top of page

ON THE CASE: Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas...Smooth Sailing or Rough Seas?

2016 has been a tough year for Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, one of three Quantum Class ships. We aren’t even three months in and the ship has made national news for a turbulent 10-hour dance with a tropical storm, followed up by a norovirus outbreak. All of this on top of pedestrian reviews since the Anthem launched in 2015. I decided to investigate for myself and find what’s working and what’s not.


This is the most beautiful cruise ship I've been on. The artwork and décor are stunning. The public spaces are intriguing. The design and comfort of the staterooms are perfect. It has the feel of a Las Vegas hotel at sea.

This has its plusses and minuses though as the Anthem felt like a hotel and lacked the warmth and friendliness that the regular cruise-goer expects. This could be the result of a difficult last few weeks the ship and crew had prior to my cruise, but after analyzing reviews for months, the comments on this topic have been consistent.



VOOM INTERNET - By far the fastest and best internet access at Sea. Had no issues the entire cruise and I thought the pricing was reasonable for the quality.

ROYAL iQ APP – Once downloaded and connected to the ship’s VOOM internet, you can review your statement at anytime, make dinner reservations, see the daily listing of all the days activities, etc.

EMBARKATION – The fastest boarding time of any cruise I’ve taken. As long as you follow the online check-in procedures in advance to your cruise date, you can enter the facility and walk onto the ship in 10-15 minutes tops.

Innovative Venues

SEAPLEX – A two-floor sports zone that throughout the day morphs into a roller rink, bumper cars, circus school, and sports courts. It also houses many activity rooms including foosball, ping-pong, air hockey, x-box, and an arcade. Connected to the Seaplex are the popular FlowRider, rock climbing wall and iFly attractions.

SOLARIUM – A tranquil indoor adult-only oasis. While these have become standard on most large and mega cruise ships, this one is the nicest I’ve seen. They also added a quaint sit-down bistro, which was a nice alternative than the large Windjammer buffet.

BIONIC BAR – Place your order on a tablet screen, then watch one of two robots make your drink. One can’t help stopping to watch every single time you walk by.


GREAT ENTERTAINMENT – The entertainment options were plentiful and high quality. The ship was awake and engaged well into the night. The fact that all entertainment is free, including the full Broadway show performed, continues to make cruising a great value.

MUSIC LIVE – A two-floor live music complex with bars, dance floor and tribute bands that rock out the night. A much more effective use of space than the traditional lounges on most cruise ships with DJs.


Customer Service

Moderately attentive, rarely proactive, it felt the whole time that the cruise staff was just trying to keep up. Nowhere was this more evident than the bars, which were understaffed at peak times. Again, it felt more like you were at a hotel because there is usually more of a warm and friendly nature of cruise staffs.

Dining Dysfunction

If you are a foodie, you will enjoy all of the eclectic dining options that are available. If you are not a foodie or want the traditional dining room experience, you will probably be turned off. This has been the loudest criticism of the Anthem, as traditional cruisers don’t like the “come and go” nature and lack of rapport with the wait staff.

Poor Marketing and Wrong Expectations

Royal Caribbean is a trendsetter in the industry, but this time they may have misread the acceptance of change of their loyal cruise base. Many of the poor reviews have come from them and they boarded the Anthem with the wrong expectations. They should be marketing a new experience, not just a new ship.


The adage is that the larger the cruise ship, the less you feel the movement. I’ve been on many cruises and was expecting a smoother ride since the seas were relatively calm. I was fine with it, but I wouldn’t be able to recommend this ship to people who have issues with motion sickness.


Yes. If you go in with the right expectations the Anthem can provide a great vacation experience. As I move forward as a travel advisor/agent I will be cautious though in how I advise people with the following thoughts in mind:

  • I’ll only recommend this ship for those aged 25-45. The food, entertainment, technology, and “go it your own” hotel experience is not working for the older/traditional cruise-goer. If traveling with a multi-generational family, then it would be fine as there is something for everyone on this ship. If a couple aged 50+ want a nice getaway, there are other ships that I would recommend.

  • The prices may look expensive, but if you can get a 9-Day cruise on the Anthem for $300/day (double occupancy), it's a great value. This includes your cabin, food, some non-alcoholic beverages, entertainment, and most activities. You can’t even get a room at a popular resort for $300/day!

  • This ship maxes out at 4,180 passengers. Days at sea can be very busy. I’d recommend that you live as off-peak as much as possible for maximum enjoyment and get to things early. I noticed for example that the lines for breakfast at 8:30am were much shorter or no lines at all than if you went at 9:30am. Want to spend a few hours in the Solarium? Much easier to get a chair at 3:00pm than 10:00am, so maybe book that spa appointment in the late morning.

  • Plan as much as you can in advance. Once you’ve paid for your cruise you’ll have access to book your entertainment, excursions, dining, and some on-ship activities. Many were filled up before embarkation.

  • As I always advise, never book a cruise without a travel agent. They know these ships and the experiences people are having much more than a cruise line representative sitting in a building somewhere. They also are not going to give you the full story, just talking points.

The Anthem is a beautiful ship that is still finding itself. It's a great venue for a couple, family, or group of friends that want to get away. Go into it with the right expectations and you will have a great time. For more information or if you have any questions, please contact me at!

Royal Esplanade

Balcony Stateroom

Balcony Stateroom

Bionic Bar

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Travel Agent Blog
bottom of page