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Gatordad815

Spring Break on the Allure Exceeded Expectations – A Quick Trip Report

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BACKGROUND

 

So we were scheduled and paid for on the 3/31/19 Oasis of the Seas Spring Break Cruise that Royal Caribbean cancelled a few months ago.  Evidently they needed the ship to be empty of passengers so they could drop a crane on it.  Though I was initially really disappointed they cancelled our sailing, in retrospect it was probably for the best. 

 

We are a family of four – with a 3 year old son and a daughter who celebrated her 6th birthday on board the ship.  Our daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when she was 2 years old, so she must eat strictly Gluten-free with no exceptions and no cross-contact with gluten-containing foods.  Safe food is the most important thing to us as parents when choosing a vacation destination, and for three cruises now Royal Caribbean has not disappointed.

 

We had been on the Oasis twice in 2018, loved the ship, loved going out of Port Canaveral (very convenient for us), and really wanted to do that again.  When they cancelled our sailing, they purportedly had no rooms for 4 left on the Allure for the same week and we were unable to switch weeks because of the spring break school schedule.  So naturally, I just kept calling and speaking to different people for 5 days until a supervisor caved and gave us one of the rooms that was being held in their inventory. 

 

Because if there is one thing I have learned in my one year of experience dealing with Royal Caribbean, it is if you don’t like the answer, keep calling back until you get a different answer….

 

I wasn’t excited to drive to Miami, which I was just sure would be crazy based on my prior experience in Miami (I grew up there, so I am allowed to say it is an absolutely crazy place).  I wasn’t particularly excited about the Western Caribbean itinerary (Nassau, Cozumel, Roatan, Costa Maya) because we are doing almost the same itinerary on Harmony in November 2019 (Coco Cay instead of Nassau – otherwise the same).  I wasn’t excited that Royal Caribbean had messed up our spring break plans and really weren’t easy at all to work with on rebooking for the week (I seriously was so close to just cancelling altogether, getting my money back, and doing a week at Disney World instead).

 

Really, I wasn’t nearly as excited as I should have been about a Spring Break Cruise. And now that the cruise is over, all I can say is that…

 

IT. WAS. PERFECT!

 

I thought I loved the Oasis of the Seas. I thought I loved Port Canaveral. 

 

Allure was Better.  The Port of Miami was Better.  

 

I was shocked!

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Posted (edited)

PORT OF MIAMI

 

If you are thinking about taking a trip out of Royal Caribbean’s new terminal in Miami, don’t keep thinking about it – just book it now.  All I can say is WOW!

 

We parked in the garage at 10:00 AM and a porter walked right up to our car and took all of our luggage.  We went inside and waited approximately 10 seconds for check in.  We then waited another 10 seconds for security.  We then went upstairs where they put the muster station bracelets on our kids in the waiting area (as opposed to making us stop to do it when we are boarding the ship).  Everything about the embarkation process has been streamlined and I really cannot imagine it being any more efficient that it was.

 

After a brief wait for boarding, we were on the ship by 10:45AM.  This operation put Port Canaveral to shame, and I honestly was impressed with Port Canaveral prior to this experience. 

 

For Debarkation, I am not exaggerating when I say we left our room at 7:40AM and were in our car at 8:00 AM.  And that was with 2 small kids and getting a porter to assist with a LOT of luggage.  You don’t even need to take out your passports when you leave because some machine recognizes your face from boarding and sends you merrily on your way. 

 

Port of Miami was AWESOME!

 

And, of course, it is a beautiful place to sail away from….

 

 

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Edited by Gatordad815

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OCEANVIEW BALCONY STATEROOM 7268

 

Obviously given the fact that a supervisor had done some voodoo to pull the room out of a secret inventory to give to us, I had no ability to select location.  I was actually pretty happy when the room was assigned, as we had previously loved being on deck 6 on Oasis near the aft elevators – just a great location and this was just one deck up in the same spot.  I was a little concerned that 7268 would be a noisy room because the door to the room essentially opened up to the hallway/stairs.  But we never heard a noise all week.  We were impressed.

 

The location of the room was awesome too – so easy to get to the places we wanted to go (Boardwalk, Schooner Bar, Dining rooms, Central Park).  It really made for a convenient week.

 

On our first Oasis cruise we were in a Junior Suite, and on our second cruise we had 2 connecting oceanview balcony staterooms, so I was a little nervous the room would be too small for the 4 of us, but it worked out great.  My advice to families trying to fit 4 in one room:  Fully unpack and organize everything the first day and bring magnet hooks and clips to hang things like hats, sunglasses, lanyards, cruise compasses, etc.)  We did great keeping the room organized all week (which is shocking because we have much less luck keeping our house as organized!)  The room definitely worked well for us!

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DINING

 

Given our daughter’s dietary needs, we tend to eat in the Main Dining Room quite a bit as that is the best place to ensure safe gluten-free food.  We ate all breakfasts in the Main Dining room (well actually I brought breakfast back to the room for the kids to eat while getting ready because they move way too slow to actually get ready and down to the dining room without wasting tons of vacation fun time).  The dining room is great about giving a dad covered plates to bring the kids in the morning and I recommend this if you have a slow-moving crew and want to allow them to have breakfast while getting ready for the day.  

 

We also ate all dinners in the Main Dining Room.  I thought the service was great on the Oasis, but our dining staff took it to a whole new level on the Allure.  The service was so quick and efficient and friendly. Everything was just perfect in the dining room.  Like shockingly perfect. 

 

For lunches, the kids ate Sorrento’s gluten-free pizza several times and we ate Park Café (which is fantastic for an included option!)

 

Overall the food was good – not gourmet or over the top, but definitely good and gluten-free and we didn’t have to cook it or clean up after it, so it was a huge improvement over regular everyday life for us.  We loved it…

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NASSAU

 

We stayed on the ship in Nassau and had an awesome day at the uncrowded pools – I highly recommend doing this at least one day if you have 4 ports as it is a really relaxing experience.  

 

See below for the reason why we chose Nassau as the port to stay on the ship…

 

When we were in Nassau in November we went to Junkanoo Beach because people on Cruise Critic lied and said it is a convenient walk and a pretty nice beach for free.  It is, in fact, neither convenient nor nice.  

 

As far as I am concerned, the emphasis is on JUNK when I think of Junkanoo….

 

The walk was like playing Frogger with my small kids.  It was longer than I thought (to the point we got a cab back).  The beach was rocky and I counted no fewer than a dozen pieces of broken glass on the beach where my kids were running around with bare feet.  When I asked for umbrellas and chairs, the price almost doubled between the time I spoke with the girl selling them and the time they were set up and ready to go.  I am fairly certain the first bottled beer I paid for was a used bottle refilled with draft beer – they didn’t argue with me at all when I told them to replace it with a  fresh one.  Ugh...

 

Seriously people, do not take your small kids there.  Either pay for a nice beach day somewhere or enjoy the ship or another activity, but if you are looking for a free place to go for the day, you will definitely be getting what you pay for at Junkanoo.  I hated the place….

 

Rant over…

 

In any event, spending the day relaxing on the ship at the pools was the opposite of that horrible experience at Junkanoo in November. It was so nice and fun – we really enjoyed the day!

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Posted (edited)

COZUMEL – PARADISE BEACH

 

We chose Paradise Beach in Cozumel based on the good reviews on Cruise Critic, and everything about this place is as described in the reviews.  It’s about a 10-15 minute easy cab ride from the port.  It was $3 entry each (the 3 year old was free) and the food and drinks were pay as you go.  The beach was nice, but the pool was even nicer.  The service was FANTASTIC!  The prices for drinks and food were reasonable.  It was just a really fun day that all 4 of us enjoyed a lot and I think between the cabs, entry, food and drinks we only spent about $130.  Really not bad at all – I would not hesitate to recommend this place to anyone.

 

 

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Edited by Gatordad815

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Posted (edited)

ROATAN – INFINTY BAY

 

Originally I was dubious of Roatan, as there are some not so great reviews out there.  But the more I read, the more apparent it became to me that West Bay Beach would be the most beautiful beach we had the opportunity to visit on our trip, so I was determined to find a safe and reliable way to get there and back.

 

We ended up making reservations at Infinity Bay Resort for the day (we emailed them).  They charged us $50 for round-trip transportation for the 4 of us and $20 for the 2 adults for beach loungers and use of the pool all day.  Children 5 and under were free and although it was our daughter’s 6th birthday the day we went there, she was technically still 5 when we arrived at the resort (the time she was born was like 30 minutes after we got there) so I really didn’t feel guilty telling them she was 5…

 

The transport was a clean van that took us from inside of the port directly to the resort.  The driver arranged for a time to pick us up and he was reliable and on time.  The ride was not bad at all.  I had read a lot about traffic because of construction and I was a little concerned about that, but it appears the construction is almost complete and we never had any traffic either way.

 

This resort is really nice – the pool is beautiful, though we did not even go in because we were at the beach all day.  The beach was AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL!  Really we were so glad we went because the beach was just something else.

 

As reported on Cruise Critic there are a LOT of vendors trying to sell you things on the beach.  As the day progressed, the beach became more crowded and there were some shady characters who approached us.  It was annoying, but not annoying enough that we wouldn’t do it again to enjoy the beautiful beach.

 

If you are looking for a good way to get to West Bay Beach and a nice place to spend the day, I would definitely recommend Infinity Bay…

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Edited by Gatordad815

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Posted (edited)

COSTA MAYA – BLUE KAY

 

As we were exiting the ship in Costa Maya, my kids were chanting “We love Mexico!” over and over again without prompting from us. For some reason, they really, really were excited to be back in Mexico.

 

I had read several reviews of Blue Kay with conflicting reports of the cost and set-up and I almost chose not to go there because I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I am so glad we chose to go there as it was fantastic!

 

The cabs are $8 each to go to the beach and it was a quick ride.  Upon arrival, we paid $12 for each adult for entry and chairs (both kids were free) and that included 2 drinks for each of us – what a great deal! 

 

The beach was very pretty.  There was some seaweed, but they were keeping it very clean and it did not impact our day there at all.  You could see on the other side of Blue Kay how much seaweed piled up on in the areas that were not attended to, so it was apparent to me that they really do a nice job keeping it clean.

 

The service was GREAT!  Just so friendly and efficient.  The food and drinks were incredibly reasonably priced.  The vibe was soooooooo relaxed…. After spending the day at West Bay the day before being harassed by aggressive vendors all day, it was so nice to see friendly low-key vendors – it was no hassle at all when they approached us.

 

I would highly recommend Blue Kay if you are in Costa Maya – everything about it was great!

 

When it was time to leave, the kids were lollygagging as usual and I was eager to get them out of the sun so I was trying to hurry them along.  I finally give my 3 year old son an ultimatum:

 

Dad (kind of sternly): “Son – you need to get your shoes on so we can get back to the ship because we are running late and if we miss the ship you aren’t going to be able to go home and you are going to have to live in Mexico!”

 

Son (sincerely smiling): “Yay – I LOVE MEXICO!!!”

 

Sigh…I guess that one backfired on me….

 

 

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Edited by Gatordad815

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ADVENTURE OCEAN

 

Our kids used Adventure Ocean 5 of the 7 evenings and they loved it!  They have a service where they will pick the kids up at the front of the dining room between 6:40 and 6:50 every evening, which we had not utilized in our prior two trips on Oasis.  This was AWESOME!  I highly recommend utilizing this service.  It seems people didn’t really know about it, as our kids were the only kids going with them 2 of the 3 nights we used the service.  It was so much easier than going up to Adventure Ocean to drop them off and gave us an extra half hour of “adult” time (which is precious time indeed as we never have family or babysitters watch the kids at home, so it was very nice for us).

 

This is the third cruise that our kids have LOVED Adventure Ocean, and the staff was great as always this trip!

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ENTERTAINMENT

 

Ocean Aria - We took the kids to see the Ocean Aria show and it was AMAZING!  Our 3 year old boy has a short attention span and he was mesmerized by the entire show.  I definitely recommend taking the kids to see this show – it was very fun!

 

Comedy Night – One of the nights the kids went to Adventure Ocean, we went to see the comedy show and it was hilarious – we really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it!  Isn’t it awesome how these Oasis class ships have so many different entertainment venues???

 

Headliner – The headliner was a juggler who told jokes and while my wife and I anticipated he was going to be totally lame based on the description of the show, it was actually a really fun show – it kept the kids’ attention and they loved it.  I was really surprised at how much we all enjoyed it!

 

We had reservations to see Mamma Mia, Blue Planet and the Ice show, but alas, it was not meant to be….just too much else going on….maybe next time!

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RANDOM THOUGHTS

 

  1. The crowd: One of the reasons I was concerned to sail out of Miami for Spring Break is because I thought it would feel like being in Miami on the cruise.  I was kind of concerned the elevators and promenade would feel like being on the Palmetto Expressway during rush hour, and that the people would treat each other kind of like people treat each other on the Palmetto Expressway.  I honestly wasn’t looking forward to that.  Remember, I am from Miami, so I am allowed to say that….

     

    In actuality, the people on this cruise were SO NICE!  I swear like 80% of the people on the ship were from Michigan.  What is it with you Michigan people???  Is there something in the water that makes you so polite and friendly and likeable?  Or is the human body just predisposed to kindness the first time it thaws from a long northern winter?  It was almost nauseating how great you all were…

     

    I now love Michigan (even though I have never been there) because you people were awesome to cruise with.  Like noticeably awesome.

     

  2. The crowding: I have read before that a Spring Break trip full of kids is noticeably more crowded and there are lines everywhere.  I prepared my wife for this.  In reality, this cruise was no more crowded than when we were on Oasis the last 2 times (both of which were while school was in session).  I continue to be impressed with how much breathing room there is on the Oasis Class Ships.

     

  3. The Family Party on the Boardwalk:  If you have kids, do this!  It was on our last sea day and they had balloon twisting and face painting and games and a raffle and all kinds of fun.  The kids LOVED it – we were out there for like 3 hours.

     

  4. Vintages: We wandered in there one evening while the kids were in Adventure Ocean and it was so relaxing.  The service was fantastic and it was just a very quiet and peaceful place to stumble upon.  A very adult experience (the opposite of what we are used to in daily life).  We didn’t eat anything in there, but what we saw leave the kitchen looked and smelled fantastic! It’s a really nice place to have a drink (or 3! 😉

     

  5. The Weather:  Wow!  We lucked out this week…. The weather was PERFECT!  ALL WEEK!  NOT A DROP OF RAIN!!!  The seas were so calm too.  Our first 2 cruises we had several days when the ship really rocked and I thought it would always just be like that.  But the seas were so calm this cruise.  The last day at sea was a bit windy, but that was the worst weather the whole week and it was still a really pleasant day!  This trip will be the benchmark for perfect weather for future trips and I can only wish we have another week in the future with such perfect cruising weather.

     

  6. Live Music: We enjoyed live music in several spots.  Boleros had a Bob Marley Tribute band one night and they were so fun!  The same guys played at the pool on sea days.  The Bow and Stern Pub had a great guy singing, though I cannot recall his name.  But it was fun and engaging.  Central Park always has talented musicians playing and creating a lovely relaxing atmosphere.  Seriously, Central Park is just amazing in every way.  I love it in there.  Overall, the music was just fantastic all around the ship.

     

  7. The Beach Pool: This is the best pool on the ship.  It just is.  If you can get your kids away from the H20 zone, they may actually love the beach pool.  Ours did and it made the adult pool experience so much better.

     

  8. Royal Caribbean:  You know, they really do deliver a phenomenal onboard experience.  I see why so many people are loyal and come back over and over again.  I was so disappointed and upset with the whole cancellation and horrible service to rebook, and their pre-cruise service really does leave a lot to be desired, but they make up for it with an awesome experience on the ship.  I guess that’s what really matters the most, huh?

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So there you have it.  Another trip complete.  Another fantastic memory.  Another successful gluten-free week on the high seas.

 

And to think, I almost gave up on cruising for Spring Break when the first 8 people I talked to on the phone at Royal Caribbean told me no rooms were available on the Allure…..

 

Lessons Learned:

 

  1. Be persistent with the people on the phone. Never underestimate the value of calling back 80 times. 

  2. A family of 4 can fit comfortably in an oceanview balcony room with some prior planning and organization.

  3. The Allure of the Seas is AWESOME!

  4. The Western Itinerary is really fun and I can’t wait to do it again!  I thought I was an Eastern Caribbean guy, but really I love both!

  5. Michigan people are the nicest people in America.  Who knew??? 

This was far and away the best of the three cruises we have taken and I am so happy we were able to get ourselves on the Allure after the Oasis cancellation.  We were lucky indeed!

 

I’d be happy to answer any questions if I can – thank you to all of you who have posted so much invaluable information here – it really did help me plan the best trip ever and for that I am very grateful!  

 

Until next time…Cheers!

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What a great, honest review! We are boarding her next month and just can’t wait. Thanks so much for the shout-out to us Michiganders, we are awesome!  Glad to hear that they were so accommodating to your daughter’s dietary needs, I always felt I had to be in charge of picking out my son’s meals as he has food allergies and we mostly ate at Windjammer but good to know about MDR.

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Gatordad815 said:

Children 5 and under were free and although it was our daughter’s 6th birthday the day we went there

lol, you told me about your DD's birthday while we were in the water. :)

And then we talked again at Blue Kay.

Edited by Itchy&Scratchy

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Thanks for your great review, Gatordad815! I’m glad you were persistent, and were able to get your family aboard Allure!  Sounds like everyone had a wonderful time. 😀

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Fantastic Photography and well-done Review - Thanks!!! We'll be on Allure for second time, next February. Ken

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Thanks for the western port tips.  We're doing Allure in 2020 and the same itinerary except we are doing Coco Cay instead of Nassau.  I'm making notes!   Sounds like you had a wonderful trip.  

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11 hours ago, Gatordad815 said:

 

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I seriously want to be here right now for a month or two or three!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Thank you so much for this detailed review! DH and I are going on Allure Western Caribbean late 2020 for our 10th anniversary (sans kids!) and cannot wait!

 

We’ve been discussing when would be a good time to cruise with our littles (2 and 4.5) and it sounds like maybe sooner rather than later is a possibility! 

 

Thanks again!

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Gator dad. Thanks for the review. The pictures are great! We will be onboard in two weeks.

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great review! love the positive spin on things! you really made lemonade out of lemons. Considering this with family at xmas.

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 Great review. We have been on Oasis, Symphony, and Allure. Can't really narrow it down but Allure is still our favorite.  Have Allure booked for the 2020 TA after the refurb, just imagine the cruise with 1500 fewer kids. 

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Gatordad815 said:

I would highly recommend Blue Kay if you are in Costa Maya – everything about it was great!

 

Great and helpful review!

 

I'm just in the process of choosing between Blue Kay and Jaime's on the Blue Reef (AI).  There have been so many conflicting reports about the beach setup, cost, etc. at Blue Kay that I've been leaning toward Jaime's, but now?  Maybe not!  Those pictures look great!  Were the drinks decent at Blue Kay?   I'm not a big drinker, so two is plenty if they're good!

 

Also, Jaime's is less than a mile down the beach, has gotten really good reviews, and is $50 pp for the all inclusive.  How does that sound compared with what you spent per adult at Blue Kay?

Edited by RW_MI

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19 hours ago, Itchy&Scratchy said:

lol, you told me about your DD's birthday while we were in the water. 🙂

And then we talked again at Blue Kay.

 

😀 It was nice to meet you! Happy cruising! 

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