Year Started: 1969
Ships in Fleet: 23
Summary: The largest and most technically impressive cruise ships in the world. Great for kids, families and adventurous adults. A large fleet, but Oasis and Brilliance are often cited as favorites
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Seniors.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, Mediterranean
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Caribbean, Canada, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Bermuda, Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean
Good for: Families. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Bermuda, Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Eastbound Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Families. Teens.
Good for: Teens. Group. Families.
Regions:Eastern Mediterranean, Caribbean, Eastbound Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Families. Overall Service.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean
Good for: Families. Value for Money. Teens.
Regions:China (as of May 2015)
Good for: First-time Cruisers. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Alaska, Hawaii, Tasmania
Good for: Children`s Programs. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Suez Canal, Bahamas, Dubai
Good for: Children`s Programs. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Brazil, Western Mediterranean, Greek Isles
Good for: Seniors. Families. Singles.
Regions:Norwegian Fjords, British Isles, Scan Russia, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:UK, Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda
Good for: Disabled Travelers. Group. Families.
Regions:Bahamas, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Families. Children`s Programs. Seniors.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Teens.
Regions:Western Mediterranean, Panama Canal
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Seniors.
Regions:Singapore, Malaysia, Phuket & Port Kelang,
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Hawaii, Alaska, South Pacific
Good for: Families. Group. Overall Service.
Regions:Toyko To Taipei, Australia, Asia
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
I'd like to preface my review with some context. This was my first cruise, as cruising is not personally my ideal type of vacation. I prefer going somewhere and having time to explore -- maybe city- or country-hop if I can. But I'm not typically into tours or rigid itineraries. Still, I love tropical environs, water and sailing, and am ok with resorts in general even though they're not as authentic as the places surrounding them. So I tried to go into the cruise with a fairly open mind. In the end, I have decided that cruising is not for me. On the other hand, there are some people that love cruises. So the things that bothered me might not apply to everyone else. But I will try to be thorough and specific, so at least others can get a sense of what I experienced during 6-Night Western Caribbean Cruise on the Independence of the Seas with Royal Caribbean.
As a quick summary, I found that there wasn’t enough time to spend in the better port stops (Grand Cayman and especially Falmouth, Jamaica) and the other was completely artificial and run bythe cruise line (Labadee, Haiti). Even in the stops that had some authentic culture, sights, and activities, Royal Caribbean tried to dissuade people from leaving the port area complexes where they take a cut of sales from vendors and luxury shops. They claim the towns and countries can be dangerous. If that was the case, why bother going? Why get off the ship? It’s just a money grab. On that note, there were LOTS of upcharges from the alcohol packages to the souvenir cups and the added-fee restaurants that were totally generic and not much better quality than the regular dining hall. The food quality and preparation in the dining hall and buffet were pretty atrocious – most dishes were mediocre at best, and some were appalling. There was also a lack of variety in foods, with one exception being the Singapore-Style Curry Noodles%u2026unfortunately, while they tried to offer an ethnic taste, they were comically bad (they tasted like ketchup, French dressing, and sadness). In general, the foods were bland, drab, and not particularly fresh. Exceptions were some of the pastas and the steak. The ship, while large, felt confining. It was like we were confined to what Royal Caribbean felt like giving us as a vacation, rather than getting to enjoy ourselves and make the most of the time and the places we visited.
Now to get more specific%u2026
I'll start with the positive:
*The staff members on the ship were incredibly friendly, warm, interested, and caring. They were the absolute best part of the trip. Whether in the dining hall, bars, lounges, or pools, they made us feel welcomed and taken-care of. They helped us enjoy the cruise as much as possible, and are a huge credit to Royal Caribbean for hiring and training them. They’re truly outstanding.
*The ship was well-maintained, clean, modern, and generally had a nice feel to its layout and in its venues.
*There was one night with a stand-up coming guest performer – the show was great, although she might not have thought the crowd was into it due to rough seas at the time. I wish there were more established artists with some broad appeal.
*Grand Cayman, while small, had some deliciously fresh seafood and lots of outdoor activities like snorkeling.
*Falmouth, Jamaica was a very vibrant place. The produce was so incredibly fresh and diverse. The people were friendly and hospitable. The mountains and sea were beautiful. The history was interesting and complex. The foods were tasty (we went on a culinary walking tour). Plus it’s close to Montego Bay and Ochos Rios. I wish we could’ve stayed at port for a night so we had more time to enjoy this stop.
*Onboard activities were fun, and facilities were nice – this applies to pools, hot tubs, the surf simulator, rock wall, etc. The time on the boat was generally enjoyable when we weren’t in rough seas or having a mediocre meal.
*The alcohol package made things that much better – we got the ultimate package, which paid for itself after 4 or 5 drinks a day. That was a good call for us.
And now for the negative:
*Most importantly, Labadee was horrible, inauthentic, and a waste of a day. The entire complex was set up by Royal Caribbean, and is fenced-in from the rest of Haiti. If you were to judge from Labadee, Haitian food must be burgers, hot dogs, and the “Labadoozie” frozen drink. True story: one guy tossed part of a burger to one of the stray dogs on the beach – the dog sniffed the burger and wouldn’t eat it! The beaches were crowded, and most of them were rocky with coral chunks. The ones that had nicer sand were near the boat, and smelled like fuel. We were not allowed to experience any of what actual Haiti had to offer in terms of culture and sights. Yet from the beaches at Labadee, we could only be teased by the beautiful rolling hills that lay beyond the resort area’s fence. And as a resort, it was poor – everything had an upcharge whether it was a floating mat or a cabana. And the facilities were dirty and run-down (stank bathrooms). They do let some Haitian residents work in the complex, which I guess is a decent job. But it’s not a good experience for tourists. Except for the landscape, there’s no reason to bother leaving the boat here.
*Premium amenities and services were very expensive, for example massages and spa services. Royal Caribbean tried to squeeze more money out of passengers every chance they got.
*The "cold" water in the stateroom was tepid and undrinkable. Of course, even with a drink package you could only get one bottle of water at a time.
*The mini fridge was barely cool. So you kindof need a beverage package for a cool drink.
*The curtains in the promenade stateroom were see-through and provided no privacy unless we used the blackout ones, which eliminated the view and any light from outside. They should’ve been sheer to let in light, but not prying eyes. It basically defeated the purpose of having the promenade window.
*The food quality was very poor, and dining options were few and unsatisfying. I actually touched on this more specifically above. Everything tasted frozen (ok, it’s the best way to get food to last for 6 days), but was not prepared in a way that brought out any of its flavor. Things were bland, and drab. There were only a few ethnic foods, most of which were terrible. The sushi bar at the buffet was very disappointing (they had a variety of bad rolls, when they probably should’ve just had a decent California roll and called it a day). Everything was soggy. When we got off the boat, we’d always crave veggies and fresh foods. They should probably simplify the menu to more reliable things, and consider cheap foods that can hold up well and make people happy%u2026why not have a decent lo mein or burrito bar? And the two premium restaurants were totally not worth it -- $25 per person for generic “Italian” food or $35 for a lousy steakhouse. They should consider getting a chain or established chef to set up a restaurant – if they can source some decent-quality food that a real chef would accept.
*The drinks were a price gouge%u2026but they have you by the balls. You can bring on wine, but not even a large-format beer. Basically if you enjoy drinking, you have to pay out the nose.
*WiFi was expensive and unreliable – if you expect dial-up speeds, you will be sorely disappointed.
*There were incessant announcements on the PA loudspeaker system to announce “important” information like longitude/latitude, pre-scheduled port stops we already knew about, and opportunities to spend money at the overpriced duty-free and jewelry shops. These woke us up if we dared to relax during our “vacation,” and were obnoxious in content and volume. They woke us up at 6am on debarkation day even though many of us were not allowed off the ship until 10. Awesome!
*The island stops were too short, and Royal Caribbean tried to mislead passengers that the only safe areas were the ports, where all shopping basically went back to the cruise line. I don’t see the point of taking a ship somewhere beautiful in the Caribbean, but not getting time to actually experience these places. For people who enjoy the cruising experience aboard the ship, why bother stopping? It seemed like a lose-lose proposition for me.
*Finally, while they’re truly amazing people, the cruise staff are overworked, and abused by Royal Caribbean. While the option to work with a cruise line might be a better career choice than staying in their home countries, they should be treated fairly on par with American employment laws and not treated so horribly. It is depressing to see, and I felt ashamed that my family did business with Royal Caribbean. It was typical to learn that some staff members worked 15-17 hour days with no days off. And they are penalized without-pay if they happen to get sick. Sure, it’s just business. But I think a company should be judged not only by how profitable they are, but also by how decently they treat the people who work with them to help them succeed. For the absolute best part of this company, the staff was not properly appreciated by Royal Caribbean.
I hope some of this might help people make their cruise related decisions in the future – the bottom line is that if you already like cruising, you probably will enjoy this ship and itinerary with a few exceptions. And if you’re not sure about the cruise experience, there are some downsides that are probably worth being warned about in advance.
Overall, the most important thing I can say that should apply to everyone is that Labadee was, in my opinion, the absolute worst part of the trip--and a waste of time and money. Even if you’re gung-ho about taking a cruise with Royal Caribbean, I’d urge you to check out an itinerary that avoids this lame excuse for either a resort or a genuine port stop. I looked through their port brochure, and am intrigued by some other places they serve such as Puerto Rico and St. Maarten.
I want to start my review on a positive note. The ship was clean and well kept. The crew was professional and very friendly and helpful. The entertainment was very good, and the Legend of the Seas singers and dancers were awesome. The Legend of the Seas singers and dancers put on some spectacular shows. The best part of the cruise.
The reason for my poor experience and the reason I cannot recommend the cruise is the Windjammer Cafe Buffet. We suffered with pancakes that made noise when they hit your plate, with scrambled eggs so loose they were swimming in water, and spare ribs so dried out and over cooked that they literally broke my dental bridge.
I didn't know whom to report to when I discovered that the dried out meat had broken my bridge so I didn't say anything until I was asked to fill out a mid-cruise survey. The only response I got from customer service was that I didn't report it at the time of the incident and I never showed my broken bridge to any of the crew. They didn't believe me!! They might just aswell have called me a liar to my face! I don't think that is how you treat a 3 time customer who is retired with plenty of time to do more cruises. I decided to write my story in a review on the RCCL web site. RCCL pulled my review and refused to print it and suggested I contact customer service. I was provided with an email link and sent my story to customer service again. That was over a week ago, and I am still waiting to hear from RCCL.
Bad buffet in the Windjammer Cafe, bad treatment of longtime customer, bad follow-up by cutomer service makes me give this cruise a poor experience.
My cruising background includes 35 cruises of which 23 were with RCI. The Quantum of the Seas is not ready for passengers and needs a lot of work. It seemed to me that RCI was focused more on maximizing their bottom line than catering to their passengers. I had the sense that the the ship was "Stuffed" with venues much like trying to fit 10 lbs. of goods into a 5 lb. bag.
Dynamic dining was frustrating and stressful at times. After weeks of trying to link 8 people for dinner at various restaurants, we were told no reservations existed by Customer Service. Their reply (Which we heard frequently, was "There's nothing we can do") They suggested we go to every restaurant we reserved and confirm reservations.
The service was very slow since assistant waiters were eliminated and the waiter fumbled around trying to enter our orders into an ipad.Some meals took 2 hours or more and we missed several shows because of it. Virtually every restaurant we visited was missing one or more of their menu items. There are 4 complimentary restaurants and at least 7 that you had to payfor. The coastal Kitchen is reserved for Pinnacle & suite guests.Izumi and Jamies were my favorites.
The menus were small and never changed and if there were 5 meal choices and they were out of stock for 2 meals, you were given a choice of 3. When showing up for our reservation on time we stood in a line and at times were given a light up pager like you would get in a highway chain restaurant. We then would wait an additional 20 minutes to 1/2 hr. to be seated.
The food was OK, but nothing really stood out. Some cuts of meat were not up to the old RCI standards. The Windjammer would constantly have empty tables not cleared off and omelet lines were non existent due to the light up pagers we were give. If I knew it would take 1/2 hr. to get an omelet I wouldn't have ordered it.
Was pretty much useless and seemed overwhelmed. There were frequently long lines. "There's nothing we can do" is a phrase I never want to hear again when paying in excess of $3000.00 for an 11 day cruise.
The Rip cord, Waver runner, Bumper cars, and North star were very good. The downside was waiting in line to make reservations. The robot bartenders were boring after 3 minutes and a waste of space due to the limited hours they worked and the breakdowns.
Mamma Mia was the highlight of the cruise and rivaled the Broadway version. The other shows left me confused. Starwater reminded me of Cirque Du Soliel with a floating Cellist and a singer who floated in the air. She sang a song that lasted at least 20 minutes while the dancers waved her dress up & down for lighting effects ??? The show had to be cancelled twice due to rough seas in the Caribbean.
Many usual shipboard activities were missing. Mostly because the venues were too small. Trivia as usual was won by back to back cruisers who had the answers to all the questions. No parties on the pool deck, Quest, Belly flop contests Etc because the venues were too small.
There were limited venues for dancing. The music hall and Boleros which were usually standing room only and the 270 was beautiful but only seemed to play what I'll refer to as "Elevator music".
The diamond lounge was standing room only and we were redirected to other bars and had to wait up to 1/2 hour for a drink due to being understaffed.
The ship is beautiful but the design emphasis seems to have been in technology and ignored practicality and common sense. (It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize a children's pool doesn't belong next to the smoking section. And I'm a smoker )
I am sure many first time cruisers tech people and young people will enjoy this ship, but if you like interaction with the same waiter every night and the smooth flow of getting in & out of a restaurant in a reasonable time, you would be better off sticking to ships with traditional dining.
We go on vacation to relax and unwind, but this vacation was WORK and caused stress when the technology went awry. In 35 cruises this is the first negative review i have written It by far was my worst cruise. I felt like I was in Disneyland with all the standing in line and reservations. If Dynamic Dining is the future of RCI, I will sadly have to choose other Cruise lines.
I never got on board to see the ship. After the hour wait to check in, my wife made the fatal mistake about being honest that she had a cold. On the health declaration form, she checked "yes" to having a runny nose and coughs. We were ushered to the side of the check-in room and waited over an hour for a nurse to arrive. All the nurse did was check her temperature. She registered 99.7F.
Despite the form saying explicitly that you would not be denied boarding unless you are proven to be communicable, we were refused boarding. I am a scientist and an academic writer. In no respected scientific way would you prove communicable causation by showing someone to be one degree Fahrenheit higher than normal. In fact, the norm of 98.6F is just an average. Depending upon the surrounding conditions and the state of the individual, the norm could vary by as much as one degree. Again, 98.6F is not a fact; it is an average. Some people run normally at 99F or higher.
When we pleaded with the medical staff that she was only one degree over theaccepted norm, they said that they don't deal in "only." I'm sorry but half the people would fail the test because their norm is higher than 98.6F.
The moral of this story is that honesty does not pay. Among the 2000 in line, we witnessed dozens of people sniffling and hacking--and yet only two people, including us, answered "yes" to their question. Now doing a brief review online, I see that everyone lies about their health conditions--and I see why.
THIS ISN'T THE WORST PART!
After being told that we would not be permitted to board, we had to wait THREE HOURS for them to retrieve our luggage. After three hours, they only apologised that they could not retrieve them.
THEY LEFT US ABANDONED AND TOOK ALL OF OUR CLOTHES AND BELONGINGS.
Here we were stranded in Baltimore under freezing rain with nothing but the clothes on our backs. For me, this included a t-shirt, shorts, sandals and a light windbreaker. They were kind enough to let us stand in the lobby, with the doors wide open, while they called us a cab.
To recap, we arrived at the port just after noon. By the time the ordeal was over, it's close to 5 pm. Expecting a rich meal on board, we had nothing to eat all day and we were left hungry, cold, and stripped of all our belongings.
After booking and adjusting our flight itinerary, this debacle cost us $1500.
Thanks Royal Caribbean for ruining our vacation, putting us through five hours of torture, and leaving us in the cold. This must be the basis of some sort of lawsuit and I'll search for a lawyer soon.
However all staff on "Rhapsody of the Seas" were fantastic from everyone in Guest Relations department to F&B to Housekeeping to all the great shows on board. But I would like to point out 2 crew members who were exceptional and delivered the highest quality of service I have ever encountered. They tried their best for us with the loss of our luggage and we were never neglected. Most importantly they empathized with our situation and therefore made our misery much more manageable. The 2 crew member were Baris Beyosmanoglu and Bhiri Ramsarup from Guest Relations. They gave us things to get by such as laundry service, formal hire, toiletry pack and helped track down our
We will cruise again and Royal Caribbean will be our first choice from now on.
We got on the Liberty of the seas December 26, 2013 and we had fun. It would be nice if it was a 7-day cruise but, it was a 4-night cruise. Here is how it was like.
Hotel/Embarking: We stayed at a hotel. It was the Comfort inn. The hotel was okay but the food wasn't okay. My parents told me not to eat the boiled eggs because they were rubbery. Embarking was okay but the lines were long.
Activities: We had alot of fun. The hzo zone and pool was fun. The pools were freshwater. The promenade was pretty nice to see. The florider was amazing. We didn't do the flowrider but, we watched.
Children's Club: My sister had alot of fun. She met some friends. We brought other kids and they had fun.
Cozumel: We did an island tour. We loved it. We visited the ruins, did the Tequila tour, and more. We had two vans. The problems are on one van, it had the "B-word" on the back.
Cabin: We booked a balcony and we loved it. The doors were okay and the bathroom was great.
Service: The service wasgreat. The dining room treated our cousins 3-year old (now 4) really nice. The staff in cafe promenade was nice.
Food: The food was good. Nothing went wrong in the dining room. The fries tasted good. I was not sure about the cheese plate but, I will try it again.
The entertainment was good. We did the Micheal Jackson experience and it was the best. The 70s party was good. We had alot of fun.
Overall: We will recommend this ship to our friends because it was the best ship we been on. It would be good for a B2B cruise.
Our 11th cruise, 2nd on Royal Caribbean, was a great cruise. We were impressed with the ship which had a recent refurbishment, and the ease of getting around the ship. Our cabin was a balcony on Deck 8, Mid-Ship, # 8336 which was very smooth when sailing and very quite. We left out of Galveston as we are able to drive to the port in about 1 1/2 hours from our home in S/W Louisiana. We have booked this same ship for another cruise in November, 2014.
We sailed the Eastern Caribbean 2 years ago and this was the largest, best entertainment, best food, we've had on any cruise. I don't have any complaints at all. We sailed on Carnival, and 4 other RCCL ships before this cruise, and then Disney with the family, and I recently got back from Carnival's Fantasy out of Charleston. I've enjoyed every cruise! But, for the first time, we've decided to go back on the Freedom of the Seas and do the Western Caribbean next month. We loved the Promenade Stateroom to people watch and see what was happening on the Promenade. We spend very little time in any cabin on any ship, but the Promenade cabin was greatly enjoyed by my wife. So when picking out a cruise, I want to make sure she's happy, because as we all know, when someone isn't happy, that someone can make you unhappy!
We just had to sail on one of biggest ships in history and have an experience that would be very different, and it was. We went to the Bahama's, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. We have been to these ports many time but wanted to experience the ship so I won't talk about the ports. First, embarkation was amazingly easy. They have a terminal with the capacity to check-in a massive amount of people. RCL didn't just try to use the old system but instead effectively planned for the 6000 passengers that would descend in a short period of a few hours.
In each port they also had 30 by 30 foot portable classrooms on each dock with multiple security stations rather than try to run people through metal detectors on the ship entrance. This worked great and avoided the crunch at the gangway entrances. Again, somebody was thinking. Debarkation was also smooth and very quick. It's the fastest and earliest we have ever gotten off a ship. There was a long line at customs but it moved quickly and took, maybe, fifteen minutes. Don't hesitate on scheduling a flight outof Ft. Lauderdale a noon to 1:00pm, you'll make it with plenty of time. We played it "safe" and ended up sitting around the airport all day.
Now about the ship. Our balcony cabin was on the 11th deck in the back overlooking the Boardwalk. Normally I don't like rear cabins because there is so much engine/propeller vibration. That was not a problem at all as it was very smooth and we rarely even felt this huge ship move. The inside cabins on the Boardwalk were great as they are sheltered from the wind. The inside balconies on Central Park often had a lot of wind as do the outside balconies. We used our balcony more than we ever have before. This ship itself is overwhelming.
The jogging track is one of the best at sea and is only 2.4 laps to a mile. Beware of a few people who think this is a nice place for a leisurely stroll and will walk side by side blocking the runners. On one occasion we saw one runner take a spill twice because of people who blocked the track. Some people are just oblivious to what is going on.
Entertainment was amazing, the best shows at sea. We saw a shortened version of Hairspray which was of touring company quality. The ice show was excellent. They had Clint Holmes, a Las Vegas regular, fly in and give a fantastic performance. The Aqua/Diving Show was very entertaining and very unusual. Be sure and book your reservations well in advance for these shows as there isn't enough seating for all the passengers.
The food in the dining room was good, not fabulous, but equal to all other cruise ship standard. This isn't a negative comment because it was good and we gained 5 pounds during the week. We "discovered" the Solarium for breakfast. It has the healthy food and was never crowded. It is for adults only and made for a very relaxing breakfast. It became our hide-away area. During "sea days" the dining room has a nice buffet with a great salad bar. They have the best chopped salad bar you will ever find. Every sea day we ate here. There is also a little Cafe in Central Park that has the best French dip sandwiches on a fresh roll. Now for the negatives. The Windjammer buffet was a nightmare. It seemed smaller than the buffets on some of RCL's smaller (but still large) ships. We ate there only 3-4 times. It was super crowded and congested. To RCL's credit they stopped people at the door and wouldn't let them in until there was a table available and then they seated the people otherwise it would have been a disaster. One time we saw the line go out both doors and wind down the stairway. A ship this size needed a huge buffet or two separate buffets. This lack of preparation and planning made this a huge negative. If you eat most meals at the buffet, avoid this ship.
The second thing that bothered me was during the karaoke night when the passengers could sing with the band. I think they called it "live karaoke." It only lasted one hour and should have been done every night. With 6000 passengers the talent was unbelievable, however, there were crew members who did four of the songs during this brief hour. One crew member did two songs. Given the short time frame that meant there were passengers who didn't get to perform. The crew should not be taking away from passenger participation. I wanted to tell the cruise director about this but he was impossible for me to find.
So, how would I rate this cruise overall? Half way through I decided I didn't like the huge ship. We took a wonderful cruise on the small Ryndam earlier in the summer and I loved that ship. But, I have to admit the ship did begin to grow on me. It was congested at times but you have to think of it as a big city vacation and not a relaxing country vacation. I would sail on the ship again, but only if it was a special itinerary and the ship just happened to be going there. Overall, it was a unique experience and I'm glad I did it this once, but I prefer a smaller ship.
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.