We just got back from a wonderful cruise with our granddaughter. It was her first cruise and we took her in honor of her birthday. My husband and I are seasoned cruisers having previously sailed about a dozen times on lines including: Celebrity, Carnival, Disney, Princess and Royal Caribbean. With the exception of the Celebrity Solstice no other cruise line even comes close. We had a Central Park View Cabin. Our granddaughter remarked that looking down was like being in a mini-manhattan with all of the best of it. Pretty gardens, upscale restaurants (some free, some extra charge), shops including Coach- an beautiful rising elevator bar in the center, areas to sit and relax. A very calming area- never crowded- Our cabin attendant Wilbour was great- the room was alway immaculate and he made the nicest towel animals. It wasn't the biggest cabin we had ever had, the Celebrity Solstice Cabins are nicer, but this cabin was adequate. I had researched the ship prior to our sailing and reserved our show times, dinner reservations- we had any time dining, but best to pre- reserve as much as you can prior to sailing in order to avoid waiting in line. We also reserved our shore activities and lessons for my granddaughter on the flow rider. We arrived at the pier by van around 11:00 AM- having spent the night at a close by Motel. We flew in via SouthWest airlines and they were just great and allow two pieces of checked luggage per person free- so that was a great deal.
When we entered the waiting area, we had ample seating- refreshments offered to us then around 11:45 they allowed us to board. We took the usual photo entering the ship and proceeded to the WindJammer Cafe for lunch. The food was very good and service excellent. We also went to the spa to book a few services in the salon. We then at around 2:00 went to our cabins. Then to our muster station, which was in a very comfortable lounge- not squeezed together sweating on deck in the hot sun like on some other ships. After the muster station, we went to the top decks to the sail away party. Then back to our room and our luggage had arrived- earlier then on any other ship! We proceed to change and get ready for dinner.
We had anytime dining and like to dine by 6:30 so we had no wait- we loved our waitress Rose and her assistant Anan and requested them every day without any problem since we dined early. The food was very good to excellent- just one day I recall a steak that was a little tough. We also had dinner in Chop and Giovannis. Both were excellent and worth the extra charge. We had breakfast in the main dining room as well as windjammer and the Park Ave Cafe in Central Park- all were very good. So many dining choices for breakfast and all included. For lunch also many venues, the main dining room, windjammer, Johnny Rockets, a Fish and Chip restaurant, Pizza restaurant , Wipe Out cafe for salsa, tacos, pretzel dogs, fries and other fun foods- again included with the exception of Johnny Rockets and the Fish and Chip restaurant. We had drinks in the Rising Tide Bar they make great Martinis- the only better Martini's were on the Solstice. The shops on board were also numerous, the usual logo items, make up/perfume shop, liquor shop- and many others including a coach store! The snacks and coffee bars were all over- some free and an Ice cream Parlor and CupCake shop for an additional charge. You could get free soft serve on the pool deck all day.
The shows!!! I have never been on a ship with that quality of entertainment! We saw Hairspray- not exactly like the broadway show as it was 1 1/2 hrs vs. 2- but what talented singers and dancers- they could easily do the roles on broadway. We also went to the aqua theatre for a water show- the rebirth of Ester Williams and many olympic style performs who did ariel acts and water dancing. Wow! They also had an Ice Capade show in a beautiful theatre with a huge skating rink that you could use during the day- they had free ice skates to use for all guest young and old interested in skating. The main show was also great and they had accapela singers who were excellent in yet another theatre- They also had an adult only comedy club which we didn't go to since we had a 12 year old with us. Many different carnivals down the center promenade during the trip as well as fashion shows. Of course the typical bingo, casino and other guest shows including the married game, hairy chest contest and belly flop. Silly to us, but people do enjoy those shows.
The ship had another neighborhood called the boardwalk. A full Merry Go Round and candy shop, photo studio to dress up and take pictures, and so many other fun things to numerous to mention. My granddaughter went on the zip line and loved it and also did rock climbing, ice skating, had surfing lessons etc. So many different activities.
Another great thing is the pictures. Instead of putting the photographs on display, the Royal caribbean ship has facial recognition capabilities- they put all of your photo in a special box with a folio number. Sometimes the photographers swipe your sea pass card and know exactly who has taken a picture. What a great idea! We went to one place and saw all of our pictures without the hassle of searching Of course we purchased many more pictures then we would have normally as this method was so easy.
In conclusion this was the best of the best- we booked a cruise for 2011 on the Allure of the Seas a sister ship due out in November. While I believe that they cost of this cruise was slightly more then others we have taken, it was well worth it!