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Nicole721

A Week on The World's Largest Cruise Ship: A Photo/Video Allure (Western) Review

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It's only been four days since we disembarked the Allure, but I've been constantly finding myself doing that whole "A week ago right now, I was floating on a beach mat in Labadee," or "Five days back from right now, I was sipping a Bellini Sunset at the Champagne Bar." The best way I know how to cope? Write about it. I've been keeping a travel blog for the past four years or so where I chronicle our yearly family cruises, but I haven't been as inspired to write as I have been coming off this cruise in a long time.

 

I made a million and one posts shamelessly begging for help and information as we planned our first Royal Caribbean cruise (our 14th family cruise in the past nine years) and in return, I promised when I got back, I'd write a review laden with the information and pictures I sought as I was planning. And everyone here was so incredibly welcoming and helpful.

 

So here I am...back from a week on the world's largest cruise ship. I have 2,200+ pictures, I have videos, I have menu orders, I have food pictures, I have Compasses. This is my trip chronicle, but it's also my attempt to pay it forward. And if anyone is planning an Allure trip of their own and finds themselves reading this, I'll be happy to answer any questions that I can :)

 

The cast of characters? Well, there's me, Nicole. I have a degree in journalism that currently sits in a closet somewhere while I work at a dot com in Chicago waiting for the Travel Channel to realize that I'm the next Samantha Brown (I'm only partially kidding). There's my sister, Stephanie (who also posts here, but whose user name escapes me. She'll pop in here at some point, I'm sure). And there's my Mom. We've been taking cruises together at least once a year since Stephanie graduated high school. Here's a random gratuitous picture of us:

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And with that...I offer part one, which covers a bit of background on how we came to Royal Caribbean after a lot of...non-Royal Caribbean cruises. I promise it'll pick up with the pictures in the next part!

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Looking forward to your review and photos Nicole.

 

I will be sailing with my family in September.

 

Thank you for taking the time to write your review, it will be something I will definitely be following.

 

Loved the picture of your family.

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Thanks for sharing... looking forward to the rest of your review and pictures:)

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Great start, looking forward to more. We leave for our turn in 2 weeks, so hurry :cool:!!! just kidding of course, but . . .

 

Have been on Allure before but did Eastern so looking forward to hear about your trip.

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It's only been four days since we disembarked the Allure, but I've been constantly finding myself doing that whole "A week ago right now, I was floating on a beach mat in Labadee," or "Five days back from right now, I was sipping a Bellini Sunset at the Champagne Bar." The best way I know how to cope? Write about it. I've been keeping a travel blog for the past four years or so where I chronicle our yearly family cruises, but I haven't been as inspired to write as I have been coming off this cruise in a long time.

 

I made a million and one posts shamelessly begging for help and information as we planned our first Royal Caribbean cruise (our 14th family cruise in the past nine years) and in return, I promised when I got back, I'd write a review laden with the information and pictures I sought as I was planning. And everyone here was so incredibly welcoming and helpful.

 

So here I am...back from a week on the world's largest cruise ship. I have 2,200+ pictures, I have videos, I have menu orders, I have food pictures, I have Compasses. This is my trip chronicle, but it's also my attempt to pay it forward. And if anyone is planning an Allure trip of their own and finds themselves reading this, I'll be happy to answer any questions that I can :)

 

The cast of characters? Well, there's me, Nicole. I have a degree in journalism that currently sits in a closet somewhere while I work at a dot com in Chicago waiting for the Travel Channel to realize that I'm the next Samantha Brown (I'm only partially kidding). There's my sister, Stephanie (who also posts here, but whose user name escapes me. She'll pop in here at some point, I'm sure). And there's my Mom. We've been taking cruises together at least once a year since Stephanie graduated high school. Here's a random gratuitous picture of us:

9d538ff3.jpg

 

And with that...I offer part one, which covers a bit of background on how we came to Royal Caribbean after a lot of...non-Royal Caribbean cruises. I promise it'll pick up with the pictures in the next part!

 

Subscribing

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Great post and I am going to look at the photos right now.

 

Keith

 

Thanks, Keith!

 

Looking forward to your review and photos Nicole.

 

I will be sailing with my family in September.

 

Thank you for taking the time to write your review, it will be something I will definitely be following.

 

Loved the picture of your family.

 

I hope you enjoy it! :)

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Thanks for sharing... looking forward to the rest of your review and pictures:)

 

Thank you! :)

 

Thanks for sharing I'm looking forward to the rest of your review

 

Hope you enjoy it! I'm excited to re-live our trip through writing it :D

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Waiting for more!:) Thanks for taking the time to write a review.

 

Thanks for reading!!

 

Great start, looking forward to more. We leave for our turn in 2 weeks, so hurry :cool:!!! just kidding of course, but . . .

 

Have been on Allure before but did Eastern so looking forward to hear about your trip.

 

Haha! Trying my best :) Aiming for one or two posts a day.

 

You'll have a fantastic trip, I'm sure. We certainly did!

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Gonna attempt to cross-post these here, too. We'll see how it goes with the photo limit! I have to post in sections here to deal with the post limit, but if you'd like to read this part in full, it's up on my blog.

 

I'm a big believer in pre-vacation vacations. We frequently take a bit of time before any trip we take to hang out in Florida because...we love Florida. When Stephanie and I were little, Mom used to take us down to live with grandma in her condo in Boca Raton from November through March. So while our cruise left on Sunday, our vacation started on Wednesday. Well, Mom's and mine did. Stephanie has less generous vacation time at work. She joined us on Friday.

 

 

I live in downtown Chicago, and Mom and Stephanie live in the suburbs. The weekend before we left, Stephanie and I took my luggage to Mom's house (you hear that? I was packed A WEEK IN ADVANCE this time!! Lets take a second to enjoy this moment because I'm sure it may never happen again), so I left for work on Tuesday, locked up my apartment and said goodbye to Chicago for the next week and a half!

 

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After work, I headed straight to the 'burbs to spend the night at Mom's house so we could head to the airport together on Wednesday. Mom worked from home for half of Wednesday and I...worked even though I was off. Work has rendered me completely unable to sleep in past 8 anymore and since I was packed...I worked. And since I was in the suburbs and our flight wasn't until early evening, I ran out to my favorite childhood Chinese restaurant.

 

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I vowed to myself I was going to finish my last two Dream reviews and my last Disney review before I left and I was so, so close. Almost there. I didn't think I would make it. And literally, within a minute of hitting publish on my last post for Mouse Madness: Back to Food and Wine, the cab came to take Mom and I to O'Hare. The Skycap gave me *the look* when we went to check in. That "you look like a chronic over-packer and this is a very big and heavy suitcase." I got the last laugh -- 48.7.

 

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O'Hare wasn't entirely too busy. From the time we left Mom's house to the time we were through security and at the gate was probably around an hour. We waited two more to board and then got on a ridiculously turbulent but short 2.5 hour flight to Florida where we couldn't see a window from our seats (if you're flying American, watch out for row 12...it's windowless on most of their planes).

 

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We landed in Florida around 9:30 pm and headed to Hertz for our rental car. Stephanie usually arranges our rental cars for us (I do the hotels) and I think she almost always uses Hotwire because they guarantee a major company and unlimited miles. We were more than content with both the car and the service we received at Hertz and were quickly off on our way to our pre-cruise stay at the Marriott Renaissance in Plantation

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We've stayed at the Renaissance in Plantation for nearly all of our Fort Lauderdale and Miami cruise departures. The rooms are spacious, well-appointed and always clean and the staff are helpful and pleasant. It's close enough to Fort Lauderdale (less than 15 minutes to airport and Port Everglades), but far enough away from the hustle, bustle and crowds that make Fort Lauderdale hotels less appealing to us. And, being the Priceline pro that I am, I can always guarantee we get that hotel when I bid: it's the only 4-star hotel in the Plantation zone. If my bid is rejected, I can add zones that don't have 4-star hotels for re-bids until my bid is accepted.

 

 

Anyways, we checked in around 11:00 pm and noticed they'd renovated the hotel since our last stay here in 2011. It had more of an urban chic vibe in the lobby now much like the W-hotel chains have in their lobbies.

 

 

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And they still have that fruit-infused water out in the lobby, which is incredibly refreshing after a long day (or a long flight).

 

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When we got up to our room, we found the rooms had been renovated, too, with new fixtures and furniture, and there were upgraded shower amenities from Aveda.

 

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Mom and I had contemplating a late dinner at one of her favorite restaurants (Smokey Bones) since it's open late, but we were so tired. Instead? We headed towards the drive through at the Golden Arches and split some McNuggets.

 

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We called Stephanie and checked in with her and then went to bed.

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Cruising the Allure on the 30th, so subscribing so I can get the Cruise Compass. Thanks in advance!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Cruise Critic Forums mobile app

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Cruising the Allure on the 30th, so subscribing so I can get the Cruise Compass. Thanks in advance!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Cruise Critic Forums mobile app

 

Fwacruiser - are you on our roll call? We have a great bunch of people and a lot of activities planned for the June 30 sailing!

Maureen

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Hi everyone!

 

Took a little trip to San Francisco that took me away from writing for a bit, but I'm back and I hope there's still a little interest in this! I have a lot to post so...bear with me :)

 

Our first day in Florida began way too early...with Mom rummaging through her luggage...loudly. It was just as well -- no time to waste when you're on vacation. We lounged around the hotel until around 10:00 am and, after the obligatory we're-in-Florida-OMG-a-palm-tree picture, we were on our way to Boca Raton for the day.

 

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Stephanie and I spent all of our pre-elementary school winters with Mom and grandma in Boca and it holds some great memories for us. Mom and I's first stop? Breakfast at the Boca Raton social hub: Einstein Bagel.

 

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We spotted an Old Navy nearby and I wanted to get a pair of leggings so we headed in...and a half hour later we walked out with...winter coats for next year. They were on clearance for $8.97! Why they had winter coats in south Florida at all is beyond me but we're set for next winter.

 

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And from there...we got our shop on. There's a TJ Maxx in Boca that's really top notch (like legitimately top notch -- we're not talking three seasons past Calvin Klein. We're talking Tory Burch, Proenza Schouler and Rebecca Minkoff) and we spent way too much time (and money) there before heading off to Boca Town Center to walk around for a bit.

 

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We grabbed a quick lunch at Stir Crazy and then headed out for...more shopping.

 

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The next stop on our tour d' Mastercard? The Colonnade Shops at Sawgrass Mills. Sawgrass Mills is the largest outlet mall in the United States and the Colonnade Shops are the higher-end outlets. I got promoted a month before we left and wanted to buy something to celebrate. Kate Spade 40% off store-wide sale? Happy promotion to me.

 

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It was getting pretty hot out and I was parched. There was a Ben and Jerry's kiosk nearby selling $7 smoothies and Costco bottled water for $3/bottle, but that was impossible to justify, so we headed into the mall and grabbed some smoothies in the food court.

 

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After a day of shopping, we headed back to the hotel to rest and unwind for a bit.

 

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In an effort to save space in our luggage (for, you know...shoes), we left most of our liquid toiletries at home and figured we'd buy them in Florida. Shopping in an unfamiliar Target? Not the best use of vacation time. Note to self for next time: buy toothpaste at home. Once we were stocked up on hairspray and sunscreen, we headed to Mom's favorite SoFlo joint for dinner -- Smokey Bones.

 

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So here's the thing -- Smokey Bones? It's not really anything special. It's a chain restaurant that we don't have in Illinois and that's open late. We found it on a trip down to Fort Lauderdale a few years ago. Mom *loves* it here for reasons that are beyond my comprehension. We have far superior ribs at home in Chicago at Carson's. But Mom loves it and it's special to her (and they have amazing happy hour specials), so we had a nice dinner of cornbread (served with a honey walnut butter that was INSANE), ribs and chicken.

 

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After dinner, we headed back to the hotel because it was Thursday night and Thursday nights mean one thing: Grey's Anatomy (what? The network season finale schedule doesn't stop for vacation). We caught the tail end of American Idol before Grey's. At some point, Stephanie stopped taking my phone calls so I'd stop spoiling the episode for her (she was saving the ep to watch when she flew in the next morning). And then I spent the rest of the night showering, flat ironing my hair and watching my trashy reality shows while I pondered whether or not Shonda killed off Dr. Webber before heading off to sleep.

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