We recently completed an amazing Mediterranean journey that included a voyage on Allure Seas. This trip was a long time coming and a long time planning. It was very special in many ways; it was a voyage I had longed to make with my mom. My dad did not fly and she always wanted to go to Italy, but did not want to leave him. Her adoptive family was from Italy and she so wanted to see the country they loved. But alas after he passed away she herself got very sick with COPD and we never made it. I love to travel but my husband never wanted to leave the US, but he finally agreed to a Mediterranean cruise after my mom passed away. I think he knew how important this was to me. I was so excited, but nervous. I wanted it to be perfect.
So the planning began. I tend to over research everything, and so this was no different. I am loyal to Royal. We have taken many Caribbean cruises and have gone to Alaska. But this was different. I thought about smaller, luxury lines. They looked fabulous. But when I saw Allure would be Europe I was intrigued. Oasis was the last cruise my mom took with us and on which my only child got engaged. We loved it. So I thought long and hard. I loved the itinerary. It was a perfect sampling. I loved the idea of embarking in Rome because I wanted to spend time there. Since it was port intense, I worried the huge ship was not the thing. But I love Royal cabins and the Oasis class entertainment and design. I liked having options for my one sea day. And it was a tried and true product. So as much as I was tempted to jump ship, I decided on Allure. I wanted it to be amazing for my non-travel-loving husband. So I picked the owners suite. I booked over a year out.
I went on cruise critic and travel sites and began my intense research. I reluctantly decided private tours were best for this trip although I was scared about missing the ship. But all my fears were unfounded and I could not have been happier with my choice of private operators. In order to see a lot in the short time we had in port and on our Rome pre-stay this choice was vital. I also decided I wanted to fly first class, but the fares were high. I did a lot of research and it turned out choice air had the best first class fares. They offered a lot of options. I was able to fly the amazing Virgin Atlantic Dreamliner First class. We connected to Rome through Heathrow. I liked being able to get out and stretch. This turned out to be another great choice. I was very happy with Choice Air. I also collected as many cruise compasses as I could get my hands on and looked at all the menus I could find.
We stayed three nights in Rome at the Marriott Grand Flora on points and I could not have been happier. We took a two day, private guided tour and it was amazing beyond my wildest dreams. I won't belabor this here since it is slightly off topic, but the source of other reviews.
Now I will go on to the heart of this review. We embarked in Civitavecchia. It is about an hour from Rome but our drive was pleasant. We hired the same tour company for our transfers as the private tour and that worked well. This was my first experience with inter-porting. I was apprehensive. Not sure how it was going to work. But pretty much all my fears were unfounded. Embarkation in the minor port had one great advantage, absolutely no crowds and no lines. About 15 minutes from drop off to ding of sea pass card. It was nice getting on with ship in full swing and not everyone crowded into promenade. Most people were on tours so much less crowded. The only very minor down side was that it was a bit of a mess on the ship in the morning in Barcelona, the major embarkation point. Just kind of disruptive, but I'm just nit picking here. I would do inter-porting again, but would not want more than two embarkation points. One other slight negative of embarking in the minor port is that these passengers do get “lost” a bit in the Royal system and registering for things can get confusing and sometimes non-existent. But I would still embark in Rome again in a heartbeat.
Allure was exactly what I expected. She is as beautiful as her sister. Very interestingly our favorite public area on this cruise was the Boardwalk. On Oasis we hardly used it. Too much pool time and fun in the sun on Caribbean voyages to utilize it fully I guess. But on this fall cruise we were there a lot. I rode the carousel, we also ate at the restaurants, saw shows in Aquatheater, took a cup cake decorating class and just strolled. It really is an amazing and underutilized space. We of course loved Central Park. Yes, the bird noises are a bit loud in my opinion, lol. But still a fabulous place to sit and stroll in all the greenery. Another favorite spot was the solarium. I went every morning to sit in the quiet and we loved the cantilevered hot tubs. Allure was in good shape since she was just out of dry dock, but I was a bit surprised to see some major rust around hot tubs and some old and worn furniture. Not much of a complaint, and again I'm being very picky. Overall she is extremely well maintained and very clean. The pools are great, but it was cool so not that well used. But there were brave souls in them every day.
As I said I chose the Owner's suite. It seemed over the top for two people but again wanted this trip to be amazing for my husband...and me. I could not have been happier with my choice. The cabin is large and beautifully furnished. There are tons of drawers and lots of closet space. I loved the dressing table with makeup mirror. The bathroom is magnificent. Having a real shower was so worth it. It looked small in pictures, but they are deceiving. It is not small. And the best thing for us was the deck with the comfy lounge chairs. I thought it might be a waste on a fall cruise to have such a big deck, but we spent so much time out here relaxing on the lounge chairs. And we got treats every single day. We received so many we could not eat them all. I would book this cabin again in heartbeat.
The staff was great. I did not encounter one surely or unpleasant staff member. Our cabin attendant Karen was one of the best ever. She quickly introduced herself the first day and asked what would make our voyage special. I told her towel animals. She laughed and said do you want me to leave them till the end. I said yes please. And she got special permission to do so. And I had an amazing zoo on the couch at the end. She kept our room meticulous and always had a cheerful pleasant word for us. The concierge Ana was very nice. She contacted me beforehand. We had a little problem with spa reservations, but not a big deal. It was just a miscommunication that worked out fine.
CONCIERGE AND DIAMOND LOUNGE
We absolutely loved the concierge lounge. It is where the crown loft used to be and the view is breathtaking. I realize that many people are not happy with the removal of the crown loft, but it was in my opinion completely underutilized. I went up there many times on Oasis and it was a ghost town. I rarely saw a soul. At least as the concierge lounge it is well used. I always saw people in there. We loved having breakfast and snacks. I must say on this cruise we really felt special. The food in the concierge lounge seemed a better quality and variety than in the past. The only thing I did not like was the coffee. I felt the coffee from the machine was horrible. I could barely drink it and I love coffee. Not a big deal. I had the royal replenish so I got cafe mocha in the Cafe Promenade. We loved the Concierge lounge do much we did not go to the Diamond lounge except to take pictures. The diamond lounge is where the concierge lounge was. It is a lovely space overlooking the boardwalk.
RESTAURANTS AND FOOD
This cruise was not really about the food for us. We were here to see Europe and had such amazing food on land that I think it jaded us. I felt the food in the main dining room was just ok. To be fair we only ate there twice since we were too busy running around. The menus seem the same fleet wide and to us that is a bit boring having seen the selections over and over. Not bad at all especially for for newbies, but just an observation. We ate in Chops and Giovanni's and both were excellent. Chops was my favorite meal on this cruise. We ate lunch in Sabor and loved it. The Coastal Kitchen was very good and the view outstanding. We ate in the Dog House a few times. The buns were consistently very dry and fell apart. I found the bread not that great on this cruise and the cookies inedible. The cookies were actually a big disappointment since I normally love Royal cookies and were a standout on Quantum. On Allure they were hard and stale every time and I tried a lot. Again, just a little thing. No lobster on Mediterranean sailings. I did not miss it. I don't sail for the lobster, lol.
In my opinion Royal has the best entertainment hands down of anywhere, land or sea. It is one thing that keeps me loyal. We saw Blue Planet, Monopoly Ice Show, Oceanaria, and Mamma Mia. All outstanding. Blue Planet was a first time and I was blown away with the special affects and acrobatics. We saw Mamma Mia for the second time. First was on Quantum last year. I thought I would be less impressed since we had seen it. Not so. It was even better the second time. I also went to sail away with Dreamwork's characters in the aquatheater. It was well done and a lot of fun. I think Royal does a great job with the Dreamwork's characters. They are there but not intrusive, or in your face all the time. Bravo!
PORTS OF CALL
The itinerary was great for those looking for nice Mediterranean sampling. It was perfect for us. I adored every single port of call and Rome embarkation worked perfectly for us. I used private tour companies in Naples, Florence (La Spezia) and Barcelona. It was critical in La Spezia since we wanted to see Florence and Pisa and Florence is 2 hours from the port. It was also important in Naples since I wanted to see Pompeii and climb Vesuvius. Private tours allowed us to see more and make the most of our time in each port. One other note, in Mallorca we visited Drach Caves. I absolutely loved the caves. Not your normal caves.
This cruise was better than my wildest dreams. I adored every minute of the trip. Was it perfect, no, but there were no major dislikes or show stoppers. We are planning on going back in a couple of years. I love the Royal Caribbean product. Cabins, shows, public areas can't be beat in my opinion. While I loved Allure and want to go on Harmony we may choose a smaller ship next time. Only because I don't want to be tempted by too many activities since Europe is so port intense. But I have not a single regret we went on Allure. She is a gorgeous ship. It was such a great trip, my husband who never wanted to travel outside the US, now wants to take a cruise to Japan and Australia! I think I created a monster!
I got the Royal Replenish package and it was perfect for a person that loves specialty coffee and non-alcoholic “foo foo” drinks. Having a suite my husband did not need a drink package. There were plenty of options available to someone who drink moderately as part of our suite perks.
We felt that the suite perks seemed better on this cruise. I can’t say there was much difference, but I felt the food in concierge lounge was better and more plentiful. I also felt that there were many more clearly accessible areas in shows for gold card members. We did not have to make reservations, just flashed our card and were shown to a nice area. On our past cruises it did not seem clear where gold card members sat and honestly some of the reserved areas were not that good. On this cruise not needing show reservations was a big plus. With all the ports we never knew what we were going to feel like after a day of touring. Also, we did not need my time dining reservations we got priority in the main dining room by just flashing the card.
Thanks for reading my review. Hope it helped and you enjoyed it.
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Link to Forum thread with pictures
I could not have been happier with my choice. The cabin is large and beautifully furnished. There are tons of drawers and lots of closet space. I loved the dressing table with makeup mirror. The bathroom is magnificent. Having a real shower was so worth it. It looked small in pictures, but they are deceiving. It is not small. And the best thing for us was the deck with the comfy lounge chairs. I thought it might be a waste on a fall cruise to have such a big deck, but we spent so much time out here relaxing on the lounge chairs. And we got treats every single day. We received so many we could not eat them all. I would book this cabin again in heartbeat.
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