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Big Ship Adventures Aboard The Allure of the Seas - Photo Review - WinksCruises

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Agree completely about the port of Costa Maya.  One big outdoor mall, but pretty nice.  You get zero appreciation for the area by staying in that compound though.  Go beyond that and it's like you entered no man's land.  There is nothing, unless you book an excursion that takes you a good distance from the port.

 

We ventured outside "the compound" in order to get our transportation to Maya Chan Beach, which is the best "all inclusive" beach days we've done to date.

 

Dan

Edited by The Fun Researcher

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2 hours ago, The Fun Researcher said:

We ventured outside "the compound" in order to get our transportation to Maya Chan Beach, which is the best "all inclusive" beach days we've done to date.

 

Good tip to know. Thanks!  We also ventured outside the gates on our first visit. On a crew member's recommendation, we grabbed a cab to Mahahual Beach, just south of the pier. It had a boardwalk with shops and restaurants (The Krazy Lobster!) and free wifi (which explains why the crew heads there). But nothing we felt we needed to do again (especially dressed as we were!) 

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I think we were at the same bar in Costa Maya just a few weeks and loved it!

 

Also, your review is great!!!!

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6 hours ago, irishgal432 said:

I alwasy love your reviews.

1

I remember you from previous reviews! Welcome back! And yes, Mrs. Winks said my pathetic little drawing of the Terminal's Suite Lounge was not enough... so up went some pics.

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52 minutes ago, bobmacliberty said:

Mrs. Winks' outfit was incomplete.  She needed to be wearing OTownNick's crocs.

 

I like to believe, rather, that OTownNick needed to be wearing Mrs. Winks' top! 💛

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I'd hope to post about our sea day here, today.  But so few of us reviewers ever get that experience right, I feel more time is warranted, so in the end it's crystal clear to everyone, just how horrendous it was. 

 

Plus, I need additional time to bullet-proof my closing arguments against big-ship cruising - - and given all the mega-ship fan-boy (and gals) out here on these boards,  it needs to the most compelling argument of my life if I am to save even one soul from undertaking one...

 

So please indulge, yawn, the Cruise Compass from Costa Maya and sample Kids Daily Planner:

 

Compass%20Day%206_1.jpg

 

Compass%20Day%206_2.jpg

 

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Compass%20Day%206_4.jpg

 

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Thanks for your continued readership, follows and comments. Mrs. Winks and I appreciate it all.

We'll be back tomorrow with fresh content.  But for right now, siesta time:

 

Siesta_Time.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by WinksCruises
Formatting issues

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1 hour ago, bobmacliberty said:

Mrs. Winks' outfit was incomplete.  She needed to be wearing OTownNick's crocs.  From his review:

E878730C-AE2D-4C5B-8EBE-05ADF80D14A6.jpe

This doesn't happen often but I am completely jealous!! I MUST have this outfit!! 

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Thank you for your posting your trip. We go in a month and this will be our first Large ship experience too. 

 

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01%20TitleCard.jpg

 

There have been several threads on Cruise Critic, originally popping-up in the Carnival Cruise Line discussion boards, and more recently, here in the Royal Caribbean forums, that suggest, in an attempt to appeal to society’s lowest common denominator, the commercial carriers have essentially transmogrified their once stately, floating pleasure-domes into a fleet of ugly, sailing, big-box Wal-Marts.

 

I remember when a similar effort was made in Las Vegas, of all places, where, during the 90s, developers attempted to re-invent our iconic Sin City into America’s next family-friendly resort destination. What a disaster that was! Seeing young children, loitering, usually sleeping, on the carpets right outside the casino floor entrances, waiting for their drunken parents to finish squandering funds originally slated for their college tuitions, hoping that sometime, before dawn, the family could call it a night and get back to the room.

 

It didn’t end up working out too well in Vegas.  But, sadly, at sea, the concept appears to be taking off.

 

What’s more concerning, for us small ship fans, is that our beloved vessels are emerging from dry dock, now retrofitted with all the shiny-object attractions that make big-ship sailing so intolerable. They’re updated with unnatural add-ons like splash-parks, enclosed water-tubes, FlowRiders, rock-climbing walls, Dreamwork/Pixar character breakfasts, and more recently, simple-solution Escape Rooms… gaudy body augmentations their small-ship bones were never meant to carry.

 

Ultimately, when boredom fails to be an option, when having nothing to do is not a reality, sea cruising stops being the one-of-a-kind recreation it once was. It becomes merely an extension of our on-land lives. A gentrified 24-Hour theme-park, that floats.

 

And it’s not just the dumbing-down of the at-sea experience. It’s the crowds comprised of large families and other gangs, the sheer volume of cruisers on the big ships, that has made the simple act of popping into the Windjammer for a cup of tea a hemic feat worthy of the Titan Games.

 

For us, that time-tattered “It’s a gigantic ship, but we never felt crowded” Cruise Critic cliché, just didn’t apply when it came to this voyage on the Allure. Everything was insanely crowded, even at the most peculiar, off-peak, times.

 

And, of course, we never felt that crowd-crushing claustrophobia more intensely than on that last day at sea.

 

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Our sea day back to Miami started typically enough. From the moment we stepped out of our cabin, we were hit with a frigid blast emanating from the cold shoulder we got from every crew member we encountered. We got it from our usually-cheery breakfast server in the Coastal Kitchen and our normally vivacious cabin steward, Henry. Even Nancy and Junior in the Suite Lounge barely looked up from their computer screens when we asked them about special suite guest disembarkation procedures. For the first time all week, the towel guys ran my Sea Pass card, reminding me that the terrycloth articles were Royal Caribbean property and not an opportunity to refresh our linen closets at home.

 

There was no denying it. The last-day “Get off our Ship” vibe was in full effect.

 

It’s funny. No matter how hard you try to make the most of that final day, there’s no way to circumvent the continuous string of reminders that you need to be focusing on getting off the ship. The captain reminds you in his daily report. The Morning Show guys remind you, in fact, it’s all they talk about. The Cruise Compass reminds you. The luggage tags your room attendant lays out on your bed, next to the ceiling-high stack of tip envelopes, remind you.  And then the dining room servers remind you (well, they mostly school you on how to fill out the cruise survey you’ll get once you leave, and how uncannily important the number 10 is in the world of maritime math).

 

Duly noting we no longer belonged on the ship, we nonetheless had to tackle the several items populating our day-at-sea to-do list. I had over a hundred Royal shop-bucks to spend onboard or it’d be forfeited. We needed to collect our pictures from the photo gallery. We still had to reserve our last specialty-dining package venue and since Miami doesn’t offer luggage-valet, we had to come up with a plan to store our luggage since we had a late afternoon flight out of Fort Lauderdale. (Spoiler alert: we ended up taking a shore excursion in Miami, simply so we could get our bags to FLL – because, after the horror show getting to the pier, Mrs. Wink’s sister made it clear she wasn’t coming to pick us up, no matter how much alcohol we offered).

 

So, intent on getting our final day started, we ventured-out, beyond the sanctity of our gated suite-guest-only floor, and immediately had to face biggest nemesis on the ship:  the elevator bank. 

 

The elevators on Allure were always a crowded mess, but on a sea day, you could literally wait 10 minutes to get one you could squeeze onto.

03%20Crowded_Elevators.jpg

 

On a 17-deck ship, every elevator is a local-stops only elevator!

 

 

The crowd that morning in the Royal Promenade, in anticipation of several activities, including a watch sale, an appearance by Fiona Shrek Dreamworks, a sundry-store clearance sale (up to 80% off!) and a flash mob dance rehearsal, was more densely packed than the elevator we took to get there! Moshing our way through the assemblage, we got to the table of watches, just as armed security-guards were taking down the barbed-wire rope and stanchions. It was like a department store scene from Black Friday as the wall of bargain-seeking flesh moved in for the kill!

 

After officiating a couple of minor fist-fights (and causing several others), I finally wedged in up against the merchandise tables, while waves of seething throngs pushed and shoved behind me. I eventually picked out a watch that I think found attractive - probably because, in convincing myself it was so, I was closer to completing the sale and extracting myself from the human carnage.

 

The wristwatch, tagged at $600 dollars, inexplicably became a $140 dollar watch after the sales clerk did some magic calculations on his iPad. Applying the Royal Shop cash certificates I received from the Mrs. Winks jewelry acquisition, I ended up only being out $25 bucks for the Invicta watch. What a score, I thought! Not!

 

When I got home, I did some research on Invicta and learned, despite all their showiness and elaborate plastic-crate cases, are actually an off-brand discounter.  Worse, upon checking prices, I discovered the same watch could be had for about $90 US from several reputable online vendors (okay, + tax and shipping). But the onboard wristwatch sale, which appeared to be such a bargain, was, in reality, a bit of a rip-off.  And I nearly lost said wrist during the process!

 

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Lines everywhere, especially in the cramped sundry shop...

 

The Windjammer was another spot that hosted an unending Battle Royale. We’ve all experienced it on embarkation day, when the lines are long and seating a challenge. But on the Allure, with the exception of the first few minutes after opening on a sea day, it was always packed, with people aimlessly walking with plates stacked with food, grabbing, poking and head-butting, when necessary - which was usually always - for additional lackluster selections.

 

Finding a free table was always problematic. Finding Mrs. Winks after I’d found a free table was even more so.  On several occasions, we simply settled for single seating at a high-top bar that faced out the window.  Since most parties on the Allure are gangs of four or more, these single seats were generally available to interlopers like us.

 

On both sea days, we opted for the Main Dining Room at lunchtime, which was busy, but at least civil, and our Sea Pass cards afforded us a table for two to ourselves.  Other times, after foolishly giving the Windjammer another chance, we’d often ended up resorting to a slice of pizza at Sorrento’s, which never TOO insane packed.

 

04%20Windjammer_Mayhem.jpg

Windjammer, taken on just minutes after opening for lunch, so a slow moment. Many times it was "Sorrento's pizza again?" 

 

Day or night, our only sanctuary from the ship’s overcrowding was the blessed Suite Lounge up on seventeen. Looking back at it now, I realize the suite deck was meant to be its own “neighborhood”, our neighborhood, and, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we really had no business ever leaving it. We didn’t belong or fit-in anywhere else onboard.

 

It’s funny, I’ve always thought the challenge is to take a cruise and not get off the ship. Now I realize, should I ever cruise a big-ship again, the real challenge is to take the cruise and never leave the Suite Deck. How could I have been so blind? And why hadn’t our concierges explained this to us?

 

That said, our little safe-harbor wasn’t totally devoid to the harsh realities of Walmart-style cruising. On several occasions, we were exposed to it, when gangs of multiply-allied families would show up in the lounge, with young children, who loved sampling, with their moist fingers, every odd looking appetizer lined-up on the hors d'oeuvre trays.

 

These groups would take over the lounge, loudly demanding attention of the staff and amenities, constantly shouting back-and-forth between members as they group-thinked the evening’s plans.  Fortunately, eventually sensing the stares from other guests, they would eventually understand that they were probably out of place here, and they’d wrap-up their business with the concierges and move on.

 

The Suite Lounge’s location, overlooking a splash-park, hot-tubs and swimming pools, was also a true design flaw. That final evening, enjoying a glass of cabernet before our final dinner, I watched as a gang of children descended upon a hot tub, scaring off the couple who were enjoying it, and made it their own little soup kettle. They entered the water, wearing clothes (not bathing suits) that they’d been wearing all day, and began frolicking and roughhousing, sharing their scabs, scrapes and bodily secretions, in comfort of the warming waters. I was horrified.

 

“Never again, Mrs. Winks,” I uttered in disbelief at what I was seeing. “Never again” snapping a picture to share with all of you.

 

05%20Hot_Tub_Cesspool.jpg

 Kid Soup

 

Okay, okay. We can throw the big ships one bone here, though it’s probably more a photo-gallery innovation rather than a vessel-size thing per se, but they’ve finally implemented an improved method for finding the professionally shot photos. Thanks to both facial recognition technology and having you give the ship photographers your Sea Pass card, they can gather all the photos they print and house them conveniently in one storage album.

 

This obviates having to go blind, or nauseous, trying to locate your grimacing mugs amidst walls of 8x10 competing smiles. On Allure, each of our ship photos was stashed in a convenient folder that we could identify using a special file number they print on your Sea Pass card. Easy-peasy.

 

Of course, sadly, none of this new tech has brought down the price of the photos themselves, or all the ink and photo-paper they waste printing unwanted pics.  But at least finding your shots has gotten exponentially easier.

 

07%20Photo_Kiosks.jpg

Mrs. Winks checking photos on the kiosk, and the photo storage albums

 

In the future, Mrs. Winks and I will probably forsake the mega-ship experience, seeking shelter not in luxury cruise lines, as many have, (we’re just too cheap for that), but in the lounges and staterooms of the smaller fleet-members, where we can better enjoy being big-fish in a small-sea, once again. That’s the plan anyway. But you all know Mrs. Winks by now.  If she spots a big-ship offer she simply can’t refuse, I’m going to be in for it… again.

 

NEXT UP: Disembark and Our Miami Shore Excursion

 

 

Edited by WinksCruises
Formatting issues

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You are hysterical...I laughed so hard so many times. Does Mrs. Winks think you are funny too? Your Honduras and Bahamas posts were too funny. Don’t worry...there is always another Nassau stop in all of our futures...you’ll have that shot at getting stabbed again one day. Lol

 

We are trying out Allure for the first time in August...no kid soup on the menu for me. Bleh!

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2 hours ago, Luv06012012 said:

You are hysterical...I laughed so hard so many times. Does Mrs. Winks think you are funny too? Your Honduras and Bahamas posts were too funny. Don’t worry...there is always another Nassau stop in all of our futures...you’ll have that shot at getting stabbed again one day. Lol

 

We are trying out Allure for the first time in August...no kid soup on the menu for me. Bleh!

First of all, try living with him. Not so hysterical.

 

Second, why are you not heeding Winks'  warning of his big ship experience? I look forward to your take. Winks may embellish at times but he truly did capture our reality of this voyage. Regardless of his unabashed review, I hope you enjoy the Allure as much as I did. 

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Here are a couple of random shots and the Cruise Compass from Day 7 - At Sea

 

7-5%20InvictaWatch.jpg

 

Here's the time-piece I got at the watch sale.  Again, do your research before buying one of these sale items willy-nilly. As good a deal as it appears, you're probably getting ripped-off.

 

 

Chicken_Waffles.jpg

A surprise menu selection in the Main Dining Room for lunch - Chicken N Waffles!

 

 

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The Guest Services desk, decked out for the holidays and uncharacteristically un-busy.  Must have taken this shot at 5 am!

 

Compass%20Day%207_1.jpg

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Compass%20Day%207_4.jpg

 

 

NEXT up: Disembarking and shore excursion in Miami

 

Thanks for your readership, if you have any questions, now's the time to post 'em!

 

Wide_Hallway.jpg

The unusually spacious hallway on Deck 17. The suite perk no one ever mentions!

 

 

 

 

Edited by WinksCruises
Formatting - added a picture

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Thank you for this entertaining and very detailed review. Your pictures are excellent. What camera did you use?

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Thank you for the GREAT review - very entertaining.  I love your sense of humor.  Love some of the clothing choices as well - the "I love liquor" hat is hilarious and just perfect!  

 

We're going on our 1st Royal Caribbean cruise this November on the Allure.  I'm hoping your level of sarcasm turns out to be just that re: the Allure.  Thanks again!

 

 

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1 hour ago, RC Dancers said:

What camera did you use?

 

Believe it or not, most of the photos you see in this review were taken on our cell phones - the Pixel 2XL. Of course, a lot of the real magic happens in Photoshop, where you can crop, brighten, sharpen, combine and add snarky text.

 

But we also continue to bring along our old "real" cameras. I use a Nikon D-90 with a wide angle lens and Mrs. Winks has a Nikon Coolpix, not sure which model, but it has incredible telephoto abilities.

 

Still, increasingly, we are depending on our phones, since we always have them with us and they aren't a pain to lug around.

 

Thanks!

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5 minutes ago, davidmbfonz said:

 I'm hoping your level of sarcasm turns out to be just that re: the Allure.

1

 

Wait, what sarcasm??

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I really enjoyed your comprehensive and witty review. I will board Allure (for a B2B) this October with much trepidation, but as I will be with 10 other Brits (all with the delux beverage package) I'm hoping I will be oblivious to the horrors occurring around us. 

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18 hours ago, davidmbfonz said:

 Love some of the clothing choices as well - the "I love liquor" hat is hilarious and just perfect!  

 

My favorite was the ***** shirt...where's the food.  Perfect.

 

Edit: Looks like I'm not even allowed to type those 3 letters. :classic_dry:

Edited by bobmacliberty

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18 hours ago, WinksCruises said:

 

Believe it or not, most of the photos you see in this review were taken on our cell phones - the Pixel 2XL. Of course, a lot of the real magic happens in Photoshop, where you can crop, brighten, sharpen, combine and add snarky text.

 

 

I noticed the perspective correction on your Guest Services picture. Not many people take the time to do those little things.

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1 hour ago, Esprit said:

I will be with 10 other Brits (all with the delux beverage package) I'm hoping I will be oblivious to the horrors occurring around us. 

keep calm, and?

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Winks,

 

Regarding the Mega Ship...  Your last sea day post summed up our experience on the Oasis as well.  We've never felt as crowded as we did on the Oasis.  It was hard to find those quiet relaxed places like we've easily done on the Voyager and Freedom classes.  The food venues had noticeably longer lines all hours of the day, even Sorrentos late night.  We also didn't like the lack of sea views, and felt much more disconnected from the ocean.  We felt more enclosed on the Oasis class, like it truly was a floating indoor mall.

 

There were some nice things about the Oasis, but they were very limited.  Loved the dedicated night clubs, Dazzles and Blaze.  However, now that the Freedom and Voyager classes have moved the DJ/Night Clubs up from the crypts on deck 4 to the Viking lounge we really enjoy it there.

 

The only thing that would draw us to the Oasis class would be a lack of suitable cruises/itineraries on other class ships.  Some cruisers just RAVE about the Oasis class.  That's not us.  Not by a long shot.

 

Dan

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We have a CLS booked for Allure in 2020. We have done every class from Voyager on up. Just got off Freedom last month and both felt like we liked Oasis and Anthem better.  We really enjoyed Central Park and the Boardwalk but not the other more crowded aspects like the WJ and the Promenade.  We fell in love with CK on Anthem and booked a suite in anticipation of using CK for most meals.

Did you find the deck 17 location of the CLS to be a huge plus or not that big of deal?  I have been toying with the idea of downshifting to a GS for the bigger balcony.

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14 hours ago, The Fun Researcher said:

Winks,

 

Regarding the Mega Ship...  Your last sea day post summed up our experience on the Oasis as well.  We've never felt as crowded as we did on the Oasis.  It was hard to find those quiet relaxed places like we've easily done on the Voyager and Freedom classes.  The food venues had noticeably longer lines all hours of the day, even Sorrentos late night.  We also didn't like the lack of sea views, and felt much more disconnected from the ocean.  We felt more enclosed on the Oasis class, like it truly was a floating indoor mall.

 

There were some nice things about the Oasis, but they were very limited.  Loved the dedicated night clubs, Dazzles and Blaze.  However, now that the Freedom and Voyager classes have moved the DJ/Night Clubs up from the crypts on deck 4 to the Viking lounge we really enjoy it there.

 

The only thing that would draw us to the Oasis class would be a lack of suitable cruises/itineraries on other class ships.  Some cruisers just RAVE about the Oasis class.  That's not us.  Not by a long shot.

 

Dan

 

I hear that criticism of the Oasis class about the lack of connection to the sea and I guess I don't get it.  Like all ships there is the pool deck.  Like all ships there are balconies (which we always get).  Like all ships there is a deck to access the life boats that wraps around the whole ship.  Sure there is stuff to do in the middle of the ship (promenade, central park, boardwalk) but those areas provide balance and take the place of the normal open space with lots of glass and brass on most ships.  Been on Disney and HAL and smaller RCI ships and did not feel more "connected" to the sea.

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23 hours ago, Esprit said:

I really enjoyed your comprehensive and witty review. I will board Allure (for a B2B) this October with much trepidation, but as I will be with 10 other Brits (all with the delux beverage package) I'm hoping I will be oblivious to the horrors occurring around us. 

You'll be fine in October. Less kids but  still a chance of hurricanes. I loved our  Brit infused  Independence cruises, some shiny suites and tuxedos .Be aware of The Stairs  with your UDP, especially ladies wearing high hills! 

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