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Archive for December, 2011

Dec 27 2011

Allure of the seas cruise, 2011.

Published by Mark under Cruising, Travel

I realized that my “cribnote” entry from September was never followed up on. I’m not sure why blogging has taken a backseat in the last year, but I find myself unmotivated to write here anymore. It likely has a lot to do with the reality that I’m guessing nobody reads my blog any longer.

Regardless, I’ll follow up for the few family members and friends who may still be following.

In late November/early December we cruised on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, the largest cruise ship afloat. My friends on Facebook would have seen plenty of pictures of the trip during the last few weeks, or you can check out Royal Caribbean’s website for details.

It was our first cruise, and there was only one way to explain it - 7 days of an altered state of reality.

First off, Royal Caribbean has service down to a science - it was simply amazing to watch the ship and it’s staff run like clockwork all day, every day, ensuring that the guests are pampered, catered to, and made to feel like, well…Royalty. Even though we were in one of the lowest stateroom classifications we were treated no differently than guests in other staterooms short of those in the upper echelon suites, for whom the “royalty” status takes on a whole new level, one which I’ll surely never experience.

The ship is impossible to ever explain without physically sailing aboard her. Amazing doesn’t begin to explain it, and despite the fact that there were over 6000 guests on our particular cruise (significantly above the normal amount due to many staterooms having more than 2 occupants) it’s rare that you are ever aware of the fact - the ship is so massive that there was no issues finding a quiet place to sit quietly…or even alone if you wanted to. On the flipside, if you want activity and entertainment you need not look far - everything from 3D movies to zip lining, rock climbing, a real wooden carousel, countless pools and hot tubs (many in the adults-only solarium on the bow), 2 Flow-Rider artificial wave machines, thousands upon thousands of deck-chairs in the sun, bands, the royal promenade, shopping, restaurants, bistros and bars, and one of my favorite areas aboard the ship, the unique Central Park, which is (for lack of a better description) like a real park aboard the ship. Yes - real plants, real trees, and even real birds that live aboard the ship by choice, since the park is open to air. It was my “go-to” place where I would sit, listen to the birds (or the crickets at night) and unwind.

My only two “issues” with the cruise?

1/ Food is so plentiful (and of course, free) that unless you have an iron constitution and can either walk right on by and ignore the reality it’s tempting you every few minutes, you should plan on gaining weight during the cruise. I gained almost 8 pounds, which given how hard I worked last winter to get all the weight off, was a bit of a personal disappointment to me.

2/ Tours of the ships behind-the-scenes areas were hard to come by, expensive, and reserved to the more elite (aforementioned suite) guests. I was first put off when I was told that there was a $150 charge for the “All access pass” tour, which admittedly was 3.5 hours long, covered interesting areas such as the bridge, engine room, galleys, and many staff areas, but having it monetized to that extent was surprising. Secondly, as a non-suite guest I was told that I was effectively out of luck since it was limited to a small number of people, and only on one day. Despite my willingness to pay, and attempts to get on the tour, I was never successful.

In the grand scheme of things, my above issues were but mere annoyances - the whole experience was otherwise simply amazing.

Will we sail aboard Allure (or it’s sister, Oasis) again? Absolutely - we are already in the initial planning stages for the same cruise next November. It’s going to be a long year - perhaps we’ll have another cruise in the meantime. ;)

Yes, we are hooked.

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