This was my first cruise on-board the Anthem of the Seas and ultimately, I was NOT disappointed. The ship was amazing and I think it really just kind of exceeded my expectations. We had fantastic weather the entire trip and could not have asked for smoother seas. It wasn't perfect, as there were a few issues throughout the cruise, but cruising is what you make of it and I refuse to let little things ruin an entire trip!
I cruised with my husband and we flew up to Bayonne the night before the cruise, staying pretty much between the airport and the cruise port. Getting to the cruise port via Uber was quick, easy, and less expensive than taking a taxi from the hotel.
Our check in time was 1030a and we arrived at the port right on time. Entering the cruise terminal, we were a little lost, though. There isn't really much signage prior to security so knowing where to go was confusing. My husband is Diamond status and we're accustomed to the priority lanes for Diamond/Diamond + and they didn't have them for our particular sailing. Or, if they did, there were no signs indicating any priority lanes. Security was moving fairly quickly though so we didn't really lose out on anything. Once we got past security, there were lanes for check in, including lanes for Diamond and Diamond +. The embarkation staff was very friendly and very quick, making the embarkation process very positive.
Our cabin was 7510, which is the forwardmost cabin on deck 7, starboard side. We were very pleased with that cabin and would definitely book that specific cabin again. It's an obstructed balcony view but the view you do have is still incredible. It was very spacious and the bed being mid-cabin as opposed to near the door or near the balcony made the room feel a little bigger. The decor in the cabin is modern and updated. It felt very "now" as opposed to other ships whose cabins just have kind of an old kind of feel to them. There was plenty of drawer space and space for hanging clothes, along with plenty of space on the vanity and dresser for items. The only downsides to that particular cabin is that it's located almost directly above - albeit a few decks - the thrusters and the anchor. When we were getting set up off the coast of CocoCay, we were woken up by the sheer noise of the anchor being dropped. When we pulled into port both in Nassau and Bayonne, at the end of the cruise, the thrusters were incredibly loud and vibrated every part of our cabin. Aside from those two items, it was a fantastic cabin. It was very quiet and for those who like getting in their steps every day, having to walk to the end of the hall is perfect.
Dining was a little hit or miss for us. Firstly, though, the food was very, very good. We ate at Chops, Jamie's Italian, the Windjammer, and Chic (at dinner). Every part of the food at Chops was fantastic. We love to eat there and the steak is always delicious. It's a great way to have a date night on board or celebrate a special evening (we celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary). Jamie's Italian had wonderful food as well. The simple baked lasagne was probably one of, if not THE, best lasagnes I've ever had. The atmosphere of Jamie's is very sort of homey - not really like an Italian restaurant - but I think that matches his style. We were able to make reservations at 1145a for 12p with no issues.
Chic, the dining room we ate in, was not our original dining room. We had been assigned to the Grande restaurant but when we showed up at 815p on night 1, there were people sitting at our table (a table for 2). We spoke to the head waiter and he went over to talk to the table (and I assume they just flat out refused to move as they had friends sitting at the table next to ours and did not want to go sit elsewhere), then he spoke to three other members of the dining room staff, and after about 15 minutes, we didn't see any of them again. My husband had to go hunt down someone to find out what was going on with our table. No one had come back to explain the situation at all. This is when we were led over to the Chic restaurant and were seated at a table for 2. The wait staff in Chic were fantastic. We had a very good waiter, although it was really difficult to understand him most nights due to him speaking softly and the restaurant being a little loud. Bar service in Chic was a little hit or miss. We had the Ultimate Drink Package and were drinking with dinner, but whether or not we got our drinks in any kind of a timely fashion largely depended on...who knows. Sometimes one round would come within 5 minutes, other times it'd take 15-20 minutes to get our drinks. That in itself isn't that bad of an issue but consistency would be nice. I ordered the cheese tortellini one night only to have our waiter come back and inform me that it was not available and offered cheese ravioli as a substitute. The cheese ravioli was VERY good but I feel if it's going to be an issue that you don't have something on your menu, you should make your guests aware of that at the very beginning, when the menus are handed to the guests. Otherwise, dinner was fantastic.
The Windjammer was my least favorite place to eat - and not because of the food. I've never had a problem with the quality, quantity, or variety of food in the Windjammer. The staff was very friendly as well. The problem was seating. For a ship that holds 4000+ people, having seating for approx. 1,000 people, is a little sad. It did not matter, unless it was a port day, what time you went to breakfast - it was next to impossible to find a table. You're on vacation. I don't feel you should be having to wake up at 730a-8a just to make sure you can get a seat. Lunch time was not as crowded as there's plenty of places to eat lunch on the ship. There's not that many places for breakfast. We ended up going to Cafe Two70 but there's a very small breakfast selection. The food was good, but the selection was small. Even looking at the breakfast selection in the dining rooms was lacking.
We only went to see one show, despite many people we met telling us how amazing the shows were. We saw "The Gift" and there were many people getting up and leaving in the middle of the show. My opinion of the gift is, "what??" because it was a VERY hard show to follow. Now, the acting, the singing, all of that was top notch, but the story itself left us wondering what was going on. It truly wasn't until the END of the show that you understood what was going on.
There was plenty of trivia on this ship, in the Schooner Bar. I am a HUGE trivia person but there were many times where I was a little more than annoyed - and I'm sure it's not RC's fault. The amount of cheating that went on during the trivia, specifically Disney and Harry Potter, was very disconcerting.
The North Star was a fantastic experience. I would do that again in a heartbeat - and I'm afraid of heights. The views were amazing. I'm disappointed it doesn't go over water, though, like on the Ovation and Quantum. We were told it just takes too long and they have to keep with the short 10 minute rides since so many people want to do it. I think that's why they need to stick with reservations, IMO, and not allow those to just walk up and jump in line.
Our first port stop was Port Canaveral. We were going to go to Kennedy Space Center to see the rocket launch. We did not book an excursion through RC, though. And I am SO thankful we didn't. We took an Uber from the cruise port but after sitting in traffic trying to get to KSC for 20 minutes, we had the driver turn around and take us back. We ended up being in the car for over an hour and a half. There were people who took the excursion and sat in traffic for 3 hours just trying to get INTO KSC - a 30 minute drive turned into 3 hours for these people. The fact that there was a rocket launch the same day we were in port was probably 75% of the reason it took SO long to get into the space center (and ultimately why we turned around and went back to the ship). Thankfully, the tickets we'd bought for KSC are good for a year so we have an opportunity to use them later this year.
CocoCay was our second port stop. We were one of the last tenders to get to the island. I think it was 1p when we got to the island. There was almost NO place to sit. After walking around for 15 minutes, we finally found a chair to put our stuff on. The water was chilly but comfortable. The sun was shining. It was perfect weather for being on the beach but it was SO crowded. I can't imagine how crowded it is when you get a ship like the Oasis over there and you're dealing with 6000+ passengers trying to be on that little bitty island.
Our port stop in Nassau was probably my favorite and it's a port I've been to so many times, I may as well be a citizen of the Bahamas. We got off the ship and the weather was lovely. It wasn't TOO hot, it was a little breezy, the sun was shining. We grabbed lunch at Sharkee's and had intended to come right back to the ship and enjoy using our drink package but we stopped at Pirate Republic Brewing Company first. We will definitely be back to Pirate Republic when we come back in November. The beer was fantastic and the staff was very friendly. It wasn't crowded and it sort of felt like one of the breweries we have back at home.
Overall, this was one of the best cruises I've ever taken and I've taken a fair number of cruises. I would sail on the Anthem again without question.