I love to review and share our adventures, which include running/racing, backpacking, camping, road trips, traveling, especially cruising.
One of the Best Cruises I've Ever Taken, Hands-Down
I love cruising, and this is my favorite itinerary to date! Read on to discover what you'll find onboard this ship and what to expect during your 12-day cruise to the Southern Caribbean.
All Aboard the Anthem of the Seas
In this article, I'll share my favorite parts of the cruise, the best activities on-board, and what we did each day. To get things started, here's what made this cruise stand out from all the others.
First of all, this ship is massive in size and one of the classiest and most elegant I've been on thus far. We always get a balcony cabin since we prefer quiet vs. the pool deck. But no matter where you stay on the ship, you're guaranteed to have a good time.
The Service Was Unparalleled
The service was excellent every step of the way, from our cabin stewards to the Main Dining Room and Windjammer staff. These folks work all day, every day for 6–7 months—with rarely a day off—and they're always smiling, full of energy, and eager to assist you.
The Dining Options Were Excellent
The nightly dinners were first class. We ate at the Windjammer cafe for breakfast and any lunch when we weren't in port. Honestly, everyone works so hard to deliver impeccable service. I want to tip every 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 fun to dress up--whatever that means to you. The next-to-last dinner is generally "lobster night" in the main 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), a fantastic violinist (Gary Lovini), a professional juggler (Adam Kario), and a hypnotist (who had me as a volunteer on stage!).
Activities on the Anthem of the Seas
A 12-day cruise can be a bit long (especially with six "sea days"), but Royal Caribbean does a fabulous job offering many 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 lovely bourbon tasting seminar. It was extremely informative and educational, and we got a great buy on a hard-to-find bourbon we'd wanted, which was a sweet treat. They offer wine tastings throughout the week and have a wine bar featuring self-serve "wine taps" with a swipe of your ship card.
If you're down with spending money for drinks, you can indulge in the all-inclusive drink package or visit the “Bionic Bar," a robotic arm that makes and serves your drinks.
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 fascinating and fun facts about cruise-ship operations.
Read More from WanderWisdom
Someone asked 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 not that unnerving. It's free of charge, and while a reservation is best, you can usually get on if you are willing to wait. It runs every 15 minutes.
The Parachute Wind Tunnel and Other Sporty Activities
If you want another thrill that's also free of charge, make a reservation for the Parachute Wind Tunnel. Be sure to keep your appointment 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're 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 you are assigned (Crown and Anchor Society). You should expect to spend 4–5 hours embarking and then relaxing on the ship before 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 be late in the evening before your luggage arrives in your room if checked with a porter before boarding. Be sure to have extra clothing and toiletries with you for your evening. Here are some great tips for embarkation day to make it go smoothly.
Days 2–3: Cruising (Sea Days)
Sea days are spent relaxing by the many pools, acclimating to the sea's movements, gambling in the casino, daily/nightly activities, shopping, and the favorite cruise pastime—eating!
Day 4: San Juan, PR
If you aren’t doing an excursion and are exploring on your own, here's a few must-see attractions:
- Take a stroll around the Old Town.
- While there, stop at The Butterfly People Gallery, and learn about the life cycle of butterflies and purchase one of their beautifully mounted displays. (Created 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 consists of two parts: the French side and the Dutch side. A short boat ride takes you to the Dutch side, where there is a lovely beach (though the locals will hound you to rent chairs and umbrellas—be sure to bargain 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 affected by the recent hurricane, and we were told not to bother trying to visit there at this time.
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 bargained and gave in to a taxi ride to Jolly Beach with our friends, where we spent about three hours soaking up the sun. We were delighted we did this as it is a pretty beach.
Day 7: St. Lucia
Upon arrival, we hired a taxi and headed for Soufriere to try out the sulfur mineral mud baths near the volcano. I never take off my "Tiffany" silver or other jewelry and learned the hard way, sulfur and sterling silver don't mix. Extreme oxidation affected all my pieces, which took an act of congress to fix (see photo below).
After three days of trying to clean my jewelry, I found a jewelry store in St. Kitts to score a little bag of silver paste polish that finally did the trick--after three applications! (My 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 close on Saturdays. We'd 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 called “Blue Monkey," which is said to have the best snorkeling. Since we always bring our gear, this made the most sense since there weren’t any other options. The snorkeling was just average, but the beach itself was beautiful (though once again, we had to bargain for beach chairs).
On this evening, the Super Bowl was televised all over the ship along with tailgate foods during the game. Being 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'd visited this island before in 2016. At that time, we did an awesome excursion to the volcano, where we climbed to the mouth—about a six-mile, strenuous round-trip hike up and down. This time, we opted to explore the many shops near the port since we aren’t in our usual good physical condition to handle such a climb at this time. Being it was our sixth island stop, we were starting to wind down!
Days 10–12: Cruising Back to Bayonne, NJ.
Day 10 was a beautiful, sunny, warm day, and I was 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 my helpful tips and hacks on how to pack and prepare for your cruise and how to organize your smaller items that have made a convenient difference in the way we pack and travel. Happy cruising!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: 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?
Answer: 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.
Question: Do the men & teenage boys have to wear pants in all the restaurants on a Royal Caribbean cruise? Also how about in the day for breakfast and lunch?
Answer: Nice shorts can be worn in the dining rooms at all times. There is usually one formal night and you can take that as dressy as you wish or wear a pair of dress pants or nice jeans. The dress code is a suggestion, not a rule. Breakfast and lunch are very laid back and you will see people in their swimsuits and trunks; just make sure they wear shirts and shoes.
Question: Is the Royal Caribbean Flowrider free?
Answer: 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