Anthem of the Seas Cruise Review to Caribbean - Western
Sail Date: November 30, 2015
Ship: Anthem of the Seas
Cabin Type: Balcony
Cabin Number: 6588
Traveled As: Couple
Reviewed: 2 years ago
** IMPORTANT NOTE: Very few islands on this itinerary accept American Express. I did not know that prior to sailing. Avoid having to ask total strangers you've never spoken to, but have seen once on the ship, for a loan to pay for your meal at one of the restaurant/bars...TAKE YOUR VISA OR MASTERCARD (or everyone gladly accepts cash, too)!! Although introducing yourself with, "Hi - I know we don't know each other, but we're on the same ship and all I brought was my AmEx - the rest of my cards and cash are in my cabin safe...and this place won't take AmEx, but we've already eaten the food and had the drinks...is there anyway I can PLEASE borrow $25 until we get back to the ship??" makes for an interesting - and memorable - situation! **
This was our second cruise - after our first on the Norwegian Getaway this summer, we couldn't wait to go on another. Everyone we met said Royal Caribbean was incredible and suggested we give them a try. We booked this cruise the same day we got home from the last.
Overall, things were "meh" - but the ship crew made for a pretty awful experience. I'm not usually one who complains - our last cruise received a 5 star rating from me, and I think I may have 4-5 negative reviews out of 487 on Amazon. However, to say this was a great time would mislead people. It wasn't just us - the discussions regarding the poor service were common on the ship.
For the cost of this cruise I expected good service - not poorly trained staff on their first contract, unhelpful bar servers who would rather stand in the corner and talk to each other rather than help passengers, billing issues every single day, crew working in the Windjammer (buffet) who can't locate things like ketchup or Parmesan cheese, bartenders who charge for your Cokes even though you have the Ultimate Beverage Package, or chefs who work the make-your-own-pasta station, but can't make spaghetti noodles with butter. (No kidding - the head chef overheard the chef tell me that was impossible to make - as they turn out all sorts of pasta with meats and veggies added - and came over to make it himself. Rather than just boiling the noodles and then adding some butter, the "head chef" cooked the noodles in a sauté pan with oil. I kid you not - I couldn't make that up!)
It's too bad, really - the Anthem is a beautiful ship. She's HUGE! Lots to do and some very inventive, cool features. The ship was wonderful - beautifully kept up and very clean. I didn't realize she was still in her inaugural year - but it was fun being some of the first to sail on her.
The problems really revolved around the staff. It was impossible to find anyone to assist you. Out of 12 days, the ONLY day we were able to get bar service was on our last day. I know we made several complaints, as did many of the new friends we made. When I stopped one guy dressed as a bar service employee and asked for a Coke, he told me - and I quote: "the bar is over there - go get it!". Yeah. We are not "experienced cruisers", having only taken one cruise in the past - but this was the complete opposite of our experience with Norwegian.
I was at Guest Services at least twice every day of our trip. Why? Because they couldn't manage to get our billing straight. I was charged for mini bar drinks we didn't consume. (At $2.66 a Coke, I threatened my daughter with swimming home if she even thought about touching anything in the mini bar!) We were charged for drinks we got at a couple of different bars (especially the pool bar), even though I had the Ultimate Beverage Package and my daughter had the Premium Package. We've been home for 3 days now and I am still dealing with erroneous charges. The promises of removing incorrect charges did not materialize. It's frustrating to spend so much of your vacation dealing with billing problems. We had purchased the texting package through the Royal IQ app when we first got on board - but it wasn't working. We would text each other, but not receive the texts for 8+ hours, if we received them at all. I can't tell you how many times I had to request a refund for that app (after I had cancelled it - which they managed to shut off immediately). I still have not gotten those charges removed.
We just ate in the Windjammer for most of our meals - it's quick and easy. The first few days the food was really good - we enjoyed all the fruit and different selections. However, by day 6 (of 12 days), the food had been reheated too many times - so the flavor wasn't there. Everything was bland and...over done. In a big way. Many items were dried out and unappetizing. I love new potatoes - the first night they were incredible and cooked perfectly. When I got them again toward the end of the cruise, they were so hard I could not cut them - and when I finally managed to make an indentation with my knife, the whole potato shattered. I'm not a picky eater - as long as I don't have to cook it, life is awesome! That changed as the cruise went on, and we finally took advantage of the restaurant dining for the remaining nights. Also, toward the end of the cruise, many things began to run out - if you weren't there before 9:30 (breakfast stops at 11) the bacon was gone and only small pieces of dry sausage remained. Several of the cereals were also gone by then. Throughout the cruise the oatmeal was soup. Not only runny, but truly soupy.
The bumper cars weren't open very often, even though the schedule said they would be available during certain windows. Out of the 4 times we went up to ride them (during scheduled availability), they were open once. The Flow Rider was fantastic and my daughter became quite good at that. The crew working the Flow Rider were some of the best we encountered - very helpful and patient, and both had a great sense of humor. The skydiving was good - we live very close to one of those facilities so we decided not to do it on the ship. (There was always a decent line so we wanted others to have a chance to ride it.) The pools were terrific - big and plenty of them. In this aspect, this ship totally kicked the Getaway out of the sea. The rooms are nice and we thought ours was pretty spacious. (We had a balcony.) The activities are fun - although we never did see the captain or the cruise director. (Except on the tv.) The casino staff - especially one of the hosts - was rude and acted put out if you asked him even the most basic question. (I'm not a gambler and did not know where to cash in my chips - he acted highly annoyed that I would bother him with that. No one else was with him or waiting to speak with him - he was all alone at the desk.) It was also difficult to find bar service throughout the casino - whether at the tables or the slot machines.
It is frustrating for the passengers (AND crew!) if the crew isn't well-trained. Everyone has to start at the beginning and everyone begins with their first contract - which has to be difficult. Filling a ship with brand new crew and not training them on other ships with experienced crew members, is just asking for disaster. And that's pretty much how it was.
I really hope Royal Caribbean listens to all the complaints they received about this voyage. The Anthem has the potential to be an incredible experience - it really does. However, if they don't train their crew better and change a few things, they will have to start paying people to stay on her - rather than raking in the money she could be making.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
* The North Star is a lot like a glass elevator - we thought it was much cooler to watch it move from the deck, than it was to be inside of it. (We're not big fans of heights.)
* WATER SHOES are important if you want to get in the water on the islands.
* Not all activities are open when scheduled.