This was a five-night cruise from Cape Liberty (Port of New York) calling at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda.
Overcoming Hurricane Jerry
The wild card in cruising in the fall out of the ports in eastern United States is the possibility of hurricanes. Although the hurricane season begins in June and runs through November, the majority of the hurricanes that affect cruises occur in September and October.
Most cruises that take place during this period happen without incident. However, occasionally, a hurricane will affect either the port of departure, one or more destinations ports or the seas in between. With advances in technology and weather forecasting, the cruise lines have become quite good at avoiding these storms. However, the scheduled itinerary sometimes may not be the one that the ship ends up doing.
On this cruise, Anthem of the Seas was scheduled to stay an overnight in Bermuda, giving passengers the better part of two days to explore this island paradise. However, the weather forecasters predicted that Hurricane Jerry, a storm that hovered between being a category one hurricane and a tropical storm, would make landfall in Bermuda sometime on the second day. Clearly, the ship did not want to be there when that happened.
Essentially, Royal Caribbean had two options. First, it could convert this tropical Bermuda cruise into a autumnal cruise to one of the Canadian ports such as Saint John, New Brunswick or Halifax, Nova Scotia. However, even assuming that Anthem could have found a berth in one of those ports (it was the busiest time of year in those ports), this was not the type of cruise that people had signed up for.
The second alternative would be to sail to Bermuda but spend only one day there. What had been scheduled to be the second day in Bermuda would become an additional day at sea. While not perfect, this option was more in line with what people had anticipated when they purchased the cruise. In the end, it is the option Royal Caribbean selected.
It should be noted that cruising to another U.S. port such as Boston was not an alternative. Under a federal law enacted in the 19th century (the Passenger Vessels Services Act), foreign-flagged vessels, which includes almost all major cruise ships, are prohibited from sailing all-American itineraries, i.e., the itinerary must include a foreign port. This out-dated law was enacted to protect American passenger shipping, of which there is now very little. Now, it only serves to give foreign ports revenue and jobs that could be going to U.S. ports. To compound this absurdity, in the last decade, the Passenger Vessel Services Act has been re-interpreted to prohibit “cruises to nowhere,” something which had been a staple of the cruise industry at least since the 1920s. That is why the popular one and two night cruises out of ports such as New York have disappeared.
In any event, when we heard of the change in Anthem's itinerary, we had some concern. A hurricane can affect seas far from the center of the storm. Thus, we wondered what the sea conditions would be on this voyage.
Our concern proved unfounded. The first sea day going to Bermuda was a clear summer's day with plenty of sunshine. No ocean movement to speak of.
The day after leaving Bermuda was cloudy but the seas were calm. In order to avoid the effects of Hurricane Jerry, we had left Bermuda in the late afternoon and after clearing the reefs that surround the island, the captain had sailed Anthem due north at nearly full speed. This took the ship on a different track to the slow moving storm. By the next morning, we were able to slow down and turn westwards toward New York.
The final sea day was even better. The sunshine returned for most of the day and the seas were again calm.
Anthem's day in Bermuda was overcast. It was not much of a beach day but most of the passengers left the ship to explore the island. There were some signs of damage from Hurricane Humberto, which had impacted the island the previous week, and local residents were preparing for the storm that was predicted for the next day so Bermuda was not at its best. However, everyone we spoke with seemed to enjoy their stay.
Of course, the additional sea day meant more work for the officers and crew as they had to feed and entertain the guests for the additional day. However, they remained quite friendly and a full day of activities and shows was presented. (See our daily programs page for a copy of the Cruise Compass for that day).
As she has for the last couple of years, for dinner, Anthem offers guests the option of a flexible dining system known as “My Time Dining” and a traditional two seating dining system. The Grande and the Chic dining rooms are devoted to the traditional system while Silk and American Icon are My Time Dining.
We selected My Time Dining for this voyage. Before the voyage, we had made a reservation for each night at around the same time. Therefore, each evening, we would check in with the staff at the door and they would promptly seat us either at the same table as the previous night or at least in the same section of Silk. As a result, we had the same waiters, head waiter and assistant maitre d' throughout the voyage and they came to know our preferences.
The service each night was very good. It was both friendly and efficient.
We also liked the food. In particular, we liked the lasagna, the eggplant parmigina and the swordfish.
In addition to the complimentary items offered for dinner in the main dining rooms, the menu also included three items from Anthem's flagship specialty restaurant Chops Grille. They are: a full Maine lobster, a filet mignon, and a surf and turf combination (filet mignon and lobster tail). There is an extra charge for these items but it is not as much as the cover charge in Chops.
Inasmuch as the items on the complimentary menu have always been quite good, we had not tried any of these extra-tariff items on previous cruises on Anthem. However, at the suggestion of the head waiter and to satisfy our curiosity, we decided to try one on this voyage. The full lobster was excellent and perfectly prepared. Therefore, we decided to try the filet mignon on another night. Again, very high marks. Indeed, even the vegetables were something to savor.
In addition to the main dining rooms, Anthem has an array of dining venues including the Windjammer buffet, specialty restaurants and various casual venues. As discussed in previous reviews, we have tried and enjoyed these other venues on previous cruises. However, on this voyage, we ate almost all of our meals aside from dinner in the Concierge Club.
This is a beautiful room that stretches across the back fo the ship on Deck 12. Its huge windows provide panoramic views over the ship's wake. The décor is like that of a contemporary living room or an upscale hotel lounge. Access is limited to guests staying in certain suite categories and to Pinnacle and Diamond Plus level members of Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society loyalty program.
For breakfast, the Concierge Club had a buffet spread that included fruit, muffins, cereals, yogurt, juices, cold cuts and various specialty items. Then for lunch, there was a choice of prepared sandwiches, cookies, and fruit. All were quite tasty. Furthermore, it was quiet and uncrowded. You might well mistake it for the lounge in a small luxury cruise yacht.
Above: The Royal Naval Dockyard on the day Anthem arrived.
Below: The day after Anthem left Bermuda - - clouds but calm seas.
Specialty dinners in the main dining room. Above: Lobster.
Below: Filet mignon.
In addition to two production shows in the main theater ("We Will Rock You" and "The Gift") and another in the Two70 lounge ("Spectra's Cafe"), on this cruise, Anthem had visiting entertainers including comedians Steve White (above) and Jeff Tracta (below). Both were well-received by the audiences.
The majority of the 4,800 passengers on this voyage were from North America. While most were from New York or New Jersey, quite a few had flown in from other parts of the United States and Canada.
Consistent with the general rule in the cruise industry, this short cruise attracted a relatively young audience. Even though school was in session in the U.S., there were quite a few children.
Leaving the ship in Cape Liberty was easy and efficient. People and bags moved quickly from the ship and through the automated customs and immigration control. It began about 8 a.m. and by 9:30 almost everyone was off the ship.
As in the past, we signed up for the Royal Caribbean bus transfer from Cape Liberty to "Times Square" in Manhattan. The last few times we have taken this transfer, it has worked quite well although the drop off point is closer to Penn Station than to what most people would think of as Times Square. (It would be more accurate to call this transfer a transfer to "Midtown"). In any event, last time, guests who left the ship early were able to wait in the comfort of the bus for everyone who was taking the transfer to assemble. This time, the bus did not arrive until the end of the disembarkation process and so some passengers ended up standing on the sidewalk in the summer sun waiting for the bus for over an hour.
Cruise ship review - - Royal Caribbean International - - Anthem of the Seas - - Bermuda 2019