Overview of Allure of the Seas

Editor’s Note:  This review comes from ToaD’s friend, Rick, who recently sailed on the Allure of the Seas.  More reviews coming from Rick!  Thank you both!

Hello to everyone who is curious about the Allure!

This is the first report of three (We will write separate reports for Dining and Bars).

All cruises are not equal as it depends on who you are, what your budget is, what you like to do, etc. So in order to set expectations a bit about us (L&R) we are empty nesters 40-50 years old, like fine dining and love the nightlife. Children are a lot like kittens to us at this point, we look at them and smile but we don’t necessarily want them everywhere we go.  We are platinum Castaway Club members on Disney and quite frankly felt the Dream was a huge step backward in terms of satisfying adult cruisers. This led to our exploring other lines and RCL is one that we like quite a bit. We had a balcony room 11282 Port side this trip. For us morning occurs around 10AM on a sea day and bedtime is about 3AM. We booked and paid for Diamond wine package, all specialty restaurants and excursions in advance. Total out of pocket expenses once onboard was $2K for the seven days at sea, in ports, shopping, and gambling.

A bit about our specific cruise, this one occurred over the Labor Day holiday. The cruise director was Alan Brooks who is the best in the business. This time of year it is hurricane season so it is not uncommon to run into some schedule changes and rougher waters due to Hurricanes.  The demographics of the cruisers are also important to understand this time of year. You will always have a good mix of folks on board (think a floating UN) but you will also see a high concentration of cruisers from South America and Asia. Without being too politically incorrect (whoops too late) I have always failed to understand why a significant segment of the Asian fellow passengers seem to be in such a hurry to get everywhere (perhaps we are just too slow).  My favorite mystery is why so many of the fun folks from South America seem to travel with a few dozen of their closest friends and families and they all must ride in one elevator together, sit together, etc. We are on a ship- they will not get lost if we put the recommended number of people in the elevators. We had a little more than 6,300 on board (slightly less than 800 were children and all but about two dozen were well behaved). We also noticed about 50 gay couples on the cruise and spent time with many at the bars. They would classify this as a gay friendly ship.

The Allure is a behemoth of a ship but getting on and off is no problem either in port or in ports of calls as RCL has mastered this process. YES it often seems un-crowded and you wonder where the rest of the passengers are. There are exceptions and they are painful. The elevators are a huge bottleneck and you can count on finding them fully packed at key times (the record was 22 full elevators on debarkation day). So when are the key times? Safety drill, scheduled dinner times, show times, all aboard and the dreaded debarkation morning. You will see some frustrated folks and I have actually witnessed folks shouldering the elevator occupants back into the elevator to get on… This leads me to mention my lifetime pursuit to speak as many languages as possible so that I can share my constructive comments with the offending parties in their own languages!

We never had a problem finding a deck chair around the pools (I think they may have more deck chairs than people on board). However on a sea day you may want to shop your pools (there are 3 to choose from in the children friendly category).  A large group can effectively take over one end of a pool so you will want to take that into consideration. If you want to be in the child friendly area but do not particularly want to be outnumbered then the beach pool is for you. It is deeper, has pool ladders that must be used to get in and out (no steps in this one) and it tends to be a bit of a barrier to the kids (or those who may have had 5 too many drinks of the day).  All of the contests traditionally held at the pools (Belly flop, sexiest man, etc.) have been moved to the back of the ship in the Aqua Theater. I like this arrangement as it keeps everyone spread out (more room for us).  Yes, the servers are trying to push drinks- so get used to it. There are a couple of dozen that work the pools so you will have to deal with them pretty much every 5-10 minutes from 11AM on. Our approach is to find a server we like, buy from him throughout the cruise and tip well. Word gets around with the servers and they know you are XXX’s customers.

The adult pool area is the Solarium area. There are 6 adult only hot tubs (4 of them cantilevered over the side of the ship!), once again my friends from South America have a hard time breaking up the group so you will see folks under 16 in their group in the adult area (The pool police will eventually manage to communicate the infraction and they usually exit the pool as a group). The T-Spa is the socialization pool in the adult area. It is a bit of a glorified hot tub (without the heat) and a shower system, a la adult car wash,  that comfortably holds about 24 folks. It will be occupied by as many as 60+ during key hours on sea day (11AM-4PM). Prime sites are at a premium and folks will come and stake them out early. (A prime site is one that allows for sitting on the bench, a shelf for your alcohol or cooler and is near the jets). Now as you might have surmised L&R do enjoy the adult beverages and I have learned over the years  that X amount of fluid in will result in X amount of fluid that needs to come out. I am somewhat amazed by the bladder control exercised by some of my fellow T-Spa occupants who can drink for 5 hours and never leave the pool… ohhh you don’t think that they are doing that in the pool do you!

The shows must be as good as everyone says (we never went to any of them) as we prefer to use the time to connect over an extended dinner or a good bottle of wine on the balcony followed by a night of lively fun in the bars (more on that later).

As mentioned above this was during hurricane season and we had some decent waves going from Nassau to St. Thomas. The captain was all over the TV and PA apologizing for the “rough ride”. I have to tell you that this still makes me laugh. I am not sure what size wave it would take to move the Allure but it would be very substantial. The “rough night” was unnoticeable, in fact one of our major comments was that this cruise did not have that “rocking you to sleep feeling” that we all love when we sail. It felt like we spent a week on land at a high end resort.

The cabins are a bit on the small side while unpacking but turn out to be OK after you get everything put away. The dual Iphone charger is great and gives you a chance to listen to some music while getting ready for dinner. The interactive TV is also great and you need to spend 5 minutes with the remote and it will save you a lot of time throughout the cruise. It shows wait times for restaurants, menus, messages, you can order wine for your room, rent pay per view movies, etc.

Now on to one (yes I have many) pet peeve issues. Gentlemen, dressing for dinner does not mean putting on flip flops with your swim suit and torn shirt. Ladies if I can see your thong -at least from the front (is there even a back in these things?) or more than 7 tattoos you obviously forgot to put part of your wardrobe on.

We are more forgiving at the pool as RCL is one of the greatest cruise lines for people watching.  You will see that there are some countries that offer micro bikinis for the larger ladies and expect all to wear them (L is one so I know from where I speak).  I do think RCL needs to consider a speedo ban for the guys after age 50… gravity is not your friend!  If you were wondering we did notice that you can find a secluded area in the corner of Solarium and tan (discreetly) topless. Be aware that if someone complains you will need to cover up as this behavior is not condoned by RCL.

There are some low cost / free snacking venues that may be of interest as you explore the ship. The Cupcake Cupboard($), the ice cream shop($), the Dog House, Rita’s Cantina($), Park Cafe, Solarium (healthy choices) and Johnny Rockets($) all have quick service and make for a fast lunch or snack. Make sure to try the roast beef sandwich at Park Café at least once-it is to die for!

We only ate in the Main Dining room once and it was not impressive. It was typical run of the mill cruise food. We walked by the Windjammer Buffet a couple of times and it looks like hand to hand combat in there at the food stations, not our idea of a vacation!

The ports were pretty much the same as always (that’s good in some cases and bad in others). We decided to stay on the ship and explore in Nassau as we had been there several times previously and the port was in pretty bad shape from the storms.  We did the beach excursions at Magens Bay and Orient Beach. These are two great beach days (and we have done them numerous times). There is a lot of Sargasso weed on the beaches that they are cleaning up ASAP but the storms have been hard on the waters in this area. Because of the Allure’s size (and the draft required) we docked at the commercial port in St. Thomas which is a bit closer to Magens Bay than the usual cruise port. We did have a first this trip our Jeepney was sideswiped by a Jeepney going in the other direction and caused quite a stir. No one was injured and damage was cosmetic. The lesson here is keeping your hands inside the Jeepney!

The Casino on this ship is huge and is divided down the middle between smoking and non-smoking (loved that option). On our trip everyone was winning the first two days (they had awarded $2M in jackpots) and, as always, they reeled us back in on days 3,4,5,6 and let us win a bit back on day 7. This seems to be a trend with RCL. We always gamble a bit late night as RCL has a great casino player rebate  program and they send you a discount coupon on your next cruise when you get home (usually for us $350-$500 off a future cruise and it works just like cash).

That’s the overview. We really cannot see us cruising on any ships other than the Oasis and the Allure after this trip. This ship offers so much more to do than other ships. It will spoil you! We have already booked another one on the Allure and are looking at a date for the Oasis.

We will be writing about the dining next… WOW!

One response to this post.

  1. Nice writeup Rick. Glad you and “L” ;^) had a good time. I wish that elevator pushiness would go away and that people in daily life (and on cruises) understood that 2 objects simply can’t occupy the same space at the same time (without a TARDIS). We have only cruised Disney and agree about the backslide the Dream was for adult cruisers. I’m curious about level of service from the crew (cast members) on RCL and hope you’ll cover this in your future segments.

    See you soon,
    J&S

    Reply

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