Royal Caribbean has just launched its new game-changing Quantum Class ship Anthem of the Seas, sailing for just one season from the UK. The world’s third largest cruise ship is truly impressive with cutting-edge technology and a number of exciting new features.
A few weeks ago, I attended a two-night pre-inaugural sailing onboard Anthem of the Seas from Southampton, voyaging around the English Channel. It was a rare opportunity to be the first to experience the onboard accommodation, dining and entertainment and I was blown away by just how amazing this ship is.
Anthem of the Seas boasts a ‘curb to cruise in 10 minute’ policy with its clever new online check-in system that allows you to upload your identity photo in advance. Happily it went as smoothly as promised for us – check-in and security were a breeze and before we knew it we were boarding the ship and scanning the corridors for our stateroom.
Our spacious Deluxe Ocean View Balcony Room on deck six was beautifully designed in a palette of royal blue and cream with light and dark wood highlights. There are some stylish design touches that give it the feel of a boutique hotel room, such as a matching geometric pattern on the lamps and curtains, bold cushions, a circular mirror and vibrant artwork.
Room features include a super-comfy double bed, long sofa, writing desk, flatscreen Smart TV, two wardrobes, drawer unit, minibar and a kettle with tea and coffee. The best part of the room is of course the balcony with a table and two chairs to relax and enjoy those sunset views.
The bathroom is top notch with a walk-in shower with good water pressure, single sink, storage space, plenty of towels and face cloths, bathroom products produced by Gilchrist & Soames and a hairdryer. Before cruising, I didn’t have high hopes for stateroom bathrooms, but Royal Caribbean and its sister Celebrity Cruises have always impressed with the facilities and reasonable amount of space.
Dining is a massive highlight of cruising, with most conversations focusing on what you’ve eaten, how much you’ve eaten and where you’re eating that evening. Anthem of the Seas features so many dining options that it’s impossible to get bored – in fact, you would need a lengthy sailing to experience most of them.
An exciting new initiate for the complimentary restaurants is Dynamic Dining, where guests can have dinner on rotation at three main restaurants – American Icon Grill, Chic and the Asian-inspired Silk. We dined in American Icon Grill on our second evening and enjoyed a special taster menu of dishes from all three restaurants, such as Baked Artichokes with Monterey Jack cheese, Surf and Turf Filet Mignon with Grilled Prawns, Tarte Tatin and Baked Cheesecake.
We also enjoyed a fabulous lunch in the rustic, California-inspired Coastal Kitchen, exclusively for Suite Class guests and Pinnacle members. Our menu included a selection of charcuterie and flatbread starters followed by Herb-Crusted Chicken Breast with roasted squash, Provencal tomatoes and lemon essence and a selection of desserts including Honey Baklava, Tiramisu and Cafe Con Leche.
Windjammer Marketplace, the all-day restaurant described by Royal Caribbean as a ‘global culinary pavillion’ (it’s so much more than simply a buffet) is a foodie focal point. The numerous stations offer high quality international dishes, pasta and paninis made to order by the chefs, fresh salads and antipasti and delicious waffles and pancakes at breakfast.
There’s even an in-house bakery with bountiful viennoiserie station, a bespoke celebration cake ordering service and a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine.
The two-floor Promenade feels like a mini village, filled with complimentary and speciality restaurants such as traditional pizzeria Sorrento, Promenade Café, Michael’s Genuine Pub by Miami’s Michael Schwartz, Jamie’s Italian, the theatrical Wonderland and Japanese sushi bar Izumi, where we had dinner on the first night.
We shared plates of delicious chicken kara-age, pork gyoza, crispy shrimp and avocado maki and Champagne-poached lobster rolls – perfect for a light and interesting meal.
Other speciality restaurants include The Grande Restaurant, Chops Grille, Prime Table and the calorie-controlled Devinly Decadence by author and chef Devin Alexander.
Of course, there’s plenty more to do onboard other than eating your way around the ship (as fun as that is). The pool deck is ideal for soaking up the sun with outdoor and indoor pools, whirlpools, an adults-only solarium, jogging track and the very cool FlowRider 40-foot long surf simulator.
For the particularly daring, there’s the RipCord by iFly skydiving simulator, outdoor rock climbing and the North Star observation pod, offering 360-degree views from 300 feet above sea level.
To take it down a notch or two, pay a visit to the enormous, maze-like Vitality Spa, where you can have treatments ranging from a simple and effective massage to acupuncture and even fillers performed by qualified doctors. I kept it low-key with a refreshing Elemis Tri-Enzyme Facial to brighten and resurface my skin.
SeaPlex Centre is a real playground for both adults and kids and we loved spending time there. The main area is multi-purpose, so at different times of the day, you can have a whirl on the bumper cars, roller skate, play football or dance to DJs when it turns into a nightclub at night (Lauren Pope was spinning on our sailing).
The Xbox lounge has great games and comfy sofas, plus you can battle it out at table tennis, air hockey and the retro arcade games. There’s also the SeaPlex Dog House within the centre for refueling with a gourmet hot dog between games.
One of my favourite part of the ship was the Two70 theatre with ground-breaking Vistarama technology that turns a two-floor sea view into any scene, real or imagined. There’s also the delightful adjoining Café Two 70 offering fresh salads and deli sandwiches made to order as well as cakes and pastries, so it really feels like a social hub.
Royal Caribbean has partnered with digital innovators Moment Factory to produce Spectra’s Cabaret exclusively for Anthem of the Seas, performed each night in Two70. This truly spectacular, edgy show will change your perceptions of cruise cabaret with it’s dazzling visuals, contemporary music and stunning choreography (you may also recognise Spectra as Raven O of The Box London).
On the second night, we watched the Olivier Award-winning We Will Rock You in the Anthem Theatre. I thought it would be an abridged version, but it was in fact the full-length musical straight from London’s West End.
To make the night last even longer, have a drink in the rock ‘n’ roll bar Music Hall, listen to live jazz in the intimate Schooner Bar or sip a cocktail created entirely by robots at the state-of-the-art Bionic Bar.
Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas is a triumph of technology, however the human touch is still there and all of the staff that we encountered were so welcoming and friendly. With such a focus on digital innovation and world dining, it is definitely my kinda ship and I hope to have the chance to sail on Anthem of the Seas again.
Anthem of the Seas is sailing from the UK until October. For more information and booking, visit: www.royalcaribbean.com
Chérie City was a guest of Royal Caribbean
All photos by Chérie City