Getting turned away from a “sold out” show at sea is almost unheard of. I’m used to third-full theaters with passengers wandering in and out during song-and-dance revues. But the Oasis-class pair (and Norwegian Epic, too) are entirely different dancing bears. Which leads me to Rick Crane, who asked this practical question on Cruise Critic’s Facebook page: Do you need reservations for Allure’s shows? Well, yes. And no. I spoke to Zack, Allure’s South African activities manager, to help me understand how the ship’s shows play out.
Many shows require reservations. Passengers are required to get “tickets” (included in the fare, no assigned seats) for certain shows, including “Blue Planet,” a Cirque-style song-and-dance production in which the stage turns into a giant aquarium one second, a human tree the next (usually two showings per cruise); “Chicago,” the Broadway musical about murderous showgirls (three showings); and “OceanAria,” the AquaTheater show that features ancient sea people who like to high-dive, flip around on trampolines and twist each other into pretzels (five showings). The comedy shows, which occur much more frequently, also require tickets.
If you take your time to book, shows will sell out. Passengers can pre-book evening shows from 90 days until 4 days before the sail date. Note: There are only a certain number of spaces that can be pre-booked online; the remaining tickets are for passengers who want to book once onboard via their cabin TV’s or at the on-ship box office. Zack says that reservations are usually “sold out” by Day 2, but there’s a big caveat, which we’ll get to in a moment.
Get there early or your reservation will be released. Royal Caribbean means it. 45 minutes before show time, an usher starts swiping cards at the door. No reservations, no entry … until 10 minutes before the show, when all reservations evaporate and the standbys surge in. I had pre-booked a spot at the first night’s AquaTheater show, but I was turned away after arriving five minutes before showtime. (Plan B: I watched the show from one of the public-access wing balconies next to the rock-climbing wall.)
But … standbys are welcome. Zack told me that during a study conducted this spring, he found that 70 to 75 percent of reservations are no-shows. Even if a true “sell out” occurs, as with my AquaTheater experience, it’s because they let a flood of standbys in. One tip: standbys wanting to guarantee entry for “OceanAria,” “Chicago” and “Blue Planet,” should get in line early just in case. On the other hand, the comedy shows, of which are staged more frequently, require reservations, but never totally sell out.
If you miss the first staging, don’t fret. During “OceanAria” and “Blue Planet,” the hottest tickets, ushers were turning people away at the gate during the first stagings of each. (Remember, I’m on a peak season summer sailing.) There’s something about being at that premiere performance, said Zack. But, as I mentioned before, there are typically five showings of “OceanAria,” two of “Blue Planet” and three of “Chicago.” You’ll have another chance.
When you cruise matters. There are seasonal factors to consider, too, says Zack. When the ship is sailing at 115 percent occupancy during peak summer or school holiday periods (like this cruise), nearly all 6,360 berths may be inhabited. The size of the theater doesn’t change. During the off-season, the ship will still sail full, but “full” might mean closer to 5,400, double occupancy. (In the industry this is considered 100 percent.) When the ship isn’t stuffed gill-to-gill with kids, the show-related fervor will be less pronounced.
From a tour of his cabin to the 411 on sun deck hideaways and the for-fee steak in the main dining room, Dan’s been all over Allure. Missed any of his reports? No worries: They’re all right here.
We stayed up so you don’t have to: See our feature 24 Hours, 24 Photos, 24 Activities on the World’s Largest Ship.
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