Thursday, December 26, 2013

Allure of the Seas Cruise Recap


OMG, there almost aren't words to describe how amazing Allure of the Seas is. From Sunday, December 8th to Sunday, December 15th we boarded Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas which left out of Ft. Lauderdale. To date, it is the world's largest cruise ship. (Even the new one they are building won't be bigger). It is absolutely massive but incredible. I had seen pictures and read about it and saw videos, but until you are actually ON it, you really just can't comprehend it. I'm not even sure I actually fully saw everything. Not really sure how to recap the entire week and not write a novel but here goes nothing.

The ports of call were: Nassau, Bahamas; St. Thomas; and St. Maarten. We barely left the ship for Nassau, except to get EM a Christmas Ornament (we're collecting them for her own tree) and myself a pair of sunglasses since I broke mine. We've been there a bajillion times and just decided to enjoy the ship instead since it was our first time on it and there was so much to see and do. While docked in Nassau, the crew did a safety drill and while lowering a life boat, something happened with the cable/wire and they were unable to get the lifeboat back up. I guess it's good they do drills and this happened during a drill and not a real emergency. However because of this, they had to get special permission as to what to do with the lifeboat and this caused us to stay in Nassau for a a few extra hours. (Since the ship was under capacity and they have more than enough lifeboats, they decided to leave the lifeboat behind in Nassau)
my only pic from Nassau since I forgot my camera while we were out

the view of Nassau while out on my run on the track
Because of this delay, we arrived in St. Thomas 3 hours late. This bummed us out because we were unable to go to the beach and shopping so we decided to just shop, get some food, and find a wifi area to re-connect and catch up on the world. I had a few Island beers while out shopping and some great shrimp that they lit on fire! The cruise line credited us $200 for the 3 hour delay (everyone got a credit of various amount depending on the type of room and how many people were in it). I think that was a very generous compensation for 3 hours. If I hadn't been to St. Thomas before, I may have been more upset because you couldn't really see all that much in the few hours we were there, but having been there on my honeymoon, I was ok with just hanging around town.
in front of the ship at St. Thomas
In St. Maarten, we started the day by running the Royal 5k, then decided to go explore the French side of the country, and went to Marigot. It wasn't very exciting at all, just a small town with not much to see but a few vendors in a straw market and it was super hot walking around. We stopped for a bite to eat before heading back to the port area. I got some really good goat cheese bruschetta and that was my highlight on the French side. I'll stick to the Dutch side from then on. Once back to the Dutch side, we hung out in the area near the port (which the Royal 5k ran through earlier in the day) where it's shopping/bars on one side and the beach on the other. We stopped for a quick dip in the ocean, a few more beers, and just hung out before heading back to the ship. Next time, I'm just picking a spot on that beach and calling it a day. Last time we were in St. Maarten, we went Zip Lining (which was also on the French Side) which was pretty fun, but to me, more scary (I'm scared of heights) than fun so I don't have a desire to do it again.

on the beach in St. Maarten

Ok, on to the ship...

One of the first things we did was go on the Zip Line. We figured it'd probably have a long line at other times on the ship, (although it never really did that we noticed). It didn't look very long, and it really wasn't, but it was pretty high up and me being scared of heights, it was scary enough! I did go on it 2 times though. In addition to the Zip Line they had 2 Flow Riders (surf simulators) and 2 rock climbing walls. We didn't do either of those, but have on other ships, and they are always a good time. They also had mini-golf that we didn't play either. We did however go ice skating and played some ping pong. There was also a sports court with basketball and volleyball and on another deck, a running track. They had a full gym as well, but I only worked out once and I chose the track (only 7.5 laps to make a 5k). G said the gym was really nice as well though.

the zip line
playing Ping Pong
ice skating

One of my favorite things (especially for EM) was the Carousel! One of the areas on the ship is called the Boardwalk and they have a Carousel, balloon guy, face painting, hot dog stand (with EVERY kind of hot dog imaginable), doughnut shop, etc (all the things I named were free of charge plus they had some things they charged for as well). EM loved the Carousel. She probably went on it 6 times and every time ooh'ed and aah'ed as the animal went up and down and round and round. Also great for EM was the Fischer Price Royal Toys Play Area. It was pretty much a large room with a ton of toys in it that was designated for babies/toddlers under 3. It was perfect for EM and we took her there for at least an hour or two each day so she could crawl around since majority of the the time she was sitting on a lap or in a stroller. There was also a designated baby splash pool. This was also specific for babies/toddlers who were not toilet trained. They were very strict about us not going in any other pool/splash area/hot tub since she was in a diaper. And not just any diaper, she HAD to be in a swim diaper. They were annoying about it, but if I was without a child and the pool got closed because a baby pooped in the pool, I'd be pissed, so I guess I understand. The baby splash pool had about 2 inches of water and lots of colorful things shooting water out. EM loved it! In addition to the baby pools there were a bunch of other pools including the Solarium (adult only) area. I walked through it once to see what it looked like and it was very nice and relaxing. We hung out at the one Beach Pool on our last sea day. It was nice to be able to sit and be in a few inches of water (perfect for EM) and not need to be completely in the pool. We did eventually get kicked out of the pool though because of EM not being toilet trained (after us being there for like 5 hours).

see all the toys!

we took a quick dip in the infinity hot tub


the beach pool



The entertainment was phenomenal. I've been on a ton of ships, and nothing compares. Most of the times, I don't even go to most of the shows anymore because they all "seem the same".  Hearing that this ship had new shows, we decided to book them all. Yes, you could make advance reservations, and pretty much if you didn't have reservations, you most likely weren't getting into the shows. (I was warned so we booked early). We also found out the hard way that they would give up your reservation to people on "Stand by" if you didn't arrive 15 minutes early. Because of that we did miss the comedy show. We were 2 minutes after the start of the show, and it was a small venue, so we lost our spot. We didn't try very hard to get into a later showing of it though as usually the jokes are repeats but sometimes they are funny. Can't tell you about this one. We did make it into the musical "Chicago". I never knew what this was about going into it, but it was awesome! It was such a great show and they didn't change the script at all (some bad language/sexual innuendoes). I'd definitely compare it to a true Broadway performance! They also had a Aqua Theater. I got to witness a little bit of the performers during one of the Crown and Anchor events held there but unfortunately wasn't feeling well so I missed the actual show which was called Oceanaria. G went to it though and said it was incredible and his favorite show of all. I also chose to skip the ice show "Ice Games" (I was having too much fun drinking at the pool) but G went to that and said it was also really good too. I loved that they had a bunch of Dreamworks characters out and about to take pictures with as well since EM loved them!


see how excited she was!

Back in the day, I felt like all the cruise ship food was ahhhmazing. Nowadays, it's all still very good, but not quite the same. Maybe I just got spoiled but most people tend to agree that things have changed. The Allure DID have more options for complementary dining which were still good, but we always try at least one of the specialty dining restaurants.  Nowadays most ships have one or two "specialty dining restaurants" which cost extra but the food is also better. Allure had like ten to choose from. We ended up going to two, only because our travel agent (AAA) gave us a free one and we had a BOGO coupon for the other. We did Chops Grille (steakhouse) and Giovanni's Table (family-style italian) - both were ahhhmazingly delicious! I hate to spend extra on dinner when it's already included for free but I do recommend splurging at least once per trip, you won't regret it!

We did spend as much time as possible in the Diamond Lounge for our free drinks each night (had to take turns since EM wasn't really allowed in there - unless there was no one really in there and sometimes the people didn't care) and that is always a very nice perk to have 3.5 hours of free drinks!

One night G's parents took EM so that we could "go out" and we chose to go to the casino. I loved that this Casino was so huge that they had a smoking and non-smoking side. Made it much more enjoyable! We also both won some money (not much, but anything is better than losing), which was a nice change since we both lost money on the last cruise. We didn't stay out late that night though because it was the night before the Royal 5k. We were going to put her in the Adventure Ocean (day-care) program one night as well so we could "go out" again but I ended up falling asleep anyways so we didn't use them. It's nice that they have that option and it's not too badly priced (I think it was $8/hr). (I also just learned that they also have babysitters that will come to your stateroom, which is a little bit more pricey).

We only had an interior stateroom (the cheapest type room you could get) but compared to some of the older ships, it was very nicely done with a ton of storage and the bed was pretty comfy too. Although, when you throw a pack in play in there, it was pretty crowded. Our friends had a balcony overlooking the boardwalk and we were able to see some of Oceanaria from their balcony and our inlaws had a balcony over the ocean. Neither of the balcony rooms seemed much larger than ours and I personally love the inside rooms because they are super dark so you sleep good in them (at least I do!). Although It was nice to sit on the balcony overlooking the ocean one morning while drinking mimosas! (and the balcony was kid-safe, no openings or bars/completely closed in with glass from about 3.5 ft down)

For having as many people onboard as there was (although we were not at full capacity), there was never really too much crowding or too long of waits/lines for anything. I have heard others complain about the larger ships and lines due to SO MANY people. Maybe we got lucky, or maybe they worked out the kinks, regardless I was happy with all the service we received. We also took a bajillon pictures plus bought their unlimited picture package so we made sure to get our money's worth. One night we even all went out in Christmas PJ's for fun photos and laughs!






There really is SO much more to say, but I think this sums it up well. The ship is incredible and I can't wait to go back on it (maybe once EM and a future child are out of diapers so we don't get kicked out of the pools lol). It is definitely more expensive than some other ships that go to the same places because you are paying for all these "extras", but it was 100% worth it.


Have you been on Allure (or sister ship, Oasis) of the Seas? Did you love it as much as we did?









5 comments:

  1. Now I really can't wait to go on it!

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  2. wow, it sounds amazing. the kids' areas and pools look awesome, plus having a carousel on board?! wow! I would definitely do the same not going out much at all in nassau having been there once already. $200 is a great reward for being late to st. thomas! my ship had to turn around once and we docked late the next morning, all we got was free drinks!

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    Replies
    1. I definitely thought it was fair compensation for a few hour delay. The ship is so incredible, it really is so hard to describe! I hard read about it and saw videos but the you get on board and it blows you away!

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