I’m just off of a 3 night ‘Royal Experience’ cruise on the brand-new Anthem of the Seas. I was lucky enough to experience her sister, Quantum of the Seas, last year and I can safely say Anthem is the next evolution of the ‘Smart Ship’ concept. She takes all the innovative ideas first introduced on Quantum and runs with them with confidence – you can see it both within the use of technology, the space design and perhaps most importantly through the staff. This is no surprise as over half the crew on board Anthem have come straight from Quantum, some of which were on board from day one and having gained over 7 months experience and insight of these ships.
I really liked Quantum of the Seas, it is a fresh take on the Royal Caribbean product, so I have been watching eagerly to see how Anthem shapes up and she doesn’t disappoint, but honestly how do these ships really differ?
- For the most part they are identical with many of the industry firsts carried over to the new ship including iFly by Ripcord, Two70, Seaplex, an upgraded Bionic Bar by Makr Shakr and of course North Star, together with many of the old favourites Royal is known for. However, unlike Quantum, Anthem seems through and through more stable at sea – I noted in my blog on Quantum that she seemed quite unstable at times but Anthem is nothing like this, you can honestly not feel any form of movement most of the time.
- As you would expect, cabins on board are identical to Quantum’s, and that’s no bad thing. The cabin types introduced on Quantum of the Seas are immaculately designed, with a type to suit everyone’s budgets and needs. From the balcony single cabins, to interchangeable rooms for larger parties and families, to the return of the extravagant Loft Suites.
- Dynamic Dining makes a triumphant return on Anthem of the Seas. Dynamic Dining could easily be likened to Marmite in the past, with people either loving or hating the concept. I for one like it, choice is a very powerful thing so giving people that ability can only be a good thing in my opinion, however, on Quantum it came across a bit premature and didn’t always work fluidly. This has all been resolved on Anthem where the system really works very efficiently. The introduction of Dynamic Dining Classic has also been very welcomed by many, enabling people who prefer the traditional main dining style to dine at the same time each night, with the same wait staff and dining companions throughout the cruise.
- The art theme on board Anthem is also a continuation the theme from Quantum, however, the different art gives Anthem a character of her own. What makes life worth living? explores the universal themes of love, peace, joy and hope through multiple art forms across the ship. Of this most notable is Gigi the Giraffe (in the place of Felicia the magenta bear from Quantum), together with an interactive light installation called Pulse Spiral which crown’s the Royal Esplanade. This chandelier records your heartbeat and flashes 200 lightbulbs in time to it – it’s certainly worth a visit. Finally, Eve, a polished mirrored steel sculpture by Richard Hudson, is hard to miss, dominating the entrance to the Via.
- I felt the entertainment is just as good, if not better, on Anthem with the likes of We Will Rock You headlining the Royal Theatre. This will be accompanied by ‘The Gift’ in coming weeks. Furthermore, you can see how the confidence has grown with the use of technology and art within Two70. Spectra’s Cabaret very openly embraces technology as central part of the show, whereas I felt Starwater (on Quantum) was a much more subtle use of the technology.
- One notable difference is the lack of any Dreamworks characters on board – you’ll find no Shrek or Fiona looking for photo opportunities here. This is an interesting move for Royal given integration of the brand on Quantum, whether it be in the H2O zone or the pop-up shows on the Esplanade.
- Finally, continuing the theme of entertainment, Anthem introduces a number of other firsts for a ship. First up is the increased use of street theatre, most notably through the ‘stowaway’ piano player. The idea is there is a piano player with a special interactive piano that moves around the ship and performs for guests during the cruise but encourages guests to not report him – a must if you can find him! And then there is Puzzle Break Escape to the Future, the first shipboard escape room experience. The idea is that you are locked within a room and have an hour to solve clues in order to escape – A lot of fun!
Anthem is in the UK for the 2015 Summer/Autumn season and if you haven’t booked already I thoroughly recommend getting on board and experiencing all these things for yourself. She will then move to New York to take over from Quantum of the Seas.
More photos of Anthem and Quantum of the Seas can be found here on my Flickr.
(Images © Marcus Adams and Royal Caribbean)