Cruising from New York to New England and Canada wouldn’t automatically be top of my cruising list but I want to talk about why it really should be.
When I think of north-east America, I conjure pictures the classic autumnal scenes with the landscapes and trees dramatically changing colour from green to a host of vibrant colours and hues.
I was genuinely surprised by how awesome this trip turned out to be. It honestly has something for everyone, from exploring world-famous cities, to learning about the history of the USA, getting out into some beautiful nature and being enriched by culture. You don’t even have to look far to experience all this.
I travelled on board Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas and it’s the perfect match for this itinerary. On this trip we left New York and sailed up to Boston, Massachusetts, then to Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine and finally to Halifax and St John, Nova Scotia. So, let me tell you why I think this should be right at the top of your cruise list.
The Anthem of New York
I’ve sailed on Anthem of the Seas before when she was in the UK in 2015 and have always been a big fan of the Quantum Class of ships (… in fact I got engaged on one!). Some of the biggest ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, they are chock-full of things to do and see – perfect for someone like myself who likes to keep busy.
Whether you are a single traveller, a couple or a family you are spoilt for choice with what’s on board. Anthem has a very contemporary and comfortable feel, with chic venues and spaces that never feel overly busy. Whether this is the unique Two70 lounge, where in the day you can sit and watch the world go by reading a good book, to enjoying a good cocktail during sunset or experience the incredible technology that makes this a world-class theatre venue – including six Roboscreens that perform for guests or the Vistarama, which transforms the huge windows of Two70 into a 12K experience. Music Hall is another fun venue found on board and one of my favourites. It is a moody music venue that has live music, dancing and parties that go on late every night.
For those wanting to be more active head to SeaPlex. This multi-functional venue hosts a variety of activities throughout the day – from ball games, to bumper cars, to a circus school and at night it can become a disco complete with floating DJ booth. It is here you’ll also find the other outdoor activities on board, whether that be surfing on the flow rider, rock climbing or unique to the Quantum Class – skydiving in Ripcord by iFly. If you find yourself on a Quantum ship you must try out the sky diving, it’s insanely fun.
Royal Caribbean prides itself on its activities. Whether you’re a kid or kid at heart, the ship is full of things to keep you busy at all times of the day. In addition to the fun to be had in SeaPlex, you’ll find game shows, trivia and other activities taking place across the ship. Why not take to the skies on North Star, a London Eye inspired capsule that soars 300ft above the sea offering 360-degree views around the ship. It’s a really unique experience and a must on board.
Anthem is an all-weather ship, making her suited to a northern itinerary like this. A majority of her activities take place inside so no matter the weather it won’t affect your days activities. Whether this be the two indoor pools, the multi-functional SeaPlex, shopping through the indoor Royal Esplanade or enjoying watching the world go by in Two70. Having said that, on our cruise the weather was wonderful, so we spent much of our time outside at the outdoor pool, bars and other areas.
If you’re a fan of West End shows this is the place to be. First up we have We Will Rock You, the classic jukebox musical based on the songs of British rock band Queen. Or if you fancy something more eclectic why not watch Spectra’s Cabaret. This show takes place in Two70. This original production takes the audience on “an eclectic multi-dimensional cabaret” with singing, dancing, robots and much more. It’s really worth watching.
If food is your thing you won’t be disappointed. Anthem features a variety of dining options from gorgeous Italian food at Jamie’s Italian (ask for the anti-pasti plank!), steak at Chops Grille, sushi at Izumi or head down the rabbit hole for culinary adventure at Wonderland, a post-modern style of cooking and categorized by theme rather than course. If you enjoy a good cocktail there are plenty of great bars on board, one of my favourites has to be Boleros, a fun bar where you can enjoy a great mojito and listen to live latin music. Music Hall is also a great venue to watch live music in the evening, enjoy a cocktail or two and dance the night away.
The city so good they named it twice – New York, New York
I’ve sailed from New York a number of times and it’s a great place to start or end a cruise – not to mention just visit in its own right. There’s so much to see and do, why not arrive ahead of time (or after) and spend a few days experiencing the city. Take in a show on Broadway, experience some of the great food to be found (oh … and the pizza!) and visit the sights and sounds of the city – Central Park, Fifth Avenue, Times Square – they’re all a must. With so much to see and do it can be a little daunting at times, so here’s a few top tips from my experiences over the years.
There are hotels for every taste, budget and location in New York. One of my favourites is the Yotel, found in Hell’s Kitchen between Times Square and the main New York cruise port on the River Hudson. It’s perfectly situated to access the hustle and bustle around Fifth Avenue and Times Square, but far enough way to not be too manic. I also really love Hell’s Kitchen, it’s constantly changing and evolving, with shops, restaurants and things to do around every corner. I’ve stayed in a variety of rooms and they’re all quirky and fun, with amazing views over the city and the Hudson. Take a look here for more information.
Getting about and things to do
The Subway can be a little confusing at times, but it is a great way to get about the city. Apps like City Mapper are invaluable to help to get your bearings. Walking is also a great way to see the city, if you have the time. I’ve learnt more about New York and discovered more things through walking the streets and experiencing things face-to-face.
A must is the High Line. This aerial park takes you from Hell’s Kitchen to the Meatpacking District, via Chelsea (see some comparison pics below in both Summer and Winter). This linear space was once a New York railway spur and is lovely to stroll and take in the beauty of this reclaimed industrial area. With lots of space to sit, enjoy pop-up performances, or head back into the hustle and bustle of the city, it is a real gem of New York (so much so it has been copied across the world). Did you know that five million people visit it annually? It perhaps goes without saying, but Central Park is also perfect for walking and spending time, whatever the time of year.
Another picture-perfect area to visit by foot is the Brooklyn Bridge. In fact, walking across and visiting Brooklyn should be on your list of things to do – make sure you make a stop at various parklets around the bridge, including the famous Jane’s Carousel. While you’re in the area why not visit the World Trade Center and pay your respects to those who passed away during the terrible attacks in 2001 and learn about the history of the area. One World Trade Center also has a great observation deck, affording the highest views in New York. It also a features a restaurant if you want to enjoy lunch or dinner with a view (though booking is definitely recommended!).
Speaking of food, one reason I love New York is all the food and drink on offer. Representative of the multi-cultural nature of the city, you can literally find any type of cuisine or fusion you can think of. Hell’s Kitchen is a hot pot of different foods and cuisines, which is one reason I like it so much. There are literally too many places to talk about in this post, but in my most recent visit I visited a place that specialised in just meatballs, visited Little Korea, enjoyed some of the best Thai and had one of the best bottomless brunches (click the links above to read more). It’s making my mouth water just thinking about it.
If you’re a bit of a geek (like me), then a visit to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is another must. This is situated next to the main Manhattan Cruise Terminal. The museum is in fact an aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid, which features a number of exhibits, including the ship itself, a British Airways Concorde, various static aircraft, a submarine and most notably the Enterprise Space Shuttle. It’s a great place to visit.
You cannot visit New York and take part in some shopping … even if it’s just window shopping! You really are spoilt for choice in New York. Take a trip down Fifth Avenue and revisit many of the scenes in countless films – take a trip to Tiffany’s or mooch through the various shops and boutiques. Make sure you visit places like the Rockefeller Center, which is always buzzing with activity and events, particularly at Christmas with its famous Christmas Tree and ice-skating rink.
One our last trip we only had 3 days to enjoy the city. Take a look at my Instagram story to see more about what we got up to. Leaving New York, we headed to Cape Liberty Cruise Port I New Jersey to joined the beautiful Anthem of the Seas to start out adventure to Boston, Maine and Nova Scotia, Canada.