My itinerary: My cruise was a 'cruise to nowhere', only two nights with one full day, round trip from the Port Liberty Cruise Terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey.
It was a travel agent inaugural cruise, meaning they had some little voyages like this to highlight the ship to agents and press before the regular consumer voyages started from NJ.
Fabulous new features:
The new features of this specific ship class that are getting the most press are Ripcord by iFly, which is a sky diving simulator, and the North Star, which is a glass bubble viewing module that is lifted off and swings out from the ship on a massive crane arm. (Think of North Star as like a compartment of the London Eye on a big arm.) I actually did neither of these two things because my cruise was so short. With only one full day to cruise, the lines for these features was extremely long and I felt my time would be better spent seeing the other 97% of the ship's great amenities.
Anthem of the Seas is a Quantum CLASS ship, and there are some other awesome things that this class has that are worth mentioning. The most spectacular is the Two70 Lounge. This is a spectacular entertainment and lounging area that has many uses. During the day there are massive floor to ceiling windows that you can see out towards the aft of the ship and outside. When they want to put on a show, they drop screens down over the windows and they can computer project massive visual extravaganzas. These work in conjunction with impressive floor configurations that can move up and down and allow all kinds of stages to be set up for various shows.
However the best part of Two70 is the six huge video screens that move around on robotic arms (like you would see in a manufacturing plant). They can move in a dizzying array of ways, and they really enhance the shows with their huge amount of technology.
The second thing that is a Quantum class feature is the use of WOW Bands. These are plastic wrist bands with a circular reader at the top that you can touch onto your cabin door to open it, or tap in the shops to buy things, or in the casino to have your gambling tracked. You would also use it to check in for dinner and show reservations that you made in advance of going to your cruise.
As you arrive to the Anthem, you will only have your Sea Pass boarding pass you printed at home scanned, your passport scanned, and your photo taken IF you didn't already upload it online. Then you will take your Sea Pass paper thru security and board the ship. It’s very smooth. Pier workers meet you with their iPads to check you in rather than you getting in lines at windows.
You then proceed to your actual cabin where ONE of your key cards will be left outside your cabin door so you can get inside. Then the second key card and the WOW bands for both of you will be waiting inside. You'll know whose WOW band is whose because one will be wrapped around the key card inside the cabin.
The SeaPlex is an entertainment venue specific to the Quantum class. It’s a large flat area where they have bumper cars, roller skating, dancing and other activities.
And one of the novelty items on the Quantum class is the Bionic Bar. This is another computerized arm like in a manufacturing plant modification, and the two arms make drinks in plastic cups. You put your order in on one of the iPads with either your SeaPass card or your WOW band. You select exactly what you want. And then the robot makes it. Once its done, you have to swipe your WOW band or card again to have YOUR drink delivered to you, so others can’t accidentally take your drink. We thought it was interesting, but there were long lines, they apparently break down a lot, and beyond the initial novelty, it wasn’t the most efficient. Better to order a drink from an experienced bartender!
Dynamic Dining is another feature of the Quantum class. All Quantum class ships will have Dynamic Dining and Royal Caribbean has stated that other ship types will NOT have it. So, this is something specific to these ships. They are specifically designed for it and all 5 ships that are on the contract for this class will have it. Basically, there are a lot of smaller dining venues scattered around the ship and NO large main type dining rooms. You plan out your dining reservations before you leave from home. Some dining venues are complimentary, and some are an extra fee. All need to be planned.
On my cruise, we only had two nights, so Royal assigned us our dining location and time for both nights, but the menu they offered throughout the ship for us agents was a "Taste of Anthem" combination menu offering dishes from the four main restaurants. Everything was good! We also got to sample dishes from most of the restaurants, including the pay-extra, and nothing was disappointing. I would love to have a full meal at Wonderland, where the food is very whimsical. And my favorite dishes were actually from their formal steakhouse like dining room, The Grande.
Please note that many people flock to the buffet, as they're trained from past cruises to do that for breakfast and lunch. However, take time to look around at other dining options while you're on the ship. I found the Promenade Cafe to have a good selection of snacks, and the Cafe at Two70 was a LOVELY place for breakfast. I would absolutely do Two70 for breakfast every day (I did for both of my days).
Keep it in your mind if you're booking this class though, that you MUST plan ahead for your dining and entertainment, or you're going to be very disappointed once you get onboard. If you truly didn't have it figured out before you board, you WILL be seated somewhere for the first night, but they will encourage you to plan out the rest of your week at that time. In this case, I found it like their Oasis-class ships. If you don't pre-plan your dining and entertainment there, you'll really miss out of the best stuff on the ship.
Entertainment - We were able to see two great shows while on our two night cruise. The first night we watched Spectra's Caberet. This is a singing and dancing show in Two70. As I gushed above, it was wonderful. Be sure to try to get a seat in the balcony. Even though its also good to be down low right next to the performers, you really get a better visual effect from the screens moving around from up on the second level.
And then on our second day we saw a production show in the main theatre called We will Rock You. We were shocked it was two hours long. Really high quality, but be forewarned about the length. Also, there are some unfriendly pillars in the show room, so be sure to get there early to get a seat that isn't obstructed.
There are a lot of activities to do onboard in the evening, besides the very active ones like the normal rock climbing and pool areas, the new features and the main entertainment venues. There is a big music hall with dancing, live entertainment and also a big tv screen. There is a piano bar and a pub, a place to buy treats and Starbucks, and lots of free treats as well.
One of the coolest things about doing a travel agent preview cruise like this is they leave lots of cabins unsold so agents can view and tour them. This 'inspection' is a priceless thing. During the two day preview, I was able to see every single cabin TYPE except a regular oceanview (nothing too interesting or different about those anyway).
I was actually assigned an inside with a virtual balcony. That would be an inside cabin with a high dev big TV screen installed on the wall on its side projecting a balcony railing and 'supposedly' the current view outside. There is even some sound. It’s not entirely true to life, as our TV still showed dark outside when it was well beyond dawn, but it was close the rest of the time. There is a controller for this TV to show or not show the screen, and turn the sound on or off or up or down. After all, it’s just a TV, so don't be concerned that it’s something you can't adjust to your liking. Virtual balconies have been rolled out on other Royal Caribbean ship types. I'd expect them to be on most of the fleet once those ships go thru a dry dock cycle.
I totally LOVED the interconnecting family trio of cabins, a new feature for the Quantum class. This would be a mini-suite, connected to a regular balcony cabin and an inside studio cabin. Of course, you could mix and match your friends or family however you wish, but Royal probably envisions a couple in the mini, kids in the balcony, and grandma in the studio inside. A perfect combo of connect if you want, or NOT if you want a bit of privacy. All three cabins have their own access doors, yet at the same time, you could leave all the connectors open and just use one main door to enter the trio.
Another two cabin types I loved on this ship that I'd not really paid attention to until now was the Family Junior Suite and the Spa Junior Suite. Both of these are Royal Caribbean's fabulous size and feature Junior Suite BUT with a half bath added. So, as you enter the cabin, there is a half bath on the right had side of the hall and a full bathroom on the left. Then the rest of the cabin seems kind of normal as Junior Suites go. The family Junior Suite has a pull out sofabed for kids. No extra bedrooms or anything. I'd say that second half bath is pretty great though.
These ships have an impressive cornucopia of full suites that come with extra amenities. There are way too many to list, and I think they're similar to what we already know are great on other ships. I just mostly wanted to highlight the NEW category types.
Voom Internet access - If you're an experienced cruiser, then you know that Internet on ships is spotty, slow and pricey. With the advent of Quantum, they rolled out an entirely new connected experience called Voom. This is giving you high speed access better than anything you've experienced before. They explained that they've basically contracted out the rental of their OWN satellite from another company, and since they have exclusive access to it, they are able to offer this service. We found the connection not great in our cabin that was extremely forward and high, but good in all the public areas. Further, Royal says its their goal to have Voom on all their fleet that serves North America by the end of May, 2016 AND they're going to eventually stop charging for it. They know its a benefit to THEM for you to post about your awesome trip on their cruise, so they're going to loosen up the reins on that in the future.
BEFORE you leave home or at least the embarking port, you should download the RoyaliQ app for your phones or tablets, as you can view the daily cruise activity schedule on it as well as make show reservations if you forgot to do it at home.
Something new I personally learned on this cruise was you can put your device on airplane mode, which turns OFF your cellular and WiFi, and then go back into your control center and engage the WiFi only. This would allow you to use all the features of the RoyaliQ app without any charges.
I have already heard great things about both Quantum and Anthem from clients who have sailed, so I hope you'll allow me to book you on this wonderful ship class for your next vacation. Please 'contact us' at the top of this page to get a custom quote.