Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
iamthetitleist

Anthem of the Seas - Review and Comparison to Princess

Recommended Posts

This was our family's first Royal cruise. Anthem of the Seas out of Cape Liberty to Port Canaveral, CocoCay and Nassau.  We have been on 11 Princess cruises and 1 Norwegian back in 2012 which we were not fans of.  Being seasoned Princess cruisers we had become accustomed to their style and wasn't sure what to expect on Royal even though I had read a bunch of reviews on here.  Below is my review and comparison.

 

EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION

We drove from Syracuse to Bayonne in just under 4 hours and got to the cruise terminal around 11AM after stopping at a Walgreens for the forgotten kids' toothpaste.  We weren't sure what to expect regarding the embarkation process on Royal but were pleasantly surprised at how quickly we got through security and got checked in and onto the ship.  No waiting around for boarding and we walked right on after check in. We did find it odd that the seapass cards weren't given to you at the time of check but outside your stateroom upon arrival. Different than on Princess where you receive them at check in.  Also you aren't able to access your staterooms until 1PM technically. I had read that some people just ignore the direction and go through the doors early but we weren't in a rush as we were exploring the ship and grabbing lunch. That brings me to the craziness of the buffet during lunch on Embarkation day.  It was insane and we could not find a table at first. We ended up finding a table and feeding ourselves but we were not prepared for that. On Princess we usually headed to the pool deck after dropping off our carry-ons at the room as soon as we boarded then grabbed pizza for lunch and didn't encounter the buffet often on Embarkation day.  One of our suitcases did not arrive and had apparently had its luggage tag ripped off in the loading process and my wife had to retrieve it from deck 2 at 5PM the first night. Not a big deal but we were just anxious to get everything unpacked. In terms of disembarking, Royal was much better than Princess. We walked down to the 270 around 7AM and they had already called our luggage tag number.  We did not have to wait at all and were able to enjoy breakfast quick and head right off the ship without having to wait in any lines at customs or anything.

 

CABIN

We traveled in two balcony cabins with the convertible couch, 8164 and 8160.  My immediate family which consists of myself, wife and 5 and 3 year old were in one cabin and my in laws were in the other.  We decided that we liked the setup of the Royal cabins better than Princess especially the storage arrangement and the size of the convertible bed.  I ended up sleeping in the convertible bed while my wife and kids were in the good sized queen most nights. Balcony size was comparable, as was the bathroom but I think I liked the capsule style shower as opposed to the shower curtain on Princess.  I did like how they had the two outlets along with the two USB ports so we could charge our two phones and iPads each night if needed. The layout just seemed more logical and made the space seem bigger. The only thing about the cabin was the TV and the fact that there seemed to be less free options for watching TV and movies than on Princess.  On Princess (at least the ships with the On Demand TVs) they provided a selection of movies and TV shows to watch for free along with the normal live TV. On Royal they charge $11.99 to watch a movie which we just couldn’t get ourselves to spend. Also, Princess provides limited but free room service options outside of breakfast which Royal did not provide.  We don’t use it often but it would have been nice to have the option. Overall, we liked the Royal stateroom a little better than Princess.

 

FOOD/DRINKS

When we looked at the dining room menus the first night of the cruise we were disappointed in the vegetarian options.  We had reserved My Time Dining but chose not to try the dining room and stick with the buffet for this cruise. On Princess we always dined in the main dining room with the kids and typically had great service and had vegetarian options to choose from.  We were pleasantly surprised by the numerous vegetarian options at the Windjammer along with the quality and flavor that came with them. They had a great mix of salads, asian, indian and pasta dishes most nights. The kids mostly had pizza, fruits and pasta.  If there are any vegetarians who have experience in the main dining rooms please let me know if it worth a try for our next cruise. We were coming into the cruise with low expectations at Sorrento’s as I had read it was not very good but it was definitely good and they had the vegetable pizza everyday which was a plus so we managed to stop by there each day at least once either for lunch or for a snack.  Compared to the Princess pizza it was probably not as good but definitely better than people make it out to be. For Breakfast we mostly headed down to the 270 Cafe and grabbed the vegetarian breakfast burrito, some oatmeal, cereals and fruit. This was a great place to allow the kids to run around after breakfast as it was typically not crowded early in the morning. As for the drinks, it seemed like every price was inflated compared to Princess.  The first day, without looking at the prices I ordered two Coronas and it came to $18 which I believe included tax but still more than I expected and more than the price on Princess. I think it comes to about $6 per bottle after the service charge on Princess for most regular beer bottles. We ended up not drinking much because of the prices. My in laws did get the drink package after seeing the prices of drinks. The concentrated orange juice is terrible, tastes overly sweet.  Our kids did not like the apple juice but it was made better by diluting with water. Overall everything about our food and dining experience exceeded expectations and we look forward to more of the same on our next cruise.

 

ENTERTAINMENT

For entertainment the Anthem was much better for our kids.  Even at 3 and 5 they were able to do much more than on Princess.  They do not like to go to the kids club so for them to be able to spend time at the kids wading pool area along with the current pool and enjoy some of the activities in the Seaplex, it was great.  We spent time playing foosball and air hockey (at $2.50 per game), playing a few games in the arcade, my 5 year old daughter and I did the bumper cars when they had those going. We were able to go in the North Star while in port at Nassau which was pretty cool to be able to see the other ships and Atlantis and other parts of the island from above.  We did not do too many of the ships organized activities and didn’t go to the shows so I cannot comment on these compared to Princess but I can imagine from our time in the 270 during the day that the shows are pretty cool. On Princess most of our days are spent by the pool which is what we like to do but there is no designated kids pool area and it was nice on the Anthem to have other options throughout the day.

 

PORTS

Port Canaveral - We booked the Disney World Express Transport and bought Disney World tickets ahead of time.  We were able to get on the first bus out and arrived at Magic Kingdom by 2PM. We had booked FastPasses for three rides and were able to get on those with no lines at all.  Other than those rides the lines were quite long and we only got in another 3 rides until it was time to catch the bus at 7PM. I am not sure if it was worth the cost but the memories of the kids being there and my daughter meeting Rapunzel and Tiana are priceless.  We probably would not do it again if we go to Port Canaveral again but I do not regret getting in the experience.

CocoCay - This was pretty awesome and will be even better once they finish the waterpark.  The beach is huge compared to Princess Cays and we were easily able to find beach chairs on the south side.  It was a longer walk but much less busy than the closer beachfront. It was really nice being able to walk right to the pier and not have to tender as you had to do before or at Princess Cays.  Spent the day in the water and had perfect weather.

Nassau - We did not leave the ship as we had just had a whole day at the beach the day prior but we did enjoy the pool as the weather was again perfect.

 

SERVICE

The service on the Anthem was okay not great.  Our room steward was rarely seen and didn’t seem overly happy to be working on a cruise ship.  None of the staff we encountered were as engaging as we were used to on Princess. This didn’t make or break our cruise experience but certainly didn’t enhance it at all.  On a different note regarding service… they seemed to be selling things in the Royal Esplanade constantly. They had the two kiosks set up but in the mornings they brought it additional tables of stuff which, combined with the tables that were already situated around the various eateries made it difficult to get through that area.  That set up just seemed odd to me. Royal does seem to always be trying to sell things as does Princess and every other cruise line I am sure but the prices seemed to be inflated more than on Princess. Also, to go along with the service aspect was the VOOM internet. We purchased the higher speed package for the four adults and it worked for the most part at speeds comparable to the MedallionNet on Princess but at times it was sluggish and we did lose service for a couple hours at a time a couple of days.  We could obviously live without internet for a couple of hours as we were on a cruise ship with myriad things to do but it was harder to contact each other.

 

OVERALL

Overall, we were pleasantly surprised with everything we experienced on the Anthem from the food to the onboard activities to the stateroom.  Besides the prices being a little higher and the lack of free on demand programming in the stateroom to be able to watch before bed, Royal seems to be a great alternative to Princess.  Also the fact that they have itineraries RT from New York is a big selling point for us not having to fly with children and with the, hopefully soon to be repaired Oasis of the Seas replacing the Anthem in a little over a year we will be able to experience it as well.  We are already looking to book our next cruise on Royal sooner rather than later. I am sure there is more I can comment on but this has already gotten longer than I anticipated.  Cheers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Appreciate the comparison review, and glad to hear the pizza is not as bad as it has been reported in the past.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great feedback.  Too bad you found the service lacking but sounds like overall you quite liked Anthem.

 

For your Port Canaveral day, were you in Port 12:30pm to 9pm?  It seems like the bus times match and debating whether to do the excursion when we're there next March (or even just hand out at Disney springs).  Seems like you didn't get on that many rides.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Enjoyed reading your comparison.

 

We never like the craziness of the buffet the first day. We usually stick with Cafe 270, the Solarium restaurant, or Sorrentos on Anthem’s embarkation day. 

 

Glad and you enjoyed your cruise.

Edited by barbeyg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the review! We'll be on her in just over a month! How did you find the availability of lounge chairs during the day?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Been on Quantum & Anthem (4 sails) and agree with you so much easier to sail from Bayonne.  Even easier for us as we live 35 minutes from the port.  I've never encountered any problem with the Cabin Steward and always available to us.  Only once on Quantum sail did we find some coolness on staff part and this was right as RCL announced that Quantum was being relocated to China. 

 

Love the easiness and have 2 upcoming Anthem's cruises--a 9 and 11 niter.  My biggest gripe is the entertainment--seen it once and that is all we needed.  We saw the same headliner on 3 of our cruises and basically in it's place go to the Casino.:classic_biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, LuCruise said:

Great feedback.  Too bad you found the service lacking but sounds like overall you quite liked Anthem.

 

For your Port Canaveral day, were you in Port 12:30pm to 9pm?  It seems like the bus times match and debating whether to do the excursion when we're there next March (or even just hand out at Disney springs).  Seems like you didn't get on that many rides.

 

LuCruise - Yes it was 12:30PM to 9PM.  We were on the bus at 1230.  I think getting inside the park by 2 was what we were planning on.  We went in not expecting to get in much but knew the kids would really enjoy everything.  Seemed more crowded than the first time we were there even though it was on and off raining for most of the afternoon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, iamthetitleist said:

 

 

 The only thing about the cabin was the TV and the fact that there seemed to be less free options for watching TV and movies than on Princess.  On Princess (at least the ships with the On Demand TVs) they provided a selection of movies and TV shows to watch for free along with the normal live TV. On Royal they charge $11.99 to watch a movie which we just couldn’t get ourselves to spend. Also, Princess provides limited but free room service options outside of breakfast which Royal did not provide.  We don’t use it often but it would have been nice to have the option. Overall, we liked the Royal stateroom a little better than Princess.

 

 

 

 

 

My west coast friends who are now forced to cruise on Princess (since RC left them high and dry) are CONSTANTLY harping on this TV thing.  😄  I sympathize with you.  RC TV stinks to high heaven.  It has actually gotten worse recently.

 

And I (and everyone else) agree with you about the mess on the Royal  Esplanade.

 

Welcome to Royal Caribbean!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, iamthetitleist said:

 

LuCruise - Yes it was 12:30PM to 9PM.  We were on the bus at 1230.  I think getting inside the park by 2 was what we were planning on.  We went in not expecting to get in much but knew the kids would really enjoy everything.  Seemed more crowded than the first time we were there even though it was on and off raining for most of the afternoon.

Thanks for the feedback.  Those are our port times too so good to know how the bus fits in.  Great to hear that your kids enjoyed.  Disney is amazing and best vacation with cruise + disney day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Thank you for the comparison.  I have not cruised on Princess in some time.

I've been forced to cruise Royal Caribbean since Princess left the the Northeast.  There is much that I enjoy about RC, but there are things that I miss about Princess (including wonderful pasta dishes and decent pastries).

 

In my opinion the pizza At Sorrento's on Royal is edible.  The pizza on Princess is much better , but not great.

Edited by Sanz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank's for the comparison. Princess is our first line of choice but their lackluster Caribbean itineraries and the fact that they no longer sail from NY during the summer months has led us to other lines. I have to agree with the drink prices on Princess being practically a bargain compared to RC. I never felt the need to purchase the drink package or coffee card. We will be sailing on the Anthem in June I look forward to formulating my own comparison.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, iamthetitleist said:

FOOD/DRINKS

...

If there are any vegetarians who have experience in the main dining rooms please let me know if it worth a try for our next cruise.

 

Hello there and thanks for the comparison review. We have sailed with veggie companions several times and have never found difficulties with the MDR food. We have never informed rccldining beforehand of any vegetarian restrictions, but it has never been an issue letting them know on your first night at dinner.  We have also been able to let them know at that time that we would love to keep sampling their veggie options (we often specify Indian), and they have always gone out of their way to make the rest of our cruise dinners delectable for those who are interested in such meals (some in our party often prefer specialty dining venues). In our experience, it's all about talking with your server on the first night and specifying what you prefer. They are usually happy to make sure you have a lovely (and yummy) experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As for being vegetarian in the MDR, if you tell them either in advance or on your first night, they will often suggest vegetarian alternatives that are not on the main menu.  Also, if you like Indian food, they usually have different vegetarian Indian dishes nightly that are not on the menu.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice review! I am a vegetarian leaning omnivore so I learned a couple of things on past cruises. My friends and I took a galley tour on the Independence and learned about RCCL’s approach to accommodating special diets. For the MDR call RCCL a month before your cruise to arrange vegetarian meals. If you forget you can speak with the maitre’d the first night. On another cruise I had vegetarian Indian food at lunch in the MDR.  Since I enjoyed it so much the staff made sure that I had some Indian food the rest of my cruise.  

Morgan on the very unofficial travel guide on YouTube likes RCCL and is a vegetarian. He shows what he eats on his videos. It’s very helpful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Dear iamthetitleist,m

 

Thank you for your review as well comparison.

 

We are on both fine lines a higher Club staus and do find way many more benefits on the Princess ships still.

One item , I guess you do not own shares yet on RCL :NYSE and / or CCL : NYSE  CUK :NYSE for the Wonderful Shareholder Benefit. It is in the 10K ( Annual Report)_  You as a shareholder obtain a OBC TAX FREE benefit on each cruise as it is considered a Gift. But somehow if you do read the VERY fine print, now,  on RCL :NYSE here they somehow do not allow it to be combined. Even as we do like to book with Travel Agents which are ASTA to make sure more JOBS are held .. and your bookings are secure not like that WOW Airline from Iceland. Carnival allows the Shareholder Benefit for each line they own and ever ship. So yes Princess allows this.

 

The Anthem of the Seas RCL :NYSE is a beautiful ship with a lot higher retail costs/prices .

 

The shows going aft to the stern area are amazing spectacles..

 

Home boarded and ported in New Jersey helps at the older US Military Base of MOTBY.

 

On staffing on most any cruise ship the second in command, HotMan (Hotel Manager) makes a cruise well or not as they do the day to day management. FYI the best i have met and been on was a Celebrity Ship. I was taking photos from the upper deck of the main Dining Hall and said hello to a gentelman i never had met before and was saying that HotMan was the very best ever I saw . Oh BTW that was the HotMans Dad..

 

So glad you enjoyed, saw, and posted here now. Showing others your viewpopint benefits so manmy.

 

Do you refuel at that US Indian Nation coming down I-81?

No Taxation eh...

 

Again Thank You

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • 2019 Cruisers' Choice Destination Awards
      • Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo invites you to #CrewUpWithWomen
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...