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5thgirl

(Unexpected) 10 Day Sailing - ALLURE 8/25-9/4 Cruise Review (One More!)

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Just getting my land legs back from the last day of cruising and settled back in enough to share my review of the recent 8/25 Allure sailing. I'd seen another LIVE post/thread which captured a ton, but here's my experience for those interested. 

 

We're a family of four w. two teenagers (boy/girl). This was our 7th cruise, 5th on RC. I chose this cruise primarily for the ship as I wanted to try an Oasis class. We've been to most of the caribbean islands, but the original itinerary of Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Kitts still sounded great. This would be the first cruise where our kids would be old enough to be in there own stateroom and could wander about on their own - great for us parents! We booked 2 interiors on deck 11 forward. I wanted to be somewhat in the middle of the action. Plan was to fly in the Sat before, stay at Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Crusie Port hotel, spend a bit of time at the pool before boarding the next day. As many of you know,  St. Thomas became San Juan at some point - we weren't happy, but accepted the change nonetheless and moved ahead. I booked  excursions in Nassau (city tour) and a day trip to Nevis which I was super excited about.

 

Hotel was just fine for a one day stay. Lots of restaurants nearby, Walgreens and short distance from airport and to Port Everglades.  We got in around 2pm, headed across the street to 17th Street Thai Sushi for a late lunch/early dinner - it wasn't too bad at all, but a tad pricey. Was a bit cloudy but still very warm. We decided to hop into the pool - it was pretty empty so we got a chance to enjoy it to ourselves for a bit, but began to get more crowded as folks started checking in late afternoon. 

 

Rest of the day we relaxed, stopped at Walgreens for a snack fix (!) and DH and I had a drink in the hotel lobby bar. I was SO ready for this trip and needed the relaxation.....little did I know that my habit of overpacking would come in handy this time around! 

 

By evening, I was checking in to this CC board for any last minute information and boy am I glad I did! It's on this board where I learned of the expected itinerary change from Eastern to Western Caribbean. RC never once notified me beforehand that we would be sailing to Labadee, Jamaica and Cozumel instead of the original itinerary, due to a TS brewing in the area. I contemplated when to break the news to the rest of the fam....we were never fans of wanting to see Jamaica but oh well, out of our control at this point.

 

Hotel pool

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Day 1 - Sunday 

The hotel breakfast was expensive ($22 pp for buffet), so we headed to a place called Myra Harbor Cafe, a short walk from the hotel. It was decent - free coffee w. breakfast! We arranged shuttle transport from the hotel to the Port (Quick and Safe was the name of the company). Our check-in time was 1pm, and I was expecting major crowds as I knew the size of the ship and passanger capacity. Our shuttle pick up was 11:30. We were at the port and breezed through check-in by noon! Only once we stepped on board did the crew hand us the slip of paper with the new itinerary on it. Our first official notification from RC. None of us let this dampen our excitement and we were all in to visiting places we had never been (Labadee and Jamaica). First order of business for us was straight to the excursion desk to choose new options. Line was not horribly long and moved fairly quickly given the circumstances. We ended up choosing the Jamaican Plantation Tour w. Lunch and Xcaret Adventure in Cozumel. Done! Kids were excited to explore the ship in the meantime. 

 

One other note - we all downloaded the Royal App primarily to use the texting feature as this was the first time DS and DD would be going on their own. More on that later and how it worked for us...I was a bit nervous as I heard on this board that it was hit or miss.

 

Views on the ramp as we board

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So excited!!!!

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Following along with you.  We were supposed to be on the Allure 9/1 sailing.....made it all the way to FLL on the Thursday before and after our sailing was cut to 4 days, we decided to rebook for the 10/13 sailing and headed back home after 2 days.  At that point it was uncertain where Dorian would come ashore and was looking too much like it was going to be in FLL and we weren’t inclined to have to ride out what was predicted to be a Cat 4 hurricane. We were lucky enough to get the same category for almost the exact cost....just have to pay for airfare and hotel again.  We can’t complain though, after 36 cruises, this is the first one that has ever been affected by weather and we always cruise late August/early September.  Hope you had a great time!

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I’ll be be reading your review.  Welcome back !  I’ve not sailed on that large of a ship and I’m looking forward to your perspective.   

 

 

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1 hour ago, Luvmypups said:

Following along with you.  We were supposed to be on the Allure 9/1 sailing.....made it all the way to FLL on the Thursday before and after our sailing was cut to 4 days, we decided to rebook for the 10/13 sailing and headed back home after 2 days.  At that point it was uncertain where Dorian would come ashore and was looking too much like it was going to be in FLL and we weren’t inclined to have to ride out what was predicted to be a Cat 4 hurricane. We were lucky enough to get the same category for almost the exact cost....just have to pay for airfare and hotel again.  We can’t complain though, after 36 cruises, this is the first one that has ever been affected by weather and we always cruise late August/early September.  Hope you had a great time!

Oh I was feeling bad for the 9/1 cruisers. Must have been a bit anxiety ridden - can't believe you've done 36 and this is the first one impacted by weather! That's astonishing. We ultimately had a great time, but a bit of a roller coaster. Kids missed the first 2 days of school.

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1 hour ago, NHProud said:

I’ll be be reading your review.  Welcome back !  I’ve not sailed on that large of a ship and I’m looking forward to your perspective.   

 

 

Thanks - I will share more of my perspective on the Oasis class as I continue - I ultimately loved it! But I think it would have been different sailing high season vs. low. If we went during spring break, I'm sure the ship would have been much more crowded.

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I’m following too. 

 

My my daughter and son-in-law were on your cruise. What a roller coaster. We babysat their ten year old daughter while they were gone. We were planning on a week, not ten days. But we survived. 

 

Surprised you weren’t informed about the itinerary change. We’re you signed up for text or email alerts?  My daughter was, and she immediately text us the changes. 

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I wonder if you were booked through a travel agency.  My guess is that if you were, the agency would have been notified and they should have notified you.

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8 hours ago, LadyBeBop said:

I’m following too. 

 

My my daughter and son-in-law were on your cruise. What a roller coaster. We babysat their ten year old daughter while they were gone. We were planning on a week, not ten days. But we survived. 

 

Surprised you weren’t informed about the itinerary change. We’re you signed up for text or email alerts?  My daughter was, and she immediately text us the changes. 

Hope they got you a souvenir!  I actually didn't know there was an option to sign up to receive alerts.  I figured if they're able to email me the bill, they'd be able to send me an alert with a change as significant as this! 😉 Glad your daughter was able to give you the head's up.

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6 hours ago, katiel53 said:

I wonder if you were booked through a travel agency.  My guess is that if you were, the agency would have been notified and they should have notified you.

I booked directly with RC. 🤔

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After excursions were done, we plugged into the RC wi-fi that was required to use the app and did a few text tests - all worked out great! We did not pay for VOOM (YET - I like to be unplugged on vacay) and did not purchase any drink packages (not a soda family, and occasional cocktail is all we need) or dining packages (I like to save my $$ and am fine with MDR).  We all scurried around checking out the ship. I loved everything. New to us were the Aqua Theater, Boardwalk and Central Park. Views were amazing. We killed some time playing mini golf and ping pong. Plans on Day 1 were late lunch in Windjammer, and Mamma Mia as our first show, which I was really excited about. We did MTD, as the 5pm was too early and 8pm was too late. First time with MTD and wasn’t sure what to expect - will share more on that later, but it worked out well for us.

 

Our luggage arrived pretty quickly, but they were set in front of a nearby stateroom, maybe 3 doors down. We just happened to walk by and recognize them. Not sure if it was placed there temporarily but we grabbed them and unpacked right away. Our stateroom attendant was Sandy. He was a nice guy, however, a few days in, I could see the difference between my earlier cruises from years ago. He did his job well, but for me, what was missing was the more proactive friendliness, energetic,getting to know us better, etc. I just figured that with such a large ship, he was kept super busy and with the auto gratuity system, things may be a bit different now...an observation, not a criticism as I know they all work really long hours.

 

I thought food in Windjammer was just okay. Gave it the benefit of the doubt given it was just first day spread. Mamma Mia was great! I made reservations for all shows beforehand. Great singing and energy was fun. We decided the next day was going to be a relaxing pool day - my DD and I reserved the cupcake decorating class at 3pm for Day 2.

 

Views from Allure before we set sail

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Central Park, We loved it there

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I never got tired of this view of the Boardwalk, especially when at sea and the ocean churning

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Hanging dresses, something visual to take in through the glass elevator

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More views

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Rising Tide Bar in action. The one thing I didn't get a chance to do before we left. I honestly wasn't quite sure how it worked (i.e. at what times it would move up and down)

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Day 2 - Monday

Our experience with the pools has always been that if you’re not up super early, all the seats get “taken”, so DH and I got up at 8am. To our surprise, it was pretty empty! I think again, this was due to low season and ship may not have been at capacity.

 

We had breakfast in WJ (it was so-so) and then grabbed a great spot in front of the main pool. I liked the fact that it had 3 pools + separate H2O zone. Plenty to choose from. The beach pool looked cool, but we chose the main pool as it was fresh water, which the kids prefer. Kids met us later - they wanted to check out the teen club and a meet and greet that day. After trying it this time (they also tried it once a few years ago), they decided the teen club is just not their thing. Not enough other kids to click with unfortunately.

 

DH and I, however, had an awesome time at the pool! Drank, soaked up the sun and socialized with some other folks. I think my DH had one too many Stellas by the end of the day. At around 2pm, went with the kids so they could try the zipline. Both did it, and both had a good time. It is a rather short line, so you’d have to do it multiple times if you want to maximize the fun. I told myself I’d do it once before the trip was over. At 3pm DD and I headed to our cupcake class.

 

Surprisingly, we were told that 2 scoops of Ben & Jerry ice cream pp were included and could be redeemed at any time during the cruise (this was not in the description when we reserved online), however, without this little perk, I’m not so sure it was worth the $30pp. It was fun nonetheless. We made a cupcake dog. What do you think? (LOL)

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Formal Night dinner - NOT the the formal night we remembered from even a few years ago. I read many posts on CC that the formal attire is more optional now than ever, and it was really clear to me on this sailing. I would say my family dressed semi-formal - dresses for me and DD. DH had suit and collared shirt, but no tie. DS - long sleeve shirt with tie, dark cotton pants and dress shoes, no jacket though. There were MANY people dressed casual, shorts were acceptable.

 

MTD - I was able to make reservations for 6:30 pm for 5 out of 7 days. Today was a 6:45 and we weren't sure if we would make the 8:30 Aqua show as we like to change out of our formal wear after dinner and reserved seating ends at 15 min prior to show. I ran down to American Icon Dining Room to see if there was earlier seating, and surprisingly there was, although they took us up to the 5th Floor (Silk Dining Room). I thought 4 and 5 were reserved for the non MTD diners but that is not the case. To cut to the chase, food was really good, loved seeing the old standards (e.g. escargot), loved being able to have our own table, however, dinner was FAST. They take your whole entire order at once from starters to entree and dessert and we were done in an hour or so. It felt a little different not being able to take it a bit slower like we used to. There are 2 lines - onhe for reservations and one without. 

 

I loved the Aqua Theater experience. Here are some night shots. The pool is 17 feet deep! Divers were all good. There is also a water show at the same time.

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Following.  Allure is my favorite ship so far.  We sailed on the Allure July 14 of this year.  SO good we booked Oasis May 2020 out of New Jersey.  Have fun . great review so far

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Day 2 Evening -

A few notes on the different venues:

 

Boleros - We love latin music and dancing, and it was great to see people of all ages dancing and just having a good time. Lots of passersby would hover in the entryway and seemed to really enjoy the music, but couldn’t quite get themselves to come in and take a seat and relax. I found that a bit amusing. The live band played merengue, salsa, cumbia, cha-cha - you name it, they would play it.

 

Blaze - We came here for the 80’s theme night. It was fun, many people chair dancing and I wished they would just go out on the dance floor! Mostly top 40 80’s music via a DJ e.g. Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, B52s, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna..., no alternative music (not even the popular alternative, but still fun).

 

Dazzles - This was a lovely venue, beautiful decor. We visited here on 80’s night also. Always like a live band. There is also a dance floor.  The lead female singer was very good. I saw her later in the week working the art auction desk - confirming that most employees on board have more than one job! These people work day and night.

 

I gotta get going on this review - 10 days and only on Day 3! I better hustle.

 

Day 3 - Labadee

We would have never chosen this particular western caribbean itinerary  - as mentioned before, we were never fond of going to Haiti or Jamaica, although a co-worker of mine always raves about Labadee and its beauty. Many of the folks we spoke to the day before who were frequent sailers weren’t even going to get off the ship, stating Labadee wasn’t worth the long walk from the pier. So I went in not knowing how I would like it. Now that I’ve experienced it once, I’d say it was okay - not the best beach I’ve ever been to, but it served its purpose of a free relaxing beach day. 

 

The part we were at was rocky and entry into the water was not that enjoyable, but it was warm. Because it was so hot, we did splurge and paid $48 for 2 canopies with chairs. Many folks just picked chairs under the trees, but I wanted the option of sun./shade whenever I chose. We had a good view of the folks ziplining across and in the far distance could see the Dragon’s roller coaster ride. One thing that was great was the food. The freshly cooked/grilled spread (Ribs, Chicken, Burgers) was tasty and much better than some of the items served in WJ. Kids thought the fruit punch was horrible and watered down. 

 

I did read on these boards about being cautious of the vendors up the hill past the main shopping stall, so I stayed clear from there even though I was approached several times by locals trying to get me to go that way.

 

View from the ship before we left

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You can see the zipliners coming across

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Beach goes down a slight inclie as you enter the water and it's a bit rocky

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Mountain views

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Allure as we returned

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Dinner in MDR was good this evening.  We arrived at American icon on 3rd floor, and this time, were taken to 4th floor (Grande) for dinner at 6:30.

 

I think this was crabcake. It was good, and yes those are reading glasses in the upper left. I cannot see the menu anymore at my age, LOL

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I LOVED this Roasted Poblano Pepper soup. 

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Fish with lemon rice, yummy

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Show tonight was the adult comedy. Kids wanted to go swimming at night so that was their plan today. SO glad we reserved ahead of time. There are only about 30 seats in the comedy club. Quick review - Phil Tag, very funny; Alvin Williams, not so much (IMO). It was at this venue that I started to notice the Star Class and VIP reserved sections. I am not familiar with Star Class (yes I had to google it). QUESTION: How does one get to experience Star Class at those outrageous prices?  

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Hi we were on the same sailing with you. We had a great time and very impress with the Captain and grateful for the decisions made by Royal keeping us well out of harms way. The 3 xtra days in our Crown Loft gets no complaints from me. It was our 2nd time on Royal (i’m Team Haven lol) and it was a great time. We will sail Oasis or Freedom since it will be newly amped, April for my bday. Your review is great I am always so thrilled when people throughly share to help people like me always on the site getting information then I return and forget to post any🤗thing. Thanks 

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6 hours ago, Waterluv said:

Hi we were on the same sailing with you. We had a great time and very impress with the Captain and grateful for the decisions made by Royal keeping us well out of harms way. The 3 xtra days in our Crown Loft gets no complaints from me. It was our 2nd time on Royal (i’m Team Haven lol) and it was a great time. We will sail Oasis or Freedom since it will be newly amped, April for my bday. Your review is great I am always so thrilled when people throughly share to help people like me always on the site getting information then I return and forget to post any🤗thing. Thanks 

I too, was pleased that the Captain kept us safe and in calm waters. It was handled well.  My kids had anxiety due to missing the first 2 days of school but it was fine.  Only thing I would add is that the PA system made it hard to understand what the Captain was saying.  Passengers would look at each other befuddled afterward. Plus I was in my stateroom when he announced the Wed extension but it only came through the hallway PA and if I didn't stick my head out I would have missed it!

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Day 4 - Wed, Jamaica

 

We chose the 1700s Great House and Plantation Tour for today’s excursion. Booked through RC but the tour company was called Chukka. Thankfully we did not have to meet up until 11am, giving us plenty of time to ease into the day and have breakfast beforehand. The tour included a narration of some sights as we headed to the house, and then a walk through of the house itself, followed by an “authentic” lunch made by the locals. Be aware that the description of the excursion includes statements that read “Guests will have access to the pool area after the tour” and “Return to the ship at your leisure on hourly shuttles”.This doesn’t really mean you should bring your swimwear and towel to hunker down for a pool day, which my DD thought, so a bit misleading. I didn’t see any hourly shuttles, nor did any of the guides mention this. It was basically a 3-3.5 hour tour end to end.

 

Pros - the views from the house are beautiful; I really enjoyed the lunch of jerk chicken, rice and peas and festival dumplings (aka hush puppies) + their version of fruit punch. It was nice to have a home cooked meal and to share it with the other folks in the tour group on the back porch of the house. Cons - I wish we were given more details on life at the plantation, and of the home itself. The guide could have waited until everyone was assembled in each room before starting her narration of each space, but this didn’t happen and we may have missed some of those details.

 

Our very first time visiting Jamaica. Views as we approach from the ship.

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Good Hope Great House & Plantation

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View from the back of the house

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Goprgeous scenery from the house

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Here is the pool mentioned in the description. According to the guide, they host weddings here and sometimes use it as a resort  for guests.

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Back to the ship. There is also an area with vendors and retail stores.

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Day 4 - MDR Dining

Dinner tonight was actually in the American Icon Dining Room! At least we experienced the decor of all three spaces. Our favorite waitstaff during our trip in the MDR included Made and Sally. This was the one night that I didn’t quite like the choices I made. 

 

Seafood Puff Pastry Starter - this was just meh IMO

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Same goes for this Tuna dish, although I told myself I'd try something new this evening, so my bad for not sticking with the old standards.

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I think we were all tired from the day so not a ton of evening activities tonight. Starting tomorrow is when I believe we all started hearing that Sunday, Sep 1 would not be in the cards for us to return to FLL......At this point it was looking like Monday, Sep 2, which was still okay for me, being a U.S. holiday and kids and I would not miss any school ro work.  We were so wrong of course!!

 

Here's the obligatory towel animal pic:

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I kept up with the "other" live review on your sailing & it was awesome to follow along...now I will follow along with your review! Enjoying your review! 

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Enjoying your review.  

Glad you guys kept a good attitude with all the changes...

 

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43 minutes ago, tcmagnum said:

Enjoying your review.  

Glad you guys kept a good attitude with all the changes...

 

Looking back, what is really funny is that the FIRST change (months back) when St. Thomas became San Juan, Puerto Rico due to Allure propulsion issues is what upset me the most - at that time. The entire itinerary change from Eastern to Western, and the additional days at sea did not upset me as much, believe it or not. This is because IMO, those 2 were out of RC's control, whereas the propulsion issue, I still believe they knew about and could have better handled. But that's water under the bridge and I've gained experience from it.

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