Allure of the Seas Cruise Review by QTMichele: Our Allure Adventure
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Our Allure Adventure
I remember the anticipation of learning all about Royal Caribbean's Genesis Class, now called Oasis- and Allure of the Seas, and how excited I was as the details were slowly unveiled. The commentary and debates about these ships was interesting and increased my desire to cruise on one (both?) of them sooner rather than later. I was thrilled when I finally booked Allure of the Seas 10 months ago for my husband (38) and myself (37), and wondered if she would live up to my expectations.
Allure was beautifully decorated and designed. Having sailed on the Freedom of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas, there is a sense of familiarity about the Allure, but a sense of discovery as well. There were so many places to explore, and not enough time to thoroughly enjoy all the details during our week long cruise. Although she holds a lot of passengers, with over 6000 on our sailing, she didn't feel cramped. It was our choice to either be in the thick of things, or find a quiet More place to ourselves. Grade A
The Royal Promenade welcomed us as we boarded on the first day. (The fastest boarding ever at 10 minutes from curbside to deck 5.) It was beautiful and bustling. The shopping, dining, services, and artwork were something to behold on the two levels of the Promenade. This was arguably the heart of the ship. Grade A
Central Park is exclusive to Allure of the Seas (and her sister, Oasis). There really are no words or pictures to describe the serenity and beauty of this area. The foliage, lighting, art work, and piped in sounds (birds during the day, crickets at night) creates a magical haven that we thoroughly enjoyed. Grade A+
The brightly colored store fronts, Carousel, and dining venues made the Boardwalk come to life. It was a fun place wander, and a good place to find a bite to eat and watch a show in the Aqua Theater. Grade A
The pools and sport zone add a sense of adventure, and provide a little something for everyone. Each pool has its own personality, and I found myself favoring the Beach Pool for its umbrellas and toe dunking seating; the Solarium Pool for its serenity; and the H2O Zone for its vibrant colors and playfulness (even though I didn't actually use it). Royal Caribbean doubles the fun with two rock climbing walls and two Flowriders - neither of which I used, but enjoyed watching others as my source of entertainment. The Zip Line was short, sweet, and a lot of fun - my first time zip lining anywhere! We didn't participate in many of the sports zone's activities (miniature golf, sports court, etc.), but we appreciated that they were there "just in case." Grade A
There are so many dining options on-board the Allure of the Seas! It is almost overwhelming, but it nice to have the options. We had My Time Dining, but never used the dining room for our meals - a first for us. We ate at all the free venues, except for the Dog House. Quality did vary, but most of the food was fair to good. We especially enjoyed Park Cafe and the Solarium Bistro. The Windjammer never felt overly crowded to us, and we always found a seat, but didn't have all the options that we've had in the past on other ships. Because of the other dining venues around the ship, this was not an issue. The Wipeout Cafe was an average hot dog and hamburger joint, but good for a lunch or snack (and so convenient to the sports zone). Sorrento's Pizza hasn't changed much from other ships (the pizza still tastes like a baked frozen pizza), but now offers a "build your own" pizza for many pizza possibilities. Cafe Promenade is a favorite of mine for a light lunch or snack - I love their sandwiches! Don't forget to cool off with the free soft serve ice cream on the pool deck and Wipe Out Cafe. A lot of people took advantage of it, but I found the texture to be a little grainy. Still good for "free." Grade B-
The specialty restaurants were numerous as well, and ranged in price from $4.95 to $35 (excluding the Chef's Table at $75). We ate in most of the restaurants and found them to be fair to excellent. Chop's Grille ($25 per person) was by far our favorite meal of the cruise, and we would easily recommend it to those wanting a quality meal. Bring your appetite. Giovanni's ($15 for dinner, $10 for lunch) was very good as well, but the service was a tad on the slow side. Don't be shy to order exactly what you want here. Rita's Fiesta ($20 with 3 alcoholic beverages, $10 for nonalcoholic beverages) at Rita's Cantina was a fun way to celebrate a Wednesday evening (two other evenings were available as well). The food wasn't great Mexican fare, but it was a fun party atmosphere. I'd gladly give up a little food quality for quality of life. We did find that ordering from Rita's Cantina's menu ($7.95) offered a better dining experience, but don't expect authentic Mexican. Just go because it's a cheerful place to go, and try it for dinner if you want to avoid the lunch crowd. Izumi ($3 for lunch, $5 for dinner plus a la carte pricing) had average sushi in a nice environment. Ask for a window seat (very limited) if you want an ocean view. The service was efficient and friendly. Johnny Rockets ($4.95) is a fun, greasy hamburger venue that has good milkshakes and desserts. The Cupcake Cupboard is adorable! The large cupcakes are $2.50 while the miniature cupcakes are $1.25. I had one and thought the cake was moist and good, but wasn't the best cupcake I ever had. A cupcake decorating class for adults and children is offered as well. The Ice Cream Parlor is a good place for ice cream, if you want something more creative and creamy than the free soft-serve. A frequent customer card is available - after your 6th purchase, your next order is free. Grade A
The Ship of Entertainment is just that - entertaining! The quality of the shows is very good, and there's something for everyone. OceanAria and Blue Planet are two shows not to be missed. Each has a Cirque-like quality to them, and offer a few surprises. The 90-minute abbreviated Broadway show Chicago showcased talented performers. This is an adult themed show, and not suitable for younger children. The Comedy Club is intimate and perfect for a few laughs. Our comedians weren't the funniest I've ever seen, but humor is subjective and I say go with an open mind. We didn't see the Headliner Show, but heard many positive things about it. Don't forget the ice show Ice Games. The skaters are talented and entertaining on the small rink at see - a must see at least once. All of these entertainment options should be booked online in advance, or immediately upon boarding the ship. Grade A
I found this ship to perfectly suited to children and their families. The Adventure Ocean Kids' Club caters to babies from 6 months old to children up to 17 years old. The decor in the clubs is bright, colorful, and appropriate for each age group. There are dedicated rooms for theater and science experiments, and there are two separate arcades - one for the little kids, and one for the older ones (including adults). Grade A+ (based on offerings, not on experience)
The Dreamworks Experience is abundant, but only during certain times and only in certain areas. Character breakfasts, character meet and greets/photo opportunities, character parades, dedicated Dreamworks channel on each stateroom television, 3D movie theater, Let You Entertain Me Aqua Theater Show, and How to Train Your Dragon ice show are not only wonderful for children, but entertaining for adults as well. We found the Let You Entertain Me show quite entertaining. We even had our picture made with Puss In Boots. We are only as old as we feel, and we feel young at heart, so "Why Not?" Grade A
The Vitality at Sea Fitness Center was great for the fitness buffs, but seems a little smaller than other ships I've sailed on. (I wasn't there during busy times, but I have to wonder if there was enough equipment during peak usage.) The equipment is new and top of the line - there's something for everyone. There are large windows, but don't expect the floor to ceiling windows that you will find on other ships. Classes are offered as well, for a fee. Don't forget about the dedicated jogging/walking track - one lap equals 0.43 miles for your uninterrupted running/walking "pleasure." I intended to walk the track to read all the fun signs, but never managed to do so. Next time. Maybe. Grade B+/A-
The cabins are fresh and clean; although, a little smaller than the Voyager and Freedom class cabins we have stayed in. I thought they were mostly well designed, but feel that the bed tables should have drawers. Our bed was by the balcony and we had no issue with getting into our closet. The shelving in the closet was nice, and allowed for maximum storage of folded items. The safe is very small, and only suitable for small items such as jewelry, wallets, and small personal items, but it worked fine for us as we would rather have the extra shelf space. Near the cabin door, there is a storage area that is great for Sea Pass cards, sunglasses, books, and miscellaneous items that need a place to call home as you walk into the cabin - a good use of space. I thought there were plenty of hooks in the bathroom (some on the wall, some on the door). The shave bar in the shower was a thoughtful addition as well. There were plenty of outlets (three on the desk, one or two below the desk and one behind the bed), and an iPod docking station for two on the desk. Our balcony was spacious, the chairs comfortable, and the table a perfect size for al fresco dining. Nice improvements! The location of our cabin 8560 was perfectly located near the stairs/elevator and Central Park. I would book this cabin again. Grade B+
The Cruise Compass was our source of information, but we participated in very little of the extras provided on-board. Each Compass was filled with activities, mostly included in the cruise fare, that I can't imagine anyone getting bored on the ship. For general information and activities offered: Grade B
I am a non-smoker, and found the ship to be mostly non-smoker friendly. The casino has a non-smoking side; however, it smells of smoke so wasn't a place I visited. The Royal Promenade was usually pleasant, but the area by Boleros ranged from a slight odor to quite smoky, depending upon the time of day. We enjoyed the pub, but smoking was allowed (maybe only at the bar). We found that sitting closer to the entrance alleviated most of the odor. On deck, smoking was allowed on the port side, and ashtrays were provided. We never had a problem with smoke on the starboard side (this is also the side the Beach Pool and H2O Zone are on). I offer this information not as a debate, but so that you may be informed of the places you should go that best fit your needs. Grade B-
Our ports of call were adequate, but typical. The stop in the Bahamas is short and sweet - enough time to do a little shopping and walk around town, but not enough time to visit Atlantis or enjoy a day at the beach. St. Thomas and St. Martin both offer a little something for everyone, but don't expect a true island experience with the time in port. We went took the ship's excursion to St. John's and would recommend it. It was well worth the expense, and only slightly more than an "on your own" excursion to the same destination. Grade C
Our week on the Allure met and exceeded our expectations. We are excited to take our children, and feel that this ship best serves our vacation needs as a family unit. Although we had a wonderful time, my husband felt that the ship was too big for an "intimate cruise for two." He preferred the Mariner because of her size. I felt the Allure offered an amazing experience, and am so thankful that I had the chance to finally meet her. I hope you do too. Less
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Cabin review: D88560
8560, D8: well designed, but feel that the bed tables should have drawers; bed was by the balcony; good closet space with good shelving; small safe; overall good storage including several hooks, storage area near cabin door, and (limited) drawers, but bed tables need at least one drawer/cabinet instead of shelves; several outlets (location: desk, under desk, behind bed); iPod docking station for two; roomy balcony with comfortable chairs and dining height table; near stairs/elevator and Central park
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