Last updated: 01:00 PM ET, Tue April 21 2015

Dispatch: Anthem of the Seas

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Royal Caribbean International | Theresa Norton | April 21, 2015

Dispatch: Anthem of the Seas

PHOTO: I'm flying! At least it felt like it. (Photo courtesy of John Roberts/In The Loop Travel Media)

Have you ever wondered it feels like to jump out of an airplane?

I have, and today I got a feel for what it's like to sky dive. I tried out the RipCord by iFly, the sky-diving simulator on Royal Caribbean International's new ship, Anthem of the Seas. (There's also one on sister ship Quantum of the Seas).

So how does it work? Those who choose to participate first, of course, must sign waivers not to sue if anything goes wrong. Once the legalities are over, classes of no more than 12 people sit down in a small theater to watch a 10-minute video. It clearly explains how to arch your back, extend and bend your arms, and lift your chin upon entering the giant wind tunnel.

An instructor will be in the wind tunnel with you, but it's so loud — and you're wearing ear plugs — that you learn hand signals so he can tell you to straighten your legs, lift your chin or relax.

Then, it's off to doff a jumpsuit over your clothes, plastic goggles and a helmet. Plus, we were given sponge ear plugs to guard against the noise and were told to remove jewelry or anything else that could fly loose. And then, feeling a little like an astronaut, we walked up several short flights of stairs to the wind tunnel. We sat down on curved benches surrounding the wind tunnel and one-by-one entered the 23-foot-tall, 7.5-foot diameter chamber.

I deliberately didn't go first because I wanted to see how others handled the experience. And everyone did well. Some were a little shaky at first before positioning their bodies in the proper way to fly on their own. The instructor is there to hold on to you if you're out of control or to urge you to bend your legs or whatever. What I did notice was everyone's cheeks flapping in the wind, which blows up to 175 mph from two mammoth fans below.

When it was my turn, all I can say is that it's sensory overload. It's loud, the wind is blowing hard, and you're trying to control yourself so you're not hitting the sides of the tunnel (if you do, it's not a problem; you just gently push yourself off). I was very conscious of trying to maintain the arched back, the lifted chin and the gently bent arms and legs. And before long, I was floating up and up, before slowly dropping back down. I couldn't help grinning with glee, even as the whipping wind gave me cotton mouth.

The wind tunnel is surrounded by a viewing platform, but every time I gave someone the thumbs-up, I briefly lost my control and had to consciously move back into the proper position.

In 60 seconds, it was over, and the instructor guided me to the door. I grabbed the sides as I pulled my legs back down.

It was an adrenalin rush, that's for sure. My mouth was dry and my eyes were watering, but I was ready to do it again now that I knew what to expect.

The RipCord by iFly experience also is available in some places on land. On Anthem of the Seas, it's free of charge and available by appointment. It's also free for repeat visits on a stand-by basis, with first-timers given preference.

As for me, I'm ready for another round. And when I'm back on land, maybe it'll be out of a real airplane next time.


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