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Sunny AZ Girl

The Arizona Cruisers Invade the Allure of the Seas, April 28, 2013 ~ A Pictorial Revi

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“I’ll NEVER cruise on such a big ship!” I do believe those were my words when the news of the Oasis Class ships was announced several years ago. So now, here I am not only eating my words, but enjoying every bite.

 

Before I begin let me explain who I am and how I was brought to this tasty state of affairs. I am a 60 year old wife and mother who also works full time as a Respiratory Therapist. I live in the SE suburbs of Phoenix with my hubby Steve who is 63 years old. He is “semi-retired” and also working to develop his own sales rep business after many years in his industry. We are both active members of what I believe is the most wonderful group of people ever to come out of Cruise Critic – the Arizona Cruisers.

 

So, just who are the Arizona Cruisers you may ask? We started as a regular thread right here on Cruise Critic with someone asking what other people from Arizona do to prepare for a cruise. Fast forward several years (I really can’t remember how long we have all been together) and we now have a forum set up on the “Friends of Cruise Critic” section of the boards. Here many of us meet almost every day to discuss not only our past and future cruises but mostly our every day lives. We laugh together, plan together, party together, cry together and pray together. We exchange recipes, have parties several times a year and create real and lasting friendships. There are many who have joined our group. Newcomers are always welcome! Some become very involved and others just pop in now and then to say “hi”. Everyone is welcome, and we rejoice when someone new gets really involved.

 

A little over a year ago several of us started talking about cruising together once again. I had been on cruises with Arizona Cruiser friends in the past – once on the Radiance and once on the Mariner. We have learned over the years that the best memories are those made with friends and family. So, we always try to convince those we care about to join us when we want to cruise. Five couples from the Arizona Cruisers including us found a lovely Princess cruise that we thought would be perfect. Keep in mind, that we are ALL Cruise Critic regulars. We are ALL planners, ALL experienced cruisers and we ALL have definite ideas of what we want in a cruise, so that was no easy task!

 

We were beginning to plan and prepare in the eager manner that every good CC addict plans and prepares when they book a new cruise when Princess pulled out the rug from under us and cancelled the cruise! It was still a little over a year before our cruise was to begin, but it was still enormously disappointing. Princess was moving the ship to Europe early so no later date was possible. I have to insert here that this wonderful group of people were working their cruise around my available dates. Because of work restrictions I can only take a vacation of a week or more from the last week of April through the first week of November. So with that in mind we were on the hunt for another cruise.

 

It took a few days, but we were diligent and found the one ship and the itinerary on which we could all agree. The Allure of the Seas, Eastern Caribbean ~ April 38, 2013. So let the party begin!

 

Here are the five of us girls at our first "Planning Party" back in October. Pictured from left to right are me (Sunny AZ Girl), Lisa (AZ Karaoke Girl), Norine (Quilting Queen), Laura (Arizona Laura) and Sue (Az's Cruising Nana)

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And here are our DH's who we let come along for the ride!:D

(Norine's Gene, my Steve, Laura's Gene, Lisa's Steve and Sue's Audie)

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April 38th? Is that may 8th? Hehe.

 

Oops!:o It is April 28th. Fingers are apparently typing faster than my brain is working. Time for bed apparently. At least I got the date right in my title.:)

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Looking forward to your review. It will help get me through the next week till we board. :)

Bill

 

 

Sent from my Kindle Fire HD using Tapatalk 2

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I am an Arizona Cruiser, but didn't go on this group cruise, hopefully next time!!

 

Ginny, can't wait to see the rest....HURRY!!! :D ;)

 

***

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The next few months went by quickly. It soon became apparent that this cruise was going to be more about the ship than the ports, which is opposite of my regular cruising style. I had been to all of the ports before and was looking forward to visiting them again, but nothing in the itinerary really excited me. But the more I read reviews on the ship the more I anticipated the journey. In the meantime we added three more people to our numbers as Laura’s friends Jerry & Sheila joined us and Norine’s friend Charlotte also joined the group. So now we were 13 strong!

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Soon after the holidays we were able to start reserving the onboard Specialty Restaurants. Sue, Laura and I quickly reserved the Allure Choice package which at the time included Chops, Samba Grill and Giovanni’s. A few days later the package changed to include Izumi’s and the price jumped quite a bit. We were able to get the package for $55 pp and it went up to $80 pp. Since none of us were really interested in Izumi those of us who had already booked felt as if we got a bargain. Lisa and Norine decided to just pick and choose the places where they would join us.

 

I want to emphasize now that one of the really nice things about cruising with a group is the ability of being together without all having to do the same things all the time. So, whether we are talking about dining, shows, excursions, etc it does not matter. We knew we would see each other quite a bit during the week, so we did not stress about always planning the same things for the same times. Hey, we like each other, but we don’t need to be joined at the hip! As it worked out we have similar interests so we spend a lot of time together, but not every excursion, every meal or every show.

 

Sixty days before sailing our entertainment reservations became available. We knew from previous reviews that this would be an important part of the pre-planning process. Even for those who like to keep things unplanned I would suggest this be done. We had pre-planned at our October party what shows would fit in best with our schedule and when based on previous reviews and recommendations. So, when our actual schedule became available out came the spreadsheets and the booking process began. We knew we did not have to show up for every show as 10 minutes prior to show time the empty seats would be made available to the (usually long) stand-by line. Pre-booking avoids those lines and I am all about avoiding lines as you will see in other places during this review.

 

When our cruise month of April came around we had one more highly anticipated event prior leaving for Florida. We had a very active Roll Call that made this cruise even more special. One of the early and regular posters was Rick, who was traveling from Australia with his Mum & Auntie. They had a huge, wonderful adventure planned which included a trip across the USA with the Allure as a highlight. They arrived in Phoenix on April 6 and we were all able to meet them at a local restaurant. What a fun evening it was! More last minute planning was involved of course and we all got along so well that we knew it was just a glimpse of a wonderful week ahead.

 

Here is a picture of Rick and Sue working out details of our Meet & Mingle gift exchange. Sue is modeling the new ARIZONA CRUISER shirts she had designed especially for this cruise:

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And here are all of us at the party showing off the brand new “Arizona Cruiser” banner made by our very own talented Norine “Quilting Queen”. That banner will show up more times during this review. Watch for it!

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Coming Up: Our Journey Begins. Pre-Cruise Fort Lauderdale

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Looking forward to your review. It will help get me through the next week till we board. :)

Bill

 

 

Sent from my Kindle Fire HD using Tapatalk 2

You are going to love it! I wish I were going with you.:)

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I'm looking forward to reading your review too Ginny and I was along for the ride. :D

You were along for more than the ride, LOL! You will be a "star" in my next post.;)

 

I am an Arizona Cruiser, but didn't go on this group cruise, hopefully next time!!

 

Ginny, can't wait to see the rest....HURRY!!! :D ;)

 

***

Yes, we missed you. There was a great big hole where you should have been. But never fear, there will be a next time.

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You were along for more than the ride, LOL! You will be a "star" in my next post.;)

 

 

Yes, we missed you. There was a great big hole where you should have been. But never fear, there will be a next time.

 

Dang it...we need a big LIKE button for posts like this!

 

***

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Of course before you guys invaded Allure you invaded my roll call! :-D

 

Sent from my EVO using Tapatalk 2

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Dang it...we need a big LIKE button for posts like this!

 

***

:D

 

Of course before you guys invaded Allure you invaded my roll call! :-D

 

Sent from my EVO using Tapatalk 2

And look where it got you. Now you're stuck with me on yet another cruise, LOL!

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The big day had finally arrived! We were flying to FLL from PHX on SWA, the 11:15 non-stop flight on Friday, two days before the cruise. Along with us on this flight were Sue & Audie and Lisa & Steve. Laura, Gene, Jerry & Sheila had flown out earlier on another flight. Norine, Gene & Georgia had left the day after our dinner with Rick on a big adventure of their own with a pre-cruise cruise out of NOLA on NCL to the Western Caribbean followed by a time share in Florida. We would all be meeting at our pre-cruise hotel later that day & the following day.

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Our flight was on time and uneventful, despite warning that the Sequester would have us delayed beyond belief. Upon arriving in FLL we picked up our bags and we headed to the rental car area with Sue & Audie. Steve and Lisa had decided to either go by cab or walk around FLL. That will be a factor later on. We had arranged a full size car, but the rental car guy took one look at our luggage and rolled his eyes. He finally convinced us to upgrade to a full size SUV. It turned out he was right. It just fit our entire luggage! I am really trying to get the luggage thing down, but on a cruise we take just the right amount of clothing and then everything we could possibly need at sea, including a whole pharmacy, duct tape, you name it. Walgreens is not just down the street! Plus, we have all of our snorkel gear and...well, you get the idea. We headed to our hotel, the Hyatt Pier 66 where all of us, plus some more from our Roll Call were booked.

 

We arrived at the hotel and met up with Lisa & Steve once again. We got our room assignments. Lisa & I had booked Marina rooms while Sue and Laura had booked Tower rooms. Norine & crew were arriving at the hotel the next day and they had also booked Marina rooms. All of us in Marina rooms had requested upgrades to Tower rooms for $20 per night, a savings of $20 per night over the pre-reserved Tower rooms. Lisa & I were able to get the upgrades, but by the time Norine arrived the following day there were no more upgrades available. We had a nice port view if we stood on the balcony but Lisa scored the best with a view of the entire port and the sailaway channel. We were able to use her balcony the next day for the Oasis Sailaway.

Our view from our balcony Saturday morning featuring what will later become known as the famous “Lisa’s Bridge”:

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We could see the ships in port when we stood at our balcony rail. These are the Caribbean Princess and the Oasis of the Seas in the distance the following morning.

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The hotel was nice, but definitely dated. The rooms had been updated except for the popcorn ceilings but the hallways upstairs were in dire need of a remodel. Otherwise it was spacious & clean, had wonderful bedding and a lovely pool area.

 

We met Laura and her gang coming back from dinner at Pelican Landing, which is a restaurant on the resort grounds overlooking the million dollar yachts in the Marina. They had enjoyed the dinner, but it was a bit of a walk. While shuttle service is provided free from the hotel to the restaurant (in a golf cart) it was not available for their walk back for some reason. The walk was a bit hard on Laura due to medical problems and so she was tired and they said good night and were heading up to their room for the night. The six of us settled into our rooms and then met for our turn to go to Pelican Landing for dinner. Fortunately, the shuttle was working fine for us both directions.

 

Upon arriving at Pelican Landing we found that we had just beaten the big dinner rush. Lisa & Steve had gotten to the hotel earlier than us so they went ahead to secure us a spot. The rest of us arrived just as they had been seated. The atmosphere was lovely overlooking the beautiful yachts as we played the “When I Win the Lottery” game. We wondered if we would be able to use the hot tub we saw on the yacht closest to us if we knocked on the door and asked! The food was very good, but don’t go if you are in a hurry. It was 45 minutes to an hour wait from the time we ordered until the meal arrived. But for me it was a perfect and relaxing way to end a busy travel day with beautiful scenery, a warm ocean breeze & good friends.

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After dinner we headed back to our room as we had a full day of activities planned beginning early the next morning.

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I'm looking forward to hearing more on "my bridge" from your perspective. ;) If okay with you, I can interject my personal experiences from my episode.

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The Hyatt Pier 66 had taken us to Pelican Landing by golf cart and reassured us that they would return to pick us up. After dinner the restaurant called the Hyatt twice including the manager to have us picked up. No one came to get us. After waiting more than 45 minutes I called the hotel then myself and spoke to someone representing management who left me on hold and did not return. After 10-15 minutes I hung up and we headed back to the hotel. It was very difficult for me but I had no choice. Having so much pain I did call it a night.

 

Sheila and Jerry, Gene and I flew in earlier on US Airways. Ginny and the gang on Southwest arrived several hours later. We were all suppose to eat together but the four of us were so hungry we headed off to dinner not knowing when the rest would get to the hotel after their flight. The four of us got seated right away. Service like Ginny said was very slow but the food was good. Worked out better we ate separate for they never would have been able to seat all of us together.

 

The yachts around the restaurant were so awesome. We were not playing the “lottery game” but we sure were daydreaming about that lifestyle.

 

Ginny you are doing a great job.

 

Laura

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I'm looking forward to hearing more on "my bridge" from your perspective. ;) If okay with you, I can interject my personal experiences from my episode.

That would be lovely. It's your story after all.;)

 

Ginny, I'm loving your review! Can't wait to get to the ship.

It's coming! But we still have a full and busy day in Fort Lauderdale first.

 

Laura - that was too bad you had to deal with that golf cart issue. I don't know what the hold up was, but we didn't have to deal with it.

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That would be lovely. It's your story after all.;)

 

 

It's coming! But we still have a full and busy day in Fort Lauderdale first.

 

Laura - that was too bad you had to deal with that golf cart issue. I don't know what the hold up was, but we didn't have to deal with it.

 

Want more...:cool:

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