Allure of the Seas Review 8th September - Western Caribbean

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#1
London
2,586 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Is anyone interested in me doing a review of my cruise? I know I did a live review, but can do a post-review if needed.
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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2104491 Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas Cruise Review

http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2099162 Live Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas 2014

http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1917158 - Cruise Review - Allure of the Seas 2013
http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1911250 Live Review - Allure of the Seas - September 2013

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10-24-2009 (24th October 2009) Liberty of the Seas, 09-09-2012 (9th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-16-2012 (16th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-08-2013 (8th September 2013) Allure of the Seas, 09-13-2014 (13th September 2014) Oasis of the Seas.
#4
London
2,586 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Before reading this review, please have a look at my Live review at http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1911250.

To get started on this review, some blurb about me.

I am from London (aka, from across the pond) and am a solo traveller. My main interests are around photography and IT. This cruise was an opportunity for me to go to the Everglades to see some Alligators. I was hoping to see the Flamingo Gardens as well as part of my pre-cruise entertainment. I will explain what happened later on.

I am a Type 2 Diabetic Vegetarian and am on a number of tablets plus Insulin. Also, I don't drive. I live a restrictive life!!!

I rarely go on holiday, probably once a decade, if I am lucky.....until about 4 years ago when I went on my first cruise on the Largest ship of its time, the Liberty of the Seas (well it was the largest ship until the Oasis of the Seas set sail a week later) to celebrate a friends 40th Birthday. Whilst I was in a group of 28 people, I did my own thing, and only met up with the group at Dinner time, and the occasional social meetup in the on-board pub.... but I still count the experience as a Solo Cruiser.

Since then, I have cruised on the Allure of the Seas Back to Back and the immediate past Allure cruise to the Western Caribbean as a true solo traveller with no friends, no family and <deep Jamaican voice> no worries.

So back to the cruise I am reviewing. The I booked the package... Flights, Transfers, Hotel and Cruise. I don't want the hassle of doing things separate, and wanted the additional protection from ABTA (http://abta.com/) and ATOL (http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=27). Yes, I could have saved money and done things separately and done indirect flights, etc. But it is a personal choice.

Originally, I had booked a Balcony (in the same room as I did the B2B on Deck 6 - Near the Vitality Spa). After some gentle persuasion from the Roll Call, I upgraded to JS on Deck 7. (Ok, I wanted the Double Points so that I can get Platinum, rather than be 1 point away from being Platinum before my next cruise... yep... OCD!). I was happy and content with going with a JS, until I was persuaded yet again (by jealousy) by others on the Roll Call who upgraded to GS and above. I had a choice of 3 floors. Deck 9, Deck 14 and one other deck (can't remember which one). This was turning out to be an expensive holiday before I set foot on the Plane!!

I arrived into Miami Airport (From London Heathrow) on the 5th September at around 3:30pm and got through security by around 4:30pm (some quick walking was required to beat most of the queue at immigration). The set sail date was for the 8th September 2013. I wanted to spend a couple of days in Fort Lauderdale doing some sightseeing.

I stayed in the Embassy Suites on 17th Street. (I didn't want to stay in Hilton Marina again. Didn't like the service, and wanted to experience the Embassy that everyone was raving about!).

After I checked in, and put my luggage in my room, I went to the Concierge in main reception to ask about doing some excursions in Fort Lauderdale. I asked about the Flamingo Gardens and some Airboat ride (plus some bird spotting) at the nearby reserve. However, the plans were altered due to the high taxi costs.

I was persuaded to go to the Everglades Safari Park by the hotel. The price quoted was $189. I was too late to book, as it was some time after 5pm before I managed to get a booking. So I decided to go on the Jungle Queen river cruise to see Fort Lauderdale and see some wildlife and Alligators. I will explain what happened on Day 2 in the next post.

As it was too late to do any sightseeing, and as I was a bit hungry, I wanted something to eat. I asked the concierge if there was an Italian restaurant nearby that catered vegetarians. I was directed to Bravos, near Renaissance and Hilton Marina. The food was good and enjoyable. I had a free entre (as a result of the hotel giving me a voucher). The service was good. Only complaint was the restaurant was a little quiet. That can be a good thing, and a bad thing. A good thing in that the service is quick. A bad thing that as not many people were around, I wondered what the reputation was like at the restaurant. However, as it was off season, I will give the restaurant the benefit of doubt. Anyway the food was good, the service was good. I would recommend this location for any pre-cruise dinner (either private or as part of the Roll Call dinner).

That's all for right now. Any questions about the Hotel, Flight, Shuttle, etc. leading up to this point, please let me know. Any cruise related questions, please hold back until I get to the cruise bit of the review.
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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2104491 Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas Cruise Review

http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2099162 Live Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas 2014

http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1917158 - Cruise Review - Allure of the Seas 2013
http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1911250 Live Review - Allure of the Seas - September 2013

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10-24-2009 (24th October 2009) Liberty of the Seas, 09-09-2012 (9th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-16-2012 (16th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-08-2013 (8th September 2013) Allure of the Seas, 09-13-2014 (13th September 2014) Oasis of the Seas.
#5
Las Vegas, NV
508 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
yes please
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Christine

Previous Cruises:
Disney Wonder - Nov 2005
Monarch of the Seas - May 2006
Disney Magic - Nov 2007
Disney Magic - June 2008
Disney Magic - Nov 2008
Oasis of the Seas - Nov 2010
Disney Wonder - Jan 2011
Disney Dream - Nov 2011
Allure of the Seas - Nov 2013
Disney Magic - Oct 2014

Future Cruises:
Freedom of the Seas - Nov 2016
#6
London
2,586 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
The hotel.

Below is the shot from the outside, the fountain, the view from just outside my room, both areas inside the room and the view from the Balcony.











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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2104491 Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas Cruise Review

http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2099162 Live Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas 2014

http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1917158 - Cruise Review - Allure of the Seas 2013
http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1911250 Live Review - Allure of the Seas - September 2013

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10-24-2009 (24th October 2009) Liberty of the Seas, 09-09-2012 (9th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-16-2012 (16th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-08-2013 (8th September 2013) Allure of the Seas, 09-13-2014 (13th September 2014) Oasis of the Seas.
#7
London
2,586 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Day 2 (Pre Cruise).

So I survived dinner from the night before. I think I was a little late for cocktail night, but can't remember. However, if you don't drink, they have fruit punch and soft drinks available. From what I hear from other people, their cocktail nights include all alcohol. And tipping is allowed. (I know.... another tipping post!!!).

Anyway, back to Day 2. The plan of action was to do the Jungle Queen river cruise first and look at going to Flamingo Gardens. Well, when I got to the port, I found out that the Jungle Queen morning outings were cancelled for the whole of September (as it is low season). Boo hooo!! So what to do before the afternoon sailing. Well, I looked up and down the pier and asked questions. One person had the cheek to quote me $100 per hour for a private tour. I found a Glass Bottom Tour boat tour available and decided to take that, as it was 3 hours and would get me back in time for the Jungle Queen River Cruise.

Below is a GPS Map for where I took most of my images from



Whilst I waited for the Glass Bottom Boat trip, I took some pictures of the local attractions.

Green Heron.



Swordfish?


A Pigeon?



A Baby Crow (I think)

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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2104491 Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas Cruise Review

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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1917158 - Cruise Review - Allure of the Seas 2013
http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1911250 Live Review - Allure of the Seas - September 2013

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10-24-2009 (24th October 2009) Liberty of the Seas, 09-09-2012 (9th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-16-2012 (16th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-08-2013 (8th September 2013) Allure of the Seas, 09-13-2014 (13th September 2014) Oasis of the Seas.
#8
atlanta
5,542 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
Looking pretty good so far.... Thanks for sharing.
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Have a great day!

Sam & Martha
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#9
London
2,586 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
The Glass Bottom and Snorkel Boat ride.



I didn't go on this trip for the snorkelling, but to see what I can see in the Glass bottom. Unfortunately, when the boat stopped at the Corals, I fell sick, and when it started to go back, I fell sick again. The trip goes from the same port as the Jungle Queen and costs around $25 to $30 per person. (I think kids are slightly discounted).

All I can say is, at least the fish got fed.

If you do go on a snorkelling boat ride, my advice is to take some sickness tablets. This excursion was unplanned, so I didn't take the tablets at the time.

The below shot is taken from the boat when it was a few miles out from the port.



If I hadn't fallen sick, I would have taken some more fish shots.



Overall, I would recommend this excursion, if you have some time to spare pre-cruise. If you are making your own way back to the airport after the cruise, and you have lots of time to spare (i.e. the flight is in the evening), you may want to look at this excursion. The website is http://www.seaxp.com/. I think you get around 45 minutes to 1 hour to snorkel, and you get to do a mini tour of all the expensive houses and boats on the way to the Atlantic.

Next post, the Jungle Queen.
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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2104491 Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas Cruise Review

http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2099162 Live Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas 2014

http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1917158 - Cruise Review - Allure of the Seas 2013
http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1911250 Live Review - Allure of the Seas - September 2013

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10-24-2009 (24th October 2009) Liberty of the Seas, 09-09-2012 (9th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-16-2012 (16th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-08-2013 (8th September 2013) Allure of the Seas, 09-13-2014 (13th September 2014) Oasis of the Seas.
#10
London
2,586 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
The Jungle Queen experience.

Whilst my original plan to go to the Flamingo Gardens and the Everglades Sawgrass Recreation Park didn't go to plan (would have cost over $200 to get there, and most of it would have been down to travel costs), the Jungle Queen was the next best option. If you have your own transport (whether it's your own car or a hired car), you may want to have a look at these 2 combinations. However, bear in mind that Flamingos are not native to Florida. The websites are http://evergladestours.com/_index.php and http://www.flamingogardens.org/.


So back to Plan B. The Jungle Queen tour was my first choice for my Plan B, but as September was low season, the first sailing was cancelled for the whole of September. The Glass bottom tour (See previous post) was arranged and I made it back on time to do the Jungle Queen tour in the afternoon.



There are a number of bridges on the way to the Alligator show, and a number of posh houses and yachts / boats. Typical costs of the houses / boats are around $750,000 to a few million dollars. Some places occupies some famous people (or at least they used to.



This is the Yacht graveyard. Where some people lose their prized possession because they failed to keep themselves financially afloat.





Could this be the most expensive vessel on the river?



The local railway making way for the boat.

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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2104491 Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas Cruise Review

http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2099162 Live Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas 2014

http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1917158 - Cruise Review - Allure of the Seas 2013
http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1911250 Live Review - Allure of the Seas - September 2013

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10-24-2009 (24th October 2009) Liberty of the Seas, 09-09-2012 (9th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-16-2012 (16th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-08-2013 (8th September 2013) Allure of the Seas, 09-13-2014 (13th September 2014) Oasis of the Seas.
#11
Chicago
733 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Can't wait to read the rest of your review. More pictures, please.
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Enchantment of the Seas 5/23/2016
Allure of the Seas 3/15/2015
Allure of the Seas 3/16/2014
Majesty of the Seas 5/21/2012
Serenade of the Seas 10/24/2010
Adventure of the Seas 3/8/2009
Adventure of the Seas 6/3/2003
Adventure of the Seas 3/8/2003



#12
London
2,586 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
The Alligator and Parrot park / attraction.

Apparently, this guy is a volunteer, and is unable to get medical insurance for what he does with the Alligators. If this is true, then either he is crazy or insane. I don't think he gets enough tips to make this worth his while.







I saw some parrots in cages. I can understand why they did that, but I would have preferred some form of aviary so that the Parrots could move around a bit more. But it is what it is.





After the show, the boat went back to the port where we boarded. There is a photo opportunity, but I didn't have my photos taken.
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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2104491 Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas Cruise Review

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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1917158 - Cruise Review - Allure of the Seas 2013
http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1911250 Live Review - Allure of the Seas - September 2013

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10-24-2009 (24th October 2009) Liberty of the Seas, 09-09-2012 (9th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-16-2012 (16th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-08-2013 (8th September 2013) Allure of the Seas, 09-13-2014 (13th September 2014) Oasis of the Seas.
#13
London
2,586 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Day 3. This is the highlight of my pre-cruise. My recommendation, if anyone wants to go, is to do this pre-cruise and book it yourself. It is the Everglades Day Safari. It includes an Airboat ride and a boat ride, plus a lot to do in between.

Below is the map of where my photos were taken. Like with any form of GPS navigation, the locations are approximate.



The excursion starts from the Hotel, where the tour guide will pick you up. There was a lot of commentary during the trip to the Airboat place.

My memory isn't good, so I cannot convey what was discussed (plus I would want you to experience this for yourself!!)

This is one of the many airboats that will take the passengers on the trip.



The main reason for going on this tour? To see this:



There were a few birds on the route as well.







Some of these birds I have never seen before, as they are not native or migrants to the UK. The heron is probably the closest thing I have seen in the UK, but I don't think I have seen one as big as shown in this review.
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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1917158 - Cruise Review - Allure of the Seas 2013
http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1911250 Live Review - Allure of the Seas - September 2013

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10-24-2009 (24th October 2009) Liberty of the Seas, 09-09-2012 (9th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-16-2012 (16th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-08-2013 (8th September 2013) Allure of the Seas, 09-13-2014 (13th September 2014) Oasis of the Seas.
#14
London
2,586 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
I saw these birds on the airboat ride:





and plenty of dragonflies as well.



Well that covers the Airboat ride. If you want to see more of the wildlife and the Alligators, there's your queue to do the excursion.

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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1917158 - Cruise Review - Allure of the Seas 2013
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10-24-2009 (24th October 2009) Liberty of the Seas, 09-09-2012 (9th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-16-2012 (16th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-08-2013 (8th September 2013) Allure of the Seas, 09-13-2014 (13th September 2014) Oasis of the Seas.
#15
United States
13,909 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
Did you say hi to the bridge operators? Amazing...all one family

I've done the dinner cruise on that boat...the dinner was surprisingly excellent. Had not expected such a feast on their "island" Your review is great. I live in the area, nice to see some of the flavor of the area in such nice photos.
#16
London
2,586 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Originally posted by LMaxwell
Did you say hi to the bridge operators? Amazing...all one family

I've done the dinner cruise on that boat...the dinner was surprisingly excellent. Had not expected such a feast on their "island" Your review is great. I live in the area, nice to see some of the flavor of the area in such nice photos.
Sadly, I didn't. I was on the bottom deck, so that I could get an eye level view of some of the sights. If I ever do the Jungle Queen again, I will try and sit on the top deck and wave to the operators.

Thanks for your comment, it is appreciated. I hope I have not set myself up for a big fall, and hope this review delivers.

If I had the time, I would have done their feast, but I had other plans for the evening.
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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2104491 Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas Cruise Review

http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2099162 Live Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas 2014

http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1917158 - Cruise Review - Allure of the Seas 2013
http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1911250 Live Review - Allure of the Seas - September 2013

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10-24-2009 (24th October 2009) Liberty of the Seas, 09-09-2012 (9th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-16-2012 (16th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-08-2013 (8th September 2013) Allure of the Seas, 09-13-2014 (13th September 2014) Oasis of the Seas.
#18
London
2,586 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
I think we made our way from the airboat ride towards lunch, via a diversion.

The turtle below was rescued and placed safely. Apparently, this is the way to pick up such a turtle. The shots below were taken between the first boat ride, and the 2nd boat ride.



Could this be the smallest Post Office in the USA?



Some small lizard.





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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=2104491 Cruise Review - Oasis of the Seas Cruise Review

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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1917158 - Cruise Review - Allure of the Seas 2013
http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1911250 Live Review - Allure of the Seas - September 2013

Upcoming Cruises



Completed Cruises

10-24-2009 (24th October 2009) Liberty of the Seas, 09-09-2012 (9th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-16-2012 (16th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-08-2013 (8th September 2013) Allure of the Seas, 09-13-2014 (13th September 2014) Oasis of the Seas.
#19
United States
13,909 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
Originally posted by novicetraveller
Thanks for your comment, it is appreciated. I hope I have not set myself up for a big fall, and hope this review delivers.
I have seen reviews that were literally nothing but food and drink pictures; couldn't tell you if they were on a ship, hotel, or where in the world. I've seen other reviews that were only about the ports, never a photo of the ship. I've seen reviews that were only about the ship. People see different things and capture them differently. It's all about unique perspectives.

Yours is giving a good taste of your entire experience so far and is enjoyable too. I'm booked for this itinerary on this ship in a few months, so the insight is particularly useful in my instance.
#20
London
2,586 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Originally posted by voyager70
Gorgeous pics, novicetraveller. Thanks for sharing. That wildlife is stunning. Do feel bad for the birds in cages, though.
Thanks for the comments. Sadly, it is what it is. I understand why they are in the cages, as it is one of the attractions of the park, but I don't agree with it.
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http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1917158 - Cruise Review - Allure of the Seas 2013
http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com....php?t=1911250 Live Review - Allure of the Seas - September 2013

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10-24-2009 (24th October 2009) Liberty of the Seas, 09-09-2012 (9th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-16-2012 (16th September 2012) Allure of the Seas, 09-08-2013 (8th September 2013) Allure of the Seas, 09-13-2014 (13th September 2014) Oasis of the Seas.