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adventures await

I stood in a closed room, shades, drawn, with 13 other people. Our mission: Work together to dicepher clues and find the key to get out of the room within one hour.

oceanview room

Above: An amazing room and view. Anthem of the Seas.

Below:: Flying high in Ripcode. Anthem of the Seas. Both photos by Royal Caribbean International


This Escape From the Future game was just one of the adventures I discovered last November on a two-night preview cruise aboard Royal Caribbean International's Anthem of the Seas.

Over the next day and a half, I learned that the Anthem is a 168,666-ton floating amusement park. You can ride the waves on FlowRider, a surfing simulator, and skydive inside Ripcode by iFly, a 23-foot-tall glass tube that floats you on hot air. In a fun zone called SeaPlex, you can roller skate, ride in bumper cars, and fly on a trapeze. The variety of activities makes the vessel idea for families.

I felt like a kid myself, pretending to be a Star Trek character as I rode in North Star, a spaceship-like capsule at the end of a giant steel arm that rises more than 300 feet in the air to offer spectacular panoramic views.

You can relax in your stateroom if you want to-- mine ad a comfy bed, a sitting area, and thoughtful touches such as a small handle on the back of a chair, making it easy to pull out from the makeup counter/desk--but Anthem's every feature invites you to engage with our fellow passengers and with the ship. In the Bionic Bar, I watched robot bartenders mix and serve drinks to passengers, and in the Two70 showroom, I saw candelabras float and portraits move on the kinetic backdrop.

For meals, you can opt for traditional assigned seating in one of two dining rooms or choose from specialty restaurants, such as Jamie's Italian, featuring menus by British star chef Jamie Oliver.

In fantasy-like Wonderland, I felt I was dining in a fairytale cartoon palace as I savored imaginative dishes such as liquid lobster served with caviar on a ceramic spoon; juicy, braised beef with bordelaise sauce, and a deep-fried puff of foie gras with truffles that exploded with flavor when I popped it in my mouth.

Evening entertainment included a performance of We Will Rock You in the Royal Theater, where I stomped and clapped to classic Queen.

As I played, dined, and danced, I could share my experiences with friends and family back home, thanks to a cruise-ship innovation: on-board Wi-Fi that is fast enough to post on Facebook and Instagram in real time. A giant digital dashboard on an upper deck shows a sampling of passenger tweets, and it was a thrill to see a couple of mine displayed there.

The 4,180-passenger Anthem sails from Cape Liberty across the water from Manhattan to ports such as the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and New England.

Harryman is travel editor of Westways magazine in southern California. And be introduced Ovation of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's new ship.

September/October 2016 Issue


Stand for Ovation

In June, Royal Caribbean International's third Quantum-class ship, Ovation of the Seas, took its place in Tianjin, China. From the new northeast China home port, Ovation will offer itineraries in the Asia/Pacific.

Chinese actress Fan Bingbing presided over the first ship naming ceremony in China. As the ship's godmother, she broke the champagne bottle on the hull in keeping with maritime tradition.

Dr. Zinan Liu, president of Royal Caribbean International–China and North Asia Pacific, said with the arrival of the 4,180-passenger Ovation, the cruise line has the largest fleet in the region.

"Now, Chinese guests can enjoy a wider variety of world-class cruise experiences and destinations right from their home market," Liu said.

China is the cruise industry's fastest-growing market. According to Royal Caribbean, demand has increased by double digits since 2013. The Chinese Ministry of Tourism forecasts 4.5 million there will be cruise passengers by 2020.

This fall, Royal Caribbean welcomes the massive Harmony of the Seas (Oasis class) to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. And more ships are on the horizon for Royal Caribbean. A fourth Oasis-class ship is due for a mid-2018 delivery, with a similar ship scheduled for spring 2021. Two Edge-class ships for Celebrity Cruises are scheduled for fall 2021 and 2022.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. also owns Celebrity Cruises.


The new Ovation of the Seas is welcomed to its Chinese home port.


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