Wanted to post a quick review of our August 19 sailing on Allure Of Seas that was originally scheduled for 7 days, but we got two bonus days thanks to U.S. Coast Guard shutting down the Florida ports.
From the moment tropical storm isaac decided it wanted to visit the eastern caribbean, Captain Johnny began a constant and consistent series of messages and announcements about how his number one priority was the safety and well-being of the passengers and crew.
Quite a few people were upset about not going to St Thomas and St. Martin when the announcement was made, but the captain promised that they were looking into alternative ports --- and sure enough the delivered on getting days at Cozumel and Falmouth.
I can understand being disappointed about not visiting some islands if you had plans and visions of sun and fun -- but with a tropical storm sweeping in, taking advantage of the mobility of a cruise ship and the ability to go where the storm isn't is one of the strengths of a cruise vacation.
The captain and crew went above and beyond announcements and produced a video that you could watch in your room that showed our course relative to the storm and what the plan was to stay in safe and calm waters tucked in the south-west corner of Cuba.
If it wasn't for the news coverage on CNN and our adjusted itinerary, you wouldn't have known there was a tropical storm as the weather was near perfect the entire 9 days.
I'd highly recommend Royal Caribbean and especially Allure and it's great captain -- who had just returned from his time away (they rotate 11 weeks on, 11 weeks off).
As for the ports ...
Nassau: In Nassau we decided to skip the beach you can walk to right off the ship near the dock because there were more than a dozen posts about glass on the beach. Instead we opted to take a taxi to Paradise Island and get dropped off at Atlantis. Taxi fare was about $10-15 US per person each way and the taxi was a minivan or minibus, so you piled in with a bunch of other folks.
Getting dropped off at Atlantis was nice because you can check out the inside a bit and wander through the resort toward Cabbage Beach while enjoying some air conditioning and probably a little better view than wandering down the sidewalk outside.
You get dropped off right out front and off to the right is a little marina with shops and stores. There's even a Starbucks there so you can get some extra caffeine. You can also pick up a Bahamas Starbucks mug at the store if you're into picking them up as souveniers.
Cabbage Beach was nice and had one end with lots of people and one end that was pretty empty -- so there was something for everyone.
Falmouth: didn't do anything in jamaica. the sunniest skies were by the ship and didn't want to join the masses at the falls.
Cozumel: Did a ship excursion to Xplor which is a high-speed water jet taxi ride to Playa del Carmen (you can also get a Starbucks mug and coffee there too) followed by a short bus ride to the park (website: xplor.travel). We had tried to go a year ago and the excursion was cancelled, so it was nice to finally go and I'd say it was worth it -- and it wasn't cheap. Probably the most expensive excursion I've every done.
Ziplining through waterfalls was awesome. Swimming through the underground river and caves was incredible. Highly recommend a waterproof camera to take a few shots. Although if you want to shell out some more cash, they have RFID chips in the helmets that you wear and trigger cameras all around the park to capture you in the action so you can buy them at the end of the day if you'd like.
After ziplining through the two different courses at Xplor you'll probably be spoiled and everywhere else will be a let down --- so make sure you warm up with the onboard zipline first.
On a closing note, when we finally made it back to port on Tuesday and were flying back -- it seemed like everyone else's cruise tried to ride out the storm. One guy was on a Carnival ship and said their captain seemed scared and nervous while making some announcements. Obviously that's second-hand info, but I'll take Captain Johnny and Allure every time if there's even a chance of bad weather because he'll definitely look out for you.
PS. Our cabin was on deck six (forward) by the Vitality Spa. I was surprised to find out that it made coming back to the room very pleasant as they had some very nice aromatics floating out of the spa.