Newsletter: Weekly travel round-up
Chalkmarks High life on the high seas with this billion dollar baby

AS soon as I’m on board I’m off.

I want adventure, excitement and romance.

I stop for a quick cocktail first. I had to – they were being made by robots. This is the welcome greeting me on the Royal Caribbean’s latest ocean liner – Anthem of the Seas.

The entrance is sleek and grand, with a sweeping staircase below and a chandelier above. I had boarded early for a full inspection of the third largest ship in the world but what with all this glamour around it would be rude not to pause for a drink.

These bionic bartenders shake and stir 120 cocktails an hour from hundreds of spirit bottles hanging upside down. And when they’re not mixing the drinks they’re dancing to music. Who needs Tom Cruise?

The Anthem cost $1billion to build with much of that going into the onboard technology

Now that my dream man has made me a Cosmopolitan, I study the deck plans to get my bearings. This is much simpler than taking a tour and I remember things best with a drink in my hand.

Luddites be warned – this ship is filled with mod cons and the Bionic Bar is just the beginning. You order your tipple on a tablet accessed by your digital wristband, which is programmed to do everything from opening your cabin door to shopping onboard.

This sea creature is built to seduce the IT crowd.

It was hard to leave the robotic magicians but now that I’d ticked off the romance I walked away and didn’t look back.

I went to my stateroom on deck 12 to unpack. The cabins are cute, finished in white and jazzed up with artwork on the walls. Also I had a balcony to lie out on.

There’s plenty of cupboard space if you are on a heavy-duty tour of the Med or Caribbean and the shower is powerful.

The Anthem cost $1billion to build with much of that going into the onboard technology.

It can accommodate up to 5,000 passengers and those that don’t have a sea-facing cabin instead get a virtual window that beams live views from port or starboard sides.

The Two70 theatre has six moving robo-screens and a 270degree wraparound floor-to-ceiling screen to show a virtual 75-piece Philharmonic orchestra during afternoon tea.

A North Star capsule reaches up on a massive arm giving guests a unique 300ft (90m) view of the sea below.

There are bumper cars and a skydiving simulator, which is a 165mph vertical windtunnel. There’s also a rock climbing wall, roller-skating, basketball, a circus school, running track and a surfing simulator.

All of this across 18 decks – each taking more than half an hour to walk around.

To help you navigate this bucket list of activities there’s a passenger mobile phone app that updates you on what’s going on, what time and where.

But if you prefer the slow life there’s a spa, eight swimming pools, 18 restaurants and hundreds of comfy chairs dotted around.

There’s excitement building as we leave Southampton Docks one hour later. So that’s number two on my list checked off.

I piled into the lift to get up and outside on deck 15 to watch the jagged shoreline of England disappear. There were tourists on the waterfront taking pictures and waving as this floating city sailed away.

I swung round and it was blue sky ahead and snap happy passengers tweeting their selfies up on the large screen above the open-air pool.

Compass needle south and we were off on a journey around the Isle of Wight. The Anthem at 1,181ft (360m) long – the equivalent of 38 London buses – and standing as tall as Big Ben, doesn’t bob like a fishing boat or fly like a speed boat, it skims the English Channel like a tall, calm gentleman.  No chance of a splash of sea water as we coast along. I couldn’t even hear a hum from the engine.

The forecast was bright and clear with a light breeze so I put on my sunglasses and spent the afternoon on deck.

I claimed a sofa in North Bar and tucked into a cheeseburger, fries and onion rings from cult American chain Johnny Rockets.

Later on I went for a swim in the glass-house Solarium where they make super healthy smoothies. I sipped mine in the whirlpool. Life on board is sweet. I think I’ve got the cruising crush already.

The day turned to evening and by 7pm Anthem changes into a handsome hub of dining and entertainment. There’s the West End show We Will Rock You in the Royal Theatre. There was comedy from Alistair McGowan in Two70, a salsa singer in Boleros lounge bar and a roller disco in the SeaPlex. And these were only what I managed to get to.

For dinner the restaurants range from formal, to funky and fast food. I ate in Coastal Kitchen, which serves a blend of Mediterranean and Californian food. It’s the kind of place couples go to hold hands across the table while watching the sunset. It did a nice line in seafood too so I had the prawn salad then the scallops and salted caramel for pudding.

For some after-dark buzz I headed to the Music Hall for the live 80s cover band Wild Boys.

By 2am I felt the tug to eat again so I headed down to the Royal Esplanade filled with bars, shops, and eateries and joined the queue for a slice of pizza at Sorrento’s.

I finally slowed down and wanted to sink into bed. I opened my balcony doors and stared out at the sea.

The sparkling ripples had turned to dark treacle waves. The hush of the wind had turned to hard fresh air. A rogue gust nearly caught me off balance  –- and that’s enough adventure for one night.

Natalie was a guest on the inaugural two-day sailing on the Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas from Southampton around the Isle of Wight on April 20th 2015

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For more information about Anthem’s cruises, call 0844 493 2061 or visit

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