Rough Seas Ahead
What’s more exciting than visiting the Bermuda Triangle during hurricane season? Release the kraken! For weeks, B had been sending me texts with updates on various hurricanes heading toward our vacation destination. When one would change direction or downgrade, another would be right behind to keep my doomsday weather reporter in an ominous mood. I packed plenty of naïve optimism, cheerful ignorance, and a raincoat alongside my fins and snorkel.
Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas makes port in Bayonne, New Jersey, which happens to be minutes from Newark Airport and only a lovely four-hour drive to Boston. We had a wicked awesome wedding to attend in at the end of this cruise, so sinking wasn’t an option. Googlemaps may say it’s closer to a five hour drive, but they don’t calculate with respect to B. Divide by two, carry the one, and buckle your seatbelt!
Cape Liberty Cruise Port
We began our adventure with Samurai aboard a redeye flight arriving at 0500 AM. Luckily, Newark Airport has a sweet little USO where we could catch a nap before the port opened for embarkation. Having slept like Soldiers, uncomfortably and never enough, we arrived at the Cape Liberty Cruise Port. On a whim, we had each paid extra for a new Royal Caribbean benefit called The Key. The reward was immediate when we were ushered away from the long line to an open desk for check-in. Next, our Key status took us to a welcome lunch at Chops Grille aboard the ship. The food and drinks were divine, and I already knew the calorie to exercise ratio was going to be an issue. Maybe if we swam behind the boat on our way to Bermuda, I could make up for everything I was planning to enjoy. Just keep swimming!
Lucky Number 13
Our luggage was waiting for us at our adjacent rooms, B’s room next to Samurai’s and mine. Just kidding! Although anyone who knows us wouldn’t be surprised and B would get more naps without my chatter. Our rooms did have an adjoining balcony that allowed us to flit back and forth like drunken hummingbirds. I have a link to a full tour of room 13194 here. We picked the 13th floor to avoid the Adventure Ocean (kid’s area), being far enough below the running track, and because it seemed a fitting number for the Bermuda Triangle. I’d pack a black cat if they’d let me because I make my own luck, fates be dammed.
The initial six-day cruise included a day to reach Bermuda, two days on the island, and a day to return to port. It seems the ship had their own doomsday weatherman, Chief Meteorologist Van Fleet, who packed his own wet blanket, sometimes known as science. In order to stay ahead of Hurricane Jerry, we could only spend one day in Bermuda and then take two days to cruise north above the storm. Safety won this battle, but I wouldn’t let it change anything. Except for my entire two-day plan for Bermuda, which had pre-printed maps and color-coded ferry schedules, I wasn’t changing anything. Heck let’s wing it!
Mystery and History
Once we were able to jump ship in Bermuda, I was determined to get a full day’s touring before we disappeared into the void. It would take more than incoming storm clouds to derail my newest plans. The snorkel park was defended by a crumbling military fort, complete with cannons. The ramparts rose hundreds of feet above the water and several cannons rested just below the ocean surface, having undoubtedly won the cannon belly-flop contest. Armed with mask, snorkel, fins, camera, and an adult water-wing for Samurai, we ventured into the less than warm waters of Bermuda. Acting as lookout, B stayed on shore so he could give an accurate description to the authorities of whatever sea monster dragged us back to its triangular lair. Samurai and I searched the depths for lost treasures, the wreckage of Amelia Airheart, and the sunken city of Atlantis. Samurai avoided being touched by fin or frond despite the snorkel park averaging the depth of a kiddie pool. I chased fish with my camera like I was the mermaid paparazzi and kicked my fins until beaching among the legs of fellow tourists. Rolling out of the waves, we collected our lookout and prepared to see anything that hadn’t been shuttered against the on-coming storm.
The National Museum of Bermuda required far time more than we had left in the day. The extensive exhibits and restored buildings would require many more hours to properly explore. We did our best to see as much of the sprawling grounds and looked down on the area where we had snorkeled. Did I mention there were chickens wandering around everywhere? Also, there were more sheep than tourists wandering inside the lawns of the keep as the first of the rain started to fall. We had seen everything within walking distance of the boat, entered the Bermuda Triangle of tourist shopping, and learned a great deal about this former island prison turned military instillation. Everyone back on the ship!
Avoid Room Service
Royal Caribbean has eliminated the 24-hour room service and now charges a fee for meals ordered during the approved hours. Further, any drinks ordered with room service are not covered by the drink packages. It feels as though they are trying to discourage using room service unless your aversion to leaving your room outweighs your tolerance of lousy food. The quality reminded me of old Army chow, with powdered eggs and rubbery toast. I bet more of you believe me when I say Royal Caribbean doesn’t pay me for these blogs. You’re getting my real opinion! Avoid the room service unless you’re ready to “Hold your plate up, Soldier!”
Drinks with a View
One unique feature of the Anthem of the Seas is the North Star, which is a roomy pod that lifts 300ft above the pool deck for beautiful views. We scheduled our pod ride for sunset and waited at the bar for our turn. My favorite drink aboard Royal Caribbean is the chocolate martini although I wish martini glasses weren’t so prone to spill while walking around the ship. Although we had the deluxe drink package, that’s is no excuse for the boat to slosh my glass. Rough seas tend to make you look tipsy. No drinks were harmed in our ascension to specular twilight viewing. Roundtrip on North Star was about fifteen minutes, which was plenty of time to enjoy the view and notice that one of our fellow riders might have been smuggling cheese and ferrets under his jacket. After escaping from the odiferous pod, we had dinner and a show to catch.
My favorite show on the Anthem of the Seas was We Will Rock You. It featured all music from Queen and included plenty of humor. In a post-apocalyptic society, where all music is computer generated advertising, only rock and roll rebels can save the world and bring back individuality. I laughed and sang along, noticing that even B was enjoying this musical. After the performance, we hiked back up to the 13th floor. We always took the stairs as a way to exercise and mainly because the elevators are bogged down with everyone else. My Fitbit said we were averaging 50 flights of stairs per day. How many chocolate martinis does that count against?
Other trips down to the Royal Theater were for the comedian, Mark White, and the impressionist, Jeff Tracta, from the 2017 season of America’s Got Talent. Mark held two shows, with one being geared toward the adult crowd, and we attended both. Since we don’t spend time at the casino and can only eat for so many hours of the day, shows are our favorite aboard the ship. This includes live game shows in which audience members compete for team prizes. You’d be amazed how quickly cruisers will strip off their clothes or hug complete strangers with the promise of a prize. Samurai did volunteer her shoelaces for one contest, but we mostly kept a healthy distance from the action. The impressionist, Jeff Tracta, is known for his performances as the dancing Trump. He did several dance numbers and enough impressions that it was easy to forget that he was a single person performing the entire show. The final show we attended was held in the two70 Lounge. Spectra’s Cabaret incorporated singing, dancing, spinning from the ceiling, experimental cinematography, and some of the fastest costume changes imaginable. The two70 is so named for the 270 degree view from the floor to ceiling windows around the stern of the ship. For you non-seafarers, the stern is the ship’s ass. Kept aft to reach the ass. Drink up me hardies, yo-ho. Sailors or pirates, you get the picture.
Get me to the Church on Time!
At last, the ship reached port after the extra cruising day. Again, the Key benefit was most evident as we bypassed hundreds (not even exaggerating) of people to go through Customs and debark with our luggage. Not wanting to draw attention to our line cutting, the crew member leading the three of us held a circular sign aloft declaring us Key benefit members. It felt a bit awkward, but it saved us several hours. We had a wedding to get to and four-hour drive to Boston.
Safe travels, my friends!