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This is the first cruise we've taken that we didn't have to fly to our departure city. We opted instead to drive to Newark the night before and then Uber to the cruise port [Port Liberty] the next morning. We were very pleased with the extremely efficient boarding process. 15 minutes from curbside until we were on board the Anthem of the Seas!
The early afternoon on board included lunch, making last minute activity reservations, and exploring our new environment. Once we completed the 'muster' drill, the Anthem slowly pushed away from the dock and then to our pleasant surprise, gave us a tour of the NYC harbor before turning and heading out to sea under the Verrazano Narrows bridge. The Anthem actually takes on water so that she is lower in the water, thus able to pass under the bridge.
We had a sea day for our first full day on the cruise. That made for a relaxing day with a leisurely breakfast and lunch. The highlight of the day was our first iFLY experience. It was a little challenging [mostly mental], but definitely a lot of fun. We did it again later in the cruise.
This was our first visit to the island of Bermuda. Despite the very wet and foggy start to our visit, the weather cleared and we had a great day at Horseshoe Bay Beach. The local minibuses provided an efficient means of hauling loads of cruise passengers to the beach and I was happy to have someone else do the driving on the narrow and 'left side driving' roads.
Later, once back on board, we took advantage of another free Anthem activity, rising up in the NorthStar capsule to a height of ~ 300 feet above the water while the ship was in the open ocean. It was great! No physical activity, just stand there and enjoy the views.
We have been to St. Martin multiple times, in fact, we stayed there for several week long visits. We were interested in seeing the effects of Hurricane Irma [September 7, 2017] on the island. What we had seen in the news indicated that the island was hit pretty hard. The French side the island was the hardest hit. We visited the Orient Beach area [one of our favorites] and even after 9 months, we still saw plenty of storm damage. The Club Orient Resort appeared to be a total loss - pictures below.
It has been quite a few years since we have been to San Juan. Unfortunately, the Anthem made only a short stop there, so we confined our exploring to the Old San Juan area. We got off the ship so early that we had to wait for the Castillo San Cristobal park to open. It was a very hot day! We stopped by the Cathedral for old times sake and then hunted up Parque De Las Palomas [Pigeon Park], which a friend had recommended. After all of our walking, we were very happy to find a street bar serving ice cold local beer.
After all our walking, we were happy to get back on board for lunch, a nap, and a matinee performance of "We Will Rock You" - a Royal Caribbean theater performance.
The next day we stopped at Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private island on Haiti. We took a snorkel cruise to a nearby reef. It was a lot of fun. Most of the fish were smaller than what we are used to seeing in Hawaii, but still worth it. Anthem provided a beach barbecue for lunch. After that we lounged on the beach for a little while. Sonia investigated the local craft market. The heat of the day wasn't conducive for lingering, so we went back to ship after a couple hours.
Departing from Labadee, we had two fulls days at sea before arriving back at Port Liberty. We filled our time with a second NorthStar ride, our second formal night, more iFLY adventures, and just plain relaxing after three consecutive active days of port stops. Cruising can be exhausting, so you need to be sure you get plenty of rest!
We arrived at Port Liberty a little after 7:30 in the morning. But since we had no plane to catch, we ate one last leisurely breakfast in the Windjammer, walked around the ship a little more, snapping pictures of anything missed taking pictures of before, then went down to the Two70 Lounge to wait for our turn to disembark. All in all, a very pleasant cruise!