Anchored Cruise - The Party Boat that made us want to jump overboard
So...summer holidays can be tricky, when it comes to finding the best one that combines great selfie opportunities, with good weather, amazing experiences and memories, and of course value for money. That's what I thought was going to be the case with 'Anchored' from Unique Cruises.
However, when you board and the queue to complain is already this chaotic, you know something is not right.
We went as a group of 4, at a cost of £4,800 for a week long mediterranean cruise, where we'd get to party in Rome, Santorini, Mykonos, Monte Carlo & Cannes. Tinie Tempah was headlining on the Tuesday night, and you can have the option to purchase a drinks package for £500 which should see you through your drinks all week....or not.
So the first complaint is the line to complain, it was long, and while waiting we were told 'for f*cks sake we're working on it' after we tried to get an update on our room, a tiny cabin you couldn't wheel 4 suitcases into, with one double bed, a shelf which came out the ceiling which was the 'bunk bed' and a tiny sofa someone else had to sleep on. not forgetting the 4 suitcases there wasn't any room for in the first place.
This eventually got resolved, and rightly so after waiting hours to check in and being sworn at in the mean time. We headed to the bar to get a drink while waiting. The £500 drinks package only gets you one drink at a time to a max value of $12, so there was the first charge of an extra $48 to purchase a house bottle of wine. The cost of the wine was $60 before the drinks package deduction, and was also subject to additional charges of + 20% tax so total of $72 for one bottle of wine...
Checked into new room which was better - this was at Royal Caribbean's discretion eventually after being hounded by so many angry Unique Cruise customers.
First night was the white party, which yes was white. Also had a lot of people offering me white powder. Not my thing, but if it's yours apparently it's really really overpriced so beware.
Second day...pool party. Love the idea of being by a pool all day drinking and listening to music on holiday, who doesn't, but with the $48 per bottle of wine or $18 per spirit & mixer (+20%) it was going to be more of a sun bathing day than drinking.
Got to the deck and luckily found a seat on a white sofa, being as everywhere else was taken this seemed like our best option. After about 5 minutes a lady came up to us mortified to have to tell us we had to move as the charge to sit on the sofa in the VIP area as they were calling it was 1k. I think she knew how bad it was but had to tell us to move. She came back 5 mins later and said if we wanted to sit there she could do us a deal for $250 which was redeemable against drinks...being as we were paying $48 per bottle of wine anyway we thought we'd go for it, again, as there was no other option and we had all day at this one pool area with no where else to go and party or sun bathe.
We had table service with our sun bed, which was much better than waiting 25-30 mins every time you wanted a drink. 2 bottles of wine later and the guy said our tab was up, because each bottle of wine was $125. This was the exact same bottle we'd had yesterday for $60 if you don't include the drinks package discount. So obviously outraged we corrected him on the price and he said 'OK I'll do it for you for $60' like we were getting a favour, not actually being robbed blind.
Here's the Moet priced house wine we had at a bargain $125 a bottle...don't let the cups deceive you there was no champagne in them.
Here's a pic of the most expensive sun bed I've ever sat on, just in case you thought it was fancy.
So a couple of hours into the party and the stewards forgot about the VIP barriers and let everyone in. Fine by me if we hadn't paid such a lot, but being nice we shared our bed with a group of lovely Irish girls who knew of Spectrum and were more than happy to party with us, and us with them.
They were all staying on board for free because they're friend knew one of the DJ's. This was a surprise at first, but as the week went on it became one of the questions I made a point to ask, just to try and find out if we were the only ones who felt we'd over paid and since been ripped off by extra charges. But actually I failed to meet one other passenger who'd paid to be on board, and the main response was 'you'd be a mug to pay to be on here'. So we were a set of 4 mugs.
That night we didn't party hard, mainly because we'd spent up in the day and thought we'd save our euro for Santorini the next day. After waiting 2 hours to get to shore we only had 4 hours before we had to leave to get back to the boat, so literally time for a couple of quick pics and some sangria and lovely greek food. Back on the boat by 9pm to get ready for Tinie Tempah.
Santorini, was gorgeous wish we could have stayed for the sunset.
Got ready, went out, music was very techno house and everyone a bit quiet...asked someone when's Tinie Tempah on and did we miss him? He said sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but he cancelled. Shock Horror. Maybe he'd heard how terrible it was and decided not to board.
Back to the room, tried to use wifi to at least get some sort of update on the itinerary - if you wanted to speak to someone from Anchored they were on the desk from 12-1pm...definitely not long enough to hear everyone's complaints so wifi felt like the best option. But for £25 per 24 hours and with not enough data to even upload a web page never mind share a picture online, that was another over charge.
The boat sailed overnight and was in Mykonos in the morning, thankfully you could walk off onto the port and not wait the 2 hours in line to escape. The only good thing to come out of the cruise was going to Mykonos, for around 12 hours anyway as the longest stop. It's a beautiful place and I can't wait to go back.
There was a party that night too at one of the beach clubs, but that was an extra $40 for a ticket. Gave that one a miss.
It was after realising that the boat had another 2 days solid on the sea and 2 nights solid before reaching the final destination of Nice, we realised that it wasn't Monte Carlo & Cannes as per the itinerary, it was either or once you reached the port, you had to decide and the taxi was around 100euro each way.
As it happened I got off the Boat in Mykonos and got an early flight home the next day for a few reasons, all of the above and a couple more reasons really made the thought of a solid 48 hours on the boat unbearable. So I paid my bill, the $250 for the sun bed went up to $300 because of the 20% tax...obviously...oh and there was an additional $100 service charge (for nothing) to pay on top of the tax on everything...of course there was....
get me outta here...I toasted escaping with a normally priced prosecco on the plane.
The rest of the girls did go to the next stop, Nice, and said the port was lovely, although with only a few hours off board you didn't have sufficient time to visit Monte Carlo or Cannes, so they stayed in the port.
All in all if you're after a holiday with all the charm and expense of a floating service station, then this is the one for you. Particularly if you like queueing to complain then being shouted at definitely highly recommend.
It's a shame that fellow business woman Jacqueline Voss Wood who came up with the concept had not much to comment on the experience when I e-mailed to complain other than it was at their discretion who they invited to board the boat for PR purposes, so if you say you know one of the DJ's or the cabin crew your in.
Also being a guinea pig isn't fun especially at such a high cost, well over 2k. The only worse thing to me than feeling like I've wasted valuable time, is being ripped off for money that I've grafted to be able to spend. But I did get offered a suite if I re-booked for next year. I would't go again, not even if it was for free or I was paid to go for PR purposes.
It looks amazing, whoever does the on board videos does do a really good job of capturing the fun bits, shame they didn't get everyone's faces at the end of the cruise when they realised what the wifi had cost them and the extortionate service charges.
All in all, I had fun off shore, but will never go on this cruise, or any cruise ever again. I've been put off for life.
Phew...rant over...now back to unicorns & mermaids.