The assignment was an easy one: board Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Anthem of the Seas, sample its food, entertainment, and other amenities, and report back on it.
It began on a high note, as I tested the company’s promise that preregistering online would mean less than a 10-minute check-in and boarding. Promised and delivered.
Arriving at my stateroom, waiting for me was my Royal Caribbean RFID (radio frequency identification) “WOWband,” an easy way to do just about any business on the ship, just by scanning the plastic wristwatch-like band. Making and changing plans? Check. Paying for purchases? Check. Tracking luggage? Check.
Along with the SeaPass card and room key, I was set for all identification situations and purchases during my voyage.
While on board, you can also download the Royal iQ application, to make changes to your itinerary electronically, and a host of other functions.
A highpoint of the cruise – even before it left port – was the “Anchored in America” celebration in the ship’s Royal Theater. The ceremony was held to officially link Anthem of the Seas with its new home port of Bayonne by dropping anchor here.
Many of the company’s upper management attended, including Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.; Michael Bayley, president and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean International, and Claus Andersen, Anthem of the Seas captain.
The event began with local flair as the Pipe & Drums of the Emerald Society of the Jersey City Firefighters, kicked off the show.
Flown in from England was Emma Wilby, Anthem “Godmother,” who helped christen the ship in Southampton, England, in the spring, when it began its service on Mediterranean cruises.
Also attending was Bayonne Mayor James Davis, who pointed out that Bayonne was the site of the only cruise port in New Jersey. The mayor spoke about Bayonne’s great relationship with Royal Caribbean and pledged to invest in the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor the way the cruise line had, most recently with its $55 million terminal a year ago. The mayor promised to take the mostly barren stretch leading up to the cruise port and make it something significant over the next 10 years or so.
After speeches by others gathered, the ship dropped anchor, a moment caught on camera and televised.
I enjoyed many good meals, including those at American Icon, featuring traditional U.S. entrees, and Chic, offering contemporary cuisine.
Anthem of the Seas does away with the traditional grand dining rooms, instead offering what it calls “dynamic dining,” specialty restaurants, with five full-service complimentary restaurants.
Entertainment options included the “We Will Rock You” musical and comedians at the ship theater, the Spectra Cabaret at the Two70, the 270-degree special effects and entertainment center, and bands at the Music Box.
I tried the bumper cars at the SeaPlex sports center and watched the Royal Caribbean president and chief operating officer take on all comers in a table tennis challenge.
Also available for sports enthusiasts were the FlowRider surfing and RipCord skydiving simulations. And of course there was the rock climbing wall for which Royal Caribbean cruises are known.
After nearly two full days on a cruise to nowhere, it was time to disembark, which proved efficient and easy.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.