10/08/2015

Our First Family Holiday Abroad: Anthem of the Sea's - Cruising the Italian Mediterranean

We were lucky enough to be able to have gone on a wonderful holiday with our family this July just after Penelopes 1st birthday, venturing off for 2 whole weeks cruising the Italian Mediterranean. We visited many wonderful places and had tremendous weather only experiencing one morning of thunderstorms which was amazing to watch from onboard the ship. This was Penelopes first time abroad, its crazy to think at just one years old from doing a cruise shes already visited so many wonderful countries and destinations. I was a little apprehensive about how she would cope not only would she be away from home for 2 weeks but she had never experienced high temperatures exceeding the 20's. Plus, lets be honest here in the UK's summer only lasts a day or so at a time anyway, and also she'd not had hundreds upon hundreds of people fussing over her everyday all day. Shes always been rather cautious of strangers so it was to be interesting to see how she did with the whole holidaying abroad experience. I'll be doing a couple of blog post regarding our holiday but here is a list of the places we visited and our thoughts about the ship.




The ships's Itinerary
Day 1: Southampton - England
Day 2: At Sea
Day 3: At Sea
Day 4: Gibraltar - United Kingdom
Day 5: Cartagena - Spain
Day 6: At Sea
Day 7: Rome (Civitavecchia) - Italy
Day 8: Florence/pisa - Italy
Day 9: Marseille - France
Day 10: At Sea
Day 11: Cadiz - Spain
Day 12: Lisbon - Portugal
Day 13: Vigo - Spain
Day 14: At Sea
Day 15: Southampton - England

Anthem of the Sea's Experience
Departing
Waking up ridiculously early even though we were not departing until 10am on the 18th July I suppose you could say we were keen to get going. We set off to Southampton Docks to board the Anthem of the Sea's. Penelope got to test out her new Minnie Mouse car seat for the journey and we worked it out so Penny would hold off her morning nap at home and instead let her nap in the car. It worked out great and she woke right at the end of the 3 hour+ journey, turns out its pretty comfy. Arriving into the docks we saw many ships docked up but none looked as good as the Anthem of the Sea's, the ship was absolutely stunning on first impressions! I could see the North Star attraction from the top decks, rock climbing, a gigantic giraffe figure and other attractions. it looked amazing.

Our Room
We had abit of drama getting aboard the ship due to a few technical issues but all worked out in the end and we were able to walk onto the ship to find our rooms. Our room was lovely, it even had a generously sized balcony with high glass which was safe for Penelope to have supervised access too, and boy did she love it. She would venture outside and point to the sea, we would talk about what animals lived in the sea. A travel cot was set up for Penny to use which she slept soundly in for the entire two weeks even when she came down with a little cold in the second week of the trip. There was plenty of storage available considering we had a young child

Staff
I couldn't praise the staff more if I tried but they were absolutely brilliant because they went out of their way to give you the best service possible, never saying no but still trying to find a solution to any issues you may of had. Our room attendant was amazing he came in twice a day to sort our room out, give fresh towels and, make the beds. He dealt with the smelly bins created from stinky nappies, he set Penelopes toys out all fun and exciting for when she returned back from dinner. He'd greet us as he worked in the other rooms, just the nicest most polite man I've come across. It was nice to see staff that felt like they were happy to help you, back home 99.9% of the time people have a look of thunder on their face if you were to ask where the baby changing is for example.

Food
The food was awesome with so many variations of restaurant to eat from you were spoiled for choice, each being just as good in quality may I add. We visited all but a few of them only because we didn't manage to fit them all in. We never felt in anyway worried about bringing Penelope in the restaurants many being quite formal, she would sit in her high chair and have a three course meal the little piggie. Staff commented on how well behaved, and how well she would eat her food. We were so proud of her and she behaved this way at every meal time being it breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We didn't really go out for meals with the worry it would be too stressful of an experience. It was most definitely not the case me and Reese both said we should definitely go out for family meals more often as it turns out its rather enjoyable at this stage. God help us if things change in the future, which I am sure they will. Penelope tried all sorts of fabulous foods, she particularly loved asparagus, spring rolls, and Japanese noodles. My favourite restaurant was Chic we reserved places twice and would've gone back again but wanted to try the others out also.

Hygiene 
The entire ship was immaculate throughout our entire stay, they didn't let it slip once. Our room, the restaurants, lifts, corridors, and social area's were all kept clean and tidy. When being out of the country its a worry that your child will pick up a nasty tummy bug ofrcatch something nasty but because of how clean and well kept the ship was it felt like it was kept at bay. They are so strict on hygiene when entering and exiting the restaurants they have sinks to wash hands and sanitizing lotions to rub into your hands.

Swimming Pools
They have a rule about babies/children in nappies using the pools because of risks to the children perhaps getting ill, so they have a designated areas to use to prevent these risks. I appreciated the fact they did this as of course its safer, but at the same time it would have been nice to have a proper swim with Penelope instead of using the splash pools, and wave pool. Nevertheless it didn't bother Penny she would point to the water as soon as she saw it desperate to get in. She would happily play by the pools for hours on end. Eating ice creams, sitting in the sun, cooling off in the pool, total bliss wouldn't you say.

Entertainment/Bars
There is something for everybody onboard, whether you liked subtle quiet music, rock and roll, or wanted to get your nightclub vibe on there was something you could choose from. We spent alot of time in the Music Hall which had more of a Rock scene, Penelope being the reason as she adored dancing along, clapping after each song, pointing out all the light effects, and crawling across the floor. Each evening we were given a itinerary for the next day which included details of a destination we were arriving too if we were not at sea, a huge list of activities going on in the day and evening. It also had the opening times of some attractions and the restaurants. Me and Reese actually had a night off baby responsibilities because Grandad babysat and we got to enjoy a night of drinking and dancing in the night club Red. I drank rather too much and was not feeling too bright the next day. I suppose not drinking for almost two years was a little bit of a shock to the system. The ship also had fantastic babysitting facilities (we didn't use them but they looked great) and a bloody brilliant playroom in which you could supervise your childs playtime. Penelope loved going here and knew exactly when we were approaching as she would thrash around all excitedly in her buggy saying 'yeah! yeah! yeah!'.

Sea Pass Cards
These nifty little things are literally your life lines while onboard the ship, they are your room key, payment device, passport to get on and off the ship, they hold your type of package, they are amazing making the holiday as easy and stress free as possible.

Overall
Being my first experience cruising but Reese's 4/5th time, for me it was literally amazing and now I would not want to holiday abroad any other way. It was so refreshing to know you were not going to be in one place for long and would get the chance to visit another locations. We all absolutely loved it, and would 100% recommend it to anybody curious about cruising.

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4 comments:

  1. Looked like you had a lovely time. Did you feel sea sick at all? Ive never been on a cruise, would love to though. xxx

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    1. Oh we did indeed Andrea, was the best holiday i've had in a very long time. So stress free, and it had just a relaxed atmosphere. No sea sickness, i have been on sea fishing trips which have had me leaning over the side of the boat feeling sick to my stomach, but cruising is very different to that. There was a very few moments in which the ship would sway but it seemed to only be when coming and going from England, Typical haha! xx

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  2. id love to go on a cruise but I'm just scared of feeling sick or having bad weather. looks fantastic though. xx

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    1. Oh no lovely, its definately a great waty to holiday. I have suffered with sea sickness on sea fishing trips and such. I was a little apprehensive myself about sea sickness but it was a totally different experience. There was a few moments in which i felt it sway a little but nothing to cause any real bother and it never lasted long. Weather wise we had one day of thunder storms, but that morning we explore other attractions on the ship. xxx

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