Anthem may be non-traditional but she delivers a great vacation experience
It has been over a month since our cruise and I forgot to do a review. Well, here it is. I'll say that we had a great vacation, although I need to frame that by saying we've never had a bad cruise vacation. We picked Anthem because we have read so many great and awful reviews - we had to do it ourselves to make our own opinion. I can now say that most of the negative posts I don't agree with. Yes, the ship has idiosyncrasies and you need to expect them when you cruise. If you aren't open minded or if you expect the ship to be like "traditional" ships, then maybe this isn't the vacation for you. For everyone else, you'll have a great time.
The ship leaves from a port that is only a 5 hour drive for us, so we could save airfare, which is a big plus. Embarkation was non-traditional (I may be using that word a lot) as there were no queues - just passengers clustered around staff armed with iPads. While that caused me anxiety, I will admit that it was the fastest and simplest check-in ever.
On ship we explored. It is a modern-looking ship with no chrome or neon (thank goodness). We had a junior suite and the cabin was great - perhaps the best room we have had on any cruise. Our room attendant found us quickly and was very friendly and personable. That is a great way to start a vacation.
For us, the positives were the public areas, especially two70. Sea Plex is great, the game-show type entertainments were great and the staff almost everywhere were helpful. We found We Will Rock You to be solid and the iFly and North Star to be unique experiences. The negatives were, for us, included the food: we just didn't think there were any memorable meals at any of the venues. Everything was well plated and service was quick, and you won't starve on this ship, but the taste was average. Our best meal was probably at Jamie's (but noway worth $35) and the eggs we got at the Pub. Our expectations for VOOM were high but found internet speeds to be slower than home and very spotty, with us being cut off more than a few times during the week. We also didn't care for the Spectra or the Gift, but that is personal preference. Also, we won't do a cold weather trip again any time soon, it was hard to enjoy the open air during the chilly days (but that isn't a fault of the cruise). Finally, as reported by others there were almost always a line at Guest Service.
The takeaway for us? We enjoyed something new and had a great vacation. It wasn't our favorite vacation, mainly due to the chilly weather at the beginning and end of the cruise. It also isn't our favorite ship. Still, the fact that this beautiful ship is near our home is super and economical and we'll be on her again.
This ship is non traditional in that you really need to book all that you can in advance, else you may not get what you want on board. For us that is fine as we like to plan, however, the Cruise Planner on the Royal Caribbean web site was inconsistent, with some activities being listed, others were not but would later appear. If they could get the Cruise Planner to be fully loaded and smooth, things would be great. Instead, you're finding yourself checking the planner very often, making sure that you don't miss the opportunity to book something.
After the learning curve you'll find yourself counting the days until your next Anthem cruise.
A memorable Hawiaan cruise