|Age:||43||Cruise Line:||Royal Caribbean|
|Number of Cruises:||10||Cruise Ship:||Allure of the Seas|
|Overall Rating:||Date Sailed:||07/08/2012|
|Embarkation:||Fort Lauderdale - Port Everglades, FL||Destination:||Caribbean - Eastern|
July 8 - July 15
Ft. Lauderdale, Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten
From Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale, typical air travel. From Illinois to Ft. Lauderdale, a bit more of a hassle as booking air fare through the cruise line only works if you live near a major airport. From Wyoming, flawless as we cancelled the cruise lineís travel set up and used Frontier Air Lines out of Denver, saving hours of layover and plane changes.
BOOK YOUR OWN AIR TRAVEL. ROYAL CARIBBEAN STILL DOESNíT GET IT. YOU WILL SAVE $$$$$$!
We were sailing with a group of twenty people ranging in age from nine to eighty. About half of us were platinum members, the rest, gold. I believe, due to the size of the ship and the amount of people coming aboard, we were moved through a security line that was numbered the same as the deck number of our cabin. Thus, our group was split in half.
Security was, security. Check passports and scan carry on luggage etc. It is what it is. It went as well as could be expected.
There are a ton of people here and RCCL handled it as well as could be expected.
Check in was quick and efficient and very light hearted. The representative at the counter had us all smiling and laughing. Once we received our sea pass cards we were shuffled through an area where many photographers awaited to take group pictures in front of a backdrop of the ship. After a day of travel, we looked our sunday best, NOT! Needless to say, we didnít buy the pictures.
Up the gangway and into the ship.
We had cabin 7678 starboard side, deck seven. Seaside balcony with an additional bed that pulled out of the ceiling. The room had a comfortable king size bed (which my wife found fantastic) and all the usual decor. The television is also your on board compass and computer. You can access your itinerary, order excursions or watch the various offered television channels. The Dreamworks channel is an excellent addition, especially for the kids.
The bathroom is functional. No tremendous strides in making it more roomy.
The balcony has two chairs and a small table, very functional and saw a lot of use.
Our cabin steward was EVA. She was fantastic. Flawless, friendly and always helpful.
The only two complaints about the room are the weak air conditioning which took forever to cool the room and the tiny table. The table just gets in the way and there is no place to stow it. If you have a balcony, donít leave the door open for even five minutes, it will take five hours for the room to cool down.
This thing is massive. It looks like a fat hotel on a barge. From the shore it looks a little odd, not like the freedom class or Navigator class which have much nicer lines. There are people everywhere and USUALLY it isnít a problem. There seems to be plenty of space for everyone. The zones (Promenade, Boardwalk, Central Park, Pool Deck, Adult areas) are very inviting and really create different experiences aboard the ship.
THE ROYAL PROMENADE in the center of the ship, reminds me of the Freedom, only wider and longer. The bars and restaurants are fabulous and my daughters loved the Starbucks. There is ample shopping and opportunities for drinks. I really loved the small touches like the Swarovsky crystal humming birds, the chrome bulldog and the blue running messages above the sports bar. The pizza bar was fantastic and the jewelry sales were a huge hit. Plenty of room for plenty of people without it ever feeling crowded (except during the parades, which is to be expected). The rising tide bar is simply cool. Just totally cool.
THE BOARDWALK is a treat as well. The donut and Ice cream shops make for easy indulgence and the candy store and hot dogs are wonderful. The carousel is beautiful and wonderfully painted and decorated as are the sculptures that adorn the entryway. Look for decorative touches like hundreds of white doves and unobtrusive signage.
The Mexican restaurant was quite yummy and a nice spot for lunch. Though RCCL charges extra for this, at 3-5 dollars per plate it makes you wonder if they really need to.
The aqua theater is a sight to behold and I will cover that under entertainment.
CENTRAL PARK is simply delightful. Lined with shops and restaurants it is a fabulous diversion from the chaos of the swim and sun decks. During the day, speakers pipe in the sound of birds and at night, crickets. There are many places to sit and relax and enjoy the atmosphere. I expected more of a breeze but strangely it seems unaffected by the wind created by the movement of the ship. Thursday was different though as the wind was bananas.
The park is lined with interior balcony cabins and is quite surreal to see, especially at sea. All in all, make sure you spend some time there, reading or enjoying a quiet beverage.
THE POOL DECK is crowded. Its one of the few things about the ship that didnít impress me. Packed all the time, too many people, not enough deck chairs, people everywhere, crowded and typical. With all the advancements they made on this ship youíd think that theyíd have done a better job with the main activity deck for at sea days. Fail. They didnít. Every pool was over crowded and finding two seats together was simply impossible.
The aft deck with the flow riders and zip line were fine. The wait for the flow rider was never really more than 15-30 minutes and the instructors were very helpful. The zip line wait was sometimes a bit longer but I guess it was as quick as it could be. The zip line is redundantly safe and even though it only lasts a few seconds, the look down was thrilling.
The mini golf was fun and better than I had hoped for. Never crowded and easy to follow.
The deck gets extremely hot in the sun, as does the mini golf course so be sure to bring shows everywhere.
Looking off the rear of the ship is quite a thrill as well. You can look down at the diving platforms and the massive rock climbing walls for a unique perspective.
The Allure has a ton to offer on board and each neighborhood pretty much accomplishes what RCCL has set out to do. Except on the pool deck, unless they set out to make it crowded and chaotic on purpose.
THE ELEVATORS ARE HORRID: Way too long of a wait almost every time and very stuffy and hot. I maybe took 3 trips a day on the elevators. The rest was stairs which, considering the food, was probably a good idea. The most advanced cruise ship in the world and speedy elevator service and air conditioning are still a mystery.
We ate at the first seating on the main level of the dining room. A beautiful dining room set up for function over form though for as elegant as it may look, with all those people, you donít get the opulent feel as you would in a more intimate setting. Seeing as they are feeding half the ship, the dining room is always amazing, and the head waiter was at our table every meal, helping, chatting, serving or whatever else needed to happen.
Our Server Hermant was flawless and he ALWAYS accommodated our every request. Always. What a wonderful experience.
The FOOD was fantastic. We had a large group so our philosophy was, order everything and try it all. We did. This ship consistently provided the best cruise food I have ever eaten and this was my tenth cruise. I canít express how consistently wonderful the food and service were. TOP NOTCH.
The Windjammer was the usual. We never tried room service.
One thing that RCCL did though that baffles my mind is this. We had a group of twenty so obviously they canít sit us all at one table, which is understandable. But, to put us in different zones with different waiters simply defies logic. Of course we would want to change tables every night and eat with other members of our group. Of course we would want to converse and share a story with the other table but, RCCL lacked the foresight in keeping us together. For the amount of $$ this trip cost, I am very surprised that RCCL didnít find a way to make it easier on our servers. I know its nit picking but, if it helps another group then great! Plus, our waiters didnít seemed bothered at all and handled it well, though Iím sure they werenít thrilled with us.
IF you travel in a large group, do your server a favor and make sure RCCL puts you in the same dining zone.
All I can say is wow. There were so many great shows to see on this ship. We saw two different ice shows, we saw Chicago and Blue Planet, we saw movies (one of which was still in theaters back home) aquatic shows and a high diving show. Geez, we never even bothered with the headliners that RCCL brings in. We had all we could handle. The entertainment was fantastic.
The diving show was quite a thrill and not something youíd expect on a cruise ship. The Aqua Theater was so high tech and entertaining and the talent in the show was wonderful. Unbelievable that you could see this kind of show on a cruise liner. I canít think of a time when Iíve even thought about seeing a diving show yet RCCL had one and it was great.
The Dreamworks character events (Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda etc) were great photo opportunities and the parades and childrenís shows were delightful. There were Ice shows and water shows that catered to adults and shows that catered to the younger crowd and RCCL spared no expense on them. What a treat.
All the other Cruise stuff is there as well, bingo, trivia, contests, belly flop, sexy man and THE QUEST (not to be missed) rounded out a wonderful experience.
There was however one thing that really scraped me about the entertainment. This, I believe I have a legitimate argument for.
The last day of the cruise at 4pm there was a scheduled 3 on 3 basketball tournament, wine tasting and calypso music at the pool. Probably something that maybe 5% of the guests may be interested in. Ok, no problem. Then at Five pm, there was Kung Fu Panda photo opportunity, Blue Planet show in the theater and rock and roll music trivia. Probably something that 40% of the guests could enjoy , if not more.
Well, how am I supposed to get my son a picture with Kung Fu Panda when we have to be at Blue Planet? PLUS the majority of our group had been at almost every trivia event but now we cannot as we have to be at Blue Planet. Well, I guess we could have seen Kung Fu Panda earlier in the week but NO, we were scheduled in another show. My question is, why wasnít Kung Fu Panda at 4? There probably werenít any kids at three on three basketball tournament but there were plenty at Blue Planet. Why wasnít trivia at 4:15 or 4:30? Who schedules kids events at the same time?? Whereís the logic??
THEN they put Kung Fu Panda just outside the theater so all the kids going into Blue Planet saw him but couldnít stop to get a picture. Then they sat in theater wondering why they couldnít go back out? (Answer: because RCCL will give away your reserved seats.)
Little things like this happened all week. Taken as a whole it was quite bothersome. Taken individually not so much.
Oh and the Allure of the Seas t-shirts were terrible. I would have purchased twenty of them but they were so lame, I passed.
PORTS OF CALL
We purchased the aqua park adventure which suggested we be on the pier at 7:45 to get a shuttle at 8 to get to Atlantis at 8:30 to wait an hour for the water park to open. The pools were open, but not the fun stuff. Atlantis is beautiful and thankfully we were only in port with one other cruise ship. It was crowded but tolerable. I suggest taking a good look around and seeing the underground aquarium and the marina side of the hotel. Wow.
We chose the ecotour kayak and snorkel. Awesome. Kayak through the mangroves and to a secluded and protected area with a brief hike to a very photogenic outcropping. Then Snorkel for a while then kayak back. Wonderful. We saw a sea turtle, puffer fish, barracuda, and countless other things. Also, live conch and a sunken boat. A great and somewhat educational trip.
Four of us took a deep sea fishing excursion. We got no action. Not one nibble. Though we did hook a Booby bird that had been attacking our bait and had to reel it in and pull the hook out of its rear. Good times...
My wife and son took the rope course and zip line. They loved it. They said it was challenging and rewarding and fun. AND, tons of exercise.
Then we hit Airport Beach. Next time I will forgo all excursions and just hit the beach there. Beautiful water, beautiful beach, a restaurant and huge jets flying 50 feet overhead every 20 minutes or so. Thrilling to say the least.
DISEMBARKATION was fast and efficient. Done and done.
Great cruise, great time, but too big for our taste. Having sailed on the Freedom of the Seas, we will be returning to that class ship in the future.
Also, I met a couple Pinnacle Members on their 125th cruise. Wow.
I hope you liked my review. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and if anyone at RCCL reads this, Iíd love to talk about scheduling, elevators, air conditioning or large group dining.