Allure of the Seas Cruise Review by jhutcheson: First RCCL cruise: The Good and the Bad
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First RCCL cruise: The Good and the Bad
This is the third cruise my husband and I have been on, but the first cruise we have taken with RCCL.
First I can say that we had a great time and it is a beautiful ship. Embarkation was very easy as we had already checked in online and had our Set Sail passes ready. We got there early, so we got on very quickly. Our rooms were already ready so we went straight there to put away things we were carrying.
We had an interior cabin at the front of the boat on deck 8, Central Park. It was a bit complicated to get to, but we found our way. The room was pretty spacious for the two of us. Bathroom immediately to the right and vanity to the left, small couch and bed facing us. The bed was very comfortable, but I was bummed that the TV would not come out far enough for us to look at it on the bed. Our stateroom person was terrible. Saw her maybe 3 times, at least two times she was on her cell phone. Only got 3 towel animals. Toilet broke, but was fixed when we came back to the More room.
We then left the room to explore the ship. We went straight to the Windjammer for lunch and were very lucky to get there early. It was typical buffet food, nothing too exciting, and really hard to find somewhere to sit. When we left the Windjammer there was a huge line to get in because it was at capacity. Yikes!
We explored the decks from top to bottom. First thing we noticed was there were only four decks that you could walk from one side of the ship to the other if you didn't want to walk through stateroom hallways. Those were, Deck 4 (Casino) Deck 5 (Royal Promenade), Deck 8 (Central Park), and Deck 15 (Sports/Pool/Solarium). Noting that Central Park was always the best place to walk through as it was usually not crowded and beautiful scenery.
We were supposed to set sail at 5:30 that day, but we couldn't get clearance til late so we had an early dinner time at 6:00 and missed watch the ship sail away from Fort Lauderdale.
Dinner was in Adagio 4 and we were sitting with my father and his wife. We got sat in the back of the dining room in the corner, near no windows. (Was not happy about this because we could not hear the live music being played and it felt cramped) We sat beside another table of four and a table of two. Our table was designed where one side could sit in a booth and the other side had two chairs. Our waiters names were Karin and Gerald (Gerry). They were great, but not very personable the whole time. (Will talk about food later) The staff only performed one night and that was greatly missed for me.
After dinner we had booked Chicago (which was a great show) in advance so we had no trouble getting in to the show and picking our seats. We sat in the balcony for better viewpoints. The first three rows of the balcony were reserved for Gold card members until about 10 minutes til the show. My best advice to you would be to make a reservation for all shows, whether you are interested or not, because if you don't, you will probably not see them. I can't remember when making reservations if those were available for the Comedy Live shows, but we did not get to see the comedy show because we did not have reservations. (Another not cool feature) If you don't do your reservations online do them the moment you step on the ship or be prepared to be frustrated.
The other shows we watched were Oceanaria (AMAZING!), Ice Games (impressive and interesting), Blue Planet (interesting, cool trampoline section and good singing, but music a bit too loud), and The Headliner which this time was Jeff Tracta (impersonator, was pretty good).
The one thing that really bothered me about this ship is the lack of space for venues like the Comedy Live (seated maybe 250 out of 5,000), On Air (Karaoke place) was always packed because it was on the Royal Promenade, the jogging track was on Deck 5, which was surrounded by lifeboats (not the most pleasant view while jogging), Fitness Center was decent, but if you wanted to take a free morning class there was no separate room to do this in so it is in a small space between elliptical's and weight machines, the Zip line, while fun, lasted a minute maybe, and the most random thing, not that I play, but the shuffle board was located behind the AquaTheater on Deck 6. It just seems like a lot of space was removed in order to put in Central Park so that they would have to leave the center of the boat open. I love Central Park don't get me wrong, but a lot was sacrificed to have it and I don't think it was worth it.
As for the food, all the other reviews have been true. The food in the main dining room and the Windjammer were not up to par with other cruises I have been on. Many of my guests had to add salt or pepper to their meals just to get some seasoning. The desserts were great and our favorite dish in the main dining room was Lasagna! I know it is something you can get almost anywhere, but trust me when you have the option, get it!
We enjoyed the Park Cafe quite often for Breakfast and Lunch. Breakfast they have a Create your own bagel station and a yummy breakfast sandwich (egg muffin, egg, american cheese, and Canadian bacon). Lunch they have a Create your own Salad and an amazing roast beef sandwich.
Boardwalk donuts not worth it. Cold, hard shelled icing and same donuts everyday. Boardwalk dogs, pretty typical. Boardwalk popcorn and cotton candy (COST EXTRA)!! Really!! Johnny Rockets ate their for Breakfast and Lunch once. Breakfast, FREE, cheese omelet with potatoes (had to add ketchup to potatoes). Lunch, cost extra $5, had a yummy BBQ chicken sandwich and Vanilla milkshake. (Only Chocolate, Vanilla, or Strawberry as your choices). Solarium bistro did nothing for me as it was all healthy food, tofu and such. We did not try Rita's Cantina. You must get an omelette at the Wipe Out Cafe, FREE! Yummy!
Best meal we had on the ship was at Giovanni's Table. Well worth the upcharge of $25 a person. Made a reservation for 7, didn't finish meal until 10. We made all courses last and it was amazing, with the best service we received on the ship. If you get a chance, please try this place. Hightlights were the Gnocchi, Mozzarella cheese wrapped in Proscuitto, Filet Mignon, and the Tiramisu.
We visited Labadee, Haiti, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico. Getting on and off the ship was easy. All excursions were great! At Labadee, we just had a beach day, I recommend you walk the 14 minutes it will take to get to Columbus Cove, sandy white beaches and beautiful water. If you stop at the first swimming beach where the zip line overhangs, be prepared to walk through some very sharp and painful rocks when getting in the water. Royal Caribbean owns Labadee so they provide lunch on the beach. It was ok, but wouldn't have minded tasting some local cuisine more. In Jamaica, we took the Green Grotto Caves and Dunn's River Falls excursion. Totally worth adding the Caves if you are interested. Dunn's River Falls was really busy, but one of the funnest times I had the whole trip. In Cozumel, we booked a Jeep excursion outside of Royal Caribbean and it too was amazing!!
The cruise director, Ken Rush, was pretty good. I would advise listening to his morning show everyday as it will give you a rundown of the activities for that day and it will give you vital information about shows and or excursions. They had a couple of big parties that all happened mainly on the Royal Promenade, so it stayed pretty crowded. Most of the nightly events were during shows so we didn't attend or they were so crowded that we didn't want to attend. I didn't like that most of the trivia was at 5:15 and our dinner was at 6 and the trivia was never repeated so we always missed it. Also, they pushed Bingo really hard and it was $35 for 6 cards. Crazy!
If you want to buy pictures all formal night pictures are going to be $23 no matter what size. It seems like they try to nickle and dime you at every turn. If you don't do My Time Dining which makes you pay Gratuity ahead of time, you will be charged gratuity for everything you buy on the ship. We both got Top to Toe massages for $129 and they added $25 gratuity to each. The massage was awesome, but I would not have paid $25 for a tip.
One last highlight of Allure of the Seas was the Solarium, adult only section! That place is beautiful and lounging in the hot top overlooking the ocean is awesome!
All in all, Allure of the Seas has its ups and its downs. I think we will try RCCL again, but maybe try a smaller ship so as not to have to reserve everything a head of time, and just be able to enjoy walking around a bit more without trying to figure out how to get from one side to the other. Less
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