We had a group of 21 people, several families of relatives. A few children in 8-17 range, several kids in the 18-20 range, and adults in the 40's-80's range. We had 4 scooters in our group, so those that have been on cruises ... Read More
We had a group of 21 people, several families of relatives. A few children in 8-17 range, several kids in the 18-20 range, and adults in the 40's-80's range. We had 4 scooters in our group, so those that have been on cruises before know what a challenge in certain places like elevators that can be. Our family had been on the Allure of Seas last year, and loved it. For such a large group, Royal Caribbean did great job in accommodating our various needs, things like dinner seating, entertainment, excursions. I would say having been on the ship twice, I can see some minor signs of natural wear and tear on the ship from first time we were on. But overall, they have maintained the ship pretty well considering the volume of people. So to keep brief, couple comments on main things.....
1) Rooms – Rooms were fine. Their handicap accessible rooms have lots of space which is really nice. Bathrooms are big for cruise ship. Their availability of outlets is not greatest in rooms. If you are like me and have multiple things to connect (ie. battery chargers for phones and cameras, etc.), I would bring a multiport USB outlet plug if you have one. We had one significant maintenance problem in one room where toilet would not flush. After 3 visits by maintenance at one point it started literally gushing out water of the side of toilet and wouldn’t stop. After third visit, eventually replaced 2 major parts in the toilet system and fixed it. Lucky the handicap rooms have a large floor drain, so water was contained. If it was a regular room, may have been bigger problem. We actually got visit by a ship officer to apologize for the issue, and a bottle of wine showed up at the room for the inconvenience.
2) Handicap stuff – If you have people that have issues walking long distances, recommend a scooter. And you can’t get them on board. You have to reserve through 3rd party before the cruise. RCI has 2 vendors they use. We used Care Vacations both times. The scooters we had this time appeared to be brand new. They are the Go-Go portable scooters, which my wife has one at home. They have it ready in your room plugged in, just leave it in there when you go home. You are allowed to take them off the ship which we did multiple times. The on/off ramps are not the best built for scooters. When you get to the pointy peaks on the gangplank the low clearance of the scooters often causes problems getting stuck. Getting on/off elevators that are often “full” is always a challenge with scooters. Helps a lot when you have aggressive walking person with you to hold door open and make space for you. Handicap rooms have zero entry showers with a seat and adjustable shower head which are nice. Handicaps have their own line through xray security checkpoints at ports similar to airports. Cozumel had really nice taxis that are vans that have an electronic lift on the back, will lift you right up and in the back of van while still on it no problem. Nassau port has some pretty crappy sidewalk conditions in couple spots along the shopping district, have to be careful. Costa maya was great because port shopping area looks to be new and very well paved. The pools have a ledge around edge you can sit on, and then a high flat area that you can sit on that has maybe 6” of water. But don’t count on bringing a float to put in water, rarely enough room to do that. At port terminal getting on first day, we had some issues with finding a wheelchair assist for someone to get up the gangplank into the ship. We had requested one in advance, but when got there we got different answers from different people on where to find it. In end, we got one. Normally, they dump you on deck 5 of the ship and leave, but you don’t have access to scooters until room is open. So we talked to the assist person and he was nice enough to leave the wheelchair for us to get around as long as we returned it back to the gangplank by certain time. Also, of note, getting off the ship, there were only 2 elevators to get down to baggage claim, and a lot of wheelchair bound people. we waited for only about 15 min. But more came after us, and I am sure they had to wait longer. So don’t count on fast exit out to baggage claim if there is a line there.
3) Excursions – only went on one with RCI, the BOSS adventure in Roatan. Was really nice trip out on boat, well organized and done, the divers did good job keeping people in area and taking pictures. The scooters were about 10-15 feet deep, and could see pretty clearly. Highly recommend bringing a Go-Pro in a waterproof case, the divers were nice enough to take from me at the end and take pictures with it for me. They used fish food to draw a lot more fish to the scooters and was pretty cool. We went at 12:30 so didn’t have to get up early for breakfast, and still had time at end to shop a little before having to get on boat. We also made reservation on our own in Cozumel to Mr. Sanchos beach resort which we have been there before. Highly recommend if looking for a fun day at beach. Inexpensive, includes unlimited food/drink, chairs, cabanas, pool w/swim up bar, and access to rent waverunners, a float waterpark, etc. Food is awesome.
4) Food/drink – Just couple pointers. You can order as many things off the dinner menu as you want. You are not limited to one appetizer or one dinner entrée. The waiters will get whatever you want, as they are highly motivated to get good reviews from you for promotions. We would often combine things like beef entrée with lobster tail or fish for surf/turf combo, got multiple lobster tails on that day, double orders of shrimp cocktail, etc. If don’t drink much alcohol but like soda/smoothies (ie kids particularly), highly recommend drink package. It also includes all the specialty coffees and unlimited bottled water as well. And includes soda cup to get soda/water beverages at machines. Cheaper to wait for discount online and get in advance. If you share one package for 2 people, which we did, make sure the package sticker they put on your seapass card is the person that will be ordering and getting the drinks the most.
The best smoothies can be found in the spa/fitness center café. A lot of people don’t realize this exists because they don’t exercise during cruise. They have some fresh fruit they can put in smoothies (not just the sugary stuff), and they also can make veggie and protein smoothies. Also, love central park café. They make fresh pannini and breakfast sandwiches, fresh salads, serve specialty coffee there, and also have to-go stuff that you can just grab and eat anywhere or put in refrigerator to eat later. Yogurt parfaits, fruit cups, etc. We also ordered sushi in advance at the Japanese place and picked up to go and eat as appetizer at our normal dinner.
5) Other – We got a 4 license VOOM internet/wireless package in advance when discounted 30%. (cheaper that way). We then shared that with 2 families, so one adult and one child each family could be online same time. This enables you to communicate by text when you are organizing things and looking for people. Made it way easier to find the kids or tell them to meet somewhere. Is well worth it. Only takes one time of walking across the whole ship multiple times looking for someone to realize should have gotten the package. With a large group like we had, helps a ton to coordinate people. Highly recommend reserve entertainment times in advance if it works for you. Don’t waste time on board having to stand in line to reserve or wait in line at standbys. There is a card room on deck 14 front side that is great if you like to sit and play cards or games. We were there often late at night. Need to replenish game supplies, bring your own cards if you have. Entertainment was great, high quality. If adult, absolutely should go to Quest game, is only one time. Picture ordering system works really well. We combined best pictures together and ordered one package as a group made cost way cheaper, like $3 per print. Also, when leaving the ship we used our extra luggage tags with the later number on them and gave to everyone so we could just eat breakfast in am together and not have to rush. And then our luggage was all together at the later time instead of being spread out and all over. Read Less