We have recently returned from a fantastic weekend aboard Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship, Anthem of the Seas. We had a fantastic 48 hours as a family but it definitely wasn’t long enough to try everything they have onboard (there are 23 cafes and restaurants alone!) and it has definitely left us dreaming of cruising from port to port whilst sipping cocktails in the evening sun. The kids literally haven’t stopped talking about the weekend, and have gone to bed every night since, singing ‘We will, we will rock you!’. They loved it.
In the run up to the weekend I had posted that I was a bit worried about cruising with my children. I didn’t know what to expect. I worried about what we would wear. Would we need formal wear for formal night on Royal Caribbean? Would we get seasick? Would the children fall off the side (I know I know!) Would there be food that the children would like? Would we get any sleep? Would the rooms work for us as a family? Would the girls be able to stay up late enough for us to enjoy all the ship had to offer? What would I wear (that one again!)
I need not have worried, Royal Caribbean had planned a fantastic itinerary for us and I’ll attempt to give you a flavour of all the things we got chance to do. In case I don’t manage it eloquently enough there is a video at the end that I hope sums it up! Enjoy!
We arrived at Southampton Docks just before 11am on Saturday in time for check in and by 11.30 we were sat in The Cafe @ Two 70 with fresh orange for the kids and taster cocktails for us, marvelling at the size of the ship we had just boarded. Our staterooms weren’t due to be ready until midday so we took the opportunity to feed the kids the first of their many, many snacks/meals of the trip. In hindsight whilst The Cafe @ Two 70 was beautiful, and perfect for me and hubby. He had gorgeous sandwiches, and I had a beautiful caesar salad, the food was possibly a little too fancy for my three girls who really just like plain sandwiches. The staff behind the counter were very accommodating and made them plain wraps but we probably should have located Windjammer for that first meal, for all you could eat jelly! Another little boy we met told the girls all about the fantastic jelly selection! The cakes and the coffee in The Cafe @ Two 70 really were fabulous though and I for one, am glad we found it!
After our lunch, and the girls impromptu dancing show on the stage in Two 70 (Frozen naturally) we made our way to our staterooms. This was probably my major concern. As there are 5 of us, we needed two rooms, as all the rooms on board hold 4 people maximum. Hubby and I had been allocated a room each as the kids obviously couldn’t have a room of their own. The rooms were interconnecting staterooms, each with a balcony. I had turned over and over in my head how that would actually work, and what we would do in the evening as I didn’t think I would want the girls to be in one room and us in the other. I didn’t need to worry as the way the doors worked to connect the rooms allowed us to effectively use the rooms as one room. The ‘interconnecting’ door folded right back on itself with a catch so you could leave it completely open. This allowed the three girls to sleep in one room and us in the other without us having to sit in the dark once they had gone to sleep. Perfect.
One of my other ‘worries’ was whether the girls would fall off the side. Now I know that sounds a bit daft but we have stayed in villas and hotels with patio doors that are easy to open from the inside. I didn’t want the girls to be able to open the patio doors which led straight onto the balcony, which in turn led straight onto the sea. Thankfully Royal Caribbean have considered this possibility and all doors are fitted with child safety locks, which mine certainly didn’t work out how to use.
I could just imagine sitting out on the balcony of one of the rooms, whilst the ship went round the med/caribbean, watching the sun set whilst they slept soundly in the other room. This to me sounds pretty wonderful.
After we had settled into our rooms we met Heledd (from Running in Lavender) and her family at the Sea Plex so we could look after their children whilst her and her husband tried out the IFly. It was a bit chilly on deck whilst we were waiting for them to have their lessons, so I ended up taking them all for more food, this time hot dogs at the Sea Plex Dog House. These went down very very well!
We also made time to see Gigi the Giraffe! We did try to go on the dodgems too. Yes that’s right they have dodgems, however the girls were a little too young as they needed to be 5 to go on. Next time girls!
After that it was time to go in the pool. As soon as the girls saw the first of the 8 pools, they asked if they could go in, then they asked again, and again and again. So we just had to. It was a little cold, but my three are not one to let that put them off. When I say WE had to go in, I mean of course my hubby. I took the opportunity to sit on a lovely warm couch in the sun with Heledd and sip wine. What’s not to like.
After a really good milkshake from Johnny Rocket, one very tired little girl curled up on the same couch after her paddle, and fell promptly asleep. It’s tiring having so much fun.
A safety briefing followed the swimming, everyone on the ship has to go and you’re told where you need to go in case of emergency. On the way onto the ship kids are all given a wristband they have to wear the whole trip with details of the parties Muster point/Emergency point so they can be brought to you if the emergency siren is called. This was reassuring and I also knew that if for any reason we misplaced them, someone would know how to contact us. Thankfully neither safety protocol was needed.
6pm meant Dinner at The Grande for all the family. The itinerary put together by Royal Caribbean had thoughtfully timed dinner early enough for the children to join us. We ate with Heledd and family so there was 4 adults and 5 tired hungry children. The Grande was very swanky and very traditional. When the menu came I panicked a little bit. My girls were definitely not going to eat Papaya Salad or Lobster tails. Again I panicked without need. Whilst on this inaugural trip there was no children’s menu as such the waiter set out the children’s options and thankfully chicken strips and tomato pasta were available! Crisis averted.
Well one crisis was averted. The children were still all tired and grumpy and really didn’t want to be in a nice restaurant sitting quietly. I’m sure we had only eaten the bread (before the starter) when we decided that the next night we would feed them at 5, drop them at kids club, and then eat ourselves later!
Whilst we were seated in The Grande, one difference with the inaugural sailing was that the menu we could chose from contained food from all the signature restaurants. I had Gravlax (from The Silk) Lobster Tails (from The Grande) and Chocolate Lava Pudding (from American Icon Grill). The wine flowed and we chatted (above the noise of our kids).
After dinner Heledd and I were lucky enough that our husbands took the kids back to their rooms for some well needed sleep, and we explored. Our first stop was Spectra’s Cabaret where we had the first of quite a few cocktails. We only caught the last half hour but the costumes and the light show was just as described, an electric multi-dimensional cabaret. It was fun to watch and quite a treat to the senses.
After that we just wandered and took in all the ship had to offer. I don’t quite know how we missed the SeaPlex transforming into a night club complete with Lauren Pope as guest DJ for the night like another blogger experienced. But we chatted and we wandered and we had really good fun. Finally it was time for bed.
The next day didn’t quite work out as planned for us. Our itinerary looked really good fun with the following planned.
- 9:15am – North Star (meet by Sky Bar)
- 10:20am – RipCord by iFLY (meet by SeaPlex Doghouse)
- 12:15pm – Lunch at Jamie’s Italian
- 6:00pm – Dinner at Silk
Unfortunately my husband didn’t feel too well and he initially thought it was sea sickness. So after breakfast in Windjammer, with more choice than you can imagine, I dropped the kids off at Adventure Ocean and made my way to the North Star on my own. I ended up chatting to another blogger Rainy Day Mum and she kindly took this photo of me up in the sky! The experience was similar to the London Eye and I can imagine that if you were near a port you would get some great views of the town. Although maybe not in Southampton as the closest thing to see would probably have been Ikea!
After the North Star I took the opportunity to wander round the ship, without the kids, before heading back to the top deck for my flight. I’m going to write more about this flight soon, and I absolutely loved it!
After IFly I went back to pick the kids up from Adventure Ocean and took them for a pre-arranged meal at Jamie’s Italian. I love the fact that their is a Jamie’s on board. It is so child friendly and the food is always good. The food was exactly the same as the one we go to in Liverpool. The girls love deciding what they are going to eat by clicking through the viewer, always a treat that never gets old. The staff were lovely with the kids and very patient. They also persuaded me to have a glass (well two) of prosecco so that made me very happy! Plain pasta (off menu) was one of the girls choices so they made that, hot dog and chips for another and spaghetti bolognaise for the third. I had a fabulous platter to start, followed by Parmigiana, which was perfectly cooked. A fabulous meal.
A quick note on Adventure Ocean which is the onboard kids club. My three seemed to really enjoy it, although I found it a little sad that the room didn’t have any windows. I wondered if this was because of the heat through the windows once at sea, but it did mean I didn’t like the girls being there quite as much as they did. Things like that don’t worry kids! The staff at the club were lovely and they publish a daily list of activities so you can see what they are going to be doing. The girls did loads of colouring, glueing and sticking which they love and they also told me they had been visited by the REAL Rapunzel!
After Jamie’s I was due to go for a fabulous massage but realised my cheeky husband had pinched my slot earlier in the day to see if it would relieve his back pain. For the record he said it was absolutely fabulous and highly recommended – gutted I missed out. Anyway I digress, thankfully I didn’t have a massage and I did go back to the room as I found my husband very very ill when I got back. I have posted another review here on the amazing response to our 911 moment. The care he received was impressive and thankfully he is absolutely fine.
So after an afternoon spent on deck 2 of the ship, and realising hubby was going to be OK, I went to pick the girls up from Adventure Ocean to take them to see We Will Rock You. The girls had pizza in Sorrento first as you could just grab pre-cooked slices quickly, and then had cookies for dessert. For me watching We Will Rock You was the highlight of the weekend.
I adore Queen so that is a good start. My girls love a good theatre show, again a good indication that we were going to enjoy it, but I was genuinely taken aback at the quality of both the performance, the set and the actual theatre itself. I mean we were on a ship, but we could have been in the West End. I had to pinch myself a few times to remind myself where we were as a I genuinely kept forgetting. I mean this ship is called Anthem of the Seas but I genuinely hadn’t realised I was going to see an actual full theatre production. It was fabulous.
I’m sure this little video doesn’t do the show justice at all, but it is a taster of the production quality! My three girls have not stopped singing ‘we will we will rock you’ since!
Dinner at Silk (without the Mini Travellers) followed the musical extravaganza, and thankfully hubby was well enough to join me. We had a lovely dinner with Heledd and her husband Dom and without the little ones tiredness we loved the more relaxed setting and the asian food. For me Steak and ginger rice followed wild mushroom ravioli. Another cocktail (we were on a mini holiday) followed by some red wine ended the evening. We collected the kids rather a little late for them at 10pm (oops) and took three tired but happy little girls back to our staterooms where we all went to bed at the same time!
We awoke on Monday morning to find ourselves back in Southampton, we took our time getting dressed and went for one last breakfast aboard the ship. My eldest sobbed at the prospect of leaving the ship and asked if we could “come back soon, as being on a ship that is like a hotel was really really good fun Mummy and we still have lots of swimming pools to try!” She was right we did have loads left still to try!
Thank you Royal Caribbean you have been amazing and I’ll leave you all with the video I promised! I think it sums up the weekend perfectly!
NB: I travelled on Anthem of the Seas as a guest of Royal Caribbean and as part of Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. All views and opinions are my own.