Posted June 13th, 2012, 04:00 PM
Last edited by terpfan101; June 13th, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Since I forgot to add a little background about myself above, I am 26 years old from the DC area and am an accountant. So by nature I am very detail oriented and most definitely a planner. Continuing on with the review...My apologies for the lack of pictures and TONS of words in this post...I promise more of the former and less of the latter (I'll try on that one) in subsequent posts. Also ask any questions along the way and I'll be sure to answer them.
I don't know why but I've always been fascinated by cruises, well at least for the last 5-10 years. My first cruise ever was after graduating high school in 2004 and was on the Navigator of the Seas with my family, my first cousin's family, and grandmother. I had a great time on that cruise (we all did) but surprisingly that was the only cruise I would take until deciding to go on one with my girlfriend just this past August which was on the Enchantment of the Seas. Ever since I heard about the Oasis class of ships being built back when I was a college student, I've been amazed at the design and feature and knew that I wanted to cruise on one at some point in my life.
Anyway, my girlfriend Lindsay (see picture of us below from our Enchantment cruise last year) and I began to discuss vacation options for 2012 back in the fall of 2011. A cruise was definitely a consideration but I hadn't thought too much about the Oasis/Allure. I can't remember when it first occurred for me to consider those ships, but it probably had something to do with reading the above mentioned reviews. We eventually settled on the Allure of the Seas on June 3rd as it would be a few weeks after she graduated from grad school with a masters degree in speech language pathology. A sort of celebratory graduation cruise if you will.
I booked the cruise in the final days of December 2011 after getting a deal from an online travel agent for the particular sailing of $275 in OBC. Having experienced a balcony on my first cruise and an interior cabin on the Enchantment, I knew that I'd be perfectly content with an interior, especially on the Oasis class which had so much to do that I couldn't foresee spending too much time in my cabin. A few months after booking the cruise however I started getting the urge to upgrade if the prices dropped and started to see that the cruise wasn't selling too well. I began to religiously track the number of available cabins once a day which took about 5 minutes each day and monitoring the prices around final payment time.
Keep in mind throughout this time I was planning excursions, show reservations, and specialty dining...I will touch on that during my review for those areas of the cruise
Sometime in February I had a slight hiccup with the whole process. I had booked our flights on JetBlue through Chase Ultimate Rewards program using credit card points in early January. I had thought that the time of the flight said it departed from Washington Dulles at 7:55AM and arrived at about 10:30AM in FLL. I also must have ignored that on my confirmation email. In February I received a phone call from JetBlue advising me to call about a change in my flight's schedule. Upon logging into the website I saw that the flight time was now leaving at 1PM or so and arriving at 4PM in FLL. I freaked out and then was even more perplexed upon seeing that the flight was initially supposed to be after I needed to arrive in FLL!! Well I called JetBlue and the wonderful customer service agent was able to change my flight to whenever I wanted at no charge (the fare had risen slightly since I booked for the 8AM flight) since the flight changed by several hours. Phewwww thankfully crisis #1 averted. More on crisis #2 in a future post!
In late March after final payment prices dropped new guarantees opened. An oceanview guarantee (category Y) was the same cost that I paid, but I hesitated due to not wanting to receive a category I which is exclusively on deck 3. Then a few weeks later category XN and X opened up at $100 more total and $225 more total than I paid for my interior. Additionally category Y dropped in price so that it was actually $200 cheaper total than I paid. I knew I wouldn't get a refund or OBC but at that point decided to roll the dice with the oceanview guarantee and hope prices dropped a bit more on the category X and XN.
Anyway I called my TA to upgrade to the category Y and was astonished when she came back and said that I'd be receiving $200 back as a refund since the price was less (but that I'd get $100 less in OBC). I later learned from my actual TA rep that I got a refund because the TA had booked through a group rate. Never heard of getting money back after final payment but I was happy. (Has anyone else heard of this??) Well this caused the dilemma of now having to upgrade to a balcony and paying significantly more so I kept watching for the price drops. I was assigned a category I oceanview on deck 3 which I wasn't too excited by but figured I'd hardly be in the stateroom anyway.
I later learned upon seeing my credit card statement that I actually received closer to $400 as a refund (don't know why but guessing again due to the group rate). So at that point I pretty much gave up hope of upgrading as it'd easily cost close to $600+. Well sure enough prices on those two balcony guarantees never dropped below what they were at first and so I couldn't justify upgrading from my reduced fare. About five days before my sail date I logged in and noticed that I was upgraded to an oceanview balcony (category D5). I was very excited. An oceanview balcony in June on the Allure for a hair under $2,000?!? It was certainly my lucky cruise (unfortunately this didn't carry over to the casino)! I began to pack and get last minute things in the final few days and we were all set to go.
Up next: Flight to FLL, embarkation, and first impressions of the ship.
Navigator of the Seas - Eastern Caribbean (7/2004)
Enchantment of the Seas - Bermuda (8/2011)
Allure of the Seas - Western Caribbean (6/2012) Picture Review