With bumper cars, surf simulator FlowRider, a climbing wall as well as award-winning shows straight out of the West End, Royal Caribbean is the cruise line for adrenalin junkies looking for the ultimate fun at sea.
Families can currently enjoy all the thrills and spills Anthem of the Seas has to offer as it heads around Britain on its summer season of seacations from Southampton.
And there are plenty of reasons to leave your credit card at home as Royal Caribbean include a lot in the very reasonable price for sailing on their 4,180-passenger Quantum Class ship.
Children and teens can make new friends at the kids’ club or catch a wave - or not! - on the iconic FlowRider and test out their driving skills on the dodgems at SeaPlex, the largest indoor activity space at sea. There, the entire family can compete at ping pong or Pickleball - which is a mixture of tennis and badminton played with an oversized tennis-style paddle and lightweight ball with giant holes - or indulge in some gaming at Xbox One.
Teens aged 13 and over can head to the state-of-the-art gym, while there’s nothing like splashing around in the outdoor pool when it’s hot and the indoor one when it’s overcast or raining.
And after fun-fuelled days at sea, the on board entertainment is exceptional. We went to see the Tony Award-winning We Will Rock You, which is literally a West End show at sea, starring Coronation Street favourite Curly Watts - actor Kevin Kennedy - as Pop, and were so impressed we booked for the next performance.
Equally impressive is Spectra’s Cabaret, a funky mix of soul and electric cabaret with a talented cast and use of technology that is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. We also loved the shorter shows - 45 minutes is just perfect for younger children - and tapped our toes to the Eastcoast Boys who celebrate the hits of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and the high-tech magic of illusionist Jamie Allan.
The food included in the fare is tasty with an array of dishes available at Windjammer Marketplace and Cafe@Two70, which is worth a visit for the spectacular views alone, while the main My Time dining, or Traditional Main Seating is exceptional.
What isn’t included:
But the majority of the restaurants are speciality and incur a fee. Johnny Rockets is a family favourite so we had to give that a try. Yes, it was delicious and a similar price to McDonald’s but I baulked at the idea of paying $40 plus dollars a head for Jamie’s Italian.
Chops Grille steakhouse, the Japanese restaurant, Izumi, and Wonderland with its molecular gastronomy were off the menu for my 13-year-old daughter who insisted on a nightly visit to Sorrento’s Pizza, which was included in the fare and some of the best pepperoni she said she’s eaten outside of Italy.
Free drinks were very limited. The fare includes water (but not bottled), tea, coffee and juice at breakfast - everything else has to be paid for. A can of Cola is around $3.50 while I paid $14 - $18 for a Mojito, depending on the bar. An internet package is $89.99 for one device and you won’t be able to use anything other than your Royal Caribbean App (which is really good) without it.
Activities worth splurging out on - you’re on holiday after all! - include the skydiving simulator, RipCord by iFly, and North Star, a London Eye-esque glass capsule that soars 300ft above sea level, giving you 360-degree views above the ship.
Grab a cocktail mixed by a pair of robotic bartenders at the Bionic Bar and treat yourself to a facial at the Vitality spa - an Elemis Pro-Collagen Age Defy cost $145 for 50 minutes and while it didn’t make me look ten years younger, it did make me feel it.
The ship is chic, feels like a resort at sea and there are thrills and sophisticated spills galore for all ages. If you’re disciplined - and strict with the kids - there’s no need to spend more than the bare minimum as so much is included in the very reasonable fare.
It’s worth spending some time on Royal Caribbean’s website or app checking out what’s on offer before you sail as there are discounted dining, drinks and internet packages that are cheaper than buying on board. We also pre-paid our gratuities - $170 for a week for two in a balcony cabin - and were treated to first-class service by our steward, Jonah.
But you can also spoil yourselves after such a turbulent 18 months of on and off lockdowns during the pandemic and really push the boat out on creating fun memories that will last until your next cruise.
Getting there: A six-night British Isles cruise sailing from Southampton on 26th September 2021 starts from £499pp for an interior cabin and £529pp for a balcony calling at Belfast and Liverpool.
Vaccination policy: Sailing with fully vaccinated crew, the cruises are available to UK residents above the age of 18 who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those under the age of 18 with negative test results.
Adults need to take a PCR test beforehand (included in the fare) while under 18s are tested at the cruise terminal at no additional cost. It’s all very easy and means you feel incredibly safe on board. Face masks are worn while walking around the ship and social distancing is maintained on board. The ship is cleaned constantly and you have to wash your hands before entering restaurants and sanitise entering theatres.