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Danitroline

ALLURE REVIEW June 9- STAR Class ( w/Haven Comparisons)

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Posted (edited)

Good Morning! The hubs and I returned on Sunday from our very first Oasis class cruise as well as our first experience with STAR class. 

A brief background: we are in our mid 50's and this is our 23rd cruise. Between us we have bee  on several Greek lines with names that escape me, Costa, Carnival, Disney ,NCL and Royal.  Prior to children we did not cruise in suites but have done so exclusively since the "babies". We had alternated between NCL and RCCL in the past 11years but mostly stayed with NCL due to their (former) reasonable Haven rates , itinerary and suite service. We did a lot of comparing to NCL on this cruise and I shall inject some of these comments into the review. At present I cannot seem to insert pictures- but, seriously- we all know what Allure looks like by now!

 

We drove from the Gettysburg  area to Atlanta on Saturday;  as we were delivering a car to one of our college students. Had dinner at the airport with our twins and a friend, noted that TSA prescreen was closed as dinner did not end until 9pm ( despite sitting down at 705pm) . Security was quite busy at this hour but we expect that from Atlanta.

Our 10pm flight to FLL was delayed by over 2 hours and we arrived at the Embassy Suites FLL at 2:24am. Very comfortable beds and nice little suite.

 

We had originally booked a GS, were offered a ROYAL UP bid 3 weeks before sailing. We placed minimum weak bids on 2 Star class suites- a 2 BR AS and a Star loft . 5 days prior to sail we got the CONGRATS email saying we were upgraded to a Star Loft which actually turned out to be the Owners Panoramic Suite. This was good for us as hubby had an injury right before sailing making stairs not-so-fun for him.

 

EMBARKATION: Took Uber to port. As we were instructed , kept bags with us after the confiscation of my scissors. I take the same pair on every cruise and keep them with the travel "stuff"; Royal decided they were too long. Oh well. I'll just use one of the giant steak knives aboard if I need to cut anything! And I ended up doing so.

 

A Genie porter took our bags and the Cliquot we brought along. I had ordered it prior to the upgrade and am glad that I did as it is my fave and a tradition with us. A Genie walked us to the check in gal who looked at our cell phones, gave us pretty black cards and wised us a safe and happy cruise. We boarded the ship , met our Genie, Daniel and headed to our home for the next 7 days. We were on the balcony by 1045am. Our bags followed shortly thereafter. QUICK COMPARE: RCL Star class hands down winner over NCL Suite class for embarkation  with the caveat that we did not experience the regular suite class check in on this cruise.

 

The suite used to be a piano bar according to legend. It is about 1,100 sq feet with a large but not ginormous balcony. It has a hot tub which we used daily, 2 chairs, 2 loungers, several little tables .

The floor to ceiling ( maybe 18-20 feet) windows added a great touch to this marvelous suite. I WILL have my kid attach the suite pics here later. We had seen this particular accommodation on a Youtube video that did not do it justice in any way.

Our steward , Carmen and her assistant DoDo stopped by for a visit after we were done reviewing the week's plans with Daniel.

 

We decided to explore the ship a bit before lunch and ended our short tour in the Coastal Kitchen. 

This was a full sailing with 6,400 quests and 44 Pinnacles /55 Pinnacles depending on whom was asked. I only insert this comment as it seems to be an interesting topic here on CC.

The CK was bustling on embarkation lunch. We were seated and then ignored.The couple to our right was arguing and insisting on hot tea in a pot with sugar and a tall glass of ice. This seemed to be a theme as the couple to our left were arguing first with each other and then with the waiter who did not realize that sweet tea can only be made with a tall glass of ice and a pot of hot tea and sugar, dammit!! The woman of the couple did a very nice storm -off. I cannot imagine being so upset by tea. We did observe her several other times during the week and pretty much everything upset her. A free dinner at 150 Central Park?  " I wont eat that crap!". A patron wearing flip flops in the Suite lounge? "APPALLING!!! "She was quite entertaining . Later we would meet the international Champion of Cruising Blow Hards, Boasters and Sociopaths- but that will have to wait.

 

Lunch was meh. Very few choices, slooooooooooooooooooooow service  ( which we attributed to embarkation chaos) I was introduced to the Lemondrop by a fellow diner -great choice!! . QUICK COMPARE :NCL wins for Haven Restaurant over Coastal Kitchen for embarkation lunch. The views from CK on  Allure and the suite lounge beat the Getaway/Escape class but not the Epic. 

 

After lunch my husband had a massage for the giant knots in his back whilst I drank lemondrops and unpacked. The skies opened up right as muster was to start so our muster location of Aquatheater was changed to Schooner Bar. Typical muster. Could have been any ship we have sailed

Sailaway from our balcony was BRILLIANT! We were able to pick out some of our old Ft Lauderdale hotels; the Coast Guard put on quite a show and off we went! We were able to look down onto the pool deck which was - well- almost empty due to the weather. We were warned that the show in Aqua theater might be cancelled that evening but the weather cleared!

 

We had dinner at Izumi Sushi  and it was divine. We ate around 6:30 and the restaurant was empty except for the teppanyaki tables. We had a variety of sushi rolls which were all excellent' took the leftovers back for  late night snack. I had a delicious saki and strawberry drink ..actually 2.5 of these!

Daniel stopped by to make sure that all was well and it were! Quick Compare: There are more Teppanyaki tables on the larger NCL ships . The sushi offerings on Allure beat those on NCL and tasted better; Allure could use a noodle bar . 

 

At dinner Daniel told us to meet him at the Aquatheater 15 minutes prior to show. The Genies wait for their guests in the venue- in this case it was several rows behind the splash zones. We had drinks brought to us and enjoyed a wonderful show that is very different than any we have seen at sea. Don't miss this show!! 

 

After the show we moseyed into the Casino . CASINO COMMENTS: The smoking area smoke does not permeate the non smoking side as profoundly as  on some ships. The smoking side is very smokey if you are sensitive. QUICK COMPARE: Allure's smoking side was just as smokey as the NCL ships- all of them. The non-smoking side was much fresher than the areas on the NCL big ships and Jewel class ships. ALLURE also allows smoking in the casino when it is closed. Bottom line- for either line if you are very smoke sensitive avoid the casinos.

The Casino was not too busy this first night, I found some cute slots, hubby played some black jack and then joined me at the slots. We both were up at the end of the session. NOTE: we are not big gamblers. This particular casino was quite fun, good atmosphere and we had only one session where we did not come out at least $100 ahead. Whoopie!! 

We left, wandered about and off to bed. It had been a long 2 days with little sleep.

 

Day 2 we chose to try breakfast at CK as it was a few steps away. It was slow despite only 5-6 tables being occupied; the menu was meh and the serving sizes small. We ate breakfast twice at CK during the cruise; the second time we used the buffet bar located in the lounge. Coffee was sub par on board all around unless we ordered a specialty coffee. No French press to be found! Quick Compare: Breakfast in the Haven blows away the CK.I remember some excellent breakfasts in Chops on Freedom and in the MDRs ; the Coastal Kitchen just does not have anything special. I had high hopes for the Mediterranean plate and was disappointed . Breakfast for Suites  goes to NCL- later I will visit Windjammer which is a STRONG win for Royal.

 

A little note about Star Class: How I wished they had this when we traveled with 3 little ones. All your laundry is done for you- every single day! It comes back pressed, clean and lovely. No squishing everything I can into a paper bag! The amenities in the bathrooms are L'Occitane ( I dont know what Sky has or suites on non-Genie ships. It has been a while since our last RCL cruise) They are big 10 ounce bottles. 

Our suite had 2 full bathrooms which was a nice perk. In the afternoon a bartender comes and takes your afternoon /per-dinner drink order. Our fridge was stocked with the beers and Diet Coke I requested, plenty of Evian, Chandon champagne.

 

Another side note: The staff on the ship were universally cheerful, pleasant, helpful and smiling. In the shops there was one snooty wench in the cosmetic store but she was an outlier. Drink service was lightening fast at any bar we visited. Service on NCL is comparable, the cruise lines tie here

 

Off to the grocery!!!! In real life, not in the review...

Edited by Danitroline
misplaced bracket

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Looking forward to more information. 

We have a 2 bedroom ATS next March

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Just now, Danitroline said:

 

 

49 minutes ago, John&LaLa said:

Looking forward to more information. 

We have a 2 bedroom ATS next March

Coming up post-haste, sir

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Our cruise was the Western - Labidee, Jamaica and Cozumel. Not the most exciting ports but we really didn't care. This was our first official-ish "Empty Nester" vacation with our youngest having graduated from HS the week prior to the cruise. He leaves for college in August, but I wanted to get a jump on all this 'the kids are all gone!" excitement.

( who am i fooling- I know how much I'll miss the last one out so decided to replace him with a basset hound puppy! Three kids- three bassets!!)

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Enjoying your review! We have done NCL Haven, and we loved it, but we also did MSC Yacht Club and loved it. We have only done Sky Class in RC, loving all the details in your review. 

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Love Carmelita. She is one of the best!  Empty nesting is great!  Our 3 our finishing college next year. Now we can start spending money on cruises instead if college. Oh happy day. 

 

We we just got back from Alaska on Millenium and the service or exceeded our Star Class sailings!

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Thank you for your review of Star Class. How did you like Daniel as your Genie? Was he friendly or just "professional" towards you and the family? Was he efficient?  Did he do any extras, like leave little treats or gifts or notes?

I have had a few Genies but never Daniel, although I have seen him around the ship (was on Allure in Feb. and had Charlie as our Genie)

Would you do Star Class on Royal again? 

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Charlie is a pretty tough act to follow. 

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29 minutes ago, DCT61 said:

Charlie is a pretty tough act to follow. 

Another Charlie fan here.  So sorry to hear that he will be or has already left Royal.

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7 hours ago, Danitroline said:

Later we would meet the international Champion of Cruising Blow Hards, Boasters and Sociopaths- but that will have to wait.

 

Laughed out loud at this, 

can’t wait!

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RE: Genie questions and a few others

Daniel was professional AND friendly. We are very easy going and it was just the two of us; some of his other families were larger AND he had the King of Jackweeds as a guest as well. He was amiable from the get go, not overbearing , got things done in a flash. Several times he just chilled with us in our suite, chatting and having a beverage; other times we asked him to pull up a chair and have at least some pork belly or bread with us at dinner

He is SMART and quite interesting; has a great sense of humor and handles himself with grace.

 

The last evening of the cruise we found a lovely card; a gift for my husband, one for me and a small sculpture of a couple for both of us. 

 

I'm sure it is protocol, but he always visited us at dinner, came to our cabana on Labidee, left us messages to ensure all is going as planned. 

 

My husband had an injury the day before we were to drive to Atlanta. I emailed Daniel and he added a massage for embarkation day. We booked 2 excursions through RCL that we realized my husband would not be able to take and Daniel switched them out, got us the new ones in about 17 seconds. BAM

 

This was only our second cruise alone since our kids were born starting 20 years ago. We were booked on MSC Yacht Club as a family and had to cancel due to the kid's schedules. Our first cruise alone was on Getaway -NCL  3 years ago in an aft suite. The suite was lovely and large but NOTHING like the Owners Panoramic we had on the Allure. We have been in the Owners and the 2 Br Villas on NCL, the Walt Disney Suite on Disney 3 times and many 2BR Grand Suites ( formerly Royal Family Suites) on RCL. This one blows them away.

We did see the Crown Lofts and an Aquatheater; the Lofts are not as large as i had thought ( but I would still take one with an ocean view balcony) ; the Aquatheater has a giant balcony but the inside doesn't have the WOW factor of the POS. (That doesn't look right but I'm leaving it!!) I would not mind ANY of the suites on this beautiful vessel!

 

We loved this ship and i would stay in any cabin with an ocean view balcony. As long as I have the balcony and a comfy bed - Ill be fine. But this was a great treat!

 

Yes, i would absolutely sail Star class again if I could get a deal like we did on this cruise. After cancelling out the drinks , the specialty restaurants, the Chef's table and not having to pay  the daily gratuity, the cost for this elegant stay was about $200 more than we were already booked to spend on the Grand Suite. RCL credited all these things that we booked to our on-board account which was nice.

Would I pay 15K for the 2 of us for this suite? Not with 3 in college. If we were travelling with the kids and could get a 2BR suite that didn't break the bank and was Star class- absolutely! 

 

We are not really fussy but I must say that having everything done for us was extremely cool. Im still blown away by the laundry. I sent one of hub's dress shirts for pressing not realizing it had a tear in it. They sent it back with permission to still iron; they also repaired the tear. 

 

The bed and the other furniture were very comfortable. The pillows were like clouds. Everything was clean and shiny but still inviting as opposed to sterile. I would not have minded  few more pops of color, but that is a non issue.

 

I like the reserved seats for the shows with a caveat: For Blue  Planet you do NOT want to be in the front row as the visual effects look much better from the back of the theater. i had to leave to answer a frantic text from my kid about an injured pupper at home; as i re-entered the theater form the back I could see so much more detail and 

appreciate the effects much better than when i got back to my front row seat. Had to kind of crane our necks at times . And the doggo is fine now.

 

Having a full fridge was another great bonus. Cans of sodas and beer , champagne that seemed to regenerate, Evian in three different sizes. The coffee in the suite was better than the coffee in the restaurants; Starbucks drinks are included as a Star guest ! I did pretend i was a millenial and indulged in a skinny vanilla latte one morning.

 

I will write more tomorrow but wanted to mention final debarkation. We had a 9:20 am flight out of FLL. At 6:40am Daniel sent a porter who loaded our cases of clean clothes . This gentleman waited for Daniel to arrive at 6:45am; he walked us off the ship, dropped us at customs with the bags being handed off to an American porter ( the RCL porter could not go past a certain line and was accompanied by a gal from customs with a clipboard) , we practically waved through customs and were in a cab at 7:05 and at the airport with mucho time to spare. We would have been there sooner but there was an Uber app glitch so we had to take a cab; the cab drivers had a little spat which wasted a little time; but getting off the ship took less than half an hour . It was INSANE!

 

Have a great evening all! More tomorrow. Feel free to as any questions about any part of the cruise- suite, StAR or generic , it doesn't matter. We ate at every venue except Giovannis so I can answer food questions as well!

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Enjoying your review.  I have met people in ports who were in the Haven.  Thank you for the comparison.  

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This made me laugh so much that I've interrupted my reading to comment!  

"Later we would meet the international Champion of Cruising Blow Hards, Boasters and Sociopaths- but that will have to wait."

 

Now back to the story.  I can't wait!

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16 hours ago, Danitroline said:

Our cruise was the Western - Labidee, Jamaica and Cozumel. Not the most exciting ports but we really didn't care. This was our first official-ish "Empty Nester" vacation with our youngest having graduated from HS the week prior to the cruise. He leaves for college in August, but I wanted to get a jump on all this 'the kids are all gone!" excitement.

( who am i fooling- I know how much I'll miss the last one out so decided to replace him with a basset hound puppy! Three kids- three bassets!!)

 

 

Great review! We did our first  "the kids are all gone" when the last graduated from college.  The three kids have been replaced by 4 Newfoundlands.  Star Class is pretty amazing, we love the Star loft suites.

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I'm sooo excited.  I feel like a voyeur to how the other side lives! (in a very complementary way)

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Can't wait to read the rest of your review!

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Looking forward to more of the story.  Taking my twenty-something children on the Allure in August.  Would so jump to a Star Class suite - I, too, did the math and hope to get the bid up offer.

 

Keep it coming...

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Thank you for the answers to my questions. Glad to hear that you enjoyed Daniel as your Genie.

I knew that Charlie was going home for a visit finally after 2 years on the job but I thought he was returning!

That will make me so sad if he is leaving Royal but, he is smart and talented and I'm sure will have many great opportunities in the future.

He is my favorite Genie.

A really lovely and kind human being.

 

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4 hours ago, queenfrostine22 said:

 but I thought he was returning!

Maybe he has changed his mind about leaving.  That would be a GREAT thing for future Star Class cruisers.  He is a true gem !

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Enjoying reading your take on this cruise.  We were on also.

We also arrived at the Embassy Suites rather late:  245 AM.....after many delays, gate changes, and finally a cancelled flight, but were able to get rebooked;  still not quite sure how!  You made out a bit better;  we had no luggage.  We did finally get our luggage/sent to the ship by Delta.  Everything inside was soaked! 

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