Travel TV: Anthem of the Seas - inside the world's hottest cruise ship
#Video: Royal Caribbean 2.0
Join Pól Ó Conghaile for an Irish media exclusive on board Royal Caribbean's revolutionary new cruise ship.
You want flagship experiences and firsts at sea?
Anthem of the Seas is the second Quantum Class ship (Quantum of the Seas debuted last year, with Ovation of the Seas to follow in 2016), and innovations range from robot bartenders to bumper cars, a North Star observation capsule, staterooms with 'virtual balconies', and 18 restaurant concepts, including Jamie's Italian.
The ship was launched this week in Southampton, and I joined a pre-inaugural cruise to see if the ship really is the "game-changer" Royal Caribbean believes.
Can it live up to the hype?
Embarking in Southampton, I found myself gazing in boyish awe at the sheer size of the thing (up to 4,905 passengers can be accommodated over 18 decks). The pool deck and atrium set-pieces are awesome, I was surprised to find cabins almost 10pc larger than Oasis Class ships, and though the Wi-Fi isn't as "ultra-fast" as promised, it's a definite improvement on the usual dribbling downloads at sea.
Show-off technology, I expected. But the fixtures and design are surprisingly sophisticated too. For an exclusive look inside, check out my video review (above).
Wanna get on board?
The good news is that Anthem will spend the summer sailing from the UK, giving Irish cruisers the opportunity to try it without splashing on transatlantic flights (see prices, below).
It's the next generation of cruising, coming to a port near you.
Anthem of the Seas
The fact that "the world's most revolutionary cruise ship" (according to Royal Caribbean, at least) is offering European and Mediterranean itineraries out of Southampton this summer is a big boon for Irish cruise fans. Air connections are easy and a three-night taster with stops in Belgium and France starts from €749pp. A tip: keep an eye on royalcaribbean.ie for last-minute deals - not just on Anthem of the Seas, but on 'older' Freedom, Voyager and Oasis class ships, too. They may drop in price as cruisers rush to experience the new kid on the block.
Royal Caribbean 2.0
If you want to push the boat out with Anthem of the Seas, try the 14-night Italian and Mediterranean cruise sailings from Southampton this summer. Ocean view cabins cost from €2,418pp (including meals) in July, and you can upgrade to a balcony for relatively little at €2,558pp. The price falls to €2,148pp for an ocean view in August. And remember, you can also book cruises with John Galligan (jgt.ie), e-travel (e-travel.ie) and Cruise Escapes (cruisescapes.ie) among other Irish agents.
NB: Prices subject to availability/change.