A family cruise vacation is a stress-free way to spend time together and see the world. There’s little planning involved once on board, and the ease of having everything just steps from your stateroom is huge. On the new Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas, activities and attractions aren’t just convenient — they’re also cool in the eyes of young travelers. Kids (and adults) are wowed by over-the-top amenities and experiences, from bumper cars to surfing to dining at celebrity chef restaurants.
I recently spent two nights getting acquainted with Anthem of the Seas, the second of the mega Quantum-class ships, on a short cruise around New York City. The ship is big — it accommodates just under 5,000 passengers in 2,090 staterooms, with 1,500 international crew members. Even so, the myriad social and play spaces for passengers create a mini-vacation feel aboard. The allure for families and kids is undeniable (as evidenced by my 12-year-old peeking over my shoulder as I wrote this article, repeating “I want to do that, and that …” with each attraction he saw).
The design of the indoor areas on Anthem of the Seas is a hidden benefit for passengers. Almost all cruise ships have a good mix of open-air and enclosed spaces, but Anthem of the Seas takes this to a new level with indoor pools and activity areas for the entire family. Bad weather no longer affects the cruising experience and this is essential, since Anthem of the Seas sails year-round from the New York City area to the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
SeaPlex is an innovative multipurpose venue that, depending on the schedule, serves as a roller skating rink, a bumper car arena, a basketball court or a circus school. Activities rotate at different times throughout the day, and equipment not in use is stored off the floor.
The upstairs area of SeaPlex is similar to a living room/basement hangout. Xbox play areas sit side-by-side with alcoves that house ping-pong tables. More than anything, SeaPlex allows families to enjoy all-age childhood favorites, both current and past, together.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to skydive, the Ripcord by iFly indoor simulated skydiving experience is a must-do. Kids can’t get enough of this wow-factor amenity; for passengers who want more than their one complimentary turn, lessons are available for a fee. Staff members assist guests throughout the experience so that everyone gets a chance to feel like they are flying.
This gentle, standing-room-only ride is an extension arm with a viewing pod attached that extends 300 feet above the water. It’s similar to a gondola, with 360-degree views that provide a fascinating bird’s-eye view of the ship coupled with the thrill of seeing nothing but the blue ocean beneath your feet. The pod fits 14 passengers, but the ride takes a full 15 or 20 minutes and lines get long. Consider prebooking for front-of-the-line access.
Simulated waves give passengers the opportunity to try their luck at surfing or boogie boarding. The FlowRider sits in front of the RipCord by iFly experience, so there’s a lot going on in this area, and there’s always a crowd watching and cheering for each surfer. A notable point is that the staff stays at your side; while kids don’t seem to need much assistance, help is very welcome for adults trying this for the first time.
With kids in tow, traditional sit-down cruise ship dining is not always the best fit. This is one reason Royal Caribbean introduced Dynamic Dining Choice, a more modern approach where guests reserve dining times as they would in any restaurant. According to Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley, 70 percent of Royal Caribbean guests choose this option; the rest prefer Dynamic Dining Classic, the typical setup where passengers dine at the same time and with the same wait staff and companions each night.
The dining scene on Anthem of the Seas feels worlds away from stereotypical cruise ship cuisine, and even the buffet restaurant is contemporary. Cafes and celebrity chef restaurants, like Jamie Oliver’s Italian, are similar to those you’d find in a major city.
Anthem of the Seas is not only a new ship — it’s a new way to cruise. For cruising veterans and newcomers alike, the entertainment, dining and relaxation options are fresh and inspiring, creating an experience that works for everyone.
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Editor’s Note: Kristi was hosted on a pre-inaugural sailing of Anthem of the Seas to experience the ship. As always, all opinions are our own. Photos by Kristi Marcelle except where noted.
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