Author: Ralph Spielman
It's winter, and while everyone from Scottsdale, Arizona to St. John's, Newfoundland yearns for spring just a few months away, I have discovered the ultimate weather-proof getaway.
A most wonderful temporary panacea to the malaise that most of us deal with during the northern hemisphere’s darkest nights and shorter days is part practical, part fantasy, offering an adventure for everyone. And, unlike most all-inclusive resorts, theme parks, grand resorts, or world cities, this one moves.
I am referring to Anthem of the Seas, the second of Royal Caribbean's Quantum Class vessels.
One Vacation Where Size Doesn't Matter
The statistics for this ship defy rational thought. Think of something weighing almost 170,000 tons, 136 feet wide and over 1,100 feet long, with 18 decks, and almost 2,100 staterooms, carrying almost 5,000 people.
This does not sound like anything that you would consider for a vacation, does it? After partaking of a two-day press cruise in mid-November, we are happy to dispel any notions that Anthem of the Seas is too large to enjoy. While its huge size might be off-putting at the onset, this ship is a game-changer for the whole family. There is, indeed, something for everyone, regardless of the weather outside.
Kyle McCarthy's story, "A Quantum Leap in Cruising from Royal Caribbean" about sister ship Quantum of the Seas outlined many elements that also comprise Anthem Of The Seas. There are a few subtle differences, however, both in the public areas and with some decorative elements on the top decks.
Activities At Sea For All Ages And Interests
Having travelled on other ships of other lines, this was my first experience with Royal Caribbean. The family-friendly activities abound for all ages, with the Adventure Ocean Club for 6 months to pre-teens, and age appropriate activities for 12 to 17-year-olds.
Are your teens hoping for something out of the ordinary afloat? Something unusual? Well.....
Seaplex is where there are bumper cars, certainly a new twist on a cruise ship, and a great place to work out any cruise-related frustrations (which, don't really exist..) and practice "safe" driving skills. In a unique switch, these cars are battery powered, so there are no electrical pickups from an ungainly crosshatching of electrical connections on the top of the cage. The bumper car track is also used as a basketball court, a roller rink and a few other activities. A very impressive space on land, even more so on the water.
North Star, the mating of a construction crane with a glass bubble from a cable car ride, takes you 300 feet above sea level on a 270 degree spin around. The thrill of being above your ship while in the ocean is certainly one of the most unusual rides you can take. Sight lines are 360 degrees around from inside the bubble, which holds 14 people. If you are approaching age 10 or 100, it is most assuredly a “don't miss” on your cruise.
Flow Rider is a surf simulator that will have you “Hanging 10,” after taking surfing lessons on a dedicated top deck wave pool. And, if your charges are climbing the walls, they can really do it on the rock climbing wall, near the Flow Rider. Then, there is RipCord Parachute by iFLY which enables you to feel what it’s like to have one of the ultimate air- to- ground-to-sea experiences.
Family Friendly Perks Are Mostly Free, Too!
The rides are free, and fairly family-friendly with a few restrictions. The North Star has a weight limit of 300 pounds for an individual. The bumper cars require that passengers be 5 years old, and at least 3 ½-feet-tall to drive. For surfing on the Flow Rider, you need to be 52 inches tall to use a body board, and 6 inches taller to use the flow board. Rock climbing children must be at least 6 years, and climb with a parent or guardian. The RipCord Parachute has a few more stringent requirements, but children at least 3 may participate, and there is no upper age limit.
Your teens will absolutely love these different options. While the ship is traveling between ports, no one, especially the middle school and high school crowd will be bored; board games are far from the only amusements for long days and nights.
Additionally, the complimentary service VOOM provides the fastest internet service at sea.
While some of the entertainment and adventure options are more fun in good weather, the indoor pool complex will certainly keep everyone active and energetic. Gloom is not a port of call for this floating city.
Are the picky eaters in your family group? Anthem has 18 choices for dining, from hot dogs and hamburgers to fine dining, along with six signature restaurants ranging from sushi to Italian food. Having sampled the choices, it was great to see that there is a huge range catering to all manners of eaters: vegetarian, vegan, kosher, gluten free, low fat, and everything else.
My favorite? SeaPlex Dog House, although, they did not have a vegetarian dog on the menu....
This is a ship to be talked about -- a floating resort that moves to the Caribbean, Bermuda, Canada and New England from its home port in Bayonne, NJ, convenient to the New York metropolitan area. Please contact Royal Caribbean at 800/256-6649 , through your travel agent, or look online at RoyalCaribbean.com to start the process of exceeding all expectations.