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Megtheblackbelt

ALLURE // LIVE REVIEW / Sept. 2-9 Sail Away With Meee?

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Thanks so much for taking the time to post your review - looking forward to the rest of it as my friends and I are boarding the Allure on 9/16 for the same itinerary.

 

 

Welcome! I’m enjoying it, too. You’re gonna have a blast! :)

 

Based on your post history, I presume that this excursion is for your September B2B Allure cruise. As St. Maarten does not observe Daylight Savings Time, the country is currently in the same time zone, Eastern Daylight Time, as your embarkation port of Ft Lauderdale. So 9:30 am local time in St. Maarten is the same as ship time, you will not need to adjust your watch. (After November 4th, 2018, the local time is one hour ahead of Eastern time.)

 

 

 

Hope this helps.

 

 

Thanks for answering this so thoroughly!

 

 

 

 

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I just don't get the attraction to this. :rolleyes: I love the beach for the sun and sound of the surf. The beautiful ocean view and the calming effect it has on me would be totally ruined by the noise of the aircraft screaming right over my head. It's just not appealing to me. That's just my personal opinion - to each, his own.:D

 

Definitely to each their own! The one comment I will make is the planes don't arrive constantly (even less since last years hurricane). The bar has a board that lists arrival times. If you spend a few hours there you might spend 10 minutes looking at planes and the rest enjoying the beach or the bar.

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Just got back to the ship. We did a 3/4 hour tour with a guy who was wearing an orange shirt (and there were lots of them!). His name was “Cowboy”. The cost was $30 a person for the 6 of us. We had the van to ourselves. AC was meh. Here’s the bus:

 

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Here’s the list of things we saw/stopped to get out and see:

 

Dutch/French Border

Nudist Colony

Orient Beach

Marigot

Nickel Bay Beach Club

Mullet Bay

Maho Beach

Downtown Phillipsburg

 

Here are some photos:

 

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Family had drinks at “Sunset Bar” on Maho Beach. Was like $50 for 3 beers, 2 frozen drinks, and 2 bottles of water. Pricy.

 

To be honest, I knew going into this day that we would see a lot of devastation. We toured the entirety of the island - or at least, all around it - and the devastation is just... I don’t even have the appropriate words. These people lost everything. “Cowboy” lost his entire home, and all of his belongings inside of it. There are certainly some beautiful parts to the island, but the wreckage is everywhere. Which we knew! And we wanted to see it. We wanted to see and take in the island for what it is, and we did just that. I’m happy to have seen this island - and I certainly think it is beautiful - but I’m not sure I have a huge desire to go back. Like, I wouldn’t purposefully seek out a cruise because it has this stop. To be honest, it’s just another Nassau port to me. We had a great time - as we always do! - but I wanted to be honest and open about my thoughts. Lovely scenery at points, tons of (expected) devastation, and not much to do/see.

 

 

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Depending on your ports and dates, here is my semi-pro tip (take with a grain of salt...I'm still a RCCL Gold ;p)

 

 

 

Mid-late August is salmon season in Ketchikan. The bears make quite the meal of the fish, but leave bits and pieces all over. If you come in after this, be prepared for the smell. Our timing was bad and the entire town reeked of rotting fish.

 

 

 

Skagway is amazing. We used the Glacier Point Wilderness Safari Group. Booking direct was $50 off per ticket and we were on the same boat and transfer as those on the ship.

 

 

 

Juneau.. If you travel before September, splurge and do a helicopter tour over the Mendenhall glacier. We went dog sledding out on the glacier. I couldn't settle for the intown dog sledding which involved carts and wheels. We wanted the whole enchilada so we went out to the glacier w/ the doggies and real sled. The trip out was gorgeous. In full disclosure, I'm afraid of heights, so I didn't look. I closed my eyes the entire time and took pictures. They turned out great!

 

 

 

Ahhhhh, these are such fantastic tips! Mendenhall is something we DEFINITELY plan to splurge on. Without a doubt. The dog sledding also sounds phenomenal, and we also want to do whale watching. *cries* Must do it ALL.

 

 

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Also, this was hanging in the front of our taxi’s van today. So there’s that.

 

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Off to Izumi Hibachi for dinner in a little bit. 11/10 am looking forward to the food blowing my mind. Expectations are high, Izumi. Don’t let me down.

 

 

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......

To be honest, I knew going into this day that we would see a lot of devastation. We toured the entirety of the island - or at least, all around it - and the devastation is just... I don’t even have the appropriate words. These people lost everything. “Cowboy” lost his entire home, and all of his belongings inside of it. There are certainly some beautiful parts to the island, but the wreckage is everywhere. Which we knew! And we wanted to see it. We wanted to see and take in the island for what it is, and we did just that. I’m happy to have seen this island - and I certainly think it is beautiful - but I’m not sure I have a huge desire to go back. Like, I wouldn’t purposefully seek out a cruise because it has this stop. To be honest, it’s just another Nassau port to me. We had a great time - as we always do! - but I wanted to be honest and open about my thoughts. Lovely scenery at points, tons of (expected) devastation, and not much to do/see.

 

I was hoping that a year out the devastation would be less apparent but sadly it seems that is is not the case. We used to love St. Maarten. Hopefully over time it will get better there.

 

We booked a snorkel tour there so we will be spending all of our touring time on the water. It seems like that may have been a good decision!

 

Nice pictures and glad you had a good time despite the negatives.

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Things to finish tonight before leaving tomorrow:

 

- Un-plug all Bath and Body Works wallflowers (Google "wallflower fire") and you'll see why

- Get all of doggo's stuff together to ship her off to her babysitter (read: my mother-in-law)

- Obsessively check that our passports and documents are inside of my purse

- Bug husband about finishing charging all of the cameras that are on the outside of the house

- Apologize profusely to doggo for leaving her for 9 days

- Repeat "Obsessively check that our passports and documents are inside of my purse"

- Question myself about whether or not it's okay to eat Chipotle on the road tomorrow (Chipotle-holics, repreSENT!)

- Sleep

 

....and with this, I'm signing off for the night. Because, responsible adult. Night, everyoooone. Tomorrow we'll be dropping off the doggo, trying not to cry about dropping off the doggo, and heading down to Fort Meyers (roughly 2 hour drive) to see friends. Relatively un-eventful, but with my luck, I'll have something to report back.

I ALWAYS unplug the bath and body works wallflowers!! Have only heard about it but no thank you!! Enjoying your review so far!! Cant wait to read more!

 

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We are trying to decide if we want to keep or cancel the All Access Tour we currently have booked on Oasis. I've been seriously thinking of cancelling prior to reading part 1 of your experience. DH would probably be bored spending a hour in the kitchen listening to someone with an accent he couldn't understand. I have replacement knees and hips that allow me to do a lot of fun activities, but they really don't like standing for long periods of time or going down stairs. We have a full schedule of activities on our port days including ziplining, parasailing and I will be scuba diving, so I will need my surgically repaired legs to be in good working order.

 

After reading back what I just wrote, I think I've answered my own question. Most likely we will be cancelling this tour. It just doesn't seem like what we really want to spend our time doing. I still can't wait to hear about the rest of your tour, though!

 

 

 

I can tell you the $119.00 they charge isn't worth it! We did it this past May and was disappointed.All we got for a gift was a rope! Nothing like the past all access tours. Let's just say we will never spend that much money again for another tour!!

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We are trying to decide if we want to keep or cancel the All Access Tour we currently have booked on Oasis. I've been seriously thinking of cancelling prior to reading part 1 of your experience. DH would probably be bored spending a hour in the kitchen listening to someone with an accent he couldn't understand. I have replacement knees and hips that allow me to do a lot of fun activities, but they really don't like standing for long periods of time or going down stairs. We have a full schedule of activities on our port days including ziplining, parasailing and I will be scuba diving, so I will need my surgically repaired legs to be in good working order.

 

After reading back what I just wrote, I think I've answered my own question. Most likely we will be cancelling this tour. It just doesn't seem like what we really want to spend our time doing. I still can't wait to hear about the rest of your tour, though!

 

I can tell you the $119.00 they charge isn't worth it! We did it this past May and was disappointed.All we got for a gift was a rope! Nothing like the past all access tours. Let's just say we will never spend that much money again for another tour!!

 

We did the All Access Tour on Brilliance in April and I would rate it a solid 8 out of 10. We toured the kitchen, stores (including the massive meat refrigerators), recycling, the laundry, the bridge, and the engineering control room. Seems like more variety than what they offer on the larger ships. We probably would never buy it for ourselves but it was a Christmas gift from our adult children and we are glad we did it.

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Short review on Izumi Hibachi: 11/10 would do again! Sooo good, and so much food! The chef making the food was phenomenal, and equally as entertaining. He sang, he danced, he threw food, he was courteous. Fantastic. Here are some photos:

 

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Let me know if you have any specific questions about Izumi/the experience. We also ordered a spicy tuna roll off of the Izumi menu, and it was great too!

 

 

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I just don't get the attraction to this. :rolleyes: I love the beach for the sun and sound of the surf. The beautiful ocean view and the calming effect it has on me would be totally ruined by the noise of the aircraft screaming right over my head. It's just not appealing to me. That's just my personal opinion - to each, his own.:D

 

 

The planes “are” the attraction here. You don’t go to Maho Beach for a beach day. We haven’t been to other beaches (and just went here for the planes), but I’m pretty sure there are much nicer beaches in St. Maarten!

 

 

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All Access Tour Review Continued (Part #2):

 

After being in the kitchen for an hour, we were taken down to the infamous “I-95”. We were able to go into a couple of storage rooms - specifically, the fruit one, and then a freezer as well. Some statistics about how much food is eaten in a week was given. Nothing you couldn’t find with a quick Google search. After we finished up the storage rooms, we were asked to divide into single-file lines of females and males. There were 2 security guards present - one female, one male - and they searched us all individually for contraband. Why? Because we were on our way to the engine control room! Which, other than sounding freakishly cool, is relatively low-key. Here are some photos:

 

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In the engine control room, the tour operator was asked a bunch of random questions. Questions I thought weren’t too hard, and surely had been asked before in prior groups. For example: One lady asked about where the water on the ship comes from (shower water, drinking water, etc.). The tour operator did not seem too sure in her answer. She had some chicken scratch notes on a yellow-pad that she would just read off a summation of. Her answers to questions were always very vague, and to be frank, I bet if I fact checked them... some would turn up to go against what she said. This really irks me. As someone who is super interested in the cruise industry and how it works, I want some top-notch, well-researched, reputable answers. A simple, “I’m not sure, but I’ll ask the appropriate department and get you your answer” would have even sufficed over BS. *shrugs* Being in the engine control room was cool, though! Of course no one really understood what was being monitored, but it was interesting to see it regardless.

 

After the engine control room, we went to the bridge. No, the Captain was not there. In fact, not a single person on the bridge said anything to any of us. They all just kinda stood around, staring out to sea. Odd. Of all the stops on the tour, of course this is the most interesting one. There was a basic presentation given by the tour operator, of which I included a photo of one of the slides in my photos below:

 

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On the bridge, we were also allowed to go to the wings of the bridge and it was explained that the wings exist for the Captain to have full visibility down the side of the ship when docking. What the tour operator said sounds logical, so hopefully it is the correct explanation. Here is a photo from one of the wings of the bridge:

 

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After the bridge, we had our final stop, the laundry room. This was very anti-climatic, and again, is one of the longest parts of the tour. One thing I did not know is that the crew has to purchase their own uniforms. There is a large inventory of uniforms near the laundry room that the crew can come down and try on to purchase. If sizing is off, they keep an in-house tailor to properly tailor uniforms. The more you know, eh?

 

Here are some photos of the laundry stuffs:

 

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I’ll provide a synopsis/overall/ending thoughts on this tour in another post to wrap it all up. Thanks for being patient!

 

 

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I ALWAYS unplug the bath and body works wallflowers!! Have only heard about it but no thank you!! Enjoying your review so far!! Cant wait to read more!

 

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Yes! Exactly! Not worth the risk of your home burning down.

 

I was hoping that a year out the devastation would be less apparent but sadly it seems that is is not the case. We used to love St. Maarten. Hopefully over time it will get better there.

 

 

 

We booked a snorkel tour there so we will be spending all of our touring time on the water. It seems like that may have been a good decision!

 

 

 

Nice pictures and glad you had a good time despite the negatives.

 

 

So before today I had never stepped foot on the island, so I did/do not have the ability to make comparisons pre and post-Irma. However, my in-laws had both been before multiple times, and they were astonished by the level of devastation.

 

A snorkel tour would be awesome! The water is SO BEAUTIFUL, ahhh. Yeah, we had an amazing time! It was certainly eye-opening to see the island’s devastation.

 

We did the All Access Tour on Brilliance in April and I would rate it a solid 8 out of 10. We toured the kitchen, stores (including the massive meat refrigerators), recycling, the laundry, the bridge, and the engineering control room. Seems like more variety than what they offer on the larger ships. We probably would never buy it for ourselves but it was a Christmas gift from our adult children and we are glad we did it.

 

 

I think I would try the tour out on a smaller ship just to see the differences! :)

 

I can tell you the $119.00 they charge isn't worth it! We did it this past May and was disappointed.All we got for a gift was a rope! Nothing like the past all access tours. Let's just say we will never spend that much money again for another tour!!

 

 

We got the lanyard, the luggage tag, and the rope. FIL did the same tour on Allure a couple of years ago and got a chefs apron, as well as stopping at multiple other interesting venues.

 

 

 

 

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Thanks Meg for so much valuable information. Love the pictures and the explanations of things I might never find out. Sorry about your All Access tour guide. Sounds like she has a lot to learn.

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Well, I certainly hope you enjoy it. But this is one of the reasons I'm hesitant to travel with others - unless I'm SURE they like all the same things my DW and I do. #unlikely ;)

 

 

 

We had an amazing time! Albeit we didn’t make it to the hilltop lookout, I’m really glad we ended up touring the entirety of the island. We got to see soooo much. The touring company we used offered a hilltop tour, but that was literally the only stopping point for that entire tour, and we wanted to see more than just that. So it worked out really well! Even when we got stuck in terrible traffic on the way back to Phillipsburg, we managed to just laugh about it and make light of the “extended tour,” haha. :)

 

 

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I forgot to mention that the “Security Command Center” (I posted a photo in an earlier post) is a section of the bridge that is always manned 24/7 by at least one person. This is the heart of incoming and outgoing communication with the outside world, and where all emergencies/situations are reported/handled from. I never knew about this, so thought it would be cool to point out.

 

 

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Thanks Meg for so much valuable information. Love the pictures and the explanations of things I might never find out. Sorry about your All Access tour guide. Sounds like she has a lot to learn.

 

 

 

You’re very welcome! Thank you for reading along. I do wish she was more knowledgeable too, as I felt I couldn’t ask questions I wanted to ask because I thought I would get a BS answer. Boo.

 

In the summary I’ll write of the tour tomorrow I’m also going to discuss how the tour operator made ship life sound from her perspective. Spoiler alert: even though I knew she wouldn’t describe it as rainbows and unicorns, she made it sound not, uh, the best.

 

 

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Tomorrow is Puerto Ricoooo, and I’m super stoked other than the fact that I have to wake up at the butt crack of dawn to fully capitalize on our 7 hours allotted in port. Not sure what the day will hold, but fingers crossed my future includes some really bomb a** authentic Puerto Rican food. Suggestions, anyone? My body is ready.

 

 

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