written by Linda Johnson
Allure of the Seas: Part 1 Trip Report from the Eastern Caribbean
I was recently faced with a choice: to play the WSOP main event or take a two-week cruise on the magnificent Allure of the Seas. From the title of this blog, you can see that it was an easy decision! Jan Fisher and I immediately reserved a balcony cabin and booked a red-eye to Ft. Lauderdale, where we met up with friends Gyla Whitlow and Janice Goodman who were cruising with us the first week. I was looking forward to some rest and relaxation after six weeks of almost nonstop poker during the WSOP.
The purpose of this blogis to let you know what to expect if you cruise with us on the Allure of the Seas on the Card Player Cruises Sept 18-25 trip to the Eastern Caribbean and/or the Sept 25-Oct 2 Western Caribbean sailing. Passengers may cruise both weeks (automatic discount) or one week. Warning: one week just isn’t enough to discover all this ship has to offer!
I’ll start off with details about the ship (restaurants, shows, amenities, etc.) and then go into some of the on board activities offered and some of the shore excursions available. I’ll close with some hints on how to make your vacation easier and better and give you some fun facts about the cruise.
The Ship: The Allure of the Seas launched in December 2010 and is the biggest cruise ship in the world, weighing in at 225,000 gross tons. It is a twin to its sister ship the Oasis of the Seas. The Allure is 1,187 feet long and has 16 passenger decks. Occupancy at full capacity is 6,296 guests in its 2,704 staterooms. The ship offers a plethora of activities and features a zipline, carousel, Central Park, ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, more than 20 eating venues, a Broadway theater, an aqua theater, comedy theater, jazz club, full casino, fitness center, Surfrider, miniature golf, jazz club, karaoke lounge, a child and teen program, disco, sports court, duty-free shops, internet cafes, jogging track, and lots of cool public lounges.
The Allure offers the latest in technology. If you aren’t sure how to find a specific destination, go to any elevator and type in where you are going and the route will light up. You can press a button to find out how busy each of the restaurants is. You swipe your card at each show to confirm your reservations. One nice feature in the cabins is an iPod docking station so feel free to bring your iPod with you.
The Restaurants: The dining choices are many…most are free but there also are some pay restaurants for those who really want to be pampered. Please note that there is no need to pay extra for food on a cruise ship since the food in the free venues is plentiful and tasty. The Adagio dining room is open for breakfast, lunch (on sea days), and dinner with a choice of at least three appetizers, soups, and salads each evening as well as at least six entree options and six dessert choices. Don’t forget…it’s all you can eat so if you want the beef and the pasta, you can order both! Card Player Cruises’ passengers are scheduled for main dining at 6pm in order to facilitate opening the cardroom at 7:30pm each evening. If you prefer a more casual dinner or prefer to wear shorts or to go casual on formal night, a good alternative dining room is the Windjammer Marketplace. The Windjammer opens nightly at 6:15 and is buffet style with many great food choices and desserts. I eat there for dinner most nights since I prefer casual dining to long, multi-course dinners. The Windjammer is open for breakfast and lunch every day as well.
If you want something even more casual, I highly recommend the Park Cafe for breakfast or lunch (I wish they were open for dinner). Located in Central Park, the Park Cafe breakfast includes a designer bagel bar, lots of fresh fruit, grilled egg sandwiches, hot and cold cereals, and lots of other quick and light food items. The Park Cafe is my favorite lunch spot featuring scrumptious roast beef sandwiches, a salad bar, soup, and lots of desserts. Another good choice for a quick bite is the Cafe Promenade, a 24-hour snack bar with sandwiches and cookies. Sorrentos is a pizza bar where you can grab a slice of four different types of pizza or design your own personal pizza. Johnny Rockets has breakfast for free (there is a small charge for lunch and dinner), as does the Solarium Bistro. Room service is available 24 hours a day and is complimentary except during the hours of midnight to 5am, when a $3.95 service charge applies. The Wipeout Cafe is a great place to grab a burger, hot dog or pizza when you are out at the pool.
Looking for a snack? You can grab a yummy hot dog in the Boardwalk Dog House (five types of hot dogs and sausages), a donut at Boardwalk Donuts, or frozen yogurt by the pool. Each of the above venues is complimentary.
As far as the pay restaurants, Giovanni’s Table is my personal favorite. The cover charge is $15 for lunch and $20 for dinner but you would have to pay at least three times that much for similar food at home. The service is five-star, as is the food. Beware: there is way too much food if you order every course – appetizer, salad, soup, pasta, entree, and dessert. I recommend dining family style and sharing some of the early courses so you have room for your entree. Jan’s favorite pay restaurant is Chops Grille. It is a gourmet steak house with wonderful food and plenty of it for $30 per person. Janice and Gyla preferred Rita’s Cantina, featuring Mexican food (the price depends on what night you go…there is a fiesta two nights during the week with a $20 charge for the party, food and margaritas). Other pay restaurant choices are the Brazilian Steak House Samba Grill ($25), Vintages (an a la carte tapas bar), Izumi ($5 cover charge plus a la carte pricing for sushi…note I HATED this restaurant on the Oasis so wouldn’t consider trying it on the Allure), 150 Central Park ($40 per head or $75 per head with wine pairings), or the Chef’s Table ($95 for a wine pairings dinner at a private table hosted by one of the ship’s chefs.) If you’re in the mood for a snack, the following venues have a small charge: Starbucks, Ice Cream Parlor, The Cupcake Cupboard, or Johnny Rockets.
The Shows: The Allure has six special shows during the week in addition to all the other activities offered. Chicago is the featured Broadway show in the Amber Theater. There is an ice skating show, a standup comedy show, a water show featuring amazing high dive and trampoline acts, a headliner show (the Texas Tenors from America’s Got Talent were featured this week), and Blue Planet featuring vocals, energetic dance, and aerial acrobatics. I found the talent on the Allure to be terrific.
The Activities: Obviously we will have a first-class poker room for your pleasure that will open at 9am on sea days and after dinner on port days except in Nassau, when we will open in the afternoon once we sail away. Both live games and tournaments will be offered every day. If you want to take a break from poker, here’s a report on some of the ship activities offered throughout the week: trivia, singles get-together, karaoke, ice skating, dance classes, movies, sing-a-longs in the piano bar, bridge, Soduko, jewelry making, fitness classes, seminars, bingo, name that tune, concerts, pool games, parades, scrapbooking classes, Ping pong, basketball, line dancing, wine tasting, and cooking classes.
If you are bringing children or teenagers, they will be busy the entire cruise. They have their own counselors, designated lounges and play rooms, and an arcade, as well as a full menu of activities including scavenger hunts, seminars, face painting, DJ academies, dance lessons, talent shows, ice shows, Dream Works shows, carousel, parties, etc.
The Ports: The Eastern Caribbean ports are Nassau, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. Some of the shore excursions available through the ship are:
Nassau: Stingray snorkeling and beach break, Atlantis Hotel/Casino tour, glass bottom boat, Seaworld Explorer, Paradise Island tour, swim with the dolphins, and the Forts and Pirate Museum tour.
St. Thomas: Sail to Christmas and Honeymoon Cove, bike trip, beach excursions, trips to St. John, catamaran snorkel trips, golfing, jet boat sail, power raft snorkeling, island tours, jeep adventures, helmet dive at Coral World, parasailing, scuba diving, hiking, and kayaking
St. Maarten: island tour, eco snorkel and beach tour, Rhino Rider adventure, art tour, extreme tour, scuba diving, discover scuba, aquaboat and jeep adventure, butterfly farm, and snuba
For more information about the excursions, you can go to rccl.com or refer to the excursion booklet in your cabin.
Hints to Make Your Vacation Better:
1. If you like to preplan your activities, you should go to the Royal Caribbean website and book reservations at least a week in advance of your cruise.) However, if you don’t like to plan in advance, don’t despair…10 minutes before each show, the doors are open to any standby guests and we did not have any problem getting in at the last minute.
2. Book your excursions through the ship. The ship tours are organized and use top-quality operators. You never have to worry about missing the ship either!
3. It is best to arrive at the pier on embarkation day after 2pm when there is virtually no wait to board the ship. If you arrive at noon, you will probably have at least a 30-minute wait to board.
4. Pack your valuables, passport, medicine, reading material, change of clothes, etc. in a carry-on bag since it might take a while to get your luggage delivered to your cabin.
5. Don’t overpack. Once you have laid out your clothes for the trip, put at least 1/3 of them back in the closet.
6. Bring sunscreen and a bathing suit. It will be hot!
7. Check in at the poker room on deck three in the conference room once you board the ship to pick up your free gifts and name badge that you will need during the cruise.
8. Liquids can no longer be brought on board in your luggage. This applies to water, soda, and alcohol. The days of bringing your own sodas and waters are gone, they will confiscate your stuff!
9. If you drink a lot of soda or wine, consider buying a package in advance or when you arrive at the ship,
10. Bring a good attitude and a sense of adventure and you’ll have a wonderful time!
I hope you enjoyed this preview of the Sept. Card Player Cruises’ trips on the Allure of the Seas. Next week I’ll tell you about the Western Caribbean ports. My mom and sister will be joining us for another wonderful week!
If you have any questions about this trip or about the Allure of the Seas, please write to me at Linda@cardplayercruises.com, If you haven’t booked your cabin yet, you need to hurry since we have very limited availability at this time.