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Review: Allure of the Seas Aug. 5-12 sailing, Eastern Itinerary


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I just got off the Allure of the Seas August 5-12, 2018 Eastern Caribbean sailing, and want to give back by providing my review, as somany of you have done which helped me tremendously when planning my cruise!

 

 

For background, my husband and I have sailed on Carnival Imagination, Celebrity Solstice, Caribbean Princess, and MSC Divina prior to this trip. This trip we were with a group totaling 8: A family of 5 with 2 girls (11 and 9) and a boy (15), and another adult friend of ours.

 

Every time I try to do a review with photos, I screw up, so there won’t be any photos to accompany this review. But all the other photos and youtube videos you see of the Allure are pretty accurate J

 

I’ll try to break things up into sections that make some kind of sense(hopefully!):

 

Pre Cruise:

 

We flew down late Friday night on JetBlue and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on State Road 84. The room (king bed suite) was clean andwe couldn’t hear any noise from the outside or the hallway, and the bed was comfortable. It’s a pretty basic hotel, good for a night’s sleep. They provide breakfast, but it was so crowded we just walked down to Lester’s Diner for a great breakfast, then did some walking/shopping and ate at Rosie’s Grill and Bar for lunch before our friends’ flight arrived on Saturday afternoon.Saturday night we ate at Coconuts near the Swimming Hall of Fame, and enjoyed the food and atmosphere there too.

 

 

The previous two times we sailed out of Port Everglades we stayed at the Embassy Suites on 17th Street, but the cost difference between the Embassy Suites and the Holiday Inn suite was $30 or $40 per night.While the Holiday Inn fulfilled our needs and there was nothing wrong with it, looking back on it I personally think the Embassy Suites is probably worth paying the extra money for. Especially if you have a room with a view of the port!

 

Embarkation

 

I booked transportation with Larry’s Limo to take our group privately to the port. With the per-person costs of the shared shuttle, it was a no-brainer. They arrived on time (10:30) with a huge van decked out inside like a limo with a flat screen TV, booming stereo system, color changing lights, and leather seating. The ride to Port Everglades was fast, but we did it in style. I pre-paid everything so there was one less thing to worry about.They were great to work with and I highly recommend them!

 

I was booked in a Jr. Suite but my friends weren’t. Having never sailed out of this terminal before, I didn’t realize we could have all stayed together in the check-in line, but after dropping off our bags, we separated and went through the suite entrance while they went through the regular one. At that time of morning, it didn’t matter as we all got through security and checked in at the same time. Check in was a breeze! It was faster than any of the other ships I have been on, which includes the MSC Yacht Club experience where the butler takes you to a special check-in lounge.

 

There was one hiccup during check-in, where our credit card was linked to my friend’s room so we would have been responsible for his charges, but they cleared this up really quickly and without hassle.

 

Once upstairs, we opted to sit with our friends instead of in the somewhat nicer suite waiting area, which boarded about 10-15 minutes before weeventually did.

 

I was really impressed with the embarkation operation they’ve got down to a science!

 

(continued...)

Edited by eastoftheboston
missed a space between words!
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The Ship

 

Stepping on to the Promenade for the first time… WOW. I mean, what else can you say? You can’t even compare an Oasis-class ship to the other ships I’ve been on, because it’s apples and oranges. At times, if you couldn’t see the ocean,you didn’t even feel like you were on a ship, just a big, fun resort!

 

Except for the number of people in the pools on a sea day, and some times when the Windjammer had a line, the ship never felt really crowded. And even on those sea days when the pool was way overcrowded and towels were occupying every chair, if you went up one level, there were TONS of empty lounge chairs looking down on the pool. And we had hot sunny weather the whole week, so loungers were in high demand.

 

A side note on the loungers, all week long people were being chair hogs setting their towels out early. I’ve long ago accepted it’s just a game you have to play. On the last sea day, some of our friends went to the bathroom and we went out to the pool. We were actually sitting in our chairs, and put towels down on the loungers next to us for our friends, when one of the attendants comes running over to tell us we’re not allowed to save seats. It was comical,because everywhere you looked there were towels saving seats, and we were actually laying down and occupying ours. So we just said our friends are coming right out (which they were) and we weren’t bothered again. It was funny that they waited until the last day to even attempt enforcement.

 

Back to the ship, having the touch screens near each elevator bank helped tremendously. I never felt lost because the one or two times I wasn’t exactly sure how to get somewhere, I punched it up on the screen and got a map to follow!

 

The elevators, for the most part, were quick to come. After shows they were crowded, but I found if you were coming out of the Amber Theater, while everyone is cramming into the forward elevators, if you walked through the casino to the aft ones, there was no one there! And vice versa when the Aqua Theater empties out.

 

The art all around the ship was wonderful. Whoever was in charge of this did a really great job! Everything seemed in good repair, very little signs of rust, etc. I wonder what Allure looked like brand new because it looked great now!

 

(continued...)

 

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Rooms

 

We had a Jr. Suite, 10-236 on the Port Side, on the Aft Hump so it has an extended balcony with two full size lounge chairs, and the usual table and chairs. The balcony is HUGE! The room was also the perfect size for us to move around in and never felt crammed in. Bathroom was great as well (full size tub,good water pressure, big sink, etc). Saving the best for last…. holy cow the walk-in closet in the Allure Junior Suite is like nothing I’ve ever experienced! That includes staying in a Royal Suite in the MSC Yacht Club and one of the Aft Suites on Caribbean Princess. Our friends were definitely jealous of our room! You will not have a lack of storage space if you book a jr suite.

 

I chose this suite because it had rooms above and below, so no noise from the pool deck etc., and was next to an Owner’s Suite, which we figured would hopefully have quieter people in it, and we were right on that account too (an older couple celebrating their anniversary). So noise was never a problem for us.

 

Our group also had two connecting extended balconies (11-602 and 11-604) and a Boardwalk Balcony (11-717). We learned that you don’t need to ask your room steward to open the balcony divider – my friend was able to do it just by sticking her pinky finger into the hole where the “special key” goes and twisting it. Also a good reminder to lock your balcony doors, since it’s obviously very easy for your neighbors to open the divider if they want to!

 

Our friend with the Boardwalk Balcony reported that he didn’t have any issue with noise coming from the Boardwalk. And we happily made use of his free Johnny Rockets meals...

 

continued...

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Food

 

Speaking of Johnny Rockets, time to move on to food. We ate three dinners in the MDR (two at our assigned early seating, once in My Time Dining), and four dinners in the specialty restaurants.

 

RCI really needs to work on their online dining reservations. Before the cruise we tried to book specialty restaurants for our party of 8. Literally the only option that was available was an 8pm slot in Chops Grille on night two (which we reserved ahead of time), so we only reserved that one meal. I even called and was told there was nothing available larger than a party of four at any of the restaurants. Once we boarded, we checked in with the host at Sabor about any last minute cancellations that would allow us to eat somewhere else. He was like “where do you want to eat, everything is wide open…” and we ended up switching to the four-restaurant package and getting to eat at Chops Grille,Samba, Sabor, and Giovannis.

 

In Samba, we were one of two parties in the entire restaurant (night 1), in Sabor there were two or three other tables occupied, and Giovannis was a little over half full. Chops Grille was the only one that was actually filled with diners. I wonder if everyone was like me and gave up after they got told there was no room for them? The food was great in all of the specialty restaurants,with the exception of the pasta at Giovannis, which was sub-par, and the pasta was served after the main course, and it should have come out first.

 

The food at Johnny Rockets was good, but took FOREVER to be served, and just to make it worse, the muzak they had playing had a glitch, and kept playing the first 20 seconds of “I Melt With You” by Modern English. For a half hour, it was the first few lines of that song, looped over and over and over. I love that song --- correction, I USED to love that song. I begged them to fix it.They did…. Eventually. I heard the song again while eating lunch at the airport waiting for my flight home and started freaking out! LOL. Johnny Rockets said the cover charge was $12 (we went at lunch) but somehow we were only charged$11.74. No idea how that happened.

 

The food in the MDR was good, always served hot, and the wait staff was excellent.

 

I was surprised how small the windjammer was for a ship this size. When it gets crowded they have a system where you wait in line until a table is available before you enter, so it saves you from hunting around forever and stalking people who are sitting at their tables. During the busy times they also play announcements encouraging diners to go “explore other wonderful parts of our ship, and let others enjoy their food too.”

 

While I thought the food in the windjammer was good, I was surprised at the limited selection. On the smaller ships I was on, I felt like they had more to offer on their buffet. Princess stands out in my mind as having an endless selection in their buffet, as did MSC.

 

Side note: Anyone thinking the Park Café in Central Park is the “secret” place to go to get a quiet lunch on embarkation day… the secret is out, way out. It’s crazytown in there. Just get comfortable with the fact that lunch on embarkation day is going to be crazy anywhere you go.

 

The pizza in Sorrentos and the Wipeout Café is decent! Princess Cruises still blows every other cruise line out of the water when it comes to pizza (even MSC, which has Eataly pizza on board, can’t compare), but the pizza on the Allure definitely comes in a good second place. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The kids loved the hot dogs at the dog house on the board walk.

Continued...

 

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Beverage Package

 

We got the deluxe drink package. It more than paid for itself, just judging by all of the charges on our final folio for $0, $1, or $2 from all the bars around the ship! (extra tips, especially when you’re delivering a drink to me while I am floating in the pool!). It was also nice ordering fresh squeezed OJ at breakfast and having that included too. And yes, the Johnny Rockets milkshakes are now included on the Allure.

 

On an itinerary like this one, where there’s only really one afternoon (if you’re off in St. Maarten) where you can’t use the drink package if you’re off the ship, it makes total sense to get the drink package. In San Juan, you’re back on the ship by 1:30, and in Labadee you can use your package on land. Plus all of the sea days. It’s a no-brainer.

 

Two negatives about the drinks on the ship:

 

1) my first soda cup was programmed so it could only be used once an hour. I went to get a new cup with a more reasonable timer on it and they first didn’t believe me that my cup only gave me one freestyle drink an hour until I walked over to the machine and showed them, and even then it was a struggle to get them to give me a new one. I don’t even know why I bothered to get a new one,because I’d go to get a soda and half of the options would be unavailable. Atone point my friend accidentally brought my cup back with her to her room, and I never asked for it back because it was just easier to get drinks from the bar without having to wait a specified time before I could have another cherry vanilla diet coke. I guess it’s fun for the kids, but the freestyle concept is just not worth the hassle for me.

 

2) the other issue we had SEVERAL times was asking a bartender for a specific type of liquor in your drink, and having them use the cheap well liquor instead. The would make mango daiquiris or other frozen drinks and instead of Bacardi, they’d put in that nasty cheap brown rum. The best part is when you went to the bar yourself, you’d ask for “X with Bacardi,” they’d repeat back to you “X with Bacardi” and then you’d sit and watch them make it with brown rum.They’d give it to you, you’d protest, they’d say “I made it with Bacardi! Even as the brown rum is still floating on top because they don’t mix in the liquor. Do you think we’re all idiots? On Labadee, I had them remake every. Single. Labadoozie. I don’t know if Royal Caribbean trains them to do this to try to save money, but it happened consistently across different bars. Amazingly, the waitstaff who I tipped extra always seemed to manage to put the right alcohol in my drinks…

 

continued...

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Entertainment:

 

OK this review is getting really long, I’ll try to keep it short. Oceanaria was AMAZING. I watched it three times. The schtick with the usher guy at the beginning got old fast, but the divers and acrobats were incredible.

 

Blue Planet was OK. I feel like they just googled songs that happened to have earth elements in them (wind, water, fire, etc) and threw them together hoping for some cohesiveness that never materialized. The acrobatics were great, but when you go to a performance of something called Blue Planet, I’m not expecting to hear “She’s like the wind” from Dirty Dancing! Yet they don’t play Enya’s Orinoco Flow….

 

Mamma Mia was phenomenal. Especially if you love Abba. Just amazing. Just go.Awesome.

 

One observation: For the first performance of Oceanaria people were fighting for seats, literally fighting to get seats. Yet they do the same performance on the last night of the cruise and there were MAYBE 20 percent of the seats taken. Same thing for the repeat performances of Mamma Mia. Don’t freak out if you can’t get in to the first performance. If you wait, you won’t even need a reservation.

 

continued...

 

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Excursions:

 

In San Juan, we just got off the ship and walked around a little bit, bought some stuff to put money in their economy and got back on the ship.

 

In St. Maarten, it’s always been on my bucket list to go see the planes land at Maho Beach. And I finally got to cross that off my bucket list! It was amazing! Royal Caribbean offers an excursion where they drive you there, leave you for three hours, and drive you back, nothing else, for $69 a person. Or, five of us took at taxi there, and for five of us it only cost $80 total round trip (plus we rented beach loungers there for 20 bucks), and the taxis run continuously so you don’t have to wait for the excursion bus if you want to go back early. It’s almost criminal how much money RCI makes off this excursion. Just grab a taxi, people!

 

In Labadee, all of those $40 beach clamshell things for two were sold out, but we tipped a worker ten bucks and had a whole area with 8 loungers and a hammock set up for us under a tree for shade. Made me happy all the clamshell things were sold out! LOL. We enjoyed Labadee, but it was really hot out, so we were just as happy making our way back to the ship after lunch.

 

Also, an onboard excursion, we did the all-access ship tour. I did a similar tour on Caribbean Princess, so that’s what I have to compare this one to. Maybe it’s because Royal lets kids as young as six go on this tour, but it wasn’t anywhere near as extensive as it was on Princess. On Allure, you got to see the kitchen, the food storage areas, the laundry, the engine control room, and the bridge. On Princess, they also took you back stage at the theater so you could see all the riggings and how the sets are done, the performer dressing rooms, etc. You also got to see the rooms where the anchor chains and ropes are raised/lowered, the printing press where they make the daily newsletters etc., you got to go behind the metal facades and climb up into the smokestacks, and when you were on the bridge, the captain greeted you and they had waiters serving champagne and appetizers, and the captain talked at length about the ship and answered all the questions we could throw at him. On Allure, the captain wasn’t on the bridge, no one spoke with us, except for our tour guide, who seemed very bored, and couldn’t answer some questions that I’m amazed haven’t been asked before… (How big are the propellers?... Uhhh, I don’t know… How deep does the ship sit in the water?....Uhhhh…I’ll have to get back to you on that…)

 

On the Allure, they let you take photos (which they don’t allow on Princess,score one for Allure), but to make up for it, they have a ship’s photographer accompany you, and we got professional photos with the captain on the bridge. They also gave us, as a gift for visiting the kitchen, a Princess Cruises Apron, and had a thank-you gift of chocolate covered strawberries and wine delivered to the room along with the photo. On Allure, you literally get a small piece of rope as a thank you gift, to learn to tie knots with. If you’ve never done a behind the scenes tour, then you’ll enjoy this. If you’ve done the tour on other ships, prepare to be underwhelmed.

 

Oh, we also got an “all access” lanyard at the beginning of the tour, but no corresponding“all access” badge to wear with it. Strange.

 

continued...

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Internet:

 

Almost forgot! I got the Voom internet package (not the streaming one, the surfing one). I found connectivity to be great and overall decent speeds. I mostly posted to FB, watched youtube videos, and read news sites and kept up with baseball scores on the ESPN app LOL.

 

The only other time I’ve bought internet on board was with MSC, and MSC can’t even compare to the speed offered on Allure.

 

Overall:

 

Despite my complaining about the cheap rum and the underwhelming all access tour, I think this cruise is the best one I’ve been on, and is one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken. All during the week, I would say “Princess does this better, but Royal comes in second,” or “Celebrity does this better, but Royal comes in second” etc. All of the other cruise lines would shine in one or two areas but falter in the others. Royal consistently came in second across all areas, which cumulatively put it in first place in my mind, because everything was consistently above average.

 

I didn’t go into this trip with low expectations at all, but I was still surprised at how great it was and how much fun I had!

Sorry for my lengthy review! I’m happy to answer any questions if I can.

 

Also, I made PDFs of all the daily newsletters and the room service menus. They may be found at:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1P_V9qcx5Y6HVHBsk8aIgFuoBeSDsPv_6/view?usp=sharing

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Edited by eastoftheboston
missed a space between words!
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Thanks so much for this review! I'm going on this cruise Saturday with my sister and her family (five of us). I've never been on Allure or Oasis so I'm excited! This will also be my first time getting the drinks package. I always thought it wouldn't be worth it for me. But when the price came down to around $42/day I jumped at it. I do like those frou-frou drinks, which I only drink on cruises! I'm going on a Princess cruise in October (Canada/NE) and the drinks package is $60/day. I'll pass on that unless it comes down drastically, especially since it's a port-intensive cruise.

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I really enjoyed reading your review. Thank you.:)

 

Did you like Samba. I don't find that many reviews of it.

 

 

 

I loved samba but pack your appetite, you get a LOT of food! Don’t fill up on bread or sides because the meat keeps coming and coming!

 

Because it’s a converted lunch spot it’s not as plush atmosphere but the food is top notch.

 

 

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Thanks for the tip. I will definitely watch which RUM is being poured. More importantly, for my drinks, which TEQUILA!

 

 

 

Tequila and I don’t get along (lol) so I didn’t pay attention to those offerings, sorry!

 

 

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Thanks so much for this review! I'm going on this cruise Saturday with my sister and her family (five of us). I've never been on Allure or Oasis so I'm excited! This will also be my first time getting the drinks package. I always thought it wouldn't be worth it for me. But when the price came down to around $42/day I jumped at it. I do like those frou-frou drinks, which I only drink on cruises! I'm going on a Princess cruise in October (Canada/NE) and the drinks package is $60/day. I'll pass on that unless it comes down drastically, especially since it's a port-intensive cruise.

 

 

 

Enjoy the frou frou drinks! They have daiquiris in tons of flavors! You can even get a frozen mojito! And if you don’t like it, just get another, no extra charge!

 

 

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Great review! Thanks for the tips about shows and excursions! Which specialty restaurant do you like the best?

 

I totally agree with you on windjammer (we were on Anthem of Seas in April) - It was reasonable but disappointing when compared to other cruise lines. I've been to Celebrity and Carnival before. Celebrity so much better than this one, and even Carnival buffet was better (my kids agree too). But RCL's MDR was better than Carnival's, on par with Celebrity. Specialty restaurant we loved Wonderland on Anthem, sadly it's not available on Allure.

 

Internet was mostly good for us on Anthem too. I'm looking forward to the shows!

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Great review! Thanks for the tips about shows and excursions! Which specialty restaurant do you like the best?

 

 

I think I liked Chops Grille the best. The service there was by far the best of the four, and the food was great.

 

 

 

 

 

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Entertainment:

 

 

 

OK this review is getting really long, I’ll try to keep it short. Oceanaria was AMAZING. I watched it three times. The schtick with the usher guy at the beginning got old fast, but the divers and acrobats were incredible.

 

 

 

Blue Planet was OK. I feel like they just googled songs that happened to have earth elements in them (wind, water, fire, etc) and threw them together hoping for some cohesiveness that never materialized. The acrobatics were great, but when you go to a performance of something called Blue Planet, I’m not expecting to hear “She’s like the wind” from Dirty Dancing! Yet they don’t play Enya’s Orinoco Flow….

 

 

 

Mamma Mia was phenomenal. Especially if you love Abba. Just amazing. Just go.Awesome.

 

 

 

One observation: For the first performance of Oceanaria people were fighting for seats, literally fighting to get seats. Yet they do the same performance on the last night of the cruise and there were MAYBE 20 percent of the seats taken. Same thing for the repeat performances of Mamma Mia. Don’t freak out if you can’t get in to the first performance. If you wait, you won’t even need a reservation.

 

 

 

continued...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beverage Package

 

2) the other issue we had SEVERAL times was asking a bartender for a specific type of liquor in your drink, and having them use the cheap well liquor instead. The would make mango daiquiris or other frozen drinks and instead of Bacardi, they’d put in that nasty cheap brown rum.

continued...

 

 

You do realize that Bacardi makes a brown/dark rum also (Specifically Bacardi Gold)? So, if you just ask for a "Bacardi and X", your basically just asking for a brand and not specifically the Silver or clear Bacardi (Bacardi Superior). Brown/dark rum doesn't automatically mean its cheap rum. There are some brown rum's that are much more expensive than Bacardi rum's.

 

If you don't believe me about Bacardi and brown rum, here is the full list of Bacardi Rum's: https://www3.bacardi.com/us/en/our-rum

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You do realize that Bacardi makes a brown/dark rum also (Specifically Bacardi Gold)? So, if you just ask for a "Bacardi and X", your basically just asking for a brand and not specifically the Silver or clear Bacardi (Bacardi Superior). Brown/dark rum doesn't automatically mean its cheap rum. There are some brown rum's that are much more expensive than Bacardi rum's.

 

If you don't believe me about Bacardi and brown rum, here is the full list of Bacardi Rum's: https://www3.bacardi.com/us/en/our-rum

 

Why yes, yes I do realize that Bacardi makes a dark rum also, but I also have two eyes and can see what bottle they are using when I'm standing at the bar watching them add the well rum to my drink.

 

On Labadee, I physically put my hand on the bottle when I specified "Bacardi" so they knew what I was talking about. And still got the well rum they were putting in everyone's drinks. Or maybe all of the bartenders were deciding to upgrade everyone and give them all Labadoozies with the super expensive rum that no one was asking for. I should have thanked them for being so generous.

 

Since we're going down this path, I didn't put this in my review, but as another example my friend would specifically order Kraken and Coke, and SURPRISE they went for the same bottle that they used when I asked for Bacardi. I know what a Kraken bottle looks like, and can also see it sitting on the back shelf not being poured while the bartender pours from the other bottle.

 

But thank you for assuming all the bartenders had nothing but good intentions, and that I'm apparently clueless.

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