Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas
A Siren Call To A New Generation of Cruisers
by Susan Campbell, Photos courtesy of Royal Caribbean
I recently had the pleasure of attending a two day cruise with Royal Caribbean to celebrate the launch of their new ship Anthem of the Seas. They were also celebrating the fact that they have a new homeport for it in New Jersey –and it was a gala affair. Our launch party aboard the sky deck sailing past the Statue of Liberty at night and also the new World Trade One Tower all lit up, was indeed touching. And even though I’m Canadian, it was hard not to get caught up in the national pride and patriotic hoopla of the event with every song about New York known to man blasting from the speakers, and all the guests waving American flags! It was indeed a real Yankee Doodle Dandy happening!
But it was soon apparent that this ship was more about attracting a brand new generation of cruisers. The first clue was the gigantic digital dashboard monitors scattered about- they are certainly keen on connecting with today’s tech obsessed travellers and exploiting the the possibilities of social media. Guest tweets, posts, photos and videos were larger than life in real time as events unfolded. And ther social media crew interacted efficiently. Your agenda is also available as an app. You can make reservations virtually and get alerts about anything via your smart phone. And they were very proud of their new Wi-Fi capabilities, speed and strength-touted as the best on board cruise ships anywhere.
High Tech At Every Turn
The futuristic and high tech trend was also obvious at every turn in their amenities. New and very cool is their NorthStar capsule for panoramic sightseeing. It reminded me of something from The War of the Worlds movie, – a large glass module that looks like a giant eye that extends from a long steel arm. It rotates 360 degrees for fabulous views a it climbs and descends out over the ship. Also tech-centered is the Bionic Bar. Named “Shaken” and “Stir” robots actually make your cocktail of choice once you order it from an iPad. Very fun. But it does take a long time and is more a novelty than a real service. However, they have no dearth of real well-trained human bartenders at their dozens of bars. In fact, I took a very good classic cocktail making class from one of them. He is an award-winning mixologist whose East Indian name “Shekhar” ironically is pronounced “shaker” in English. We learned the finer art of making classic martinis, and then he made us some of his award-wining concoctions which were very interesting, I especially liked one he made using lavender liqueur. I also had a chance to visit the control room and witness a lot of their eco-friendly practices behind the scenes, and must I was impressed with their efforts.
Over half of the 2,090 cabins have decks, and the ones that don’t, benefit from an interesting new feature- a virtual ocean view including optional sound. And across the board, they were very flexible to accommodate groups and families with modular interlocking cabins that could be accessed from within rather than from the hallways like adjoining rooms in hotels. They also have some seriously deluxe split-level suites with full dining rooms, glass walls and even private hot tubs on the deck.
Over the Top Activities
Who would have though you could learn to sky dive on a ship? But you can! A wind tunnel on board allows you to stimulate the skydiving experience. And you can also roller blade, drive bumper cars, and even take a circus school trapeze class at their versatile space the SeaPlexSM . They also offer a wave surfing pool, and plenty of swimming pools and hot tubs on deck, and a lovely Solarium- a tiered water circuit of pools and whirlpools in a massive glassed-in complex ideal for watching the waves go by without the wind. Other amenities include a spa, a casino and a forward thinking high tech entertainment like virtual concerts with video projection, robotics and human elements at Two70. Also Vegas style revues like their current “We Will Rock You” musical also attests to the fact they are out to attract a younger cruising set. And though there is a shuffleboard court, it is looped by a running track, and for those seeking to keep in shape while on holiday there is also a state-of-the-art fitness center powered by Technogym®.
Dining & Drinking
Of course, they had quality cafes with great baristas and equipment to caffeinate the millennials, but they also have formal fine dining rooms and some very creative restaurants like Wonderland that looks like you went down the rabbit hole. In all, there are eighteen places to eat and many bars and snack spots, so going hungry or thirsty is never an issue. And their new concept called Dynamic Dining® gives one the freedom to pick and choose the restaurants and dining times instead of being stuck with a seating schedule.
My overall impression was that this ship- though it would still be good for families- is really out to appeal to the next generation of potential cruise passengers who are seeking a well-wired, exciting and more eclectic type of holiday on the seas than their parents and grandparents have experienced. But only time will tell if they succeed in attracting them.
Click on cover to view published article