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First time with Royal on Anthem to Bermuda - Short Trip Report


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It was my first cruise with Royal on 8/10 for a 5 day cruise to Bermuda. First a little background info:

I first cruised 30+ years ago with cruiselines that I cannot remember. About 7 years ago, I finally convinced my anti social husband to try a cruise. After much research, I decided to try NCL since you did not have to eat meals with other people and could dine whenever you wanted. I really wanted him to like it, because I remember loving my previous cruises. Our first cruise was on a smaller ship, the Star and I got a great deal for a forward penthouse suite. My husband loved all the perks that came with it - the priority boarding and disembarking, the breakfast and lunch in Cagneys, special reserved seating at shows. We could have lived without the butler. We did not know what to do with him, lol.  After that cruise, we did a few others on the NCL Gem in an aft penthouse and loved them too, but NCL has priced us out of suites so we have not cruised in about 5 years. 

 

Fast forward to May 2019 when the Borgata Casino gave me a free cruise on Royal. I was skeptical, but called the number and booked a cruise for my sister and myself on Anthem paying only port charges and taxes and $29 each to upgrade to a balcony. The total was about $500 for both of us. Thanks RCI and Borgata! Research told me that my husband would not like this cruise because you had to wear pants to eat diner anywhere but the buffet, so my sister was happy to tag along for a free cruise! I did a lot of research online and found out about the upgrade bidding system. Although I never received an email from RCI to bid, I found the website and placed a very low bid on a Junior Suite ($150 pp) and put it out of my mind thinking that it would never be accepted. I found out 2 nights before my sailing that my bid was accepted. I had very little time to research the perks that came with Junior Suites. A big shout out to Noreen and Scott for helping me navigate this type of cabin and giving me great advice and times all through the cruise! (They were on the same cruise just across the hall from my cabin,)

 

My sister and I are both in our early 50's and cruise for the cruise itself. It does not matter where we go, we both love the ships and all they have to offer. We have both been to Bermuda before; her by plane and me by cruise. We are boring people compared to other cruisers, so my review will not be too exciting but if you want to follow along, come on with us....

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Not knowing how long it would take us to get to Bayonne from Long Island, we left way too early. Arrived by the cruise port at 8:30 am. Probably the first time I have hit no traffic on the Belt Parkway. We stopped for breakfast before going the to port to waste some time. We got to the port around 10 am and there was no garage parking so we parked in the overflow lot which was fine. We were checked in quickly and had to argue with the port agents that we belonged in the suite waiting area. We eventually won that battle. My sister had to surrender an extension cord she had in her carry on as they were not allowed on Royal. 

We boarded around 11 am and went right to Coastal Kitchen to make dinner reservations for the week. Since they did not open until 11:30 am, we went to the Winjammer for lunch. It was the only time we went to the Winjammer the entire cruise. I was impressed with the setup of the Winjammer and although I was not hungry, we tried some things. Food was not great. Pasta under cooked, sauce watery, the desserts were surprisingly good. Service was great. Servers were passing out drinks and clearing tables. We then left and went to Coastal Kitchen to make reservations each night for 6:30 pm. They were very acommodating. 

 

From there we went to change into our bathing suits and went straight to the solarium and hung out there until the cabins were ready. We had a few drinks and went in the pools and at 1:30 pm on the dot the announcement was made that the cabins were ready for us! 

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We were in  Junior suite on the 7th floor directly behind the aft elevators. It was a perfect location for us. Really easy to get to my three favorite places: Coastal Kitchen, the casino, and the Solarium. The cabin was nice with a nice size balcony with two cushioned loungers. The bathroom was split; toilet and sink on one side and shower, tub, and sink on the other side. It was odd, but worked out well for two women. The closet was very large we were able to store our suitcases in the closet along with our clothes. There were lots of drawers to put stuff in. We did not even fill half of the storage space and we brought way too much with us! We could not get the safe to work and wanted the beds split, so called the cabin steward and he came immediately to meet us. I cannot remember his name now, but he was okay. We asked him for two things every day; keep us in ice and to put four towels in the bathroom. We left him an extra tip every day as we would in a hotel. We never did get the four towels every day, but learned to take some extra pool towels back to the room each day instead. He was pretty good with the ice. He did leave us a few towel animals over the days, but I really could do without them. Someone came up and fixed the safe and it was fine for the rest of the trip. I thought we would have lifeboats directly below us as most of the balcony cabins do on the 7th floor, but the junior suites did not have any below. Our view was unobstructed. I really liked the cabin and its layout and would book it again. It was just slightly smaller than my penthouses on NCL and compared favorably. The balcony was much smaller then the penthouse cabins that had HUGE balconies, but it was pretty much wasted space for two people anyway. I will be doing a lot of comparisons to NCL on this review for those people who would like to try a different line, although, I do think that at current pricing, RCL junior suites on a ship that has Coastal Kitchen is a better value than a penthouse on an older NCL ship.

 

I have to go now. WIll try to write some more later tonight. Off to the Borgata tomorrow to work on my next free cruise!

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After beginning writing this I realized I lied in my title.... this will not be a short review, lol.

 

After checking out our cabin I looked in the hall and saw that my suitcase was delivered. My sister's was not, but she expected it not to be there after having her extension chord taken from her carry on. She had packed a power strip and electric heating pad in her checked luggage. Sure enough I was the phone was blinking and there was a message that she had to go to the naughty room. After making fun of her, we went down to get her suitcase. They took the power strip but let her keep the heating pad. Go figure. She picked it up in NJ after the cruise. By this time it was time for the safety drill. We dropped her suitcase off in the room and made our way to Silk. We found seats close to the entrance for a speedy exit. It took what seemed like forever for them to show us how to put on the lifevest and show the stupidest video I've ever seen. It was over and we made a quick exit to the elevators before the mad rush. We went back to our cabin  and unpacked, then watched sail away from our balcony. We were facing NYC as we left. After we made it under the Verrizano we took turns showering to get ready for dinner. we stopped by the casino for a short visit them went to Coastal Kitchen for dinner. It was pretty empty almost every night we were there. They say us by the windows and we had Peter as our waiter. Coastal Kitchen has two sides to the menu. One that stays the same and one that changes each night. It is a small menu, but we always found things that we liked. We had originally planned on eating in the main dining room at least one dinner to see what it was like, but after eating breakfasts there and seeing the difference in the service, we decided to eat all of our dinners in CK. The main  dining room service ranged from ok to surly. We never ate lunch on the ship. We only ate breakfast and dinner. There seemed to be many places you could grab a quick bite, but by the time we were hungry it was so close to dinner we decided to wait. One time while wandering around we did indulge in a hot dog. It was surprisingly good, too. 

 

 

After dinner we made our way down to the theater for our reserved show, The Gift. It was really good. I have to say that the reserved shows on this ship were the best I've seen on a cruise. I cannot understand people saying they did not understand the show. It was crystal clear to me and my sister what the story was. Pay attention to the narrators and it makes perfect sense! The sets and talent were Broadway caliber. After the show we spent more time in the casino before retiring for the night.

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The next day was a sea day. We ate breakfast in the main dining room. I wish someone had told us that there was a nice buffet set up in the American Icon dining room. We did not know it existed due to bring seated in Silk each morning. We only found it on the last morning when we were seated in American Icon for the first time. No waiter ever mentioned it. I like ketchup with my eggs (no haters please) and each morning the waiter wanted to pour my ketchup. What's up with that? I had to ask them to leave the bottle. They did not like that much, lol. I thought perhaps there was a ketchup shortage, but when we visited the hot dog stand and saw 20 bottles of ketchup....oh well.

 

We hung out in the solarium that day chatting with various people, using the pools and hot tubs. We did not see any cocktail servers there ever, but the bar was right there, so no worries. We did not get the drink package because neither one of us are big drinkers. Just one of two a day for us. Loved the Mastercard, mango and strawberry daquari mixed together. I tried many of the drinks of the day as they were significantly cheaper, if they were appealing. A tip for anyone staying in  junior suite of above: you can take as many pool towels as you want and not have to tap your card to sign them out. Just show them the blue card and take what you want. We did not find this out until the last day of the cruise. We also noticed on the last night that my sister was charged for three towels not returned. We went down to guest services before breakfast on the last morning and it was fixed quickly. The gentleman took one look at her blue suite card, laughed and printed her out a new bill. We liked having clean pool towels in the cabin because our steward never left us enough towels and they were bigger anyway.

 

The day passed way too quickly and we ate in CK again for dinner. We asked for Peter again and after that never had to ask again. We had him and the same table every night. I asked him for a soup served in the main dining room that evening and he said no problem. I regretted it because it was not good, but ate it because of his effort to get it for me. After that I did not even look at the main dining room menu on the tv. After dinner we made our way to see Spectra in Two70 only to find out it was rescheduled due to technical issues. We went to the piano bar for a bit, but we're disappointed. He was ok, but there was no interaction with the audience. We spent the remainder of the evening in the casino.

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Luckynana said:

Will be following! We are booked on our first TA on the Anthem November, 2020.  First time on a Quantum ship, also!  🙂

Anthem will be a great ship for a TA. I was impressed with the three pool areas including two indoor areas. I hope you enjoy the ship as much as I did, and see more of it than me, lol. There were parts I never made it to. Alas, five days is too short. Try for a junior suite upgrade if possible. Coastal Kitchen made our cruise so much better.

 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, CruiseBride926 said:

Will be sailing on the Anthem for the first time in October and NCL Gem next year so looking forward to your reviews and comparisons.

Thank you. I will compare at the end of my review. I loved both ships, but think I liked Anthem better. Or I just might love any cruise. Never had a bad one.

 

 

 

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28 minutes ago, Loralie said:

I will be on Anthem for the first time in November. Loving your review 😀

 

Loralie

Thank you. We did nothing too exciting. We both just needed some rest and pampering and got exactly that. We did not do any of the extras like ifly, north star, flow rider. Never even made it up to that deck. Glad I'm not boring you!

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The next day we arrived in Bermuda. We saw people leaving the ship right after 8 am. We are breakfast in the main dining room and made our way off the ship. Since we have both been to Bermuda before, we skipped horseshoe beach and bought a day pass at a Resort in elbow beach for the day. We bought them online prior to the cruise as they told us they only allow 12 passes per day. We usually just buy them at the resort itself. There are only two Hotels on Bermuda that offer day passes, both next to each other on elbow beach. When I cruise with my sister, we often do day passes at resorts. My favorite is Sandals in Nassau, Bahamas. Sure it is couples only so we are lesbians for the day, but it is luxurious and wonderful. Most people I talk to hate Nassau, but I love it! I've stayed at Atlantis before, so it has no appeal to me on a cruise and I love the no kids aspect to sandals.

 

We selected Cocoa Reef Resort because it came with lunch and both pool and beach use. The hotel next door only came with beach use. we took a taxi for about $50 with tip. It was not a very nice resort. It must have been magnificent forty years ago, but it has not aged well. The beach, however was beautiful and that is where we stayed until about 1 pm until it started to rain. We ate lunch on the patio and took a taxi back to the ship. I would not do a day pass again if I returned to Bermuda. 

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We got back to the ship and enjoyed the indoor pool and hot tubs before getting ready for another fabulous dinner in CK. We saw the rescheduled Spectra show which I really enjoyed. We also saw the finish that song game show, which was amusing. We stayed after the show for the  Hush party which was fun for about 20 minutes. Back to the casino... The last time I cruised to Bermuda the casino was not allowed to open in port. It was a nice surprise to see it open at nine pm that evening.

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We were on the same cruise! It was our first time with Royal as well and the first cruise for our kids. 

 

It's funny that you joked about a ketchup shortage. They actually did run out of ketchup in the Windjammer and put out baskets of packets for the last 2 days! Our Windjammer experience was a better one, by the sounds of it. We liked the food the handful of times we ate there. On the Monday evening, we were there for dinner since the 5 PM ferry from Hamilton ended up being so late. The sous chef came out and chatted with every table, asking for feedback. We were impressed.

 

I hope you ended up enjoying the ship and the cruise! 
 

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14 hours ago, spacepotatoes said:

We were on the same cruise! It was our first time with Royal as well and the first cruise for our kids. 

 

It's funny that you joked about a ketchup shortage. They actually did run out of ketchup in the Windjammer and put out baskets of packets for the last 2 days! Our Windjammer experience was a better one, by the sounds of it. We liked the food the handful of times we ate there. On the Monday evening, we were there for dinner since the 5 PM ferry from Hamilton ended up being so late. The sous chef came out and chatted with every table, asking for feedback. We were impressed.

 

I hope you ended up enjoying the ship and the cruise! 
 

All the ketchup was at the big dog stand! Lol

Yes, we enjoyed the cruise very much.

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The next day in Bermuda we decided to stay on the ship and enjoy the empty pools. I read an entire book that day and thoroughly enjoyed it! We sat on our balcony before We sailed and watched for runners.6 people were very tardy but the ship waited until they returned. We stayed on our balcony for a long time watching Bermuda go by...We had a dilemma that evening...We were scheduled to see We Will Rock You at 6:15, and coastal Kitchen did not open until 5:30. We ultimately decided to skip the show. The crab cake appetizer that night was the best I've ever had. We went to listen to some music on deck five for a bit after dinner and then back to the casino.

 

The next and last day was a relaxing sea day. My sis went for a spa treatment and I wandered around, went shopping and finally made my way up to the sports deck. I watched a very lively game of curveball and had a hot dog with as much ketchup as I wanted😁 We went to the art auction that afternoon also. Just to watch. We packed our bags and went for our last dinner at coastal Kitchen. It was busier than it had been all week, but still mostly empty. We spent the rest of the evening having fun in the Casino. The next morning we got up early, headed down to breakfast and waited to leave. Our number was called, we walked off, got a porter, grabbed our bags and headed home. It was very easy.

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We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on this trip. Although we didn't do anything too exciting, we got exactly what we came for... Rest, relaxation, laughs and time together which is precious. I don't think I could have a bad cruise...

 

I will now try to compare my cruises on the NCL Gem to Anthem.

 

I liked Anthems design and layout better. The Gem only has one pool with a small spiral slide that everyone seemed to get stuck on. The pool deck on the Gem was so slippery that I avoided walking through it if possible. No issues with Anthem s pool deck. I loved the adults only solarium on Anthem. The Gem did not have anything compareable.

 

The spa in the Gem makes the spa on Anthem look terrible. I got a week long spa pass on the Gem for $100 that was worth every penny. The only sell 65 passes per cruise, so it was never crowded. It is huge and had a theressy pool, hot tubs, a cold pluge, sauna, steam room, salt room, heated tile lounge chairs and an incredible view at the front of the ship. The spa pass on Anthem was about the same price and you could use it only for fifteen minutes a day. It had a few heated plungers and a sauna but other than the treatment rooms, that seemed to be it. It was very disappointing after my last two cruises on the Gem. The solarium somewhat made up for it though.

 

The food on Anthem was better than NCL, but still decent. I like the flow and layout better in the buffet on Anthem, but missed the Great Outdoors, a small outdoor buffet on the back of the Gem. They had the best fresh baked cookies every afternoon that we found by following the smell from our aft balcony. Staying in a penthouse suite on the Gem we got breakfast and lunch in a specialty restaurant. On anthem we only had dinner at CK, but I preferred it much better. Desserts were terrible on the Gem and wonderful on Anthem. Even the Chocolate Buffet on the Gem was bad. How do you do bad chocolate?

 

The junior suite on Anthem was a little smaller than my penthouses on the Gem, but they were both great. On the Gem we had a Lavazza coffee machine in our cabin which I loved, a dining table and full set of dishes, silverware and glassware. I did not miss those things on Anthem. 

 

The shows were much better on Anthem. I found the musicians in various bars and lounges better on the Gem. There was so much more to do on Anthem, although we did not do most of it.

 

The officers were much more visible and mingled with the passengers on the Gem. They do a lot more hawking of extras on the Gem. It was annoying at times. I did not see much of that on ANthem.

 

The casinos are about equal to me on both ships.

Embarkation and debarkation was easier on Anthem, although the preboarding suite lounge at NCLs pier is so much better. I did not find out until I got home that I could have gotten priority disembarkation on Anthem because of my mlife gold card at the Borgata.

 

 

 

The staff and service on both ships is comparable. The flow on Anthem is better. They do a better job spreading out the people do it did not feel that crowded. Although I did not partake, ncl did not have movie's on the deck or in the theater like Anthem did. Popcorn was free on NCL in one of the bars. RC could have given small token prizes to the winners of game shows.NCL does.  Cheap bottles of wine, key chsins, h ats, etc. It would not cost that much....

 

I liked the elegant decor on Anthem better. NCL ships can be rather bright and loud.

 

Right now, comparing the price of a non haven penthouse n the Gem with a junior suite on Anthem, Anthem wins hands down. It is thousands cheaper on Anthem, so a much better value, and no need to tip a butler you did not want or need.

 

I would gladly sail either ship again. I just love to be at sea. I would love to try a cruise that does not have as many kids, but being a teacher, that's probably not going to happen until I retire and can cruise when the kids are in school.

 

 

 

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Unfortunately for those of us who like the Lavazza machines, which started my love of cappuccino, NCL has replaced these with Nescafe machines in the suites on Gem.   So no more frothy milk.  I agree NCL has raised the SF category prices too high considering the Gem is not a new ship.  It is still one of my favorites though.  As is Anthem.   Beautiful ship.   I love when Anthem and Gem are visible on the portbermudawebcam.  My 2 favorites together.   

 

We used to go to Coco Reef when in Bermuda, but they have eliminated the free drink and raised the day price significantly over the past years to make it not worthwhile once you pay $50 each way for the taxi.   The beach is nice as is the pool though.   Lunch IMO is just ok.  

 

Glad you enjoyed Anthem. 

 

 

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Thanks so much for this review, really enjoyed it.  We too received a free cruise from the Borgata and are sailing the Anthem in September.  This will be the first time for us on Royal Caribbean.........we usually sail Princess or NCL.  We have been to Bermuda several times so our plan is very similar to yours........rest, relax and gamble! 😎

 

You said the parking lot was full, was the overflow parking easy to find?  We are driving from Long Island also.  Do you think 10:00 is a good time to get there, not too crowded then?

 

Susan

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2 hours ago, suejoe said:

Thanks so much for this review, really enjoyed it.  We too received a free cruise from the Borgata and are sailing the Anthem in September.  This will be the first time for us on Royal Caribbean.........we usually sail Princess or NCL.  We have been to Bermuda several times so our plan is very similar to yours........rest, relax and gamble! 😎

 

You said the parking lot was We are driving from Long Island also.  Do you think 10:00 is a good time to get there, not too crowded then?

 

Susan

I would aim to get there between 10 and 11 for the parking gararge. I was actually happy that we couldn't get into the garage after we returned. The line for the elevators was so long! The extra lot is very close, just a short walk. I hope you enjoy your free cruise as much as I did!

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