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 board early for a full inspection of the third largest ship (2015) 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?

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.

Credit: Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
Pool Deck at sunset: Royal Caribbean cruise ship Anthem of the Seas
Credit: Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
Bionic Bar: Robots make 120 drinks an hour

Luddites be warned – this ship is filled with mod cons, and the Bionic Bar is just the beginning.

I order my tipple on a tablet accessed by my digital wristband, which is programmed to do everything from opening the cabin door to shopping on board. This sea creature is built to seduce the IT crowd.

I head 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 have a balcony to lie out on.

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

The Anthem cost $1 billion to build with much of that going into the on board 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 while sipping 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 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 out on deck.

Credit: Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
RipCord by iFLY: a 165mph vertical windtunnel

There’s excitement building as we leave Southampton Docks an hour later. I take the lift to get up and outside on deck 15 to watch the jagged shoreline of England disappear.

There are tourists on the waterfront taking pictures and waving as this floating city sails away. It’s blue skies ahead and snap-happy passengers are tweeting their selfies which show on the large screen above the open-air pool.

Compass needle south and we are 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 can’t even hear a hum from the engine.

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

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

Later on I go for a swim in the glass-house Solarium where they make super healthy smoothies – to undo the fast food. I sip it while sitting in the whirlpool. Life on board is sweet. I think I’ve got the cruising crush already.

The day turns 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 is comedy from Alistair McGowan in Two70, a salsa singer in Boleros lounge bar and a roller disco in the SeaPlex. And these are just what I manage to get to.

For dinner the restaurants range from formal to grab-and-go street food. I eat in Coastal Kitchen, which serves a fusion of Mediterranean and Californian food. It’s the kind of place couples go to hold hands across the table while watching the sun set. It does a lovely line in seafood too so I have the prawn salad then the scallops and salted caramel for pudding.

For some after-dark buzz, I head to the Music Hall for the live 1980s cover band Wild Boys.

By 2am I feel the urge to eat again so I head down to the Royal Esplanade filled with bars, shops, and eateries and join the queue for a slice of pizza at Sorrento’s.

I finally slow down and want to sink into bed. I open my balcony doors and stare out to sea.

The sparkling ripples have turned to dark treacle waves and the hush of the breeze has turned to hard fresh air. A rogue gust nearly catches 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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Credit: Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
We Will Rock You: Stage show performance in the Royal Theatre
Credit: Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
West End entertainment: We Will Rock You on Anthem of the Seas
Credit: Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
Dodgems: Bumper cars at sea
Credit: Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
Solarium: Relaxing retreat
Credit: Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
Fine dining: Silk Royal on board Anthem of the Seas
Credit: Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
Owners Loft: Two-deck stateroom
Credit: Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
North Star: Outstanding views

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