We just returned from our one week Eastern Caribbean itinerary on the Allure of the Seas. We traveled with our family, 7 adults including our nanny/babysitter and three grandchildren, 1 yr, 2 ½ yr, and 4 years old. We are experienced travelers, with many cruises and lines, including RCL, Crystal, Princess, etc. We have been to eastern, western and southern Caribbean many times.
We confirmed with RCI corporate that the azipod issue was ongoing the Friday before we sailed. We knew the port times would be abbreviated. Having been to Nassau, and to Atlantis, we were not disappointed and ended up never getting off the ship. The shorter time in St Thomas was also okay for our group. We spent the day at Sapphire Beach, which was lovely and enjoyable, and not as crowded as Magens Bay. We also had a beach day in St. Maarten at Orient Beach. Both places had chair rentals and food available.
The more pressing issue with the azipods was the lack of use of the stabilizers. I really thought such a tremendous ship would be more stable and less rocky. Our babysitter was sick on our sea day on Friday, and a little better on Saturday, and this was with taking meds. This was very disappointing to us all, especially to one of my s-i-l’s as it was his first cruise. I didn’t want him to think all cruises were this rocky.
The shows we saw were wonderful. Chicago is one of my favorites, and I was amazed the choreography was so true to Bob Fosse! The cast did an outstanding job. We also saw Ocean Aria, again, wonderful and amazing, especially with the stability issues. We enjoyed Planet Ocean, really liked the living tree, great concept. The last show we attended was the ice skating, which was lots of fun. We saw the comedians one evening, and our kids go to the comedy clubs a lot, both in Florida and NYC, and we all enjoyed the show. We also saw the kids Madagascar aqua show, and they loved it.
We had reserved three character breakfasts for the children and they were so happy. Each morning had different characters, and we had plenty of photo ops. We also attended the family fun on the boardwalk, got face painting, and balloons and played games. I think we went on the carousel everyday. My granddaughter went to a cupcake decorating class with her aunt and was overjoyed. We also made the pet at sea for the two older children, just like build a bear in the malls. We went to both parades, the second after dinner and bath for them in pj’s as it was late we thought for little children. Lots of fun, although we had wished some of the adults would make more room for small children to sit in front and see the parade. We were surprised at how many adults took photos with the characters and attended the children’s programs. We did play a little in the kids adventure playroom, although we never left them as we had our babysitter.
The children liked the water play area with the small pools and sprinklers. The sea day they were heated was great, the other times it was pretty cold, except for the one small area for toddlers in swim diapers. This may be because we are from Florida and our pool is heated and our beaches are warm, it may not be a problem for others that live up north. Although our grandson from NYC was shivering, â˜º
Our two older grandchildren also got to drive cars on the basketball court, which was a blast for them. We really thought all the opportunities for children were fabulous, and made us so glad we chose the Allure for our family trip.
It was also fun for adults. The boys did the Flowrider many days, and got pretty good at it. I expect the video to show up on facebook any day now. We also used the gym and spa with my favorite stone massage. My pregnant daughter and I did a yoga class which was about what we expected for cruise ship yoga, as we had both done ship classes before. Largest gym I have ever seen at sea, great amenities. They loved the juice bar for their morning green juice.
Now, on to the amenities of the Crown Loft Suite. We are definitely spoiled for LIFE! Oh my, how will we ever go back. The high ceilings make one feel like you are not on a ship, and having two bathrooms is great also. The exceptionally large shower with middle rain head, and two side movable shower heads was heavenly. After the beach on both days our entire family came to use the big showers. We did bring a small blow up bathtub for our smallest grandchild. The balcony with two lounge chairs and table was roomy and private. We chose to be on the port side, not facing the back, so as to have more privacy and less noise. The suite also came with the availability of the concierge lounge on deck 11. This was a wonderful place for a quiet breakfast to be served, or for snacks anytime of day, and canapés and drinks in the evening before dinner. The windows look out over the back of the ship and the aqua theater and boardwalk. The concierge service was also impeccable, a shout out to Derrick! I mention this especially because we had a concierge level cabin during the summer on our trip to Norway aboard Celebrity, and the concierge service was non-existent. The roomy living area with couch and coffee table, and also a small dining table with two chairs and an ottoman that could seat two worked well for us. Our grandkids could come over and have a snack and play with us with lots of space for toys. The couch did open to a bed, so a family of four would be fine with this space, especially with two full bathrooms.
I cannot comment much on the dining room, as we only had one dinner there. We went to the Chef’s Table and it was a wonderful meal with wines at each course. Even if the wines were not my favorite, the explanations and tasting before and after a bite of food made it more enjoyable and informative. The cookbook after the meal for each couple was a lovely touch. We also enjoyed our dinner at Chops, an exceptional mushroom soup, and great meats cooked to perfection. Another evening, our dinner package included 150 Central Park. This was similar to many NYC restaurants with tasting menus, lots of courses with small portions to try different things. We also went to Samba Grill, the Brazilian steakhouse, where we all overdosed on beef, lamb, pork and chicken. The spiced meats were great, and just kept coming out. Our other dinner was at Vintages, the tapas bar, for a lighter meal and drinks. Reminded us all of Barcelona, with the white anchovies, pata negra (black ham), olives and manchego cheeses. We had one lunch at Ritas, the Mexican restaurant. It must have been a crowded or busy time, as the service was slow, like bringing out one glass of water at a time to a table of 10. The food was just okay.
The solarium was a quiet, restful place to go eat or relax with no blaring music or children screaming, (including our own). The dads used this getaway to have a quiet cup of coffee and read on a few occasions. It was not very crowded and an almost secret hideaway area.
All in all, we are very pleased with our choice of RCI, and Allure for our family vacation. There was something for everyone, both adults and children, lots of choices and activities, and one can choose to be busy or not as one pleases. Having been to all the ports previously, and with our small grandchildren, beach stops were fine. If this was your first time to the islands, and without small ones, you might choose to do other things. The abbreviated stops might become an issue then.
Thank you to our other cruise critic members, for lots of tips and info before we left. I always learn something reading the roll calls and reviews.
Florida and NY