Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas will join a rapidly expanding fleet of ships cruising in the waters off United Kingdom shores this summer.
Starting July 15, the ship — described by Royal Caribbean as “a firm favorite in the region” — will operate a series of four to eight-night cruises from Southampton. The sailings will be offered only to fully vaccinated UK residents. Crew members will all be vaccinated as well.
The program will kick off with four-night ‘Ocean Getaways’ in early July, followed by five to eight-night ‘British Isles Cruises’ with calls at ports including Belfast, Liverpool, and Kirkwall.
The early cruises will have some special guests aboard. Royal Caribbean is giving away 999 cabins to key workers in health, social care, and the armed forces in recognition of their efforts to combat the pandemic. The number is no accident — 999 is the UK equivalent of the 911 emergency services number in North America.
The new itineraries open for booking on April 7. At this time, they are only available to UK residents above the age of 18 who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those under the age of 18 with negative test results. The cruise line says these restrictions may evolve over time.
Details about onboard health and safety measures will be announced at a later date, the line says. The measures put into place will be led by science and guidance from the Healthy Sail Panel, Royal Caribbean Group’s Head of Public Health and Chief Medical Officer, and local government and health authorities.
“The UK is a place we hold near and dear to our heart at Royal Caribbean. We miss our UK guests and are as eager as they are to get back to cruising from Southampton,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.
“We are delighted with the UK government’s recent announcements regarding cruising and excited to set sail again with a phenomenal ship and favorite such as Anthem of the Seas.”
Royal Caribbean’s new UK sailings continue the cruise line’s measured return to service. Quantum of the Seas has successfully carried 50,000 guests on short getaways from Singapore over several months. Royal Caribbean has also recently announced plans for the Odyssey of the Seas to cruise from Haifa, Israel, Jewel of the Seas from Cyprus, Adventure of the Seas from the Bahamas, and Vision of the Seas from Bermuda.
Since the UK government announced that restrictions on domestic travel would ease beginning May 17, cruise lines of various shapes and sizes have made a flurry of announcements on summer UK programs.
They include Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Cunard, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises, Viking, and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. While it may seem like a crowded market, most ships will be sailing at restricted capacity.
Early indications are that demand is strong — Viking’s UK itineraries were sold out to former passengers before even going on general sale, and interest in P&O Cruises caused its website to crash when its first UK voyages went on sale.
Anthem of the Seas offers a host of amenities to keep guests entertained:
- The ship features SeaPlex, the largest indoor activity space at sea, complete with bumper cars, roller skating, and more. There are adrenaline-inducing activities like the RipCord by iFly skydiving experience, the FlowRider surfing simulator, and The North Star — an all-glass viewing capsule offering views of the scenic UK coastline from 300 feet above sea level.
- Anthem of the Seas offers a wide selection of complimentary and specialty dining venues including Wonderland, featuring fanciful imaginative cuisine; Chops Grille for classic American steakhouse fare; and Izumi, where guests can sample Far East flavors and fresh sushi.
- The Tony Award-winning West End production of We Will Rock You will be center stage in the Royal Theater, while Music Hall is described as “the hottest live music venue at sea.” As well, Anthem of the Seas features the Two70 venue, where signature productions fuse art, multimedia, and technology. In keeping with the tech theme, guests can enjoy drinks mixed by a pair of robotic bartenders at the Bionic Bar.
It’s still unclear whether Royal Caribbean guests will be restricted to curated shore excursions or be able to explore on their own. But there will be opportunities to discover Liverpool, home of the Beatles; Kirkwall, Scotland, where the Viking heritage of the Orkney Islands can be explored; and Belfast, the vibrant capital of Northern Ireland.
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