Archive for the ‘Allure of the Seas’ Category

Is The Biggest Always The Best?

Last week Norwegian Cruise Line announced that they would be building an Aqua Park on top of the Norwegian Breakaway.  This park will be the first one at sea with five multistory waterslides including Free Fall and The Whip.  They will also have a three story sports complex with the largest ropes course at sea, including The Plank where a section of the ropes course extends eight feet over the side of the ship.

We have ships right now that have ropes courses, multiple water slides, character meals, fireworks at sea and water coasters.  There are others with rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks, water theaters, surfing, ziplining and a grass lawn!

When Oasis of the Seas came out, she was the largest cruise ship in the world.  Allure of the Seas though was built just a slight bit larger so she could have bragging rights.

The question that comes to mind is if it is best to be the biggest, longest, tallest or first to do something in the cruise industry.  What are the drawbacks?

The Carnival Dream has had large waterslides on the ship since she began sailing in 2009.  How has that affected the ship?  I hear a number of complaints about the movement of the Carnival Dream, that it rocks side to side more than expected.  This indicates to me that the slides are acting like a sail.  Our course not everyone who cruises this ship will say this, but it is worth noting.

Why do you go on a cruise?  Do you go to get away from it all or do you go to be entertained?  If it is the later, many of the newer ships will give you lots to choose from.  If you want to get away from it all, some have fabulous spas and solariums, relaxation rooms and therapy rooms to enjoy. You can pretty much get exactly what you want out of a vacation by going on a cruise with all that the ships today have to offer.

What is the next thing we will see on a cruise ship?  A roller coaster?  A motion simulator that recreates the sinking of the Titanic or a pirate’s battle?  I can’t wait to see who comes up with the next latest and greatest in the industry, but will still question if it is best.

Dining Packages Offered on Royal Caribbean

With more guests wanting to try the specialty restaurants onboard, Royal Caribbean International has put together new dinner packages on four of its most popular ships to help reduce the costs of these dining experiences.

On Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas there are three packages offered:

  • Central Park Dining Package – $65 per person.  Includes Giovanni’s Table, 150 Central Park and Chops Grille
  • Chef’s Dining Package – $120 per person.  Includes a five-course meal at the Chef’s Table (with wine pairings), 150 Central Park and Chops Grille
  • Choice Dining Package (Oasis of the Seas) – $50 per person.  Includes dinner at Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table and choice of Izumi or Solarium Bistro
  • Choice Dining Package (Allure of the Seas) – $55 per person.  Includes dinner at Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table and Samba Grill

Radiance of the Seas offers a package for $70 per person for dinners at Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, Izumi and Samba Grill.  There is a Chef’s Dining Package for $120 per person and also will include the Chef’s Table in addition to every extra-charge specialty restaurant on the ship.

Splendour of the Seas has a Chef’s Dining Package that includes dinner at Chef’s Table, Chops Grille and Izumi for $105 per person.

Additionally, there is now a way to opt to join in to reservation-only parties on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.  On Allure of the Seas guests can enjoy Rita’s Fiesta in Rita’s Cantina, featuring the restaurant’s most popular meals and up to three non-alcoholic drinks for $10 per person or $20 for up to three alcoholic drinks.  On Oasis of the Seas, the Surf’s Up Party at the Seafood Shack featuring the restaurant’s most popular meals and up to three non-alcoholic drinks for $15 per person or $25 for up to three alcoholic drinks.

The 1920s Prohibition Party on Allure of the Seas is also offered for a cover charge of $35 per person which includes alcoholic beverages.  See our previous blog on this fun party http://wp.me/pTjDr-yL.

All of these packages and parties can be reserved once onboard or prior to your cruise at www.RoyalCaribbean.com/PreCruisePlanner.

2011 Best Cruise Lines

Each year we see picks for the best ships, best dining, best kids clubs, etc. with many industry guides and reviewers.  We have seen two of these picks so far this year – Cruise Critic and Conde Nast Traveler.  So how did your favorites do?

Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks 2011

  • Best New Ship – Disney Dream
  • Best New River Ship – Uniworld’s S.S. Antoinette
  • Best for Luxury –  Seabourn’s Odyssey
  • Best for First-Timers –  Princess Cruises
  • Best for Families – Royal Caribbean
  • Best Itineraries – Azamara Club Cruises
  • Best for Adventure – Lindblad Expeditions
  • Best River Cruise Line – Viking River Cruises
  • Best Value for Money – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best for Dining – Celebrity Cruises
  • Best Alternative Restaurant – Celebrity’s Qsine
  • Best Buffet – Norwegian Cruise Lines
  • Best for Entertainment – Royal Caribbean’s Oasis and Allure
  • Best for Healthy Cruising – Celebrity Cruises
  • Best for Spa Lovers – Seabourn’s Sojourn & Quest
  • Best for Solo Cruisers – Norwegian Epic
  • Best Suites – Oceania’s Marina
  • Best Standard Cabins – Disney Cruise Line
  • Best Inside Cabins – Disney Dream
  • Best Shore Excursions – Holland America
  • Best for Enrichment – Crystal Cruises
  • Best for Honeymoons – Princess Cruises
  • Best for Wine Lovers – Celebrity Solstice-Class
  • Best Cruise Ship Bar – Carnival’s RedFrog Pub
  • Best U.S. Cruise Port – New Orleans

Conde Nast Traveler – Gold List 2011

Rather than selecting one best in each of a number of categories, Conde Nast Traveler gives an overall score for each of their picks based on itineraries, cabins, service, food, design, activities and excursions.  The scores were averages to get the overall score.  Our list shows the cruise line name, overall score and top category.

  • Abercrombie & Kent – Overall Score 83.7 (Itineraries 96.0)
  • Crystal Cruises – Overall Score 92.3 (Service 95.5)
  • Cunard Line – Overall Score 86.4 (Itineraries 89.9)
  • Disney Cruise Line – Overall Score 90.3 (Service 96.1)
  • Grand Circle Small Ship Cruises – Overall Score 87.1 (Itineraries 94.7)
  • Oberoi – Overall Score 84.7 (Tie for Itineraries and Service 94.1)
  • Oceania Cruises – Overall Score 86.6 (Itineraries 94.9)
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises – Overall Score 91.0 (Service 95.1)
  • Seadream Yacht Club – Overall Score 86.6 (Service 94.4)
  • Silversea Cruises – Overall Score 85.2 (Service 92.1)
  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection – Overall Score 83.8 (Itineraries 92.0)
  • Windstar Cruises – Overall Score 84.3 (Service 93.2)
  • Yachts of Seabourn – Overall Score 93.4 (Service 97.9)

Conde Nast Traveler: 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards

We think that this review is the best representation however as it is your choices for the best of the best.  Travel editors don’t always have the same opinions as those of us who travel for a vacation.  Those who voted assigned a rating of excellent, very good, good, fair and poor for a variety of criteria.  Each reviewer’s total score is calculated and then the average of all responses is calculated.

Small-Ship Lines

  • Seabourn – 91.8
  • Silversea – 88.5
  • Windstar 85.8
  • Seadream Yacht Club – 84.5
  • Lindblad Expeditions – 78.0

Medium-Ship Lines

  • Crystal Cruises – 93.0
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises – 91.6
  • Disney – 89.8
  • Oceania Cruises – 86.0
  • Azamara Club Cruises – 84.7
  • Cunard – 84.2
  • Holland America – 81.5
  • Celebrity – 79.9
  • Princess – 79.8
  • Royal Caribbean – 76.3

Large-Ship Lines

  • Celebrity – 87.7
  • Princess – 80.9
  • Royal Caribbean – 78.9
  • Carnival – 70.9
  • Norwegian Cruise Line – 64.3

River Lines

  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruises – 90.3
  • Grand Circle Travel – 86.1
  • Viking River Cruises – 84.8
  • Avalon Waterways – 78.9
  • AmaWaterways – 68.5

Porthole Cruise Magazine 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards

  • Best Small Ship (under 500 passengers) – Seabourn Quest
  • Best Medium-Sized Ship (between 500-2000 passengers) – Nieuw Aterdam
  • Best Megaship (at least 2000 passengers) – Allure of the Seas
  • Best Tall Ship – Wind Surf
  • Best River Cruise – Viking River Cruises
  • Best Value-for-the-Money Line – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Luxury Line – Seabourn Cruise Line
  • Most Family-Oriented Line – Disney Cruise Line
  • Best Expedition Cruise Line – Lindblad Expeditions
  • Most Romantic Cruise Line – Windstar Cruises
  • Best Eco-Friendly Cruise Line – Royal Caribbean International
  • Best Short-Duration Cruise – Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best Shore Excursions – Holland America Line
  • Best One-Day Cruise – Discovery Cruise Line (no longer in operation)
  • Best Private Island – Half Moon Cay
  • Best Adventure Cruise Line – Royal Caribbean International
  • Best Onboard Activities – Royal Caribbean International
  • Best Onboard Educational Programs – Cunard Line
  • Best Main Dining Room Cuisine – Celebrity Cruises
  • Best Alternative Restaurants – Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best Casinos – Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best Computer Facilities – Holland America Line
  • Best Spa Facilities – Celebrity Cruises
  • Best Onboard Shopping – Princess Cruises
  • Best Medical Facilities – Holland America Line
  • Best Children’s Programs – Disney Cruise Line
  • Best Service – Silversea Cruises
  • Best Entertainment – Disney Cruise Line
  • Best Onboard International Experience – MSC Cruises
  • Best Theme Cruises – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Adults-Only Onboard Options – Crystal Cruises
  • Best Website – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Accommodations – Seabourn Cruise Line
  • Best Facilities for Physically Challenged Passengers – Holland America Line
  • Best Caribbean Itineraries – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Canada/New England Itineraries – Holland America Line
  • Best Mexican Riviera Itineraries – Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Best Alaska Itineraries – Holland America Line
  • Best Central America Itineraries – Holland America Line
  • Best Hawaii Itineraries – Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best South America Itineraries -Oceania Cruises
  • Best Mediterranean Itineraries -Costa Cruises
  • Best South Pacific Itineraries -Paul Gauguin Cruises
  • Best North Europe Itineraries – Princess Cruises
  • Best Trans-Atlantic Itineraries -Cunard Line
  • Best Asia/Pacific Itineraries – Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Best Africa/Middle East Itineraries -Costa Cruises
  • Best World Cruise Itineraries -Cunard Line
  • Best Bermuda Itineraries -Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best Australia/New Zealand Itineraries -P&O Cruises

There are other awards out there and we chose to focus on just a few.  Keep in mind that these awards are all based on opinions of other cruisers or travel editors.  “Mileage may vary”.  There are so many cruise ships and cruise lines available though there is bound to be one that is just right for you.

What is your favorite cruise line? 

I’m Too Excited To Sleep

It doesn’t matter where we go or what we are doing, just before a trip I’m too excited to sleep.  Even more so when Disney is involved.  I didn’t get to sleep until nearly 10:00 last night and here I am at 3:00 am wide awake.  I could try to go back to sleep but the alarm is going off in an hour and fifteen minutes.  What if I don’t wake up?  Did I remember to set the alarm?

I laid in bed for a while, trying to go back to sleep.  It’s not like this is a cruise vacation we are going on or a trip to Walt Disney World (at least not yet), so why does this affect my sleep?  I’m not getting up earlier than I normally would on a weekday, it should be a leisurely trip to the airport this morning.

It’s been a couple years since we flew out of Madison so this will be a nice change.  Only 20 minutes to the airport instead of an hour and a half to Milwaukee.  I didn’t do online check in, but our seats are already selected so I guess that doesn’t matter.  We’ve got a bag to check anyway so it’s fine.

I wonder what I should blog about today?  After all, we’ll be flying this morning and then going straight to CruiseWorld 2011 so I won’t have a chance to blog until tonight.  I don’t think I have time this morning to do a quick blog, or do I?  Maybe if I get up 15 minutes earlier than the alarm.  Can I do that?

It’s going to be 80 degrees Fahrenheit today!  I’m so looking forward to the warmer temperatures.  It’s hasn’t been too miserable yet.  We were spared from the snow this last weekend.  In fact, it reached the mid-60s yesterday, but the temperatures are going to drop a bit again.  I’m pretty sure I packed a swimsuit….

The hotel will be within walking distance to the convention center.  Our flight gets in just before 1:00.  Are we going to make it to the 2:00 session?  That’s calling it pretty close, but on the other hand, the airport is only a few minutes from the hotel.  We’ll be right on the water — on the intracoastal waterway.  In fact, the water taxi has a pick up right outside our hotel.  We may plan to take it one evening and check out the area.

As long as we’re going to be in Fort Lauderdale for a few days, we need to check out some other hotels, including ours, for a pre-ToaD Oasis of the Seas sailing hotel.  We’ll be very close to Port Everglades with the entrance just beyond the convention center.  We should be able to see Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas from our hotel!

We also have a friend who lives just north of Fort Lauderdale that we’re going to try to get together with.  How long has it been since we saw her?  I think it was the 5 night sailing in 2008!  Wow, it’s been a long time.  That will be lots of fun though.  Maybe I should bring a little toad gift for Christina?

The best part of the trip is that we’ll get up to Walt Disney World at the end.  Will I have this much trouble sleeping the night before we go there?  I’ll already be on vacation, so will I still be too excited?  Of course I’ll be excited!!  We are going to try to get to all four parks in 26 hours!

Too much going on in my head to try to get a little more shut-eye!  Fort Lauderdale, here I come!!

Allure of the Seas – Starbucks & Cupcake Cupboard

We had a few questions about the Cupcake Cupboard and Starbucks pricing onboard the Allure of the Seas.  Starbucks is only on Allure at this times, but the Cupcake Cupboard is also on Oasis of the Seas and being added to other RCCL ships.  Here are some photos of the Cupcake Cupboard, including the menu and the pricing list at Starbucks.

Nightlife on Allure of the Seas

L&R on Allure of the Seas – Focus on Nightlife (Sailing Dates 9/4/2011 – 9/11/2011) Eastern

Hello to everyone who is curious about the Nightlife on the Allure!

This is the third report of three (We have written separate reports for Allure Overview and Specialty Dining).

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 (Lori & Rick) 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 occasionally look at them and smile but we would not want one in the pool or restaurant with us.  We have raised ours and do not want to participate in raising yours. We are platinum 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 this trip. For us morning occurs around 10AM on a sea day and bedtime is about 3AM. Booked and paid for Diamond wine package, all specialty restaurants and excursions in advance. Total out of pocket expenses once on board $2K for the seven days at sea, in ports, gambling.

An Overview – It turns out this cruise answered the age old question of how many bars are enough for a 7 night cruise (the answer is 28 on the Allure) this is not counting the three crew bars which of course we could not get into (try as we might).  Across the board we have never met such a high quality, friendly and enthusiastic bunch of folks at sea. The staff comes from all of the RCL ships that have come before and are all selected because of their high performance and customer rating. We hated to leave but we have made several new friends who we will hunt down mercilessly on future trips!  Most of the bars start to close around 1:30 AM but usually remain open till 2:15 AM or so. The late night bars are Blaze and Dazzle and they finally close around 3:00 AM or so.  Most of the bars are open again at 10 AM for that early morning Bloody Mary (or just to start over with another Jagermister).  The bar teams on the Allure are broken into three groups; Winetenders (these folks rotate through Vintages, Champagne Bar and Back of House Dining Room); Bartenders (these folks rotate through the various bars) and Barservers (these folks are on the floor in the bars doing table service and they rotate as well).

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Allure of the Seas Dining Review

L&R on Allure of the Seas –  Focus on Specialty Dining (Sailing Dates 9/4/2011 – 9/11/2011) Eastern

Hello to everyone who is curious about the Specialty Dining on the Allure!

This is the second report of three (We will write separate reports for Allure Overview 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. 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 this trip. For us morning occurs around 10AM on a sea day and bedtime is about 3AM. Booked and paid for Diamond wine package, all specialty restaurants and excursions in advance. Total out of pocket expenses once on board $2K for the seven days at sea, in ports, gambling.

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