Allure of the Seas 19 to 26 January 2020 St Maarten, San Juan and Coco Cay
This will be more information than narrative, which others have done MUCH BETTER.
Compass scans in B/W PDF format are attached.
Booking & Cabin: We booked AFT Boardwalk Balcony Category “I” (Cabin 11727 second from the end) when the bookings opened and prices only went up. There was some noticeable ship motion one day/evening and noticeable structural creaking and motion on Deck 11 – enough to worry DW. There was no objectionable noise from the Boardwalk but next time I’d book one of the “inside” Window Cabins above Central Park. We watched the large on-line TA’s and booked with one when they eventually offered free gratuities ($200) and some OBC ($50). Royal provided $75 OBC and the Boardwalk Soda/JR/Rock Climbing package which they subsequently withdrew and replaced with $50 OBC.
We used the Royal APP several weeks in advance to Check-In for Expedited Arrival and once aboard powered off and stashed the Cell Phones in the safe until exiting the terminal on Disembarkation. We didn’t use them for on-board communication, show times, etc.
Pre-Cruise Hotel & Dinner: We drove to Fort Lauderdale Saturday and booked the HI Express on 17th Street for pre-cruise night. We used IHG points, otherwise the Hotel was PRICEY – I believe our companions paid $300+ several months prior to the cruise. The HI Express recently added a Parking Garage , a new Tower with very nice rooms and a LARGE flat screen TV, a pool above the parking garage and a roomy breakfast area. There was the standard Express breakfast in a good-sized eating area.
Saturday Night we ate at about 6PM at Duffey’s Tavern just behind the Hotel. Walking distance, not yet crowded for the evening and a good menu, good food and pleasant service. There was a line when we left at 7:30 or so.
Off-Port Parking: Embarkation morning we had parking reservations ($70) at Park-N-Go – a pleasant, friendly organized inexpensive way to park and shuttle to ship. Drive to a tented unloading area, drivers unload luggage to the correct van, drive to port and drop-off at Luggage Drop-off. You do now have to be prepared to leave keys with the car as they tight pack them then unpack them the day of disembarkation. Make sure you grab a tag with the number to call after Disembarkation if there isn’t already a shuttle.
Expedited Arrival and Cabins: Expedited Arrival can be with the cell phone APP or with a printed Expedited Arrival Sea Pass. No one seemed concerned that several of our party were HOURS early. We arrived just before 11:30AM, were shown the Expedited Arrival Line, facial recognized, x-rayed, Embarkation photographed, passed BEHIND the check-in counters, briefly seated in the waiting area and aboard ship in maybe 30 minutes.
Most of the contraband “confiscated” on boarding for pick-up on Disembarkation was Surge Protectors (and a large plastic sword!).
Passageways to cabins opened promptly at 1:00PM. Luggage arrived sometime in the later afternoon. Our Attendant Germain (from Jamaica) was fantastic. He later mentioned he had 12 cabins and being Senior crew, he had a cabin to himself. We asked for Ice and 2 wine glasses each day.
In the cabin: There are additional outlets below the desk.
Keep the Balcony door handle DOWN, otherwise the A/C turns off.
Don’t turn off the Master Switch (the top switch) by the Bathroom.
The bathroom counter is SMALL.
Muster Station for the AFT Boardwalk cabins is the Aqua Theater. Most of the briefing was a cheezy JamesBond-like movie.
Embarkation Lunch: The Windjammer was crowded as was the Park Café and I believe the Solarium Café closed for the Kosherica (Yeshiva)group. We got salads and the signature Roast Beef sandwiches at the Park Café and ate at a table at the Trellis bar a short distance away.
Dining: We booked My Time Dining on Deck 3. We generally arrived around 6:30 and waited maybe 5-10 minutes. There are two lines: one for those who booked specific times and those arriving with no such “reservation” and a 3rd line just past the first two for larger groups. Service varied noticeably between the Server Teams Next time I think we’ll do the early assigned Dining with a consistent 5:30 time and a consistent table and staff.
We did not eat in any of the Specialty Restaurants. Next cruise I’m considering the Ultimate Dining Package, primarily based on Mr Fun in the Sun’s experiences with same.
The Dining room staff never specifically asked for 10’s, but several made it clear our satisfaction was important to their advancement. Interestingly, one of the post-cruise surveys asked which (if any) staff asked for 10’s.
The Windjammer is nicely laid-out in separate food stations,a decent food selection (I think Carnival has slightly larger selection and quality). The Staff are all friendly, helpful, and conversational. There’s actually plenty of seating if you venture to the far rear. There are two Windjammers with slightly different operating hours.
There’s a decent fresh made Ham & Cheese Omelet at Johnny Rockets on the Boardwalk (complimentary in the AM) and equally friendly, helpful, conversational staff. There are also complimentary donuts in the AM on the Boardwalk near the carousel.
There’s decent, thin-crust Pizza at Sorrentos and complimentary coffee, tea, cookies and pastries in the Promenade Café next to customer service.
The only bummer on the cruise was that the Solarium Café was apparently permanently assigned to the sizeable Kosherica (Yeshiva) group and wasn’t available for a uncrowded healthy breakfast or a convenient lunch in the Solarium.
Entertainment: Mama Mia! Was GREAT (albeit 2-1/2 hours).
The Aqua Show was cancelled the first nite for ship’s motion and we missed the re-scheduled show.
Headliners “3 Tenors” (from Las Vegas) were pretty good.
“Ice Games” and “Blue Planet” were so-so, altho this is second time we’ve seen them.
Billy Panda pianist packed the Schooner, standing room only, bar nightly.
The three comedians Simeon Kirkiks, Al Romas and Stephen Thomas were all very funny and minimally crude. There’s a final show, no reservations required, in Studio B with plenty of seating.
A Chicago Band “Seventh Heaven” (and followers) were on board and put on GREAT shows in the Amber Theater, Dazzles, Studio B and the Aqua Theater.
Karaoke in On-Air on the Promenade seemed a best-seller and was always well attended. There were several “Family Karaoke” nites where the kids could perform.
The 70’s Disco Street Party in the Promenade was quite energetic.
BINGO was EXPENSIVE.
It seemed that all the signature/menu drinks were $13. This trip I tried (and embraced for the remainder of the trip) Old Fashioned made with Hennessey.
ST MAARTEN: I don’t see that there’s anything special about St Maarten – this is the 2nd time we’ve visited there. I do feel for the people, there were still signs of hurricane damage. We took the water Taxi ($7pp roundtrip with a wristband) to the Boardwalk and walked to Holland House where they had no Loungers - GET THERE EARLIER!!! ($25 for 2 nice PADDED Loungers + Umbrella + 4 drinks + Wi+FI + Bathroom and a nice café on the boardwalk) then ended up at the Blue ***** Bar ($15 for two strapped loungers + Umbrella) – there WAS a DJ and pleasant staff and a bar on the beach. Note this is a large Bay not an Ocean beach.
SAN JUAN: San Juan was substituted for St Thomas some time ago for Allure propulsion problems. 7AM to 1PM port time doesn’t leave much port time. The ship provides a street map. We walked aimlessly looking for souvenirs, We did stumble across the Chocolate Café and Raices, both very near the ship, but didn’t stop. Remember that both nearby forts are National Parks with entrance fees, so bring your senior Park Passes.
Coco Cay: No more tendering at Coco Cay, which is NICE. The island is now built-up and IMO a bit commercialized – I’d prefer a beach and BBQ. The BBQ area near us was large, covered, plenty of seating, Chicken, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Tacos and Salads, and drinks dispensers.
Bathrooms were nice, large, air conditioned and clean and maintained.
The later you get off ship, the further you have to walk for loungers and the further you are from the water. There’s Snorkel and Kayak rentals and some excursions. There’s a shopping area with a number of souvenir “Shacks” manned by workers from nearby islands. We came with blazing sun and departed with rain clouds. .
TIPS: We tipped as follows :
$2 each way to the Park-N-Go shuttle driver
$10 for 2 heavy suitcases to the port porter
$1 each way on the Water Taxi in Philipsburg
$40 to our cabin attendant on the last night (he mentioned he has 12 cabins so you can do the math!!!)
Disembarkation: Breakfast was Available at the Deck 3 Dining Room, JR’s and Windjammer I think until 8:30AM. At 8AM the Windjammer wasn’t all that crowded.
The Aft Boardwalk cabins met in the Deck 5 Dining Room and exited thru the Promenade. We were off by 10AM, luggage was easily located by departure zone signs, there were no customs forms just a Facial Scan and breeze thru empty Customs booths. The Park-N-Go shuttle was waiting in the Shuttle area.
ALLURE Compass Day 1.pdf ALLURE Compass Day 2.pdf ALLURE Compass Day 3.pdf ALLURE Compass Day 4.pdf ALLURE Compass Day 5.pdf ALLURE Compass Day 6.pdf ALLURE Compass Day 7.pdf ALLURE Miscellaneous.pdf ALLURE Excursions.pdf Booking Info.pdf