Overall, we enjoyed our time on the Anthem of the Seas. It is a beautiful ship with unique qualities and attractions, however the activities and times they are offered are lacking/inconvenient.
As a young couple in our twenties, we believe Carnival is more fit for where we are in our lives right now, and will most likely sail with Royal Caribbean again in the future. Royal Caribbean is more upscale than Carnival and the price and amenities prove that.
5 out of 5
Embarkation went smoothly. We arrived earlier than our scheduled time by 2 hours and had no problem getting through security and check in. There was quite a bit off stop and go traffic to get to the drop off section so I would definitely recommend getting there early since you will have to wait in line. This was our first time sailing out of New Jersey.
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
The food was outstanding! We did have some confusion the first night at dinner for which complementary restaurants we could and could not eat in. For example, we had my time dining and read reviews upon reviews that said there were a total of 4 main dining rooms we could eat in and that each had a different style menu/cuisine. This was not the case. The 2 main dining rooms on the 3rd deck are for set time dining at either 5pm or 8:30pm, you have to sign up pre-cruise to take advantage of this. The 2 main dining rooms on the 4th deck are for my time dining. Once we finally found someone to explain this to us, we had no issues and never waited longer than 15 minutes or so to get seated. The hostess remembered us each night and that we liked a table near the window and did her best to give us what we requested.
We did not choose to eat at any specialty restaurants because the quality of food in the main dining room and spread at the buffet was very satisfying. We did, however, do the sushi making class at Izumi and had a blast! The instructors were informative and friendly. They took their time to explain each different roll and made it fun for everyone. You make a total of 4 rolls and get to eat everything after the class finishes. Unfortunately you can't take any sushi to go so I would recommend not eating breakfast beforehand since the class starts at 10am.
We ate breakfast in the buffet pretty much every day and were extremely happy with the selections. The hash browns and waffles you don't want to miss! They also had a large selection of pastries, donuts, fruits, deli meats, etc. The breakfast is the same every day.
We only ate dinner in the buffet officially for one night, and it just so happened to be Caribbean night while docked in St. Maarten. The food was delicious and we were so excited to have decided to eat there that night due to the later port time. Even though we didn't eat there every night, we always popped by to see what was being offered and taste-tested a few things that caught our eye.
The other included places to eat on board that we tried were Two70, Cafe Promenade, Seaplex Dogs, and the Pizzeria. The Caribbean Dream pie from the pizzeria was hands down our favorite and we were lucky to have it twice during the duration of our cruise. The hot dogs are awesome and have a handful of different styles to choose from. We enjoyed both the classic hot dog (called Coney Island) and the Smokehouse which comes on a special bun. Two70 is a great spot for cold pasta salads and sandwiches. Cafe Promenade is good for a quick snack after hours. Although there wasn't much open very late, we never felt like we were hungry.
For the price, I would have hoped for more to be included, especially the small thing of popcorn they are selling outside of the theater. They sell this for $2.95 a pop for a small, narrow container. On our Carnival ship, they gave out popcorn for free each night. Same goes for the included eateries, there weren't as many food options included compared to other cruise lines we've been on/explored.
4 out of 5
We tried to do as much as we could in the 4 sea days we had on our itinerary, but felt that the daily compass lacked activities that didn't involve gambling in the casino, bingo, or sporadic trivia. We also felt that the activities offered were at inconvenient times and felt ourselves forced to choose between one thing or the other quite frequently. We are a young couple in our twenties and felt that although there were exciting activities offered on occasion, the rest of the day was geared towards a much older crowd in our opinion.
We did take advantage of what the ship had to offer and worked around the poor timing. We were able to do rock climbing, bumper cars, and iFly on the very last sea day since the times worked out great. We couldn't book the iFly experience before boarding since it sold out months in advance, but fortunately for us, a group of 4 did not show up to their appointment on the last day and we were able to take it by standing to the side and waiting to see who didn't show up. We had so much fun doing the iFly and had a great, informative, and professional instructor.
We did spend some time in the Seaplex enjoying ping pong and the bumper cars. We waited about an hour to do the bumper cars so I would recommend either going right when it opens or about an hour before it ends so you don't wait too long. Was well worth the wait though!
We spent most of our time in the Solarium adult only pool area. It was serene, peaceful and we never had a problem finding at least 1 chair for us to throw our stuff down while enjoying the jacuzzi. We even were lucky enough to sit in the clam shell chairs a few times which are hard to come by! We went in the indoor pool once and the water was very nice. We never went to the outdoor pool because it was way too crowded for our liking but did watch the belly flop and cannon ball competition which was fun.
5 out of 5
Although the activities during the morning/afternoon were sparse, there was plenty to do at night. Every night we enjoyed a game show hosted in the Music Hall at 9:15 (some were better than others) and then we'd wander around the ship listening to the different musicians/DJs.
We saw We Will Rock You and thought the acting was corny, but the music and talent was phenomenal. The guitarist is unreal and everyone gave her a standing ovation at the end. We felt that the timing scheduled for this show was a huge inconvenience and interfered with dinner and other activities. The show we were lucky to even get booked for was 6:30-8:20pm. Right in the middle of dinner, and happened to be formal night with lobster finally on the menu. We worked around it and ate at 5pm instead and made it just in time to the show.
We especially loved the Matt Yee adult sing along show. He was HILARIOUS and had everyone singing and dancing along. Of course, it is an adult only show so he is inappropriate which we had no problem with. Definitely don't bring your kids lol. We went to see him almost every night and some nights the crowd was so large it poured into the elevator waiting area and then some.
We also had a lot of fun at the adult only Quest game show in Two70. That was our first time in Two70 and felt the venue was nice. Definitely would have sat more and flowed better in the Royal Theatre but it was a good experience. The Love and Marriage game show was hysterical and gets crowded fast so we recommend going about 20 minutes early to get a good seat!
Overall, the music was always great on the ship whether by DJ, sound system, or live band. The first comedian Don was very funny!
Did not travel with kids.
Service and Staff
4 out of 5
Everyone we encountered was friendly with a smile on their face. However, when we did ask questions or have a problem we needed help with, we never got a real answer or had our problem resolved. For example, it took talking to 4 different people before we fully understood the main dining room situation.
We also had a problem with a third random guest being attached to our stateroom. We were only 2 people traveling and tried numerous times to get this person removed. Instead, we were told by guest services that they didn't see the person showing up on their screen, and we even overheard her conversation with someone on the phone and she agreed she did see it and then lied straight to our face that she didn't. This affected all of our photos and we were worried it would add a third group of gratuities to our invoice but fortunately it did not.
We were on deck 8 in the middle and were extremely happy with our room steward Robert. We didn't see him very often because we were rarely in the room, but when we did he was always eager to give us more information on the ports, ship, and asked us about our day and how we were enjoying our vacation. He made cute towel animals every other day and made sure everything in our room was clean and tidy.
5 out of 5
This is a beautiful, modern ship. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay on the Anthem of the Seas and felt that details were definitely paid attention to. The ship was very clean and you can always see a staff member going around cleaning up after guests and especially by the pools they were always wiping down the floor so the water wasn't everywhere and no one would slip.
The ship is easy to navigate and there are plenty of interactive screens near the elevators if you need help finding your way. We found these extremely helpful for the first few days of getting adjusted to the ship's layout and deck plans.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
We were right in the middle of the ship on deck 8 and were extremely happy with our stateroom. The balcony was spacious and had two chairs, two foot rests, and a mini table to rest drinks on. We enjoyed eating breakfast and lunch out on our balcony and taking in the views. The balcony brought in a ton of natural light and was nice to listen to the ocean at night.
There was plenty of storage space above the bed, in the closets, in the various drawers, and in the bathroom. Nothing ever felt crowded or cluttered and our room steward Robert always kept our room clean and tidy.
This was our first time departing out of Bayonne. We felt the port was nice, clean and professional, however the surrounding area is nothing to write home about. Very industrial. We didn't spend much time here off the ship, so don't have a ton to write about.
This was our favorite port! We got off the ship and immediately found the mini buses at the end of the pier to take us to Horseshoe Bay Beach. The mini bus is $7 per person, per way. The bus ride was about 30-40 minutes or so to get to the beach but well worth the ride.
Horseshoe Bay Beach is a very big tourist attraction, but we did not just walk on and plop on the first patch of sand we saw. Instead, we walked down further to the left towards the larger rocks and found basically our own private beach. We set down our towels and enjoyed the gorgeous natural scenery, clear blue water, and soft sand. The sand isn't as pink as people say, so don't get your hopes up lol.
After the beach, we took another mini bus back to the ship and before we got back on, we walked about 5 minutes into the town nearby. We stopped in the general store to buy an ornament then had some delicious ice cream at a shop right there. We also bought some amazing fudge from the sweetest woman from Bermuda Fudge Company! She let us try any flavors we wanted before we purchased. The Peanut Butter/Chocolate and Rocky Road are the best! Some even have alcohol in them.
This was our least favorite port but still did enjoy our time here. We took a taxi from the guys in the orange shirts a short walk away from the pier. The taxi was $8 per person, per way which is comparable to the one in Bermuda.
We went to Maho beach by taxi and it was about 45 minutes to an hour ride at least. Once we got to the beach, it was a little underwhelming in size. It was very crowded as there were 2 large RC ships in port that day. We laid in the sand and were in awe at the planes landing right above our head! A great experience that we would really only do once.
We were only at the beach for about 2 hours before a huge jet took off just behind us and for about 30 seconds straight sand was pelting directly at us from the force. It hurt so bad that we packed up quickly and ate at the bar that is right next to the beach. The staff was friendly and we ate some nachos and enjoyed a Strawberry Daquiri and a delicious Banana Bailey's & Cream drink. Cost about $40 after we added in a few extra dollars for tip. They include a 15% gratuity on the tab so keep that in mind if you decide to eat there.
After we ate, we took another taxi back to the pier. This time, we were in stand still traffic for about an hour and a half but it is just a single road so no where else to go around. We left with plenty of time to get back to the ship, so I would not recommend cutting it close to your departure time. Once we got back to the pier, we shopped around a bit and then headed back to the ship early. We did not want to shop in downtown as it was still pretty rundown from the storm.
We visited San Juan on our cruise last year and were happy to be back! This time, we did the El Yunque Rain forest Excursion and were very happy with our choice. We really liked how Royal Caribbean has you meet with your shore excursion group in the main theater before leaving the ship. It was much more organized and stress free than leaving the ship and not knowing where to go.
We had the sweetest, funniest, and most informative tour guide. She was great!! It took about 50 minutes to get to the rain forest with a restroom break on the way as there is no real restrooms within the forest, only port-a-potties which she did not know the condition of since they were used for the rain forest clean up crew from the storm.
We had an amazing time on this excursion, climbing up the side of a waterfall, hiking up to the top of the lookout tower, enjoying some beautiful green scenery and learning all about San Juan and El Yunque. The tour lasted from 7:30am-11:30am and was packed with fun and information. We had plenty of time (left port at 3pm) to explore the streets of Old San Juan and get gelato at our favorite shop Chocolata. We love it so much we got 2 cones each lol. We even got to see Fortaleza (or the umbrella street as it is sometimes referred to). This was such a cool experience and makes for a great photo op! It isn't too far from the ship either so not a huge hike. We did not do the forts this time as we already did those last year and wanted to explore new areas of the port.
At first we were a bit nervous about going to Haiti, but we were pleasantly surprised with how beautiful and safe we felt at this port. It is a private port owned by RC and you can definitely tell. The staff was friendly and entertainment was great!
You do not have to bring cash for food at this port, as RC provides an included lunch for all passengers. It was a great lunch including burgers, hot dogs, pasta salads, mac and cheese, fries, ribs, chicken drum sticks, fruits, and various desserts. Lunch is served from 11:30am-1:30pm. They also have water, lemonade, iced tea, and fruit punch out for guests to serve themselves which was much needed in the heat.
We did not opt to do the zip line but it looked like a lot of fun! You can watch right from the ocean which has no waves and is very calm, warm, and relaxing. It is a bit rocky, so I would recommend bringing water shoes or walking down a bit to a less rocky part of the beach. If you like to snorkel, bring your own goggle/snorkel tube and swim close to the divider in the ocean. You will see some colorful fish for free! We had no problem getting lounge chairs and the blue and white striped ones are free. We tipped $5 and got a great spot up front. There are areas of the island that the chairs are additional so just keep that in mind.
We walked to where a small shopping area was on the port and were immediately taken by a local to the artisan/craft market. We did not feel the safest in that area and were being dragged around trying to be sold this and that and we told them no many times. Finally we got out of there and headed back to the port area we were before. I know they are eager to sell their goods and make money and some of the stuff is nice, however they are very pushy so beware and keep a head on your shoulders. Be firm with a "no" and they will let you go. They will bargain with you so don't just take the highest price.
When docked in Labadee, make your way back onto the ship a bit early and sit in the Solarium on one of the front chairs. You won't regret it! The view is spectacular and you can see the entire port and beautiful scenery.
5 out of 5
We opted for the self-assist departure as we did last time and did not regret it. We were off the ship in about 10 minutes after waiting for an elevator to the 5th floor and scanning through to customs. You don't even need to have your passport out, they just use facial recognition technology when you get up to customs and if it is able to match your photo from the beginning of the cruise, you are good to go with no questions asked. We took an Uber from NJ to Long Island, NY and it cost $130 + tip. This was at about 8:45am but the Ubers earlier on were cheaper, we just didn't get off early enough because we wanted breakfast in the buffet. The taxis are about $140 + tip + tolls/fees so it made more sense for us to take Uber.
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