TravelPulse On Board: Anthem of The Seas Review
Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International. All other photos by Jason Leppert.
Anthem of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International
At a Glance
By the Numbers
Take a Bow (What to Like)
Pain in the Aft (What to Dislike)
Royal Caribbean International truly has a winner on its hands with Anthem of the Seas. These Quantum-class cruise ships (Anthem is the second of five currently planned sisters) appropriately represent a quantum leap forward for the brand that would make Scott Bakula proud. This is Royal Caribbean 2.0 as the ship is more reminiscent of Celebrity Cruises' (corporate cousin to RCI) Solstice-class vessels than anything that has come before at Royal.
Loyalists will note the absence of the line's signature Viking Crown Lounge skirting the smoke stack. Instead Two70° serves as an aft-facing lounge (and so much more as you'll see) while the stack now sits forward of the indoor Seaplex activity arena. The ship is architecturally bold and exhibits a refined decor that is (nautical) miles apart from the competition. Only the unnecessary giraffe sculpture on deck distracts from it.
Even the Solarium at the very front and top of the ship can be used as an aquatic observation lounge. Tranquil terraced pools and jacuzzis are lined with chaise lounges, wraparound windows and skylights, and the air is pleasantly free from any fragrance of chlorine. In fact, there are plenty of pools to go around, including a second enclosed one and another main one outside on deck.
When it was being designed, the Quantum-class was described as an all-weather ship, and the enclosed solarium pool and Seaplex serve that purpose beautifully. Now, I just can't wait to see one of these ships in Alaska.
Anthem of the Seas sports quite a variety of staterooms and suites and each has been methodically designed down to the USB power ports. Entry level cabins for solo travelers feature virtual balconies with a live display of the view outside that can be cleverly turned to other directions. The more common balcony cabins are spacious inside and out and include an easily accessible bathroom and shower enclosure complete with leg shaving bars and drying hooks.
Particularly well received are modular stateroom clusters that encompass a grouping of three different cabin categories that can be booked seperately or together to create an adjoining mega-suite that is great for families or large parties. But the creme de la creme of accommodations are the voluminous two-deck loft suites and their expansive floor-to-ceiling windows and plush penthouse amenities.
Ever since Royal Caribbean playfully employed Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" in its past television commercials, the line has been synonymous with activity. Anthem of the Seas continues in that tradition with the return of guest favorites like the FlowRider surf simulator and the introduction of entirely new attractions, namely the North Star and RipCord by iFly. The former robotic arm leisurely cranes guests up and over the side of the ship for unparalleled vistas.
And the latter intensely simulates skydiving in a high-velocity vertical wind tunnel. Seaplex also offers bumper cars, roller skating, a basketball court and more. Still, the beauty of the ship is that you can remain as active or as relaxed as you choose. There are far more casual seating areas throughout than I expected from an otherwise kinetic ship, and Two70° is the prime spot for such endeavors by day and by night. You can even dine there thanks to its adjacent cafe.
Quantum-class unveils Dynamic Dining in lieu of typical main restaurants, and guests can pick and choose when and where to eat as they please, at a wider variety of smaller venues, from Asian and American to contemporary and classic cuisine. Also, there is now an option to dine with the same table mates and servers to accommodate traditional set-time tastes. Overall, flavor profiles are very good, and the broad selection is sure to appeal to everyone.
Favorites like Johnny Rockets have also returned, and partnerships with renowned chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Michael Schwartz are additionally featured for tasty Italian and pub fare. Wonderland has to be the most wild of the specialty bunch, however, with fantastic decor and dishes to match. Plus, just for the sheer fun of it, the Bionic Bar by Makr Shakr has reprogrammed industrial robots to mix and serve cocktails and mocktails ordered via tablet computer, and they even take to beat dancing from time to time. Thankfully, no irate mechanical bartender has slushied anyone nor launched Skynet in the process.
Two70° is also an incredible entertainment venue, and it's unlike any other. The wraparound windows at night are draped in a screen that reflects video at a whopping 12K resolution. That's exponentially more than the currently trending 4K. In the foreground, robots once more articulately wield six additional high-res screens that simultaneously dance and display, acrobats lower from an over stage and singers and dancers rise from an under stage. The resulting "Spectra's Cabaret" is a wonderfully talented spectacle to behold.
More traditionally in the Royal Theater but every bit as entertaining is "We Will Rock You," a dystopian musical where rock 'n' roll is all but lost to the ashes until an adolescent boyfriend and girlfriend rediscover themsleves and the genre. Set to the music of Queen, it's a blast of a show. Another great venue for live music is the two-deck Music Hall, and DreamWorks is also onboard for character meet-and-greets.
As for service, the executive creative team has certainly set the stage for a warm and hospitable atmosphere, and the crew that populates it fulfills the promise of "Wow!" set forth as Royal Caribbean's motto. The new Royal iQ mobile app may conveniently automize most of your cruise details, but the staff will gladly assist you as needed with any of the rest.
More by Jason Leppert
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