Vacation Goddess was lucky enough to sail on the Allure of the Sea's and we absolutely loved it! As far as we are concerned this ship is a 'must do' for every cruise enthusiast.
As we arrive at Port Everglades to board it is immediately apparent that Allure of the Sea's is a huge ship – she literally dwarfs all the other very large mega liners lined up in port – yet her 17-decks are of perfect proportion.
The excitement of boarding from the crowd is palpable, the buzz electric and smiles can't be removed from the faces of its guests.
Speaking of boarding – it was perfect, the best this Vacation Goddess has ever experienced. The check-in staff were knowledgeable, friendly and efficient and from arrival to being on board it took less than 20 minutes.
Like many, we initially take a wander through the ship to discover and explore the various offerings we can experience aboard. Will a week be enough time?
I'll answer that later…
As it has been said, this ship is BIG. Thankfully, though she has a neighborhood concept, which divides the ship into seven distinct spaces that range from the foliage-filled Central Park to the Boardwalk, with its handmade wooden carousel, burger joint and candy shop. Because of this getting around it much easier than first imagined and nowhere ever seems to crowded.
From jewellery, perfume, make-up, souvenirs, designer clothing, duty free and more you'll find the shopping aboard very pleasant. The two stores we loved the most were Guess and the Romero Britto art gallery. In the Britto art store at sea, in addition to prints and paintings, they sold luggage, key chains and umbrellas with the artist's colorful pop-art designs.
You can tell that the staterooms have been designed to be a comfortable, relaxing place for you to rest after your daily adventures. Our stateroom was perfect offering a television, telephone, large, private bathroom with bath and shower, a separate vanity area, a powerful hair-dryer and iPod dock. As for our balcony, it was spacious and the perfect place to chill out, enjoy a quiet room service breakfast, read a book or just watch the shoreline activities as we arrived and departured ports. I must mention the room was also spotless and kept that way by our room steward who was extremely friendly and efficient.
Wining and Dining Highlights:
Firstly, let me say all the food we tried aboard was good. Very good in fact. In all the restaurants the staff were again knowledgeable and friendly. We often took breakfast in the main al a carte dining room or in our cabin as mentioned as we are not a fan of buffets. However, we did try the buffet one morning and the selection was plentiful, hot items hot and and it was very well maintained.
Our favourite spot for lunch was at the quieter Solarium, an adult-only retreat where the food served is healthy and delicious.
Our evenings started with a flight aboard the Rising Tide bar with a glass of bubbles or a cocktail. This moving bar is unique in that it slowly moves up and down between three decks. It provided the perfect chance to relax and decide where we would dine.
There are many choices when it comes to dining. With a choice of over 20 options you could dine differently ever day. Some we tried included Samba Grill (Solarium by day), Cafe Promenade, Windjammer Marketplace, Chops, Izumi and Rita's Cantina, a Mexi-Cali beach bar with menu options like taco salad, chile rellenos, shrimp ceviche tostadas, fajitas, chips and guacamole and a wide selection of tequilas and margaritas. It provided a great place for lunch as you can watch the world go by.
Rita's also hosts a reservation only themed party dinner featuring the restaurant’s most popular dishes and three non-alcoholic beverages for a cover charge of USD $10 per guest or three alcoholic beverages for a cover charge of USD $20 per guest. It's a wonderful evening out and the band will have you dancing up and down the boardwalk.
Chops Grille became one our favourites, the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion or simply be treated to a fantastic dinner. One evening we met a family of four generations who had come from all across America to celebrate a 60th birthday. Think juicy steaks, fresh seafood, hearty side dishes and delicious desserts in an elegant atmosphere.
Want to try something a little different?
Alure offers a a cupcake decorating course at their store, Cupcake Cupboard. This proved to be great fun and we actually made quite realistic cheeseburger and chips cakes.
From the moment you wake until you want to retire – and beyond, entertainment abounds on this grand ship. From singers, dancing, first rate bands, talks, games this ship has it all…and families our well catered for. This ship celebrates youthful exuberance in the form of surf simulators, rock-climbing walls and some of the best children's facilities at sea.
The cruise line signed a deal with the animation company DreamWorks to bring its movie characters to life on board. Actors dressed as Shrek, Princess Fiona, Puss in Boots, Po from Kung Fu Panda and the cast of Madagascar perform shows, host breakfasts and pop up randomly to greet kids (and adults). The highlight is a 20-minute parade along the Royal Promenade.
The Madagascar-themed show is a spectacle of penguins, divers and synchronised swimmers held in the open-air, oceanfront AquaTheatre. How to Train Your Dragon is staged on the ship's ice rink.
Chicago: the Musical stars performers from Broadway and West End productions. The show is a MUST see – in fact we took it in twice!
For the Children (or the child in us all) the ship boasts:
Two FlowRider surf simulators – where you can learn to surf or body board
A Zip line, nine decks in the air and 24.9 m (82 feet) across
Two rock-climbing walls, each 13 m (43 feet) high
Full-sized basketball court
As part of their Adventure Ocean Youth Program, girls (and boys if they wish) can enjoy complimentary Barbie features such as Barbie Movie Night, Barbie Story Time and other themed activities, plus Barbie movies on their stateroom TVs. However, for something very special, girls age four to 11 can set sail on a 'Barbie' dream cruise complete some great Barbie take home gifts, loads of exclusive fun, fashion and runway moments. Plus, their bed will be decorated 'Barbie' style – US$349 per child.
So back to my initial question, is a week enough?
The answer is a definite NO – as the saying goes 'so much to do, such little time!'
I would highly recommend booking a back to back cruise on this ship. Unlike other back to backs you will discover completely different ports as the ship alternates a Western Caribbean with an Eastern Caribbean seven-night itinerary. We were so enamored with the ship we tried to book for the next sailing while on the cruise. Unfortunately, the ship was fully booked and sadly we had to leave.
Two must do's aboard Allure is the 'All Access Tour' and the Chef's Table.
The All Access Tour is exceptional, runs for approx. 4 hours and you will discover areas that are normally not accessible to guests. The All Access Tour escorts guests into a variety of ‘back-of-house’ areas, including a visit to the bridge, galley, the laundry, backstage of the main theater, and the engine control room. The staff that escort you are very informative as they explain the complex workings of running the world’s largest and most innovative cruise ship. They also really engage with the group so as to make it fun and all to soon the time is up and it all finishes with a cocktail and take home bag of goodies.
Book early as we missed out for the Chef's table – a five-course, US$95-per-person offering available for just 14 passengers on every night of the cruise. Each of the five courses is paired with wine, and passengers get a detailed explanation of wine (sommelier) and food (one of Allure's top chefs) before each is served.
Ports we visited: Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.
MS Allure of the Seas is a cruise ship owned and operated by Royal Caribbean International.
Together with her sister ship, Oasis of the Seas, she holds the record for the largest passenger ship ever (Allure is 2 inches (50 Millimetres) longer than Oasis.)
Allure of the Seas alternates a Western Caribbean with an Eastern Caribbean seven-night itinerary from her homeport of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Length: 361.8 metres
Height: 72 metres (above water line)
Tonnage: 225,282 (gross tonnage)
Decks: 16 passenger decks
Capacity: 6400 passengers (all berths)