The largest cruise ship in the world -- Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas -- underwent an 18-day dry-dock refurbishment in May 2015. The ship emerged with three new restaurants (Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar and Coastal Kitchen), 10 additional suites and a Suite Lounge, an exclusive for passengers who book cruise suites. Cruise Critic was onboard when Allure of the Seas returned to the waves, and we explored the ship, taking questions from our readers during our Cruise Critic Live! Q&A session. We talked about everything from new features to menus to the disappearance of the Viking Crown Lounge. We've recapped it here in our Allure of the Seas FAQ, but check out the full chat for even more insider info on this behemoth.
Q. Does Allure of the Seas offer Dynamic Dining? A. No. However, Allure does have three main dining rooms: American Icon (a My Time Dining option), Silk and The Grande, two fixed-time dining options.
Q. Rumor has it that Izumi has been expanded and moved elsewhere onboard. Is this true? A. Izumi has been moved from Deck 16 to Deck 4, and now includes Teppanyaki cuisine. A quick pro tip from onboard: Pre-booking is a must.
Q. Can passengers get anything to eat at the Windjammer Cafe between lunch and dinner? A. Yes. Cakes and pastries are available between lunch and dinner, but there is no formal afternoon tea service.
Q. Is Coastal Kitchen open to guests of all suite categories? A. Coastal Kitchen is available to all suite passengers, apart from junior suite passengers, who do not receive the same suite perks onboard.
Q. Allure of the Seas is the biggest ship in the world. Any tips for a smooth and timely boarding? A. Boarding can be hectic and take some time, but lines tend to be shorter after 2 p.m. when most people have already boarded the ship for lunch.
Q. What's the overall demographic of the ship? Is it mostly Americans and Europeans? A. It depends on the sailing, but our cruise had a mixed passenger makeup. Spanish, Italian, French, American and German passengers were onboard, as well as Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Arab and Israeli guests. Quite a diverse crowd for a European sailing!
Q. What are some of the free dining options onboard? A. There are quite a few free dining options. Apart from the three main dining rooms mentioned earlier, there is the Windjammer Cafe (self-service buffet), Sorrento's (pizza), Cafe Promenade (24-hour cafe), Boardwalk Dog House, Park Cafe (custom-made paninis, sandwiches and salads), Wipeout Cafe (fast food, like burgers and fries), the Solarium (light bistro fare) and free breakfast at Johnny Rockets.
Q. Is the Viking Crown Lounge officially caput? A. Yes. What used to be the Viking Crown Lounge is now a lounge for the exclusive use of suite guests. The Diamond Lounge occupies the space where the Suite Lounge was on Deck 11, looking aft over the Boardwalk.
Q. Are the FlowRiders and rock-climbing walls first come, first served or is a reservation necessary? A. The FlowRiders have open sessions, which are on a first come, first served basis. Passengers can book FlowRider private lessons and classes in advance, but for a fee. The rock-climbing walls are always on a first come, first served basis.
Q. I want to renew my wedding vows onboard. Would the service be held in the chapel? A. The chapel was removed during the 2015 dry dock. However, you can arrange vow renewals via Royal Caribbean's Royal Romance program. Vow renewals can be held onboard, in certain ports, or at one of Royal Caribbean's private beach destinations.