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Bill Scanga

Age: 47

Occupation:Network Engineer

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Anthem Of The Seas

Sailing Date: 2016-06-18

Itinerary: Bayonne and Bermuda

My wife and I sailed on RCL Anthem of the Seas along with our 3 daughters ages 12, 11, and 9 departing Bayonne June 11, 2016 with a day and a half port-of-call at Kings Wharf, Bermuda. Overall we had a VERY pleasant experience. We decided to NOT purchase the expensive drink packages because we brought our own cases of bottled water (and even a case of ginger ale!) on board. I tipped the the porter $10 and he didn't blink an eye. He just put a luggage sticker on each of my beverage cases at the Bayonne dockside, and then two hours later, we found them right there in the hallway, right outside our stateroom! I emptied the fridge of the RCL pay-as-you eat items, and filled it up again with our own beverages from Costco. The kids had plenty of juice / flavored-water drink choices in the Windjammer buffet, and if they really wanted to indulge in their soda fix outside of the cabin, then they could order soda's with their meals at dinner time. There was a self-serve ice cream machine located on Deck 14 near the outdoor pool, however the machine seemed to be broken about 50% of the time. And even when it worked, note that that is the ONLY ice cream machine for all 4,000+ passengers, so you can expect lines whenever it happens to be working.

No food complaints whatsoever. Lots of options for breakfast. We particularly frequented Solarium Bistro and Cafe 270 for breakfast. We almost always ate lunch in the large (and often crowded) Windjammer buffet, but we also frequented the SeaPlex Dog House, and Sorrento's for mid-day snacks. For dinner: We did Silk (twice), Chic, and Solarium Bistro, and also we splurged for Wonderland (eclectic, but fun if you have a lot of time and an open mind. The food was really unique!), All restaurants were fabulous! Dinner portion sizes were medium, but you could always order a 2nd entree (which I did) If you don't gain weight on a cruise ship, then you are doing something wrong! One warning about the alcoholic beverage package: If one adult in your sate-room signs up for an alcohol package, then ALL adults have to sign up for the same one. Obviously, they do this so that you don't cheat RCL by ordering pre-paid unlimited drinks for more than one passenger by buying only one package. HOWEVER, we were able to circumvent this by technically having one adult book the trip with ONE of our under-aged children in one stateroom, and then booking the OTHER adult parent into the other stateroom along with the remaining two children. Thus, I was able to purchase only ONE $50 per day "Premium" drink package, and was able to keep my wife and myself lubricated with cocktails for the duration of the cruise. Only one time, I received a warning from the bartender in Michael's Pub, when I handed my wife her drink a bit too obviously. (Right in front of him). We found out that you can NOT cancel the package during the days that you are in port, but even so, we feel we got value out of the single Premium package (because of our shenanigans) In retrospect, the one thing that I would have done differently, was I would have booked our restaurants ahead of time. ...Because the formal "Grande" was completely booked, on the first afternoon of Day 1. So we brought our formal clothes on board for nothing)

Both of our staterooms #11310 (D2 Balcony where the two adult parents slept) and # 11309 (Category M Interior room, for the kids) were very comfortable. Even though the Category M room was supposed to be for 2 people, our three young tween daughters fit in the bed just fine. Storage for our voluminous luggage was more than adequate. Bathrooms were small, but functional. Tip: Instead of using your room key, stick your own misc. credit card (expired library card, whatever) into the holder near the entrance, so that you don't have to worry about keeping the lights on all the time. We did not purchase the on-board WiFi package, but sometimes it began to work on phones anyway. Not always, but sometimes. Weird. ...We worried that, on such a big ship, we would get lost from each other with no way to communicate via WiFi, but honestly, this was never really a problem. After the first day, we all felt like we all knew our way around the ship just fine. We were able to go our separate ways and just simply agree to all meet back in our cabins at a pre-determined time. Another Tip regarding cabins: If your family books two adjacent balconies, it is very simple to tell your steward to use his key to remove the partition so that you get one big balcony instead of two tiny balconies. One of the rooms can shut their curtains and lock their slider door, if they really want some privacy.

There were literally too many options on Anthem to choose from, for a five-day itinerary! We spent a lot of time in the pools, and we roller-skated in the SeaPlex mutli-functional area. We would have liked to try bumper cars but the lines were too long both times we happened to be in the area during Bumper Car hours. We signed up for Ocean Adventure -but our kids decided that the activities were too "kiddie" for their age group, so they just did their own thing (lots of swimming in the wide selection of pools). Personally, I had a great time playing Blackjack at the casino. Friendly dealers, and fun players. The Bionic Bar was a joke. Three times, I ordered drinks from it, but it never delivered. Both robots broke down constantly, and by the 4th day of the cruise, there was a sign permanently placed front of them that over-optimistically read: "Bionic Bar Rebooting" There was also a self-serve Ice Cream machine located on Deck 14 near the outdoor pool, and here too: The machine seemed to be broken about 50% of the time. A must for those not afraid of heights is the free North Star activity. Preferably do it within sight of land, to give you something to look at other than open ocean. Also, my wife did the Behind the Scenes tour, which included the bridge and engine rooms. She loved it !!

Instead of booking our excursions through RCL, we saved a lot by purchasing five one-day unlimited public transportation tickets, for $70, allowing transportation to anywhere in Bermuda. You buy these in Bermuda, as soon as you get off the ship (If you don't have US$ cash, then they accept credit cards for a nominal 6% fee). These transportation tickets include both ferries, as well as the pink and blue colored public buses which allow you interact with REAL behind-the-scenes Bermuda people, who are not employed by the tourist industry. So the morning that we arrived, we took an early ferry from Kings Wharf, over to Hamilton City. There, we enjoyed the free WiFi while we had a not-so-cheap brunch at Flanagan's Irish Pub -within easy walking distance from the ferry terminal. You MUST try the delicious fish chowder!!! After that, we walked one block uphill to the bus station, where we caught the #7 bus to the South Shore Beaches. Like everyone else, we decided to get off the bus at the famous Horseshoe Bay beach. You can probably find less crowds by choosing any of the other beaches, but the facilities (and the view!) at Horseshoe Bay just can't be beat! If you really want a sense of seclusion at Horseshoe Bay, just simply walk eastwards towards the far end of the beach (away from the changing rooms/entrance) ...By far, this was my best beach experience anywhere on the planet! The (mid-June) water was a bit cold, but it only took < a minute to acclimate to the water temperature. The wind was a bit strong, so sand was blowing all over the sun-bathers, so you might want to bring plastic bags for cameras. We only rented one chair, but a friendly family offerered us three more as they were leaving. Tip: Bring towels from the boat, as the beach does not rent beach towels. Instead you must purchase them for $20 per small beach towel. After we were all adequately sun-burnt, we took the #8 bus back to Kings Wharf, and the driver dropped us off amongst the tourist-y shopping area right next to the ship. Prices in Bermuda are a bit more expensive, compared to some poorer Caribbean islands, but not really dramatically overpriced. Tip: If you missed the Fish Chowder from either Flanagan's Pub or The Hog Penny Pub in Hamilton, then its not too late, as the Frog and Onion Pub, located in Kings Wharf, makes a very tasty Fish Chowder as well! The next morning, we disembarked a second time for a short walk around King's Wharf, and we also splurged for the National Museum of Bermuda (formerly named the Maritime Museum). All three kids had a delightful time exploring the Commissioner's House. Dolphin Tip:: If you don't want to pay > $100 for your kids to swim with the dolphins, then you can still SEE those same dolphins via the Bermuda Museum ticket. You end up sitting three feet in front of their pool and you can see about 4-5 dolphins playing with basketballs, right in front of you! Granted its not QUITE as personal as actually getting wet, and swimming with them, but my kids were totally thrilled at being able to interact with the dolphins in close proximity, and the price was right! There is also a nice, fun playground for small kids in the dolphin area as well.

My family of five attended three shows: "The Gift" was okay, but we really were not able to follow the plot very much at all. We did enjoy "Spectra's Cabaret" which was a feast for the eyes and ears! And we loved, Loved, LOVED "We Will Rock You" musical, from London's West End. It sort of helps if you brush up on your Queen songs before attending. Unsolicited, my girls have said that the music of the 70's and 80's is better than today's garbage. So they were happy when, before our cruise, I filled up their iPods with "Bohemian Rhapsody" , "Another One Bites The Dust" , "Killer Queen" , " Under Pressure" "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" , "We Will Rock You" , and "We Are the Champions" It really helped them to enjoy the "We Will Rock You" musical on-board performance.

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