Review of Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas 12-Day Southern Caribbean Cruise
All Aboard the Anthem of the Seas
This ship is massive in size and one of the classiest and most elegant that we have been on. We always get a balcony room since we are not “hit the pool deck, fight for chairs, and get up at the crack of dawn to save them” people, but no matter where you stay on the ship, you're guaranteed to have a good time.
In this article, we will tell you about our favorite parts of the cruise, the best activities on board, and what we did during each of the 12 days. To get things started, here are some of the things that made this cruise stand out from the others we've been on.
The Service Was Unparalleled
The service was excellent every step of the way, from our cabin stewardess to the evening restaurant and Windjammer staff. These folks work all day, every day for 6–7 months—with never a day off—and they are always smiling and full of energy.
The Dining Options Were Excellent
The nightly dinners were always first class. We ate at the Windjammer cafe for breakfast and any lunch that we were not in port. Honestly, everyone works so hard to deliver impeccable service, and I just want to tip every single one of them, right down to the greeters at the Windjammer.
A 12-day cruise has two “formal” nights. While they're not required, it’s always fun to dress up, and the next-to-last dinner is usually lobster night in the dining rooms, which is always a treat.
The Onboard Entertainment Was a Blast
The shows never disappoint. This sailing featured “The Gift” (an Anthem of the Seas exclusive) and “We Will Rock You" (a tribute to Queen).” There were also three comedians (including Jim David), an amazing violinist (Gary Lovini), a professional juggler (Adam Kario), and a hypnotist (who had me up as a volunteer on stage!).
Did You Know?
Cruise ships actually have a very sophisticated medical unit capable of providing life support and emergency treatment until transport can be made. These are the things that most cruisers do not think of, but are a real concern and do happen, so it’s comforting to know that there are doctors and nurses onboard when a crisis arises.
Activities on the Anthem of the Seas
A 12-day cruise can be a bit long (especially with 6 "sea days"), but Royal Caribbean does a fabulous job offering lots of activities to do onboard. With games, trivia, karaoke, wine tastings, raffles, shopping events, and numerous shows, there's no shortage of things to keep you occupied and entertained.
Alcoholic Offerings—Tastings and More
One free activity that we particularly enjoyed was a very nice bourbon tasting seminar. It was extremely informative and educational, and we got a great buy on a hard-to-find bourbon that we had been wanting, so that was a nice treat. They also offer several wine tastings throughout the week and even have a wine bar featuring "wine taps" that you can help yourself to with just a swipe of your ship card.
If you don’t mind spending a bit of money for drinks onboard, you can indulge in the all-inclusive drink package or try out the “Bionic Bar." This is just what it sounds like—a robotic arm that makes your drink and serves it to you.
Q&A With the Crew
We always enjoy attending the Q&A session with the ship’s captains, cruise director, and head crew members and always learn very interesting and fun facts about cruise-ship operations.
Someone posed a question this time, asking "why there are no Americans in the service jobs?" The answer was “because Americans don’t want to work that long or that hard; but they are, by all means, welcome to apply." I’m sure U.S. labor laws play a part too, so it is likely more complicated than that. Another person asked about "sanitation, water, and waste disposal processes," all of which are very interesting, as I too have always wondered how ships with 3–5,000 people on board can handle so much waste.
The North Star Observation Bubble
The “North Star” bubble is a cool feature that gives you a bird’s-eye view of the ship and the surrounding water. Don’t let the height intimidate you. It looks daunting, but honestly, once you are in it and up there, it’s really not that unnerving.
It is free of charge and while a reservation is best, you can usually get on if you show up and are willing to wait, as many folks do not show up for their ride and it runs a course every 15 minutes.
The Parachute Wind Tunnel and Other Sporty Activities
If you want another thrill that is also free of charge, make a reservation for the Parachute Wind Tunnel. Just be sure to keep it because no-shows incur a $25 fee. Remove your jewelry and leave your cell phones in your room.
You can have a friend or family member record you from the outside. They also take photos of your fly that are available for purchase ($20). Your time in the tunnel is 60 seconds and you are fully supported.
The ship also offers plenty of opportunities for physical exercise and entertainment, such as:
- a rock climbing wall,
- a basketball court,
- roller skating,
- volleyball and dodgeball tournaments,
- bumper cars,
- and—if you are brave—the Flow Rider.
Our 12-Day Itinerary
While the ship's itinerary is always subject to change, this description of our cruise should give you a good idea of what to expect during your time aboard the Anthem of the Seas!
Day 1: Port of Bayonne, NJ
What I love about Royal Caribbean is how organized their boarding procedures are. The more you cruise, the sooner you get to board and the shorter the line that you are assigned (Crown and Anchor Society), but you should still expect up to spend 4–5 hours embarking and waiting on the ship prior to departure from port.
You can spend that time exploring the ship, lounging on the deck, eating your first meal in the Windjammer, or relaxing in your cabin. Cabins are generally ready by 2:00 pm. It can take until later in the evening for your luggage to be delivered if you checked it with a porter before boarding, so be sure to have extra clothing and toiletries with you for our evening. Here are some great tips for embarkation day to help make it go smoothly.
Days 2–3: Cruising (Sea Days)
These days are generally spent relaxing by one of the many pools, getting acclimated to the movements of the sea, gambling in the casino, participating in the ongoing daily/nightly activities and entertainment, onboard shopping, and of course partaking in the all-time favorite cruise pastime—eating!
Day 4: San Juan, PR
If you aren’t doing an excursion and are exploring on your own, here are a few must-see attractions:
- Take a stroll around the old town.
- While there, stop at The Butterfly People Gallery, where you can learn all about the life cycle of butterflies and purchase one of their beautifully mounted displays (once their lifecycle has naturally ended).
- Take an easy walk from there to Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery for some spectacular views from the city walls.
Day 5: St. Marteen
This island is divided into two parts: the French side and the Dutch side. A short boat ride takes you to the Dutch side, where there is a very nice beach (though the locals will hound you to rent chairs and umbrellas—be sure to barter for the best price) and lots of great shopping.
The French side is famous for having one of the few nude beaches in the Caribbean, “Orient Beach.” Unfortunately, that side of the island was badly destroyed by the recent hurricane and we were told not to bother trying to visit there at this time.
Yo-ho-ho, and a Bottle of Rum!
St. Marteen has the lowest liquor prices you will find anywhere in the Caribbean, so it's the best place to stock up before heading back on board.
Day 6: Antigua
This island is a bit depressing, to be honest. There was lots of peddling and pressure to take taxis and tours. We finally bartered and gave in to a taxi ride to Jolly Beach with our friends, where we spent about three hours soaking up the sun.
Day 7: St. Lucia
Upon arrival, we bartered for a taxi and headed for Soufriere to try out the sulfur mineral mud baths near the volcano. Being that I never take off my jewelry, I was shocked to learn that sulfur and sterling silver (Tiffany) do not play well together (see photo below).
After about three days of trying everything I could think of from my toiletry bag and a silver polishing cloth, I finally found a jewelry store in St. Kitts to score a little bag of silver paste polish that finally did the trick after three applications. The gold and platinum pieces were left unscathed.
The mineral springs are very hot, and if you apply the mud onto your body, your skin will feel softer than a baby’s butt for 2–3 days. One of the locals was collecting and selling grapefruit-sized balls of this mud for $5 each (while trying not to be seen by the park’s employees). I bought one and will continue using it for purifying facials at home!
Day 8: Barbados
As luck would have it, most things on this island are closed on Saturdays. We had hoped to tour the Mount Gay Rum Distillery this time, but it too was closed. We found a taxi and went to one of the beaches—“Blue Monkey”— instead, which we were told sported the best snorkeling. Since we always bring our own gear, this made the most sense to do since there weren’t any other options. The snorkeling was just average, but the beach itself was very pretty (though once again, we had to barter for beach chairs).
On this evening, the Super Bowl was televised all over the ship along with tailgate foods during the game. Being that this cruise left out of New Jersey, it was pretty cool how many New England and Philadelphia people were on board! (Patriots vs. New England).
Day 9: St. Kitts
We had visited this island before in 2016. At that time, we did an awesome excursion to the volcano, where we climbed all the way to the mouth—about a six-mile, strenuous round-trip hike up and down. This time, we opted to just explore the many shops near the port since we aren’t in the greatest physical condition to handle such a climb at this time. This was our sixth island stop and we were winding down!
Days 10–12: Cruising Back to Bayonne, NJ.
Day 10 was a nice, sunny, warm day and I was finally able to catch some rays on the balcony. The last two days got progressively colder, windier, and rainier, so we mostly explored the ship and did some of the activities on board.
All in all, this was the best cruise we've ever been on, and we hope you'll feel the same!
Are you preparing for your first cruise and daunted by the idea of packing? Here are some helpful tips and hacks on how to pack and prepare for your cruise that have made a huge difference in the way we travel. Happy cruising!
Comments and feedback about this review about your own experience are most welcome and encouraged. I value input from others since we are frequent cruisers. Thank you!
Questions & Answers
We are leaving from Bayonne at the end of January, which will obviously be cold. Will there be enough to do inside the Anthem of the Seas and will the Royal Carribean cruise ship also seem crowded the first few days?
Absolutely, there is plenty to do on board and honestly, it’s less than two days before the weather improves. When you reach the Carolinas and Florida coast, things improve dramatically. We took in as many shows as we could, Partook in onboard activities such as the bourbon tasting, bingo, interactive games, Karaoke, shopping, we took a deck of cards and played with our friends and one of the common areas, and took advantage of the workout facilities.Helpful 2
Is the Royal Caribbean Flowrider free?
Yes, it is free. I think the editors added that when they proofed my article for the specialty hub. I will edit that asap, thank you bringing it to my attention.
© 2018 Debra Roberts