Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas has a host of up-to-date entertainment and services, including the ocean's speediest Internet.
Simon Brooke-Webb/Royal Caribbean
On Anthem of the Seas, passengers can use the ship's WiFi to stay connected back home and navigate their trip with the vacation-management app Royal iQ.
Anthem of the Seas' North Star provides panoramic views of the ship and the port it might be docked at.
By Marc Schwarz / The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)
It’s no longer enough for cruise lines to offer rock climbing walls, Broadway-style entertainment or sky-diving simulators.
Passengers want their Wi-Fi, so they can stay connected. Whether it’s to humble-brag about their vacation via social media or be in touch with the office, being in the middle of the ocean shouldn’t be an obstacle.
Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas has a host of up-to-date entertainment and services, including the ocean’s speediest Internet.
Facts & figures
Technology advances aside, whether Anthem of the Seas is the right ship for you requires some decision making.
Size: It’s nearly the length of four football fields.
Number of passengers: Up to 5,000 passengers, making it, along with its sister ship Quantum of the Seas, the second-largest class of Royal Caribbean ships.
Accommodations: Stateroom options on the Anthem reflect the changing makeup and styles of cruise passengers. Among the 2,090 staterooms are connected rooms, studios and suites of different sizes (and price ranges) to accommodate families — especially multi-generational ones.
Activities: In addition to the usual pools, spas and entertainments as well as bumper cars and roller skating, the Anthem of the Seas has some firsts — Ripcord by iFLY and North Star.
North Star is a glass-enclosed capsule that sits atop the ship, holding up to 14 people and going up more than 300 feet. It provides panoramic views of the ship. Ripcord is a sky-diving simulator.
Cruise ships have slowly been responding to that demand. But with the debut of its newest ship — the Anthem of the Seas — Royal Caribbean is setting a new standard. The Bayonne, N.J.-based Anthem is equipped to prove that Internet service at sea can be as fast as anything you’re used to on land.
“We should not make you feel like you’re stuck in time,” said Capt. Claus Andersen. “You live in this era, you should cruise in this era.”
Royal Caribbean has partnered with the tech company O3b Networks to provide Voom, the fastest Wi-Fi network at sea. For $15 a day per device, or $22.50 for two devices — there are a variety of packages available depending on the length of your cruise — passengers can not only stay connected back home but also use the vacation-management app Royal iQ on the ship, enabling them to navigate everything from embarkation to dinner reservations to onboard activity schedules to booking shore excursions.
Even if you don’t invest in Internet service, you can access Royal iQ at various free-standing iQ stations around the ship. And many of the online features are also available through the cabin’s interactive TV, including making some bookings and signing up for activities such as Flowrider or the Ripcord by iFly sky-diving simulator.
Touch screens near the elevators and elsewhere on the ship not only provide an interactive ship program but also directions on how to get from here to there — not always easy on a ship that’s 1,141 feet long and 18 decks high.
The nod to technology begins prior to check in. Most everything, including loading your passport and other information and ID photo, can be done ahead of time via the Cruise Planner on the line’s website. Check-in is then done with cruise line employees with iPads as you walk to the terminal.
One of the first changes experienced cruisers will notice is that those all-important key cards you were required to keep with you at all times have been replaced with nifty new RFID WOWband wristbands. In essence a rubber watchband, the WOWband performs all the functions of the room key without the need for a pocket. A tap of your wrist enables you to get into your room or buy a drink. The band is waterproof, so you never have to take it off. Compared to the credit card-like room keys, it’s an upgrade.
Technology isn’t just for communication. It has been integrated into the fun parts of the ship, as well.
Drinks can be ordered via an iPad-like tablet and then are mixed in front of you by robot arms at the Bionic Bar. The drinks themselves, I found, weren’t as good as the ones made by human bartenders, but the show is worth the novelty of partaking at least once.
Robots also star in Two70, one of the entertainment lounges on the ship. The six roboscreens move, twist and work as one during shows, and the room also features Vistarama, floor-to-ceiling glass walls that project scenes — real or computer-generated — on their surfaces.
The enhanced bandwidth enables the ship to offer kids (I suppose of all ages) to play Xbox Live with games around the world in the SeaPlex, which also features bumper cars, roller skating and a basketball court.
In addition, staterooms have USB outlets to recharge devices, and interior rooms have Virtual Balconies that bring real-time sights and sounds of the sea into your cabin through 80-inch LED screens, ensuring every stateroom has a “view.”