Talk about making a grand entrance, the newest quantum class cruise liner from Royal Caribbean glided majestically into Santa Cruz dwarfing a Fred Olsen ferry and almost causing the mountains of Anaga to wolf whistle. The Anthem Of The Seas is something special, and it knows it, the Tenerife capital is used to naval giants but at 168,367 tons, and 16 decks high this ship is the second biggest in the world and boasts state of the art technology that puts everything at the 5,000 passengers finger tips.
As it moored at the far dockside I raced round to joint the press pack just as passengers began to stream down the walkways. Traditional Canarian musicians and dancers were on hand to add a little flavour and coaches were lining up for pre booked excursions. As well as shuttle buses to take passengers into Santa Cruz I counted 20 pre booked excursion coaches, about a third were off to Loro Parque but there was a nice diversity about the others, volcanoes, Teide, Puerto de la Cruz, cultural Tenerife, and Tenerife city sights.
Most of the those on board were Brits, this maiden cruise set sail from Southampton. It was amusing to see a couple of Union Jacks draped over high balcony rails and quite a few familiar football shirts on the crowds leaving the 10 day voyage. Cruise holidays are much more informal these days and this trip had attracted lots of families, I chatted to a few people and they were full of praise for the ship and its facilities. With the dignitaries gathered it was time for our on board tour to start, checked in and taken to the second deck esplanade our group assembled in the plush Boceros bar where champers and nibbles were served.
The Captain, Claus Andersen of Norway, made a speech about his joy at being in charge of such a ground breaking vessel and the President of the Tenerife port authority, Pedro Rodriguez Zaragoza offered his welcome with a book and a bottle of Malvasia wine. My feet were itching to explore and one of the crew led our party out into the esplanade where several of the bars and restaurants were. Upstairs I was eager to see the Bionic Bar with its robot cocktail waiters, just send an Ipad request for any drink and they mix and serve it, when the DJ is playing some hot tunes they join in the dancing – and are probably more graceful than I am.
The ship was packed with focal points, light, colourful, and amusing works of art are scattered around the decks to encourage a relaxed mood, thee Wonderland Cuisine restaurant had a large hand pointing the way in, and a shiny trombone sculpture was a real eye catcher in a communal area. I couldn’t resist the Pulse Spiral chandelier, by placing my palms on a pad it recorded my heart beat and used that as a rhythm for the individual lights to sparkle to. Even the background music was to my taste, I caught whiffs of Peter Gabriel, and OMD from the 1980’s. Taking the glass elevators we visited the beautifully laid out Teatro Royal with its views out to the port and the city beyond. Bristling with hi tech and with seating for 1,300 on split levels, it cost a cool 36 million dollars, the standard currency choice on the ship.
Skirting around the bumping cars and thee full size basketball court we popped out on the top deck for the viewing platform and the Rip Cord para diving simulator. Sport is big on the Anthem, a running track laps around the 16th deck circling the clutch of pools below a giant screen tv and more bars. The other big attraction up top is the North Star pod, a clear glass booth like the ones on the London Eye, attached to a crane arm it swings out to be suspended 300 feet over the sea.
There were so many other notable features to please passengers, of the 2,090 rooms, 1,571 have balconies, and 148 of them have outside views, another 375 have virtual views, think of the back projection behind news readers and apply that to views from the top deck projected onto a blank wall. Disabled passengers are well looked after, I noticed that all the bars had some lower serving sections and there are 34 wheelchair friendly rooms on board. Access to all services is simple and quick, passengers can wear an interactive Wow band to order and record food and drink sales and pervasive Wi Fi is streamed on board at 115 megabytes a second, even with so many users it outstrips most peoples home coverage.
Our final call was lunch at the self service buffet in the Windjammer Marketplace, the choice was incredible and there were lots of little touches to make the Brits feel at home, like Tetley tea on tap. On the way out I had a further nose around and found the Music Hall with stylish décor for a good old fashioned sing along night out. Anthem Of The Seas is an amazing ship and it was fitting that its first big voyage brought it to Tenerife as the Seatrade Cruise Med has chosen Santa Cruz for its September 2016 trade convention. The Canary Islands were historically an important hub for sea trade and exploration, it’s good to see that it’s shaping up nicely as a must stop off point for holiday cruisers.