I sailed the Western Caribbean Itinerary. Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas can only do a specific Western or Eastern Caribbean itinerary at the ports specifically built for their huge size.
Labadee, Haiti private beach and rec area
However, I'm not going to mention much about it since I went on this trip for the SHIP and not the ports. I barely left the ship all week. LOVED IT.
Also, I sailed with a gal friend and not my husband, so I did things in a slightly different pattern than I do in a cruise with my hubby.
You should take time to review my Oasis of the Seas Review, as I will attempt to not repeat myself from what I commented on in that review. These two will work together in my mind. I made comments about some 'don't miss it' areas of Oasis which are the same on the Allure of the Seas. AND in 2014 and possibly 2016 there will be for sure one and possibly two more twins of the Oasis of the Seas.
First - I want to discuss the CABIN
For this trip, I went with a more budget option. My friend and I stayed in a Central Park facing balcony cabin - 11251. This was convenient that it was near the mid/aft elevators BUT definite drawbacks. The Central Park facing window and balcony cabins can be some of the best values on the ship. Believe it or not, sometimes less than an inside cabin!
There is a very high noise level in the Central Park area. You would think it would be more tranquil than the Boardwalk facing balconies, but it for sure is NOT. They play music regularly in the Central Park, which isn't too bad during the PORT TIMES. However, whenever we're sailing, the noise from the kids and adult pools above was absolutely insane. (Sounds of bands as well as people.) Also, the Central Park area is enclosed on all four sides, so the noise only bounces off all four sides and makes it worse.
If you don't spend much time in your cabin, these wouldn't be bad. I like to sit and read in my cabin on the couch and also on the balcony, which I only used a couple times when we were in port and it was nice and pleasant out there.
I also spoke with many other passengers, and the Boardwalk facing cabins were fine if you're a person who stays up late making noise yourself. Wouldn't be good for early risers though, with all the parties in that area.
Another thing I thought was a bit of a bummer was the fact that on one of the sea days that had the Move It, Move It parade down the Royal Promenade at 11:15am. Whereas normally I think the Promenade View cabins that are glorified insides are some of my favorite, I would not now suggest one to a person who liked to party late and sleep late. OK for early risers, of course.
Also, I thought I would have 'view the sea' withdrawals by having an interior facing balcony. BUT it was more the noise that bothered me than the view. I didn't miss the view, amazingly. I got a few glimpses here and there and it made me feel like I was cruising enough.
Something to note - if you smoke or you do NOT, smokers have only some places in the public areas of the ship to smoke. BUT they CAN smoke on OCEAN FACING balconies. So, for them they should book one of those. Unfortunately for NON smokers, if you do ocean facing, you could have a smoking neighbor upwind (which we had problems with on the Oasis of the Seas). Smoking is NOT allowed on the Central Park or Boardwalk interior facing balconies.
Dreamworks Experience -
One of the high points for me is the agreement Royal Caribbean has with Dreamworks and having their movie characters onboard. I did quite a few 'photo with characters' when they made appearances. And I enjoyed the parade, which was the same as on Oasis of the Seas.
The parade runs twice. As I mentioned above at 11:15am on the first sea day, and then in the evening on the last sea day. (Both are formal nights.)
Something I didn't see or didn't have time for on Oasis was a special Dreamworks themed ICE show - How To Train Your Dragon. It was great and offered twice on Wednesday night. There was no pre-reserving this. It was a walk up only and was offered on only one of the nights.
There was also a special AQUA THEATRE show with the Madagascar movie characters in the afternoon of the last sea day. Show times were Noon and 1:30pm.
I got up early one morning to do the FREE character breakfast in the dining room. Its basically normal breakfast food with some perks. ;) There are three sea days and therefore three breakfasts. They are NOT the same. In each of the three days three DIFFERENT characters show up. So, if your child likes some specific character, you should inquire with the character handler staff as to which characters are on which days of your trip. Maybe pre reserve all three and then drop the ones that aren't your favorite stuffed friend. Of course, I thought it was the same all the time, so I did it only once (on the second sea day) and I had Shrek, Fiona and Puss N Boots.
Basically, you are seated and given a plate of chocolate inspired pastries. Then you order your breakfast and the characters come out one at a time. The waiters do a song and dance with the first arrival. With each one, the character does a little personal song and dance routine and then circles the dining room and have a photo with everyone who wants one. Character 1 will still be circling when Character 2 comes out, etc.
I also think they put parties at their own tables rather than sharing for this event. I got a two-top table for myself. They use one half of the top of the dining room (Deck 5) and the singing and dancing happens in the center area and then the characters move out from there.
I had my photo with all three and was done with breakfast in 45 min. If I had been in the farthest corner and had to wait for characters, it would have been an hour tops.
I had a great Swedish massage on one of the port days. My therapist was Maxine T. Ask for her if you're going on Allure. She'll be recommitting over and over until the day comes she doesn't want to do ship work anymore. Even though she's done many ships in the past, she says she'll always renew on Allure now.
The Spa has a retreat area with ONLY four stone beds plus multiple steam and shower rooms you can enjoy by itself or before or after a treatment. It COSTS EXTRA, but if you go on a port day like I did be sure to ask if you can use it. I did get access post massage to it and enjoyed it thoroughly.
And I strongly advise pre-reserving your spa appointments before your trip.
On this voyage I ate most of my breakfasts and lunches in the Park Cafe. It is by far my favorite dining venue on the Oasis class ships. As you can probably guess, its in the Central Park neighborhood.
Keep in mind the Cafe Promenade on the Royal Promenade is 24-hour restaurant on this ship and NOT the Windjammer Buffet. The Buffet is small and is meant to be one of the many options but shouldn't be your 'go to' place.
Sorrento's Pizza in the Royal Promenade has pizza by the slice, but ALSO custom made personal sized pizzas. I didn't try one on Oasis, but I thought the custom made was VERY good on Allure. Do try it.
The only 'pay extra' I tried was Giovanni's Table this time. I took my friend there for lunch and we enjoyed it thoroughly. If you want to explore the pay extras, keep the less expensive lunch option in mind.
We ate dinner in the main dining room every night. We had My Time flexible time dining, but we DID pre-reserve our times for most nights before we got on the ship. It’s very important to pre-schedule your shows on Oasis class ships, so you want to also pre-reserve your My Time dining before you sail as well.
Royal Caribbean has just revamped their main dining room menus. I was expecting to be blown away, but it was just OK. Some nights were really great. Others just so-so. I certainly had plenty to eat though! And I loved my waiter Keith Dawes. If you have My Time Dining, ask for him!
Oasis and Allure differences - Since I was with my friend who didn't want to explore the pay extras, I didn't try these BUT I just wanted to mention:
Allure has the Samba Grill up in the adults only Solarium area of the ship, forward on Deck 16. This is a Brazilian Steakhouse. Those that tried whom I spoke with it raved. However, it was never overly busy.
Oasis has the Solarium Bistro here, which was healthier fare but very classy and was also fabulous but little used. I DID try that one last year.
Another difference is Allure has Rita's Cantina, a pay extra Mexican place in the Boardwalk. Rita's Cantina has an 'event' called Rita's Fiesta once per voyage. So, if you want to pay for a Mexican party special, keep an eye out for that.
The Oasis has the Seafood Shack in this physical location.
As mentioned in the Oasis review, you MUST pre-reserve your shows when booking Oasis class. There are lots of options to choose from, but if you want to see them all, you'd better be exact about your schedule. Many are only offered on a few nights, so you have to set your schedule strategically.
The main shows are:
OceanAria - Aqua Theatre show with acrobats and divers
Chicago - Full Broadway Musical
Ice Games - Ice Skating show
Blue Planet - Arial and acrobat and singing show
Comedy Live - Stand up Comedy with varying comedians
Headliner - Rotating entertainer like you might see on other cruise lines
The above are all shows you can and should pre-reserve
In addition, there are these shows or entertainments that are first, come, first served:
How to Train Your Dragon Ice Show
The Madagascar Let You Entertain Me Aqua Show
Jazz on 4 Club
On my Allure cruise, I did all the main entertainment options except the Comedy Live. I heard it was fabulous, but I just wanted to walk around after dinner on that one last night we had it reserved. I did tremendously enjoy it on my Oasis cruise though.
In comparison, I liked Oasis' Aqua show more than Allure's and Oasis' Broadway show Hairspray better than Chicago. FYI I did the behind the scenes tour of the theatre and learned that Royal has rights to these Broadway shows for 5 years. So, you can expect Hairspray to stay on Oasis until late 2014 and Chicago to be on Allure until 2015. Then they might switch out to something new.
I'd say I enjoyed Blue Planet and Come Fly With Me (Oasis) the same. Both were great singing shows with aerial acrobats. Be sure to try to get a seat in the Deck 5 / upper level of the theatre for these ariel shows, as you'll break your neck looking up otherwise. And keep in mind they both have a matinee offering on the final sea day, so you can have an evening WITHOUT a show reservation if you choose to partake in that matinee time instead.
The two Dreamworks special shows (ice and aqua) are unique to Allure of the Seas ONLY. If you are really interested in the characters like me, lean more heavily to doing on Allure of the Seas than other ships.
Oasis does have a comedy show called Splish Splash they performed on the last sea day (in the same time slot as the Madagascar show on Allure) that I really loved. It was also a 'no reservation' version.
And later in the week when there is no official Aqua Theatre 'show' there is a dancing fountains to music and lights type show. Look for Fountain Show in your daily Compass and try to watch one if you're interested.
I am not sure if this is 'entertainment' or not, but there are cupcake decorating classes in the Cupcake Cupboard restaurant / store. These are very popular and you should reserve one right away after boarding if you're interested. They have both kids and adult classes for an extra fee.
The Allure has the same outdoor entertainments as the Oasis. I DID do the zipline this time (twice in a row actually). I did my 7 second zip on a port day when there was NO LINE. Once I spent all that time getting strapped in, it was worth it to go multiple times! If you're interested in zipping, I do strongly recommend trying it while the ship is in port during an hour the line is open. My husband did the zip on Oasis on a sea day and waited in long lines for it and for sure didn't get to go twice!
You can't go wrong with any of the entertainment - whatever is your style!
Something I noticed on Oasis, but was confirmed on this Allure of the Seas voyage, is that the service is exceptional. The best I've had on a mainstream cruise line in years or maybe forever.
I took extra time to talk to some of the staff, and I think I've figured it out. Basically, Royal Caribbean seems to allow the crew to request which ship they want to work on - they are not simply placed randomly like on other lines. What is happening is the best and most experienced crew are trying the Oasis and Allure of the Seas because they want to see what its like to work on the biggest ship.
There are THREE crew decks with 2000 crew! That's a lot of space and rec area AND variety of friends for the crew. Once they try it, they realize that its the cream of the crop of places to work, and they continue to renew over and over on the same ship. Many of the great crew I spoke with said they'd been on Allure since it launched in 2010. (Not continually, but that they keep renewing over and over for Allure.)
Happy crew makes for a happier vacation for you and me!
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