So just got off the World's Largest Cruise Ship with Royal Caribbean "allure of the Seas." We booked one year ago and there are simply no words to describe how amazing and incredible this vessel really is. She is absolutely in a league of her own. I sincerely praise Royal Caribbean for the innumerable hours on designing this state of the art "gem".
I will give you more or less as much description and recommendations and ideas that our family experienced.
A total of 20 minutes from the time we went through security and were in our stateroom aboard the ship. The only thing you require upon entering the check-in area is your confirmation sheet and passports. What we were really impressed by; was the security, everyone is thoroughly checked. We also liked that sea pass cards hard restrictions fro children under age, and allowed parents to include what they wanted on their child(s) sea pass cards. Unlike other ships, all children must check-in with the youth desk and receive a color-coded identification bracelet.
Like other ships, people ignore this procedure, however, Allure runs this extremely effectively. Every room is evacuated and tagged on the door handle, and you must go to your correct muster station where your sea pass card is scanned. All passengers must be accounted for, and if not you will be paged and hold back all passengers until you check-in. Short film to watch, and best part, no need to carry life jackets with you.
You can arrange the night before for self-checkout, this requires taking your own luggage. Otherwise is the same as most ships and lengthy at times, but be patient. This is not a Royal Caribbean issue, it is simply Immigration procedures and how fast "they" want to work and please the people. However, unlike most ships where there are never enough porters, there is abundance.
We were very fortunate enough to have stayed in an Aquatheatre Stateroom (10730). It is located at the rear of the ship, which initially we had concerns, but due to the size and width of the ship, we NEVER once felt we were sailing. Allure sails extremely smooth with very little to no vibration, we never once felt we were on a ship. This stateroom is an experience you will never have, it is very spacious, and generous with cupboard, drawer and shelving. It has a master bedroom with a king size bed, 2 night tables, mini bar and a large dresser full of drawers and a cupboard for hanging. The bathroom is small, but has a sink, toilet, and bathtub with shower inside; plenty of space to put all your belongings. The second room had 4 single beds, which were bunk beds; our kids loved it, great concept. The living area consisted of a small round table for two, sofa, coffee table and large counter area, which had a mini bar. All rooms had new HD Samsung plasma TV's. There is another small bathroom with a sink, toilet and stand-alone shower. The entrance area was large, and we were able to keep our stroller there open and all our shoes without having to worry about any space. The biggest bonus, you are able to see the Aqua shows all the time on the luxurious balcony this stateroom provides, it is immense, with tons of sitting options available. We ate our breakfast outside most mornings. The only few comments I would make, yes, it is a little further to the elevators; I feel that this type of stateroom should offer some sort of complimentary laundry service. The minibar was also sparse but we never required it, with the amount of food and beverage options you have. Room Service was also very good and easy to do through the TV set.
All suites have this option you can use on Deck 8, it is very convenient if you need help to book specialty restaurants, excursions... They offer complimentary beverages and small snack items. It is very comfortable and beautiful and quiet to relax in. We never used it, other than getting a reservation changed for us.
Food & Beverage
Our only negative encounter was we were never assigned a table at Adaggio, but the problem was solved efficiently and the Dining Room Manager was extremely apologetic. We sat at table 203, but for only two meals. We booked mostly specialty restaurants through the recommendations of others. The Windjammer has a huge assortment and variety of food; this still always feels packed and always difficult to find a table, especially breakfast and lunch hours. A good alternative solution, which is much less crowded, is the buffet in the Solarium, which offers a healthy breakfast. Most juice is complimentary for kids; we also purchased a water package, which were big bottles of Evian, which you will find in your stateroom upon arrival if you purchase.
(a) Park Cafe - Upon arrival this is the first place we ate, and highly recommend create your own salad or the amazing roast beef sandwich. The kids loved the grilled cheese sandwich; it is complimentary to eat here.
(b) Sorrento's - You can create your own oven-baked pizza, which takes 5 mins, or try one the many delicious selections offered daily. It is complimentary to eat here.
(c) Dog House Boardwalk - Make great hotdogs and make different state favorites
(d) Promenade Cafe - Try the Caramel coffee, made with Seattle best coffee. Not complimentary.
(e) Starbucks - Can find all your favorites and yes it is the "original" and only starbucks on a cruise ship. Not complimentary
(f) Cupcake Cupboard - Great cupcakes with all sorts of cool decorations. We did not know but if you have kids, they have decorating sessions, you need to book these in advance as space is limited and this is the first thing that gets filled by bookings. We could not participate, but gives us something to look forward to next time. They also sell great nostalgia gift items.
(g) Johnny Rockets - At lunch here, loved the complimentary fries and onion rings, onion rings amazing. Kids said hamburgers amazing, they do offer a healthy choice, I would recommend the tuna salad sandwich.
Specialty Dining - Need to book in advance and your stateroom will be charged immediately, if you do not cancel within 24hours of showing, you will be charged regardless, so keep this is mind when booking. If you do not book in advance, extremely difficult to get reservations.
(a) Chops Grille - Not a place to wear jeans. Delicious food had the 10 oz. filet cooked to perfection, mushrooms and asparagus side dishes, and asparagus yummy!!!!! We also tried Apple pie and mud pie, I am not a dessert person, but they did not need to wash the plate once my husband was finished. One recommendation not for kids under the age of 12. This is not complimentary.
(b) Samba Grille - Can definitely dress casual - jeans. It is located in the solarium and all appetizers served buffet style. Meat on skewers is offered for entrees. If you were choosing among specialty dining, this would not be one of my picks.
(c) Giovanni's - Can definitely dress as you wish, located in Central Park, and I would recommend dining outdoors. Food delicious, appetizers Carpaccio filet mignon, caprese salad for two. EntrEe Filet was scrumptious. Great dining experience, we ate here twice. Good dining place for children, have a kids menu. Kids loved chicken noodle soup, ask for extra noodles.
(d) Izumi's - Can definitely dress as you wish. A great Japanese dining experience, everything is amazing. Good for kids too.
Places for kids
(a) Adventure Ocean - I can only say wish I was a kid again. Sponsored by Fisher Price and Crayola, so that alone tells you all the activities they can do. The play area is gorgeous, amazing and the schedule of activities is abundant and original. The kids are more than entertained, and the staff is awesome. There is a load to do; they provide a lunch from Windjammer if your child stays, however after hours and dinner there is small minimum charge of $6.00 dollars. They have 3 groups; 3 to 5, 6 to 8 and 9 to 11, and other places and lounge bars for teenagers, as well as a fully equipped arcade, which we never used. No diapers allowed, all kids need to be fully potty trained.
(b) Royal Babies and Tots Nursery - We were concerned with a new environment and faces our 3 year old may be scared to be alone, she was so at home. She loved the staff, adored all the Fisher Price toys and fun films. They provide lunch, if you require special things they accommodate for such. They provide you with a bag which you need to bring each time you drop-off, which should have extra diapers or pull-ups, bottle, sippy cup and change of clothing. They will provide you with a telephone, so you can be reached, please note this phone does not work off ship, so if you are going to port, notify them. This is not a complimentary service and the cost is $8.00/hr. Note: They do change diapers and pull-ups.
(c) DreamWorks - We kept this under the radar so our children would be surprised, but yes, Shrek, Fiona, Puss n' Boots, Alex, Gloria the Hippo, Owl, King Julien, How to train a Dragon and the Penguins are all aboard the Allure of the Seas. There are plenty of venues to meet such characters. They offer character breakfasts scheduled at 8:00am only on sea days, need to pre-book this, there is no charge for it, just ask which days which characters will be at the breakfast, they do not all come. You can take your own photos here. There are photo sessions, you cannot take your own pictures, Royal Caribbean photographers take them and you must purchase them if you want. Sail away DreamWorks Aqua show the first day in the aqua theatre, daily parade (times vary), How to train a dragon ice show and a Madagascar how to entertain me Aqua show. The characters also make plenty of appearances with the kids at Adventure Ocean where they participate in activities and they can bee seen on the Promenade and Boardwalk for photo ops many times of the day and evening.
(d) H20 Zone - What a colorful and fun place for kids to run in and out of sprinklers, whom needs water slide. They also have a pool not too deep, and a fish bowl, which all the kids LOVE, it is a pool that swirls kids round and round. Hot tub for kids also available in this area. NOTE: There is no diapers allowed in any pools, and unlike other ships, there is pool deck control and they are very strict and will pull the kids out. There is one small-designated area for children in diapers available. All children's pools are chlorine filled.
(e) Flowrider - A cool place to learn how to boogie board or surf. Children fewer than 52 inches cannot participate. You must be 52 inches to boogies board and 58 inches to surf. They are very strict and will measure all children before attempted to sign them up. We took a semi-private lesson and it is fun, we had a hard time grasping the concept. Remember to bring your sea pass card, as you need to sign a waiver.
(f) Zip Line - Cool concept, a short thrill ride. Children under 75 pounds cannot participate. I was the only person who did it, you must sign a waiver so sea pass required and all loose items, including all jewellery must be removed.
(g) Rock Climbing - Loved, they give you shoes, no need for socks if you do not want, also need to sign a waiver, so seas pass card required. Remember when you ring the bell at the top, grab rope and push off rocks with your feet, not like me who dangled and made twirls coming down.
(h) Basketball Courts - We as a family never used them, but my son used them when he was at Adventure Ocean camp and loved them.
(i) Ping Pong Tables - Never used
(j) Mini Putt - Never used
(k) Ice Rink - We never used it, but check times for age groups, it is never a general skate for all. Don't forget socks and long pants.
Places for Adults
(a) Pools -There are many to choose, we used one, all adult pools are filled with seawater and filtered. Chairs are abundant and under no circumstances can you reserve seats, they do not allow this.
(b) Bars - We never used them, did notice Vintages, a wine place looked gorgeous. So plenty for us to do when we return again.
Places to hang out
(a) Boardwalk- coolest places with tons to do. Don't miss the candy store, tons of goodies as well the store sells crayola products and Hello Kitty items, as well as Royal Caribbean stuff. They have Smile, fun place to take your kids for a photo op with costumes, tons to choose from. Pictures start at $25.00 or you can buy packages. They have a Build-a-pet store and how can one forget the carousel. My kids loved this, and it is fun and the carvings of the animals on this carousel are spectacular.
(b) Promenade - Regalia has not your ordinary junk jewellery like other ships, they sell very good quality items and a lot of beautiful stuff. There is a guess store, and of course your fragrance and duty free liquor store. They have a few apparel stores that sell beautiful designers items. They have really made shopping fun aboard this ship. Need to try the elevator bar that goes up and down, we never got into it, but looks cool.
(c) Central Park - There are few words to describe this wonderful place that they have so elegantly and thoughtfully created. The live foliage, trees, plants and greenery are gorgeous. You can stroll through on the pave uni stones, and sit and relax on the park benches. You must go and check out Britto Gallery, and if you are up to a family picture session, a must is at Picture this with Victoria. She is incredible and we were fortunate enough to have spent time with her, and come out making a gorgeous and memorable album of our time on the Allure of the Seas. Reserve in advance. Also, don't forget to take a peek at the first Coach store on a ship.
Shows - In order to see what you want, book in advance, otherwise you wait in stand by line outside. If you do have reserved seats make sure to get there 15-30mins prior to show time or they give your seats up to stand by
(a) Chicago - Good production, 90mins, artists very talented, however found show time at 10:30pm was very late, and unfortunately a lot of people left during the show, or you had someone snoring next to you. All seats are good, we sat Mezzanine.
(b) Oceanaria - A show you must not miss. The acrobats and divers are beyond talented and this show keeps you on your toes the entire time. A fantastic production, very entertaining. First 3 to 5 rows, you will get wet.
(c) Ice Games - Based on the theme of Monopoly, costumes amazing, but overall it was an average production and found some of the skaters lacking in ability.
(d) Headliner - This show stars Earl Turner and his son Anthony, and they are absolutely incredible and talented. You must make sure to get seats on the floor as close to the stage as he is interactive with his audience in a very good way. A definite see!!!
(e) Comedy - Never attended
(f) Let me Entertain me - A kids aqua show with the DreamWorks characters from Madagascar, check for times. No reservations needed, this is free seating. First 3 to 5 rows, you will get wet.
(g) Casino - Never attended, still hate the idea in order to get to Studio B (Ice rink) and Amber Theatre, you have to walk through and they allow people to smoke. It smells!!!
(h) Disco Party - Located on the Promenade, and fun, for everyone. Cool to see how they start the party and then gets a little boring.
(i) Dazzle's - has a great disco party for all kids ages from 9:00-10:30pm most nights, it gives balloons to the younger kids, and play today's greatest hits and music. Also great for parents as they have a bar you can order alcoholic beverages.
Ports - The ports are not what attracted on this cruise it was the boat, the ports we could have done without!
(a) Labadee, Haiti - Beautiful Island. If you are a suite stateroom, you can rent a Cabana at their private beach. It is awesome. Royal Caribbean has created this place and it has all the amenities you need, so you do not need to bring water, towels and carry any stuff off the ship. They golf cart you over, definitely rent a waterfront cabana, comes with loungers, sofa, water cooler with Evian water. They give you chairs at the beach, snorkel gear and more towels if needed. Best part they serve you lunch too, and no need to worry about changing, the washrooms are very good to excellent. Makes you have a hassle free and strict fun in the sun day.
(b) Costa Maya, Mexico - never got off, useless port
(c) Cozumel, Mexico - We got off without our kids, you must take a taxi and insist to be dropped off at the Forum Shops, usually costs $7.00 by taxi. Stores not like they use to be.
So a sum up of our "Allure of the Seas experience, is was extremely positive and hope to travel on her sister ship soon, to experience Oasis of the Seas, and the things we did not get around to doing. We had NO issues and really believe all the problems we have ever encountered Royal Caribbean has fixed and made it a positive factor on their ship. It was an amazing vacation, very relaxing.
The staff is super friendly, you never once feel the size of the ship, and there are no places that there is overcrowding other than Windjammer as Breakfast and Lunch.
Royal Caribbean you always seem to amaze us, but this time, we have no words, other than thanks for the best Christmas Holiday vacation, and hope to see you really soon!!!! Congratulations on such a successful ship, your competition will have lots to learn and prove to ever match what you have created.