My First Cruise Experience

I was fortunate to be invited to spend 2 nights onboard Anthem of the Seas in a Trade Only simulation cruise which took place on Sunday 4th July 2021, I was also able to bring a plus one with me so decided to bring one of my close friends along as our previous plans for a holiday abroad had been impacted due to Covid.

It might have only been a 2 night sailing, but it was long enough to leave you wanting to return again in the future. Here I tell you about my experiences on board Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas.

Pre Cruise Activities

From receiving the booking confirmation to being greeted onboard by the friendly crew we were kept well informed of everything we needed to do to prepare for our cruise. My advice would be to download the Royal Caribbean App and complete the information that it will allow you to enter ahead of your cruise about you and your party (your party members can complete their information separately), you can complete the required information for your profile, including uploading of your picture, passport / ID details, credit / debit card details for any purchases you make onboard, as well as booking your wellness check timeslot ahead of your embarkation to the ship. 

All guests are required to be double vaccinated (with the exception of children, who must show a negative PCR result) and show proof of a negative PCR test. Royal Caribbean have partnered with Eurofins to perform these tests which are included in the cost of your cruise. Approximately 10 days before your departure, each guest will receive an email from Royal Caribbean inviting you to book your tests. Some of the test centres available may not be near to your home town / city, but you do also have the option to pay for testing yourself, this will then be reimbursed (up to $100 per test) as onboard credit to your account.

If you do use the Eurofins service, there were issues with some of the test results not being available in time, Royal Caribbean did their best to update us about this and assured us that had the results not come, there would be a contingency at the port for another Rapid Antigen test to be completed.

The day before your cruise, you will also be asked to complete a health questionnaire, these questions are to confirm if you have been in contact with anyone who has tested positive or you’ve had symptoms of Covid, as well as a few other questions about gastrointestinal symptoms.

The Day of your Cruise

On the day of your cruise, you should arrive at the port shortly before your wellness check in time. You will be greeted by port authority personnel as well as Royal Caribbean crew, you’ll be directed to security where your bags will be scanned and you’ll walk through a body scanner (same as you would at an airport) and then proceed to the check in area, here you will be asked for your proof of double vaccination, this can be in letter form or via the NHS App. You will also be asked to show proof of your negative test, show your passport and the information registered via the app will be verified. You’ll then be issued with your Set Sail Pass (or use the one within the App) and can make your way to the ship.

Your Set Sail Pass will allow you entry onto the ship and verified with the security team onboard, from here you will be greeted by many crew and have a photo opportunity, after this I would suggest heading to your stateroom as your SeaPass cards will be located outside of your cabin door, these are required for any purchases you wish to make onboard as well as allowing entry into venues and restaurants.

Our stateroom was a Balcony Cabin, with a double bed, separate sofa area and balcony with 2 chairs and a table. There was ample storage space, adequate sized bathroom with toiletries (perfect for all your needs), tea and coffee making facilities, mini fridge, safety deposit, face masks and hand sanitizer. Everything you need for an enjoyable and relaxing stay and if you don’t feel like venturing out of your cabin you can even enjoy room service.

Royal Caribbean have introduced a few changes to their usual health and safety briefings, you will be required to watch the mandatory health and safety briefings via the Royal Caribbean App, this includes information about the emergency evacuation procedures, the sound of the alarm and where to collect life jackets and how to correctly place them on your body. Once onboard you will also need to physically go to your muster point where your SeaPass will be scanned to confirm attendance and a sticker placed on your card to ensure crew know you are familiar with the emergency procedures.

Once you have completed all the mandatory health and safety requirements your free to go and encounter all of the facilities that are onboard, be warned this could take a couple of days. Some highlights of our trip include:

  • We Will Rock You – West End Performance, a must see.
  • Spectra’s Cabaret – Music and Light performance
  • Schooners Bar – Live entertainment by Dan – Brilliant solo artist/pianist
  • Bionic Bar – Cocktails Shaken and Stirred to perfection by a robotic arm
  • FlowRider – Surf Simulator
  • iFly by Rip Cord – Sky Diving Simulator
  • Rock Climbing Wall – suitable for all levels of ability and no previous experience is needed
  • SeaPlex Area – Bumper Cars, Xbox, Roller Skating & more
  • North Star – Observation capsule offering 360 degree views 300ft above sea level
  • Poolside – For those days where the weather is a little cooler, go indoors to the Adults Only solarium or the child friendly indoor pool.
  • Chops Grille (Signature Steakhouse) – Speciality Dining Restaurant – There is an additional charge for this restaurant, but in my opinion it is definitely worth it, it is without doubt the best steak I have ever eaten, cooked to perfection and the selection of side dishes and sauces to accompany it were all beautiful. There is also a good selection of starters and desserts, personal recommendations from our party were Belly Pork, Crab Cake & Lobster Bisque for starters, 16oz Ribeye or NY Steak for mains and the Key Lime Pie for dessert.

The service received from all the crew on board could not be faulted, they were just happy to be back doing what they love after 16 months of having no guests onboard and we were thankful to be onboard to witness it, there may have only been a fraction of the usual number of guests onboard but it just made it feel that extra special.

So for anyone who has never cruised before, I would urge you to think about it in the future, you definitely won’t be bored, you don’t feel much movement from the sea, you’ll get to witness different destinations on your time spent in port and you’ll receive 5 star treatment throughout.