This was an 11 day cruise from Cape Liberty, New Jersey (New York harbor) to the Eastern Caribbean with calls at San Juan, Saint Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia and St. Kitts. (See separate photo feature).
Every year since the ship entered service, Anthem of the Seas has done a series of winter cruises that have taken her from New York harbor deep into the Caribbean. You go from the frigid temperatures of the northeast down to the balmy Caribbean. For nearly two weeks, you are in a different world.
Anthem is well-suited to such voyages. Generally, during the first two days of the voyage, it is still rather cool. However, unlike conventional cruise ships, much of Anthem's pool and sports deck is enclosed. Not only does this benefit those who like to laze by the pool but it benefits those who like other things because the passengers are spread out throughout the ship. Everybody is not forced into the public areas on the lower decks.
On this voyage, Anthem encountered strong winds both coming down the East Coast and in the Caribbean. This caused occasional movement of the ship. However, it was not severe - - the guests were out and about enjoying the ship throughout the voyage.
Another weather effect was spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Not only were these colorful but the clouds looked like they had stepped out of a Renaissance painting.
We had the majority of our meals in the Coastal Kitchen restaurant. “Coastal”, as it is known aboard, is Anthem's suites restaurant. Guests who are in the top level of Royal's Crown and Anchor loyalty program (Pinnacle level) also have access to this restaurant. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The restaurant is located on the starboard side of Deck 14. It is adjacent to the Windjammer buffet restaurant but is a separate room. On one side of the room the wall is made up of picture windows that offer panoramic views of the sea (or port of call). The remainder of the room is decorated in a California wine country style including features that look like wine racks.
As one would expect from a suites restaurant, the food was excellent. It is prepared ala minute so it comes the way you order it.
Coastal has its own menus. However, if there is something on the menu for the main dining rooms that intrigues you, the staff will go down to the main dining room galley and get it for you.
The staff in Coastal is uniformly eager to please. Over the course of a cruise, they come to know your preferences and anticipate your requests. Unusual requests are pursued.
Naturally, Coastal is quite popular. If a guest arrives and the restaurant is full, the staff will suggest an alternative time. However, if no alternative can be agreed upon, the Coastal staff will arrange for the guest to have a complimentary meal in one of the ship's specialty restaurants. Anthem takes cae of its top tier and suites guests.
Coastal guests can also dine in the main dining rooms if they so desire. The décor in each of the four main dining rooms is different from each other as well as different than Coastal so they do provide a change of scene. As in our earlier reviews of Anthem, the food in the main dining rooms is good, especially the lasagna and the various fish dishes. Also, during our visits to the main dining rooms on this cruise, we found the service remains good.
Another complimentary alternative is the Solarium Bistro. This venue is part buffet and part ala carte. You order your main course from the menu and then go to the various buffet stations for appetizers and salads. The menu is different than the main dining rooms and includes some interesting items.
We also had dinners in two of the specialty restaurants. Chops Grille is Royal Caribbean's flagship specialty restaurant. It is a steakhouse but also serves alternatives such as fish and lamb. Chops was in top form on this cruise and since we enjoyed the food and service so much we returned for another dinner later in the cruise. Chops did not disappoint us.
Jamie's Italian was created by British chef Jamie Oliver. It features familiar Italian favorites. However, they are Chef Oliver's take on those dishes, which may be different than what you find in more traditional Italian restaurants. As in the past, we were well pleased with Jamie's.
The advertising for Anthem tends to feature things like its sky-diving simulator and the bumper cars. Although we have no objection to other people using them, such entertainment features are not really our thing. But what is really nice about Anthem is that it is laid out in such a way that the amusement park features do not intrude upon those who want a more peaceful vacation. Unless you want to use these features, there is no real need to go to the portion of the ship where they are located.
We also made extensive use of Anthem's “Voom” internet connection. This surf and stream connection allowed us to stream videos from the likes of Amazon and Netflix and thus we had movies on demand throughout the voyage. Of course, we were also able to use social media, check e-mails and do pretty much everything that we do on the internet at home. Using our own device, all this could be done from the comfort of our stateroom, the Concierge Club, or the ship's public rooms. There are public computers in the ship's library.
Turning to more traditional entertainment, Anthem features two production shows in its main theater. The first is called “The Gift.” It is set in Victorian England and concerns a man's effort in get over the death of his wife. We find it rather depressing and so cannot recommend it.
Above: A balcony cabin.
Below: The Coastal Kitchen restaurant.
Above: Some meals served on Anthem.
Above: Captain Srecko Ban.
The second show is a version of the Broadway – West End musical “We Will Rock You.” It incorporates the music of Queen into a rather then story-line. Fans of Queen will enjoy it.
Some of the performers in the production shows also give individual performances. We particularly enjoyed the concerts given by featured guitarist Bob Wegner.
In addition to the main theater, Anthem has the Two 70 lounge, a large room several decks high that wraps around the stern of the ship. It is equipped with high technology screens, movable floors and features that allow performers to pop up from the floor or descend down from the ceiling. The production show Spectra's Cabaret makes full use of this equipment in a psychedelic revue. Do not try and figure out the plot (it does not have one), just sit back and experience it.
On the nights when there are no production shows, Anthem has visiting headliners. These are singers, magicians and comedians who come aboard for a few nights and then leave in one of the ports of call. Of these, we enjoyed rapid-fire comedian Billy Garran the most.
For this voyage, we had an “ocean view balcony stateroom.” It was a spacious cabin with a good amount of storage space in two cabinets as well as several draws. A small refrigerator/cooler was in a cabinet below the desk/counter. Royal will fill it as a minibar upon request.
The bathroom is much larger than those found on Royal's ships prior to the Oasis class. This includes a spacious glass enclosed shower.
Our cabin steward was friendly and eager to please. The room was always made up by 10 in the morning if not earlier. The only time we saw him look disappointed was when we replied “no” to his question “Is there anything that I can do for you.”
Cruise ship review - - Royal Caribbean International - - Anthem of the Seas - - Caribbean 2020