It’s actually Amy here, doing this travel guide! Woo hoo! Y’all know I travel all the time (#wanderlusty), but I usually fall way behind on actually documenting my travels.
Not this time, Carol! (Doesn’t adding ‘Carol’ to anything just make it sound saucy?)
So slap on some sunscreen, grab your overpriced Mai Tai, and let’s talk about my 7-day cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas!
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. The ship is huge. It’s freaking HUGE. And I was worried that it would be super overwhelming. Which it was, for an hour or so. But then it just...wasn’t. Royal Caribbean does a fantastic job of visually separating the ship into different areas, like Central Park, the Boardwalk, the Sports Zone, etc. And there are maps and diagrams everywhere to help you when you get lost. Which I did. Like, every day.
A view from Deck 15 looking down into Central Park on Deck 8
Being a 7-day cruise, we had Amultiple ports we were stopping in, but we only got off the ship in the Bahamas and Roatan, Honduras. We had already visited Cozumel and Costa Maya on a previous cruise (a Disney cruise that got rerouted thanks to Hurricane Matthew), so we wanted to take advantage of the smaller crowds on the ship. I’m going to do a microblog about our excursions in the Bahamas (Atlantis) and on Roatan (Little French Key), but I’ll focus on things actually on the Allure of the Seas for this one.
Cause there’s just that much to write about.
Let’s just go ahead and talk about the food. Because man, it’s good. My family (a group of 11 of us) all agreed that this was the best food of any cruise we’d been on, including the Disney cruise we had all taken together previously (Yep, the rerouted one). Like with most cruises, the majority of the food is included, but there are a few upgraded restaurants. Which we didn’t visit. Partly because, three year old. Partly because, we’re cheap like that.
So we ate dinner every night in the Silk Restaurant. If you’re unfamiliar with cruises, you get the same waiter (and assistant) every night during your stay. We had Valentino (and his assistant Ibraham) and they were stinking adorable. Even with a handful of a three year old who may or may not get dessert every evening, depending on how he’d behaved during the day. (Valentino and I got really good at hand signals).
Random photo of the sunset, to break up text. And because it’s pretty.
If you have dietary restrictions, fear not! My niece has an autoimmune issue where she absolutely cannot have gluten, and the staff of the Allure of the Seas was simply amazing at accommodating her needs. They would give her the menu every night for the next night’s meal and let her choose what she wanted - then they’d be sure and prepare it in a gluten free manner for the next night. And, lucky duck, she usually got several deserts each night because they’d always throw in some gluten free cookies, along with whatever she chose.
Speaking of, did you realize that you can order whatever you’d like on a cruise ship? As in however much of what you’d like?! My husband ordered two appetizers every single night. My brother-in-law ordered two entrees one night. We jokingly ordered “one of everything” one night and Valentino was ready to bring it all, until we told him we were kidding.
If you don’t want to sit through a long dinner, there are plenty of other options for a quick bite on the ship - the Windjammer Restaurant is where the breakfast and lunch buffet are located, but there are also restaurants on the main Promenade, the Boardwalk, in Central Park, and in the Sports Zone. (Insider info - at Windjammer, the breakfast buffet is the same every day, but the lunch changes a bit!).
I just managed to talk for 5 paragraphs about the food, and I feel like I barely scratched the surface. But before you think all we did was eat (well, practically yes), let’s move on to the entertainment! That’s the other things cruise ships are known for, right? Schmaltzy, cheesy cruise ship singers and entertainment?
Not this time, Carol. (See what I mean?!)
The entertainment on Allure of the Seas was absolutely stellar. Probably my top two faves were Ocean Aria and the Caribbean band. (Granted, I didn’t go see Mama Mia, but I heard it was great).
Ocean Ara is best described as well, high divers meet Cirque Du Soliel. Kind of. It’s hard to describe but so, so good. High divers from around the world, along with gymnasts, and a super funny physical comedian (who doubles as an acrobat) perform in the Aqua Theater (which is outside) and use a combination of swimming, diving, dancing, trampolines, ziplines, and rope netting to showcase their amazing skills in a 45 minute show that passes all too quickly.
There’s a section where two strongmen (I mean, I literally don’t know what else to call them) do amazing balancing things where I swear they were lifting elephants with their pinkies. … Okay, maybe not to that extreme, but there was a moment where one of them was standing on his head… on the other one’s head… And then they high-fived. Whaaaaa?
Definitely catch that show. It’s free, but it does fill up - so I suggest grabbing your free reservation early on in the week.
Now. The Caribbean band. I mean, that’s pretty expected, right? A Caribbean band playing music out by the pool. Yawn.
Not this time…. Not gonna do it again :)
This band was good. Like, real good. And lest I thought they maybe just seemed good because I had indulged in a featured drink-of-the-day while poolside, they proved me wrong when I watched the Bob Marley Tribute one evening in Boleros (one of the nightclubs). So. So. SO good.
(Random semi-negative side note: I saw Blue Planet as well. It was just ‘meh’)
But what about the family friendly entertainment? Well, Ocean Aria is definitely family-friendly. And the Bob Marley tribute band as well, although it was at nighttime. But the Allure of the Seas also has so much entertainment geared towards our younger and shorter family members.
There’s an entire section called Sports Zone - with mini gold, ping pong tables, a zipline, a basketball court, and more. We opted to limit it to mini golf, since my little guy wasn’t quite tall enough to do the ziplining (whew, thank goodness - this mama isn’t ready for that!)
Rocking one flip flop, cause that’s how he rolls
Maybe I’m just at the “I’m now a mom so my heart melts at kids doing sweet things” stage of life, but the family karaoke was one of my favorite activities on the ship. And no, my family didn’t sing. But we watched so many fun family performances that made us either laugh or sigh contentedly because the kids were just that freaking cute.
One of the highlights? A father-daughter duo who hilariously sang “I’ve Had the Time of My Life”. The daughter realized about halfway through that perhaps that wasn’t the best song to sing alongside your father and just stood there laughing. So the father made up for the lack of a duet partner by dialing it up to about an 11. It was gold.
The trivia and the game shows are super fun as well - but don’t go in expecting to win exciting prizes like a new car, a free cruise….or even cash. You’re going to win a keychain. Or a pen. But it’s still fun! And fair warning on the Marriage game show - despite the family friendly rating, it got a little saucy in there!
I could write an entire other blog about the Kids Club - yes, they have one. Yes, my son loved it. What they actually do? Not entirely sure - I wasn’t there and my 3 year old wasn’t terribly forthcoming other than “I got to be a pirate!”
But know that the hours are different on days at sea and days at port. On days at port, the Kids Club is open all day long, but on At Sea days, it closes for lunch and dinner. I suppose they want you to actually, you know, spend time with your kids while you’re on the ship. That being said, I truly can’t imagine leaving the ship with my child still at Kid’s Club - but we did stay on the ship during one of our port days (since we’d already been to Cozumel) so we did send the little guy to lunch with his “teachers” and we had a little midday date. That was nice.
And the boat is definitely less crowded on port days - so if you’re not that into the port, stay on the boat and enjoy the empty pool and the other activities.
People either love or hate cruising - we’re definitely in the “love it” camp. If you are too, I want to know - what’s your favorite cruising experience? And if you’re not such a fan - why not? Maybe I can debunk some of the myths out there for you!
Stay salty, finches!