Want to dine at restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Michael Schwartz, turn to jelly under the hands of an experienced masseuse or take a TRX class onboard Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas? It'll cost you. Add those onboard upcharges to already inflated prices for the line's newest, hottest ship, and you might start to second-guess the financial sense of your cruise vacation.
What a relief, then, to realize how many of Anthem's industry-leading entertainment options are included in your cruise fare. From high-tech shows to adrenaline-pumping activities, you can experience much of the ship's best attractions without reaching into your wallet. To whet your appetite, we present 10 of our favorite free activities on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas.
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1. "We Will Rock You"
Many people paid top dollar -- or pounds -- to see this Queen tribute musical in London's West End or in a touring show. On Anthem of the Seas, a ticket costs nothing.
The SeaPlex is Anthem's onboard amusement park, offering bumper cars by day and roller skating at night. Its second floor has pods for table tennis, air hockey and video games. The venue even transforms into a circus school with a trapeze (reservations required). But unlike your typical midway, there are no tickets to buy. The fun is first-come, first-served.
3. Puzzle Break
Who says a cruise vacation can't stimulate your mind? The free Puzzle Break challenge teams up passengers to crack codes and solve puzzles in a brain-draining race against the clock. Only adults can sign up for the free hourlong events, which are supposedly too difficult for younger cruisers to tackle.
4. Sky Diving
The iFly by RipCord is actually an onboard skydiving simulator, and all passengers are entitled to one free 60-second "flight." Sign up early to get your spot. Anyone aged 3 and older can try it out.
A Royal Caribbean favorite is the upper-deck FlowRider, a wave pool that lets you get a feel for surfing and boogie boarding. You don't have to pay to wipe out spectacularly in front of friends and strangers -- only lessons will cost you.
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6. North Star
Another no-fee reservations-required attraction is the North Star, a kind of deconstructed London Eye-style ride. Board a glass-enclosed capsule attached to a mechanical arm, which rises up over the ship and swings out over the side. The views and photo ops are priceless.
7. Shows in Two70
If you think the North Star is high-tech, wait 'til you step into Two70, a performance venue featuring two-deck-high HD screens that cover the panoramic windows, TVs mounted on robot arms, and stage space for singers, dancers and acrobats. In addition to the main event evening shows, the venue hosts afternoon tea, complete with a virtual orchestra. Even the food at Two70's cafe is free of charge.
8. Music Hall Tribute Shows
If you're a fan of tribute bands, Anthem's Music Hall showcases a rotating roster of bands paying homage to the likes of Bon Jovi, U2 and the Beatles. It also hosts a variety of other music-focused events, such as live band karaoke, house band performances and theme parties. No cover charge.
9. Poolside Fun
You can get wet and wild onboard with three pools, a poolside movie screen and the H20 Zone splash play area (complete with a baby pool and lazy river). Onboard pool areas are nothing new, but it's worth mentioning that you can spend a lot of time lounging in the sun and playing in the water without moving the needle on your onboard bill.
10. Camp for Kids
Like most cruise ships, Anthem of the Seas offers free daytime drop-off activities for kids, ages 3 to 17. Its youth facilities span the front of the ship on two decks and include a science lab and a teen disco. While drop-off care for babies and late-night programming for kids do cost money, the all-day complimentary activities are an enormous value.