The first-day flurry is on: cattle herding in Port Everglade’s cruise terminal (okay, it was actually the easiest embarkation I’ve ever experienced), show and restaurant reservations aplenty, kids’ club check-ins, soda card purchases, the muster drill. But, beyond the administrative hoo-ha, embarkation day on the 6,360-passenger Allure of the Seas is about adopting cruiser-brain as soon as possible. Meaning? It’s time for the first bite of roast beef, the first inspection of my cabin’s iPod dock and interactive TV, and the first fortune from Zoltar, who I hope foresees a sunburn- and weight gain-free cruise.
First Bite. The gunwales are stuffed — “we’re sailing full, no cabin upgrades available,” read a sign — but the opening day dining options are plentiful. Just after noon, the Windjammer buffet was the most peopled, with the port entrance already closed off due to the crowds. (Starboard was mostly empty.) Passenger-free options included the top-ship Solarium Bistro with its salads, fruits and vegetables, and the Boardwalk Dog House of “seven wieners, but no spicy mustard(!!)” fame. (Note the two exclamation points.) Recent Cruise Critic reviews have touted the Park Cafe as the go-to embarkation lunch spot for a built-to-order salad or panini, and the word has gotten out. I snagged the last empty table and commenced chomping on one of the popular roast beef sandwiches. The cruise has begun.
First Drink. “We’re going to be rock stars later tonight,” said one 20-something patron to his buddy in the Bow & Stern, Allure’s smoker-friendly English-style pub. One of the single-minded pair then christened the cruise by signing his first bar tab, which he shrewdly realized already included the tip. There are all sorts on this floating island: multigenerational packs running 20 deep, newlyweds proclaiming their nuptials on cabin doors, baby-boom couples, families and … rock stars.
First Look at the Cabin. I’m in a balcony Cabin (14202) with a view of the ocean, rather than foliage (Central Park) or a wooden carousel (Boardwalk). It’s a “bulge” cabin — Allure’s superstructure undulates along its length — which means it has a deeper balcony but is otherwise exactly the same as the standard version. While a pair of loungers would certainly fit, the furniture is a basic table and pair of chairs made of metal and mesh. Other cabin touches, which are new to the Oasis-class, include a relocated trio of outlets (moved from under the desk to the top) and a double iPod dock with a clock and speaker.
First Zip. There are no reservations for Allure’s “extreme” activities like rock-climbing, zip-lining or surfing (unless you sign up for a FlowRider lesson). “You just have to wait in line,” said the dour crewmember who’s probably happier when he’s surfing. When aren’t there lines?” I asked. “Today,” he said. Our friend nine decks above must have taken note.
First Fortune. Near the entrance to the Boardwalk, Allure’s outdoor neighborhood sporting a wooden carousel, candy and ice cream shops, and Johnny Rockets, waits Zoltar, the fortune-telling gypsy with stony eyes. Embarkation day seemed the right time to consult the famed soothsayer trapped behind glass. (No one deserves that sort of twisted fate — and his boss doesn’t let him charge more than $1.) I’m heading for some dark and confusing days, it seems. When I’m not having dreams about the sun, I will be “besieged by those less fortunate for monetary help and no one will go unaided.”
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