Along with 6,190 other guests and some 2,800 crew, my wife, son and I have just completed a magical cruise aboard "the world's largest ship", the Allure of the Sea's. Only mention the numbers because we also spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Disney World with some 100,000 others on each day and could not move! When you then factor in the two days at Disney World cost me MORE than a week at sea, the "World's Largest Cruise Ship", (sorry, we were constantly reminded of this all week), wins my vote hands down!!!
OK, firstly, the shows! My wife and I are regulars on both Broadway and the West End in addition to taking in numerous shows on annual Vegas trips and the Allure offers many that are at least the equal. Chicago and the special effects laden, Blue Planet along with two ice-shows, (How to Train Your Dragon and the superb Ice Games), Aqua shows, (Madagascar, (a must for the kids), and the unbelievably breath-taking OceanAria are just awe-inspiring! You then take all the other on-board entertainment, (zip-line, flow-rider, a host of other sports activities, the music, the comedy), and the week passes at a very unfair pace as within no time at all, it's all over! The Activities team is awesome, even if Ken Rush was a little tiring by the end of the cruise - sorry Ken, just tone it down a little and you will be as enjoyable as many of your other RCCL peers - oh, and there is no "I" in team!
Albeit a little out of sequence, I wish we had had one or two US Congressmen or Senators aboard our ship who had to go through the same disembarkation process we did. As ever, RCL were superb the way they organised off-loading 6,300 people, but to US politicians, you should be ashamed as to the impression your hard-pressed Border Control folks left us with about the US. 6 poor souls who did their best to clear us, but given that they only looked at our passport photo-pages and then at us, why did it take 75 minutes from stepping off the ship to clearing immigration?
OK, rant done, back to the positives.
We had a well-appointed Junior Suite on Deck 9 mid-ship which despite everything that was going on, was remarkably quiet. It was kept wonderfully clean and tidy by our cabin attendant Hardier, despite our, (9-year old's in particulars), best efforts!!! My wife absolutely loved the walk-in cupboard and is already asking for one at home!!!
The food, overall, was excellent. Chops Grille, 150 and Giovanni's were exceptional, with the staff and quality of food being way over and beyond at the first two. The Park Cafe is superb for lunches and the hot dog stand is super cool! Windjammer is as it is, given it caters to the masses and was not bad. Special mention however must go to both our waitress, Alison, and her assistant Leylani, in the Adagio restaurant - they're two VERY special RCCL people who went out of their way to help and get anything we wanted. Given Adagio caters for 4,500 to 5,000 people across two nightly sittings daily, there is a lot about quality and service many of London's supposedly finer 5-star hotels could learn about when they come to delivering charity events, weddings, bar mitzvah's and the like!!!
Some cautionary words, and sorry about this Royal Caribbean, be very careful when "shopping" aboard. The prices are much higher than what you can get elsewhere, especially their "special offers". I looked at one watch which was retailing for $700 in their 25% off "promotion" that sells for around £300 in a regular jewellers back in London. The excursions are very expensive and with a little research and planning, can be done at a fraction of the price yourself. Yes, RCL will tell you the ship will leave if you don't get back on-time if you are NOT on their excursions, but just a little planning and allow yourself time to get back to the ship and you you will save yourselves a lot of money!!!
Finally, special mention for Captain Jonny. This was our 5th RCCL cruise and 6th in total and never have a I met a more wonderful and hugely enthusiastic, (given his 38 years, 19 as captain), skipper. He just loves meeting passengers and going around his ship, he asked me THREE separate times during the week how the cruise was going and for comments. His "Ask the Captain" hour towards the end of the cruise was very I informative, not at all boring, (given the types of questions posed by some cruise "junkies"), and his routine was the equal of many a stand-up comedian - a truly, truly wonderful captain who so very obviously loves what he does and interacting with as many of his guests and crew, (you should watch his daily log on the in-room TV). To him in particularly, and to Alison, thank you for a very special and highly memorable vacation - we are really looking forward to sailing with you again.