Anthem of the Seas Entertainment and Activities

I was a little disappointed with the entertainment and activities on board the Anthem. There weren’t many Activities, for the round or the old going on throughout the day. I think what they try to do on this ship is basically make the boat your entertainment.

Now what I mean is this… on the ship you have the North Star, which I had a time for but unfortunately the day at Seas we had the time for it was rainy, breezy, and the water was rough so the NorthStar was not running unfortunately. You also have the IFly which is the virtual skydiving, you have bumper cars, roller skating and the trapeze/circus act training. Problem is with all of those they only run for a certain amount of time and will only take a certain amount of passengers. So with 4700 passengers on board these can get crowded and lines form early, there usually is a pretty good chance you don’t get to enjoy any of these unless you get there real early and wait. Me personally I don’t feel like waiting in line on my vacation, I do enough of that in  Disney.

So there weren’t a lot of games, activities being done brought it the day really. I get that you really couldn’t do pool games because it was cold or the weather wasn’t great. But other than sales on the Esplanade or shopping seminars and the occasional trivia, your activities were what I mentioned before, or go to the indoor pool, or hit the bar. I hit the casino a few times and played some blackjack, played a slot machine here or there. Here is a great tip: if you go to the casino and are a slot player, go first day it’s opened and play early, they ship will set it up for looser slots early on in the cruise so they can tell you in your daily planner how much people are winning, then they tighten up later.

For the kids, I have 2 4 year olds and they loved the kids club the Adventure Club. Kids were always asking to go which was fine with the wife and I.  The really were good with the kids and they always had activities and games planned out for the day. Kids loved it, which I was really surprised since I figured they would want to stay with us most of the time.

As for nightly entertainment, this was poor. We went to watch their show We Will Rock You and left after 15 minutes, and we were not the only ones. But, from what everyone says the show gets better as it goes on but we just didn’t have time for it and left. The other show Spectra was decent, can’t really describe it but it was technologically impressive. The comedians were so soand the headliner who was a female vocal impressionist was very good, heard people say she was the best show they have seen on board a cruise ship.

On deck 3 and 4 you have the Music Hall, they would play Karaoke,have live music and dancing, if you go to the bar on deck 4 it was one of the more less crowded areas on the ship which was welcoming. The bar usually was not crowded and it was relaxing. There were a few pool tables there also which were never crowded if you felt like having a drink and shooting some pool.

The Bionic bar on deck 5 was neat, basically you have a couple of robotic arms make your drink you order on a tablet. It was fun watching the robots make the drinks, though there were a few complaints of the drink either made wrong or the drink itself was not the right one.

There was live music in the pub on board, never went in to listen but it seemed crowded and it was the normal jovial sounds you would hear out of a pub.

All together the entertainment and activities were poor, the shows were not good overall and activities lacking, out of 5 stars I’d give the Anthem 2 stars… look out next for my Ports of Call review

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Anthem of the Seas: Main dining room Review

On the Anthem of the Seas there are 4 main dining rooms which are no charge restaurants, American Icon, Silk, Grande, and Chic. American Icon and Silk are the main dining rooms for those on My Time Dining. Chic and Grande are reserved for those who have their set seating times. In our case, with small children we decided on My time Dining.

It seemed like we rotated between the 2 My time dining rooms throughout the week. The American Icon room was for those who made reservations for dinner, and Silk was reserved for walk ups. The first night we made a reservation for dinner, but the rest of the week we walked up and really never had a problem or much of a wait for a table.

All of the dining rooms share the same menu, so you are not missing out on an item if you go to one dining room and not the other. The menu consists of starters or appetizers, entrees and then your desserts. Each category had a “classics” option to choose from which is available every night of the cruise. Starters under classics were things like shrimp cocktail, which I ordered most nights and was pretty good. You got 4 medium sized shrimp and the waiter poured cocktail sauce over them. Personally, I liked it. Also there was French onion soup which I ordered most might also. For some reason I just felt like soup and the onion soup was good. It’s nothing gourmet but it was almost like a comfort soup for me. Also the had Escargot, which I only ordered one night and that was all I needed. It wasn’t very good to me, even though other people that ordered them said they were good. Maybe it was just me? Also on the classics menu was a house salad, fruit salad and Caesar salad which I never ordered… comon I’m on a cruise, I don’t have room for salads!!!

The only time I ordered from the changing starters menu was the crab cake, which to me was the best starter of the week. It was very good, tasty, and light. It could have had more meat in it, but that wasn’t as big of a deal. My big tip though? Order 2 of them since they are very good but on the smallish side.

There was a soup every night, the Lobster Bisque and Mushroom soup were very good, the other soups really didn’t catch my interest. None of the other starters really caught my eye, there were Asian pork egg rolls, a duck dish, some seafood ones, but none sounded or looked appetizing. For the most part I was happy with my shrimp cocktail and soup.

Now for kids, they had pasta, pizza, chicken fingers, mac and cheese, really standard kids menu items. The pizza was just flat out bad, but the pasta was really very good. My children ordered pasta marinara every night and loved it. I tried it and it was very good. Actually on board every pasta dish I had was very good.

Ok as for entrees, the “classics” were roasted chicken, Salmon or fish of the day,  pasta bolognese, or a steak. Not once did I order from this menu. The rotating menu was usually good enough. My only problem with the Dining room was that you had a night or 2 where there really wasn’t much to choose from. Actually one night we went to the buffet for dinner because there was nothing we would get on the menu. But, you had 2 nights where we had a tough decision because I literally could have picked 4 dishes. It would have been nice if they staggered some of the “prime” dishes for entrees instead of stacking some nights. Entrees that stood out to me were chicken Marsala, seafood linguine, and lobster tail and Prime Rib. I really didn’t get an entree I didn’t like. I normally don’t like lobster but the tail was excellent. Prime rib for me was good, but it seemed like it could be hit or miss with my traveling party. Other choices throughout the week included tack of lamb, shrimp scampi, eggplant and chicken parm, pretty much a different steak or beef every night. Like I said only thing wrong was 2 night I had a real tough decision to make ordering, but one night there was nothing pretty much any of us would order.

Desserts were good, there were three changing desserts and the rest classics. The hazelnut chocolate cake was good. The description is deceiving since it was pretty much a chocolate lava cake. Key lime pie was a big hit on the night they had it, and the cheesecake was a hit from the classics. They also had an artisan cheese plate that no one decided to try, and a choice of vanilla, chocolate or strawberry ice cream which the kids loved.

Basically I give the dining room food and experience 4 stars out of 5. Food was good, service was good. I have had better service and food on other ships but I have also had much worse. Other than that one night with the poor menu I thought the dining room food and experience was good/very good.

Anthem of the Seas Dining Review: The Windjammer

When I go on a cruise the main thing I look for is the food on board. The Anthem of the Seas definitely did not lack in the amount of choices and variety to choose from. Now since my whole point of this blog is to help you same money on your vacation, I will not be reviewing the for pay Restaurant and eateries on board the Anthem. I will give them a quick description but since I did not eat at any of them I cannot give my opinion on them.

First thing I’ll talk about is the Windjammer, which is the buffet located on deck 14. The decor is a modern one, which is the main theme throughout the ship.  The buffet is enclosed and there is a crew member waiting for you before you walk in urging you to wash your hands before entering. The buffet gets VERY crowded. There are roughly 4700 passengers on this ship, and one thing I didn’t like is the lack of dining space in the Windjammer. I say this but I will admit we were always able to find a table for my party of 6, sometimes we had to find one all the way in the back, but we found one. Now we always went to breakfast early so we didn’t go at peak busy time which is around 9am. Also because you have such a crowded space, you have the Windjammer head chef making announcements every 15 minutes or so basically telling you when you are done please leave. I didn’t like feeling rushed to eat because their dining areas were not big enough for the traffic in the buffet.

Ok to the food. Breakfast had your usual favorites, French toast, pancakes and waffles made fresh. You had bacon, sausage, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, which the biscuits were stiff and crumbly which disappointed me greatly. There were 2 stations where a crew member was making omelets to order which I never tried since I didn’t want to wait. The fruit on the buffet was great. I love pineapple, and they had very good pineapple. There were also yogurts, oatmeal, grits, cereals, and chocolate milk for the kids. The food was good, not spectacular but good.

Lunch in the Windjammer was good, not great but good. Food was always warm and to me it didn’t seem like food was sitting for a long time out. Lunch had hamburgers, hot dogs and fries, but also had other good eats such as roasted chicken, rice, a carving station with either roast beef or Ham. There was a pasta station where pasta dishes were made to order which was very good, and a Pan Asian section which didn’t look very good. Had some very Unique dishes which I had no urge to try. Again there was very good fruit and salad bar area, decent soups that changed every day. There was a lot to choose from and many things I did not attempt to try mainly because I just didn’t feel like waiting in a line to get what you wanted (sensing a theme?).

They had a different theme each night for the dinner buffet. I only went to the dinner buffet 2 nights, Italian night on Halloween because we would have missed trick or treating on the ship if we did the dining room, and Tex Mex night because one of the kids were sick and we had to take turns going to dinner. The Tex Mex night was the best meal I had on board the Anthem, it was amazing. They had tacos, burritos, the usual Tex Mex stuff, chili, beans, etc. Also they had BBQ pork ribs which were decent, BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes which were honestly one of the best items I had all week.  Ok, on the Tex Mex buffet they were making fresh tortilla chips which were the best tortilla chips I have ever had. I got a full plate of them, poured the hot cheese sauce on them, got some chili, refried beans, diced tomatoes, green onions and jalapeños and had some of the best nachos.

The Windjammer experience was good, slightly above average, the layout of the buffet could be better, the ketchup was located no where near the hamburgers, hot dogs and fries were. It’s a small thing but it’s the little things that make a difference. The big issue with the Windjammer is how crowded it was and it not being fully equipped to handle the crowds. On a scale of 1 star which is horrible and 5 stars which is fantastic I give it 3.5 stars. Food and quality were ok/ good but the crowded atmosphere bring it down a half star from a 4 to a 3.5.

My next post will be on the main dining room on board the ship.

Updated Cruise Itinerary Info regarding damage from Hurricane Irma

Cruise Itineraries are still very much in flux for Eastern Caribbean sailings. But things are starting to get much clearer at some destinations for when ships will begin sailing to them. Here is a summary of info from the major cruise lines about changes and updates.

It seems St Thomas is ready to accept ships into port and most seem to be starting up around November 10th. From all accounts most restaurants and shops are up and running and everyone has power, so that is a very good thing and a quick recovery.

I have seen a few different dates with St. Maarten, some say they will start to head back November 11, and I have seen November 23. But the consensus is St. Maarten will be 100%  taking in ships by December 1st.

It’s miraculous the recovery at all these islands, including Key West. I have seen from the cruise line sites that they expect ships to resume travels to Key West by November 4th.

If you have cruises planned in the near future please check with the cruise lines or your cruise agent about any updates to your itinerary, but it seems sailing could be back to normal in the near future.