I ran out of cruise before I ran out of things to say, so I’ll be continuing the live-blogging of our Allure of the Seas vacation for a few more
days weeks. Consider it live-blogging by tape delay!
I wanted to wait until I’d had a chance to properly explore the ship before I told you about it. It really is a mind-boggling ship, not just a floating hotel but a floating town with a population greater than Manotick. At capacity, the Allure of the Seas can carry nearly 6,000 passengers and more than 2,200 crew members, and on our sailing there were about 5,000 passengers — but you never really get a sense there are that many people on the ship. The Allure was designed with seven themed “neighbourhoods” designed so people would find a place comfortable for them and gravitate towards a particular area. The neighbourhoods are:
- the Boardwalk
- the Royal Promenade
- the pool and sports zone
- the Vitality Spa and Fitness area
- Central Park
- the youth zone
- the Entertainment Zone
The first order of each day for me was the hunting and gathering of coffee. We could have ordered (no charge) room service, but I liked the excuse to be up and moving through the ship while virtually everyone else was asleep. Our cabin was at the aft of the ship on deck seven, so we’d slip out through a door at the end of the corridor at the far aft beside one of the massive rock climbing walls, walk down a level past the Boardwalk area and down another level onto the walking/running track that circles the ship on the fifth deck. I enjoyed using the running track to traverse the ship (and I always seemed to be on the wrong end of the ship from my destination) because I liked the open air and sea views. Each morning I’d walk to midship and enter the Royal Promenade area, which to me was the heart of the ship.
It was on the Royal Promenade that one could watch the two (impressive) Dreamworks parades that celebrate the beginning and end of the cruise, or one of the fun street dance parties with themes like Latin Night or 70s dance party. It was also my favourite place to snag a coffee in a take-away cup without having to spend money at the Starbucks on the same deck. On the Royal Promenade, you’ll also find shops, including a GUESS accessory boutique, and several bars and cafes, including the neat Rising Tide Bar that moves up and down between decks 5 and 8. Coffee in hand and boys content with bakery treats, we’d either go back to the running track to watch the sun rise off the aft deck or back to our balcony. I already miss those seaside coffees!
Our favourite place for breakfast was the Solarium Bistro up on deck 15. They had the best variety of breakfast choices laid out buffet style – everything from bacon and eggs and smoked salmon to toast and waffles to fruit to granola and cereal. I’m hungry just thinking about it! Ordinarily, the Solarium area is for adults only (which is a bit of a shame, because it does offer the best views from high up on the front of the ship) but during breakfast and lunch the kids were welcome.
The sport and pool zone is also up on deck 15, another of Allure’s various neighbourhoods. We spent a LOT of time up there, enjoying the sea air and views while the kids splashed in the H2O zone or played in the kids’ pool. I loved being out in the open air, and there were plenty of places to sit and relax. I’d heard on some cruise ships that deck chairs were hard to come by, but there were always some available for us and I loved the fact that there was even kiddie-sized ones! Another wonderful feature of the sports and pool deck is the handy self-serve frozen yogurt on a cone station.
How’s this for cool? Some of the hot tubs are cantilevered out over the side of the ship, 200 feet over the ocean!
If you’re looking for a nice quiet place to sit quietly and feel a little solitude, the ship’s impressive Central Park is a great place to hang out. Can you believe they have a park the size of a football field with thousands of live plants? Imagine grabbing a yummy roast beef sandwich (with a ladle-ful of gravy inside, mmmmmm!) from the Central Park Cafe and sitting on a little patio to enjoy your lunch in the park and watch the people walking by — ON A SHIP!
Another one of our favourite neighbourhoods on the Allure was the Boardwalk, featuring a fully functioning carousel. (A carousel! On! A! Ship!) No doubt this was Lucas’s favourite area to hang out. They have a beautiful set of sculptures showing the creation of a wooden carousel horse from wooden block to final product, and each time we walked by Lucas oohed and aahed over the sculptures. “This one is my favourite!” he’d tell us each time.
Also on the Boardwalk are a couple of shops, including a candy store, a hot dog stand, a fun photo studio, an ice cream parlour, and two restaurants. We never did manage to try Rita’s Mexican Cantina (which is a shame considering how much we like Mexican food!) but we did enjoy the complimentary breakfast at Johnny Rockets one morning.
The food on the ship is a mixture of included options and extras. You can easily dine all week without paying an extra cent by enjoying meals in the main dining room, the Windjammer buffet, or many of the little cafes such as the ones on the Royal Promenade (good for breakfast sweets) or the Central Park Cafe (amazing salads and sandwiches.) For a few dollars more, you can try a gourmet dining experience at one of the signature restaurants including Chops Grille, 150 Central Park, and Izumi Asian Cuisine. You generally need a reservation for these smaller restaurants, but there are these very cool interactive displays near all the elevators that are like giant iPads, and you can check to see at any given time if there is currently room in any of the specialty restaurants. We didn’t make it to any of the specialty restaurants for dinner, but we had an absolutely amazing family-style Italian lunch at Giovanni’s Table one day. My mouth still waters when I think about it. Look at this adorable photo our friend Juliette from Fisher-Price caught of me and the boys enjoying our lunch.
And here’s one of all five of us – so terrific to get a photo of all of us!
I have to say, I was intimidated about the dining on the cruise before we left. I knew there would be two formal nights, and when they say formal they mean it — gowns and tuxes, or at least suits and pretty dresses. And even on the casual nights, I was anxious about having to dress the whole family for dinner. We just don’t do formal — I had to buy Simon a white collared shirt for his first communion last year, and had nothing equivalent for the other two boys. In the end, it was much less of a deal than I had feared. For the casual nights, I dressed them in khakis and polo shirts, and for the formal nights we ate at the Windjammer buffet where the non-fancy people hang out. I did love dining in the main dining room, though. The wait staff were incredibly kind and solicitous of the whole family, and the food was a-maz-ing!! And they were super-quick – I wish it were as easy to get in and out of a restaurant back home. Due to one boy’s fickle tummy, we only actually made it through an entire meal all the way to dessert on the very last night of the cruise, but we were treated like royalty each time we showed up. I think of all the things that impressed me about the Allure, high on the list was the service in the main dining room.
I’d tell you about the spa and fitness area of the ship, but, um, I never made it up there. I’m sure it’s as lovely and impressive as the rest of the ship, though, but the damn ship is so big that there just wasn’t enough time to explore it. And given the choice between a vigourous treadmill workout and lazing in a deck chair watching the sun rise, I’ll choose lazing every time. Besides, when you traverse the enormous Allure (she’s 362m, more than a third of a kilometer from stem to stern, or more than 1100 ft for you imperialists) a couple of times a day in search of various adventures you can easily justify an extra cupcake or two without hitting the fitness club. Well, I certainly could!
Okay, I think this is the penultimate post in this series. I will need one more blog post to tell you about the entertainment options for kids and adults and the amazing kid programs on the Allure. Do you have any questions about our trip or about the Allure of the Seas? I’d be happy to answer them for you!
Related posts (automatically generated):
- Five things I love (even more than I expected to!) about cruising A cruise had never crossed our radar as a potential holiday. Even though my parents have loved a few cruises in the last few years and regaled us with their adventures, it would still never have occured to us to even consider a cruise vacation for the family. However, I...
- In which she spills the beans on a secret she’s been (not very successfully) keeping You may have picked up my not-so-subtle hints recently (so not good with the subtlty) that we have something big in the works for this fall. And by big, I mean biggest IN THE WORLD. I have been trying to write this blog post for a while, and I can...
- Family fun and other diversions on the Allure of the Seas – and a giveaway! Alas, a mere two weeks after our return from the amazing Allure of the Seas, I finally share the last post in my not-so-liveblogging of our cruise. Hey, my tanned Caribbean skin has not yet completely faded back to Canadian winter white, that’s got to count for something, right? So...
- Hello from the sea! As I type this to you, I am sitting on a pulled-out sofa bed in our stateroom, listening to the sea rush by below us. In case you missed it, we are aboard Royal Caribbean International’s flagship Allure of the Seas, currently at sea between Florida and Haiti., courtesy of...
- Zipping along on the Allure of the Seas We had a lot of fun on our second day at sea with Royal Caribbean International and Fisher Price on the Allure of the Seas today. So much fun, in fact, that I’m exhausted! I will get around to telling you a whole lot more about our ship tour tomorrow,...