
3Saturday, 07/06/2019KINGS WHARF - BERMUDA 
4Sunday, 07/07/2019CRUISING 
5Monday, 07/08/2019PHILIPSBURG - ST. MAARTENPhilipsburg, St Maarten
6Tuesday, 07/09/2019SAN JUAN - PUERTO RICOSan Juan, Puerto Rico
7Wednesday, 07/10/2019LABADEE - HAITILabadee, Haiti
8Thursday, 07/11/2019CRUISING 
9Friday, 07/12/2019CRUISING 
10Saturday, 07/13/2019Arrive at CAPE LIBERTY - NJ (NY METRO)Cape Liberty, NJ

The itinerary is what drew us to this particular cruise and we will head to some favorite islands.

First and foremost, we get to spend the day in Bermuda. I have only been to Bermuda once, and that was back in 2012, so to say I am overdue for a return to Bermuda is an understatement. We have invited those who booked into our room block for the Group Cruise to join us for a private excursion through Royal Caribbean to Horseshoe Bay.  It promises to be a fun day at the beach, and the perfect opportunity for our friends on the cruise to do something together while in port. 

Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private destination, is always a highlight for me and we are snagged a Nellie's Beach cabana for the day.  We love Labadee, and cabanas are the icing on the cake for our family.  They are relaxing, provide a good "home base" for the children, and a nap spot.

In St. Maarten, we are hoping to visit a few spots around the island, namely Grand Case beach and Maho Beach.  

No plans yet for San Juan, but we typically walk around Old San Juan and explore on our own.  

What's next

Our Anthem of the Seas cruise begins on Thursday, July 4th, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels.  Be sure to follow me on FacebookInstagram and Periscope for live updates throughout the day.

I invite you to share in this experience with me, by posting in the comments for any blog post questions and comments you may have.  I try to make these live blogs as interactive as I can, so I want everyone to feel welcome to share their thoughts.

Thanks for reading all of this and welcome aboard our next fun live blog experience!

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