Today, Bob Gurr shares images from his 2014 family reunion voyage on the massive Royal Caribbean Allure of the Sea. Set a course for adventure, this ship is amazing.
Disney Cruise Lines operates four beautiful cruise ships that are Disney fan favorites. Magic and Wonder are 84,000 ton size ships carrying 1754 passengers, while Dream and Fantasy are 130,000 tons with 2,500 passengers. This may seem large, but the latest super size ships are the Royal Caribbean International Oasis and Allure of the Seas. These floating resorts are a giant 225,282 tons handling 5,400 passengers, or 6,360 when fully loaded!. Now, thats really big. Having cruised on both size Disney ships, my absolute favorite is the stunning Allure of the seas, sister ship to the Oasis of the Seas.
To experience just what a cruise on a ship of this size is like, watch my video of another cruise on the Oasis here:
The ship has a novel neighborhood concept, which divides the ship into seven distinct spaces that range from the foliage-filled Central Park to the Boardwalk, with its handmade wooden carousel, burger joint and candy shop. Like its sister, Allure also boasts the best kids program in cruising. Scattered throughout the mass of steel, glass, wood and trees are variations that inform Allure’s unique personality, including retail options (a Guess store), dining venues (a hot dog stand), shows (“Chicago”) and a recognizable green ogre, donkey and penguins culled from the DreamWorks stable. The line has also added 3D viewing capabilities to its movie offerings, iPod docks in every cabin and guest kiosks from which you can print boarding passes and keep tabs on escalating onboard bills.
Sure, the ship is large, but it doesn’t feel as massive as you’d expect it to and that’s a credit to its design. The neighborhood concept really does work — Central Park was our favorite, and we found reasons to be there every day (Park Cafe for freshly made salads, sandwiches and breakfast fare; fun tours of art and foliage; and lots of comfortable chairs in which to read) and night (noshing at the outdoor tables at Vintages, the wine bar, and at Giovanni’s, the ship’s Italian restaurant). After dinner, the Entertainment Zone was a magnet. On sunny days, congregating on the pool deck was a natural activity — but while it was crowded, you could always find a lounge chair.
The Boardwalk, one of the most hotly anticipated neighborhoods, was a surprisingly empty spot onboard. It’s charming — and a ride on the carousel was a real smile — but people didn’t really hang out there, unless they’re passing through on the way to the Aqua Theater. One parent told me that the problem with the Boardwalk area is that there are too many for-fee places — and that parents don’t want to walk that expensive gauntlet, with kids begging for ice cream, a fried food meal at the Seafood Shack (with its $8.95 for adults and $4.95 for kids cover charge) or Johnny Rockets (which also levies a fee). Other costly temptations on the Boardwalk include shops where you can buy a furry pet, trendy children’s clothing and accessories, and bags of candy. Not too much different than a day at a Disney Resort.
In port, Royal Caribbean has built facilities on each dock with numerous screening stations that enable passengers to re-embark much more smoothly than some of the smaller mega-ships we were berthed alongside! With the FlowRiders, H2O Zone, Boardwalk and incredible age-specific children’s facilities, Allure of the Seas is an obvious choice for families. However, the ship also appeals to active couples, mainly in their 30’s to 50’s (Central Park is a great place relatively kid-free spot to hang out). The majority of passengers hail from North America, though many passengers on our sailing came from the United Kingdom and Europe, as well, keen to experience the world’s largest cruise ship. Seven-night cruises have two formal nights and five casual nights. A decent number of men choose to wear tuxedos for formal dining, though dark suits were more common on our sailing. Women are typically found in cocktail dresses or gowns.
Interestingly, Both Allure and Oasis have a higher rating with children and teens than Disney, probably due to there being so much more to do on this class of mega-ship. Also interesting, Disney fans who try Allure certainly do want to return again for the bigger variety of on-board experiences. I took delight in watching my 10 family members from age 11 to 83 experience a cruise ship that took their breath away. And that made my day too.
Have you traveled on the Allure or Oasis?