Typically, I don’t take interest in cruises since I’m more of an adventure junky than a vacation chaser. But when I read the invitation for the inaugural sailing of the Royal Caribbean ship, “Anthem of the Seas” out of its new home port in New Jersey, I saw something that I absolutely had to go see. It was a picture of a giant bubble extended far up from the neon-lit cruise ship, and out over the ocean.
“WHAT IS THAT?!” I thought, with my eyes bulging wide at my computer screen. Intrigued, I decided to Google the new cruise ship, and to my luck, found that this cruise was full of on board adventures! Plus its destination was an adventure on its own. I had only ever been on cruises that leave out of Florida, and while I always love a trip to the Caribbean, the thought of cruising around the New York city skyline just sounded so…cool.
In fact, the entire ship just seemed so cool in the photos, unlike the stuffy, tacky cruise ships I had been on before. So I graciously accepted the invitation, and set off on an adventure to test out all of the onboard adventures on Anthem of the Seas!
After two action packed days onboard, there’s one thing I can say for sure; Anthem is the most high tech, futuristic cruise ship I’ve ever seen before in my life. Here are some of the awesome features and adventures that it has!
North Star is the actual name for the bubble, I just like saying that I went in a bubble 300 ft over the ocean. My initial goal for the trip was to get a cool aerial shot of the ship with my GoPro from its highest point, which I was thinking would be a tower on the top deck or something…then I heard that I’d be allowed to go in the bubble which got me even more stoked to go on the Anthem!
It constantly goes up and down throughout the day, powered by a massive crane-like shaft that steadily raises it up and over. At its highest point, it goes 300 ft above sea level, which is almost as tall as the Empire State Building! It can also go out over the water for a pretty cool side-view of the ship as well.
I pretty much fangirl anytime I find free Wifi, but to find it on a freaking cruise ship is just extra awesome, especially considering being out in the ocean! I had full Wifi bars and coverage the entire time, because Royal Caribbean uses the fastest mobile Wifi there is, called Voom.
That means I could not only text and update my social media accounts, but also get some work done while I wasn’t having an adventure (I didn’t get much work done). Since it was the inaugural cruise, I also got to test out an app for the ship that allows you to create and manage your online agenda – such as dinner and adventure reservations, and show times.
I don’t know how the wind tunnel is created for the iFly they have onboard, but it’s freaking awesome and I’m so happy I got to fly in it! If you’ve ever been skydiving…this is way more fun! Well, to me at least, because it’s controlled with an instructor, who can help you do tricks and fly on your own!
You also still get a cool view since you’re looking out over the ocean as you’re flying around in the wind tunnel! If you haven’t gone skydiving before, it’s a great way to experience what it feels like to jump out of a plane…without actually having to jump out of a plane. I thought it was going to be a lot harder, but the (really cute) instructors do a great job at easily explaining how to position your body, and what the hand signals are to look for if you need to make an adjustment.
Instead of having to carry around, find, and swipe a key card to get into your room, you get a wristband to wear that has a wireless chip in it, which unlocks your door when you hold it up to the key pad. You get a key card too which works the same way, but the bracelets make it way easier (and cooler) since a key card is inevitably going to be lost.
The wristbands also work the same way as a key card would for making purchases onboard; you simply hold your wrist up to the screen you’re making the purchase from, and it charges the account your room is on.
Have you ever wondered if robots would eventually take over the service industry? I have, and am actually surprised there aren’t more of them already. But, of course there were two onboard the Anthem, serving up drinks that you order from a tablet, and pay for with your wireless wristband! Talk about freaking high tech!
I actually got to meet the guy who invented the Makr Shakr Bionic Bar, who was proudly monitoring their performance and answering any questions since not everyone is used to doing everything on a tablet. Obviously since I’m a huge tech nerd (AKA millennial) it was not only super easy to figure out, but super awesome and impressive as well!
Essentially, you sit at the “bar”, swipe your wristband on the tablet screen, and it opens your own little bar on the screen. From there you can choose from a “Bionic Signature”, “Bionic Classic”, or to make your own drink by selecting your type and amount of spirit, mixers, and how you want it mixed. After you submit your order, One of the robots (Makr or Shakr) will begin twisting and turning as they collect the ingredients from the bottles above, and mixer dispensers behind them.
Then, they mix your drink, and pour it in a cup that’s placed on a small holder, which requires you do swipe your wrist band again to have it released, and carefully slid down to you at the bottom of their stand. It’s so cool!
This may not seem as exciting as a robot bartender or tube you can fly in…BUT, I’ve always dreamed of a bathroom where you don’t have to touch anything. It never made sense to me why places have hands free sinks and paper towel dispensers, but then you have to touch the door to get out anyway. Cleanliness is insanely emphasized on the Anthem of the Seas, which is very evident with their high tech onboard public bathrooms.
Ok I’ll get to the point, so first of all, you don’t have to touch the door! You simply raise your wristband up to a key pad next to it and voila! It open-sesames without contaminating your hand. You still have to touch the bathroom stall doors, and use your hand to wipe yourself, but since the toilet, soap, sink, paper towels, and door are all automatic, you should be able to leave germ-free.
Since I recently got in a motorcycle accident and have bad road rash all down my shoulder and arm (don’t tell the iFly instructors since I did that anyway), I had to force myself to opt out of this awesome-looking activity, because I know I suck at surfing so there’d be a good chance I’d fall and further injure myself.
It took a lot of self control though, because watching how much fun and how easy it looked for other people to do the Flowrider was a huge dose of FOMO. I’ve heard of waterparks having the simulated surfing, but how cool would it be to “surf” on the back of a cruise ship while looking out at the ocean!
Ok, so when you think of a cruise ship, do you think of an arena that transforms into a ring for bumper cars? I’ve seen a basketball court on a cruise ship before, and apparently so have they, which is why they wanted to take theirs a step further and turn it into a super high tech activity area called SeaPlex. During certain times of the day, SeaPlex either has bumper cars, roller skating, or basketball, and when it does, it drops not only the hoops down from the ceiling, but also protective netting so the people playing ping pong or Xbox on the second level don’t get hit by a flying ball.
It also turns into a dance club, and even has a DJ booth that floats over the arena-dance floor using a crane similar to the bubble’s. The entire Seaplex area uses a state of the art sound system, just like the ones used in the show rooms onboard.
When I was talking to the guy who invented the robot bartenders, he mentioned something about the cabaret show using the same type of robotic arms to move the screens around, so obviously I had to see it. The show is called Spectra’s Cabaret and it’s in a venue called Two70, which not only has a massive movie-theater-sized screen going across the entire backdrop, but also smaller screens attached to the robotic arms that Alessandro was talking about, suspended from the ceiling.
The show was fantastic, the performers were stunning with their acrobats, dancing, and singing, BUT then they went and included robot heads on the five screens that move around on the arms, which made the show so much more insanely impressive and intriguing. The robots literally danced and sang in beat with the human performers, and then they even “brought in” a popular band from South Africa (on the screens) to dance with!
The cruise ships I had been on before all looked like the stereotypical cruise ship you’d imagine in an ad for a Florida vacation. But not this ship. This cruise ship looked like it had been made to impress my generation, and as one person who is a part of it, I’d say it definitely did. One thing I particularly noticed, was the touch screen surfaces throughout the ship. There were several “check-in” points where you could swipe your band to get information or just track which areas you visited on the same tablets that are used for the Bionic Bar. But what kept me amused every time I tried it was the elevator buttons that are touch pads instead of actual buttons.
Aside from the actual technology features, Royal Caribbean also did a perfect job at designing the ship’s decor with brand new, up to date, chic, and innovative designs, that will definitely impress anyone who sees them. The glowing lights, sharp designs, and clarity of any screen onboard literally makes you feel like you’re in a virtual reality. But in reality, you’re on the Anthem of the Seas, and you feel that way because it’s as virtual as it gets.
Ok so a giant giraffe isn’t technically “high tech”, but! It does appeal in the edgy way that technology does to so many of us! The first thing I saw when I walked up to the port was this massive giraffe next to a rock climbing wall. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh, or high-five whoever thought of it, but it was definitely awesome!