Date sailed – April 2015
Cruise Line – Royal Caribbean
Itinerary – 8 Night France and Spain – Inaugural Cruise
Back in January 2015 I was scouring the internet looking for a good deal on a cruise to take that year. I came across an 8 night cruise roundtrip from Southampton with Royal Caribbean on a ship I hadn’t heard of, Anthem of the Seas. I didn’t realise until a few weeks before that I’d accidentally booked onto her maiden voyage. I’m so glad I did as I absolutely loved this ship and am looking forward to Anthem returning to Europe in 2020.
The best thing for me about Anthem of the Seas was all the innovation. It was a nice change to have four themed dining rooms instead of one massive noisy space. Each of the dining rooms, Silk, Chic, Grande and American Icon had delicious vegetarian options for lunch and dinner. A lot of thought had gone into the decor for each space and there were room dividers and walls which broke up the rooms nicely and made the whole thing feel more intimate. I liked booking in by iPad and changing my reservation time every night to suit my plans for the day. I spoke to one seasoned cruiser in her seventies in the Casino who found the changes in time and venue and having to prebook annoying, but to me aged 40, it seemed very normal and sensible, I guess its what you’re used to.
For informal dining the cafe @ Two70 was a great escape from the busy buffet. I ate delicious breakfast burritos and freshly prepared bagels at lunchtime. Two70 was beautifully decorated, rarely crowded and the panoramic view overlooking the stern and the ship’s wake was quite hypnotic.
Fun fun fun
Other innovations included the North Star which I’m ashamed to say I never had time to go on, although I did watch a couple get married in there on the ship’s TV channel. The dodgems were great, there weren’t many kids on this sailing as it was term time, but I watched those who were there get out of cars at the end of their turn and immediately run round to join the queue to go again. One evening I sat on the giant swing, again overlooking the wake, in the Solarium with a drink for about half an hour, it was so relaxing. Spectra’s cabaret in the marvellous Two70 was a great Cirque du Soleil type acrobatic show and I had the added bonus of watching some of their rehearsals whilst eating breakfast there one morning.
When I booked I had no idea that I’d chosen an inaugural cruise and I did wonder if this would be a bonus or not. I was not disappointed. Royal Caribbean made a great deal of effort and fanfare and the amount of free champagne I ended up drinking was fantastic. One evening there was a balloon drop, more champagne and a speech from the Captain who circulated in the crowd beforehand, I was too shy to ask for a selfie. Also completely unexpectedly Royal Caribbean gave me a load of merch, left as a gift in the cabin, including 2 backpacks, water bottle, baseball cap, flag, and reusable fold up shopper.
I guess the downsides of a maiden voyage were a slightly boring itinerary, we went to Vigo, Bilbao, Le Havre and La Coruna. So not very far in 8 days presumably to allow for contingencies. The staff were all new, but most were veterans of other ships and just as accommodating as you would expect. The toilet system struggled a couple of times, but that has happened on other older ships as well.
Otherwise it was great, everything was sparkling clean and brand new. I like the new, I like the latest ideas and since this cruise I have been keeping an eye out for other inaugural cruises going from the UK as it was a one of a kind experience.