Allure of the seas May 26, 2012
I have been on over 20 cruises now on various lines. I find that each ship has its special things that make it a great experience. Allure of the Seas is packed with many amazing features. It is simply my favorite ship after 22 cruises. The whole cruise experience of Allure of the Seas is a crowning achievement for RCL.
We have been to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Nassau many times. I am not going to focus on those items as much on this review. Here is the rundown though.
Nassau - great place for all sorts of excursions and activities. Atlantis is neat, but way over priced. You're not in that port long enough to take advantage of the time. Nothing really stands out at this port other than some standard excursions and pretty decent shopping. Shout out to James and Vince at the Venetian Jewelers.
St. Thomas - this port used to be one of my favorites. It is falling backwards for me. Not much money has been invested in fixing this port up. You will doc it the Crown Bay dock instead of Havensight dock. Just a little bit of shopping there. You can take a cab for 5$ to go downtown or 6$ to go to Havensight. The island itself offers a general mix of excursions, but the best part of St. Thomas has to be the access to St. John. I definitely recommend that excursion. Head over to St. John for beach and snorkeling. The shopping here is ok. The extra $800 customs allowance can help.
St. Maarten - I really enjoy this island. It is the best for shopping. Excellent deals. The new dock was designed for the "super ships". The building at the dock that started around 2009 has slowed to a stop. The second section has just sat there over the past few years. Local politics seems to be holding this up. The America's Cup is a great excursion to take from here. I like having the free beach access and boardwalk feel in town. It is a beautiful port.
I have to hand it to Marriott's Springhill Suites Airport Cruise Terminal. It is a great hotel located near the port and airport. They have courtesy pick-up from the hotel. For $10.00 a person, they will take you to the cruise port and pick you up to bring you back or send you to the airport. They can even charter your group to go out to eat etc. We went to the 35th Street Fish Market at the port. It was very nice. When we got off the ship, the transportation was their waiting with plenty of room for passengers and storage with very little wait.
Over 6000 passengers. I tough for sure that this would be the biggest headache for a ship of this size. I read up and saw where cruise critic had actually surveyed this ship. It is at the top of the best for embarkation. I found out why. They have you organized from the moment you walk into the terminal. The terminal was specifically designed for this ship and the Oasis. It takes just a few brief moments, and you are upstairs waiting to get on the ship with your sea pass card in hand. Getting you on the ship from here is organized and prompt. Once on the ship, you can roam all you want except for the fact they do not open the cabins up until 1:00 am. Most of the food venues are open for a free lunch. A few of them can get crowded. We went to the Park Cafe and it was busy in a matter of minutes. The rest of the cruise, it was very easy to get access to.
The cabins are very up to date with flat screens, multi plug-ins, due docking station for iPods, and modern look. The cabin types on this ship are numerous. Many different types of suites and cabins available. The interior balcony cabins facing the aqua theater seem to be a better choice than the central park interior balconies. The central park balconies do not have any visual access to the ocean. We were in 11624 for this cruise. It was in the center of the ship. We had even access to the 12 plus elevators at the front and 12 plus elevators in the back. Small sinks..... Why? The only downfall for Cabin is these low small sinks.
There are so many places to sit and hand out on this ship, even with over 6000 passengers roaming the ship. Each neighborhood has its own flare that everyone seems to enjoy at different times of the trip. The main neighborhoods include boardwalk (6 aft), central park (8 center), promenade (5th floor), and the entertainment district (4th floor). The aqua theater is in the rear, dazzles in the center (6th I believe), and Amber theater in the front. The main dining is in the rear of the ship. All of these areas, but one, was impressive. The dining room did not have that grandeur that I would of expected for the largest crier ship in the world. Unless you're sitting at the edge looking up or down to the other levels, it simply feels like the other ships. Small detail to this amazing ship. Pools and hot tubs oh my! I have never seen this many pools and hot tubs at any land resort. Never a problem finding a spot. On the main deck(15th floor center), or in the solarium at the front of the ship, there are plenty places to swim and relax. There were no issues where kids were in the wrong areas. Everyone seemed to be spread out right.
Casino - thank you for making a smoking half and a non-smoking half. This is a great thing. Now, if you can make the slots and video poker payout fairly, I would really be happy. Your black jack tables start out at 10$, what is the all about? Carnival is better with their Casinos without a doubt.
Shows - this ship has some great shows. The slightly shorter version of Chicago was extremely well done. Not all of the props as the Broadway version, but still done very well. The Blue Planet show was a fun show. The music had a techno fell that merges with the nature message. Nice work with this show. Need to work on the mics to bring the lead singers out. The Ice Games show was excellent. Excellent tricks and excitement in this show. Lots of Michael Jackson music. The "candy man" song would not be good for families. I was surprised they used that song with the over the top lyrics that were to edited. The Ukraine couple that skated in the middle was absolutely amazing. Excellent show. The comedians that were on the cruise were the best I have heard in a long time with any cruise line. They did not stand up there and say the "f" word over and over. The headliner night was the Texas Tenors. They were a huge hit. Absolutely fantastic. The Oceanaria water show was wonderful. When they dove off the top of the stage, everyone gasped. Great show! Entertainment was perfect on this ship. The cruise director really showed her talents narrating the different events. She was hilarious at the belly flop competition. I definitely recommend reserving your seats. Make sure you show up about 30 minutes prior to the show. They start letting in non reservations at 10 minutes till.
Sports- There are so many things to do. The traditional ping pong and shuffle board is available. There is also the twin rock climbing walls, put put, basketball, and twin flow riders. All of these are free, including the zip line. The best times to try some of these things is around late afternoon. The crowds are less. Even then, the crowds are not too bad. The first sea day can be a little crowded, but the later sea days get better.
Spa- simply wow. The vitality spa is on multiple floors. Huge place. Very relaxing. There is even a little restaurant for smoothies etc in the vitality spa. It is the largest spa at sea. Still expensive as they are all pretty much run by the same company.
Fitness - we did not see the fitness area, I heard it as great. The jogging track on 5 is awesome. It is almost a half mile around with great water views. Great for a stroll or a jog.
There are several dining options on this ship. We did not eat in any specialty restaurants except for Samba. Samba is a Brazilian steakhouse. If you like Fogo de Chao, then you will like this. It was really nice. The Brazilian lady who came out in a carnival type decor was really fun. The restaurant is beautiful at ought with the lightning. It sits in front of the solarium area.
The main dining room staff was excellent. The means were RCL traditions. Nothing way out here. They have the soda access in the dining room at its best. You do to have to wait forever. The hard liqueur person is easier to contact. The waiters can take care of wine and sodas now. Who hoo! Fun Kardi, Damien Chin, and head waiter Sylvia were excellent. When one of our party was not feeling well, Sylvia offered and sent up a plate to his room. They remembered all of the details and had no problem with custom orders. Great dining experiences. I heard the other dining options were great too. Lots of people like the Giovanni's dining room. The second formal night featured the lobsters. Top quality this time, way to go!
Our favorite extras that we really enjoyed was Rita's. The Mexican food place was a cheap and fun experience. It cost 3$ cover plus a few dollars for the dish you wanted. Basically a service charge. The windjammer was beautiful on the 15th floor. Great sections there as RCL always does. The hot dog stand is included on the boardwalk. Great hot dog options. The park cafe has some great soups, salads, and sandwich options. Fresh food. The pizzeria in the promenade is a popular option along its the deserts across the way. All included in the price. The cupcake place was a nice treat. Only a few bucks gets you a nice, tasty cupcake. Buy 6 and get one free. A Starbucks is available in the promenade.
Once again, there are many options here. Very organized. They get you off the ship in no time. A little slow at self walk off due to not enough folks working at customs. They were very friendly though. Transportation is very smooth outside. Much better than Miami.
One thing to keep in mind on price is that RCL is not creating too many price breaks for this ship and the Oasis. I can actually understand considering the experience it offers. Yes, you can get a better price with other RCL ships for the same time and itinerary. This cruise is all about the ship for us.
In Summary, we really loved this ship. It is made for people of all ages. With its size and variety of areas, I may not recommend it for wheel chair bound cruisers, but RCL is definitely there to help those passengers that choose this trip. Not as many kids on this trip as you would see on Carnival. Definitely more international. We had people from all corners of the world. This was a plus, since you got to meet people who have cruised in some great areas. 1900 of the 6000 people were not first timers. Of the 1900, 925 were Platinum or higher. The special event for these folks was great. No Pinnacles on this cruise, but the top couples had around 625 and 607. Getting close to the magical 700.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions.