• Write a Review
  • Boards
  • Log In
Allure of the Seas Cruise Review
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
2,995 Reviews

Most Excellent Allure Med Cruise

Allure of the Seas Cruise Review by HACKT

1 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Sep 2015
  • Destination: the Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Superior Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony

My wife and I cruised on the Allure of the Seas in mid-September 2015 from Barcelona Spain. We are in our late 50’s and have cruised 20 times, 9 times on Royal Carib, and 3 times on the Oasis class. We traveled with 3 other adults our age. My reviews are detailed so folks can get info they may not already have. I also like to break it up into sections rather than give a day-by-day bio. Here goes:

OVERALL – We loved this cruise! Mostly due to the location as the Mediterranean Sea is a great place to cruise with many cool places to visit. We much preferred the large ship here rather than in the Carib as it didn’t seem as crowded since we stopped 5 of the 6 days with full days in each port. Basically we slept, ate, and went to shows on the Allure, rest of the time was touring on shore. We had 1 sea day at the end.

BARCELONA – We flew US Air from Charlotte direct to Barcelona which worked great as they run direct flights until Sept 30. We arrived tired in the morning 2 days before the cruise to give us time to see Barcelona and recover from jet lag. Arriving at 8 AM, we pre-booked a tour service to meet us at the airport and take us around the city for 4 hours – it’s called Barcelona Day Tours (google them) and they are great to work with. Large van which held all 5 plus our many large bags. It’s a great way to start as you don’t mess with taxis. Plus it killed time since we couldn’t get our rooms until 3 PM. The guide took us around the city highlights, mostly cathedrals and the many Gaudi-designed houses. We stayed in the Hotel Jazz near downtown which made easy walking around the old town. It was a nice hotel, handled US tourists well, had wifi, also a great pool on the roof with a bar where we spent the afternoons worn out after touring. Unf one drawback – very hard, firm king beds.

The next day we had pre-booked Barcelona Day Tours (all bookings were done online 2 months before, paid in advance) to take us to the monastery at Montserrat, a large rock mountain about an hour outside the city. Worth the trip! Very fascinating as it’s actually a large cathedral with a lot of buildings around it, plus the original monastery you can walk to, all with a great view. Worth the 5 hours. We elected not to do a full day tour so we had time to walk around town that afternoon and evening.

EMBARK – We had the hotel call a taxi for the 5 of us. The first taxi was a small SUV which was too small so they called a mini-van which just barely fit us in, otherwise we were looking at 2 taxis. Still cheap as it was only 20 Euros plus tip to go the 2 miles to the Allure. It’s important to know which terminal you board through as Term B was at front of ship and Term C the back and the taxis take different routes to get to each one. We arrived about 1115 and boarding was probably the fastest we have ever done, we were Emerald so went to the shorter line and were through in 5 minutes. Yes, there is a duty free shop after check-in if you want to purchase drinks to take onboard as you are done processing at this point.

Once on the ship we went to our favorite lunch place, Central Park Café, for salads, roast beef sandwiches, and paninis. Practically empty so we ate and hung out in the park until 1 PM when rooms were ready. I don’t think the Windjammer was packed although we didn’t go there. About 2,000 passengers boarded in Rome and were off the ship touring in Barcelona so it wasn’t as crowded as the boarding days we experience in the Caribbean. Lifeboat drill was at 5 PM and ship sailed at 7 PM.

DINING – We decided to do My Time Dining since our tours ended at all hours during the week and we did not want fixed late dining. Once we booked the entertainment online 2 months prior, we then booked our MTD times to fit after the tours and at least 2 hrs before the shows. This was good as the “with reservation” line was always short whereas the “without reservation” line was out the door each night. Food and service in the dining room were both good. Formal nights were days 2 and 6 (Palma & Naples) although most folks wore long shirts, some coats, few ties, due to long, tiring tours in the day.

We had room service each morning as our tours started early and the Windjammer was crowded. Basically good with eggs, fruit, pastry, etc. They always delivered on time so we were not late for the tours. We went to the Windjammer twice for dinner due to late returning and the food choices were far better than the dining room. It was never crowded in the evening. We went to Sabors once and enjoyed the Mexican food - it was order off the menu and pay ala carte, no fixed fee.

SHOWS – The entertainment was great, as usual on the Oasis class. Mama Mia was extremely good, also we liked Blue Planet. The rest of the shows were very good although we had seen some of them before. It is important to make show reservations online 2 months prior to get the best show times, esp for the Comedy Club which is a small venue.

ROOM – We had a standard balcony room on deck 7 forward. Location was great as we didn’t have to walk a lot to get to needed places, inc tour mtg points which were normally forward. Oasis class balcony rooms are slightly smaller than those on other Royal ships so it was cozy for 2 but OK. Our cabin steward was great, very friendly and capable.

VAT – Unf since the cruise was round trip back to Spain, we had to pay Spanish VAT onboard for everything the whole week. Food and drinks were 10% and other items, inc wifi, were 21% VAT. So bar drinks had a 28% added fee, 18% tip and 10% VAT. When you shop on shore, you pay each country’s VAT rate. For any total purchases over approx 90 Euros or more (varies by country), you need to ask the store for a special VAT refund form in addition to the regular receipt. This way, non-EU citizens can get a partial refund on the VAT for these large purchases. IMPORTANT – when you depart thru Barcelona airport, you take your purchase, receipt, and VAT refund form to the VAT customs desk. For our terminal, it was at far left end by the American Airlines counters. Then you stand patiently in line for an hour to get to the customs official who will stamp the refund form. The refunds are done thru commercial companies that are listed on the VAT refund form – ours was “Tax Free” which did not have a counter at the airport so we had to mail in the form after the customs stamp - we should get the refund direct to our credit card. There is a Global Blue desk after security where you can get your refund if the form uses them.

WIFI – The Allure had very good wifi due to their recent upgrade. We purchased a package for 1 device the whole week which was $15 per day, or $105 total. We were able to use any device we had, you just had to logoff a device before logging in with the other one. IMPORTANT – I recommend waiting to purchase wifi rather than doing it online. Once onboard, you can use your Crown & Anchor 15% discount (we are Emerald, I believe Gold and above have this?). We found that VAT was charged both online pre-ordering or onboard so that was a wash. But the only way to get the 15% off was to purchase it onboard. To get it, we just selected “Royal Wifi” with our device and created an account. The discount came up automatically.

PALMA, MAJORCA – We were fortunate and had sunny weather at all stops except one (Florence). At Palma, we pre-booked the Bike Tour of Palma which was good. We expected a small seacoast village with beaches – wrong! Palma was a large, modern city, more like a small Barcelona. Rocky coastline, never saw beaches. In fact, all of the Med coast on our cruise was limestone cliffs which were very picturesque with a rocky shoreline. So the biking was on the city streets, many of them narrow with traffic. In hindsight, we probably would have picked a tour out of the town or just gone on our own. There is a shuttle bus to and from the town center, which is by their large cathedral, for 5 Euros (I can’t remember if that is round trip or one way) – they sell tickets off the ship. Taxi to town center was 15 Euros for 4.

MARSEILLES – Once again, great weather! We pre-booked the extended tour to Cassis, a small seacoast village about 40 minutes drive from the ship. The bus drove right thru the center of Marseilles so we saw the sites there and took pictures. Cassis was wonderful so I highly recommend this tour. The “extended visit” allowed us 2 hours to walk around the town, shop, take pictures, and enjoy their outdoor cafes.

LA SPEZIA/FLORENCE – Rain finally caught us this day, heavy at times. The port is LaSpezia and covers tours to Piza or Florence. We pre-booked the Taste of Florence as my wife wanted to go back to Florence rather than see the smaller town of Piza. The port was pretty far from La Spezia center so we did not see it. The drive to Florence was 2 hours so this was a long day. Florence is real nice although we spent most of the time avoiding the rain. IMPORTANT – When you go to Europe make sure you take raincoats, ponchos, and/or umbrellas. Florence is a great place to purchase leather good, from wallets, belts, purses, to coats. Don’t buy in the first place you see but walk around and find the best prices. Remember the VAT refund paperwork when you purchase.

ROME – The port is Civitavecchia and is an hour outside Rome. We pre-booked the Lake Bracciano Wine Tour but it was cancelled a day before without any reason. We weren’t really interested in Rome as we had been there before but decided to go anyway. So we booked the Rome Shuttle & Express Train which included a bus to the train station and a 40 min train ride to St Peters Train Station right next to the Vatican, and return. I highly recommend this if you want to go into Rome on your own as we had a guide to get us to Rome and back, plus the train ride was very scenic, fast, and no traffic. Once at the station in Rome we were free for 5 hours on our own to sightsee. We used a Hop On-Hop Off bus by St Peters to go to the Forum & Coliseum. Some long lines but we were able to get into the Coliseum. We bused back to St Peters and took pictures there and had lunch. Probably not enough time to do both the Coliseum and the Vatican due to the lines for tickets and entry, so pick one. Or just take the HO-HO bus around everywhere and take pictures. They are guided rides with headsets in selectable languages. If you have not been to Rome before, I recommend you take a fully guided tour.

NAPLES – We pre-booked a great excursion this day, the Pompeii-Sorrento-Capri tour – highly recommended. Drove thru not-so-scenic Naples (it’s a shipping port) to Pompeii, had a great tour there. Then had a real exciting drive to Sorrento further down the coast – Italian drivers are pretty aggressive, inc our bus driver! Very scenic drive as we were going up the bluffs and the coastline south of Naples is beautiful. Sorrento is a small town, very scenic on the coast, where we had lunch provided. Not a great meal but it was OK. Then we took a ferry to Capri, about 40 mins. Capri was the highlight, a mountainous island off the coast. After we docked, we took the tram (called a funicular) up the mountain and spent 2 hours at the top. The guide took us to an overlook with a very scenic rock formation, then we wandered around the shops and cafes, then returned to the harbor. After that, we had a 1 hr ferry ride direct to the Allure so avoided the rush hour traffic – very cool!

OVERALL TOURS – At the end of the 5 days in port, we were tired from all the touring but also very glad we went. All the excursions we took were thru Royal Carib and were good. The buses were clean and comfortable, the guides spoke very good English and were outstanding! We had plenty of restroom breaks and opportunities to eat & drink. We took 500 Euros for the week and used them all inc the 2 days in Barcelona. The Allure also has an ATM that dispenses Euros, it’s by Customer Service on the Promenade separate from the US dollars ATM.

We used cell phones to keep in touch with our group thru text messages (dial +1-area code-phone num to reach a US cell phone) which are only 50 cents each. For each tour we were provided emergency phone numbers in case we got separated from the group. Several times folks did not show up on time but the guides could only wait a little bit due to needing to make connections with boats, trains, etc – so don’t be “the one” who is always late.

Final tour note – as the Allure is huge and has to dock, we were always in the cargo ship areas and had a long way to go to the scenic areas. If you want to just get off the ship and walk around, you will have to walk a ways or take a shuttle or taxi. In all honesty, booking tours is the way to go as the real cool places are often an hour or more from the ship.

DISEMBARK – Easiest ever! We had a 2:50pm flight home so waited until the last minute, 9:30am, to leave the ship. We walked right to our luggage and out the door, probably 10 minutes max. We had pre-booked Barcelona Day Tours to shuttle us to the airport – slightly more than a taxi but we had 5 people and lots of luggage so it was better than getting 2 taxis. We also noticed a long line at 9:30 to get a taxi. Drive to the airport was only 20 mins. If you have a flight at 9am or later, you should be able to make it as they started disembark at 6:30am (although I wouldn’t risk it due to ship delays, etc).

We got to the airport at 10am and the US Air/American Air counter didn’t start our flight’s check-in until 3 hrs prior to boarding so we did the VAT refund stuff and sat around. After that, we did the usual “wait in line” shuffle to get home. Very tiring experience flying back to US but it was worth it due to the great cruise in Europe!


HACKT's Full Rating Summary
Cabin
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Sign Up for Price Drop Alerts
Get tomorrow's price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Cabin Review

Superior Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony
Cabin D5 7548

We had a standard balcony room on deck 7 forward. Location was great as we didn’t have to walk a lot to get to needed places, inc tour mtg points which were normally forward. Oasis class balcony rooms are slightly smaller than those on other Royal ships so it was cozy for 2 but OK. Our cabin steward was great, very friendly and capable.


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Bicycle Tour

At Palma, we pre-booked the Bike Tour of Palma which was good. We expected a small seacoast village with beaches – wrong! Palma was a large, modern city, more like a small Barcelona. Rocky coastline, never saw beaches. In fact, all of the Med coast on our cruise was limestone cliffs which were very picturesque with a rocky shoreline. So the biking was on the city streets, many of them narrow with traffic. In hindsight, we probably would have picked a tour out of the town or just gone on our own. There is a shuttle bus to and from the town center, which is by their large cathedral, for 5 Euros (I can’t remember if that is round trip or one way) – they sell tickets off the ship. Taxi to town center was 15 Euros for 4.

View All 24 Bicycle Tour Reviews
Cassis Walking Tour

We pre-booked the extended tour to Cassis, a small seacoast village about 40 minutes drive from the ship. The bus drove right thru the center of Marseilles so we saw the sites there and took pictures. Cassis was wonderful so I highly recommend this tour. The “extended visit” allowed us 2 hours to walk around the town, shop, take pictures, and enjoy their outdoor cafes.

View All 37 Cassis Walking Tour Reviews
Florence Walking Tour

The port is LaSpezia and covers tours to Piza or Florence. We pre-booked the Taste of Florence as my wife wanted to go back to Florence rather than see the smaller town of Piza. The port was pretty far from La Spezia center so we did not see it. The drive to Florence was 2 hours so this was a long day. Florence is real nice although we spent most of the time avoiding the rain. IMPORTANT – When you go to Europe make sure you take raincoats, ponchos, and/or umbrellas. Florence is a great place to purchase leather goods, from wallets, belts, purses, to coats. Don’t buy in the first place you see but walk around and find the best prices. Remember the VAT refund paperwork when you purchase.

View All 136 Florence Walking Tour Reviews
Rome / Private Train

The port is Civitavecchia and is an hour outside Rome. We pre-booked the Lake Bracciano Wine Tour but it was cancelled a day before without any reason. We weren’t really interested in Rome as we had been there before but decided to go anyway. So we booked the Rome Shuttle & Express Train which included a bus to the train station and a 40 min train ride to St Peters Train Station right next to the Vatican, and return. I highly recommend this if you want to go into Rome on your own as we had a guide to get us to Rome and back, plus the train ride was very scenic, fast, and no traffic. Once at the station in Rome we were free for 5 hours on our own to sightsee. We used a Hop On-Hop Off bus by St Peters to go to the Forum & Coliseum. Some long lines but we were able to get into the Coliseum. We bused back to St Peters and took pictures there and had lunch. Probably not enough time to do both the Coliseum and the Vatican due to the lines for tickets and entry, so pick one. Or just take the HO-HO bus around everywhere and take pictures. They are guided rides with headsets in selectable languages. If you have not been to Rome before, I recommend you take a fully guided tour.

View All 37 Rome / Private Train Reviews
Capri Walking Tour

We pre-booked a great excursion this day, the Pompeii-Sorrento-Capri tour – highly recommended. Drove thru not-so-scenic Naples (it’s a shipping port) to Pompeii, had a great tour there. Then had a real exciting drive to Sorrento further down the coast – Italian drivers are pretty aggressive, inc our bus driver! Very scenic drive as we were going up the bluffs and the coastline south of Naples is beautiful. Sorrento is a small town, very scenic on the coast, where we had lunch provided. Not a great meal but it was OK. Then we took a ferry to Capri, about 40 mins. Capri was the highlight, a mountainous island off the coast. After we docked, we took the tram (called a funicular) up the mountain and spent 2 hours at the top. The guide took us to an overlook with a very scenic rock formation, then we wandered around the shops and cafes, then returned to the harbor. After that, we had a 1 hr ferry ride direct to the Allure so avoided the rush hour traffic – very cool!

View All 57 Capri Walking Tour Reviews
Pompeii Walking Tour

We pre-booked a great excursion this day, the Pompeii-Sorrento-Capri tour – highly recommended. Drove thru not-so-scenic Naples (it’s a shipping port) to Pompeii, had a great tour there. Then had a real exciting drive to Sorrento further down the coast – Italian drivers are pretty aggressive, inc our bus driver! Very scenic drive as we were going up the bluffs and the coastline south of Naples is beautiful. Sorrento is a small town, very scenic on the coast, where we had lunch provided. Not a great meal but it was OK. Then we took a ferry to Capri, about 40 mins. Capri was the highlight, a mountainous island off the coast. After we docked, we took the tram (called a funicular) up the mountain and spent 2 hours at the top. The guide took us to an overlook with a very scenic rock formation, then we wandered around the shops and cafes, then returned to the harbor. After that, we had a 1 hr ferry ride direct to the Allure so avoided the rush hour traffic – very cool!

View All 504 Pompeii Walking Tour Reviews
Sorrento

We pre-booked a great excursion this day, the Pompeii-Sorrento-Capri tour – highly recommended. Drove thru not-so-scenic Naples (it’s a shipping port) to Pompeii, had a great tour there. Then had a real exciting drive to Sorrento further down the coast – Italian drivers are pretty aggressive, inc our bus driver! Very scenic drive as we were going up the bluffs and the coastline south of Naples is beautiful. Sorrento is a small town, very scenic on the coast, where we had lunch provided. Not a great meal but it was OK. Then we took a ferry to Capri, about 40 mins. Capri was the highlight, a mountainous island off the coast. After we docked, we took the tram (called a funicular) up the mountain and spent 2 hours at the top. The guide took us to an overlook with a very scenic rock formation, then we wandered around the shops and cafes, then returned to the harbor. After that, we had a 1 hr ferry ride direct to the Allure so avoided the rush hour traffic – very cool!

View All 165 Sorrento Reviews

Previous ReviewNext Review
HACKT
17 Reviews Written
43 Helpful Votes
Never Miss a Deal!
Subscribe and Save
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

More Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas Reviews





Want to cruise smarter?
Get expert advice, insider tips and more.
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.