The ultimate luxury cruise experience: Instagrammable all-inclusive weekend getaway for just £300

Last modified on Tuesday 4 July 2023

Woman on cruise ship

Mum of 2, Joanna Lovell enjoyed a childfree weekend getaway with Royal Caribbean International on the most fabulous ship –and it cost FAR less than you'd expect. Here, she describes her experience

I've always liked the idea of cruising – with the thought of waking up somewhere different every day really appealing to me – but the seemingly high prices have always stood in my way.

So when I saw a weekend 'taster cruise' – on THE most luxurious cruise ship, sailing from Southampton in the UK, for what worked out at just £300 each for the full weekend for all-inclusive break, I jumped at the chance.

And I can honestly say there simply aren't enough words to explain just how amazing it really was – truly Instagrammable!

My fiancé and I sailed from Southampton – a 4-hour trip from our Yorkshire home – setting off after the Friday morning school run, and we were back home by Sunday evening, having been to France and back on the wonderful Anthem of the Seas cruise liner.

This was an amazing child-free break with Royal Caribbean International, and we made it back in time to do Sunday night pack ups and the Monday school run. I actually feel a touch guilty going without the kids because they would have LOVED this holiday!

The sun deck was my favourite part of the Anthem of the Seas

Instant wow factor

As soon as we walked onto the ship we got the instant wow-factor. It's like a city on the sea. Even better than I imagined.

There's all the things you might expect, like shops, bars and restaurants, but then there's so much more to discover too.

I wasn't expecting a London-Eye style observation capsule that elevates you high above the ship for unrivalled 360-degree views. Nor was I expecting a skydiving simulator or an outdoor running track – all of which are complimentary!

It can take days to see the whole ship as there's so many decks and SO much to see and do.

Balcony stateroom
A balcony stateroom onboard the Anthem of the Seas

Room with a view

Our package included a balcony stateroom and just – wow!

The room was spacious, with a sofa and double bed, a separate en-suite and so much more space than I'd imagined.

It was comfortable and cosy, with all the mod cons.

And you can't beat sat on your private balcony with a bottle of wine watching the world go by, literally.

The Flow Rider surfing simulator is free of charge to have a go on

So much to see and do

Where do you even start on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship with so many decks? You need a week just to find your way around.

Do you go and laze by the pool, join in an activity, have a drink in the bar, go watch a show or go to the spa? The choice really is endless.

Whether you're there as a family with the kids, or childfree as a couple or there with a large group of family and friends, or as a solo-traveller, there's literally something for everyone.

Preschoolers will love the activities for younger kids, primary-school age children will love the bumper cars, basketball court, circus school, gaming rooms, while teens will also enjoy the meet-ups with others of a similar age.

Whether you want action-packed, or total relaxation, The Anthem of the Seas ship delivers it all.

So many daily activities to choose from

Daily activities on Anthem of the Seas include salsa lessons, workshops, trivia games, and table tennis competitions, among many others.

Onboard entertainment is exceptional, highlighted by West End musical We Will Rock You where you can enjoy waiter-seat drinks service while you enjoy the show.

The North Star

This is a real highlight! The London-Eye style observation capsule attached to a mechanical arm that can extend 300 feet above sea level when in port and can also extend out over the sides of the ship too, when at sea.

The capsule can hold up to 14 passengers and is included in the price of your cruise.

And all of the above is just what's onboard – that doesn't include everything you can do in all the ports the ship sails to!

Show in theatre
The We Will Rock You Show is incredible

What about food and drink?

In total, the ship features 18 dining venues, so you're not going to go hungry, or thirsty!

Our package included breakfast, lunch and our evening meal.

Our evening meal dining time was booked for us at the time of booking the holiday and on arrival onto the ship our dining time, venue and table number was printed on our sail pass (a bit like a credit card you use to pay for things on, while onboard.)

I imagined this all-inclusive restaurant would be self-service, but I could not have been more wrong.

We had a window table in the main dining room, Chic, complete with table-service and a 3-course meal.

Many of the dishes rotate each night, which means you could go an entire week without ever repeating a course.

The menu was varied and the food exceptional.

Speciality dining

Holidaymakers can also pay supplements to enjoy 'speciality dining'

I can highly recommend Chops Grille where we enjoyed a delicious meal and Izumi – an exceptional Japanese restaurant.

We really wanted to try Wonderland – the cruise line's first real foray into molecular gastronomy – but sadly it was fully-booked.

You'll pay extra for the speciality restaurants, but it's not the full price of a meal, it's a supplement.

man eating meal
Delicious: the Japanese restaurant is well worth a visit

Cocktails served by robots!

Drinks aren't cheap! On some cruises you can add the drinks package, but that wasn't available on the taster mini-cruise.

Glasses of wine start at about £12, so they soon add up!

We did however have all soft drinks included in our package. In our cabin was a refillable cup with plenty of drinks stations all around the ship. This is great for kids who can grab drinks-on-the-go.

One of our favourite haunts was the Brass and Bock English pub on Deck 4, thanks to the nightly entertainment. The guitarist was fabulous. It's a great location for people-watching too.

The Bionic Bar is also entertaining! Simply place your drinks order via one of the iPads and watch the robot bartenders make your drink!

Kids (and adults) will love the bumper cars

How much does it cost?

I happened to see a really good deal on Facebook on a local travel page I follow, where this weekend getaway cruise was on sale for £638 (in total) for 2 people for 2 nights. That's £319 each, making it £160 per night each.

When you think that included our balcony stateroom, breakfast, lunch and evening meal and ALL soft drinks for the duration of the stay, I actually think that's a total bargain. A meal for 2 alone can set us back £100.

Then when you think what you would pay for a world-class show, such as We Will Rock You, or access to a casino, piano lounges, indoor and outdoor pools, sports courts, gaming lounges (the list goes on), you really realise what good value it was.

The sun deck was my favourite spot

Whats included?

  • Meals in 3 main dining rooms, Windjammer Marketplace buffet; Cafe @Two70, Solarium Bistro, SeaPlex Dog House, Sorrento’s Pizzeria, Cafe Promenade
  • Soft drinks
  • Shows in the main theatre
  • Most daily activities and entertainment events
  • Use of the fitness center (excluding fitness classes)
  • Use of the sports center, Flowriders, mini-golf, Ripcord by iFly and rock-climbing wall
  • North Star rides
  • Activities in the SeaPlex, including bumper cars
  • The Adventure Ocean Kids Program (ages 6 months to 17 years) until 10 p.m.

What will I pay extra for?

  • Gratuities – (although you can have these removed at guest services)
  • Auto-gratuities of 18 percent on dining, beverage, salon and spa purchases
  • Drinks excluding water, tea (including iced tea), coffee and select juices from the Windjammer
  • Room Service
  • Specialty dining
  • Spa and salon services and treatments
  • Activities including bingo, Arcade games, arts and crafts classes, alcohol tastings and shopping events
  • Kids programs after 10 p.m. in Adventure Ocean
  • Shore excursions
  • Wi-Fi packages
  • Photos and artwork

man and woman
Check-in was so easy – 20 minutes after taking this pic we were onboard!

What's the check-in process like?

From arriving at the port to walking onboard, I think it took a maximum of 20 minutes. It was absolutely seamless.

We had pre-booked an arrival time at the port and already uploaded a headshot of ourselves to the Royal Caribbean Cruises app.

On arrival we dropped our bags outside the terminal, so there was no dragging heavy luggage around inside like you do in an airport. There was plenty of friendly staff members welcoming everyone and showing us where to go.

We joined a constantly-moving queue and showed our set sail pass on the app, we then joined another queue for iPad check-in where our image was checked against us and our passports, and that was it, off we went to the ship!

It was just SO easy.

Honestly, it makes you never want to visit an airport again!

There's no arrival 2 hours before, no long queues, no lengthy check-in process, no awful queues to board, it was brilliantly organised. Oh, and no delays!

couple on cruise
We loved our balcony!

Tips for a successful cruise

Get the app

Download Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner app before you go where you can book your restaurants and activities.

Once onboard it's so handy to use it to see everything that's going on.

Whether you attend a music quiz, first-time cruisers drinks, teen meet-up or morning stretch class, there really is something for everyone.

Book your activities early

Restaurants and activities do get booked up, so book as early as you can to ensure you

Visit Guest Services – the earlier the better

If you've got any issues at all, visit guest services, but do not leave this until check-out.

We noticed huge queues on our departure morning because everyone chose to visit guest services right before they disembarked.

The verdict?

As I've been told by many people, we started our journey into cruising with the best of the best cruise liners.

If you like exceptional quality and top service, Royal Caribbean Cruises is for you.

It's not at the budget end, it's at the high end, but you get what you pay for. (Although the taster cruise was a budget deal for what we got!)

We had one of the best weekends away we've ever had – I can only imagine how stunning this would be in the Carribbean waters, and how amazing it would be to take the kids! Maybe next time!

How do I book?

Visit for more details.

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