Closing out my Allure of the Seas report here are some overall feelings about the ship and the cruise. Let me say some things to set the stage. First, we are not BIG ship people but we wanted to try an Oasis class ship, the biggest in the world. Our usual ships carry about 3,000 cruisers max while Allure was hosting more than 6400.
Second, we had just sailed on a Quantum-class, almost-as-big ship (Ovation of the Seas) in July and had not had a great experience, so this was a second chance for Royal Caribbean. Lastly, this was (as we mentioned), a FAM cruise. That’s one where we got a great deal from Royal to take the cruise but had classes to take to become FAMiliar with Allure on all the sea days, letting us learn more about RCL and Allure. Let me say that the classes run by our fearless leader Nate were outstanding as you have probably figured out from my previous posts. Second, let’s look at the other two items on my list.
Was Allure too big?
Maybe. But it is easily manageable. I think we only felt crowded once on the entire cruise—lunch and after lunch (until the staterooms were opened) on Embarkation Day. But I will also say that after being on board for a week, I could now tell friends that wanted to sail on this class of ship where to go to avoid that. For instance, after we had lunch at a fairly crowded Park Cafe (but nowhere near as crowded as the Windjammer Marketplace Buffet) we tried to find a quiet place to sit until the staterooms were ready. We didn’t. We finally squeezed ourselves into a tiny booth way in the back of the Boleros bar on the Royal Promenade. It was slammed. We later found that we could have gone to any of a bunch of other lounges for a quiet place to sit and wait. In fact just steps from the Park Cafe was Dazzles which we never saw anyone in during the day but we always found the doors open.
Comparing this to our Ovation of the Seas cruise, we really feel that Allure has handling the crowds down cold. They know what they are doing. On Ovation, it was like they were trying to figure out how to handle the huge number of people onboard and never quite getting it right. Royal has been using this class of ship much longer and really gets it on this size ship.
Also on Ovation in July, it was sometimes hard to find anything to do with our kids for numerous reasons. I spent a lot of time playing foosball with my grandkids. That would NEVER have been the case on Allure. In fact, maybe there is too much to do. And after their future upgrade (Amplification) there will be even more to do. So many of those venues (pictured below) were not that crowded when we walked by them during the week because the ship is SO big that there are plenty of places to spread out the crowd.
While Ovation had little interesting entertainment (a comic juggler and typical cruise ship shows, etc) Allure had some of the best shows we have ever seen at sea in 28 cruises. Between Mama Mia (of Broadway touring company quality), the aqua show, the comedy club, the jazz club, the disco, the ice show, the very professional main showroom shows, we were VERY well entertained.
I truly wish we had been able to take our grandkids on Allure instead of Ovation. They would have had so much more fun because there were so many fun things to do and they were open and available. Sadly, no Oasis class ships have done Alaska so that would have meant flying them across the country and going to the (for me) dreaded Caribbean.
Which brings me to the one thing we really didn’t like about the trip—that Royal Caribbean can’t do a thing about—the heat and humidity. A lot of the things to do on Allure are outdoors and for us Northwesterners, it was just too hot and too humid. We are not Caribbean people. We don’t like beaches, we don’t like sun (I’ve had one malignant melanoma and that’s enough for this life) and we really are not fans of walking around islands where those are the main attractions. We can only imagine how great it would have been to spend this same week onboard Allure had we been able to do this next summer (after she is Amplified) and while she is sailing in the Mediterranean. WOW! An incredible port every day and Allure to come back to at night. When you finished you would need a vacation to recover from your vacation.
One thing we learned in our week on Allure is that this ship is so big and there is so much to do that it doesn’t matter where you are or what you enjoy, you will find something you like to do. To prove it to you, check out my photos for this windup post which will take you on a virtual tour of the public areas of Allure. As you see all there is to do, keep in mind that once Allure goes through Amplification, there will be even more to do.
Deck 18 & 17—the Suite life
There are 18 decks on Allure (well, really only 17 because like most ships, there is no deck 13). 18 is just staterooms (suites) and 17 has a sundeck for suites as well as more suites and the Coastal Kitchen (a restaurant open to suite guests). We didn’t get to see this because we weren’t staying in a suite.
Deck 16—Windjammer Marketplace, Solarium, Flowrider, Zipline
So if you are hungry or want a thrill, this is the place. As I mentioned above, we did not do a lot on any deck above eight except walk around and have lunch on the day we were in Nassau. Starting from the aft, on this deck you will find twin Flowriders (the surfing simulator our grandson Mason learned to love on Ovation), a short but really high zip line, a few bars and the main attraction, the Windjammer Marketplace which is actually the buffet. Not sure why Royal has named all their buffets a Marketplace because you really can’t buy anything there (that’s me, trying to be funny). Here are some pics that will give you an idea of what to expect. They all have captions so you can get an idea of what you are looking at.
Deck 15—Sun and water
If you are a sun worshipper you won’t be disappointed. This deck has SplashAway Bay for the kids, FOUR full size family pools and some great views down into Central Park and The Boardwalk. On the aft end of this deck you will find Allure Dunes (miniature golf) a sports court, lots of places to drink and get snacks as well as the Living Room, a part of the teen scene. At the front of the ship you will also find the downstairs part of the adults-only Solarium.
Deck 14—Adventure Ocean
Most of deck 14 is all about staterooms but the one main thing you find on this deck is Adventure Ocean, Allure’s club for kids from 3 to 17. I only have two photos for you because Allure does not allow photos when kids are in attendance and I don’t blame them. This deck also has a card room but that’s one of the few places I didn’t get around to seeing. Something tells me it wouldn’t have been really that interesting.
If you are a photographer, the best place to take photos as you come into ports is the Sundeck on the very far forward of deck 14. The glass partition are a little high for me so if you are a diminutive photographer, you may have a hard time shooting over it but most of my forward facing port photos came from being on the Sundeck.
Deck 9-12—Diamonds, Dazzles and staterooms
Remember, no deck 13. So Deck 12 has the upstairs of the Diamond Club, Allure’s private area for their three highest loyalty club members. To get to the Diamond Level in the Crown and Anchor Society you need 175 cruise credits. Since we have 17 now, we are guessing that one credit equals one night on board in a typical stateroom. There’s also some additional credits if you book a suite. We used the Diamond Club on a lot on this cruise. Of course you are wondering with just 17 credits, how were we able to do that??? We are Elite Plus members of Celebrity Cruises’ Captains Club and since both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity (as well as Azamara Cruises) are owned by the same company, we get reciprocal benefits to a point. On Celebrity, there is nothing like the Diamond Club but we wish there were.
They serve a great breakfast there and we ate ours in the Diamond Club every morning. Typical buffet fare but with hardly any crowds. Some mornings we were one of a very few people in the room. In the evening, they serve cocktails and appetizers from 4:30 until 8:00. We went every night and some nights it was rather crowded but we soon learned if we waited to go until after the first dinner seating left for dinner, there were plenty of places to sit. We met a lot of very nice people during these super evening receptions. This room really made our cruise. There are pics below.
Somewhere on one of these decks there is a really tiny internet “room” with about five computers in it that are available for anyone’s use. I discovered it by mistake and it is so small that it doesn’t even show on deck plans so I can’t remember where exactly it is. It’s about the size of two inside staterooms put together and sits in the middle of a bunch of inside staterooms near the front elevators and staircases.
Also on Deck 11, right next to the Diamond Club entrance (the Diamond Club also has an upstairs dining area that is used for Chef’s Table, a kind of a pop-up specialty restaurant) is the ship’s library. It is tiny and windowless and often empty but it is a great place to go and find some peaceful time away from the crowds of Allure.
The rest of decks nine through twelve are staterooms. Lots and lots of staterooms.
Deck 8—Central Park and more
I know I have already posted pictures looking down into Central Park as our verandah looked into this central part of the ship that is open air. Central Park is a drop-dead gorgeously green area on a cruise ship. Incredible plants, a couple of bars, a bunch of specialty restaurants (both complimentary and chargeable) and just a relaxing place to sit if you can handle the heat and humidity. In a cooler climate, I would love this place. Captions on the photos explain what you are looking at. Also on this deck is Dazzles, a nightclub that we walked into but never went at night so we aren’t sure what kind of music they feature. We really liked the way it looked inside. Small and intimate on two levels with a great view of The Boardwalk area.
Deck 7—Not much
I have no pics on Deck seven. It is mostly staterooms and the upstairs of Dazzles. That’s about it. Sorry.
Deck 6—A whole bunch of stuff from front to back
Deck six is PACKED from bow to aft. From the front of the ship where you will find the spa and gym, to midships where you will discover the upper deck/balcony/mezzanine of the Royal Promenade to finally the aft that is The Boardwalk. You could spend an entire day on deck six and have a great time and never need to go anywhere else. It has more attractions and things to do than most entire cruise ships. Check out the photos for all the info. The Boardwalk is especially amazing with restaurants, the aqua show I wrote about last week and a full-size carousel. Amazing.
Deck 5—The Royal Promenade
The heart of the ship, the Royal Promenade, is where things happen. It seems like all the other entertainment venues and places to eat are outliers and the Royal Promenade is the center of everything. Cruise Director Jimmy Rhodes told us on New Year’s Eve, it hosts one of the biggest parties on the seas and we believe it. Check out the pics for more into. Deck 5 also has the upstairs entrances to the theater (forward) and the main dining room (aft). There’s even a real-live Starbucks (that will take your Starbucks card instead of your Seapass card)!
Deck 4—Food and Entertainment
If you can’t tell, my deck descriptions are relying less and less on narrative and more and more on the photo captions. This ship is just too big. Deck four has the main entrances to the theater (forward) and the dining room (aft). It also has the casino (my biggest criticism is the entrance to the casino which is full of cigarette smoke being across from the entrance to the dining room which means I couldn’t avoid it) and the art auction office (biggest rip off on the high seas IMO) . Deck four also has a jazz club (we liked), a comedy club (we never went to), an ice-skating rink (ditto) and another night club we used for a group reception on our first night at sea. It is used for a lot of private receptions and is generally an all-purpose club. There is also a small Japanese Benihana-style restaurant but I can’t remember if it was on deck four or five and it doesn’t show up on the Allure Deck plans. The photo captions have more into.
Deck 3—Conference Center
Deck three has the Conference center (where we did our classes with Nate) and that’s about it. It also has one of the other main dining venues (for MyTime diners) as well as the bottom level of the theater. No pics here that weren’t on the other decks but I did include a few below that don’t have any other specific place to go.
That’s it! One solid week of learning about this ship, having a great time and a great experience even with the heat and humidity. Hope you enjoyed traveling along. And one final note: if you have a family, this class of ships is for you. There is truly something for everyone.
If I had my will I would live in a ship on the sea, and never come nearer to humanity than that!—Eleonora Duse