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5thgirl

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

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46 minutes ago, 5thgirl said:

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.

 

All the upcoming sailings for your original itinerary have been changed to San Juan as well (we're on one ourselves) ..... they are going to address the propulsion issues at dry dock in the spring of 2020.

 

I am learning that lots, if not most of things are beyond our control and we learn great lessons in dealing with them. I used to get all upset at things like that...now it just is what it is. I would have LOVED to have been booked on your sailing, but I'd have been sad if I had been booked on the following one.

 

I have cruised enough to know (at least to me) it really doesn't matter what ports are on the itinerary ...it's the time on board I enjoy the most. I'd be just as happy to sail around in open water & back again. 🙂

 

Tell us more about your experience.... I really am enjoying hearing all the insight... good & bad. 

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On 9/7/2019 at 9:00 AM, 5thgirl said:

 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! 

Hotel pool

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We are booked at this hotel for our upcoming cruise on Allure! Was it a nice hotel? 

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1 hour ago, SRV FAN said:

We are booked at this hotel for our upcoming cruise on Allure! Was it a nice hotel? 

It was decent for a one night stay. Very close to a lot of restaurants of various $$ levels, Walgreens across the street. The pool was not fancy, but it did the trick for us, and there was a hottub with a mild jet (could have been stronger). We did not eat there, just a cocktail or two in their lobby bar which was comfortable. They have a cruise shuttle service in the lobby for $6pp I think, and can also provide airpoirt shuttle back from Port Everglades if you wish to do that. Nice people.

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2 hours ago, 5thgirl said:

It was decent for a one night stay. Very close to a lot of restaurants of various $$ levels, Walgreens across the street. The pool was not fancy, but it did the trick for us, and there was a hottub with a mild jet (could have been stronger). We did not eat there, just a cocktail or two in their lobby bar which was comfortable. They have a cruise shuttle service in the lobby for $6pp I think, and can also provide airpoirt shuttle back from Port Everglades if you wish to do that. Nice people.

 

Oh THANK YOU! The shuttle info is nice to know! We usually just do cabs...but will check out the options once there.

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2 hours ago, depot72 said:

Thanks for your review! Which of the three dining rooms was your favorite?

I liked Silk (lots of red, asian themed) and American Icon (loved the US Map using state license plates), but food was the same in each. I did not understand what Grande was all about, must have been me?

Edited by 5thgirl

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Day 5 - At Sea   

Being that this was our first cruise in which the kids were old enough to take care of themselves and wander about, DH really wanted to spend time in the Solarium. I personally prefer the vibe of the Main Pool, but went along. There are worse things to worry about!!

 

This also included our first experience with the Solarium Bistro. Loved it! I really like that it is RIGHT THERE, and you don’t have to go far. Smaller spread but I thought it did the trick for breakfast, however, for lunch not as many options as I’d like. 

 

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Solarium Bistro is right in front of pool behind the circular glass 

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It was a bit of a cloudy start, but I had confidence that the Captain would steer us into the sun. We’re still waiting on formal announcement at this point re: Hurricane Dorian impacts to FLL.Captain says he’s closely monitoring the situation with Van Fleet. I am getting a bit worried, not knowing what the outcome will be. As mentioned earlier, I did not purchase VOOM, but am considering it for the remainder of the cruise just in case….

 

On the schedule today for DH and DS - Avengers End Game at 3pm. Bring a jacket! They said the Amber Theater was chilly. Being formal night again today, they had to hustle back to change for dinner afterward. The movies onboard were very much family oriented - Avengers, Captain Marvel and lots of animated movies. 

 

DD and I caught the Ice Show and a trivia game in the meantime. The Ice Show was entertaining, but took me a while to understand the Monopoly concept (they "roll" the dice, land on a "property/place" onboard the ship and perform a number that highlights that place). We got a kick of seeing all the Mamma Mia cast members sitting in front of us enjoying the ice show. I’m assuming they all receive VIP treatment while onboard. During the remainder of the cruise, we’d see them out and about everywhere we went.

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Dinner tonight was formal night, and the standard “Lobster Tail” entree was offered as I remembered from prior cruises. Although, I must say, the size of the Lobster Tails keep getting smaller and smaller! It was also RC’s 50th anniversary so each table was presented with a special dessert. Fun to look at, full of sugar though LOL. I’m sure this was a hit with all the little ones onboard.

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Evening “headliner” was described as a comedian/juggler. SO, I was expecting some sort of cheesy act, but to my surprise, it was actually very good! Adam Kario was funny, engaging, provided lots of excitement and was, according to my kids, “super buff” ha!

 

So tonight, I broke down and headed to the Promenade to inquire about VOOM access for the remainder of the sailing - primarily due to the anticipated Dorian impacts, having to contact friends, family, work, school, etc about any extension, and rebooking flights through United. Thankfully I had already received texts and emails from United stating that all flight changes for select airports would be fee waived. I decided to purchase for the last 3 days of the sailing. Total price for one device was $47.99 for surf and $49.99 for surf + stream. Because of the minor differenvce I went ahead and got the surf + stream. Our family of four just took turns using the signon and it worked for us.

 

Day 6 would bring Xcaret in Cozumel, and final confirmation of Captain's decision on what would be happening in the coming days....

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A few random notes before I move to Day 6:

 

RC App - Worked well for our main purpose which was to text with the kids. Calendar, Daily Planner and ongoing charges/bill all worked okay. I’d say it was accurate 85% of the time. Issues were reservations not always showing up, especially when you have to change or reschedule. Also, on Day 8 we were issued new cards due to the extension and that seemed to recalibrate a bunch of things on the App

 

VOOM - Worked well. Fast enough for us. We only used to surf/google, check emails and social media. 

 

C&A coupons - we just made Platinum after this cruise. Coupons were standard. Adults - BOGO Wine, BOGO Johnny Rockets Milkshake, 10% discount at stores, Buy One 8x10 Photo, Get one 50% off + Casino stuff. Youth - Spend 50 at Arcade, get 25 OBC. Starbucks discounts, can’t recall the others.

 

Arcade - I did not realize you have to open your kids seapass for access to your onboard spending tied your credit card in order to receive the 25 dollar arcade credit. I loaded 50 on my DD’s card but I paid for it with my card. This does not work. I had to go to the loyalty desk to sort it out. The lady there was no help, promised to call me later in the day with a resolution but never heard from her. I did put her name on the survey afterward. What I DID like was that the system caps each child at 50/day. 

 

Guest Services - Lines were never crazy long like I am used to seeing. Decent service, but some new reps that weren’t fully up to speed. That’s ok, everyone is new at some point.

 

Favorite Bar - Trellis Bar in Central Park.

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Day 6 -

 

Today will be a long day. We are going to Xcaret, a Nature Adventure Park in Cozumel. We’ve been to Cozumel twice before and have visited Tulum. I’ve heard good things about Xcaret. It is an 8am start to an 8.5 hour excursion. Travel time is 1-1.5 hour each way, as you have to take the ferry to Playa del Carmen followed by a bus ride. DS and I were prepared with our Bonine just in case. We don’t get seasick on the cruise ship, just ferries or small boats in choppy waters. (BTW, I never once felt any rocking while onboard until the very last evening returning to FLL, Never felt like I was even on a large ship the entire time!), Once off the ferry there is a rather long walk to the bus.

 

Xcaret was wonderful. First activity was to swim the cenote from one side of the park to the other. Highly recommend you bring your own water shoes. An experience to remember that everyone does when visiting Xcaret - except me. I do not swim, believe it or not, so DH, DD and DS suited up in their life jackets and away they went. They have these humongous duffle bags that you put all your things in (can fit 2 large backpacks plus more) and they transport it to the other side and it’s waiting for you when you get to the end. They give you a key you wear around your neck while swimming.


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There were paths I walked to meet them on the other side and could see the swimmers down belo

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In the meantime, I walked the long path to meet them on the other side and there was plenty to see and take in. The scenery and the way they built their park is beautiful. In about 4 hours we managed to do the cenote swim, lunch with awesome views of the water, swim in the natural pools, visit the cemetery, saw the jaguars and cheetahs, went through the aviary, saw many flamingo and birds. You get a wristband with a barcode that you can scan at various photo op points and they have cameras that will snap your photo automatically. I thought this was a great idea that many parks don’t have. Cost to purchase all photos was $49 and they send you a url link. You can also buy individual photos at a hefty price per. We got the package. They also have colored lines that you just follow to get from point A to B without getting lost - why doesn’t Disney have this?

 

Ruins

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Animals everywhere, both behind walls and out in the open

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Natural Pools. This was the veiw from our lunch spot.

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Waterfalls everywhere

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I really enjoyed Xcaret and will definitely go back to experience what I missed. The excursion through RC was pricey at about $100pp, but when I look at the Xcaret website, their entrance fee is advertised at $99 pp, so not sure how that adds up!

 

On our way back, my kids were amazed at how large Allure was compared to Empress. This is such an amusing photo!

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It was so HOT, we probably could have done more if cooler. 

 

Back at the stateroom getting ready for dinner is when the announcement came in the hallway that were going to be at sea until WEDNESDAY. Again, this did not come through into our room. I had to pop my head out of the room like most of the others (a bunch of heads hanging out the doors, lol) and when the work WEDNESDAY was announced, the neighbor to my right and I locked eyes and freaked out together for a split second.

 

Last item I'll mention for Day 6 is the Blue Planet Show. For those who are wondering what this is: 

Main singers were all from Mamma Mia Cast, so, great vocals all around. Not sure the concept worked for me. Didn't quite get it. Random popular songs thrown together with some sort of eco nature theme. I did enjoy one part where they simulated an undersea experience. The production was well done, just not my thing.

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Goodnight

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Not sure how I would have felt being extended to Wednesday, but safety first. 

It's not the cruise line or captain's fault, so I guess we would blame Mother Nature.

And everyone knows what a total ***** Mother Nature can be...Lol...

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16 hours ago, 5thgirl said:

when the announcement came in the hallway that were going to be at sea until WEDNESDAY. Again, this did not come through into our room. I had to pop my head out of the room like most of the others (a bunch of heads hanging out the doors, lol)

Is there a way to hear the announcements from inside the room?  Like turning the TV on to a certain channel?  We did both xPlor and XCaret before, both fantastic parks... perhaps a bit rushed as a cruise excursion though.

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7 hours ago, Glide_Path said:

Is there a way to hear the announcements from inside the room?  Like turning the TV on to a certain channel?  We did both xPlor and XCaret before, both fantastic parks... perhaps a bit rushed as a cruise excursion though.

All the other announcements came through fine in our room PA, so I wouldn't have thought to search for other options like you mention on  the tv, etc. Just odd that this one did not. I have never heard of XPlor - what is that? 

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What was supposed to be Day 7 - Sea Day, turned into a port day!

 

After we heard of the extension to Wednesday, I was wondering what they were going to do with us for the next 4 days. Again, I didn't get any info yet from RC (if it was mentioned on the PA announcement, it escaped me) HOWEVER, with the newly added VOOM, I went on RC's facebook page and found a place where they announce changes due to weather. It was there that i saw that we would be going to 2 additional ports - Roatan and Costa Maya! So Day 7 - Roatan, Day 8 - Costa Maya, Days 9 and 10 would be sea days. This helped to ease our anxiety. We LOVE Roatan, been there twice before. Costa Maya would be new for us.

 

Arrival time to Roatan was 11am. We had previosuly reserved the Sushi making class for today at 10am when it was originally supposed to be a sea day. We decided to keep the reservation given the port time. We all hustled and arrived at Izumi's only to find out that the class had been moved to Monday. This is where the RC App loses points as these types of changes do not relfecct on the App.  😞

 

We decided to just take a taxi on our own to a closeby beach in Roatan. Last time we were there on Princess a few years back,. we ported near Mahogany Bay. Since Allure is too large to dock there, we ended up in Coxen Hole. Closest beach would be Sol y Mar, seemed decent per website reveiws and such. A 10 min taxi ride and a daily resort fee. We really prefer West Bay beach - it's gorgeous out there, but a bit farther and we decided to stay closer for some reason. Anyway, long story short, we arrange a taxi to Sol y Mar for $40 round trip total for 4 people. We get there, the fee to enter the resort is $17pp and they do not take credit cards! Not enough cash , so we decided to go further to West Bay after all. I think it was all meant to be. It's one of the most beautiful stretches of beaches (IMO), water super blue and clear. We went to Henry Morgan resort for $20 pp, including WiFI.

Had lunch at the beach restaurant - you cannot get seafood soup anywhere in the states for $10 bucks! Only bad things - lots of bees flying around as well as too many vendors. There are many nice hotels on West Bay - we stayed once at La Sirena - just lovely, but Henry Morgan seemed to have the best day packages for cruisers. I highly recommend Roatan.

 

View from the ship as we docked at Coxen Hole. They seem to be developing something.

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West Bay - Henry Morgan Hotel

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10 dollar seafood soup! So yummy.

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American Icon Dining Room - you can see the multi tier balcony up into the other levels.

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Day 8 - Costa Maya

We’ve never been to Costa Maya so decided to see what types of excursions we could sign up for. At this point we didn’t want to do another beach (got enough sun by now!), so was looking for a cultural or city tour. Since Costa Maya isn’t as developed as some of the other places in MX, there wasn’t much to choose from other than the Mayan Ruins tour. This would normally be right up our alley, but as I looked at our current tab$$ onboard, plus the thought of 3 more days spending more money drinking and what not (yes, I know, no one is forcing me to have that glass of wine…… ) I couldn’t wrap my head around the cost of this excursion. BUT…...YOLO!

 

We went for it. We’ve been to many ruins before and were looking forward to comparing these to Chichen Itza, Tulum, Belize and Copan. These ruins were called Chocchaben. 

 

The drive to get there was about an hour. Because it is underdeveloped, the tour guide was really good about speaking the whole time giving us lots of information about Costa Maya (not its real name, btw, its “stage name” - locals know it as Mahahual), and its culture to keep us occupied. The ruins themselves were interesting and lots of photo ops around the various areas. Unlike some ruins, we were allowed to climb up to a certain extent. Not quite as interesting as others, but I did like these better than Belize. We were glad we did the tour.

 

Allure as we got off

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Frida Kahlo mural

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Look for the sign with your tour name and stand in queue

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Our tour bus, very Jurassic Park-ish

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We were allowed to climb up about 6 steps

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Smaller ruins

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So, On our way back, I am used to seeing the usual vendor shops and such right by the cruise port. We did see these shops, many of them. What was so strange to me, was that right smack in the middle of these shops was this giant swimming pool with crowds of people hanging out like it was spring break. I can’t describe it really, I had not seen anything like that before. Does anyone know what this was? A connected hotel? A free pool and lounge area? It was right in the plaza

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To answer your question above @5thgirl, it’s a free pool built for cruise guests to use.  Costa Maya really was built with cruisers in mind.  If you’ve ever sailed Carnival, they have a similar set up at Grand Turk.

Edited by acthorson

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1 hour ago, 5thgirl said:

I have never heard of XPlor - what is that? 

Great review!  Thank you for doing this.

 

Full name of the park is call "Xplor by Xcaret", consisting of  Zipline, driving ATV-type of vehicle, underground river swim, and Paddle boating.  https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g150812-d4882791-Reviews-Xplor_Park_by_Xcaret-Playa_del_Carmen_Yucatan_Peninsula.html

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Really enjoying your review. I got off Allure the day you boarded. The reason you ported at Coxen Hole in Roatan is because Mahogany Bay was built and owned by Carnival Corporation for use by their brands, Carnival, Princess, etc., not because Allure is too big.

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2 hours ago, 5thgirl said:

 

Day 8 - Costa Maya

We’ve never been to Costa Maya so decided to see what types of excursions we could sign up for. At this point we didn’t want to do another beach (got enough sun by now!), so was looking for a cultural or city tour. Since Costa Maya isn’t as developed as some of the other places in MX, there wasn’t much to choose from other than the Mayan Ruins tour. This would normally be right up our alley, but as I looked at our current tab$$ onboard, plus the thought of 3 more days spending more money drinking and what not (yes, I know, no one is forcing me to have that glass of wine…… ) I couldn’t wrap my head around the cost of this excursion. BUT…...YOLO!

 

We went for it. We’ve been to many ruins before and were looking forward to comparing these to Chichen Itza, Tulum, Belize and Copan. These ruins were called Chocchaben. 

 

The drive to get there was about an hour. Because it is underdeveloped, the tour guide was really good about speaking the whole time giving us lots of information about Costa Maya (not its real name, btw, its “stage name” - locals know it as Mahahual), and its culture to keep us occupied. The ruins themselves were interesting and lots of photo ops around the various areas. Unlike some ruins, we were allowed to climb up to a certain extent. Not quite as interesting as others, but I did like these better than Belize. We were glad we did the tour.

 

Allure as we got off

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Frida Kahlo mural

image.thumb.png.ec6d9c6c6148415fb84b1a5d4c0c96ab.png

 

Look for the sign with your tour name and stand in queue

image.thumb.png.44b9d9975e3fec8fc62929d6a67e3978.png

 

Our tour bus, very Jurassic Park-ish

image.thumb.png.dae84622ee559b2d832cd9e12dcc046b.png

 

We were allowed to climb up about 6 steps

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Smaller ruins

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So, On our way back, I am used to seeing the usual vendor shops and such right by the cruise port. We did see these shops, many of them. What was so strange to me, was that right smack in the middle of these shops was this giant swimming pool with crowds of people hanging out like it was spring break. I can’t describe it really, I had not seen anything like that before. Does anyone know what this was? A connected hotel? A free pool and lounge area? It was right in the plaza

image.thumb.png.141783ab02a5c8cbb499ddb4978d0c97.png

That is the cruise ship port area. NOT the city. 

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What is that animal in post #35 at Xcaret on the side of the tree? I was trying to quote a single photo, but I couldn't. Great review and nice photos. :classic_biggrin:

Edited by Coralc

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7 hours ago, Coralc said:

What is that animal in post #35 at Xcaret on the side of the tree? I was trying to quote a single photo, but I couldn't. Great review and nice photos. :classic_biggrin:

I think that is a Coati. I love snapping photos but get nervous around animals that aren't behind a wall - this one was just running up a tree as I walked the path towards the end of the cenote swim

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I am glad a few folks are enjoying my review/trip report.. I find these boards so informational for myself, so I am trying to return the favor!

 

A few more random notes and we will wrap up Day 8!

 

The Mamma Mia cast - saw about 5 of the main players at the ruins doing their own private tour. VIP benefits, I'm sure.

 

Love and Marriage Game Show - can’t recall which night, but we attended. We’ve seen this before, as it’s a staple for every RC sailing. Is it me, or has this run its course and needs a refresh? Similar “audition”, similar questions. The cruise director, Mike, did not wow me. I think the CD, as host, can make or break this show. And in this case, he seemed to really just want get it over with. 

 

Artwork - One of the things I really liked about Allure and this class of ship was the artwork throughout. I thought they did a great job in this area and being so large, you can see plenty of great stuff at every corner and stairwell.

 

Extension Waivers - Because we were forced to stay 3 more days, anyone who had purchased the beverage, dining or VOOM packages would get it extended for the additional days at no extra cost. So, I paid for 3 days of VOOM, and I got 6. They also did not auto charge the additional days of gratuities, but allowed guests to tip at our discretion.

 

Drink Package - I noticed a sign on Day 7 of 10 at the bar, offering a 10 drink beverage package for $79pp.

 

Some of the artwork and exhibits. So much more to see that is not captured here.

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They very quickly booked new entertainment for the extra days. The headliner for the next 2 days was Tony Tillman, described as an all around entertainer/singer/dancer/comedian extraordinaire. Not sure what to expect but again, I went in thinking sounds a bit cheesy….I was WRONG. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me and judging by the audience reaction, for them as well, he was fantastic! Now, in real life/on land I would normally not pay to see this man perform, but he knocked it out with his energy and attitude. I’d describe him as what a true entertainer is all about. He sang and danced to a little modern stuff, some classics, and did an interesting bit with country as well! I highly recommend. Plus you can't go wrong with a live onstage band/orchestra.

 

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I think tonight was also an additional Adult Comedy show (18+) with Louis Johnson - this time in Studio B, followed by an 80's dance party. Louis Johnson's adult set was so FUNNY, and I laughed so hard. It was raunchy, and I saw one or two maybe 18ish year olds and was wondering if they were still a bit young for his set.

 

Louis Johnson's family comedy show the next night - not funny at all. What a big difference. I raved about his comedy to my kids, so they were looking forward to it, but it was a disappointment. It literally felt like he was winging it, and making up stories as he went, and inserting some old jokes into his set as he progressed. My DD and I realized half way through the show that we'd seen him before on another RC sailing a few years ago and he used some of the same jokes.

 

We stayed a bit for the 80's dance party which was fun, then called it night.

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On 9/9/2019 at 3:19 PM, SRV FAN said:

We are booked at this hotel for our upcoming cruise on Allure! Was it a nice hotel? 

We've love using this hotel in this port. Rooms are just fine, nothing special but nothing bad.  Location is nice to walk to food and shops for pre cruise stuff (including TotalWine if you flew in and need to get your 1 bottle of wine.)  I am a very early riser the morning of the cruise.  There is a bridge in walking distance that you can see the whole port and watch the ships come in early in the morning.

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