Eastern Caribbean on the Allure of the Seas

2/5/12 to 2/12/12

Due to the length of this review in had to be presented over two pages to reduce the page length.  The link to Page 2 is at the top and bottom of the page.

Page 1 -  Ship; Cabin; Neighborhoods; Restaurants/Snacks

Page 2  - Lounges/Bars; Shops; Miscellaneous Areas; Entertainment; Ports of Call

 

Lounges/Bars (LINK to bar menus)-

Needless to say there are a lot of places to get a drink on the Allure.  I didn't get to try too many of them, but the ones I did made very good drinks.

 

Viking Crown Lounge -

The Viking Crown Lounge on most of the Royal Caribbean ships is at the front of the ship, which makes it a great place to sit and watch where the ship is headed.  On the Allure it is in the middle of the ship, so it looks out onto Central Park and the Sports Deck.  The view of the H2O Zone at night is rather nice.

   

 

 

Solarium Bar -                                                                                  Sky Bar -

           

 

Mast Bar –                                                                                                Wipe Out Bar –

             

 

Pool Bar -                                                                                            Sand Bar -

            

 

Dazzles –

Dazzles is a lovely two level bar.  The view out to the Boardwalk is probably the best on the ship.  It is particularly lovely at night.

   

   

 

Rising Tide Bar –

    

 

Trellis Bar –                                                                                Boardwalk Bar –

     

 

Schooner Bar –

    

 

Champagne Bar –

    

 

Bow and Stern –

As with most of the venues, the Bow and Stern bar had a unique statue.

 

   

 

On Air Club –

This is a bar and night club; but they also have a very little used area called the Video/Post Card Booth.  It is a little room in the corner of the club where you can take a photo or record a video.  Once done, you can send it to as many email addresses you want or even post it on FaceBook.  The best part is that it is totally free.  It is a fun way to communicate with friends and relatives while enjoying your cruise.

   

 

Boleros –

    

 

Blaze -

The bar/night club in Entertainment Place is Blaze.  It is the place for late night entertainment and dancing.

 

   

 

Adiago Bar and Wine Foyer -

These are in the entry areas to the dining rooms three levels.  They looked very comfortable and a great place to have a drink before the dining room opened.  However, I never saw anyone using them.  I guess everyone else was as busy with other activities as we were.  I am guessing that they got more activity from people waiting to go in for the late seating.

   

  

Shops -

In addition to the various fixed location shops listed below, there are numerous kiosks on the ship where there will be sales of various types of merchandise, such as watches, jewelry, scarves, etc.  The main location for these sales was in the center of the Royal Promenade.  I could not believe how many people would be waiting for the sales to start.  It reminded me of how people wait in line for the Black Friday Christmas sales.  When the sales started, people went crazy.

 

 

Breeze –

    

 

Sea Trek -                                                                                            Coach  -

         

 

Brito Gallery –                                                                                Picture This –

         

 

 Pinwheels –

 

 

Candy Beach and Star Pier –

 

     

 

The Shop –

The Shop is the traditional logo shop, which has all of the t-shirts, mugs, collectibles and other items with the Royal Caribbean or Allure logos.

 

Solera –

    

 

Port Merchants –

    

 

Prince + Greene –

   

 

Guess Accessories Boutique -                                                                                    Willow –                

       

 

 

Regallia –

    

 

Miscellaneous areas -

Photo Gallery –

Focus is the ship’s photo gallery, which is just above the promenade.  It is very different in several ways from any other ship photo gallery and an innovation RCI can really be proud of.  With 6,000 people on a ship, it would be very difficult to be able to have enough space to display every photo in a rack; plus it would be a major challenge to find your own photos.  The Allure has that problem solved by putting all of your photos into an individual photo book that is numbered and put into a rack.  The rack location is on your sea pass card.  Since the photos are sorted to the photo book by facial recognition software, there is a small area for photos that were misfiled.  It did take the hassle out of finding your photos.  And if that wasn’t easy enough, you could just slide your sea pass card into one of the many terminals and see all of your photos on a video display.  Just too easy.  I hope other ships copy this great system.

   

The pricing for each photo was $20, since all photos are 8X10.  They also had an option where you could buy all of your photos on a CD for $400.  This could be a good deal if you had a large family and wanted a lot of photos.  There are also deals available for unlimited photos on a CD for $350 if ordered before the cruise.  I also seem to recall reading that better offers are available; but since we weren’t interested, I didn’t look into it.

 

 

Diamond Club –

Since we are Royal Caribbean Diamond members, we like to take advantage of the Diamond lounge with free drinks before the evening meal.  The first day we went, we had a visit from Shrek, so we had to have our photo taken with him (for our grandchildren, of course).  The room was very crowded and we were able to get the last two seats in the club.  The next day, we arrived a little later and it was standing room only, with quite a few people crowding into the small area.  I asked the loyalty club representative why they hadn’t moved to a different venue.  The next day we found a card on our bed announcing that the Diamond lounge would be moving to Blaze for the rest of the cruise.  It worked out much better. 

    

 

Concierge Lounge –

One morning I was walking around the ship taking photos and followed someone into the Concierge Lounge.  Since this is reserved for suite guests and takes a special sea pass card, I was thrilled that I could get in to take some photos.  This must be the best view of the Boardwalk on the ship.

    

   

 

Pinnacle Chapel –

The chapels on ships always seem to be in out of the way places; so I made an effort to make sure that I got photos of it early, since I knew I wouldn’t pass by it again. This chapel was larger than most I have seen at sea, and was way up on deck 17 near the Viking Crown Lounge.  It isn’t easy to find.  While I was there, they were preparing for a wedding.

     

 

Adventures with Royal Caribbean International –

This area, which appears to be cut out of the Schooner Bar, is what is normally called the Future Cruise area.  I like to get an open future booking so we only have to put down a $100 deposit per person on our future cruises.  Plus there is a potential on-board credit that comes with it.  With so many people on the ship, the reservation book was filled for the next day and a half, so I put my name down on the wait list, since I wasn’t on my way to an event at the time.  That is when Cindy Dangel, Loyalty & Cruise Sales Manager from Canada, finished with a customer and offered to assist me.  She was supposed to be leaving for something else, but said she would squeeze me in.  She was so helpful and nice and even arranged for me to be able to get my credit number to her later, since I didn’t have it with me.  She must have been a good salesman too, since I got a future booking on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity.  She was such a pleasure to work with that I came down later and gave Cindy my WOW card for exceptional service.  She was a true gem. 

 

 

Library –

    

 

Jogging Track –

Deck 5 has some very nice area in addition to the Royal Promenade.  A jogging track goes around most of the deck.  It takes 2.4 laps to walk a mile.

 

One area that most people don’t know about is the lounging area at the back of deck 5 just off the jogging track.  It offers the best view on the ship of the wake and is a very relaxing area.

 

Aft Open Decks -

There are open areas on decks 11, 12 and 14 that are great places to just sit out and relax with a nice view of the ocean and the Boardwalk.  It also is a place to watch the show if you can't get in the Aquatheater.

   

 

Challengers Arcade –

I would have thought that the arcade would be a popular place of the younger crowd.  I rarely saw anyone in there for most of the cruise.

 

Card Room/Internet Café –

The Internet Café was a few doors down the hall from our cabin, so it was very nice to be able to go there to get faster internet access.

 

 

Conference Center -

    

 

Other -

The restrooms on the Allure are very nicely appointed and also have a lot of artwork.  I just had to put this photo in the review.  It's of a picture that was in a men's restroom, and it was most unusual.

 

 

Entertainment

Carol and I both felt that the entertainment on the Allure was some of the best we had ever seen on a ship or anywhere else.  It was just top notch.  The cruise was just overflowing with talent.  It would have nice to be on a back to back cruise so we could see them all a second time.  We went to a show on six of the seven nights of the cruise.  One thing that is highly recommended is to make your show reservations on-line as far ahead of the cruise as possible to make certain you get to see the shows you want.  If for some reason you don’t, there are tickets available inside Studio B when you get on the ship.  Be sure to go early.

Blue Planet – This was the most original theater production we have ever seen; and certainly one of the best.   Along with the wonderful singers and dancers, the staging was incredible.  It started off with a large globe in the center of the stage and then moved to different parts of the earth from the land, ocean and then mountains.  During this trip there were various forms of acrobatics, singing and dancing.  At one point a large tree moved from the back of the stage toward the audience.  At first it just seemed like a prop tree.  Then the dancers who had appeared to be a part of the tree started to separate themselves from the branches.  It was very impressive.

    

   

A very creative scene was when they made the stage appear to be the ocean, with the dancers moving like they were swimming above the stage.  In addition to the appearance of the stage being the ocean, sea life was projected into the water.  It was an amazing illusion.

    

When the scene moved to a mountainous area, the mood changed completely.  In addition to the singers and dancers, an acrobatic troop did some amazing things on trampoline set at different angles.  In addition to being very entertaining, it was also quite a dangerous feat.  A small mistake by any of the acrobats could prove to be very damaging to the participants.

    

Blue Planet was a truly awesome show, which I would love to watch over and over again.

 

Comedy Show –

We like to see comedians, but have been disappointed on many previous cruises because we got the same old jokes from worn out comedians.  The Allure comedy show was different and unbelievably funny.  I was literally hurting from laughing so much when it ended.  The hour show started off with a short routine by the master of ceremonies, Reena from New Zealand. 

 

The first comedian to perform was Tony Daro.  He was very funny.  In order to get photos for the review, we sat on the first row.  Not a smart thing to do at a comedy show, since comedians tend to pick on the people in the front.  Tony was one of those comedians, and he was a master at it.  Fortunately, the only thing Tony picked on me about was that I was taking too many photos of him. 

 

The next comedian was Wayne Cotter.  Oh my gosh was he funny.  I guess Tony had warmed us up to be receptive to jokes; since everyone was just laughing so hard.  This had been, by far, the best comedy show I had ever attended.  Since they have been on TV before, I will look forward to seeing them again.

 

 

Ice Games! –

We had seen a very good ice show when we sailed on the Freedom of the Seas several years ago.  The Allure show was based on a Monopoly game.  The ice skaters were very good, especially the visiting ones from Russia.  The colorful costumes flying around the ice kept everyone mesmerized. 

   

     

 

Headliner Show –

The Headliner Show for our week on the Allure was "Motown Live" featuring Spectrum.  They are a group that had been entertaining in Las Vegas for six years singing songs from the Four Tops and other Motown artists.  They were quite good and knew how to charm the audience.

    

 

OceanAria –

OceanAria is a show that can only be done on an Oasis Class ship, due to the need to have a theater with a pool.  The show is supposed to recreate an ancient civilization coming back to life.  In the first part performers came out of the water from below.  Then the aerialists performed from high above the water.  They were quite a show.

   

   

During the show, divers did various types of dives from the middle height platforms.  Then the high divers climbed to the top of the theater, 62 feet up; diving into what must have appeared to be a very small target below.

        

Once again the acrobats were jumping around on trampolines in a way that just didn’t seem possible.  They would even jump into the pools from the trampoline.

    


Everyone was really impressed with the two gymnasts that performed amazing feats of strength in a balancing act.  A very special act indeed.

    

 

Chicago –

We enjoy Broadway shows, so we were looking forward to seeing Chicago.  It is an hour and a half version of the musical and we were told that Royal Caribbean has to pay $45,000 per month just for the rights to perform the show and that they had signed a three year contract with an additional two year option.  I must say it was a good investment, because the show was awesome.  The performers were top notch in both singing and dancing.  Three of them had been on Broadway in New York before joining the Allure.  I am sure that the quality of this show was as good, if not better, than you would find anywhere.

    

   

   

 

Other Activities –

Cruise Critic Connections Party

On the first sea day, which was the third day of the cruise, we had our Cruise Critic Connections Party.  This is set up for those passengers who have been communicating before the cruise on the www.cruisecritic.com  roll call board.  It is always fun to finally meet those people that you have become acquainted with but never met face to face.  On previous Connections Parties we have had the Cruise Director or even the Captain attend to welcome us to their ship and talk with us.  This time we had Belle Obrien, who was the Activities Manager.  She welcomed us to the ship an had drawings for several door prizes.  For the number of people that had signed up for this party, the attendance wasn’t very good.  I assume that since it was later in the cruise and at a time when several other things were going on, people just couldn’t make it.  But we did enjoy meeting the ones that could.

    

   

 

Captain’s Corner

On the next to last day of the cruise, we had what was called the Captain’s Corner held in the Aquatheater.  In attendance to answer questions were Captain Hernan Zini, Cruise Director Ken Rush, Chief Engineer and Hotel Director.  They talked a little bit and then took lots of questions from the audience.  It thought that it was a nice event and appreciated them taking the time out of their busy days.

    

 

Ports of Call

Since we had been to the scheduled ports many times before, for this cruise, the main destination was the Allure of the Seas itself.  But we did enjoy the ports, even though we didn’t do much while there.

 

Nassau, Bahamas

We have visited Nassau several times and had stayed at the fabulous Atlantis Resort a couple of times.  Since Atlantis is the main attraction when visiting this island, I took some photos of it from the top of the Allure.  It is an awesome resort.

    

I hadn’t planned on getting off the ship, but decided to walk off and take some photos of the Allure and the general area at the port.  The Allure is just so massive it is difficult to get far enough away to get the whole ship in one shot, even with an ultra wide angle lens. With the Disney Dream docked across from Allure, it prevented any photographers on board from getting a photo from the pier right across from the Allure.  So everyone had to settle with shots from the back; which is probably the better view anyway.

     

The area around the port has brightly colored buildings.  The largest one had many small shops in it; but nothing that had much appeal to me. 

    

   

The view from the ship is very nice with the barrier island surrounded by aqua water.  When leaving Nassau, the water color had changed as we passed the lighthouse, with Atlantis as a background.

   

 

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

We hadn’t been to St. Thomas in over eight years, so we were looking forward to returning.  It was going to be a beautiful day with the temperature only supposed to be around 80 degrees.  February is a great time to cruise the Caribbean.  The Allure docked at Crown Bay which requires a taxi ride to get to town.  I was very concerned that there would be a long wait for a taxi with almost 6,000 people possibly getting off the ship.  We walked off the pier and followed the signs to the taxi stand.  I was thrilled to see a very organized taxi boarding process which got us into one of the many open taxis that were lined up waiting for passengers.  The cost was $4 each way per person.  Quite reasonable.

 

   

We had seen the popular St. Thomas tourist sites on our previous visits; so our main purpose for this port stop was to visit our favorite jewelry store, Imperial Jewelers. http://www.imperial-jewelers.com/

    

 

I had first visited Imperial over 25 years ago on my first visit to St. Thomas on a land trip.  I bought my first diamond ring from them.  They were very honest and friendly, along with having a great selection at reasonable prices.  Reasonable that is, after they tell you the real price, rather than the one on the price tag.  Each time we have returned to St. Thomas, the owner, Charley and Carol's buddy Joe remembered us and treated us so well.

    

This time was no exception.  Carol and I both got early Valentine’s Day gifts.  Carol did do a lot better than me; but I like to spoil her that way.

After our shopping we had some great nachos at a small restaurant right down the alley in front of Imperial called Parrots Bar and Deli.  They were really good.  The owners had moved there from the States and were a real pleasure to talk to, while we learned about their life on St. Thomas.

 

Walking back out to Main Street one of the open cabs picked us up and swiftly took us back to the Allure.  With the Eurodam docked right across from the Allure, it showed how much larger the Allure was than any other ship around. 

 

I was surprised to see quite a few iguanas lying out on the rocks next to the piers.  They were only interested in the sun, and didn’t seem to be bothered by all the people stopping and staring at them.

 

 

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

We had been to St. Maarten on a couple of previous cruises and really enjoyed touring this lovely island.  I was concerned that the crowds would be bad, since there were seven ships in port when we arrived.  One did leave in the morning; but it still left six large ships full of tourists to share the island.

 

Ray and I had booked a Segway Tour with St. Maarten Segway ( www.stmaartensegway.com ).  By booking it on our own rather than through Royal Caribbean, the cost of the tour was $20 less per person.  I had done a Segway tour in San Juan, Puerto Rico and loved it; but this was Ray’s first time.  We had booked the tour for 9:30 AM.  My contact at St. Maarten Segway, Shernia, warned us that the Allure doesn’t use the local time, so using the ship’s time to set our alarms would be an hour earlier 8:30 AM. We had to wake up an hour earlier than we wanted to; but it worked out very well.  When we got on the van to take us to the boardwalk in the main part of town where the Segways were waiting for us, I was pleased to find out that my contact Shernia was the driver.  We had communicated a lot during our planning because she originally didn’t have room for us and then was able to get us in a few days later.  I also really appreciated her very fast response to emails.  Even though it was still early, I was surprised at how crowded the streets were.  Many of the streets were only one lane, which didn’t help the traffic flow and caused traffic to stop when vans unloaded their passengers ahead of us.

 

We then met our trainer and tour guide, Wellington.  He was a comedian and a very good instructor.  I was the only one who had ridden a Segway before, so Wellington and another trainer showed each person how to control the Segway.  It is very easy to learn and once you realize that it is very stable, the fun begins.  As each person was shown the technique, they took off and rode around the designated area.  I was a little concerned about Ray, because he was the oldest person in the group.  As he got on the Segway and started to move, the big smile began.  It wouldn’t end till we finished the tour.  Ray took to the Segway like he had been riding one for years.  We were having a great time.

        

   

We first started out at a maximum speed of 6 mph, so that everyone could get comfortable with maneuvering on the Segway.  We rode down the boardwalk and then stopped while Wellington explained that we were going to ride down the beach.  This was different and a lot of fun.  Plus the beach was just gorgeous.  We could also look out and see the Allure and the other ships at the pier.

   

When we returned to the boardwalk, Wellington turned up our max speed to 9 mph.  The maximum for the Segway is 12.5 mph; but the speed increase to 9 mph made a huge difference.  Ray and I raced down the boardwalk weaving through people.  It was a whole lot of fun.  Fortunately, we had an early time slot for our tour.  With so many ships docked that day, I am sure the later crowds on the boardwalk would have made the ride less enjoyable.

 

Since we had booked a private Segway tour, we weren’t allowed to go back to the ship on the Royal Caribbean transfer.  That was fine with us, since I preferred to try the water taxi; especially after the frustrating drive into town before the tour.    The water taxi dock was right next to where we dropped off the Segways.  Very convenient!  A one way ticket cost $4 per person and an all-day pass only cost $6.  It was a good deal and a nice ride.  We were very pleased that it didn't take very long to get to the water taxi dock.  This was a much better way to get to town than by van or bus.

   

The water taxi dock was just a short walk to the Allure.   We passed by a nice luxury yacht that was in port.  It was the C2, which is a 78 meter long yacht owned by some very rich American, but no one knows who the owner is. 

   

The path also brought us through the very nice shopping area.  We had enjoyed this one the last time we were here when Carol and I celebrated our 20th anniversary.

    

While returning to the Allure, we ran into Carol and Bonnie who were on their way to the shopping area to find souvenirs.  They had enjoyed a sleep-in and relaxing morning. This had been another lovely day with mild temperatures.  It was so much nicer than visiting in the summer when the weather can get extremely hot.

 

Disembarkation

Since we would be driving home when the cruise ended rather than having to catch an early flight, we had requested a later disembarkation time.  We got a 9:15 AM to 9:45 AM time.  We originally thought that would be great, since we could sleep in a bit later and have a leisurely breakfast.  Wrong again.  We were told the night before at the show that the restaurants would be closing at 8:30 AM, which meant that we would have to wake up earlier and not have anything to do for an extra hour.  One of the machines that checks passengers’ Sea Passes as they get off of the ship broke down, so it was taking longer than expected for our group to be called.  They finally called all of the groups that were left at one time.

When we finally got off the ship and picked up our luggage I was amazed at how long the immigration/customs line was.  It must have been because of the snag earlier, and because so many groups had been released at one time.  I had always heard how fast and efficient that the disembarkation process was at this new terminal.  It sure wasn’t that day. The whole process took 40 minutes, which was way too long.  It would have been really bad had we had a plane to catch.

The other bad decision I made was that we could wear shorts to get off the ship. Since I hadn’t checked the weather, I hadn’t realized that a cold front had moved through and the temperature was in the upper 40’s.  Quite unusual for South Florida.  Needless to say it was quite uncomfortable with cold temperatures and the wind blowing. 

It was particularly frustrating, since we could see the parking lot shuttle bus waiting in the line to be let into the terminal area.  Fortunately, the guard that we had been talking to while waiting called his buddy who was holding up all the vans to let him know we were freezing.  He motioned for our van to pull out of the line and come get us.  I really should have checked the weather the night before.

 

Recap

Saying that the Allure of the Seas is an awesome ship is an understatement.  Nothing else compares to this class ship and, in my opinion, it is one that every cruiser should try at least once.  It is an amazing experience and one that I look forward to doing again sometime.

   

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