My dad decided that the perfect way to celebrate his 60th birthday was on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas – heck yeah! We are loyal to Royal and have enjoyed the Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas many times, but this was the first time we were lucky enough to sail the Allure. I’ve heard all kind of things about this ship… I’ve heard mostly praises but I’ve also heard statements like, “It’s simply too big.” Well, let’s just put that little rumor to rest. There is no such thing as too big when cruising the Caribbean. This ship is absolutely incredible and absolutely perfect. And to quote the late night comedians, “You book a trip on the largest ship in the world, and then complain because it IS??” Seriously.
Our eight day trip sailed from Sunday to Sunday, complete with a day at Labadee, Haiti, a day at Falmouth, Jamaica, a day at Cozumel, Mexico and a total of three days at sea. Although not overly “wow’d” by the ports (simply because I’ve been to them all before), the trip was amazing.
Check in was a breeze, as it always is with Royal Caribbean. We headed straight for drinks and to check out our rooms… we decorated my dad’s room while he was out having a Margarita.
My dad booked the staterooms based on recommendations from a friend and a private tour of the ship he had taken (per usual, dad). Normally, we’d choose mid-ship overlooking the ocean. My dad booked our staterooms on the 12th floor, aft, overlooking the Boardwalk. Best decision ever. The location of our rooms allowed us to view the activities on the Boardwalk, watch the Aqua Theater shows from our balcony, watch the zip-liners above us and view the ocean out the back of the ship. We literally had the best of all worlds. Additionally, decks 11 and 12 have aft balconies that seemed completed secluded from the other 6,300 passengers on the ship. We pretty much had the giant balcony, with lounge chairs, all to ourselves. It was our daily meeting place for appetizers and wine prior to heading to dinner.
The only downside to the rooms was that you really had to remember that the people across the way can see directly into your room. Don’t forget those curtains when you’re stepping out of the shower. It’s especially concerning when that unintentional peeping tom is your father….
Massive. Seriously massive. A floating city. 225,000+ tons with 7 neighborhoods, 4 pools, a splash pool and countless hot tubs. There’s an ice cream parlor, hot dog stand, candy shop, Starbucks, pop corn/cotton candy booth, cupcake shop and multiple specialty restaurants for lunch and dinner. Most impressively: the ice skating rink, TWO Flow-Riders, carousel, mid-ship zip-line, TWO rock climbing walls, basketball courts, mini golf course, comedy club, jazz club, night club, a bar that moves up and down between floors (yeah, a moving bar – you read that right), casino, etc. etc. etc.
My favorite neighborhood was the Boardwalk; it was just fun, exciting and had such youthful charm. A close second was, of course, Central Park. Central Park houses several specialty restaurants, Central Park Café (great for lunch), an incredible amount of live vegetation, several quaint seating areas and live music throughout the day/evening. My only gripe about central park is that since it’s mid-ship and on a low floor, there is little to no breeze, making it extremely hot during the day. The same goes for my favorite sun spot, the Solarium (adult only pool area); the Solarium has sections of covered glass, which is necessary considering it’s at the front of the ship. Without the glass, it would be ridiculously windy… however, the glass pretty much deters all breeze, turning the Solarium into a sauna. One really can’t complain when cruising through the Caribbean in JULY, though……
I was surprised and pleased with the amount of seating available on the ship. The Freedom and Liberty are smaller ships with less people and finding a chair by the pool, or anywhere for that matter, is constantly a hassle. This was not the case on the Allure. Even with over 6,000 passengers on board, I never had trouble finding a seat anywhere; the pools were easy, dining areas were easy, shows were easy (except the tiny comedy club) and there were plenty of tucked away seating areas available.
99% of the ship’s crew were attentive and went above and beyond whenever possible. I did feel like there were a few disgruntled employees, but you’re likely to find that anywhere. I also felt like the crew were more strict/had more rules than usual… but there ARE 6,300 passengers on the ship; they did an excellent job ensuring there was constant order. Our stateroom attendant, Marlon, was top notch – super friendly, very helpful an went out of his way to help us on multiple occasions. We also enjoyed our dining room staff (we chose My Time Dining, but had the same table each night): Sandra and Ilber. Though slow to warm up, which I attribute to language barriers, each night got better and better. Sandra gave her honest opinions of selected menu items, which was more than welcomed ;)
Our first stop was Labadee, Haiti. I’ve always liked Labadee because it’s quit and simple. We laid out in the shade under palm trees, I did a little open water swimming and we walked through the market. Our second stop was Falmouth, Jamaica, where we chose a zip-line course. Although we did a lot of standing around/waiting in line, the actual zip-lines were impressive. They were by far the longest traverses I’ve been on and at the greatest heights. I really wish I could’ve brought a camera with me, because the views were stunning! Our third stop was Cozumel, Mexico. Originally, we had no plans in Cozumel, but my dad talked us into kayaking and snorkeling. There wasn’t a ton to see under water, but the area was beautiful, the tour guides were friendly and we all had a really great time.
And that’ that. I distinctly remember saying on Day 2, “It’s only day two….” and then suddenly it was Day 7 and we were placing out bags in the hallway for the night. Time flew, as it always does on a cruise. And speaking of bags… finding my luggage was a nightmare. We waited out the crowds in the dining room during breakfast, leaving the ship way after our number had been called. My luggage was nowhere to be found. For whatever reason, it didn’t make it off the ship in its assigned group and ended up being one of the last bags off the ship. Not a major crisis, but slightly irritating.
Overall – fantastic vacation. I’d sail on the Allure again in a heartbeat… maybe next time the Oasis? Actually, we’re contemplating sailing from San Juan next Spring, which means a smaller ship.. but more/different ports of call. Time to start planning :)