Building on Royal Caribbean’s reputation as the most technologically advanced cruise line, its Anthem of the Seas continues the theme with smart check-in that can get you from curbside to ship in under 15 minutes (and yes, it really did work). Smart bag tags allow to you track your luggage as it’s delivered to your stateroom, and smart wristbands double as keys and charge cards so you need never be locked out of your cabin again. The ship’s bandwidth is also impressive — likely the best at sea, allowing you to stream video, access Facebook and email all at once.
And if that’s not enough to impress, how about robotic barmen in Bionic Bar and a giant video wall in Two70 with amazing special effects? The digital imagery in Spectra’s Cabaret was stunning with the Maestro “swimming” in a translucent tube on the stage. Anthem puts technology to work in almost every nook and cranny of the ship.
Anthem inherited the Dynamic Dining Choice concept (no set table/dining time) first introduced on sister ship Quantum of the Seas. I thought the move was long overdue, especially as the line wants to woo people out of old cruising traditions, but it seems it was not to everyone’s taste. So now Royal Caribbean has devised a new Dynamic Dining Classic option. It’s set dining with a twist: you, your table and waiter revolve around the four no-fee restaurants (Asian in Silk, classic American in American Icon, modern Mediterranean in Chic and formal-night favorites in The Grande) that replaced the main dining room.
If none appeals there are loads more places to eat, mostly for a fee, including British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian, a gastropub by James Beard award-winning chef Michael Schwartz, and the imaginative cuisine at Wonderland that will serve as a feast for the senses for approximately $45.
Things to Do
If you’re not afraid of heights, start your cruise with a trip on the North Star. This glass-enclosed observation capsule lifts and hovers 300 feet over the ocean, offering spectacular views of the horizon. Other high-flying options include trying RipCord by iFly (an adrenaline-inducing skydiving simulator) and learning to be a trapeze artist at SeaPlex. At different times throughout the day you’ll also find a basketball court and bumper cars at SeaPlex. If you’re more into music than pushing your body to the limit, you’ll be especially interested in Music Hall, where music and dancing goes on until the wee hours. In the Royal Theater you can catch a performance of We Will Rock You. After the show, grab a nightcap at any of the many bars and lounges that dot the ship.
The Grand Loft Suites certainly live up to their name, with a downstairs living area and upstairs bedroom – and the one I saw (10320) had three balconies! In all, almost 700 square feet inside and another 350 square feet outside, which is bigger than my flat! There are family suites that sleep eight and inside and balcony studios for solo travellers that are a bit cosy (101 square feet) but hey, there is no single supplement.
As part of the new look, cabins have been redesigned with wardrobes on either side of the head of the bed, which makes the rooms look more spacious. On the down side, in most rooms it means you can’t see the sea from your bed, which I really missed. A nice touch for the Brits: all cabins have kettles and tea bags for our morning cuppas. I am reliably informed they will be taken out before the ship moves to New Jersey.
- While Anthem’s layout generally does a good job of controlling congestion, you do have to wait in line for some activities — like North Star, RipCord by iFly and SeaPlex’s bumper cars.
- The cost of some of the specialty restaurants can put a dent in your budget, especially if you’re traveling with a family.
- Reservations are highly recommended for the specialty dining venues because they fill up quickly.