Allure of the Seas 12/9 – 12/16
Sunday 12/9 Boarding Day!
It was a short taxi ride from our hotel in downtown Miami to the port. Since there were about five ships disembarking and embarking, traffic was pretty hectic for a while. The new terminal was amazing in so many ways. We got there pretty much as the returning passengers were all off the ship. All the agents were polite, had smiles, and helped everyone in every way possible. Since we printed our Sea Pass documents, there was no need to wait in line to fill out papers, give credit card info, etc. Roving agents took care of this with an iPad. We had our photo taken again, though. Then, after about a 15 minute wait, the boarding process started. After a walk up the gangway, we were aboard the beautiful Allure. I figured that the Windjammer would be packed so instead went to the Park Café for a yummy roast beef sandwich. Rooms were ready at 1 PM so we went there and unpacked our carry on stuff. Then, off to the MDR to find our table. We were happy with the location so walked around, marveling at all the ship had to offer. Our checked bag came at about 6 PM. I’d have to say this was the easiest ever boarding process ever considering the number of passengers the Allure carries. Well done, Royal! You nailed it.
Monday 12/10 Nassau, Bahamas
Nothing really planned for this port so went into town for about three hours to walk around, shop, and grab a bite to eat. There were five ships in port so the place was pretty chaotic. The morning was cloudy but the sun peeked out before noon. So far, all the ship’s staff were simply outstanding. For instance, while my wife was taking a glass of red wine to dinner in the MDR, someone bumped into her and it all went on her white blouse. One of our tablemates made a joke about it to the Head Waiter (Christian Negrut) about Royal, at the very least owed her a free cruise, etc, etc. Cristian left for a moment and came back with a voucher to have free cleaning done for two items! This gesture of great customer service really made our day. Christian made it his goal to stop by our table each night to ask how we were doing and if there was anything else he could do. Wow!
Tuesday 12/11 Sea Day
Wednesday 12/12 Cozumel
The day was mostly bright and sunny with a high of about 78 F. We had reservations at Nachi Cocom Beach Resort. After about a 20 minute ride, we were there. This was our 4th time at this fantastic place and again it didn’t disappoint. After many margaritas our four course lunch arrived. It was both delicious and very filling. Since Nachi Cocom limits the total number of guests to 130, it never feels crowded or too busy. The service was individualized by many servers and staff. Even though we could have spent the whole day there, we reluctantly had to get back to the ship.
That night, we had dinner with two of our table mates at the Sambor Grill. It was our first time at a Brazilian steak house. The whole experience was beyond words. Each slice of meat was both tender and succulent. The appetizers, before the meal, were a meal by themselves. Chops used to be my favorite specialty restaurant, but now, it’s Sambor. Of course, this may change once I try other places in the future.
Thursday 12/13 Roatan, Honduras
For several reasons, this has never been one of my favorite ports. That said, this was a “just hanging around” kind of day. The pools and hot tubs were practically empty, so we had the ship (almost) to ourselves. Another great roast beef sandwich at Park Café. After dinner, we played the slots at the casino, came out $17 richer, then walked all over the ship exploring places we’ve never been. This was our second time on the Allure but those interactive maps are sure helpful!
Friday 12/14 Costa Maya
Another warm and mostly clear day. After fighting the mob of people and maze of shops in the port area, finally got to the pick up area for the Maya Chan Beach Resort. This excursion is booked directly online with the resort. Once there, we were given some slightly bad news that there were high winds the previous night which washed a lot of sea grass ashore. She had cell phone photos of the beach area and said we could have a 100% refund if we so desired. We were told that the water was brownish and a bit murky but no one opted for the refund and we piled into the van! The first ¾ of the trip is over very smooth road. But, the last quarter is always an adventure. The smooth road turns into a bumpy dirt road. As Maya Chan’s website states, “Getting there is half the fun!” We were greeted by David, son of the owners. He made the day for us with his charm and very warm personality. His staff dealt with the sea grass issue all day and most folks went into the warm water. I have read previously that the sea grass issue happens now and again and it’s not unique to just Maya Chan. It must be remembered that they certainly can’t control nature. I noticed on the way back that the whole coastal area, for many miles, suffered the same issue. Score: Nature 1. Man 0.
Saturday 12/15 Sea Day
I went to bed the night before with a slightly scratchy throat and a cough. Nine times out of ten I end up with bronchitis after a cruise. This time, it didn’t wait until I got home. So, I spent most of the day in bed getting as much rest as I could. Airplanes are nothing but germ factories with wings. A lot of people were coughing their lungs out on the way down to Miami. Many more were doing the same on the way back. By dinner, I felt a lot better and enjoyed the second prime rib dinner of the cruise.
Sunday 12/16 Debarkation
We had a high debarkation number (40) but were off the ship by about 10:15. Our flight wasn’t until 1:55 PM, so it worked out great. Again, Royal has the system down pat! I highly recommend using the services of a porter as you step into the area for baggage pickup. After finding your bag, they head for a special line that bypasses waiting in a long, serpentine line, to clear customs. The whole process took no more than 10 minutes- well worth the tip you give a porter.
The only downside to the whole process was getting a taxi outside of the terminal. There was a long , orderly line of people waiting as taxis came up to pick up people and luggage. However, quite a few people felt they must have been entitled, bucked the line, and tried snagging their own taxi ahead of others who waited. The woman in charge of assigning taxis to people used her whistle to make sure the cabs rolled by those jumping in line and tried her best to keep order. But, you should have seen the nasty looks and heard some of the exchanges between various groups of people! Is there such a thing as taxi rage?
This was my 2nd time on the Allure. The first time was a bit overwhelming due to the sheer size of the ship! By the time we had it mostly figured out, the cruise was practically over. This time, she felt like an old friend. There’s still so much to learn, do, and explore, so that’s for another time.
As I said earlier, the staff were simply outstanding. Besides what I said about our Head Waiter, I gave our waiter and his assistant plus our room attendant (Ronald) special thanks as well. Thanks to them, and 100’s of others, this was a great vacation.
PS. Got back from my doctor and I do have bronchitis. I think I’ll wear a surgical mask and rubber gloves on my future flights.