I must confess to have been stressing big time prior to my cruise.
Due to work circumstances I had to fly out the same day from the UK (something which I absolutely hate doing) on a flight that arrived in Miami at 520pm for a 0900pm departure.
Did not leave much room for error, especially as we had to get across from MIA to FLL in the rush hour, nevertheless thanks to Virgin, RCCL and our coach driver we made it with time to spare...........PANIC OVER.
First impressions from the outside were the sheer size of the ship compared with the Freedom and other class ships and its absolute beauty.
Once inside, the vastness absolutely overwhelmed us. I say this not as a complaint, but to explain that we were so tired having already been awake for almost 24 hours, we found our way to our cabin which was a fairly typical Balcony cabin in size and lay out. Exactly what we were expecting.
Effectively I will ignore any thoughts relating to the first night and start my brief story on the following day. (including our first night meal)
#awake at 0630, brief walk around the Promenade/Broadwalk/Central Park area with no one around. Absolutely stunning architecturally and aesthetically. What struck us was how wide the Promenade was compared with other ships and how much more it had to offer.
A brief lift up to the Windjammer where we were seated immediately. We were surprised at how small the Windjammer was as I guess we expected it to be a lot bigger. In truth was not overly impressed with the breakfast. We were in at opening 700am, the food was beautifully laid out, however, all the "hot" food was dry, and quite frankly not at all hot. I guess this was initial teething issues, and I am sure it is an issue that will be resolved........at least I hope so.
After breakfast we waited about 15 minutes for our food to be digested (any longer than that would have been just plain daft) before embarking on our visitation to as many jacuzzis as we could manage in 2 full days. Temperature and everything was perfect, and it felt kind of decadent being in a jacuzzi at 0745 in the morning.
After a period of sunbathing we thought that a proper exploration of the ship might be in order, and it was a true revelation, the casino was superb with a great variety of games, machines and a superb bar in the middle. Broadwalk was fun, and it was deemed absolutely necessary by Mrs House that we had a ride on the Carousel. Then had a wonder through to the Promenade to find and purchase the obligatory fridge magnet. Was a bit of a shame that cigarettes and alcohol could not be purchased on board due to Customs regulations, but hey ho!!! can't have everything.
We wanted to go to Johnny Rockets for lunch but were told there was an hour wait (I guess that was due to the fact that it was free) so we decided to lunch in the Windjammer which was very nice with a great selection.
More Jacuzzi's in the afternoon with our particular favourite being the one which has TV screens around it and sort of hanging out over the ocean.
We were eating in the Main Dining room, and whilst I enjoyed the food (I had duck) it was not in the same class as the duck I had eaten on the Adventure one week earlier. The ambience of the MDR was very nice, with burgundy being the main colour and matcking carpet and plates, HOWEVER for me I prefer the Voyager/Freedom style dining rooms which are more traditional and more to our taste, however I guess it is a case of horses for courses.
One thing they really will need to get right is queueing/planning/organising for the MDR.
The ship was only 1/2 full but:-
People were leaving the MDR after the time that we should have been seated, and we, along with many others we queueing right round by the elevators and potentially with a full ship problems could certainly have occurred.
I guess that this is, in part the purpose of a pre-inaugural to iron out any of the minor glitches before it is actually "open for business".
After dinner we discovered Rising Tide. What can I say, innovative, inventive, clever, exciting, brilliant in concept and design. Absolutely loved it. What is so clever is that once the bar rises to a certain level a mini-Bellagio type of display occurs where the bar had been.
We then made a brief and relatively small donation to RCCL in the casino which was really busy considering the ship population.
The following day we spent, at various times observing the sports deck, sampling more jacuzzis, sunbathing and generally enjoying ourselves.
One clever thing is the location of some extremely high powered binoculars variously positioned around the ship. Got an absolutely stunning view of the moon.
As a travel agent, this ship is very easy to sell. It has something for everyone.
As someone who appreciates cruise ships. It is stunningly beautiful with so many innovations it is impossible to think of them all, and I am sure that as soon as I press the SUBMIT button I will think of things I should have said.
As a paying customer. This is not a ship I would cruise on. Personally I would find it too big, too impersonal and I guess I would best describe it as a Las Vegas hotel on the oceans, which is fine.......... if I am in Las Vegas, but a cruise is a different type of holiday.
One thing that is a pity is that we did not go far, or at speed of any sort which meant it was difficult to actually feel any motion. The problem being I am unable to actually judge whether the lack of motion is because of the ship's size, or because of the lack of actually "sailing" that it did.
One thing that was kind off cool was the following morning. We looked out on the balcony and could see the Equinox directly behind the Masdaam with another HA ship to the side. Made you realise how vast the Allure actually is.