Arriving Today: New York’s Hottest Cruise Ship Ever

It’s a big day for cruise fans in the Northeast as one of the hottest new ships of the year, Anthem of the Seas, takes up permanent residence in the New York area.

Unveiled in April, the 168,666-ton Royal Caribbean vessel is arriving from Europe, where it spent its first few months, to become the largest cruise ship ever to sail year-round from the region. It’ll operate a range of five- to 12-night voyages to the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda and the Northeast out of the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J., seven miles south of Manhattan.

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“We wanted to put the best of the best into the market,” Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley tells USA TODAY in an exclusive interview to discuss the move. “It’s a hot market.”

Bayley says New York and the surrounding region is an important area for Royal Caribbean as is Florida, where the line will position another new ship coming next spring.

Anthem is a sister to Royal Caribbean’s one-year-old Quantum of the Seas, which sailed a brief season out of the New York area over the winter only to be redeployed earlier this year to China.

With 16 public decks and room for nearly 5,000 passengers, Anthem and Quantum are among the five largest passenger ships in the world.

As can be seen in the photo tour in the carousel above, Anthem is packed full of such gee-whiz features as a deck-top ride into the sky and a bar with robot bartenders, both concepts that first debuted on Quantum. Other first-for-the-industry features from Quantum that also appear on Anthem include a skydiving simulator and a deck-top fun zone called the SeaPlex with bumper cars and roller skating.

Bayley says Anthem is perfect for year-round sailings out of the New York area as it has a wide variety of indoor fun zones and experiences that will appeal to passengers even during the roughest of New York winters.

One of the ship’s pools has a glass-covered magrodome that can be closed during inclement weather, and there’s also an adult-only Solarium sunning area at the front of the vessel that is enclosed in glass while still offering an outdoor feel.

“When we designed (the class of ships that includes Anthem), we designed it with the concept of all-season cruising,” Bayley notes. “We’ve got more architectural flexibility to protect people from the elements when the weather is not so great.”

USA TODAY Cruise in April was among a handful of U.S. media outlets to get early access to Anthem before its christening in Southampton, England.

A photo tour of one of the ship’s suites:

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[USA TODAY]

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