My first cruise travel experience was about 10 years ago. I took a 4 nights/ 5 days cruise from Tampa to Cozumel, Mexico. Although it was a relaxing experience, I decided that the cruise travel experience was not for me. The main reason being that I love to explore the local cuisine and culture of a country, and spend as much time as possible with the locals. On the cruise, I spent majority of my time on the ship with other travelers. We had organized games, shows, activities, casino, shopping, dining, etc., but I felt it was geared towards families and older crowds. I felt a little too sedentary.
Being on Anthem of the Seas, a brand new ship by Royal Caribbean, has changed my perspective on cruising. This 2-weeks Mediterranean sailing took me to different ports across 5 countries – UK, Spain, Italy, France and Portugal. There were organized tours offered in each of the ports, from city tours to wine tastings, I got to know about the history, culture, nature and art of the areas, and I always had the option to walk around on your own. We visited some ports that I may not have been able to see otherwise – Gibraltar, Cartagena, Seville, Vigo, etc.
Being on board offered a very different experience as well this time around. Anthem of the Seas is one of the biggest ships in the world, with 2,090 staterooms and a capacity of 6400 people (guests and crew). Given that, the cabin sizes are huge. I had a superior room with a balcony and sitting area, but there are also 2-storied lofts and 3 bedroom suites available. I never felt claustrophobic during my two week sail.
Walking around the ship’s 18 decks can be quite fun. It took me a couple of days to get oriented, and realize where everything was. I admired every architectural detail, the beautiful artwork adorning the promenade, intricate flooring and ceiling work set to match the tunes of different areas of the ship, contemporary style of the rooms, themed music halls and theaters – this was by far the most beautiful ship I have ever seen.
In my previous cruising experiences, there were only 1 or 2 options for dining – generally a formal sit down and a casual fast food place. On the Anthem, there are 30 eateries to choose from! Themed restaurants include Japanese, Italian, French, Asian Pacific, American, British pub, cafes, buffet, and much more. Each one has a unique ambiance and creative cocktail menu. Just the design of the restaurants is worth checking out. The food is comparable to any upscale restaurant on land. Furthermore, you are not restricted to sitting at round banquet tables along with other guests you don’t know. Couples can easily have a date night, while families can reserve larger tables for privacy.
Sure most cruise ships have a little gym and nice spa services. But on the Anthem, they take physical health seriously. There are fitness classes – yoga, stretch, pilates, spin, even a boot camp, for those who want to stay healthy. You can get a personal instructor who will train with you, a nutritionist to consult with, and several anti aging solutions.
The activities on the Anthem are geared not only to families, but adventures as well. I typically won’t sit for a bingo, guess the tunes, or jeopardy kind of sessions. But here, I can go skydiving, go-carting, rock climbing, skating, surfing and be lifted 300 feet above sea level.
Another fact I liked about Anthem is that you really don’t need to travel with your family or friends to enjoy this cruise vacation. On the daily calendar are scheduled lunch for singles on the ship and LGBT community mixers. Of course, there are tailored activities for teens, youth and couples too.
There are several options to choose from for evening entertainment. At any given time, there is live music at 4-5 venues across the ship. Depending on my mood, I can sit at the piano bar, listen to 80’s rock, watch Broadway style performances, cabaret shows, or get up close with world renowned musicians.
I view cruising in a different light now. A ship like Anthem of the Seas is not just for the older generation, but can be a lot of fun for younger travelers too. If this is what the new age of cruising looks like, I will definitely be considering this option for my future travels.