This was a nine day cruise from Cape Liberty calling at Boston, Bar Harbor, Portland, Halifax and Saint John before returning to New York harbor. (See photo feature).
A different Anthem experience
Anthem of the Seas is the second ship built in Royal Caribbean's Quantum class. Although she is a very large ship, she has good passenger flow. In addition, there is good separation between its public areas and so those interested in an active vacation and those interested in a more secluded holiday can both achieve their objective.
This ship is one of the last ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet to have a Concierge Club. Most of the rest of the fleet have been refitted so that the Concierge Club has been replaced by a Suites Lounge. The chief difference between these two types of venue is that Diamond Plus level members of Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor loyalty program can access a Concierge Club but only Pinnacle level members and guests staying in certain suites can access a Suites Lounge.
The Concierge Club on Anthem isa beautiful room. It spans the width of the stern of the ship on Deck 12 high above the sea. Floor-to-ceiling windows give panoramic views over the wake. The room is pleasantly decorated in a subdued contemporary style. It is a comfortable and peaceful place to read, chat or stream a movie on Wi-fi. You can spend the entire day there inasmuch as food is brought in throughout the day. In the evenings, there is a “social hour,” which lasts from 4:30 until 8:00, with complimentary drinks and an array of food. Should you wish to go beyond the Concierge Club for some reason, there is a concierge to make reservations and to help fulfill your wishes.
In effect, the Concierge Club makes provides a small luxury ship experience on this giant ship. There is limited access to this intimate venue so you only have to share it with a few other guests just like on a small ship. The service is very good and over the course of a voyage, you get to know the staff and they get to know your preferences. The analogy is even stronger for suites guests and Pinnacle members as they also have access to the exclusive Coastal Kitchen restaurant.
Of course, you also have access to Anthem's many attractions and features.
In short, the Concierge Club allows guests to have a cruise experience on Anthem that is different than the standard large cruise ship experience. It makes booking a suites level cabin much more attractive and it is a great perk for the line's loyalty program. We have found the experience to be habit-forming.
On this voyage, we selected My Time Dining, Royal Caribbean's flexible dining system. It offers more freedom to schedule your day than the traditional system as you can dine anytime the restaurant is open rather than at the set time of the early or late seating.
Royal does recommend that guests make reservations beforehand, which we did, generally dining late in the evening. We were always seated right away in the Silk dining room.
The same team served us each night. They were friendly and attentive. In addition, they took requests and preferences seriously such as requests for low salt versions of the menu items.
One evening, we dined in the Chops Grille specialty restaurant. Chops is Royal's steakhouse. However, there are also various seafood items on the menu. This time, we ordered the Grilled Atlantic Salmon, which was very good.
As she has since she entered service, Anthem offered two production shows in the main theater. “We Will Rock You” is based on the music of Queen while “The Gift” is a musical about someone whose wife has passed away. The former is well done but does not hold enough interest for us to see it each time we sail on Anthem. The latter is just depressing.
“Spectra's Cabaret” is a production show staged in the Two70 Lounge. It is a psychedelic revue that makes good use of Two70's technology. Singers and dancers appear from the floor and ceiling and then disappear. Do not look for a plot because there is none. There is a lot going on and so we usually drop by and watch at least part of the show each time on Anthem.
In addition to the production shows, Anthem had visiting entertainers. We enjoyed the comedy of Steve White.
Exploring the ports
A Canada and New England cruise is different than a Caribbean cruise. It is not about the weather and going to the beach. In some ways, it is similar to a European cruise in that cities like Boston, Quebec, Portland and Halifax have historic and cultural places to visit. In other ports, it is about the scenery and natural beauty.
Canada New England cruises are often marketed as “fall foliage cruises.” However, the beautiful colored leaves only last a week or two and it is impossible to predict exactly when that will be.
We selected this cruise because it was early in the season. As we had hoped, the weather was still good although cooler than it had been when we departed New York harbor.
In Boston, the weather was over cast but it did not rain until late in the afternoon. We spent the day visiting some of Boston's world-class art museums. Other guests we spoke with took an excursion to Cape Cod while still others walked the Freedom Trail of Boston's historic sites.
The area around the cruise ship terminal has undergone a rebirth in the last few years. There are now major hotels, shopping and museums (e.g., the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston) within walking distance of the terminal.
Above: The Concierge Club.
Below: A balcony cabin at night.
Above: Some dinners served on Anthem.
Above: Spectra's Cabaret in the Two70 lounge.
It was a mostly sunny day in Bar Harbor. As usual, we took a walk along the Shore Path. We also ran into some guests who had been told by someone that you can walk to the Acadia National Park from the pier where the tenders drop off passengers. The park is actually quite a distance away. However, you can get an Island Explorer bus to the park from the village green in Bar Harbor, which is a few blocks up the hill from the tender pier.
Portland was another sunny day. Many passengers spent the day at the restaurants and shops along Portalnd's waterfront. Others took tours to Kennybunkport or to the nearby lighthouses. We walked to the Portland Museum of Art, which as an excellent collection of works by world-class artists including the Impressionist masters. It is a long walk but worthwhile.
In Halifax, the weather was sunny but very windy. Three other cruise ships were in port so the terminal area was quite busy. Since we had been there only a few weeks before, we contented ourselves by walking along Halifax's seaside promenade which extends from the cruise port up into downtown. There is always something interesting going on along the way and it is a scenic walk.
We had booked a shore excursion to Fredericton from Saint John. Fredericton is the capital of New Brunswick and home of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. However, apparently no one else was interested in going so the tour was cancelled. This may have been just as well because a thick fog rolled in from the Bay of Fundy hust as Anthem arrived making it difficult to see more than a few feet away. The fog burnt off later in the day and so we walked to the Reversing Falls in order to get some exercise.
The weather during the sea days was sunny but cool. One concern with cruising in the Fall in North America is hurricanes. Although Anthem did not come into contact with any hurricanes, one far out in the Atlantic was stirring up the seas and so there was more movement than there normally is on this itinerary. However, Anthem is a stable ship and the passengers were out and about enjoying the ship.
Cruise ship review - - Royal Caribbean International - - Anthem of the Seas - - Canada and New England 2019