Anthem of the Seas Postcard #8 – Southampton & Disembarking

Finally, on our last evening onboard we were treated to a beautiful seascape sunset. All cruise we have either been busy or wrong side of the ship or just not noticed one.

Our last evening, started with final evening meal in the MDR, followed by a trip to the Theatre Royal to see the stars of We Will Rock You perform a concert as themselves.

When we eventually got back to the cabin, we found the TV on and what looked like a towel anteater sat on the bed with the remote watching it. We have never seen this set up before and it did make us laugh.

So, to this morning and our return to Southampton. We arrived long before we were awake and I confess to not hearing a thing.

A quick breakfast in the MDR then back to the cabin to wait for our prompt to disembark. When we finally received it the whole process was over in less than 15 minutes and it seemed as if we had been instantly transported to the car. We stood looking up at the ship and reflected on the amazing week we had just enjoyed.

This has been a great experience, and we will probably never get the chance to experience a ship the size of this sailing at around 20% capacity. Hopefully you have enjoyed reading my nonsense ramblings and that I have given you an idea of how this ship and cruise line are dealing with the world post pandemic.

Another 5 weeks and we are off again on a 4 nighter on Regal Princess with a group of friends. I can’t wait!

Anthem of the Seas Postcard #7 – Sea Day 3

We went to another amazing show in the Theatre Royal last night, this time it was called Frankie and The Dreamers which is a Frankie Valli show performed by Ryan Molloy, star of the original West End Jersey Boys production. Backed by his three Dreamers , they put on an exceptional performance and had many on their feet at the end of the show. It was his first live performance since lockdown stopped the world in its tracks and his happiness at being back on stage was very evident.

When the fog came down yesterday afternoon, it never lifted and at various times throughout the night the ship’s fog horn sounded out every 2 minutes or so. We woke up to thick fog again this morning and because we were moving quite slow in a flat sea it was really quite eerie. Fortunately it all cleared just after 9:00 along with the foghorn. Nicole had her last yoga session while I went down to two70 to watch Captains Corner which was a Q&A with the Captain, Hotel Director and Cruise Director. It was really interesting with lots of very good questions being asked by some of the attendees.

For me it was also a great opportunity for a nice coffee before meeting up with Nicole for breakfast in the Windjammer. During breakfast we encountered another fog bank, which we soon sailed through but with plenty of sunshine following on behind. On arrival back at the cabin we found we had received our disembarkation times and luggage tags, ours being 16 which is an 8:30 slot and also the last to go. Cases will need to be out by 11:00pm and will be available for collection in the terminal when we get off in the morning. As part of the process, you are encouraged to watch channel 7 for additional information and also again on disembarkation day for notifications when to leave the cabin.

Once you have taken breakfast, you are to return to the cabin to await your turn to leave the ship. Back to today, after breakfast we returned to the cabin and the case’s were packed in preparation for putting out in the evening. One last lunch in the Windjammer, followed by a few laps of deck 15, eventually deciding to grab a couple of beds at the aft to see the afternoon out.

We have had some glorious weather for our last afternoon onboard Anthem of the Seas. Before we made our way back to the cabin, we decided to go to two70 and have a coffee and were very lucky to find a couple of seats looking out over the wake. Absolutely stunning views!!

The last day is always a bit of a weird one, while it’s great to still be onboard, getting off is only just around the corner.

Anthem of the Seas Postcard #6 – Sea Day 2

Today was the first of two sea days before we get back to Southampton, and both will be very leisurely. Nothing planned other than a few shows that we haven’t seen yet.

Nicole went to her early morning yoga session and I went for a walk only stopping by the Diamond Lounge for a coffee. When she had finished we met up for breakfast in the Windjammer. It has been partially cloudy skies all day and when the sun was shining it was lovely but when it clouded over it got quite chilly.

Lunch took us back to the Windjammer where we again found a nice selection of dishes, it does make selection very difficult at times and I often end up with a selection of things you would never have on one plate at home.

After lunch we managed to get a couple of beds in a nice sheltered spot and stayed there for a couple of hours. With it feeling much cooler, we moved to the indoor pool area for an hour and were then amazed by a thick blanket of fog that descended. Quite strange to go from bright sunshine to thick low lying fog.

Another formal night tonight with a show at 7:30 so with little else to report I will sign off for today.

Anthem of the Seas Postcard #5 – Belfast, Northern Ireland

We had a full evening of entertainment so took our evening meal at 5:30 in the American Icon Grille. To date this has been the only restaurant we have used and we cannot fault the service or the food. At 7:30 we watched the production show, We Will Rock You and were totally wowed by the not only the show but the ship’s performance of this West End show. Absolutely brilliant!! From there and with a 30 minute window, we made our way back to Two70 at the other end of the ship to watch an hour long performance called The Beatles Celebration, which again provided some great entertainment. This morning, things were a little less hectic with a later arrival time at Belfast. We were able to have a lie in and recharge our batteries in preparation for our day ashore.

We arrived at 11:00 and the gangplank was very quickly installed with passengers getting off within 15 minutes. We were off by 11:30 and very soon on the ship’s shuttle to the city centre where we purchased HoHo bus tickets for the 90 minute circuit.

It seemed the whole bus had the same intention as us and used it as a tour to see some of the places that 30 years ago you would not have conceived a HoHo bus would take you. Places such as the Falls Road, Shankhill Road and the Crumlin Road. Great that it’s now safe enough but there is plenty of evidence that loyalties still run very deep with lots of signs, painting and flags adorning the streets in certain areas.

Once we made it back to City Hall, we set off on foot for the Titanic Quarter where we had pre booked tickets for the Titanic Experience. We passed several items of interest along the route including Belfast’s version of the leaning tower of Pisa, the Albert Memorial Clock, along with the Big Fish, which is a 32ft long ceramic salmon commissioned in 1999 to celebrate the regeneration of the River Lagan. Also the Beacon of Hope Sculpture, informally known as Nuala with the Hula.

With the Titanic Experience, we had decided that a timeslot later in the day would avoid the ship tours and although still very busy, there was little evidence of our fellow passengers.

It’s an interesting and informative venue with every conceivable aspect of the Titanic taken into consideration, starting with how shipbuilding came to be in Belfast right through to the present day and the finding and exploration of the wreck itself. I found it totally fascinating and money well spent.

From there we walked back to City Hall to get the return shuttle back to the ship. Another great day ashore and another thoroughly enjoyable place to visit. Time to relax now in preparation for dinner tonight which is at a later time of 8:30.

Anthem of the Seas Postcard #4 – Greenock, Scotland

After dinner, while waiting for our evenings entertainment to commence, we went up to the pool deck to see what it looked like in the evening. Like most ships, the coloured lighting does make it look amazing and in warmer climates, I’m sure it would be great to sit outside and listen to a band playing.

So, last night we made our first visit to the entertainment venue at the back of the ship which is called Two70. We had pre-booked a show called Spectra’s Cabaret which was billed as a multimedia show brimming with kaleidoscopic sounds, effervescent colours and dazzling movement. Despite the fact I was on my last legs, I really enjoyed the performance and was pleased I made the effort.

So to today, we again arrived in port before we had surfaced this morning. With no major plans, we had agreed the night before that a lie-in was in order. We eventually surfaced to go to the MDR for breakfast, the ship feeling much quieter than previous mornings. We had decided not to venture into Glasgow after feeling the effects of yesterday, I recorded 25,000 steps on my Fitbit which is something I haven’t achieved in a long time. Therefore, just a walk around Greenock would be preferable with not too much exertion involved. We have plenty of walking planned for Belfast so decided to preserve our energy for then.

As, it happened, we ended up walking the length of the Esplanade and back just getting back to the ship before it started raining.

An early Windjammer lunch ensued because we were having dinner earlier due to the fact we were booked for the production show, We Will Rock You at 7:30. Our afternoon comprising of some more downtime just sat outside underneath the covered area of the pool deck. We would have used our balcony but there is building work going on near where we are docked with the continuous banging of a pile driving machine. From our vantage point, we were again treated to a large pod of dolphins frolicking in the Clyde just In front of where we were sat. We have seen hundreds on this cruise but I haven’t yet managed to get a photo worthy of posting. The weather didn’t improve and the rain just got heavier and heavier so it was an easy decision for us just to stay put and people watch the passers by from the indoor pool to midship stairwells.

So, with the exception of, our evening meal and tonight’s entertainment, that has pretty much been our day.

Anthem of the Seas Postcard #3 – Liverpool, England

We arrived in Liverpool very early, long before we were even awake. In fact when we pulled back the curtains, we were already tied up and alongside. This earlier arrival was also coupled with an early departure with all aboard by 2:30 so after a quick breakfast in the MDR we set of to explore on foot. Unfortunately, it’s not as long as we would have liked here but it was a case of trying to make the most of it.

So soon after we were given clearance to disembark which was just after 9:00, we set off to explore. A very nice visit Liverpool representative gave us a route which was based on the fact we needed to be back early in the afternoon. He suggested we start with a walk along the waterfront and then head inland to Liverpool Cathedral then on the way back spend a little longer in the Albert Docks area.

This visit has turned out to be a taster for us as we have discovered there is plenty to see and 5½ hours just isn’t going to do it justice. We were back on board for lunch in the Windjammer and once again with the weather being so nice, we sat outside and enjoyed the sail out of Liverpool. As soon as we put to sea we made our way to the Solarium at front of the ship and managed to bag a couple of beds right at the front looking forward.

Tomorrow we are in Greenock, the weather is supposed to be turning and we have no plans to do anything.

Anthem of the Seas Postcard #2 – Sea Day 1

We had a fabulous first day and after the theatre show we spent the rest of the evening in one of the ship’s venue’s called Music Hall, there was a live band called The Dukes playing lots of popular covers which we really enjoyed. It was made all the more special as we met up with a couple we last saw 11 years ago while on Norwegian Epic. This resulted in us not retiring for bed until the gone midnight.

For our 3 sea days, Nicole has booked an early morning yoga session so while she was off doing that, I spent my time wandering around the ship taking photos, stopping briefly for a coffee in The Diamond Lounge then eventually meeting up with Nicole for breakfast in the Windjammer.  Last night, the MDR restaurant manager had organised for Nicole to be able to have scrambled tofu in the Windjammer, it was available in the MDR but because of her yoga session, the breakfast in dining room would have finished long before Nicole, so he made a call to make it available in the Windjammer instead. He was true to his word, and although it took about 10 minutes to arrive because it was made especially for her, she gave it the big thumbs up. What great service from all involved. 

After what was essentially brunch, we found a nice sheltered spot out of the wind and enjoyed some really pleasant clear skies.  After watching two flights of the North Star, we looked to see if there was any availability and luckily we managed to get a 2:00pm slot.  Despite her acrophobia, Nicole decided she would not miss out, what a decision that turned out to be because we actually broke down on the return leg and we were stranded for 15 minutes or so. What was due to take 16 minutes ended up being 30 minutes. I do like a bit of value for money.

 Even with the unfortunate circumstances, it really does provide some incredible views of the ship that you ordinarily would never get the chance to see. 

As the sun came over we retired to the cabin and made good use of the balcony, at one point we were even treated with lots of dolphins having a feeding frenzy along with a whole host of sea birds.

It’s a formal night and we have nothing else planned other than going to dinner and then maybe hang out in one of the bars afterwards. I’m thinking maybe the Schooner Bar for somewhere different

Tomorrow we arrive in Liverpool, our first port of call for this cruise.

Anthem of the Seas Postcard #1 – Southampton and Embarkation

We had a last-minute notion to try and book a hotel in Southampton but prices were over double the amount usually being asked and that idea was quickly dispatched. So, it was back to plan A and drive down on the day, but instead of M5, M4 & A34 we headed across the country via Salisbury and being a Sunday morning it was quiet with not too much traffic on the road. Our embarkation slot was from 12:00 -12:30 and having done the PCR test a few days earlier, the whole process of getting on board was really smooth. All the checking in was done via the Royal app including the health questionnaire, everything helping to speed the process up. So having arrived at 11:45 we walked over to the terminal and were actually onboard by midday. I did ask how many passengers are on this sailing and have been told by two different crew members that there are 840 and it certainly feels like it too. A quick Google search revealed it carries 4,180 passengers at double occupancy (4905 full capacity) so we are going to have plenty of space. I will be on first name terms with everyone come the end of the cruise.

After a substantial lunch in the Windjammer, we set about exploring the ship from top to bottom.

Our first impressions are very favourable and ship is giving us the impression that we are going to enjoy the experience. Our cabin was available almost as soon as we boarded and it’s where we collected our seapass cards.

Being as it is a port day, Nicole took the opportunity of one of the complimentary flights on iFly Ripcord. She enjoyed it so much she is going to go for the longer paid-for version.

Not being able to pre-book anything before meant we have spent some time this afternoon making sure we can maximize what we can get from this cruise. Meals, shows and experiences are all booked through the Royal app and we have pretty much been able to get what we want and when we wanted to. I had thought our cases would have been with us quite quickly but they hadn’t arrived by the time we left for Nicole to go on the iFly Ripcord. Before we returned to the cabin we found 10 minutes to sample the bumper cars which was great fun. This turned out to be a good 30 minutes because there was nobody waiting to have a go after us. By the time we got back to the cabin our cases had arrived and we made short work of unpacking them. We were so engrossed with this we never even noticed we had set sail.

We have My Time dining and selected to eat in Silk this evening, both main dining room restaurants have the same menu so it will only be a case of different decor should we use the other one. Having read that Royal Caribbean have plenty of vegan choices, it was really reassuring to see these on the menu through the app. I will cut this short this evening because time is of the essence. We also booked the theatre tonight at 9:00 which is a comedian called John Monoley, I’ve never heard of him nor anything about him but it’s worth a look.

Anthem of the Seas Cruise Preamble

Okay, so after our return to cruising with the 3-night cruise on Scarlet Lady and combined with the fact we had to cancel our South Africa trip for the second year running, we had a big rethink about staycation cruises, and with holiday time booked from work, we decided to fill one of the spare weeks with this cruise. With 3 possible cruises to choose from, we selected Anthem of the Seas because if we had to stay on board, then we thought there would be more to do on this ship, the other two itineraries were very similar and were on Celebrity Silhouette & Regal Princess.

At the time of booking, the only way to get off the ship was to take an official excursion (a bubble tour), but within days of our taking the plunge, this changed with Royal Caribbean following Celebrity’s decision to allow passengers to get on and off the ship with the need to take a ship’s excursion.

Our cabin selection was simple enough and we decided on cabin 10244 which has an extended balcony, hopefully, our optimism will be rewarded with some reasonable weather with which to enjoy it a bit.

The itinerary has presented us with 3 new ports even though we won’t actually leave the British Isles. Neither of us has been to Liverpool or Greenock/Glasgow but I have been to Belfast many years ago, so we will be up for a bit of walking and exploring at each of the ports.

The Covid testing is a little different this time with Royal Caribbean requiring a negative PCR test within 3 days of boarding, all complimentary courtesy of the cruise line. Mask wearing is required when moving around the ship interiors but can be removed once seated. On the open decks, you are not required to wear a mask unless you are in a busy area so things are not unlike the UK rules that were used in 2020.

Date Location Arrival Departure
Sunday, September 19, 2021 Southampton, England 6:00 PM
Monday, September 20, 2021 At Sea
Tuesday, September 21, 2021 Liverpool, England 5:00 AM 3:10 PM
Wednesday, September 22, 2021 Greenock (Glasgow), Scotland 5:20 AM 5:50 PM
Thursday, September 23, 2021 Belfast, Northern Ireland 9:45 AM 9:30 PM
Friday, September 24, 2021 At Sea
Saturday, September 25, 2021 At Sea
Sunday, September 26, 2021 Southampton, England 5:30 AM

So, here’s to cruise number two post lockdown, and because you are reading this then the good news is that we have both tested negative and are green to go.