Has the golden age of cruising gone forever? Undoubtedly, the answer has to be in the affirmative if you hanker after the grandeur for which the liners of years gone by were noted.
Being aboard the world’s newest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, you cannot help but acknowledge that it is a very fine vessel but, at the same time, it has to be realised that it has been built to meet the perceived demands of today’s passengers.
I say ‘perceived’ demands as that is what all companies do; they design new products that they believe will appeal to potential consumers. Unfortunately, they are not always successful.
In the case of Anthem, Royal Caribbean has done a good job – but not a great one. Not having sailed with RC before, much of my time has been spent listening to the views of other passengers and, although there is no guarantee of a good cross-section or a representative sample, views being expressed were strikingly similar:
“It’s a great ship but they could have done more”, “I loved the old promenade which made you feel like you were in a street. The new esplanade just doesn’t have it”, “Very disappointing, I would not cruise on this ship again”, “They have gone more for the impressive features such as the North Star and i-fly but really these are just gimmicks”, “Seaplex is just a waste of space”, “Boardwalk and Central Park are sadly missed”. It is interesting to note that these comments were heard in general conversations and were not the result of direct questioning. It may be thought strange that there are no positive comments but none have been omitted. Perhaps the reason for not hearing positive comments is that human nature means that people are more inclined to complain than give compliments. I am absolutely sure that some people would have given positive comments had they been asked for their views.
Some people do regret the passing of the former grandeur of the liners of yesteryear, with their grand staircases and stately restaurants often three decks high. Similar features do still exist on some vessels in use today but not in the very newest. Modern? Yes. Progress? Yes and no.
My wife Lisa has previously cruised with Royal Caribbean and has always held it up as the company that sets the standard for others to beat but some of those comments resonated with her. She expressed it this way: “I am sad to see that Royal Caribbean is no longer the leader of the pack. Anthem shows that for all its much-hyped improvements, the company is no longer outstanding; it now does everything the same as its competitors.”
Nothing in all this should detract in any way from the professionalism of the crew in providing everyone with a safe and, hopefully, enjoyable experience.