Today was hot, humid, and very sunny! We hopped into a shared taxi to the Atlantis Resort across the bridge on Paradise Island. We were dropped off in front of the beach towers to check in for our pre-purchased day passes. I have never been in a line where the people who pre-purchased had to wait longer than those who didn't. We literally sat in a line that did not move for 15 minutes. We finally asked the gentleman who was directing the lines if he could look into this because it was getting ridiculous. The very sweet staff member walked a small group of us into the resort to another desk (he did warn us that the line there could be long too). We wandered through the shops, through the casino, and into the main check in area of the resort. The day pass desk had only 1 person ahead of us! We were thrilled with no line, shade, and air conditioning. We tipped the gentleman for helping us out!
Once we had our passes we decided to start our day in the Dig. I'm not an advocate of Zoos, Aquariums, Swimming with Dolphins etc. However I am not going to force my beliefs on my friends nor their children and when you are looking for something safe and somewhat educational for young kids I get the attraction of the Dig.
When then went in search of another hat for one of the kids. We found a fabulous one at Disney Springs but the didn't have the right size we needed for the 2nd boy.
We made our way over to the ocean but we stopped and had a quick lunch of burgers, hot dogs, french fries, and Painkillers (alcoholic beverages for the adults). If you've never had a Painkiller and love tropical drinks you must try one! We first discovered them at Pusser's on Tortola. They are a combination of rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice, orange juice, and nutmeg. They're addictive, delicious, and dangerous.
Unfortunately, the red flag was up for the ocean today. This indicated that the surf was rough, there was a strong undertow, or both. We walked along the sand, dipped our feet in the water, and relaxed in a lounger. Without being able to spend a lot of time in the ocean we decided to make our way back to the ship. We enjoyed a fabulous conversation with our taxi driver. During our quick drive she told us what we should see and do on our next visit and a couple other great tips.
After security we were on the ship and headed to the pool deck. We brought the boys to the kids pool which was a little too deep for them. The actual toddler pool was pathetic. It was a small circular area with a small fountain and that was it. No colors, no sprayers, no toys, nothing but a small fountain and maybe an inch of water before it drained.
Greg and I headed up to the Suite sun deck and found a nice shaded area to relax in. The rest of our group met us up there eventually and we enjoyed the warm area, the shade, some drinks, and the views!
For dinner we went back to the Coastal Kitchen. Our routine was most of us enter the restaurant, park the strollers, set up the Ipad, settle one kid into his highchair, and say hi to all of the staff. The other person would take our elevator loving little boy to the elevators. We would ooohhh and ahhhh, point at the lights, and look outside on the deck before making our way into the restaurant.
The menu tonight was very good and I enjoyed the Octopus starter but my Duck entree was on the salty side. Between the salt in the food, the humidity, and change in temperatures my feet were incredibly swollen. After dinner a nice walk around the interior of the ship helped alleviate some of the swelling.
Next up is our 2nd day at sea.
Surrounded by clear blue green water we woke up and found ourselves at CocoCay in the Bahamas. After our usual breakfast in Coastal Kitchen we made our way downstairs and showed our suite passes to board a ferry. Royal Caribbean is working on a dock at CocoCay but until it's finished they ferry you from the ship to shore. I can't say for sure but I've read online that the dock should be completed before December 2018.
After a short ride we checked into the excursions desk and they told us that the golf cart to the Cabanas was just behind the building. Unfortunately, the golf carts were a bit disorganized and we ended up having a few minutes wait. We drove 5 minutes away and arrived at the Cabana area. Ricardo along with another staff member we waiting to check us in. We were assigned Cabana 9 which was in the first row of Cabanas and we had a beautiful ocean view. Unfortunately, when we walked up to our Cabana it was filled with someone's belongings. Both staff members and ourselves asked who's items they were. 20 minutes later (after frustration and some laughs) someone finally came and collected their belongings once they saw the staff were removing them (the person happened to be someone that I asked if it was their belongings and they lied to my face). I don't fault the staff at all and were happy with the way they handled things.
Finally we could put our own stuff down, ask for fresh waters, and were able to relax. The cabanas are pricey but after a day at CocoCay we all agreed they were well worth it. The cabanas offer shade, a couch, waters, a table, loungers, sun loungers, floating mats, a separate BBQ and bar area. We thoroughly enjoyed playing in the water and sitting in the sand while watching the kids. When it was time for lunch we enjoyed crudite, fruit, salmon, steak, burgers, and more. The cabanas were especially great when the kids needed a nap. We would switch out when some of us needed shade and some of us were ready for more fun in the sun. My friend and I did take a ride over to the shopping area and were glad to go back to the calm environment of the Cabana.
We enjoyed ourselves so much that even though we constantly applied suntan lotion we ended up getting a little burnt (it was a sunny, hot, and cloudless day). Once we realized we were slowly burning ourselves we hopped onto a ferry back to the ship. Back on board we opted for some showers and fresh clothes before going for a walk and a drink.
Yesterday we made reservations for the 6 of us at Wonderland. I'm not sure if the hostess wasn't attentive, the server wasn't attentive, or the fact we were with kids threw everyone off but the start of our dinner was a little awkward. One of the boys settled in as usual and watched his movie during dinner while the other realized he was very close to his favorite area....the elevators. We ended up taking turns watching him and going back and forth between the restaurant and the elevators until he finally gave up and walked back to dinner all on his own (with Greg following behind him lol).
Once we were seated we were presented with a frame, water, and brush each. Once you paint the frame your menu appears. We sat for a few minutes before our server came over and explained the meal and took our drink order. It was very nice that he offered to get the twins anything they wanted from any restaurant. Our impressions of the restaurant and the food were whimsical but a little on the darker side. If the uniforms, lighting, and some of the food design were a little less intense the atmosphere would have been better.
I should note that I knew going in that I was going to eat dairy so I made sure to bring lots of Lactaid pills.
We received the Buffalo chicken eggs, shrimp kataifi, tomato water, gnocchi, crispy crab cones, baby vegetables in the garden, oceanic citrus, Halibut cooked in clear paper, Branzino in crispy bread, terrior beef, Berkshire pork belly, and the slow roasted chicken. A few of the dishes weren't to my liking. For instance the gnocchi had an off putting flavor, the oceanic citrus was difficult to enjoy, and the chicken entree lacked imagination. My favorite dishes were the shrimp kataifi (flavorful and crispy), the tomato water (unbelievably flavorful for size and clarity), and the Branzino was perfectly cooked. For dessert we were confused by the key lime pops, enamored with the chocolate caramel orb, and the "apple" dessert. We all agree that the chocolate and caramel dessert was the best even though it was very rich and a large portion. I would try this restaurant again in hopes of a better experience.
Up next is our day at Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.
April 7th 2018 Sailing Date
Today is our first time cruising with Royal Caribbean on the Anthem of the Seas. We woke up early and brought Fred to stay with Grandma and Grandpa. Hopped back in the car and made our way south to Bayonne, NJ. Anthem of the seas departs out of Cape Liberty Cruise Port which is 4 hours south of Boston. We hit very little traffic and made our way into the car lane to drop off luggage. I was very happy to see that there was a space to unload your luggage before parking. We parked the car and made our way into the terminal. We were hoping to wait for friends who were meeting us but there isn't really anywhere to wait before security. We had upgraded our balcony room to a Grand Suite and so we were able to use the suite line for security (where there was only 1 group ahead of us). After security we went to the suite check in line and only had about a 5 minute wait. A few days before our cruise we filled out online our documentation and uploaded our pictures. This helped our check in to be extremely fast. We walked through the suite entrance but this only brought us down a long hallways to the escalator that everyone else uses.
We swiped our paper upon entering the ship but our pictures needed to be verified so it took an extra minute for that to be figured out. I'm not in love with Royal Caribbean's new check in process. You print off your cruise documentation and that is your key to getting on the ship, drinks, and purchases until 1:30 pm when the rooms are ready. When the rooms are ready you will find one card in envelope outside your stateroom and one card inside the room. While waiting for our friends we decided to head to the Schooner Bar for some kick off vacation cocktails. My John Collins (made with Tito's Vodka) was nice and refreshing even with the unpleasant temperatures outside. Our friends texted us (cell service was awful at this point prior to logging into Voom) that they were boarding so we left the area and met them at the entrance.
The 6 of us (4 adults and 2 toddlers) made our way up to deck 14 for some lunch at Coastal Kitchen which is a dedicated restaurant for suite guests. Coastal Kitchen has a reserved environment, amazing staff, and delicious food! I read reviews from disappointed guests and was worried but we were more than happy at the restaurant all week. With twin toddlers we knew we would be a loud and messy table so we made sure to compensate with extra gratuity to the staff.
Greg and I were in room 8638 a Grand Suite. Upon entering our room we had a small hallway, a living room area with tv, couch, chair, table, coffee/tea, closet, mini fridge, and desk. The bedroom offers a king size bed, two nightstands, a desk, large closet, and a tv. The bathroom offers a shower/tub combo, toilet, and two sinks. The balcony provides two loungers, a table, and chairs. The room was a great size and offers plenty of storage.
Unfortunately, our room was not clean at all! We found crumbs on our floor, red sticky melted something on the walls, tables, and handles. We called the attendant line and didn't get a great response so we pulled out my antibacterial wipes and cleaned ourselves. While heading out to meet up with our friends Greg ran into our room attendant who apologized for the room and explained that he had to clear immigration today and unfortunately had to rush everything. Soccoro assured Greg the room would be clean before the evening was done. We both understood his point of view and didn't let this start ruin our trip. Also not a big deal but we didn't receive our specialty waters for a couple of days.
The 6 of us went to the 12th floor to the Concierge Lounge where we enjoyed some hor d'oeuvres and introduced ourselves to Ricardo (the suite concierge). Ricardo and I had been messaging during the week for our cruise and he was wonderful in helping us reserve a Cabana on CocoCay.
At 5:30 we went to the Coastal Kitchen for dinner. Greg and I don't normally dine this early but when you're with two cute toddlers you do what you have to do. Meal time for the 6 of us usually went like this: Make our way to the restaurant entrance, one kid ready to go, one kid needs to burn off energy. Divide and conquer! Depending on the day some of us go into the restaurant park the strollers, set up the Ipad, and get settled in while the other party would walk one of the kids around and then join us. We were very thankful that the staff set up a particular table for us during the week, always had two highchairs ready, and always treated us as if we weren't loud and messy.
After dinner we decided to get a cocktail at the Schooner Bar. This is where my friends son started to get over his fear of the elevator. Thanks to the pretty green or red lights and the pinging he was happy, excited, and would repeat over and over ....oooohhh, oooohhh up, down! He was pretty well known during the week lol.
Prior to a whale watching trip out of Boston I did not suffer from motion sickness. On the past 3 cruises we've been on I have suffered motion sickness but controlled it with Bonine. I had to switch medications though because of my dairy intolerance. I've been using the CVS brand motion sickness medicine since it's the only that doesn't contain lactose (during this trip I did find that Dramamine naturals and Dramamine for kids both don't contain dairy). On this trip I was in bed early almost every night! The CVS brand pills made me very tired (especially after my 2nd dose). On my next cruise I'm thinking I'll just have to see what happens with the touch lactose in the pills.
Greg won the president's award at work and his reward was a long weekend in the Bahamas along with the other winners. It was incredible that his company bought our airfare, and lodging at the Ocean Club, 2 dinners, and breakfast everyday. They also gave us a stipend for drinks, lunches, etc.
Unfortunately we went way over our stipend due to unseen issues. Before arriving in the Bahamas his work asked about our travel plans and any allergies. Unfortunately the allergies were overlooked and at a resort that is extremely pricey items add up quickly. During one dinner I had to buy my own meal because the function did not take into consideration food allergies. The first breakfast we went to I received an attitude because I needed something made that wasn't on the pre-set meal. Rather than deal with this issue every morning we ended up buying room service for breakfasts to ensure my meals were safe for me to eat.
All in all it was a nice weekend at the beach so definitely can't complain too much. For my hotel review visit HERE. For my review about the food at the Ocean Club as well as Cafe Martinique (Atlantis) visit HERE.