ALLURE OF THE SEAS
February 20, 2010
Itís a challenge to sum up my recent experience on ALLURE OF THE SEAS, but to say the ship is utterly amazing is an understatement. Simply put there is nothing like her at sea, except of course for her near sister OASIS OF THE SEAS. While clearly a mass-market ship considering that ALLURE carries 6000+ passengers, the overall experience is something far more substantial than mass-market. The attention to detail, the extra-friendly crew, the amazing hardware, the unsurpassed entertainment at sea, the array of dining choices, and the shipís many unique attractions & attributes all add up to something quite extraordinary.
I sailed on OASIS OF THE SEAS last year, and the ship blew me away. I was equally blown away on ALLURE and in fact I give ALLURE the slight edge over OASIS. Royal Caribbean has tweaked & improved just enough of the experience that ALLURE has a unique atmosphere she can call her own.
I didnít realize it when I booked this sailing just a month in advance, but it fell over Presidentís Day which meant many schools in the Northeast had the week off. This translated into a sailing that was fully booked with a plenty of families, teens, and toddlers. On other ships this may have been an issue, but not so on ALLURE. The kids were well entertained and this meant they were engaged and not an issue. I didnít witness any bad behavior and I never felt overwhelmed by all the kids. Just like on OASIS, lines and crowds were a non-issue. The terminal in Port Everglades is probably the best designed in the world, and it can process 6000 passengers with ease. We arrived around 1:30pm and curbside to walking on the ship is a 15-minute painless experience. Disembarking was just as easy and painless. I would estimate that leaving the cabin to exiting the terminal curbside again was about 15 minutes. It really doesnít get any better than that, even on ships 1/3 the size of ALLURE. I wish other cruise lines placed as much focus on passenger logistics as Royal Caribbean does. Even in ports of call Royal Caribbean has made special arrangements. ALLURE always docks and never tenders, and she has dedicated piers and facilities in the Caribbean. At each pier she docks at, there are special air-conditioned sheds ship-side that are the security check-points. Inside the sheds are multiple metal detectors that process passengers very quickly and ease congestion on the shipís gangway (there are always two large gangways forward and aft). Once you pass through the security shed you just walk on the ship, where escalators take you up one deck to waiting dedicated elevators.
Our cabin was a Central Park View Balcony, cabin 11197. We were almost directly over the Park Cafť and I very much enjoyed the view. The ocean facing balconies were sold out when we booked, so we had the choice of a Boardwalk view or Central Park view. We choose the Central Park view as we prefer a more quiet and serene atmosphere, and we were not disappointed. A few cabin details which were standouts include the bedding, which was ultra comfortable with crisp linens complete with the Royal Caribbean logo embroidered right into the sheets. The iPod docking/charging station was a first on any ship for me and quite welcome. It also included a digital clock. Something else I have never seen were three outlets that were housed in a unique casing on top of the dresser. Very convenient. There was plenty of closet and drawer space for the two of us, but it might be tight for three or more occupants. The standard bathroom was more spacious than typical, and you could actually sit on the toilet without hitting your knees on the wall in front of you. The shower had plenty of space and included the now traditional Royal Caribbean curved sliding doors. Bar soap and individual bath products were included, along with a universal body wash dispenser on the shower wall. One aspect of the design that took a little getting used to was the sink. It was very low and somewhat on the small side. This cabin tour would not be complete without mention of the interactive TV. Itís the best Iíve encountered on land or sea. First off the TV swivels so you can view it from the couch or beds. Itís a nice size too for a relatively small space. Itís more than a TV though as you can surf the Internet (keyboard is included), check email, review your onboard account, check the status of restaurant seating, book shore excursions, book show times, book specialty restaurants, and order movies. You can also review restaurant menus, order room service, display your personal schedule, and check out the daily program for all the activities.
The cabin TV is just one aspect of the amazing technology used on ALLURE. ALLURE is without question the most technically advanced ship I have ever sailed. There is interactive signage all over the ship that use touch screen panels. You can do anything on these panels from reviewing the daily activities; to finding out how full your favorite restaurant is, to having the sign show you exactly how to get to your cabin (or any other location on the ship). Itís really quite extraordinary. In addition to these interactive panels, there are Kiosks located throughout Deck 5. On these Kiosks you can pull up and print you onboard transactions and account balance, check in and print your boarding pass for a return flight home, and review and print your weekly schedule of confirmed dining and entertainment reservations. Itís a great feature and super easy to use.
Royal Caribbean refers to ALLURE as the ďship of entertainmentĒ and this is an accurate description. Dare I say there is almost too much entertainment as itís difficult to fit it all in. I highly recommend pre-booking as much of the entertainment and specialty dining reservations as possible from home. While you can wing-it once onboard, prebooking will ensure you donít miss any of the great dining and entertainment options and avoid disappointment. It will also maximize your vacation time onboard as you wonít need to spend time booking reservations or waiting in stand-by lines for shows you donít have reservations for. I only booked the cruise a month in advance and I was able to book all the shows and specialty restaurants with little difficulty. I wasnít always able to get all the times I wanted and it took some juggling, but in the end I had a very balanced week of dining and entertainment. Some of the entertainment options include:
Chicago Ė the musical
Blue Planet Production Show
OceanAria Ė Diving Show
Ice Games Ė Ice skating show
Two Parades (one with a Dreamworks theme)
How to Train Your Dragon (Dreamworks Ice skating show)
Ice & The Madagascar (Dreamworks diving show)
Fountain Show (Aqua Theater)
ImagineOcean (kids puppet show but a must see for adults too!)
In addition there are South Beach style parties in the Solarium, a jazz club, live piano in the Schooner Bar, easy listening in the Viking Crown, Rising Tide Bar, Blaze nightclub, big band & 80ís/90ís theme nights in Dazzles, Latin music and dancing in Boleros, Karaoke in the On-Air Club, wine & tapas in Vintages, and of course one of the largest casinos afloat. The entertainment choices are unmatched at sea. Special mention must go to CHICAGO. It was truly a Broadway quality production and in fact the best production Iíve seen of this play anywhere.
Almost as varied as the entertainment options are the dining options. I prebooked every specialty restaurant and enjoyed them all. We only dined in the dining room twice this cruise, and I was only in the Windjammer buffet once the entire cruise. There are just too many other interesting dining options, both free and fee-based. My favorite lunch spot was the Park Cafť. Here you will find Royal Caribbeanís signature sandwich, which is freshly sliced lean roast beef with a special sauce and horseradish on a salted fresh baked roll. It sounds so simple but itís the best roast beef sandwich I ever had. In addition the Park Cafť serves up wonderful made to order, hand tossed salads. Delicious! I truly enjoyed all the food onboard, both in the free and fee-based restaurants. One thing that could probably be better are the hamburgers. They are precooked and sit in a stainless steel bin. You can request a fresh cooked burger if you donít mind waiting. Overall the best dining experience was 150 Central Park. This is the most elegant and gourmet restaurant onboard. The food is truly gourmet and the presentation and service are superb. It is well worth the $35 per person. Another excellent meal was in Chopís Grill. The steaks were perfect and it was one of the most satisfying meals of the week. In additional we dined at Izumi for sushi, Samba Grill which is a Brazilian style churrascaria, Giovanniís Table for Italian, Sorrentoís for Pizza, Cafť Promenade for sandwiches and cookies, and Johnny Rockets for great burgers. Unfortunately we didnít make it to Ritaís Cantina for Mexican this time around. Next time! Other dining options include the Wipe Out Cafť for burgers/tacos, the Boardwalk Donut Shop, the Cupcake Cupboard, the ice cream parlor, the Dog House for a variety of hot dogs, and of course room service.
Ports of call included Nassau, St Maarten, and St Thomas. Pretty standard stuff but really a cruise on ALLURE is about the ship, and not so much the ports. We did enjoy absolutely superb weather with sunny skies everyday, not a drop of rain, low humidity, and temperatures in the low 80ís. In St Thomas we rented a jeep and took in the views at Mountain Top and enjoyed the afternoon at Magenís Bay, which is still a beautiful spot. As a ship enthusiast part of my enjoyment on a Caribbean cruise is ship spotting. Besides some interesting yachts, I enjoyed seeing the new DISNEY DREAM, which looks spectacular, and some ships we donít see that often in these parts such as AIDAluna, OCEANA, and AZURA. Other ships spotted include CARNIVAL FANTASY; EURODAM; NIEUW AMSTERDAM; CELEBRITY SOLSTICE; CARNIVAL FREEDOM; SEVEN SEAS NAVIGATOR; MSC POESIA; and NORWEGIAN PEARL.
In closing it was an awesome cruise on an awesome ship. There are simply no other ships in the mass-market 7-day Caribbean run that can equal the experience that ALLURE and her sister OASIS can offer. These ships are pricier than most of the competition (exception being Disney), but in my opinion well worth the extra cost. The experience has ďqualityĒ written all over it. Great job Royal Caribbean!
Thanks so much for the great review! It's so much what we want to hear- my family and I are going on the Allure in 15 months! I know, so long to wait, especially when we keep hearing everyone's great reviews.
Haven't looked at the whole photo gallery yet, but your teaser photos are wonderful!
Thanks again for posting your review. I can't wait until I'm writing mine!
I have sailed on the Allure and the Oasis and I loved those ships as much as you did. They are simply the best.
I booked the Oasis for april 2012.
Carnival Liberty New Year's Eve 2007
Liberty of the Seas 5/2008+11/2009
Allure 1/16/ 2011
Independence of the Seas 12/29/2013 Top-notch!
Wow! simply stunning pictures. Can't wait to show them to my wife. Maybe one day. We are very excited about our upcoming cruise and while it certainly does not match the Oasis or Allure, it's still the core experience, and I'm just glad to be out there. I still havent been on a Freedom class vessel! One day...
Looking for our next cruise!
Sovereign of the Seas (Sept 2002)
Enchantment of the Seas (Sept 2003)
Monarch of the Seas (August 2009)
Monarch of the Seas (April 2011)
Enchantment of the Seas- Port Canaveral (May 2013)
Enchantment of the Seas - (April 2014)
Hope for a BIG ship in 2015! (heck with that, we'll take a small one for 2014!)
Great review, hope you also submitted it to the review section. Your pictures are incredible. I love the St. Maarten parking lot photo, must have been crowded that day. We have been on the Oasis and it was absolutely incredible. Hopefully I can talk the hubby into the Allure next year sometime (I had to reluctantly agree to no more than three cruises a year and this year is already booked out). Thanks again for taking the time to post everything.
Oasis September 3, 2011
Adventure November 20, 2011
Mariner January 8, 2012
Radiance April 2, 2011
Mariner January 9, 2011
Oasis 9 October 2010
Majesty 20 August, 2010
Mariner January 31, 2010
Adventure September 27, 2009
Explorer March 27, 2009
Monarch January 9, 2009
Liberty September 2008
Mariner June 2007
Monarch June 2006
Great pictures and review. I understand about the specialty dining with a add on fee, but what about the rest? pastry shop,pizza, coffee?
You can eat for free at the follwing venues:
central park cafe(not to be confused with 150 central park)
solarium bistro (not to be confused with samba grill)
wipe out cafe on sports deck
johnny rockets (breakfast only)
boardwalk dogs (variety of hot dogs)
boardwalk donuts and coffee(open 7-11am only)
main dining rooms (nice salad bar for lunch)
Freedom of the Seas Dec 11
Allure of the Seas: Jan 11
Voyager of the Seas: May 09
Splendour of the Seas: May 07
Explorer of the Seas: Jan 04
Majesty of the Seas Jan 99
Wow...amazing review and the best pictures I've seen yet of the Allure!! I will be sailing on her Sept. 18th and now you've really got me pumped up!!!! Wish you could have went to Rita's Cantina because that is one I think I'd like to try. Already decided to try Samba's. One question, if you can help, when are formal nights in the dining room?
Great review, and the pics are fabulous...we are looking into cruising on her or her sister the Oasis next year. We were docked right next to the Oasis in Cozumel last fall as they were re-routed due to a hurricaine near Jamaica, too bad for them, but we got to talk to alot of passengers and most seamed to really enjoy the experience. Only one complaint of the lines for windjammer and the set up causing general confusion. We've done Radiance, and this fall are booked for Freedom, appreciate your review.