Ever wondered what it would be like on a cruise ship?
Well, I have and on April 18th 2015, we boarded the newest ship within the Royal Caribbean Fleet the Anthem of the Seas a quantum class ship that is the most technologically advanced ship in the world. I didn't know when we stepped on board whether it would be a fit for families, whether there would be enough for children of our age to do but boy was in for a surprise - there is so much for them to do I doubt that we would see them any time we were on deck if we wanted to.
We were invited to join Anthem of the Seas on a pre-inaugural cruise, the thoughts and words expressed are all our own.
So what is there for families to do on board, how is it geared to accommodate families with young kids?
Firstly being on a cruise ship is like a 5-star holiday resort there was every amenity you could think of and the comfort level was beyond a standard family package holiday. So let's break it down to what is important for families travelling together - first off what about accommodation.
This article first appeared on Rainy Day Mum and has been moved to Travelled So Far by Cerys Parker the author.
Accommodation on board a Royal Caribbean Cruise
Well were do I start I guess from the inside out - the first level of accommodation on board is an internal stateroom with a virtual balcony yes you did read that right on the wall of the cabin there is a virtual balcony so even the internal rooms have a view of the sea and they do change based on cameras around the outside of the ship.
For families that like to be able to open the doors and step out onto the balcony then the outside staterooms have balconies and are only a small amount extra per night - there are options for families as well, some of the staterooms have connecting doors ideal if you have slightly older kids and/or really don't want to share a room with them as the two rooms can be connected. Or there are staterooms that have a pull-out sofa bed as well as the standard king size bed in the room which for us a family with 2 young kids would be ideal.
Other types of room on board are available like the family studio, lofts and many more which would be good for families with kids, but with so much to do on board as a family we would be looking at either the Outside Stateroom with connecting doors or an outside stateroom with the fold out sofa bed included in the room.
Food is so important for our kids they like to eat what they like but anything else they can be fussy, walking around Anthem of the Seas I looked at it with an eye of what my kids would eat. Like all Royal Caribbean ships, there was a Windjammer restaurant with a serve yourself buffet that I would most definitely be able to find something for my kids to eat every single meal there.
However, on the ship a there are two packages which are ideal for families available the Dynamic Dinning packages - with many complimentary restaurants if you are on the Dynamic Dinning Choice package you can choose which restaurant you want to eat in and book in advance or when you arrive for one of the different meal times and enjoy a meal together.
If you're a cruising pro and you love the classic feel of dinning found on most cruise ships then a Dynamic Dinning classic package is also available.
The restaurants were AMAZING, from The Grande which is formal dinning every night to The American Icon Grill and even a healthy eating option Devinly Decadence from the celebrity chef Devin Alexander (chef from The Biggest Loser) where all meals are under 500 calories including the amazing deserts. There was something that we would eat every night.
There are speciality restaurants that aren't included and work a la carte choosing what you would like off of the menu. There are also snack bars and cafes where lighter meals can be brought throughout the day.
Activities on Board
I guess the only way to do this is a list - but boy it's a list and a half
- North Star - 300 ft above the ship looking down - really you can't beat it
- iFLY - sky diving on board the ship, no matter how nervous you feel I can tell you it's one of the most exhilarating things I've done!
- Flow Rider - Surfing or Body Boarding
- Climbing Wall
- Bumper Cars
- Circus Skills
- Roller Skating
- Indoor Pools
- Outdoor Pools
- Puzzle Room
- Teen Living Room
- Adventure Ocean for Kids from 6 months old
- Interactive art and display
and those are just for the kids - whether you are a kid or a big kid at heart
There's also shows and events which change but one of the best for families would be the We Will Rock You Stage Show - I've seen it in the West End and this is as good if not better than the performance we saw them do then.
For adults there's some extra's as well that you really can't miss
Robotic cocktails from a selection or create your own on a tablet using your WOW band! and then a robotic arm makes the cocktail to your specification right there in front of you. You have to be 21 to do this but the geek inside me loved it, technology in entertainment.
Casino and Entertainment
You wouldn't expect anything less but there was a casino and you could even have classes in how to play the tables as well as some amazing entertainment throughout the night including Latin American Bands, the amazing Specta Cabaret and make you cry with laughter comedy nights.
If like we were you are cruising for the first time why not check out these Best Cruise Tips for First Time Families from Zena's Suitcase.
My top tips for a cruise on Anthem of the Seas
Check in online
Avoid having to check in when you arrive and get ahead of the game check in on-line and your details will already be in the system and you go through the quick line in security and straight to the departures really this saved us loads of time
Book the kids for kids club
You are on holiday with your kids but it is nice to have some adult time when you are on board as well with the kids, the kids club in Adventure Ocean is amazing taking children from 6 months there is an area from 6 months to 3 years were a small charge is payable. For children 3 and over the kids club is complementary there are different areas based on the ages of the kids and one of the best features I thought was the dinner service - letting the kids club organises know your meal time and restaurant if you wish they will come and collect your children 45 minutes into the meal so you can finish at leisure instead of rushing as the kids get bored sitting around.
Get on North Star
Even if you are scared of heights (which I can be!) I can truthfully say that this was amazing, the view from the top was breath taking and looking down on the deck of the ship I was able to see everything that we had been enjoying from above.
Don't miss out on iFLY
Yes it looks scary but for 1 minute you are experiencing something that was just .... well just... I am not the most co-ordinated or athletic person in the world but with watching the video and the instructor within the wind tunnel with me I was the first of the group to FLY! Yes that is really me in the video.
Use Dynamic Dinning Choices Package
Don't limit yourself to trying just one restaurant on your trip, swap and change and believe me despite not being a fan of Asian cuisine I was able to find something that I would enjoy on the menu in Silk.
From thinking that maybe a cruise wouldn't be the perfect holiday for our family we are looking to see how many days my husband has left of annual leave to join one of the trips later in the year on Anthem of the Seas.
Prices for 3 nights on Anthem of the Seas start from £399 for a 3 night cruise