Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Sizzlechest

Anthem of the Seas - July 4 - Pluses and minuses

Recommended Posts

This was not my first cruise but it was my first on Royal Caribbean. Spoiler alert: It was awesome! I do not have another RCL ship as a point of reference to compare with the Anthem. Instead, I will identify the pluses and minus of this particular ship to my combined experiences of NCL and Carnival. It’s important to not rate an entire cruise line (positively or negatively) based on the experience on a single ship. For example, an NCL cruise on an older ship like the Gem is very different than on a newer ship like the Breakaway. Carnival and NCL seem to be standardizing their fleets. Major refurbs on older ships are putting them in line with the newer ones with respect to venues and features. RCL is doing this to some degree, too. I’ll be cruising on the Oasis next year and it will have water slides found on newer ships and a Bionic Bar. Nevertheless, you cannot extrapolate an experience on a refurbed ship like the Carnival Sunrise to the ship its refurbs were based on like the Vista.

 

This review will not be in chronological order. If you want to know more about something or are curious about something I haven’t mentioned, let me know.

 

Ship Layout

 

This is one of the largest ships I’ve cruised on and it was a breeze to get around. It never felt crowded even though we were at 100% capacity. Okay, sure the buffet is going to be crowded at peak times. There’s no avoiding that. If you did anytime dining instead of a fixed table assignment for the MDR, I guess dinner at the MDR might be a wait, but I don’t know about that. Getting reservations seemed pretty easy as long as you didn’t attempt to do it the day before.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only negatives I have been able to assemble for Anthem are

 

1. If you have Aft suites....it is a LOOOONG walk to the elevators

2. Crowd flow being forced down the main atrium after major show lets out can be a little congested with few alternatives to get around it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Food and Beverages

 

Disclaimer: food reviews are too subjective. I may like what you don’t and vice-versa. You may not think what I feel is important is important.

 

Overall the food was good. The dinner selections were what I would rate as acceptable. The taste, texture and presentation were what I would expect for a cruise of this nature. If this had been a cruise on Celebrity, I might have been disappointed. I had most of my issues with breakfast where items in the MDR were not prepared correctly and lunch selections at the Windjammer weren’t very appealing to me. Nevertheless, I never went hungry.

 

I purchased the deluxe beverage package and was not disappointed. If you’ve ever wanted to try it on RCL, this is the ship to do it. Every type of drink I tried was covered. Starbucks cappuccinos every morning, dirty martini’s with Grey Goose or Tito’s, milkshakes from Johnny Rockets without any other purchase, etc. I never had to wait long for a drink, even at a busy bar like at the pool area.

 

I’ve heard that ships with an actual Starbucks on board are exempt from the drink package and Johnny Rockets that have a cover charge instead of a la carte pricing prevent a lone milkshake from being purchased. The Anthem does not have these problems.

 

I like to bring a case of bottled water and a case of soda to keep in my room for convenience. While RCL allows one case per stateroom, don’t bother if you have the drink package. You can get bottled water from any bar. Soda cans are available in the Windjammer and other places. This is a major plus for RCL. I don’t know if this policy extends to other ships, but it makes the drink package very attractive for folks on the fence.

 

Pluses and minuses: The pizza place is open from lunch until 3AM. The pizza was really good. They always make pepperoni and plain cheese with an additional variety they rotate each day. The other offerings were mostly forgettable. Breakfast at Sorrento’s was a waste of time. They serve sandwiches there, but they are uncooked. An Egg McMuffin (no they don’t actually call it that) uses an untoasted English muffin. Café Two70 has the same item and will put it in a panini press, but it’s hardly any better. I tried another kind of an egg sandwich on a croissant and when I bit into it, it was slathered in mayonnaise. I don’t mind mayo, but it was NOT welcome on this kind of sandwich. The pizza is free and service is very fast. It definitely makes up for other food-related deficiencies you may find. I can’t believe RCL charges $2.50 for popcorn! Every other cruise that I’ve been on, popcorn was free. I can’t say I blame them since people were lined up to buy it. I’ll take free pizza over popcorn any day. The hot dog stand at the Seaplex was really nice. I wish they had brown mustard.

 

I didn’t do specialty dining. However, I had a scaled down Chops lunch with “The Key.” It was really good, but I couldn’t image paying the price for Chops based on what I had.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Enjoying your review so far on Anthem.  We are trying that ship for the first time in March.

Very neat that 'Starbucks' coffee is included with drink package (as I read it's from a coffee shop by different name?) and you can also get a milkshake without purchasing anything else at JR.  Didn't know that, so thanks for sharing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Internet

 

I got the fastest Internet speed as part of The Key. It worked really well considering I was able to stream Hulu in the middle of the ocean to my FireTV. By the way, yes, you can bring your FireTV on board and connect it to the back of the TV using an HDMI cable. You just need to buy a Samsung TV remote so you can switch the inputs since the remote RCL provides does not have that button. There must be some packet prioritization going on because I was NOT able to stream my Slingbox from home. If you were planning to use a Slingbox to get local news and sports, don’t bother. It doesn’t work. Also, don’t assume you will be able to bring a laptop to connect to your VPN at work. That will not work either.

 

Yes, you can use your cell phone to make phone calls and send texts if your phone and carrier allows WiFi Calling. Here’s how to test it at home:

 

  1. Ensure your phone can connect to your home’s WiFi.
  2. Turn on airplane mode. This will kill all connections.
  3. Turn on the phone’s WiFi. Verify your phone can access the Internet.
  4. Search your phone’s settings for WiFi Calling and enable it.
  5. Try to make a call and send/receive texts. If it works on land like this, it will work on the ship.

The WiFi was down for periods of time and voice calls weren’t always clear, but it was mostly worth it.

 

Royal IQ App

 

It was nice to have the day’s schedule at your fingertips. The MDR menus for the entire cruise were available, too. However, no access to your photos. The app didn’t allow reservations even after it was registered to me when we first got on board. I had to go in person to the Music Hall to do it. It worked fine later that day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Staff

 

I never had an issue with rude staff on any cruise. Maybe I’m just lucky. However, the staff on this ship were hands down the friendliest I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Everyone I had to deal with was courteous and nice. The only problems were with The Key program as I will review separately.

 

Bumper Cars / Escape Room / Northstar / iFly / Rock Climbing

 

All these ship-specific attractions were awesome. I had a lot of fun doing them. I didn’t do ping-pong or XBOX. Northstar was great, but keep in mind it does NOT extend over the side of the ship as you may have seen in some promotional material. That doesn’t happen on Anthem. The bumper cars are no joke. They work and feel like “real” bumper cars. DO IT!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great review! We have sailed on Anthem several times. The North Star no longer goes over the side of the ship. It used to, and we did it several times. It was such fun. It has not done this in a few years. I heard that it takes too long, and they cannot accommodate enough passengers on the ride during the cruise. Oh well...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, loug1601 said:

Great review! We have sailed on Anthem several times. The North Star no longer goes over the side of the ship. It used to, and we did it several times. It was such fun. It has not done this in a few years. I heard that it takes too long, and they cannot accommodate enough passengers on the ride during the cruise. Oh well...

 

I believe it does go over about 20 degrees.  I had a group of friends on this same Anthem cruise and I watched them live streaming their North Star trip and it went over the rights, both left and side.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, AshleyDillo said:

 

I believe it does go over about 20 degrees.  I had a group of friends on this same Anthem cruise and I watched them live streaming their North Star trip and it went over the rights, both left and side.

 

20 degrees side to side. Not this:

 

Ovation-North-Star-AK-Experience-25.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see from your Cruise Compass pics that they indicate that they get into Bermuda at 8am and don't open the doors until 830am.  Do you know if they actually got in earlier than that?  I was hoping to be off the ship right at 8am and hopefully earlier....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, fscool said:

I see from your Cruise Compass pics that they indicate that they get into Bermuda at 8am and don't open the doors until 830am.  Do you know if they actually got in earlier than that?  I was hoping to be off the ship right at 8am and hopefully earlier....

 

I don't know since I got off later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Sizzlechest said:

Food and Beverages

 

 

 

Disclaimer: food reviews are too subjective. I may like what you don’t and vice-versa. You may not think what I feel is important is important.

 

 

 

Overall the food was good. The dinner selections were what I would rate as acceptable. The taste, texture and presentation were what I would expect for a cruise of this nature. If this had been a cruise on Celebrity, I might have been disappointed. I had most of my issues with breakfast where items in the MDR were not prepared correctly and lunch selections at the Windjammer weren’t very appealing to me. Nevertheless, I never went hungry.

 

 

 

I purchased the deluxe beverage package and was not disappointed. If you’ve ever wanted to try it on RCL, this is the ship to do it. Every type of drink I tried was covered. Starbucks cappuccinos every morning, dirty martini’s with Grey Goose or Tito’s, milkshakes from Johnny Rockets without any other purchase, etc. I never had to wait long for a drink, even at a busy bar like at the pool area.

 

 

 

I’ve heard that ships with an actual Starbucks on board are exempt from the drink package and Johnny Rockets that have a cover charge instead of a la carte pricing prevent a lone milkshake from being purchased. The Anthem does not have these problems.

 

 

 

I like to bring a case of bottled water and a case of soda to keep in my room for convenience. While RCL allows one case per stateroom, don’t bother if you have the drink package. You can get bottled water from any bar. Soda cans are available in the Windjammer and other places. This is a major plus for RCL. I don’t know if this policy extends to other ships, but it makes the drink package very attractive for folks on the fence.

 

 

 

Pluses and minuses: The pizza place is open from lunch until 3AM. The pizza was really good. They always make pepperoni and plain cheese with an additional variety they rotate each day. The other offerings were mostly forgettable. Breakfast at Sorrento’s was a waste of time. They serve sandwiches there, but they are uncooked. An Egg McMuffin (no they don’t actually call it that) uses an untoasted English muffin. Café Two70 has the same item and will put it in a panini press, but it’s hardly any better. I tried another kind of an egg sandwich on a croissant and when I bit into it, it was slathered in mayonnaise. I don’t mind mayo, but it was NOT welcome on this kind of sandwich. The pizza is free and service is very fast. It definitely makes up for other food-related deficiencies you may find. I can’t believe RCL charges $2.50 for popcorn! Every other cruise that I’ve been on, popcorn was free. I can’t say I blame them since people were lined up to buy it. I’ll take free pizza over popcorn any day. The hot dog stand at the Seaplex was really nice. I wish they had brown mustard.

 

 

 

I didn’t do specialty dining. However, I had a scaled down Chops lunch with “The Key.” It was really good, but I couldn’t image paying the price for Chops based on what I had.

 

 

Sizzlechest, you have posted an excellent and helpful review.  Many thanks, ESPECIALLY for the paragraph I highlighted above.  This is an area of confusion for so many people. 

 

Royal Caribbean does not permit cases of water or soda.  The limit is 12 containers of any non-alcoholic beverage, maximum size of 500 ml/17 ounces, which must be carried on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Comedy Shows

 

Carnival and NCL do comedy better, hands down. There is no dedicated location for comedy shows on the Anthem. We had only two comedians on this cruise and they were only available in the main theater. Carnival has the “Punchliner” and rotate comedians on and off after each port.

 

Photos

 

The Anthem has the worst photo system of any cruise I’ve been on. You cannot review your pictures when the photo place isn’t open, which is very often. Carnival allows you to see your phones from their phone app. The Royal IQ app has no feature. The watermarking on the photos are really aggressive. I couldn’t make out facial expressions because they were covered with white text. I get it. They don’t want people to take pictures of their pictures with their phone. But it made it too difficult. Also, there wasn’t as many locations to take pictures that showed off the inherent beauty of the ship. Other than the chair outside of Wonderland and a relatively unimpressive staircase, all of the other photos were in front of stock roll-down screens. No props or chairs. All those photos were with you standing up in front of a generic background. I didn’t purchase a single photo this cruise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, LuCruise said:

Enjoying your review so far on Anthem.  We are trying that ship for the first time in March.

Very neat that 'Starbucks' coffee is included with drink package (as I read it's from a coffee shop by different name?) and you can also get a milkshake without purchasing anything else at JR.  Didn't know that, so thanks for sharing.

It’s the cafe on the Promenade, across from Sorrento’s.  They use Starbuck’s beans and the coffee is served in Cups with Starbuck’s logo.... got my specialty coffee there every morning!  And I just got milkshakes at JR’s, so I can attest the this is accurate info!  Enjoy, I loved the Anthem!!

Share this post


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

I see from your Cruise Compass pics that they indicate that they get into Bermuda at 8am and don't open the doors until 830am.  Do you know if they actually got in earlier than that?  I was hoping to be off the ship right at 8am and hopefully earlier....

I just got off the Anthem in May, and most times to disembark at ports are pretty accurate.  They dock and need to clear with customs, so that is y u can’t get off as soon as they dock.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Following along is REALLY adding to our excitement for time to sail Anthem on Oct 19. Thanks so much for posting

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Gift / We Will Rock You / Spectra’s Cabaret

 

Before I review the main shows, I want to say that the performers on the Anthem were hands-down the most talented on any cruise that I’ve been on. All of them were top notch singers, dancers, musicians, and “stunt” performers. The set design and detail were also incredible. The use of trap doors and moving stage were used effectively. That’s why it’s so painful me to watch their talent be wasted doing the main theater shows.

 

I have no frickin idea what “The Gift” was about. Nobody I spoke to on the cruise knew either. None of it made any sense. “We Will Rock You” did have a coherent plot, but was just a flimsy excuse to perform Queen’s greatest hits. It’s not funny. It’s not clever. It’s shallow, dumb, and one of the most cornball shows I’ve ever had the displeasure to endure. I would have preferred it if the cast just came on stage and sang Queen songs without the painful pretense otherwise known as “the script.”

 

Spectra’s Cabaret was good. Some of the computer graphics need a refresh for 2019. The robotic screens should have more to do, but when they were used, they were used effectively. Get a seat up close on the first level as the show is an immersive experience. The performers are all around, not just on the main stage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry you were so disappointed in the shows.  I've seen We Will Rock You and happen to love it but get that it's not for everyone.  It's silly and a little out there, but i find it fun with lots of energy.  Keep hearing the same comments about The Gift so interested in seeing what everyone means.

 

Were there any other kind of shows? Headliner?  Comedy? 

Share this post


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

Sorry you were so disappointed in the shows.  I've seen We Will Rock You and happen to love it but get that it's not for everyone.  It's silly and a little out there, but i find it fun with lots of energy.  Keep hearing the same comments about The Gift so interested in seeing what everyone means.


"Rock of Ages" is a similar show that's silly and fun with lots of energy. "We Will Rock You" betrays its theme. It's a sanitized bubble gum story about rock and roll being replaced by sanitized bubble gum music. The jokes are lame and there's no edge to it. The whole script is incoherent, whereas "The Gift" is just completely inscrutable.

 

5 minutes ago, LuCruise said:

Were there any other kind of shows? Headliner?  Comedy? 

 

The other shows were good, but I didn't bother reviewing them since it's doubtful those same performers will be on the next cruise.

 

One thing that I appreciated (even though I didn't attend) was a 3D movie in the Royal Theater. Carnival has an IMAX theater that they charge for in their Vista class ships. The Anthem showed a feature length movie in 3D for free. I wish they offered more of them throughout the cruise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, loug1601 said:

What movie did they show?

 

Skyscraper (2018)

 

BTW, my wife went to bingo twice. They held it in the Music Hall which really wasn't big enough to hold all the people. The theater could have been used for those events. Two70 also seems under-utilized.

 

Love and Marriage show was good and Name that Tune was really entertaining! Karaoke in the Music Hall was really popular.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, SuiteLady said:

I just got off the Anthem in May, and most times to disembark at ports are pretty accurate.  They dock and need to clear with customs, so that is y u can’t get off as soon as they dock.

 

Was just hoping they may arrive 30mins early or something....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, fscool said:

 

Was just hoping they may arrive 30mins early or something....

 

Just curious... Is there something specific you're looking to do where time will be an issue?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just had a private excursion opportunity through a family member on the island that could start at 815 if we could make it on time.  I was just surprised that when they say 8-4 in Bermuda it really means 8:30.  I thought doors open to get off at 8am.

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
      • SAIL-AWAY GIVEAWAY - Enter for a chance to win a $3,000 Norwegian Cruise Line Gift Card
      • 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...