Does Size Matter…..
Having traveled far and wide it takes a great deal to take my breath away. I was not sure what to expect when I was packing my trusted Vuitton to go on yet another adventure. The largest ship in the world, really? My partner and I jumped on the road for the three hour drive to Port Everglades. Time flew as we caught up on our past week, and before we knew it we were in Ft. Lauderdale in search of Port 18. As I tried to find a place to park the car, I was not really paying attention to much else. As I emerged from the driver’s seat, I looked up and had a flashback moment as I gazed upon Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Allure of the Seas… I thought of the scene from Titanic when Rose arrives at the port and sees the Titanic for the first time. All that was missing was a large brimmed hat and a Rolls Royce.
I am a stickler for service and efficiency. You have to wonder how Royal Caribbean was going to be able to check in over 5,000 passengers, keep them fed, entertained and happy for seven days week after week. Upon entering the terminal I was surrounded by porters moving bags in every direction, busses pulling in, taxis dropping off guests and policemen directing traffic. You could feel the anticipation in the air. Once we stepped into the terminal building I was oh so surprised. I was no longer dealing with porters and luggage, but with very well trained guides ensuring our check in process would be smooth. Our stateroom number was assigned to us when we checked in online. Before I knew it, we were in a line for Deck 8, paperwork processed, key card in hand, photographed and on the spacious gangways to the ship. The adventure was about to begin… and never stop for the next 48 hours.
The Champagne Bar is to your left once you enter the Royal Promenade. It was our first stop and starting point to what was going to be a cruise traveler’s dream. We met our new friends Candace and Bethann who had already taken up residence in the bar. We were all eager to hatch a plan to explore and conquer all 1,187 feet of the Allure. We picked up a deck map, grabbed a pen, had a glass or two of champagne and began to check off a list of things we wanted to see. Where do you start, where do you finish, how much time do we have, and is there a way we can do a pub crawl and be able to take it all in?
Stateroom 8670 was an Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony and our home for the next two days. It was beautifully appointed and well designed for the compromised space. Our friends were booked in a Stateroom that overlooked the Central Park Neighborhood. An interior cabin with a balcony is an exclusive feature of the Allure and its sister ship the Oasis. In fact, of the 2,700 staterooms on board, 1,956 have balconies. The rooms were very comfortable and included amazing linens, modern art with museum lighting, iPod stations and 19” flat screen televisions.
After settling in, our adventure began by touring all of the different staterooms on the ship. We all experienced a collective drop of the jaws as we toured a two story Royal Loft Suite, the Owners Suite and Grand Suite. All of the suites were luxurious with modern appointments and unlike anything we have ever seen. Next, we needed to hit all of the neighborhoods on board. Each of the neighborhoods somehow makes this massive ship feel cozier. We saw Central Park with incredible restaurants, high end boutiques and over 12,000 living plants and trees. The Boardwalk was fun and kinetic with its working carousel, fun shops and patio restaurants. Then there were was shopping in the Royal Promenade and enjoying a drink while the Rising Tides bar rose from Deck 5 to Deck 8. There are also plenty of pools, with spaces for Families as well as the Solarium that is reserved for adults. You can pamper yourself at Vitality at Sea Spa or workout at the Fitness Center. The adventurous travelers can, Zip Line, Mini Golf, surf on FlowRiders, hit the court or climb on of the Rock Climbing Walls. There is also plenty of entertainment, from the Dive and Ice Shows to Chicago, parades, street parties and fun with the DreamWorks Characters. As much as I love a lounge chair and a nice kind server with a cold beverage heading my way, there was not time to sit and enjoy a much needed libation. I felt guilty taking time to relax as there was so much more to see.
Lost or looking for something to do? Do not be intimidated. The Allure makes it easy for you. Touch screen monitors are located near elevators and in high traffic guest areas. You can use them to locate your stateroom or venues around the ship as well as review the Cruise Compass and the current schedule of events. The unique Map It feature gives you simple directions to navigate this massive wonder on the seas.
When we received the invitation to enjoy this pre-inaugural event, we had no idea what to expect. The only caveat was that there was a movie being filmed aboard and that access to certain areas would be limited during filming. We expected hassles as the crews blocked off areas for the filming of “Jack & Jill” starring Adam Sandler and Katie Holmes. Instead, it added to the overall energy of the voyage. For 48 hours we had free reign of the biggest ship in the world, it was our oyster for that time and those memorable moments were amazing.
For me, I was completely taken back by the aesthetics of the Allure. The art collection which totals more than 7000 pieces of art and sculpture was astounding. Your could spend your entire time on board admiring art. My favorite were the crystal dresses that float in the aft elevator bank. Simply breathtaking. You are surrounded by ambience, whether standing and enjoying a Coney at the Boardwalk Dog House or a formal meal at 150 Central Park. The spa with the wall of exotic orchids, stone work and the colors that started the relaxation of the mind before you entered into a world of calm. The attention to detail and design made me feel like I was in a floating 5 star resort. The combination of luxury meets service equals unparallel nirvana.
One of the unique features of the Allure is all of the dining options. You can enjoy the Adagio dining rooms located on Decks 3-5 with traditional seating’s or you can choose from many more culinary delights. You can even create your own pizza at Sorrento’s or enjoy a healthier option at Solarium Bistro. The specialty dining restaurant choices as fantastic and range from Steaks & Chops to Italian, French and Japanese. We had the opportunity to experience Izumi with delicious sushi rolls, rice dishes and hot stone table side cooking. The lobster roll was sweet and succulent and the spicy tuna was a favorite of everyone at our table. You can top it all off with a stroll through the Boardwalk to the Ice Cream Parlor or enjoy a Red Velvet cupcake at the Cupcake Cupboard. Whether casual or fine dining, the choices are endless. You can end your perfect day by enjoying entertainment in one of the nightclubs, taking a chance at Casino Royale or taking a relaxing stroll on one of the upper decks. Either way, the choice is yours.
In the 48 hours that we were aboard the Allure, we really tried to do it all. We shopped, we ate, we relaxed, attended shows, toured staterooms, theatres, meeting rooms and the spa. We even enjoyed martinis and danced until wee hours of the morning. The one thing I can say for sure, is that as much as I tried, I did not see the entire ship. I only wished we had more to see it, experience it and call it home for a week. We will definitely be booking a full week soon. If for no other reason, it was my best cruise experience to date.
My best advice is to book on the Allure of the Seas and truly experience it.
So, Does Size Matter? Sure it does.