May 2016 - Anthem of the Seas to Caribbean - Eastern
We chose this ship because we wanted to experience a relatively new ship with all of the technological innovations. Also we live in New York and didn't want to fly (i.e. add airfare cost) to our trip. Plus we wanted to leave from the New Jersey port. There were five of us ranging in ages from 58 to 10 years old. Embarkation: The port has a dedicated parking facility which is great. We dropped off our luggage then went to park. It was $180 for the 9 night/ 10 day parking fee. After parking the car we walked to the cruise terminal. Checking in was a bit confusing because they don't have counters, just people with tablets. Kind of hard to form a line behind free standing people. I opted to have a cash account on board while my husband elected to use his credit card for his on board account. We also opted to use cash for our daughter's on board account. Sounds easy right? NOT. Although we selected different methods of payments they kept grouping all of our charges onto my husband's on board account. I was at Guest Services on deck 4 EVERY SINGLE DAY about the onboard charges. The person at check in advised us to go directly to Guest Services to give them the cash for the account which we did. The person at Guest Services accepted the cash but was quickly reprimanded by another person and told not to accept cash. So I was able to set up my account and my daughter's account but the person standing right next to me, who was my aunt could not give cash for her account. We were then told that everyone has a $500 limit for onboard purchases by default whether they secure with a credit card or not. That didn't make sense to me but oh well. With all the "technological innovation" there were reoccurring issues with the onboard charges and how they were displayed on the television versus how they looked in the system Guest Services used. Cabin & room attendant We had a balcony room on deck 11 and our attendant was Selwyn. He was fabulous and the room was well kept! No complaints, everything was great. Food We had dynamic dinning at the 8:30pm seating. I thought this was going to be a disaster but it was quite pleasant. Except for the rotation into The Grande, which is the fancy dress up restaurant. Because there wasn't a specific "dress up" night I didn't bring anything fancy so to my dismay the dinner rotation included this restaurant where I was woefully under dressed. I had convinced my husband that he didn't need a suit either, but they do have jackets to loan the men. Overall the food was very good. There were a couple of dishes that "missed the mark" but that didn't overshadow all of the other tasty food we had. We ate at the Windjammer for most breakfast and/lunches and at times it was so crowded that we'd wait to get a table before we went to get any food. Specialty Restaurants We went to Chops Grille which was amazing, Wonderland which was quite interesting and Izumi which was really good. The reservation process however was a pain in the butt. We made all of the reservations after we finished with Guest Relations. The reservation request for the specialty restaurants was 5 people for 7pm. Chops got it right but Wonderland required 2 additional in person follow ups for the reservation which they still got wrong and put us down for 6pm. I stopped by at 5:30 to request a birthday cake for my husband and was told that it would be taken care of then the hostess said our reservation was for 6pm not 7pm. Then she went on to tell me that I was mistaken and that it had always been at 6pm, even when I produced the original paper that I had to remind me that all reservations were for the same time with the same number of guests. That was only topped by my 5 visits to Izumi to re-re-re-re-re confirm those reservations because they never appeared on our digital calendar. Chops was as expected! We didn't upgrade to more expensive cuts because we'd already paid $80 per person for the 3 specialty restaurant dining package. The food was great. Wonderland was great for us! What they should tell you is that you should only go with a group of 4 people or more who are open minded or at least not picky eaters because they have family style main course servings. Because there were 5 of us we got a big variety of foods. The waiter asks you questions about what you like and creates a menu for the table. We really enjoyed the concept once we tried it. This doesn't go over as well if it's a smaller party. Izumi had ala cart pricing so we had a $30 credit per person with the dining package which translated into $150. We couldn't finish all of the food that we were able to get with that budget! It was great and our daughter picked up the chop sticks and started using them like she'd had all her life. It was great! Activities We booked the North Star which was cancelled due to weather. No one contacted us about it being canceled we found out on our own. They don't reschedule appointments either but on the last day at sea they have a stand by line all day from 9am to 5pm which we also learned about on our own. We did go up and the views were amazing. Since the water and winds were calm we got to go up and over the water. We did the iFly too. That was so much fun we'd wished we'd booked it again. The Seaplex was fun too! There was an Xbox room that the tween and teen boys had locked down, ping pong, air hockey, basketball, roller skating, soccer, dodge ball and other activities for kids and adults. We didn't make it to the bumper cars because the line was just too long every time we tried to get on it. Maybe they should do reservation for that too. Entertainment LIVE MUSIC EVERYWHERE! Oh my goodness this was the first cruise that I have been on where there was music for everyone everywhere! It was awesome. They had the tribute band Wanted on board for four shows! At different venues on the ship. They had bands everywhere. We Will Rock You was AWESOME! The Gift was okay, but the production value on everything they did was top notch! Ports Bermuda...total washout because of weather Puerto Rico...docking in Old San Juan was cool. The artisan park was so cool, seeing people make things by hand was great. We were only there for a short time but we made the most of it. St. Marrten...Maho Beach plane watching was okay, my husband totally loved it. I wish the beach was more of a beach getting down to the water was a bit of a daredevil balancing act. The sand was quite rocky but we were there for the main attractions...the planes and watching people get blown down the beach by the force of the plane propellers. Hilarious. Labadee...this was the best beach and overall relaxation atmosphere. Since it's Royal Caribbean's private island I don't think every attraction should cost money. That makes not sense. It's not like we have our choice of vendors. There should be one price for everyone to access all of the activities. At least they provided lunch, but the lines were so long we opted to go back on the ship to eat. Disembarkation Chaos! We chose to keep our bags and get off without assistance and apparently so did 1200 other guests even though they were only expecting 600. We kept getting different information and it was just chaos. We eventually got off but one person in our party was stopped and had to go to Guest Services because they didn't have her credit card on file. Which was crazy because she was with me EVERY DAY in Guest Service and had provided her credit card when doing her online registration and again once we check in in person and they reconfirmed during one of our visits to Guest Services because everything was being charged to her account (her cabin mate elected for cash payments and was having the same issue we had) because she had a credit card on file (at least that was the reason they gave as to why all the charges were appearing on her account despite her cabin mate providing her own sea pass card when making purchase. Once everyone was off the ship, we had to wait in a crazy line at the parking garage elevator but once we got out of the parking lot it was a smooth drive home. Overall we would go on the Anthem of the Seas again we'd just use one credit card and deal with the billing after or we'd all use cash. The ship, amenities, food and general service was worth it, but the communication for Guest Services and Restaurant Reservations needs a lot of improvement.