Larison Family Allure of the Seas 7 night Western Caribbean Cruise
by Tim Larison, CLIA Certified Master Cruise Counselor (MCC)
with contributions from Travel Agent Anne Larison, Andrew and Josh Larison
If you’ve followed our family travel adventures over the years you know we’ve taken many trips with our twin sons Andrew and Josh. Our sons are all grown up now – in January 2015 we treated them to a 21st birthday cruise on the largest cruise ship afloat – the Allure of the Seas.
Anne and I had sailed on the Oasis of the Seas three times in the past but this was our first cruise on the sister ship of the Oasis – the Allure of the Seas. Many of our past family cruises have been on the Disney Magic or Disney Wonder – how would our sons like a cruise on a ship almost three times the size of the original Disney ships? Read their comments below.
Most of our evening meals were in the three story Opus Main Dining Room. We received excellent service all week from our waiters. Pictured above is a happy birthday serenade to Josh and Andrew on the night of their 21st birthday. I thought the food served here was excellent all week. I especially liked the shrimp cocktail appetizers and the pasta dishes.
We also enjoyed dining at the Windjammer Buffet at breakfast and lunch most days. The Windjammer is one of the largest buffets I have experienced on a cruise ship with a variety of choices for every taste.
One day at lunch we ate at Johnny Rockets. The hamburgers here were huge (and delicious). Past Royal Caribbean cruisers received a 2 for 1 milk shake coupon which we took advantage of. This was not your low calorie meal – by the time I had finished my burger, shake, and onion rings I was stuffed! I also really enjoyed breakfasts at Johnny Rockets. Many people don’t know about this option (breakfast here is complementary, lunch and dinner have a small cover charge). The Windjammer buffet can get crowded at peak times so breakfast outdoors at Johnny Rockets was a welcome change.
Across from Johnny Rockets is Rita’s Cantina again with a small cover charge. I liked Rita’s better than the Seafood Shack which occupies this space on the Oasis of the Seas. The mexican specialities at Rita’s that we sampled were excellent and reminded us of our favorite Mexican restaurants back home in Colorado.
In addition to our three meals per day, we took advantage of the many snack and light meal options available on the ship. I could be found enjoying ice cream from Wipe Out Café or donuts and hot dogs from the Boardwalk neighborhood. If that wasn’t enough, there was always pizza available at Sorrentos. For lunch one day we had a sandwich and salad from Café Promenade; don’t miss the yummy beef sandwiches!
It is nearly impossible to not find an enjoyable dining experience on the Allure of the Seas. The main dining service has some of the most diverse selection that I’ve seen on a nightly basis. The service was exceptional, and our server Clifroy was one of the highlights of the cruise. Personally, I spent half of the cruise camped out at the Cafe Promenade, where they have the most amazing Zeppoles and other desserts.
The dining on the Allure was great, with different choices every day at both the buffet and the dining room. My favorite place to stop for food was Sorrento’s Pizza in the main plaza on the ship. They serve pizza by the slice and even let you create your own pizza out of a selection of toppings. It takes longer than just getting a slice but it was definitely worth the wait. The ship also features the new Coke Freestyle machines around the ship which make the beverage package worth it as you can make many different soda combinations.
“The entertainment was exceptional–best of any cruise I’ve ever been on,” wrote one of our clients when describing the shows featured on the Allure of the Seas. I agree the Allure of the Seas entertainment is top notch. The production show Chicago, the ice skating show Monopoly, and the water/acrobatics show Ocean Aria were all excellent. I enjoyed experiencing a variety of different shows in these venues than what I had previously seen on the Oasis of the Seas. An Abba tribute band performed in the main theater on two nights and they were also good.
I very much enjoyed the comedians at Comedy Live. It is a very small club, but if you don’t have tickets in advance you can line up outside the door 30 minutes prior to show and there is a good chance you can still get a seat.
The system they had on board for reservations was different than my past cruise experiences and it made for a more enjoyable show-going experience. It eliminated the need to leave an activity early to get a seat at the show. My personal favorite was the Comedy Live show. There are also plenty of daytime events around the pool and Aqua Theatre that are entertaining to watch or participate in.
One aspect of the entertainment on the ship that I liked was that they showed free 3-D movies in the ship’s main theater at certain times in the day. The movies were fairly new (released in the past year) and the theater was well set up with both a giant screen and quality sound.
One reason we chose the Allure of the Seas for this special 21st birthday cruise was the variety of activities the ship offered. Like the flow rider above, zip lining, rock climbing walls, ping pong, miniature golf and more. We were not disappointed. There’s so much to do on the Allure of the Seas that 7 days is not nearly enough to experience all that the ship has to offer.
When I was between snacks and meals, I was able to walk on the jogging track on deck 5. This is one ship where you can walk completely around the deck for exercise. We have been on some smaller ships that have a much shorter jogging track but I enjoy being able to walk the entire deck. A few other things not mentioned above include shuffle board, and playing card games and board games in the card room.
The Flowrider was definitely one of the highlights of the activities on board, and it is easily the most popular spot during at-sea days. For inexperienced riders, the boogie boarding is the more appropriate option; they have instructors there to help guide you on the proper technique and help you learn a few tricks! Experienced surfers and people who don’t mind wiping out regularly will have blast with the surfing-only area.
It was hard to get bored on the ship- there were fun activities and events wherever I was. One of my favorite places to go at night was to the casino, they had hundreds of slot machines along with tables for poker, blackjack, etc.
Internet Café/wireless access
Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line I have sailed on that offers an unlimited internet package for the entire week. I took advantage of this, using my laptop, ipad, and iphone to checkin on the web throughout the week. The wireless signal was strong throughout the ship.
We were in side by side inside staterooms on the Allure. The staterooms were fine for us. Not the biggest inside staterooms we’ve been in and not the smallest. I liked the flat screen tv with a variety of movies and programs, as well as the ability to check on our purchases onboard. A small desk allowed me to setup my laptop to monitor our travel business throughout the week.
There was sufficient closet space and room for toiletries in the bathroom. We had a friendly and competent stateroom attendant who took care of us and was helpful whenever we had a need.
Our stateroom location was great; being toward the aft of the ship allowed us easy access to many of the hot spots on the ship. The room itself was better than most staterooms I’ve been in the past; I liked having the small couch and it wasn’t too cramped which is always a plus.
The TV in the stateroom didn’t have a huge selection of channels but that didn’t matter with so much to do on the ship. Even though it was an inside stateroom there was enough room for both me and my brother and it never felt too cramped.
Our cruise featured three “at sea” days with port stops at Cozumel and Jamaica.
After a morning on the beach we enjoyed an island buffet, included in our cruise fare.
At Cozumel we took a taxi to Paradise Beach and enjoyed another day in the sun. We found doing our own excursion to Paradise Beach was less in cost than Royal Caribbean’s beach excursions. Taxi’s were readily available at the port for a reasonable $15 charge each way.
We had been to Jamaica in the past so we decided not to do a shore excursion on our visit this time. Instead we stayed on the ship and found the recreational facilities less crowded as many other passengers were off exploring the island.
You can enjoy Labadee if you just want to experience the sun, sand and water. We brought our own snorkel gear, which was great and saved us some money. There are many things on Labadee that are not free. Parents be warned that you will be pulling out your Sea Pass Card for things like Dragon’s Tail Coaster, Dragon’s Breath Flight Line (the world’s longest zip line over water), and Dragon’s Splash Waterslide. You even have to pay a fee for entrance to the aqua park in Columbus Cove.
Paradise Beach has always been one of my favorite vacation spots, and it didn’t disappoint this time around. The snorkeling and aqua park areas are great for families and they also have a large pool area if sand isn’t your thing. The resort has a fast and friendly staff and the food is great!
This was my first time going to Labadee and I really enjoyed it. It is very much like Castaway Cay that the Disney ships visit. My favorite part was the lunch buffet which had all kinds of delicious barbecue food. At Paradise Beach on Cozumel I enjoyed snorkeling and relaxing on the beach.
Our Allure of the Seas cruise was a perfect January vacation. We escaped the cold weather back home to the warmth of the Western Caribbean, we enjoyed the entertainment and recreational facilities onboard, the food was wonderful, and most importantly we reconnected as a family (we don’t get to see each other as much these days with Andrew and Josh off at college)
I love ocean cruising and Allure of the Seas is a fabulous ship. It is very large but there is always something to do, something to eat or somewhere to go for entertainment.
The Allure of the Seas is fantastic for older kids, teens, and 20 somethings because of all the active activities on board. There really is something for everyone!
The Allure of the Seas was the biggest ship I have been on and I never felt bored once. The ports we stopped at were great and on the ship itself there was so much to do and see. This vacation would rank up with the best that I have ever been on.
We can arrange your vacation on the Allure of the Seas, too! Contact us for more information or for a no obligation price quote.