Everything you need to know about Anchored: 2017 Review
Three, two, one. Spray that stuff on me. I don’t care,” DJ Mist is screaming down his mic.
Champagne corks are popping all over the main pool area on Deck 11 of Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas. There’s a slick of bubbles on the floor, gorgeous 20-something girls in thong bikinis and high heels are showering in it — it’s even mixing with the chlorine in the Jacuzzis.
The aim? To set a record for the largest Champagne spray party at sea.
Welcome to Anchored — the first ‘festival at sea,’ plying its hedonistic way from Rome via Mykonos to Santorini and back. Name DJs and performers play every night, the top deck has been turned into an Ibiza-style club and you can book your place at a Botox party.
The idea of entrepreneur Jacqueline vos Wood, Anchored is designed to appeal to the next generation of cruisers — the 20- and 30-somethings who probably wouldn’t normally consider a cruise as a holiday.
Rewind a few weeks to when we were last onboard this ship, people were sat around this same pool drinking tea and reading books as Jewel completed its transatlantic repositioning to the Mediterranean. The average age hovered around the early 60s and we (aged 33) were definitely a curiosity. By contrast on this cruise, we’re part of the older age group onboard.
Voss Wood has already booked Anchored 2018, but if you’d like a taste of what this year’s fest was like, here’s what else you missed.
There was a pool party everyday on Anchored. Taking place between midday and 6 p.m, or 8 p.m on some sea days, these parties brought the beach club scene of Ibiza to Jewel of the Seas’ main pool area.
As part of each party a string of dub, garage, grime and house DJs took it in turn to work the decks. Two-person white day beds had been brought in for the duration of the cruise. The women who sunbathed on them wore full faces of make-up; doe-eye false lashes and lipstick in screen siren reds. Bathing costumes were mainly jewelled, shiny and Vogue-worthy; accompanied by a pair of Ray Bans and a set of skyscraper-high heels. The odd sunbather’s costume was so itsy bitsy it came close to The Emperor’s New Clothes.
Ice buckets prepped with Veuve Clicquot-branded wine glasses were the centre pieces of the tables around the pool. Passengers danced everywhere; around the pool, in the pool, in the Jacuzzis, on the sun loungers, on the bar stools, and on each other’s shoulders.
Just for Anchored, the Safari Lounge area on Deck 6 was commandeered by Luke’s barber shop. This space, which on typical cruises is used for playing bridge and picking up a book from the mini library, became the place for men to go to sip cocktails as they had their hair teased into perfect Mr Whippy quiffs. Female passengers, meanwhile, went to the Blow Dry Bar to get pampered. It was located on Deck 12, in Fuel, which is usually the place for teenagers to get together onboard.
“It’s been tiring,” Calum Best explained to us from the side of the poolside Sky Bar on day four of Anchored. He was due to disembark that day after experiencing the first half of the itinerary. The British-American model was just one of the VIPs on the cruise. Also on the passenger list were “Hollyoaks” stars and celebs from TOWIE and “Ex on the Beach”.
The list of DJs on the Anchored night time party line-up was longer than an arm. Starting around 10 p.m, club nights on this cruise turned in to club mornings, with the die-hard clubbers going to bed around 5 a.m. Some simply left the dance floor to go straight to breakfast, before starting a whole new day of partying, all over again. The daily attire suggestion from onboard newsletter Cruise Compass was totally turned on its head. Club night costumes included thong bikinis for the women and board shorts for the men.
Not that everyone onboard was really young. On day three of the cruise we were at one of the open-air club nights. The bass of house was pulsing out of the multi-storey speakers and vibrating through the deck floor. We looked out over the crowd, and in the centre of all the young bodies, I saw a woman in her late 60s, line-dancing. A few minutes later she smacked one of the young men on the bottom before continuing to shimmy.
“I can’t wait to get on the ferry,” a dark haired man in his mid-twenties enthused, as a line of us waited to catch the transfer coach from Rome airport to Jewel of the Seas, which was waiting for us at Civitavecchia port. We’d never heard a cruise ship called a ferry before.
In fact, the majority of people boarding Anchored had never been on a cruise before. As a result, they weren’t completely au fait with cruising etiquette. The muster drill was a tooth-pulling experience for all staff involved. Getting packs of already-tipsy, 20- to 30-year-olds to put their drinks down and line up in rows of four people at a time was no easy task!
On the first full day of the cruise the captain came on the Tannoy to make an announcement that came close to War and Peace in length. In his speech, he politely reminded passengers that smoking in rooms was forbidden, climbing between balconies was dangerous, and drug taking of any form was strictly prohibited.
On day three of the cruise we received a wolf whistle followed by the words: “Dude, they’re old enough to be your mum”. We are 33, so not quite over the hill yet, but it shows how young the average age was onboard. (Though in the region of ten percent of passengers were aged between 30 and 90).
We did fret for those older folks, especially the two grey-haired ladies who were trundled on to the ship in wheel chairs. Did they know what they had booked on to? Would they be intimidated by the confident, loud, young people who were swarming onto the ship alongside them?
We shouldn’t have worried. Every older person I spoke to or heard of on the cruise seemed to have taken the carpe diem approach.
“I’m a former teacher so I love young people,” explained Blanca Rivera, the woman in her late sixties who I saw line-dancing. “My son told me when I booked this that there would be electro music and dance, but I said, you only live once.”
And what about the older ladies in wheelchairs? They were up dancing until 1 a.m. as well.
“The older ladies from Edinburgh are 86 and they told me this morning that they are loving this cruise,” explained Chanice Askham, spa therapist. “They said they were on Liberty of the Seas a few weeks ago with a load of old people and that it was boring, and that this cruise was far more fun. They told me that they love to see young people having fun and have already asked about booking for next year.”
There were serial selfie-takers on board Anchored. As soon as they hit the poolside, both men and women turned into their own personal paparazzos. The Unique Cruise Instagram page has 18.6 K followers — #party #beach #everything.
Jacqueline Voss Wood
Jacqueline Voss Wood is the entrepreneur behind Unique Cruise and Anchored. The 26-year old has big ambitions for the future of Unique Cruise. The 2017 Anchored hadn’t even come to an end before she started marketing the 2018 itinerary. It’s expected to depart from Barcelona and stop in Sete, Ibiza and Palma before returning to Barcelona.
“I’ve learnt a lot of big lessons already from this cruise,” Jacqueline said. “Next year I want it to be less full on. Some people have struggled to keep up with all the parties. Next year I want it to appeal to couples and I want people in their 30s and over to feel like they want to come. I’d like to just have three big headline acts and maybe three daytime parties and add things like a big dinner on the top deck with entertainment like acrobats and burlesque.”
Anchored has been like nothing we have ever experienced on a cruise before, but we didn’t come across a single person who has not had fun in their own way. As we disembarked the ship we got to thinking about what this new breed of cruise means for the cruising market. Perhaps that all-important, but elusive new-to-cruise market which all the lines are looking for, could finally be cracked.