My family (wife and two kids) wanted to try a cruise. Naturally, I resisted being a "landlubber". Between the air fare to Florida from NY and the cruise - it is in excess of $12,000. We could go to Europe for a week for the same money. So I gave in. I was very very disappointed.
The positives first. The staff was very helpful and professional. You don't know there are 6,000 people on the boat it is so big. The ship swallows up everyone and you still feel relatively alone. They make great mixed drinks and they are reasonably priced. The Mojitos are great. The pool staff is great. If you want to sit on a lounge chair for the week, you can do it here. The pools got crowded at times.
The negatives last. First the food is not edible. we all lost weight!!!! The only hope of eating anything resembling other than dog food is in the specialty restaurants but you must reserve 30 days in advance so do your research where you want to eat. The specialty restaurants don't rise to TGIF quality but have expensive price tags.The dining room food is disgusting, to be kind. They will keep letting you try dishes, but you are wasting your time.
You may decide to rent the iPhone walkie talkies to stay in touch with and track the rest of your party. The network works 1/2 the time and are basically unreliable. Beware the penalties in the rental agreement. You may think that $500 for a damaged or lost 1st generation iPhone that sells on ebay for $50 is not something they enforce. They do. We returned our 4 iPhones and they claimed one of them was not working. You return the iPhones the day before the cruise is over. They told us they would let us know later if they got the one to work, but they charged $500 to the credit card right away. Weeks of attempting to get answers were frustrating and fruitless. They refused to send me the iPhone they claimed was broken so I could independently verify their claims. They first claimed that none of the iPhones were returned. Then they claimed that they were returned but all were broken. Only after I asked for a copy of the agreement with the notations did they admit that each of the four iPhones were returned but one was broken. I offered to replace the iPhone with one I purchased on ebay but they refused. Challenging the credit card does not work since they refuse to negotiate and the credit card sides with the cruise. I would have had to sue them and would have won since they admitted that they could not locate the iPhone that was allegedly broken.
Next time I cruise, I will try a different cruise line.
Allure of the Seas, Oct. 16, 2011
Ship Stats.. Allure of the Seas maiden voyage was December 5th, 2010, after leaving her Finland shipyard. Her Godmother is Fiona, (Shrek's wife) a Dreamworks character.
Allure of the Seas is 225,000 gross tons, 30 foot draft, 208 feet wide and 1,187 feet long. She can hold 5,400 guests at double occupancy or 6,296 guests total. Her crew is 2,165 members, with 2,704 staterooms within 16 passenger decks. To move all these passengers and crew up and down the ship, there are 24 guest elevators. Allure's cruising speed is 22 knots using fuel at the rate of 31 feet per gallon. The water consumption per day is 1700 tons.
Both Oasis and Allure have the first "aqua pools" at sea, being 17.9 feet deep. These pools are located the aft of the ship on deck number 6. The loft balcony cabins face this area and have a great view of any of the shows as well as the wake from the ship.
This had to be the quickest embarkment I have ever had. Our flight landed at 11:00 AM and I was onboard at noon,we literally walked on the ship and were eating a few minutes later. They take your sign/sail picture as you are checking in, so when you are handed your sign/sail card, you are good to board. As usual, cabins are you are not open to access until 1:00. The disembarkment took a bit longer, about 20 minutes, we were at the airport at 8:30. They have computer kiosk's on a few decks, so you can do your airline check-in the day before. They also offer baggage check-in for $20 each, where once you put your luggage out the night before, it will be taken to the airport and you will not see it until you land at your destination airport, nice.
There are seven different neighborhoods onboard Allure of the Seas: Adventure Ocean, The Boardwalk, Central Park, Entertainment Place, Pool & Parks, Royal Promenade and Vitality.
Central Park has the feeling of truly being in a park, with 12,175 plants, 62 vine plants, and 56 trees. They also pipe in sounds of birds during the daytime hours and crickets after dark.
There are 24 dining options onboard Allure of the Seas, with 37 different bars and lounges to choose from. There are 3 main dining rooms, one with the traditional dining option and the rest with the anytime. This was the second cruise in which I found myself with the anytime dining and I did give the main dining room a try, once for dinner and again for breakfast. I find the service, while good, just takes too long and with all the other options available on this huge ship, the Windjammer Marketplace seemed to serve an excellent variety for breakfast, lunch and even dinner. For six of the nights, we enjoyed our dinner there, with great variety and excellent food. I truly enjoyed their choice of soups each evening. They do bake all their breads and rolls onboard, always a different one to try each and every day.
The Neighborhoods: Adventure Ocean: kids area Central Park: cafÃ©'s, specialty restaurants, (Chops, Giovanni's Table, and 150 Central Park.) Boardwalk: Merry-go-round, Johnny Rockets, Ice Cream Parlor, 2 rock climbing walls and the aqua theater. Entertainment Place: Studio B, Comedy Live, Blaze, and Casino Royale. Pool & Sparks: 4 pools, including a volley ball pool and a "beach" pool with salt water. Royal Promenade: Most of all the shopping you will find on this deck, with a photo shop, lounges and restaurants. They run the parades through here and you can also go up one deck for a good viewing area. Vitality: Spa.
Cabins: Onboard Allure of the Seas, the cabins are basic, with a bathroom, sitting area, desk and a king size bed. On these ships there is an Ipad docking station with an actual clock on your desk. They also provide you with a computer keyboard to use the interactive TV if you wish to sign up for the internet. On the desk is also an outlet that allows you to plug in 3 different things, so there is no need to bring a power strip. Another nice feature in these cabins, the light switch to the bathroom is lit and there is soft lighting in the bathroom that stays on constantly, so a nice night light. Once you close the drapes to the balcony, they do not allow in any light, so the extra lighting is welcome. A nice alternative to an outside balcony and a little lower price are the Central Park balconies with a view of the back of the ship..
Ports of call: I picked the Eastern itinary, simpy because I have done numerous Westerns in the past. This ship alternates between the Eastern and Western routes. Our first stop was Nassau in the Bahamas. I have also been there a few times before, so I went to Atlantis on Paradise Island.
We were departing Nassau at 3:00, so time was a factor in this stop. They had mentioned, that in a few cruises, this stop left some passengers there. They then had to fly to the next port of call.
Next stop was St. Thomas. I had later learned that Allure has to dock at Cruz bay, which is not were I normally had docked here. You had to take a taxi over to the Havensight mall or in town. It was a mile or so walk if you wanted to go on your own. It was a great day to just stay onboard if you hadn't booked an excursion, which is what we ended up doing. Nice relaxing quiet day and we had the pools almost to ourselves.
Last stop was one of my favorite islands, St. Maarten. We had booked an excursion on some boats that required a bus trip to their harbour, but with some road construction, the ride was a lot longer to get there and return. Did not leave us with much shopping time.
Because of the size of the ship, it is very limited to where it can port. I think, when cruising on either Oasis or Allure, its for the ship and then the ports are a bonus.
A great feature on the ship, is when going ashore, you simply use an elevator and push the "gangway" button and it will automatically stop at the correct deck to get you off. You will then ride an actual escalator to the gangway and again when you return, nice!
A good tip here, is to pre-book your show reservations on-line before you even leave for your cruise. I had pre-booked a few, but not all. When you don't have reservations, 10 minutes before the show, they will start letting people with no reservations in, and in some cases, you don't always get in. We were extremely lucky to get into all the shows when waiting in the stand-by line.
This is where Allure truly stands out as the best shows on the seas. It is difficult where to start. It has the first ever aqua show I've seen onboard a ship. The pool is 17.9 feet deep, the largest performance pool on a ship. They actually have divers doing high dives along with some trampoline stunts. They have at least 2 different shows that I caught during the week. They also show movies on the two screens during some evenings and a light/water show to music that is pretty cool too.
Allure has the same Studio B that the Voyager, Freedom and Oasis class ships do. You can see a few different shows onboard, all excellent. The main one was called, "Ice Games", and surely worth the time to see.
Amber theater is the main theater for production shows, movies, etc. There was one headliner show we caught, with "Tony Tillman", who was very talented and entertaining. Another great show was, "Blue Planet", fantastic show, don't miss this one.
Be sure to see the comedy show, that also required reservations. Again, we didn't have any, so waiting in line to get in and were fortunate to grab a seat. These are usually later in the evening and are for adults only. You can see some great comedy.
Since Royal Caribbean has a contract with Dreamworks, you can catch different characters throughout the ship during a week's cruise. They also have at least 2 parades that you will want to catch in the Royal Promenade. Just be sure to find a good viewing area at least 20 minutes before the start.
Future builds for Royal Caribbean: The next project for Royal Caribbean is the, "Project Sunshine". They are so far saying that this class of ship will be smaller than the Oasis class, and even smaller than the Freedom of the Seas size. At this time, they are not giving us much information, but I am sure in the near future, we will be hearing more about this exciting new class of ship.
While both Oasis and Allure ships have more entertainment, and dining options, they are very restricted as to where they can travel, so the ship is the destination. Keep your ears open for more information on the new builds that we may see as soon as 2014...
More Allure of the Seas pictures:
Allure of the Seas
We sailed on the Allure August 28th with a 3 adults and an 8 year old child. We arrived a day early and stayed at the Courtyard in Dania Beach. They have free shuttle service from the airport (FLL) to the hotel and free shuttle service to the port (3 drop off times of 10 am 11 am and 12 pm.) The Shuttle to the hotel was approximately 10 minutes and the shuttle to the airport was the same, extremely easy.
Embarkation was smooth. We arrived around 12:10 and were on the ship by 12:30. RCL has the embarkation process down to a science. As you arrive you go through metal detectors and then you are ushered to separate lanes depending on what deck you're on. Once at the counter they take your sail and sign paperwork, your credit card and a picture. Easy easy easy. Then you proceed to the escalators, guests with children are on one side and the rest on the other. The purpose for this is to issue the kids their bracelets for their Evacuation station info, etc.
Once you walk into the ship you are onDeck 5, which is the promenade and it is absolutely beautiful. We walked around that deck and took some pictures and then decided to go eat. We ended up at the Windjammer Marketplace, which is the Buffet, on deck 16. There was a variety of food and each one of us found things we liked. The place was crowded and it took a little time to find a seat but that was expected, it was the first day. After lunch we went to our rooms. We had a Central Park view on Deck 10, which was very nice but we missed seeing the ocean, so therefore next time it will be an ocean view balcony. There was a flat screen tv which was interactive, where you can check your account and make reservations. You can also see your calendar for the week. The bed was near the balcony and it was pretty comfortable and roomy. My daughter was on Deck 9 with just a window, it seemed that her room was just roomier. Our bags didn't arrive until later so we explored the ship some more, until the drill, which occurred right before we sailed away. It lasted no more than 15 minutes and they seemed to cram people into various venues.
We enjoyed a sail away character party, which was at the Aqua Theater on the Boardwalk on the back of the ship. It was nice and my grandson seemed to enjoy it.
We decided to do the my-time dining and I had made most of the reservations on-line before we sailed. On the days we did not have reservations, all I did was call the reservation number and requested a certain time and it was available. I also made most of the shows reservations on line and there wasn't ever a problem. We did arrive early and we did get good seats. There was always a line for people without reservations and who managed to be able to see the show the only thing was that they did not have a pick of their seats they would just have to find whatever was available. We enjoyed Chicago and it was almost like a Broadway production but a shorter version. The signing was good. OceanAria was excellent, the acrobats and the divers were really good! We saw two shows on ice and they were also good (How to Train your Dragon and Monopoly.) I didn't get to see Blue Planet but my daughter said it was amazing with great music!
We are not early risers so we only made it to breakfast once, we ordered room service the other times or we just got up and went to lunch. We did eat at Park CafÃ©, which is located in Central Park. They have, make your own salads, paninis to order, roast beef sandwiches, fruit cups, already made chicken, egg and tuna sandwiches and desserts. We enjoyed the roast beef and the make your own salads. We also had pizza at Sorrento's and the pizza was pretty good.
They had a couple of parades, Zumba classes, late night movies at the Aqua Theater (popcorn is provided for free), a 3D movie, (maybe 2)Bingo, karaoke, slot, blackjack and poker tournaments, character appearances, toning classes, spa specials, liquor specials, etc.
My DH did the flowrider and the zip line, I only did the zip line. For the zip line remember to have socks and sneakers. We rode the carousel and had hotdogs and ice cream on the Boardwalk. My grandson climbed the rock wall.
In Labadee ( R.C. private Island) we walked to the beach and had a really nice time. The water was clear and warm. When we arrived around 11 am there were chairs available so it wasn't a problem. They provided a BBQ lunch, which consisted of burgers, hotdogs, ribs, they had a salad station, fruit station and cold salads. We saw people on the zip line, which looked pretty amazing and we could see the roller coaster from where we were. That was an additional cost!
We briefly got off the ship in Falmouth just to see it. We did a little shopping and you can bargain with them. The port is still under construction but it was still a nice area. We did not go outside the fenced in area. It was so hot we quickly got back unto the ship.
My grandson spent the rest of the day in the H2O zone (kids pool and water toys) . His mother signed him up with the Adventure Ocean club, which was the kids club (free, except on sea days when they charged $7.95 for lunch) and he had a blast he wanted to be there all the time. He also enjoyed the arcade which was quite large and had some pretty decent and modern games.
In Cozumel the ship docked at the International Pier, which is a few miles from downtown. ($7.00 by taxi to downtown each way) We decided to go to the beach and asked one of the drivers which was less rocky and nice and he told us Paradise Beach he also stated it was free. Took a taxi to Paradise Beach $13.00 for the 4 of us. Once there, we paid for beach chairs ($2.00), which included access to beach, use of pool and bathroom with changing rooms. We also had to pay a $10 cover charge for each one of us, which we could use for drinks and food. If we wanted to use the water toys it would be an additional $12.00. Since we were already there we opted to pay for the chairs and the cover charge. It was a nice beach, they kept the grounds immaculate the only drawback was the rocky portion of the water as you entered it. So bring water shoes they help a lot on any beach or pool. The rocks were just lumpy and slippery, but once you past that point it was good. The food was actually good and the waiters were nice and always asking if we were ok or if we needed anything. We arrived there at approximately 10:00 am by the time we left at around 2:00 pm the beach and the pool were pretty crowded. It was worth it, but I think they should just tell you about what you have to pay instead of saying "it's free."
On sea days the pools were very crowded and chairs did become scarce, except in the adult only Solarium (16 and over) which was beautiful .
The room attendant was very pleasant and always kept our room tidy. The wait staff were also pleasant and remembered our preferences, which was nice.
We hung out at Dazzles, one of the night-clubs, and the band "Frontliners" were amazing. They had theme nights and they took requests. There was also Boleros, which played Latin music. And a good selection of beers can be found at the Bow and Stern Pub. The Rising Tide Bar was cool, it would take off every 15 minutes from Deck 5 to Deck 8.
The picture gallery is interactive, you put your sail-sign card and you can see all your pictures. The also have the prints in binders and the binders are filed by numbers, the number that is assigned to you appears on your sail-sign card.
Debarkation was easy as well. We had an 11:25 am flight to catch and we were at the airport by 9:30 a.m. There was a glitch with one of the machines on the ship so there was a little delay getting off the ship but other than that we found our luggage, got on the customs line, which moved pretty fast and we were out of there in approximately 20 minutes.
Over all the ship is beautiful and enormous there are plenty of things to do and plenty of time just to relax and enjoy the ship. The ship is so big you don't even feel the movement as you're sailing on the ocean. If you didn't know any better, you would think you were at a hotel instead of a ship!!
The good - The ship is beautiful,the shows are greatand most of the staff are wonderful.
The bad- food was fair to poor, speciality restaurants at extra cost only passable,the crowds at times were unbareable. The some staff at the spa were only going through the motions, the person giving me a massage left the room for five minutes in the middle of my treatment without an explaination. The was always litter from the small restaurants on the Boardwalk and the Royal Promenade on the deck or floor. The ship is just to big.The Crown and Anchor Society reps were never available, to busy selling futher cruises.
Overpriced, disappointing experience. This was an economy experience a at luxury cruise price. The ship was not in good condition; not totally clean, sparse, shabby furnishings in the cabin (including a large, worn hole in the seat of a chair). The toilet was loose and had to be reattached to the floor by a plumber. The toilet roll holder had fallen off the wall. There were never any face cloths in the bathroom unless requested.
The service in the dining room was inefficient (no coffee service at the table at breakfast unless one caught the attention of a server and requested coffee, and rarely was a second cup offered). The food was disappointing because a choice of lunch and dinner had to be made at breakfast, and there was a very limited choice for each meal. There were no buffets, and the choice was between a soup and a salad and also a choice between two entrees for each of those two meals.
One of the entrees was usually a pasta, which I rarely eat, which left me no choice at all. One evening we had to choose between a pasta dishand pork bellies. For the first time I did not enjoy the food on the cruise. Since we were cruising the Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard area I had expected a lobster meal to be on at least one menu, but it was not. (A lobster tail was offered on the last evening.) Each time we went ashore I saw lobster for sale at very inexpensive prices, and offered to purchase my own if the cook would prepare it. This was not allowed.
The ship was not equipped with maps or helpful advice on the towns we would visit each day, and the passengers were advised to "find a visitors' center" to obtain maps and helpful advice. The service overall left much to be desired. My husband and I have cruised at least sixteen times: Crystal, Holland America, Princess, The Illyria, the World Explorer, gulettes on the Turkish Coast, and small sailing boats in Alaska and the Virgin Islands (9 to 12 passengers), and have never had cause to complain until now. I would urge travelers to avoid American Cruise Lines.
Whats the allure of the worlds largest ship? In a word, entertainment. Of the four cruise lines Ive sailed with, no one does it better than Royal Caribbean.
The fare served up on the stages of Allure of the Seas is a refreshing departure from the usual shipboard shows and are worth the effort of scheduling your trip around them.
Allures full production of the musical Chicago was great fun, and the voices were strong and clear. How neat is that"a Broadway-quality show for free! And if you get to the theater super early, you can even get the best seats in the house.
Then there was Ocean Aria, a diving and acrobatic show thats so compelling you wont want to take your eyes away for a second. Adonis-like acrobat brothers wrap their bodies around each other in poses where you cant tell where one body ends andthe other begins. Divers from 90 ft. high fly into the air and amazingly, land gracefully and securely into the Allures tiny theater pool.
Inside the ship, on the ice rink, professional skaters"one a veteran of Disney on Ice"twirl, jump, spin and lift, while on a moving vessel, no less. The Monopoly theme lent itself well to playful and colorful sets and costumes.
The singers from Chicago re-emerged in Blue Planet, which had everything thrown in"acrobatics, singing and dancing"all in a celebration of nature. I wont give it all away, but it included a trampoline, large rings and a human tree.
This comes on top of onboard surfing, ice skating, zip-lining, rock climbing and miniature golf. And then there are the three neighborhoods; their personalities ebbing and flowing by the hour. Theres the Promenade, the hub of the ship and venue for parades, dance classes and the best people-watching; Boardwalk, where you can ride a full-size carousel over and over again for free or eat foot-high pink cotton candy for a cost; and Central Park, an oasis of real foliage and fake bird sounds.
Exciting, yes. But it does steal the show from the real leading lady"the mysterious, fascinating and ever-changing sea.
Not as Alluring
The Allures weak spot is the food. Some dinner dishes in the Main Dining Room were good (memorable was the shrimp on Italian-theme night), others were disappointing (Chicken Marsala was rendered as fried chicken with a nearly invisible sauce).
But what we noticed"and missed"was the absence of beef choices, particularly compared to competing cruise lines.
We found that among the free dining options, the Windjammer buffet was often the best choice. Not only did it have a wider variety (shrimp crackers, anyone?), but some standout spicy Asian choices. It was a nice break from the usually bland and unimaginative dining room dishes.
Aside from the food, the other area where the ship doesnt compare well to, say, the Caribbean Princess, is the staterooms. While okay on size, the Allures cabins offered less in the way of storage space. The closets are tight and night tables have open slots, which make them minimally useful.
Another downside is that the balcony chairs dont recline, which makes seaside napping a challenge (but nothing that a glass of wine cant cure!).
The Bottom Line
But, hey, you cant be good at everything.
This may seem heretical, given all that the Allure and Oasis have going for them, but I wouldnt recommend these ships for first-time cruisers. Because youll be permanently spoiled, and forever searching for the carousel and ice skating rink on every other ship.
My top tip: to really appreciate Chicago, stream or rent the movie version before your trip. And dont forget to reserve all your shows online well in advance of your cruise. You can gamble and try and get in once on board, but be forewarned"the lines for standby outside the shows were substantial.
For photos and more musing on Caribbean cruising, see musingaboutcruising.blogspot.com.
We cruised the Allure the first week in December because of a previous great experience on the sister ship Oasis. This time we went prepared in knowing that you needed to book all of the shows and dining times well in advance or suffer the lack of availability of desired venues if you procrastinate or wait until you get on the ship......so that was a great plan so far.
The Good: The Allure is equally spectacular as the Oasis and the cruise to the East or West Caribbean is worth a one-off experience but the East is preferable (IMHO). The Blue Planet show I thought was spectacular, comedians good and Headliner Tony Tillman extremely entertaining.........shows in general are what RCI excels at and no difference here IF you can get in and get in early to get a reasonable seat. Room steward and bar service was fine even though these people are incredibly overworked.
The Bad: major problems on this ship were mainly due to huge, unruly and rude crowds of people. Despite "reservations" at the MDR, there was always a long wait for a table.........OK, maybe no more than 15 minutesbut what the heck is a "reservation" when a second line for people WITHOUT reservations was usually much shorter and moved significantly faster. RCI DOES NOT have "My Time Dining" worked out correctly because it seems more like "Their Time Dining" and when they will let you in.............our one experience on NCL was Much, much better.......what's up with this "reservation" system and when they make you feel guilty when you show up "late" but it's fine if you show up on time and they make you wait???
If you go on one of these largest of ships you need to expect huge crowds of people who are on VACATION and they could care less about you and whether you are in their way or if you would rather not here them laughing (hyena-like) at their highest volume every night in the dining room..........Or if you also would like to see anything in the Promenade and THEY cut in front of you to see it first...........Be ready to meet your fellow humans at their worst. Then there are the people who thing THEIR hands are sterile and no problem to hold down that cheese with one finger to get only one slice.......and then toss the tongs on top of the entire pile of lettuce, meat, etc. etc.
Suggestion: If you eat in the buffet get there early before the mobs on the Allure and then maybe lessen your chance of being exposed to these inconsiderate, unbelievable unsanitary procedures that can be witnessed by the minute in the buffet.
RCI really needs to enforce its own rules for the good of all. No babies in the pool and certainly not babies in "disposable" diapers. No young children in specialty restaurants in compliance with their own stated times for children to be admitted ($$$ should not come in front of expectations by other diners). Specialty restaurants should be "special" and not have waiters committed to too many diners at too many tables that prevents them from providing any value for the money. ENFORCE those rules about no chair saving and Confiscate towels left unattended for more than 10 minutes or so............That alone would solve the problem since those towels have that $20 deposit charge on room accounts.........New source of income............fine the chair hogs that don't watch their towels! ................There probably is nothing that can be done with rude people since they think they are fine but at least enforce rules that are written down and ignored routinely even when pointed out to ship personnel.
Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas may be described in a single word, "Awesome". The incredible size of the ship, with its sixteen decks and extra width allowed designers and innovators to incorporate features and amenities that have to be seen and experienced to be believed! The ship features major new areas that include "Central park", "Boardwalk" and a water theater along with familiar areas like the "Royal Promenade", ice rink, theater and pool deck areas, except they are all bigger. Our adult family occupied three adjoining oceanview cabins with balconies for the October 23, 2011 cruise to the western Caribbean with planned stops at Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico. A hurricane prevented the Cozumel stop so we doubled back for a Nassau stop. No review can really describe the ship fully. It must be experienced to be believed. It may take more than a single cruise. EMBARKATION: 6000 people boarded the Allure on October 23rd. We arrived a little before noon and were eating at the buffet within 30 minutes of parking our van across the street from the terminal 18 at Port Everglades. Parking is outside and justa two minute walk to the terminal. The cost is $15 per day. Check-in lines for each deck were formed inside. Our line for deck 8 had no other people in it. Have your set sail pass, personal ID and credit card ready. Pictures were taken by the check-in agent for security purposes and we ascended the escalators for get-on-board photos. HINT: Have photos taken as couples because they use facial recognition technology to group subsequent photos taken during the cruise. From there we entered the ship on deck 5, the Royal Promenade and went straight to deck 16 for the buffet in the Windjammer. It was crowded, but we found a table for 6. LUGGAGE: It was delivered to our cabins at just about the same time as we reached our cabins at 1:30 pm after lunch. CABINS: We had oceanview, balcony cabins on deck 8. The cabins are about 10% smaller than similar cabins on the Freedom class ships and the balconies are about 20% smaller. We did open the dividers between our three cabin balconies which made a very nice family meeting area. The cabins are furnished very similarly to those on other Royal Caribbean ships with two notable features, excellent bedding and upgraded electronics including an interactive television that worked well. We were pleased with the cabin location on the "Central Park" deck. SHIP: The Allure of the Seas is obviously unique and sets a high benchmark for guest options at sea. It is beautiful and especially so at night with all the special lighting. A walk through Central Park after dark is a real treat. It has electronic signage to assist in finding shortest routes around the ship. There are three places for computers with internet access. The crew kept the ship clean and beautiful. The elevators are plentiful enough so that wait times are reasonable, except for peak hours. ACTION CENTERS: We enjoyed 4 of the many action centers; Royal Promenade, Broadway, Central Park and the casino/ice rink deck. The Royal Promenade, wider than on the Freedom class ships, features the 24-hour cafÃ©, a pub, Sorrento's pizza, shops, guest services, and Boleros. The Diamond Club has a balcony on top of Boleros which overlooks the Royal Promenade. Broadway has Johnny Rockets, Rita's Cantina, a carousel and the water theater at the end of the ship. HINT: Johnny Rockets has a complimentary breakfast that is very good. Central Park has some of the alternative restaurants (read pay extra) as well as a cafÃ© that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is a nice walk, especially in the evening but not in the rain although the ship does provide umbrellas. Deck 4 features the best casino on any ship we have sailed on along with the ice show theater. There are lots of other action centers including the pool deck, spa and exercise areas but we are neither pool nor spa users. There is simply too much to do for a single 7 day cruise. ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment options are many. Featured shows include Chicago and Blue Planet in the theater, the AquaAria in the pool theater and the ice show. HINT: Do not miss either the water/diving show or Blue Planet. They were excellent. We also enjoyed brief stops in Dazzles, a club on deck 8 that featured very good music. There were music, dancing, parades, special shows, pool games, multiple bars, bingo and a lot more. We were tired at the end of every day. FOOD: The food was very good in every place we experienced. We tried breakfast in the Windjammer buffet and Johnny Rockets, lunch in Rita's Cantina, Johnny Rockets and the buffet, and dinners in the Adagio dining room. Dinners featured a large menu with entrees like corbina fish, chicken marsala, basa fish filet, lobster, salmon and nice desserts like cherries jubilee. We didn't try any of the alternative restaurants but they all had excellent menu choices. We also stopped by the cafÃ© on the Royal Promenade daily for an early morning coffee. SERVICE: The service was excellent! The restaurant staff, while serving its large crowd, was efficient, friendly and responsive. They made sure that timely service would meet the schedule of the people served. We do not like to spend a long time at dinner and our waiter was very accommodating. Staff, in every venue we used were excellent. CROWDS: We had read about the crowds in a few reviews and were alert to the possibilities of frequent long waits. Royal Caribbean has more experience with handling large numbers of people on its ships than any other cruise line and that experience shows. We did not experience lines during either embarkation or disembarkation. There were lines, similar to most ships we have been on, at peak hours such as the buffet on embarkation day, the first to disembark on port days, and the Royal Promenade during parades and feature events. HINT: Make reservations for shows before you board. The venues offer first access to those people with reservations and allows others to enter after 15 minutes before show time. We had consistently better seats for shows than we have ever had. DISEMBARKATION: The process was based on numbered bag tags for those who did not drag their own bags off the ship. Numbers were called from 7:15 AM onward. We had number 11 and got off about 7:45 AM. Bags were arranged by number in the terminal and easily retrieved. NOTE: There were a smaller number of bags for each number which was a significant innovation for expediting bag retrieval. We were called at 7:45 AM and were at the Ft. Lauderdale airport at 8:30 AM. Remember, there were 6000 people on board. SUMMARY: Great ship! You have to experience it to understand just how great it really is.
Allure of the Seas: Part 1 Trip Report from the Eastern Caribbean
The purpose of this report is to let you know what to expect on the Allure of the Seas, especially on one of our Card Player Cruises poker cruises. I'll start off with details about the ship (restaurants, shows, amenities, etc.) and then go into some of the on board activities offered and some of the shore excursions available. I'll close with some hints on how to make your vacation easier and better and give you some fun facts about the cruise.
The Ship: The Allure of the Seas launched in December 2010 and is the biggest cruise ship in the world, weighing in at 225,000 gross tons. It is a twin to its sister ship the Oasis of the Seas. The Allure is 1,187 feet long and has 16 passenger decks. Occupancy at full capacity is 6,296 guests in its 2,704 staterooms. The ship offers a plethora of activities and features a zipline, carousel, Central Park, ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, more than 20 eating venues, a Broadway theater, an aqua theater, comedy theater, jazz club, full casino,fitness center, Surfrider, miniature golf, jazz club, karaoke lounge, a child and teen program, disco, sports court, duty-free shops, internet cafes, jogging track, and lots of cool public lounges. The Allure offers the latest in technology. If you aren't sure how to find a specific destination, go to any elevator and type in where you are going and the route will light up. You can press a button to find out how busy each of the restaurants is. You swipe your card at each show to confirm your reservations. One nice feature in the cabins is an iPod docking station so feel free to bring your iPod with you.
The Restaurants: The dining choices are manyâ€¦most are free but there also are some pay restaurants for those who really want to be pampered. Please note that there is no need to pay extra for food on a cruise ship since the food in the free venues is plentiful and tasty. The Adagio dining room is open for breakfast, lunch (on sea days), and dinner with a choice of at least three appetizers, soups, and salads each evening as well as at least six entree options and six dessert choices. Don't forgetâ€¦it's all you can eat so if you want the beef and the pasta, you can order both! If you prefer a more casual dinner or prefer to wear shorts or to go casual on formal night, a good alternative dining room is the Windjammer Marketplace. The Windjammer opens nightly at 6:15 and is buffet style with many great food choices and desserts. I eat there for dinner most nights since I prefer casual dining to long, multi-course dinners. The Windjammer is open for breakfast and lunch every day as well.
If you want something even more casual, I highly recommend the Park Cafe for breakfast or lunch (I wish they were open for dinner). Located in Central Park, the Park Cafe breakfast includes a designer bagel bar, lots of fresh fruit, grilled egg sandwiches, hot and cold cereals, and lots of other quick and light food items. The Park Cafe is my favorite lunch spot featuring scrumptious roast beef sandwiches, a salad bar, soup, and lots of desserts. Another good choice for a quick bite is the Cafe Promenade, a 24-hour snack bar with sandwiches and cookies. Sorrentos is a pizza bar where you can grab a slice of four different types of pizza or design your own personal pizza. Johnny Rockets has breakfast for free (there is a small charge for lunch and dinner), as does the Solarium Bistro. Room service is available 24 hours a day and is complimentary except during the hours of midnight to 5am, when a $3.95 service charge applies. The Wipeout Cafe is a great place to grab a burger, hot dog or pizza when you are out at the pool. Looking for a snack? You can grab a yummy hot dog in the Boardwalk Dog House (five types of hot dogs and sausages), a donut at Boardwalk Donuts, or frozen yogurt by the pool. Each of the above venues is complimentary.
As far as the pay restaurants, Giovanni's Table is my personal favorite. The cover charge is $15 for lunch and $20 for dinner but you would have to pay at least three times that much for similar food at home. The service is five-star, as is the food. Beware: there is way too much food if you order every course â€“ appetizer, salad, soup, pasta, entree, and dessert. I recommend dining family style and sharing some of the early courses so you have room for your entree. Chops Grille is a gourmet steak house with wonderful food and plenty of it for $30 per person. Rita's Cantina features Mexican food (the price depends on what night you goâ€¦there is a fiesta two nights during the week with a $20 charge for the party, food and margaritas). Other pay restaurant choices are the Brazilian Steak House Samba Grill ($25), Vintages (an a la carte tapas bar), Izumi ($5 cover charge plus a la carte pricing for sushiâ€¦note I HATED this restaurant on the Oasis so wouldn't consider trying it on the Allure), 150 Central Park ($40 per head or $75 per head with wine pairings), or the Chef's Table ($95 for a wine pairings dinner at a private table hosted by one of the ship's chefs.) If you're in the mood for a snack, the following venues have a small charge: Starbucks, Ice Cream Parlor, The Cupcake Cupboard, or Johnny Rockets.
The Shows: The Allure has six special shows during the week in addition to all the other activities offered. Chicago is the featured Broadway show in the Amber Theater. There is an ice skating show, a standup comedy show, a water show featuring amazing high dive and trampoline acts, a headliner show (the Texas Tenors from America's Got Talent were featured this week), and Blue Planet featuring vocals, energetic dance, and aerial acrobatics. I found the talent on the Allure to be terrific.
The Activities: Obviously we will have a first-class poker room for your pleasure that will open at 9am on sea days and after dinner on port days except in Nassau, when we will open in the afternoon once we sail away. Both live games and tournaments will be offered every day. If you want to take a break from poker, here's a report on some of the ship activities offered throughout the week: trivia, singles get-together, karaoke, ice skating, dance classes, movies, sing-a-longs in the piano bar, bridge, Soduko, jewelry making, fitness classes, seminars, bingo, name that tune, concerts, pool games, parades, scrapbooking classes, Ping pong, basketball, line dancing, wine tasting, and cooking classes.
If you are bringing children or teenagers, they will be busy the entire cruise. They have their own counselors, designated lounges and play rooms, and an arcade, as well as a full menu of activities including scavenger hunts, seminars, face painting, DJ academies, dance lessons, talent shows, ice shows, Dream Works shows, carousel, parties, etc. The Ports: The Eastern Caribbean ports are Nassau, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. Some of the shore excursions available through the ship are: Nassau: Stingray snorkeling and beach break, Atlantis Hotel/Casino tour, glass bottom boat, Seaworld Explorer, Paradise Island tour, swim with the dolphins, and the Forts and Pirate Museum tour. St. Thomas: Sail to Christmas and Honeymoon Cove, bike trip, beach excursions, trips to St. John, catamaran snorkel trips, golfing, jet boat sail, power raft snorkeling, island tours, jeep adventures, helmet dive at Coral World, parasailing, scuba diving, hiking, and kayaking St. Maarten: island tour, eco snorkel and beach tour, Rhino Rider adventure, art tour, extreme tour, scuba diving, discover scuba, aquaboat and jeep adventure, butterfly farm, and snuba.
For more information about the excursions, you can go to rccl.com or refer to the excursion booklet in your cabin.Hints to Make Your Vacation Better: If you like to preplan your activities, you should go to the Royal Caribbean website and book reservations at least a week in advance of your cruise.) However, if you don't like to plan in advance, don't despairâ€¦10 minutes before each show, the doors are open to any standby guests and we did not have any problem getting in at the last minute. Book your excursions through the ship. The ship tours are organized and use top-quality operators. You never have to worry about missing the ship either! It is best to arrive at the pier on embarkation day after 2pm when there is virtually no wait to board the ship. If you arrive at noon, you will probably have at least a 30-minute wait to board. Pack your valuables, passport, medicine, reading material, change of clothes, etc. in a carry-on bag since it might take a while to get your luggage delivered to your cabin. Don't overpack. Once you have laid out your clothes for the trip, put at least 1/3 of them back in the closet. Bring sunscreen and a bathing suit. It will be hot! Check in at the poker room on deck three in the conference room once you board the ship to pick up your free gifts and name badge that you will need during the cruise. Liquids can no longer be brought on board in your luggage. This applies to water, soda, and alcohol. The days of bringing your own sodas and waters are gone, they will confiscate your stuff! If you drink a lot of soda or wine, consider buying a package in advance or when you arrive at the ship, Bring a good attitude and a sense of adventure and you'll have a wonderful time!
If you have any questions about this trip or about the Allure of the Seas, please write to me at CardPlayerCruises