Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011
We are on board the RCCL Allure of the Seas. We boarded about 11:30 and it was as smooth and quick as we've been reading about on the Cruise Critic (CC) forum. My DH and I and over 6,000 of our new, close friends!
We met up with a fellow Cruise Critic couple, whom we met last night and had dinner with in Ft. Lauderdale. Together we walked to Central Park and had a delicious roast beef or tuna-melt Panini sandwiches. The food was very good. The Park Cafe is serving flavored water, which I found different and a welcome change from the norm. After lunch, we all walked around looking for the Internet room to get information about using on-line services. After getting the information we needed, we went to our cabin to check it out and settled in.
Nothing spectacular about the cabin. Really glad our bed is by the balcony, since we've heard from other cruisers that there is very little space between the closet and the bed configuration. There was no ice bucket and no bathroom amenities, either. When we finally met our cabin steward, Cartur, he informed us that we would only get ice if we ask for it (and we did -- for every day); and the bathroom amenities only if people ask for it.
We did get thick terry robes! We have reached the Emerald level. We did get a small gift of eatable goodies and a small bottle of water. We asked that the refrigerator get emptied of all the RCCL stuff and Catur informed us the bar-steward would not be pleased since his profit would be lowered. Too bad! We emptied the contents to the top of the desk ourselves, since we wanted to stock it with our own Diet (caffeine free) Coke cans.
Our luggage was delivered by 1:30. Pretty quick! The unpacking went OK; not many drawers, but a lot of small shelves for a lot of small stuff. And we've got lots of small stuff!
We walked around exploring this beautiful, new ship as this is its inaugural year. We booked this cruise over 18 months ago and have been reading everything there is to know about it since. It is the second of this class of ship, beating its sister ship by 2 inches longer! There is so much to look at, enjoy, and experience that it seems all overwhelming. It just doesn't seem as extra spectacular to me (now that I'm here) as other cruise ships because I think I've been over saturated by it all!
It's also very warm and humid here in Florida. I'm just not use to all this heat and humidity. Sure, we have hot and humid days back home in Virginia, but I've always managed to deal better with it because I don't stay out in it long. For some reason, it's really getting to me.
After muster-drill in Studio B, with hundreds of other passengers, we got to our sail-away point with our fellow Cruise Critic pals and our banner (which we signed last night), up near Wipe-Out-Bar on Deck 16, aft. There is a web site called portfever.com that captures all departures from Port Everglades and focuses in on any group with a banner. We met up with other CC (Cruise Critic) folks and visited for a little bit. We watched a few boys try out the Flow-Rider, just for fun. It did not look easy! At 5:30 we headed down to our cabin to get ready for dinner. We took an early sitting for the first time in all our cruising experience (this is cruise number 15 & 16 for us).
Dinner in the Main Dining Room. Didn't really take note of the MDR; too interested in meeting our new dining mates, which usually adds to the great experience of cruising. We always ask to be placed at a table of 6-8. We are at the most weird location I have ever seen in any MDR - at a narrow strip of the room against the windows and a blank wall, and, at a table for four!
Since we have such an early seating, the sun is up and the drapes are open and that was nice. We are dining with a couple from Massachusetts.
Our waiter is Rodger. The wine steward? Don't have a clue, but there was a young man who served bread, got us water when we asked; who also asked if anyone wanted drinks. After we give him our request for water or ice tea, he complied, but for the first time in our cruise-dining experience, no one took away all the different empty, unused wine glasses after dinner started! We had to say something to the waiter to clear our table of them!
Dinner was good. Our dinner-mates ordered beef and extra veggies. The extra veggies came at the end of their meal! Very poor service, if you ask me. They didn't seem fazed by it. We've dined on previous cruises where the guests would not have been so sedate about it!
We excused ourselves right after dessert to make our reserved time for the Oceanairia show. It was quite spectacular. We knew we had to get there about 30 minutes early to get a decent seat (a chair with a back) and not in the "slash-zone." Boy where they ever right about that! The "stage" was quite a wonder all in itself as it moves up and down on hydraulics and lowers to 17' for the high-divers to accomplish their skills safely. The "actors" would depart their scene under water!
We enjoyed walking around exploring more of the ship, which will be the major pastime of this cruise since the Allure is our true destination. We are on a back-to-back trip; the first week we will visit the eastern Caribbean and the second week we'll visit the western.
Monday, Sept. 5, Nassau
We've been here in Nassau several times before and therefore, we don't have any big tour plans for this port of call. Besides, the ship is only here for 7 hours.
We took breakfast at Johnny Rockets. We loved Johnny Rockets on other RCCL ships and breakfast would be different. In fact, there are so many other meal venues on this ship that are complimentary; we don't plan to ever go up to the Windjammer for any dining! The Windjammer is usually crowded and always hard to find a place to sit unless it's in between major meal times and never on a sea-day!
For the third time on this trip, I had decaf coffee that tasted of burnt wood. Yuck. And no spoons to stir my cream/fake sugar, either! The table was not really set because it had a dish for butter and creamer that was not replenished. Again, I noted that this ship just doesn't seem to be up to par with other RCCL and Celebrity standards.
We had lunch at Park Cafe, the same place as yesterday. DH enjoyed a three cheese Panini and I had a personally prepared salad. Now, wait a minute--that should have been delicious, right? But I didn't realize I had to be careful about the salad dressing... for they loaded it on! If we go back there again, I need to ask for a little bit, or ask for it on the side.
There doesn't seem to be an end to the discomfort of the stickiness; not to mention going from hot and sticky to air-conditioning.
We bought a special Live Allure book that has one taking "trails" around to discover it all and answering questions to win a prize at the end of the cruise. This is fun, but as I noted, we've just about knew it all long before we got here. DH seems to be enjoying everything. I'm happy for him.
There seems to be an awful lot of families on board. Lots of kids, too; since families took advantage of the Labor Day holiday and took their kids out of school for the short week. It's a very international-passenger demographics; lots of Spanish and Asian and I think I heard German languages. All announcements are done in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.
Tonight is a formal evening. We'll miss the Captain's reception since, for some odd reason it will be held during early seating dinner. I'm just not excited about it, either.
Dinner had sun in our eyes and to our surprise, someone on the MDR staff brought down shades. The food was good, but when only the three out of four of us got served our entrÃ©e, I began to worry DH's meal was not ordered. Richard explained that the beef DH ordered was not correctly cooked to medium but to medium-well. I looked at DH and he looked at me with the same thought: "If the mistake got corrected, it would take way too long for DH to get his food!" So my hubby accepted the beef as is. He later said the beef was okay, but would have enjoyed it better if he got what he ordered.
Our head waiter, Jacob, came around and I got the nerve up to discuss my observations about the service; such as no water unless we ask for it and how, on more experienced cruises, all the empty/unused glasses were cleared from the table after drinks were ordered/served. Jacob informed me that the menu states "water give upon request only," and we would only have wine glasses on the table for me (since I ordered wine) and Rodger, who was treating himself to a beer since he had a coupon for one free with one purchase. Jacob--you just didn't get it.
We noticed RCCL is economizing in several ways. Our cabin steward has no assistant. Our waiter has no assistant [post cruise note: found out later he did]; we have no wine steward. None of the utensils prepared for buffet dining ever include spoons. The orange juice is loaded with sugar and made from concentrate; while the hand-squeezed is $2.75! They are serving flavored water, as I noted, at no extra cost - a nice surprise.
We went up to the Viking Lounge after dinner to see what was going on. We found really nice music being performed live--so we sat down. I ordered a Toasted Almond (that my sister suggested) and DH had a Diet Coke. The music was loud (only a piano player and drums!) and a couple of dozen people enjoying the music. Some even tried dancing. This lounge is beautiful and the music good. When the talent took a break, the singer came over to say hello and talk a little. Nathan told us he was from Indonesia and married for several decades; but since he brought his wife over (to the US), she was happier that they could be together more often. He just could not give up his music and so he's very happy doing what he does.
From there, we meandered down to Central Park because we never saw it at night. (Did I say never? Gosh, it's only the second night!) They shut off the fake bird sounds and we enjoyed the cooler night environment. In fact, the closer we got to the center we found that there were colorful bulbs displayed in the sealing of an overpass that light up to the sounds of music. It was so lovely we sat and listened and watched. When the music ended, there was a small applause and we realized the music wasn't "piped" in! We needed to get down to a casino drawing we entered and passed the entertainers who were performing (violin and guitar!).
Down in the Casino we met up with our CC friends. We swapped stories about our day's experiences. When they left, DH and I settled in to hear the outcome of the Secret Agent drawing. People's names were being drawn but either they had the wrong answers or they were not present. Then they called DH's name! We go a dinner for two at Giovanni's! This is one of the specialty restaurants that we had already booked and now it will be a treat on RCCL!
Since we left two hours late, and due to the winds from hurricane Katria, Allure was rolling nicely and our sleep was full of experiencing her shuttering--just like in an earthquake! (Which Northern Virginia experienced back in August!)
Tuesday, Sept. 6, At Sea
We had breakfast up in the Solarium Grill and was welcomed by Jacob! The food served there was healthy, pretty and plentiful. I tried the Muesli soft cereal that they eat in Europe. I watered down the coffee and enjoyed it with lots of milk!
We had our Live Allure book and began our second day of taking its tours and answering the "scavenger" questions...which is a lot of fun. The art is thrilling to look at and it would be nice to have a catalogue of it all.
Our Live Allure got us to Dazzles (club? lounge?) 30 minutes before the CC Meet and Mingle. There were over 150 of us!
We caught the parade, which is all about the characters from DreamWorks and great for the kids. Then we ran to the other end of our Deck 12 because there are chase lounges that face the ocean and NO ONE KNOWS THEY ARE THERE! Spent a nice quiet time catching up on our reading.
We took in a late lunch at the Wipeout Cafe; "pretzel" hot dogs, regular hot dogs, pizza, taco makings, and hamburgers you build to your liking; drinks (not from the bar) with dessert of small, soft-custard cones. The place is located aft were all the sports action is at and so, it's very, very noisy--lots of youngsters in this area.
We checked out the Zip Line and there didn't seem to be too big of a line. The Flow Rider was busy and so I'll try that later in the week.
We're out on our balcony to read and for me to work on this trip journal and its hot and humid... even in the shade; wish we had a small ceiling fan out here! Hahah!
Back from the Flash dance practice. What a challenge!! Lots of moves to coordinate hands and feet! DH bailed on me and positioned himself to take movies of me. Boy, what a work out! I'm dripping wet! Another rehearsal is set for late Saturday morning and the dance will be held at 5:45 Saturday. Now what am I to do about that? We're supposed to be at dinner at 6! But it should not take as long to run through the entire routine. I just don't want to work up a sweat in my evening clothes!
Tonight: Chicago -the musical. We need to be there by 6:30 for good seats. Then we'll have dinner somewhere on the ship. NOT in the MDR; even though Jacob nicely said to come by and he'd get us in anyway.
(Post note: We really enjoyed the show! Afterwards we ran to the Windjammer for a bite and were shocked to find that they closed at 9! Guess we were lucky to get at least something to eat!)
Wednesday, Sept. 7, St Thomas
Because we've got to be on the pier at 9 for our excursion, we had ordered breakfast to the room. It was delivered shortly after seven. We enjoyed our scrambled eggs, bacon, roasted tomato on the balcony. The juices were small and that's to be expected. What I didn't expect was a pot of coffee that was not ordered; but glad it came just the same.
We went to the head-line show after dinner and the talent was wonderful. I recovering from my mountain Bike & Beach excursion, I was experiencing soreness. However, this singer had me up and dancing and I forgot it all!
Friday, Sept. 9, At Sea
Our last bag of cleaning came back last night and much to my horror, my bathing suit got ruined! The bra cups were stiff and scrunched. It was totally unusable. We immediately took it down to Guest Services to complain. They realized the problem was not reversible and will put $50 credit onto my account. They suggested I shop on board for a new suit. Of course that was their idea of a fix, but they have no idea how hard it is for me to be comfortable in any bathing suit.
The food at Giovanni's Table was magnificent! The ambiance was delightful. However, there was a large group at one end of the restaurant celebrating some birthday or two and boy, did they get loud and rowdy!
Some more notes from yesterday: pool/beach towels... don't know if I mentioned earlier that RCCL allows two pool towels per person. You exchange them for clean ones any time. If you don't bring them back you are charged $20 for each missing towel. That's a big control factor. DH got sunburned on the insteps and above his ankles. So glad I bought some aloe product a couple of days ago, back in St. Thomas.
Speaking of St. Thomas, when we came back from the Bike/Beach excursion, we had lunch back at the ship and I went back out to shop. At one point I looked towards the ship, there was a huge line to get back on board. Well, there are 6100+ passengers! Everyone must go through security screening. No open bottles of anything are allowed back on board and it all gets trashed. If you purchased liquor, it gets tagged and given back to you on the last night for packing.
We enjoyed the Comedy Live show with two talented comedians. One was a little raunchier than the other; we had our share of good hard laughter.
We ate breakfast in the Solarium again and had Jacob visit. I love the Muesli that they serve up there. The pancakes and waffles are cold - not worth it. DH loves his lox and bagels. We wanted to go to Park Cafe, but it was raining and there was no way to get to it from the inside. Well that's the problem with outdoor venues!
We had lunch at Sorrento's for DH's favorite food: pizza. Again, many families and groups are grabbing tables and chairs and pulling them together. We were lucky to be able to sit down. As soon as we got up a group of teenagers came over and grabbed our chairs.
DH is off to the $2 Blackjack Tournament. I'm on our balcony bring my Journal up to date. At 2:30 I'll go down for another Flash Dance practice session. I still don't know if I'm going to go through with it.
Tonight is formal night. DH is worried about his feet because the sun burn will rub against his tight socks and uncomfortable shoes. Maybe I should strongly suggest to him that we forgo formal night. We're not that enthused this time about the formal experience and we do have next week, after all!
We spent some time doing the hunt for clues through the Live Allure after dinner. These are not so easy! However, it appears that these clues seem to relate to the works of art on the Allure. But not all; one asked for a translation of Braille at one of the bars!
We took our winnings from the last several gambling attempts back to the casino and doubled our money! After that we enjoyed Nathan's music up in the Viking Lounge for a while. We tried to continue more hunt for answers, but we got to a point where our feet were really hurting. We'll finish tomorrow.
Saturday, Sept. 10, At Sea
We had breakfast at Johnny Rockets again, but this time I enjoyed it--oh, so much better. The French toast was very good. Eating out in the sun was a bother and I noticed people kept moving the separate umbrellas to accommodate their needed shade.
We've got some goals today: get last night's formal wear into the laundry since Catur said we can get them back on Monday. Next, finish up those clues... which are NOT easy! We have a 3:30 meeting with RCCL to review back-2-back information and Q&A. Need to find out how to change show reservations.
We found the jogging/walking track on Deck 5. Hummm... I just might try it. There's a lot I would try if I would just leave my DH in the room to nap all the time. I really enjoyed the Solarium and its food.
Not really happy about this early seating, as it cuts the day short. Sure I understand (and agree) that 8:30 dinner is too late for that to work for us. Tonight we're having dinner at Chops at 8. We can't get little snacks around 4-5 because many of the usual places are closed (i.e., Windjammer or Wipe Out Cafe) at 3:30!! What gives with that?
Sunday, Sept. 11, Ft. Lauderdale
Follow up notes from yesterday: finished our Live Allure quest and won the contest! It was not easy as they threw in other questions and we couldn't use our books... it was all done thru our memory. If you didn't absorb the areas around each area questioned, you would have missed the answers.
We didn't get to Blue Planet show and decided to rebook for next week. I did, however, get into the Flash Dance. I missed the beginning dance clue, but caught up the best I could. I really don't think I did all that well but DH had fun capturing it on digital.
We were successful with Jacob's help to move our dinner back to early seating with our CC friends. Jacob even showed DH on the computer database proof our request is in the system, regardless what our new sea-passes show. We are at a table for 4, at a window.
Last night at Chops was wonderful. The food was everything it was touted to be and at $40 pp, it better be! At the beginning of this dining experience, our waitress, Tinkle, informed us we were expected to be there for two hours, just in case we had any plans for a show. DH had filet minion and I had jumbo scrimp so large a waiter had to take the meat out of the shell. DH really enjoyed is meal--we both did.
We played Blackjack again, and again we won...we actually doubled our money!
Next we enjoyed listening to the music in the Jazz Club.
There was information about today's turn around for consecutive cruisers, but we didn't have any information about breakfast. We went down to Deck 3 for breakfast in the MDR, only to be told we need to go elsewhere--they were closing! We went to the Windjammer only to be told they were closed and we should have read about it in the Cruise Compass, or on the RCCL channel. We ran back down to the MDR on the 4th Deck and got some coffee, juice and muffins set out for those who were continuing on the next week. We are just not going to stress out over this kind of thing.
At mid-morning we went back down to the requested MDR, got new sea-passes, showed our ID and waited to be escorted down to the terminal. There we went through Customs showing our ID and was escorted back onboard.
We were treated to lunch in the MDR; pleasant food and table mates from Sacramento. We made our Blue Planet reservations at the appointed location and headed aft----Zip Lining!
I went first. I had to take off all jewelry and anything loose. We both had retainers for our eye classes, so that was good. I was "harnessed" and waited for my turn. DH captured it on digital--all one minute of it! Or so it seemed! DH went next; I captured his flying experience. I definitely don't care to do this for $89 over the water on Labadee.
There's a muster drill at 4:30; Meet and Mingle from the Cruise Critic gang and then dinner at 6. Time for some relaxing with a good book!
Monday, Sept. 12, At Sea
Dinner last night was very nice. Our CC dinner-mates are most enjoyable. Our table by the window has some obstructive, but what the heck. New waiter, assistant waiter and head waiter, none of whom I can understand because of their thick accents.
Yesterday afternoon, we went to a reservation desk to re-arrange our Ice Show reservations. We were told we received what we wanted: 3:30 on Saturday. But when we checked our personal TV calendar, our reservation was for 5:50 Monday! DH was pissed! He called down to Customer Relations and after getting a run around from them, he asked to speak with the supervisor. After a few short minutes of dialogue of our unhappiness for their incompetence, we headed down to Deck 5 where Shawn, the desk supervisor arranged for us to enjoy this show.
After dinner we donated back some of the Casino's money. Then we blew $20 ($10 each) on electronic Blackjack games.
Next we looked for a bar/pub to sit and listen to music and wound up at the Schooner Bar to enjoy Matt Yee's sing-a-long show. This guy is absolutely hysterical! We sang and did all his wild and crazy antics to get everyone into his act. "Raise your drink (even imaginary drink) and repeat, Oy! Oy, Oy! Oy, Oy, Oy... mmmmm!" Then take a drink. And this went on over and over again for the next two hours!! He would choose different people from his audience to do this chant. and then he would give a little prize (i.e., RCCL key chain).
Back to Monday's activities. We've just come from the CC Meet and Mingle for this week's cruise. We were told we have 6,200+ with only 300 kids (last week had 2000 kids). We're sitting at a railing in the Schooners Bar to see the parade and DH is going to capture it on his iPad2.
Did I mention how technically advanced this ship is? It has interactive digital signage all over the ship for people to see what's going on at any time of the day, how to get to any cabin or venue and what the wait expectations for any food/dining venue! It's really neat. I even heard that in Vintages wine-bar, guests are given iPads to make a selection of wines!
The motion of the ocean is getting more noticeable since we are going towards Marie that is just due north of Puerto Rico and we are headed in that direction. It's only a tropical depression and not likely to become a hurricane.
We came back early to the room after enjoying Nathan in the Viking Lounge because DH's watch was off by an hour! Well, at least it gave me some journal-time. Now it's time to lie down and really enjoy the gentle roll of the ship as we fall asleep.
Tuesday, Sept. 12, Labadee, Haiti
Enjoyed breakfast in the Park Cafe; eating outside with the sounds of birds and an occasional mooing cow. Why a mooing cow is beyond us! But it was all lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed eating "out."
We walked around and looked at the beautiful art work by the RCCL's Britto. Very fun, artistic stuff.
We went on shore about 9:45 to get to our Dragon's Roller Coaster ride scheduled for 11. Since there were no long lines, we walked right on. First you watch the safety video. Then you can either ride double or single. I didn't know you controlled the speed! And you must keep 120 feet between you and the next car. DH did a real good job on the brakes because I'll tell you, those twists and turns at high speeds were scaring the shit out of me! There are places were the tracks are "caged" in and it seemed like we could go right off the track if you didn't slow down; especially at points that declared you "brake!" (Post note: we discovered last night that this ride was priced by the vehicle and we paid for 2 people! DH was lucky to get money back!)
All the cabanas were taken, we took two lounge chairs under any shade we could get since DH is really gun-shy about getting burned; (his insteps look really bad, but they are turning brown now and he doesn't want any repeats!).
I walked around in the surf taking pictures of a sail boat out in the ocean as the waves crashed into the rock jetties; as well as other beautify sights. The sand and surf bottom are really rocky and have lots of broken shells. So glad we picked up about that on the CC Boards and that we needed water shoes! I reported back to DH, but he was content to just lay in the shade and watch people zip by on the very long and expensive Zip Line.
I trolled the artisans markets, but everything in the islands look the same and nothing I wanted or needed to purchase. We enjoyed the RCCL BBQ luncheon and I enjoyed my Labadoozee drink and DH had the virgin version.
Before we headed back to the ship, we walked out onto Dragon's Point to experience the "dragon's breath" which is a sound made by the ocean against the rocks. The sights were beautiful and I took way too many pictures.
Since I was already in my bathing suit, I was determined to try the Flow Rider. I stood in line for what seemed like forever... right behind a gentlemen with gray hair--but boy, did he look fit! He was giving instructions to a small boy (about 10) and he and the Allure staff allowed the small boy to go again (cut in line) because he was that good. Finally it was my turn.
The staff asked if I had done this before; "No" I replied and he was very helpful. I got down and stayed on for a little bit; then I "wiped out." I tried again and the staff stayed with me and with his coaching I got up on my knees and did a no-hands ride! DH captured it all on digital video, until the memory card ran out with me at the very end - successfully standing on my knees! I can't wait for my kids and grandsons to see Grandmom on the Flow Rider!
We met our CC friends at the Samba Grill for our specialty dinner. This is a Brazilian venue and oh, so different! After we helped ourselves to the "starters," the gauchos came around with all types of different meats on a skewer and sliced off sections for us to enjoy. We were each given small tongs to catch the meat as it got sliced off. The food was good and more than generous. We were told at the end of the main meal (when we "turned off" the table lighting for serving requests), that we could have asked for more of anything. All meats are cooked to medium and if we wanted anything cooked more, we'd just have to ask and they would cook the meat as requested. We enjoyed the Brazilian dancer but refused to get up and join her.
We took in the Jazz singer performance and then the Marriage Game; always good for lots of laughs.
Ken Rush is our CD for the week, as Allan Brooks left for his vacation. We have sailed with Ken before; in fact, he informed us that this January will be his 27th anniversary with RCCL.
Wednesday, Sept. 15, Falmouth, Jamaica
We took advantage of the Wash & Fold day and really stuffed the plastic bag with a lot of underwear and t-shirts. Then I put some dry cleaning together as well, which included one of my white silk blouses for formal night. Hope we get it back in time for tomorrow night!
Back from our helicopter excursion, we're in the Falmouth pier area, the new construction continues, as it has been created for the Oasis and Allure two years ago. We saw stall, after stall, after stall of all the same goods and wares and ... stuff... for us tourists to purchase, just like back on Haiti. Of course there was all the expensive jewelry to meet anyone's taste and open wallet!
We came back to the ship for lunch at Wipe Out Cafe. DH enjoyed the quiet of the room and went to see a 3D movie at 3:30 with a CC friend. I went back out onto the pier to continue shopping.
I called my CC friend when I came back from shopping. We arranged to meet about 3:15 at Vintages for a "flight of wine" experience. It was very good; in fact, we purchased tapas and just tasted and talked about lots of things. About an hour later, her hubby joined us with his beer. He decided to purchase a tapas plate for himself, (their dinner isn't until 8). It was fun. The flight of wine gave us a taste of 3 different wines for $10.25 and today's special was 10% off that. My bill was way over: $17! Got that corrected pronto!
Thursday, Sept. 15, Sea Day
The headliner show, ADBACADABRA, was incredible! Lots of history about the original musical group (ABBA). ABBA is an acronym for the first name of each original musical talent. This performing group is only contracted with RCCL to perform and they were very good. At the end of the show, they took requests. Someone yelled something and the lead said, "Oh, you want the Queen?!" And they broke into "Dancing Queen," and everyone in the audience (what, 1,000+?) got up to dance right there in their seats!
We gave back to this casino $125 of its money. After the show, DH was in an unusual mood...he just wanted to go around the ship and see the different entertainment venues. We found that Thomas was not working the Viking Lounge (instead, the new singing lead for Chicago was entertaining on-the-fly); Dazzles had Motown, which sounded great but it was crowded, very noisy--the music very loud and a bit of cigarette smoke in the mix. We didn't stay for that. We also caught some more of Matt Yee, but only the tail end of his first set.
At one point DH wanted a little something to eat, which really surprised me. So we headed back down to the Promenade Deck for a light bite. When we got back to our cabin, DH started watching the Madagascar movie! It has some very funny dialogue for an animated film! At 2 AM I had to ask him to turn off the TV since only the credits were showing and he was sleeping through it!
Breakfast was in the Park Cafe. I tried a breakfast Panini of scrambled eggs, cheese, sautÃ©ed onions and asparagus. Very different. It took so long (as all the Panini sandwiches are made to order and long in coming since they are made to order) and I was glad I got a bowl of oatmeal to cut the hunger. It was nice to eat outside like we did at the last Park Cafe breakfast (they keep their dining room too damn cold!).
We attended the Crown and Anchor show, again, but at the Aqua Theater. Got to see some more aqua talent and hear a speech by the head of hotel, and of course, Captain Zini. It was very hot out there and once again, even though we sought out the shade, I found myself sweating and just being uncomfortable.
At 11, I ran to a lecture in the Vitality section; no one showed up. Got an Ice Tea and by 11:30, I ran back for the next lecture on how to increase my metabolism. At 11:40, no one showed up so I asked the staff, only to discover it was being held in the Fitness Center (so the first staffer was incorrect). Even after missing the first 10 minutes, I did find it interesting and informative. Apparently my main problem is all the processed foods I'm eating and my liver and lymph system needs to be detoxicated! It was about 45 minutes into this lecture and I got that feeling: this is where I felt the "hard sell" coming on, as all these seminars usually wind up--purchase their program/product and they'll inform you on what you need to do or take--and buy, buy, buy their miracle stuff!
I really want to stay away of the crowds which always seem to be on the Boardwalk and Promenade sections. It's so hot out there (on the Boardwalk) and you always seem to get stuck behind all the groups with a baby stroller. Baby strollers! There are so many!
I wanted to add a note about the digital age the Allure is making full use of: you need to reserve your table at all the specialty restaurants and booking for shows because there are way too many people. When you show up for your event, your sea pass has a bar code that gets read by an attendant's handheld scanner. "Hi Barry, thank you for coming," they cheerfully greet you.
Friday, Sept. 16, Cozumel, Mexico
Dinner at 150 Central Park was the most phenomenal meal in a long, long, time. The seven course meal (yeah, I mean 7!) was served by Marcello from Chile.
The meal started with 6 different salts from around the world served with small loafs of bread. Our dinner:
- Duck Prosciutto and Melon Salad: Cantaloupe mostarda, house-made parmesan grissini, pickled peral onions, arugula
- Roasted Sweet Corn Soup: cotija, chili-cilantro popcorn, charred corn relish
- Scallops Grenobloise: brown-butter hollandaise, carconalmond gremolata, romanesco, fried capers, BLIS(TM) smoked trout roe
- Zucchini and Summer Herb Ravioli: vadouvan curry emulsion, toasted cashews, tender leeks, tempura squash blossom
- Harris Ranch Filet of Beef Au Poivre: sour cherry puree, camembert pomme aliot, royal trumpet mushroom, glazed baby turnips, cherry-peppercorn gastrique
- Coconut Tres Leches Cake: ataulfo mango, lime, Jamaican rum, coconut bubbles
- Cheese Selection
And of course, wines to "pair" with each course! (Which we didn't partake because we're not big on wines and that would put the bill into astronomical!)
Seriously, both DH and I both were over whelmed at the delectable tastes of each and every dish. Marcello explained each and every food served and what we can expect. This specialty restaurant was charged at $40 pp and worth every penny. (Chops Grill was $30 and Giovanni's Table was $40.)
Did some more Blackjack; DH found a $100 chip in his tux pocket and I handed him a $25 chip that I found in my formal purse! We donated the casino's money back, but we're still up about $300! Enough to cover for the beautiful new dress watch DH purchased in one of the ship's jewelry stores the other night! He's been using his Dad's dress watch for the past 18 years!
We are now back in our cabin after a day on our Cozumel Scoot-coup excursion through RCCL. This was a tour-led excursion on a three-wheel scooter around the southern end of the island; and free water (after we purchased a large bottle at the pier because I keep forgetting to grab the free bottles we have in cabin). The tour guide, Monte, suggested we use bug spray since there was a big rain that week and the mosquitoes would be bad. Well, we REALLY appreciated that announcement and all of us ran to the drugstore on the pier for that necessity!
Once again, the sun was extremely hot and the humidity has me really down.
For our first stop was for a quick explanation of black corral and shopping at a "pee-pee station." We were given free water. Now they tell us, after we purchased a large bottle for $3. Next stop was at a beautiful beach recreation area for one hour where there was a pool and lots of places to sit under shaded hut-structures. We were offered a massage (for a fee, of course). Another tourist informed us that we were too late as the sea turtles just made it on shore to bury their eggs. Thanks, fella, for nothing! But we had to be careful not to walk where there were tall sticks in the sand that marked turtle nests.
DH and I shared a light quesadilla and Diet Cokes. Back in our very hot scoot-coup and we're off to ride along the southern end of the island (which is 9 miles wide and 32 miles long) to the next stop: a beach that once had Mayan ruins, but hurricane Wilma wiped that out 6 years ago, when much of the island was damaged.
We drove back at great speed and didn't see much of anything else; this is a flat island (at least the southern end was) and there doesn't seem to be anything else going here except for tourism. There seems to be some very nice hotels and resorts along the beach fronts, but we didn't see them--only their entrances from the roads we were on.
DH has once again raised the idea of starting to pack just about everything we don't need for the next two days and that would make our last day at sea more enjoyable. Damn, as much as I hate the idea, I know my hubby is right.
Saturday, Sept. 18, At Sea
I'm up in the Viking Lounge now, while Catur does his morning cleaning of our cabin. We did breakfast in the MDR and enjoyed a couple from Seagate, NJ and a couple from Long Island. I tried the chocolate and caramel waffles; they came hot, but minus the caramel. Still, it was all good.
Last night was our last night with our CC friends in the MDR. Again, we enjoyed their company and that made the dinner all the pleasurable.
After dinner we donated back some more of the casino's money; however, we still did well enough this week to pay for DH's new dress watch. We even did well enough to come out ahead! I took my free spin coupons, and once again we won on two spins, came away with tickets to cash out: one for $.06 and one for $.15! Whoa! This was after half the casino's electronics came back on!
A little before 10 we headed for the Aqua Theater. Found seats to enjoy Burlesque. They were playing music with the light fountains doing a "dance" to the rhythm and slide shows on the big screens. I found they were giving out pop corn--unsalted and no butter. I convinced DH to let me use our Johnny Rockets coupon for a 2for1 milkshakes; and then we enjoyed our outdoor movie.
We have been reflecting on how much we really just love the ocean, sitting and listening to it; watching the wave's crash against the shore or the wake of the ship. We laid in bed this morning with the door open with the ocean sounds and the warm sun being just perfect. I've always wanted to sleep this way on a ship and I've heard people on previous cruises doing that, but the Allure is very advanced and if you keep the door open, the AC cuts off. We were told the Allure has solar panels all around the smoke stacks! We'll have to check out our photos we took of her from the air!
There has been a lot of reflecting about this cruise. First, the ship was the destination. We're glad we did consecutive weeks because it seems you need the first week to get to know all the wonderful parts of it and the second week to just relax and enjoy it all. The islands are a downer--the heat and the humidity and the poverty. But my DH really did well in getting us into very different activities and I love him so for doing all of it.
We'll work at packing as soon as we can get back into the room, so that will be less of a burden for the rest of the day.
When we got down to the MDR, there was another couple sitting at our table!
Cletus, our waiter, was very apologetic. Apparently these people were from the Deck 3 MDR who asked to be moved and their head waiter claimed to have called us for our permission. Well that didn't happen! Caesar, our head waiter, didn't know anything about it either; he got on his phone and walked away to deal with our problem. We stood around waiting for him to rectify the situation. DH had asked for a table of two just for us; he was not a happy camper. DH finally went looking for some answers and a rectification of the situation. I stayed put...standing in the middle of all the dinner activity.
After about 10 minutes, DH waved for me from the MDR entrance doors. They found the head waiter who made these changes and she apologized; we were compt'ed dinner for two at Chops. She escorted us down to Chops personally. It was about 6:20 when we got to Chops and when we were asked if we wanted a table or a booth, we asked if we could sit near our CC friends. The Chops' management came back with, "Would you like to sit with them?" Well we jumped at that!
Caesar had compt'ed the table a bottle of wine and my previously held unfinished bottle wine was waiting for me.
The dinner was wonderful and the company really topped off the evening.
We were back in our cabin by 10. The rest of the backing was no problem; even making the two large bags equal out to less than 50 lbs.
After we put our two bags out for our Valet Service (where we won't see our bags until we get to our home airport!); I left DH to get himself to bed and I went back out to get pictures of this wonderful ship at night. I got lots of night shots of the Central Park... my favorite place on the ship. My next favorite spot was the Solarium.
Sunday, Sept. 19, Ft. Lauderdale
Breakfast in the Solarium was just right. No waiting and all the right foods we wanted. The final packing up was a breeze. We were off the ship by 9:15.
Now we are at the airport and waiting for our plane. Back to work for both of us.
DH is very pleased with this cruise. Me? I've got mixed feelings. The ship is wonderful. The restaurants were great experiences. Their specialty foods are a real delight. The service was up to expectations and the RCCL people terrific. I just don't ever want to come back to the Caribbean again--too oppressing. I think I'm becoming a cruising-snob. The 7-day cruises in the Caribbean just can't bring you the comradely that you find on the longer cruises elsewhere in the world. But, we decided, it was a very good RCCL--Allure experience.
(You can check out my other review: "What we learned on the Allure" posted in late September/early October 2011.)