Jump to content
Royal Caribbean Blog

Kurtp13

Members
  • Content Count

    74
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Reputation Activity

  1. Wow
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from FlowBro Ty in PortMiami Prepares for Record 52,000 Cruise Passengers on Sunday   
    Image from Port Miami Facebook page

  2. Wow
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from CruiseLife72 in PortMiami Prepares for Record 52,000 Cruise Passengers on Sunday   
    Image from Port Miami Facebook page

  3. Wow
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from Jaymac Radio in PortMiami Prepares for Record 52,000 Cruise Passengers on Sunday   
    Image from Port Miami Facebook page

  4. Haha
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from Lovetocruise2002 in “Moments on Mariner” – Mariner of the Seas– August 13-17, 2018   
    I saw that and wondered if it were some legacy menu as background for the page layout.  Similar to a place that might show their hamburger prices from the 1950s.  But it appears too detailed for that.   If I can get a beer for less than $2, the heck with the drink package.  Haha.   
  5. Like
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from Jeff L in My review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing.   
    Hi everyone.  Here is my review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing. 
    We flew in and out of Orlando to visit friends and then drove back and forth to Fort Lauderdale.   Flights to Orlando were cheaper also.   We stayed north of Fort Lauderdale in Embassy Suites – Deerfield Beach the night before.   Staying in town might have been easier, but the resort was very nice.  We just weren’t there long enough to really enjoy it.  We traveled with another couple, old friends from our old home town.  We met at the port when arriving for Embarkation Day. 
    ·       Coconuts Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale for lunch on the day before
    o   Good – had the popular appetizer Scoobies (crab claws) which were good.  
    o   Expensive lunch including the $10 valet.  We did order more than needed, the meals were larger than expected. 
    o   It felt like a kick off to the trip because of the location.  I could have gone for a cheaper option and been happy.  Traffic in this area was a bit heavy when we were there. 
    ·       Rental Car
    o   Budget Cruise Port Rental car location changed and I didn’t get informed of the change.  It was a confusing series of calls before I talked to a live person that could tell me the new location address.  The person that helped me was from Avis that shares the location.   Budget does not have much ability to link to a live customer service agent.  This would have worked fine if I had been informed of the change prior to arriving.   As it was I was delayed at least an hour circling the area and placing useless calls.  
    ·       Check in
    o   Lines for Diamond and Emerald used for lesser categories which would have made me mad if I wasn’t a lowly Gold member.  They were also lined up about equal to our lines.
    o   Smooth but later than I had planned to check in due to the rental car situation.  It would have been much easier if earlier.  My group waited for me to arrive so we were all delayed.  
    o   The first-time cruiser line was faster than our Gold status line. 
    ·       First impressions – Embarkation Day
    o   Royal Promenade
    §  Wow this is a big space and it’s easy to forget you are on a ship.
    o   Park Café – OK but crowded although we arrived later than I wanted.
    §  I should have tried another buffet (Wipeout?) or a specialty restaurant.
    §  Made the experience more stressful than needed
    §  Chairs were very close together, worse when most people had some kind of luggage.
    §  Kummelweck sandwiches were OK but not worth the hype.   I’ve had a real one somewhat recently in northern NY for the first time, so I’m not an expert but I knew what to expect.   I took two and combined them into one sandwich to increase the meat to bread ratio.  Some of the beef was not trimmed well and was very fatty.
    §  We only picked up to go items after this experience.  But to be fair it was much calmer later.  Never did any breakfast food here. 
    o   Bar in Central park- Slow, couldn’t scan paper seapass cards during the embarkation time.  
    §  Appeared the scanners were not turned on in any location.  Park Café had the same problem.  This caused unnecessary line ups.  I walked away a couple of times because I was waiting so long.    I was concerned that the long wait at bars would continue, but after the scanners worked I had no trouble at bars.
    ·       Boardwalk        
    o   Really a fun unique area.  But very dependent on what is open.  There are times it is really dead and doesn’t have non-stop carnival atmosphere like I expected.   Almost every space is an extra cost venue.  Donuts were dry and no one in our party liked them.  The candy shop was really more limited than I expected.  The hot dogs were good but this space wasn’t open much.  And it tends to impede traffic flow because it’s not clear where to line up and kind of in a choke point.  This location could really use some fries, I sure missed them.  The carousel was not open very often but frankly seemed underused anyway.  We rode it once without any music playing which I thought was odd.  Later I saw it operating and heard some music playing.  It was never lined up when I saw it operating.
    ·       Activiities - Sports deck
    o   Zip line – I rode this 3 times on the first day.  Once suited up you might as well do it multiple times.   It was actually a little more thrilling than I expected.   Make sure you understand what the ride operator is doing.  My last ride I did not have the main attachment clipped before the ride operator asked me to ‘sit in the harness’.   So, he had to attach this out of the normal sequence after I said something is not right.  If I had been released I would have had to support my weight with the hand grips.  The secondary line was attached but it is very slack.  The hand grips are a little fat and frankly not that easy to grip, at least in my opinion. That was my last ride. 
    o   Flow Rider – I didn’t do well and tried this once.  For me it was a constant spray of water in the face.  I didn’t flip immediately off the back, I spent most of my time forward at the bottom.  I will probably try this on a future cruise but didn’t feel the need to conqueror it on this trip.  I was looking for a chill out on this trip.
    o   Putt-Putt Golf – This was fun but there weren’t enough adult golf clubs.    We had to share which wasn’t a big deal.  There was a big group ahead of us and so they had used a lot of the clubs.  Still a fun time and not crowded.
    o   Arcade – I prepaid for this for the $20 amount and received a letter in my stateroom about setting my card at a specific arcade between 5-10pm.   I was busy and thought I would catch up later.   Apparently, this meeting time is to make sure the appropriate card is credited.  Like for a child that doesn’t have charging ability.   I later tried to go into the Boardwalk arcade to complete my registration.  I couldn’t do it on my own.  Tried to call from there and the phone was broken.  Went to Customer service.  They said it will work the following day.  Cut to the next day and my party of 4 go to the arcade to play some skee ball.  Card didn’t work, phone was missing this time.   I asked customer service to remove the charge, I was tired of messing with it and it wasn’t worth more running back and forth to me.  It took a couple more calls to get the credit reflected.   This was an unneeded aggravation so I probably won’t bother next time.  I thought it would just work right away.  Maybe that could be an option when purchasing it in advance.   That is what I was expecting. 
    o   Captain’s talk - Really funny captain.  I enjoyed this more than expected.  Lots of concerns about the life boats but the original question of how people are seated on the boats was never answered.   Someone asking about employee wages (wages to tip ratio) was pretty sharply rebuked which was a little uncomfortable.   But the other discussion items were both interesting and funny at time. 
    ·       Dinner – Grande
    o   We didn’t do any specialty restaurants, except Guacamole in Sabor.
    o   Waiter was good but it took me a while to calibrate to his accent.
    o   Asst Waiter was a nice fellow but seemed to get overwhelmed
    o   Head Waiter was more attentive than any I have had before.
    o   One night the staff was struggling
    §  The next night I saw a Sabor staffer (black shirt and tan shorts) helping out during a busy night.  They could have used him the previous night when they were struggling.  I suspect they asked for reinforcements after that night when they were in the weeds.
    o   I noticed one family coming in at least ½ hour after the assigned time almost every night when they were in the MDR.   No complaints or comments from the staff.   
    o   We enjoyed the MDR and had early seating.  We never felt rushed at all.   I was a little concerned about that with early dining.  But I wouldn’t do it any other way.  I don’t think I would like MTD.  It just seems like more things to schedule and keep track of.   I like that at the start of the day we all knew what time we were getting together.  My wife and I missed one dinner when we returned too late from Falmouth.   So it was dinner in the Windjammer which was fine. 
    o   Food was hit and miss, typical of other sailings I’ve had.   Sometimes it looked good and didn’t taste great.  Other times it was the reverse.  You had to taste some things because they sometimes actually better than the appearance.  Weird.  But generally, it was good.
    o   We asked our waiter for curry dishes which he brought most nights.   I got that tip from Matt.  This was a nice bonus and I really enjoyed the variety. 
    ·       Food
    o   All the food seemed luke-warm.   Rarely was anything hot unless it was cooked to order.
    o   I was prepared for the worst so Sorrento’s wasn’t a huge disappointment.   But I don’t know how freshly made pizza can taste so much like mid-grade frozen pizza.  We did eat it in the evening when at the lounges but only for the lack of any other hot food availability.   The ‘pizza burger’ appeared to be a regular pizza with an additional crust put on top.   That just felt like a way to push the bread even more.     
    o   There should be some kind of casual to go food offering that is more substantial in the evening.   Even if it was ala carte beyond the current offerings.   Near the other bars so isn’t a trek to find.  I went on Mariner of the Seas just before they added a service charge to Johnny Rockets and it was open later (I think it was until 11 or 12).  That was fun and I confess I was there most nights. 
    o   Promenade Café was convenient for evening snacks but I have the same complaint about the bread to filling ratio.   Most sandwiches were not very good.   I did like the flavor of the Muffuletta but again very skimpy with the filling.
    o   We sat in the Solarium much of the time during sea days.  Having the café (buffet) so close by was a huge plus.  We carried items out and back to our chairs which was really nice for a quick bite.  I had a chicken breast that was so much better than my expectation for a buffet item.   Limited menu but so convenient and quick. 
           Breakfast in MDR
    o   We did Breakfast in MDR 4 times and of these only 1 was really relaxing.  The other 3 were way too slow with things arriving at the wrong times.   My wife was not pleased with this experience.   Normally I really like the relaxing pace but this didn’t have the same feel. 
    ·       Breakfast in Johnny Rockets
    o   OK but not great.  As I recall the pancakes were premade and not what I expected. 
    ·       Room service – We did this once after the Cozumel port visit.   Very good quality for burgers and chicken strips.   Quick service. 
    ·       Entertainment
    o   Mama Mia – Cute but kind of a silly story.  Music, dancing and singing ability were top notch.  I’ve seen the movie and enjoyed this much more.   I thought the music was recorded but at the end they showed the band.   I was really impressed at the level of musicians and singers. 
    o   Jazz on 4 – specifically a show with the Mama Mia conductor and some of the actors singing individually.  Excellent.  I was sleepy this evening and considered turning in earlier but was glad I didn’t. 
    o   Ocean Aria Aqua Show – Excellent show. Get there early and get a seat that’s not under an awning.   From way in back you won’t see the high divers. 
    o   Blue Planet – Good.  A little weird but entertaining enough with a good mix of music dancing and acrobatics.
    o   Headliner - Las Vegas Tenors – We all enjoyed this group.   I met a man from Australia that didn’t like it and we kidded each other a bit about our tastes.  He indicated he was not familiar with many of the songs, which was surprising. 
    o   Game Ice show.  Great demonstration of talent but like some shows on cruise ships a little silly.  Overall very enjoyable. 
    o   Dazzles – The band named Centerpiece performed here off and on in the evening.  Excellent band especially the lead guitarist.  I wanted to hear them more. 
    o   Pub – Guitar player.  Friendly guy.  Not a great voice.   A customer sang with him one time and he was better.  The customer sang in English which was not his native language.  Kind of funny.  I love this space.   I would have liked to see some variety in the talent.   Staff was very attentive. 
    o   Schooner Bar – Piano player.  Not my favorite.  Seemed a little at odds with the patrons at times.  ‘I’m not going to play that now’.    Talented but relied on his computer accompaniment too much I thought.  He had a list of songs and that was it.  I tired of him quickly.  I would rather hear a rougher piano only song than just a limited menu.  I like the live experience for interaction and improvisation.  I don’t want a jukebox.  He was good but in the three times I saw him I heard Piano Man each time.   Don’t blame that on the patrons, he said something to the effect that it’s expected so he’s going to do it now.  
    o   Comic show – I saw two shows in the Comedy Live and the family friendly one in the theatre.  Kivi Rogers was better IMO.  I’m not a potty humor fan at all, not a prude, it just seems too easy.  A lot of both shows goes there.  Even the family show goes in this direction more than I would like.   Some families would not be pleased with the content in the family show.   
    ·       Royal App – This was down more than it was up.  
    o   It would have been really nice if it worked.   I went to Customer service and they had IT reset my account after trying very hard to help me on the spot.  It was almost funny watching them struggle like I did.  After IT reset my app it updated.  It worked for awhile but they stopped again.   It doesn’t stop cold, it just doesn’t display any schedule detail, just venue locations.
    ·       Labadee, Haiti port – Stayed on the ship
    o   First time I’ve ever stayed on the ship at a port stop.  It was so relaxing.   The only thing to mention is that there are less towel stations and bars open.  When you see something you need, grab what you want and then go to your favorite location. 
    ·       Falmouth, Jamaica port – Hilton Rose Hall resort (non Royal excursion)
    o   The bus ride over was well organized and the bus driver talked on the way like a mini tour.  
    o   We did have a fellow passenger that seemed a little self-entitled.  She asked for a stop to get a Red Stripe beer.  We had just walked through the port area with bars and we were driving about 20 minutes to an all-inclusive resort.  The bus driver accommodated her and stopped at a local bar.  I don’t really know but it seemed like we took a convoluted route out of town to get there.  The bar stop only took a couple of minutes, but there were some disgusted fellow passengers that couldn’t believe this one passenger was delaying everyone else’s arrival.  Lots of puzzled looks to each other around the bus behind this couple in the front seat.  People – remember you are not the only one that has value.  If you want special treatment, hire a cab to take you. 
    o   Nice place.  Very well kept.  The lawn was perfect and looked like a putting green. 
    o   Food was OK but not great.   The food on the ship was probably a little better.  The jerk shack was a nice touch and that definitely had some flavor.   Ordering was a little like the soup cook episode of the Seinfeld show.  I went with a week-long guest we met on site so I know I was doing it correctly but it wasn’t all smiles like the rest of the resort.   This visit kind of convinced me I wouldn’t like a week at an all inclusive as much as a cruise.   Very similar experiences, cheaper liquor in the drinks at the Hilton than the ship, I expect the entertainment is not nearly as good.   I think more than about 4 days would be boring. 
    ·       Cozumel, Mexico – Turquoise Beach Bar
    o   I wanted to try little bar this after reading a review.   It was accurately described but I had a different idea about what it was.  It was a little more rustic than I expected. And I had the impression it was going to be off the beaten path away from the heavier traffic area.  It had a good view of the ships.   We were the only ones there for awhile so we had good service.  They do serve food but the food comes from the restaurant across the street.   I have a picture of the server coming back across the street with our food which was kind of funny to watch.  A little like Frogger video game.   No chicken dishes were available.   My wife only ate guacamole.  She has a little more confidence in chain locations and wasn’t too happy with my selection. 
    o   This bar had two levels and its open air.  Downstairs we went to the restrooms and down there were a pot belled pig and a dog.   We originally thought the kitchen was downstairs, so it’s probably good this wasn’t the case. 
    ·       Casino
    o   Smoky and a little crowded in some areas of the room.  I only played out a free $5 offered mid-way thought the cruise.  Cashed out at a whopping $7 but that was more than my cruise mates that finished with nothing. 
    o   I didn’t sign up for a group slot pull.  I’ve done these before and enjoyed them but so many other things to do instead. 
    ·       Cabin – # 9607 Cabin was laid out well.  The view over the Central park area would have been perfectly positioned to hear the nightly entertainment if we had a balcony.  I would try to get a balcony above this location next time.  Our cabin steward was good and kept the room in good shape.  
    ·       Disembarkation
    o   Tried to use Lyft for a ride to car rental area at the FLL airport.  My phone data service was terrible and it appeared others were having the same problem.  I set up a ride, hit enter and the signal crashed requiring me to try again.  The cars that were picking people up were not marked and that caused people to step out into the traffic lane and turn around. My brother in law does this on the side and he has stickers on his car so it can be identified easily.  Cost would have been somewhere between $8 -$10.    After some attempts my wife finally said let’s get a cab.   Good call.  The trip was $12 and we just jumped into a readily available cab.   Saving a few bucks wasn’t worth the aggravation we were having for such a short ride.     
    ·       Final thoughts
    o   The ship doesn’t feel crowded except at certain times, like peak times in the Windjammer or leaving the ship in ports.  Elevators were sometimes a wait, like before or after shows but not a big problem.  But the photo setups in the Royal Promenade were overdone.  They seemed to be everywhere and blocked a lot of traffic and most were nearly begging people to participate.  These could be cut by half and still not be crowded.  The exception was the one on the actual staircase which then blocked that staircase for use which was really awkward when trying to get between these floors.  Special events in the Royal Promenade also made things crowded but pulling the photo set ups away could have helped this too.
    o   I continued to have confusion about front and back of the ship which surprised me   I usually get oriented in a few days.  I wished there was some art work in the cabin halls to help get your bearings.  There are some ship diagrams but these don’t really serve as ‘mile markers’ because they all look the same.  We put a post-it note on the door to avoid cruising past our door by mistake which happened once. 
    o   I loved the ship.  So much live entertainment in the evening.   Easy to get meals near where you are located.  But it is so big and doesn’t feel as connected to the water.  It’s easy to forget you’re on a ship.   I wasn’t even sure about how to access the mid-level outside deck at first.   We are going to go with a first time ever cruiser on the next trip, so I suggested a Voyager class to provide more of a ship feel.  
    o   Almost all the staff was excellent and really friendly with rare exceptions.   Even those that weren’t excellent were very good.   Exceeded my expectations many times. 
    o   I didn’t do the Meet and Mingle as I had planned.   Too many other things to do.  
    o   Dry erase wipe boards are probably not a favorite item of the room stewards.  I noticed that black marker smudges transferred to the door from the erasing residue.  I suspect they clean up easily but would add an extra task to their work. 
    o   We traveled with another couple and the gent wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a cruise.  They had cruised before so they had some idea of what to expect but on much smaller ships and other brands (Carnival and Big Red Boat – remember those).  First time on RCCL though. (I did get the $25 OBC for a referral).  He said it definitely exceeded his expectations.    
    After we returned I needed to get another trip lined up.   I did talk to the next cruise office but I was surprised that I could probably do a more tailored search to meet my needs on my own.   They can find specific trips but I was expecting to sit down tell the person all my priorities and be presented several options.   But they are limited in the factors that can be entered.   There isn’t much advantage to using their service. As I recall for a refundable trip the bonus offered on board was $25 OBC.  When I returned I booked a Nov 2019 trip refundable fee trip on Adventure of the Seas with a special incentive from BJs Warehouse that got me a great price and flexibility. 
  6. Like
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from ADK in Fort Lauderdale Disembarkation Transportation   
    From my trip report:
    o    Tried to use Lyft for a ride to car rental area at the FLL airport.  My phone data service was terrible and it appeared others were having the same problem.  I set up a ride, hit enter and the signal crashed requiring me to try again.  The cars that were picking people up were not marked and that caused people to step out into the traffic lane and turn around. My brother in law does this on the side and he has stickers on his car so it can be identified easily.  Cost would have been somewhere between $8 -$10.    After some attempts my wife finally said let’s get a cab.   Good call.  The trip was $12 and we just jumped into a readily available cab.   Saving a few bucks wasn’t worth the aggravation we were having for such a short ride.     
  7. Like
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from Orange Crush in Is this normal, or another (good, in this case) web site glitch?   
    Mine says 0 points and Pre Gold status today on the newer website.   Although logging into the old site shows the correct balance.   It's a good thing the ships service is better than the website and app.  
  8. Like
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from PrincipalTinker in Is this normal, or another (good, in this case) web site glitch?   
    Mine says 0 points and Pre Gold status today on the newer website.   Although logging into the old site shows the correct balance.   It's a good thing the ships service is better than the website and app.  
  9. Like
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from Skigoofy in My review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing.   
    Hi everyone.  Here is my review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing. 
    We flew in and out of Orlando to visit friends and then drove back and forth to Fort Lauderdale.   Flights to Orlando were cheaper also.   We stayed north of Fort Lauderdale in Embassy Suites – Deerfield Beach the night before.   Staying in town might have been easier, but the resort was very nice.  We just weren’t there long enough to really enjoy it.  We traveled with another couple, old friends from our old home town.  We met at the port when arriving for Embarkation Day. 
    ·       Coconuts Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale for lunch on the day before
    o   Good – had the popular appetizer Scoobies (crab claws) which were good.  
    o   Expensive lunch including the $10 valet.  We did order more than needed, the meals were larger than expected. 
    o   It felt like a kick off to the trip because of the location.  I could have gone for a cheaper option and been happy.  Traffic in this area was a bit heavy when we were there. 
    ·       Rental Car
    o   Budget Cruise Port Rental car location changed and I didn’t get informed of the change.  It was a confusing series of calls before I talked to a live person that could tell me the new location address.  The person that helped me was from Avis that shares the location.   Budget does not have much ability to link to a live customer service agent.  This would have worked fine if I had been informed of the change prior to arriving.   As it was I was delayed at least an hour circling the area and placing useless calls.  
    ·       Check in
    o   Lines for Diamond and Emerald used for lesser categories which would have made me mad if I wasn’t a lowly Gold member.  They were also lined up about equal to our lines.
    o   Smooth but later than I had planned to check in due to the rental car situation.  It would have been much easier if earlier.  My group waited for me to arrive so we were all delayed.  
    o   The first-time cruiser line was faster than our Gold status line. 
    ·       First impressions – Embarkation Day
    o   Royal Promenade
    §  Wow this is a big space and it’s easy to forget you are on a ship.
    o   Park Café – OK but crowded although we arrived later than I wanted.
    §  I should have tried another buffet (Wipeout?) or a specialty restaurant.
    §  Made the experience more stressful than needed
    §  Chairs were very close together, worse when most people had some kind of luggage.
    §  Kummelweck sandwiches were OK but not worth the hype.   I’ve had a real one somewhat recently in northern NY for the first time, so I’m not an expert but I knew what to expect.   I took two and combined them into one sandwich to increase the meat to bread ratio.  Some of the beef was not trimmed well and was very fatty.
    §  We only picked up to go items after this experience.  But to be fair it was much calmer later.  Never did any breakfast food here. 
    o   Bar in Central park- Slow, couldn’t scan paper seapass cards during the embarkation time.  
    §  Appeared the scanners were not turned on in any location.  Park Café had the same problem.  This caused unnecessary line ups.  I walked away a couple of times because I was waiting so long.    I was concerned that the long wait at bars would continue, but after the scanners worked I had no trouble at bars.
    ·       Boardwalk        
    o   Really a fun unique area.  But very dependent on what is open.  There are times it is really dead and doesn’t have non-stop carnival atmosphere like I expected.   Almost every space is an extra cost venue.  Donuts were dry and no one in our party liked them.  The candy shop was really more limited than I expected.  The hot dogs were good but this space wasn’t open much.  And it tends to impede traffic flow because it’s not clear where to line up and kind of in a choke point.  This location could really use some fries, I sure missed them.  The carousel was not open very often but frankly seemed underused anyway.  We rode it once without any music playing which I thought was odd.  Later I saw it operating and heard some music playing.  It was never lined up when I saw it operating.
    ·       Activiities - Sports deck
    o   Zip line – I rode this 3 times on the first day.  Once suited up you might as well do it multiple times.   It was actually a little more thrilling than I expected.   Make sure you understand what the ride operator is doing.  My last ride I did not have the main attachment clipped before the ride operator asked me to ‘sit in the harness’.   So, he had to attach this out of the normal sequence after I said something is not right.  If I had been released I would have had to support my weight with the hand grips.  The secondary line was attached but it is very slack.  The hand grips are a little fat and frankly not that easy to grip, at least in my opinion. That was my last ride. 
    o   Flow Rider – I didn’t do well and tried this once.  For me it was a constant spray of water in the face.  I didn’t flip immediately off the back, I spent most of my time forward at the bottom.  I will probably try this on a future cruise but didn’t feel the need to conqueror it on this trip.  I was looking for a chill out on this trip.
    o   Putt-Putt Golf – This was fun but there weren’t enough adult golf clubs.    We had to share which wasn’t a big deal.  There was a big group ahead of us and so they had used a lot of the clubs.  Still a fun time and not crowded.
    o   Arcade – I prepaid for this for the $20 amount and received a letter in my stateroom about setting my card at a specific arcade between 5-10pm.   I was busy and thought I would catch up later.   Apparently, this meeting time is to make sure the appropriate card is credited.  Like for a child that doesn’t have charging ability.   I later tried to go into the Boardwalk arcade to complete my registration.  I couldn’t do it on my own.  Tried to call from there and the phone was broken.  Went to Customer service.  They said it will work the following day.  Cut to the next day and my party of 4 go to the arcade to play some skee ball.  Card didn’t work, phone was missing this time.   I asked customer service to remove the charge, I was tired of messing with it and it wasn’t worth more running back and forth to me.  It took a couple more calls to get the credit reflected.   This was an unneeded aggravation so I probably won’t bother next time.  I thought it would just work right away.  Maybe that could be an option when purchasing it in advance.   That is what I was expecting. 
    o   Captain’s talk - Really funny captain.  I enjoyed this more than expected.  Lots of concerns about the life boats but the original question of how people are seated on the boats was never answered.   Someone asking about employee wages (wages to tip ratio) was pretty sharply rebuked which was a little uncomfortable.   But the other discussion items were both interesting and funny at time. 
    ·       Dinner – Grande
    o   We didn’t do any specialty restaurants, except Guacamole in Sabor.
    o   Waiter was good but it took me a while to calibrate to his accent.
    o   Asst Waiter was a nice fellow but seemed to get overwhelmed
    o   Head Waiter was more attentive than any I have had before.
    o   One night the staff was struggling
    §  The next night I saw a Sabor staffer (black shirt and tan shorts) helping out during a busy night.  They could have used him the previous night when they were struggling.  I suspect they asked for reinforcements after that night when they were in the weeds.
    o   I noticed one family coming in at least ½ hour after the assigned time almost every night when they were in the MDR.   No complaints or comments from the staff.   
    o   We enjoyed the MDR and had early seating.  We never felt rushed at all.   I was a little concerned about that with early dining.  But I wouldn’t do it any other way.  I don’t think I would like MTD.  It just seems like more things to schedule and keep track of.   I like that at the start of the day we all knew what time we were getting together.  My wife and I missed one dinner when we returned too late from Falmouth.   So it was dinner in the Windjammer which was fine. 
    o   Food was hit and miss, typical of other sailings I’ve had.   Sometimes it looked good and didn’t taste great.  Other times it was the reverse.  You had to taste some things because they sometimes actually better than the appearance.  Weird.  But generally, it was good.
    o   We asked our waiter for curry dishes which he brought most nights.   I got that tip from Matt.  This was a nice bonus and I really enjoyed the variety. 
    ·       Food
    o   All the food seemed luke-warm.   Rarely was anything hot unless it was cooked to order.
    o   I was prepared for the worst so Sorrento’s wasn’t a huge disappointment.   But I don’t know how freshly made pizza can taste so much like mid-grade frozen pizza.  We did eat it in the evening when at the lounges but only for the lack of any other hot food availability.   The ‘pizza burger’ appeared to be a regular pizza with an additional crust put on top.   That just felt like a way to push the bread even more.     
    o   There should be some kind of casual to go food offering that is more substantial in the evening.   Even if it was ala carte beyond the current offerings.   Near the other bars so isn’t a trek to find.  I went on Mariner of the Seas just before they added a service charge to Johnny Rockets and it was open later (I think it was until 11 or 12).  That was fun and I confess I was there most nights. 
    o   Promenade Café was convenient for evening snacks but I have the same complaint about the bread to filling ratio.   Most sandwiches were not very good.   I did like the flavor of the Muffuletta but again very skimpy with the filling.
    o   We sat in the Solarium much of the time during sea days.  Having the café (buffet) so close by was a huge plus.  We carried items out and back to our chairs which was really nice for a quick bite.  I had a chicken breast that was so much better than my expectation for a buffet item.   Limited menu but so convenient and quick. 
           Breakfast in MDR
    o   We did Breakfast in MDR 4 times and of these only 1 was really relaxing.  The other 3 were way too slow with things arriving at the wrong times.   My wife was not pleased with this experience.   Normally I really like the relaxing pace but this didn’t have the same feel. 
    ·       Breakfast in Johnny Rockets
    o   OK but not great.  As I recall the pancakes were premade and not what I expected. 
    ·       Room service – We did this once after the Cozumel port visit.   Very good quality for burgers and chicken strips.   Quick service. 
    ·       Entertainment
    o   Mama Mia – Cute but kind of a silly story.  Music, dancing and singing ability were top notch.  I’ve seen the movie and enjoyed this much more.   I thought the music was recorded but at the end they showed the band.   I was really impressed at the level of musicians and singers. 
    o   Jazz on 4 – specifically a show with the Mama Mia conductor and some of the actors singing individually.  Excellent.  I was sleepy this evening and considered turning in earlier but was glad I didn’t. 
    o   Ocean Aria Aqua Show – Excellent show. Get there early and get a seat that’s not under an awning.   From way in back you won’t see the high divers. 
    o   Blue Planet – Good.  A little weird but entertaining enough with a good mix of music dancing and acrobatics.
    o   Headliner - Las Vegas Tenors – We all enjoyed this group.   I met a man from Australia that didn’t like it and we kidded each other a bit about our tastes.  He indicated he was not familiar with many of the songs, which was surprising. 
    o   Game Ice show.  Great demonstration of talent but like some shows on cruise ships a little silly.  Overall very enjoyable. 
    o   Dazzles – The band named Centerpiece performed here off and on in the evening.  Excellent band especially the lead guitarist.  I wanted to hear them more. 
    o   Pub – Guitar player.  Friendly guy.  Not a great voice.   A customer sang with him one time and he was better.  The customer sang in English which was not his native language.  Kind of funny.  I love this space.   I would have liked to see some variety in the talent.   Staff was very attentive. 
    o   Schooner Bar – Piano player.  Not my favorite.  Seemed a little at odds with the patrons at times.  ‘I’m not going to play that now’.    Talented but relied on his computer accompaniment too much I thought.  He had a list of songs and that was it.  I tired of him quickly.  I would rather hear a rougher piano only song than just a limited menu.  I like the live experience for interaction and improvisation.  I don’t want a jukebox.  He was good but in the three times I saw him I heard Piano Man each time.   Don’t blame that on the patrons, he said something to the effect that it’s expected so he’s going to do it now.  
    o   Comic show – I saw two shows in the Comedy Live and the family friendly one in the theatre.  Kivi Rogers was better IMO.  I’m not a potty humor fan at all, not a prude, it just seems too easy.  A lot of both shows goes there.  Even the family show goes in this direction more than I would like.   Some families would not be pleased with the content in the family show.   
    ·       Royal App – This was down more than it was up.  
    o   It would have been really nice if it worked.   I went to Customer service and they had IT reset my account after trying very hard to help me on the spot.  It was almost funny watching them struggle like I did.  After IT reset my app it updated.  It worked for awhile but they stopped again.   It doesn’t stop cold, it just doesn’t display any schedule detail, just venue locations.
    ·       Labadee, Haiti port – Stayed on the ship
    o   First time I’ve ever stayed on the ship at a port stop.  It was so relaxing.   The only thing to mention is that there are less towel stations and bars open.  When you see something you need, grab what you want and then go to your favorite location. 
    ·       Falmouth, Jamaica port – Hilton Rose Hall resort (non Royal excursion)
    o   The bus ride over was well organized and the bus driver talked on the way like a mini tour.  
    o   We did have a fellow passenger that seemed a little self-entitled.  She asked for a stop to get a Red Stripe beer.  We had just walked through the port area with bars and we were driving about 20 minutes to an all-inclusive resort.  The bus driver accommodated her and stopped at a local bar.  I don’t really know but it seemed like we took a convoluted route out of town to get there.  The bar stop only took a couple of minutes, but there were some disgusted fellow passengers that couldn’t believe this one passenger was delaying everyone else’s arrival.  Lots of puzzled looks to each other around the bus behind this couple in the front seat.  People – remember you are not the only one that has value.  If you want special treatment, hire a cab to take you. 
    o   Nice place.  Very well kept.  The lawn was perfect and looked like a putting green. 
    o   Food was OK but not great.   The food on the ship was probably a little better.  The jerk shack was a nice touch and that definitely had some flavor.   Ordering was a little like the soup cook episode of the Seinfeld show.  I went with a week-long guest we met on site so I know I was doing it correctly but it wasn’t all smiles like the rest of the resort.   This visit kind of convinced me I wouldn’t like a week at an all inclusive as much as a cruise.   Very similar experiences, cheaper liquor in the drinks at the Hilton than the ship, I expect the entertainment is not nearly as good.   I think more than about 4 days would be boring. 
    ·       Cozumel, Mexico – Turquoise Beach Bar
    o   I wanted to try little bar this after reading a review.   It was accurately described but I had a different idea about what it was.  It was a little more rustic than I expected. And I had the impression it was going to be off the beaten path away from the heavier traffic area.  It had a good view of the ships.   We were the only ones there for awhile so we had good service.  They do serve food but the food comes from the restaurant across the street.   I have a picture of the server coming back across the street with our food which was kind of funny to watch.  A little like Frogger video game.   No chicken dishes were available.   My wife only ate guacamole.  She has a little more confidence in chain locations and wasn’t too happy with my selection. 
    o   This bar had two levels and its open air.  Downstairs we went to the restrooms and down there were a pot belled pig and a dog.   We originally thought the kitchen was downstairs, so it’s probably good this wasn’t the case. 
    ·       Casino
    o   Smoky and a little crowded in some areas of the room.  I only played out a free $5 offered mid-way thought the cruise.  Cashed out at a whopping $7 but that was more than my cruise mates that finished with nothing. 
    o   I didn’t sign up for a group slot pull.  I’ve done these before and enjoyed them but so many other things to do instead. 
    ·       Cabin – # 9607 Cabin was laid out well.  The view over the Central park area would have been perfectly positioned to hear the nightly entertainment if we had a balcony.  I would try to get a balcony above this location next time.  Our cabin steward was good and kept the room in good shape.  
    ·       Disembarkation
    o   Tried to use Lyft for a ride to car rental area at the FLL airport.  My phone data service was terrible and it appeared others were having the same problem.  I set up a ride, hit enter and the signal crashed requiring me to try again.  The cars that were picking people up were not marked and that caused people to step out into the traffic lane and turn around. My brother in law does this on the side and he has stickers on his car so it can be identified easily.  Cost would have been somewhere between $8 -$10.    After some attempts my wife finally said let’s get a cab.   Good call.  The trip was $12 and we just jumped into a readily available cab.   Saving a few bucks wasn’t worth the aggravation we were having for such a short ride.     
    ·       Final thoughts
    o   The ship doesn’t feel crowded except at certain times, like peak times in the Windjammer or leaving the ship in ports.  Elevators were sometimes a wait, like before or after shows but not a big problem.  But the photo setups in the Royal Promenade were overdone.  They seemed to be everywhere and blocked a lot of traffic and most were nearly begging people to participate.  These could be cut by half and still not be crowded.  The exception was the one on the actual staircase which then blocked that staircase for use which was really awkward when trying to get between these floors.  Special events in the Royal Promenade also made things crowded but pulling the photo set ups away could have helped this too.
    o   I continued to have confusion about front and back of the ship which surprised me   I usually get oriented in a few days.  I wished there was some art work in the cabin halls to help get your bearings.  There are some ship diagrams but these don’t really serve as ‘mile markers’ because they all look the same.  We put a post-it note on the door to avoid cruising past our door by mistake which happened once. 
    o   I loved the ship.  So much live entertainment in the evening.   Easy to get meals near where you are located.  But it is so big and doesn’t feel as connected to the water.  It’s easy to forget you’re on a ship.   I wasn’t even sure about how to access the mid-level outside deck at first.   We are going to go with a first time ever cruiser on the next trip, so I suggested a Voyager class to provide more of a ship feel.  
    o   Almost all the staff was excellent and really friendly with rare exceptions.   Even those that weren’t excellent were very good.   Exceeded my expectations many times. 
    o   I didn’t do the Meet and Mingle as I had planned.   Too many other things to do.  
    o   Dry erase wipe boards are probably not a favorite item of the room stewards.  I noticed that black marker smudges transferred to the door from the erasing residue.  I suspect they clean up easily but would add an extra task to their work. 
    o   We traveled with another couple and the gent wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a cruise.  They had cruised before so they had some idea of what to expect but on much smaller ships and other brands (Carnival and Big Red Boat – remember those).  First time on RCCL though. (I did get the $25 OBC for a referral).  He said it definitely exceeded his expectations.    
    After we returned I needed to get another trip lined up.   I did talk to the next cruise office but I was surprised that I could probably do a more tailored search to meet my needs on my own.   They can find specific trips but I was expecting to sit down tell the person all my priorities and be presented several options.   But they are limited in the factors that can be entered.   There isn’t much advantage to using their service. As I recall for a refundable trip the bonus offered on board was $25 OBC.  When I returned I booked a Nov 2019 trip refundable fee trip on Adventure of the Seas with a special incentive from BJs Warehouse that got me a great price and flexibility. 
  10. Like
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from ellcee in My review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing.   
    Hi everyone.  Here is my review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing. 
    We flew in and out of Orlando to visit friends and then drove back and forth to Fort Lauderdale.   Flights to Orlando were cheaper also.   We stayed north of Fort Lauderdale in Embassy Suites – Deerfield Beach the night before.   Staying in town might have been easier, but the resort was very nice.  We just weren’t there long enough to really enjoy it.  We traveled with another couple, old friends from our old home town.  We met at the port when arriving for Embarkation Day. 
    ·       Coconuts Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale for lunch on the day before
    o   Good – had the popular appetizer Scoobies (crab claws) which were good.  
    o   Expensive lunch including the $10 valet.  We did order more than needed, the meals were larger than expected. 
    o   It felt like a kick off to the trip because of the location.  I could have gone for a cheaper option and been happy.  Traffic in this area was a bit heavy when we were there. 
    ·       Rental Car
    o   Budget Cruise Port Rental car location changed and I didn’t get informed of the change.  It was a confusing series of calls before I talked to a live person that could tell me the new location address.  The person that helped me was from Avis that shares the location.   Budget does not have much ability to link to a live customer service agent.  This would have worked fine if I had been informed of the change prior to arriving.   As it was I was delayed at least an hour circling the area and placing useless calls.  
    ·       Check in
    o   Lines for Diamond and Emerald used for lesser categories which would have made me mad if I wasn’t a lowly Gold member.  They were also lined up about equal to our lines.
    o   Smooth but later than I had planned to check in due to the rental car situation.  It would have been much easier if earlier.  My group waited for me to arrive so we were all delayed.  
    o   The first-time cruiser line was faster than our Gold status line. 
    ·       First impressions – Embarkation Day
    o   Royal Promenade
    §  Wow this is a big space and it’s easy to forget you are on a ship.
    o   Park Café – OK but crowded although we arrived later than I wanted.
    §  I should have tried another buffet (Wipeout?) or a specialty restaurant.
    §  Made the experience more stressful than needed
    §  Chairs were very close together, worse when most people had some kind of luggage.
    §  Kummelweck sandwiches were OK but not worth the hype.   I’ve had a real one somewhat recently in northern NY for the first time, so I’m not an expert but I knew what to expect.   I took two and combined them into one sandwich to increase the meat to bread ratio.  Some of the beef was not trimmed well and was very fatty.
    §  We only picked up to go items after this experience.  But to be fair it was much calmer later.  Never did any breakfast food here. 
    o   Bar in Central park- Slow, couldn’t scan paper seapass cards during the embarkation time.  
    §  Appeared the scanners were not turned on in any location.  Park Café had the same problem.  This caused unnecessary line ups.  I walked away a couple of times because I was waiting so long.    I was concerned that the long wait at bars would continue, but after the scanners worked I had no trouble at bars.
    ·       Boardwalk        
    o   Really a fun unique area.  But very dependent on what is open.  There are times it is really dead and doesn’t have non-stop carnival atmosphere like I expected.   Almost every space is an extra cost venue.  Donuts were dry and no one in our party liked them.  The candy shop was really more limited than I expected.  The hot dogs were good but this space wasn’t open much.  And it tends to impede traffic flow because it’s not clear where to line up and kind of in a choke point.  This location could really use some fries, I sure missed them.  The carousel was not open very often but frankly seemed underused anyway.  We rode it once without any music playing which I thought was odd.  Later I saw it operating and heard some music playing.  It was never lined up when I saw it operating.
    ·       Activiities - Sports deck
    o   Zip line – I rode this 3 times on the first day.  Once suited up you might as well do it multiple times.   It was actually a little more thrilling than I expected.   Make sure you understand what the ride operator is doing.  My last ride I did not have the main attachment clipped before the ride operator asked me to ‘sit in the harness’.   So, he had to attach this out of the normal sequence after I said something is not right.  If I had been released I would have had to support my weight with the hand grips.  The secondary line was attached but it is very slack.  The hand grips are a little fat and frankly not that easy to grip, at least in my opinion. That was my last ride. 
    o   Flow Rider – I didn’t do well and tried this once.  For me it was a constant spray of water in the face.  I didn’t flip immediately off the back, I spent most of my time forward at the bottom.  I will probably try this on a future cruise but didn’t feel the need to conqueror it on this trip.  I was looking for a chill out on this trip.
    o   Putt-Putt Golf – This was fun but there weren’t enough adult golf clubs.    We had to share which wasn’t a big deal.  There was a big group ahead of us and so they had used a lot of the clubs.  Still a fun time and not crowded.
    o   Arcade – I prepaid for this for the $20 amount and received a letter in my stateroom about setting my card at a specific arcade between 5-10pm.   I was busy and thought I would catch up later.   Apparently, this meeting time is to make sure the appropriate card is credited.  Like for a child that doesn’t have charging ability.   I later tried to go into the Boardwalk arcade to complete my registration.  I couldn’t do it on my own.  Tried to call from there and the phone was broken.  Went to Customer service.  They said it will work the following day.  Cut to the next day and my party of 4 go to the arcade to play some skee ball.  Card didn’t work, phone was missing this time.   I asked customer service to remove the charge, I was tired of messing with it and it wasn’t worth more running back and forth to me.  It took a couple more calls to get the credit reflected.   This was an unneeded aggravation so I probably won’t bother next time.  I thought it would just work right away.  Maybe that could be an option when purchasing it in advance.   That is what I was expecting. 
    o   Captain’s talk - Really funny captain.  I enjoyed this more than expected.  Lots of concerns about the life boats but the original question of how people are seated on the boats was never answered.   Someone asking about employee wages (wages to tip ratio) was pretty sharply rebuked which was a little uncomfortable.   But the other discussion items were both interesting and funny at time. 
    ·       Dinner – Grande
    o   We didn’t do any specialty restaurants, except Guacamole in Sabor.
    o   Waiter was good but it took me a while to calibrate to his accent.
    o   Asst Waiter was a nice fellow but seemed to get overwhelmed
    o   Head Waiter was more attentive than any I have had before.
    o   One night the staff was struggling
    §  The next night I saw a Sabor staffer (black shirt and tan shorts) helping out during a busy night.  They could have used him the previous night when they were struggling.  I suspect they asked for reinforcements after that night when they were in the weeds.
    o   I noticed one family coming in at least ½ hour after the assigned time almost every night when they were in the MDR.   No complaints or comments from the staff.   
    o   We enjoyed the MDR and had early seating.  We never felt rushed at all.   I was a little concerned about that with early dining.  But I wouldn’t do it any other way.  I don’t think I would like MTD.  It just seems like more things to schedule and keep track of.   I like that at the start of the day we all knew what time we were getting together.  My wife and I missed one dinner when we returned too late from Falmouth.   So it was dinner in the Windjammer which was fine. 
    o   Food was hit and miss, typical of other sailings I’ve had.   Sometimes it looked good and didn’t taste great.  Other times it was the reverse.  You had to taste some things because they sometimes actually better than the appearance.  Weird.  But generally, it was good.
    o   We asked our waiter for curry dishes which he brought most nights.   I got that tip from Matt.  This was a nice bonus and I really enjoyed the variety. 
    ·       Food
    o   All the food seemed luke-warm.   Rarely was anything hot unless it was cooked to order.
    o   I was prepared for the worst so Sorrento’s wasn’t a huge disappointment.   But I don’t know how freshly made pizza can taste so much like mid-grade frozen pizza.  We did eat it in the evening when at the lounges but only for the lack of any other hot food availability.   The ‘pizza burger’ appeared to be a regular pizza with an additional crust put on top.   That just felt like a way to push the bread even more.     
    o   There should be some kind of casual to go food offering that is more substantial in the evening.   Even if it was ala carte beyond the current offerings.   Near the other bars so isn’t a trek to find.  I went on Mariner of the Seas just before they added a service charge to Johnny Rockets and it was open later (I think it was until 11 or 12).  That was fun and I confess I was there most nights. 
    o   Promenade Café was convenient for evening snacks but I have the same complaint about the bread to filling ratio.   Most sandwiches were not very good.   I did like the flavor of the Muffuletta but again very skimpy with the filling.
    o   We sat in the Solarium much of the time during sea days.  Having the café (buffet) so close by was a huge plus.  We carried items out and back to our chairs which was really nice for a quick bite.  I had a chicken breast that was so much better than my expectation for a buffet item.   Limited menu but so convenient and quick. 
           Breakfast in MDR
    o   We did Breakfast in MDR 4 times and of these only 1 was really relaxing.  The other 3 were way too slow with things arriving at the wrong times.   My wife was not pleased with this experience.   Normally I really like the relaxing pace but this didn’t have the same feel. 
    ·       Breakfast in Johnny Rockets
    o   OK but not great.  As I recall the pancakes were premade and not what I expected. 
    ·       Room service – We did this once after the Cozumel port visit.   Very good quality for burgers and chicken strips.   Quick service. 
    ·       Entertainment
    o   Mama Mia – Cute but kind of a silly story.  Music, dancing and singing ability were top notch.  I’ve seen the movie and enjoyed this much more.   I thought the music was recorded but at the end they showed the band.   I was really impressed at the level of musicians and singers. 
    o   Jazz on 4 – specifically a show with the Mama Mia conductor and some of the actors singing individually.  Excellent.  I was sleepy this evening and considered turning in earlier but was glad I didn’t. 
    o   Ocean Aria Aqua Show – Excellent show. Get there early and get a seat that’s not under an awning.   From way in back you won’t see the high divers. 
    o   Blue Planet – Good.  A little weird but entertaining enough with a good mix of music dancing and acrobatics.
    o   Headliner - Las Vegas Tenors – We all enjoyed this group.   I met a man from Australia that didn’t like it and we kidded each other a bit about our tastes.  He indicated he was not familiar with many of the songs, which was surprising. 
    o   Game Ice show.  Great demonstration of talent but like some shows on cruise ships a little silly.  Overall very enjoyable. 
    o   Dazzles – The band named Centerpiece performed here off and on in the evening.  Excellent band especially the lead guitarist.  I wanted to hear them more. 
    o   Pub – Guitar player.  Friendly guy.  Not a great voice.   A customer sang with him one time and he was better.  The customer sang in English which was not his native language.  Kind of funny.  I love this space.   I would have liked to see some variety in the talent.   Staff was very attentive. 
    o   Schooner Bar – Piano player.  Not my favorite.  Seemed a little at odds with the patrons at times.  ‘I’m not going to play that now’.    Talented but relied on his computer accompaniment too much I thought.  He had a list of songs and that was it.  I tired of him quickly.  I would rather hear a rougher piano only song than just a limited menu.  I like the live experience for interaction and improvisation.  I don’t want a jukebox.  He was good but in the three times I saw him I heard Piano Man each time.   Don’t blame that on the patrons, he said something to the effect that it’s expected so he’s going to do it now.  
    o   Comic show – I saw two shows in the Comedy Live and the family friendly one in the theatre.  Kivi Rogers was better IMO.  I’m not a potty humor fan at all, not a prude, it just seems too easy.  A lot of both shows goes there.  Even the family show goes in this direction more than I would like.   Some families would not be pleased with the content in the family show.   
    ·       Royal App – This was down more than it was up.  
    o   It would have been really nice if it worked.   I went to Customer service and they had IT reset my account after trying very hard to help me on the spot.  It was almost funny watching them struggle like I did.  After IT reset my app it updated.  It worked for awhile but they stopped again.   It doesn’t stop cold, it just doesn’t display any schedule detail, just venue locations.
    ·       Labadee, Haiti port – Stayed on the ship
    o   First time I’ve ever stayed on the ship at a port stop.  It was so relaxing.   The only thing to mention is that there are less towel stations and bars open.  When you see something you need, grab what you want and then go to your favorite location. 
    ·       Falmouth, Jamaica port – Hilton Rose Hall resort (non Royal excursion)
    o   The bus ride over was well organized and the bus driver talked on the way like a mini tour.  
    o   We did have a fellow passenger that seemed a little self-entitled.  She asked for a stop to get a Red Stripe beer.  We had just walked through the port area with bars and we were driving about 20 minutes to an all-inclusive resort.  The bus driver accommodated her and stopped at a local bar.  I don’t really know but it seemed like we took a convoluted route out of town to get there.  The bar stop only took a couple of minutes, but there were some disgusted fellow passengers that couldn’t believe this one passenger was delaying everyone else’s arrival.  Lots of puzzled looks to each other around the bus behind this couple in the front seat.  People – remember you are not the only one that has value.  If you want special treatment, hire a cab to take you. 
    o   Nice place.  Very well kept.  The lawn was perfect and looked like a putting green. 
    o   Food was OK but not great.   The food on the ship was probably a little better.  The jerk shack was a nice touch and that definitely had some flavor.   Ordering was a little like the soup cook episode of the Seinfeld show.  I went with a week-long guest we met on site so I know I was doing it correctly but it wasn’t all smiles like the rest of the resort.   This visit kind of convinced me I wouldn’t like a week at an all inclusive as much as a cruise.   Very similar experiences, cheaper liquor in the drinks at the Hilton than the ship, I expect the entertainment is not nearly as good.   I think more than about 4 days would be boring. 
    ·       Cozumel, Mexico – Turquoise Beach Bar
    o   I wanted to try little bar this after reading a review.   It was accurately described but I had a different idea about what it was.  It was a little more rustic than I expected. And I had the impression it was going to be off the beaten path away from the heavier traffic area.  It had a good view of the ships.   We were the only ones there for awhile so we had good service.  They do serve food but the food comes from the restaurant across the street.   I have a picture of the server coming back across the street with our food which was kind of funny to watch.  A little like Frogger video game.   No chicken dishes were available.   My wife only ate guacamole.  She has a little more confidence in chain locations and wasn’t too happy with my selection. 
    o   This bar had two levels and its open air.  Downstairs we went to the restrooms and down there were a pot belled pig and a dog.   We originally thought the kitchen was downstairs, so it’s probably good this wasn’t the case. 
    ·       Casino
    o   Smoky and a little crowded in some areas of the room.  I only played out a free $5 offered mid-way thought the cruise.  Cashed out at a whopping $7 but that was more than my cruise mates that finished with nothing. 
    o   I didn’t sign up for a group slot pull.  I’ve done these before and enjoyed them but so many other things to do instead. 
    ·       Cabin – # 9607 Cabin was laid out well.  The view over the Central park area would have been perfectly positioned to hear the nightly entertainment if we had a balcony.  I would try to get a balcony above this location next time.  Our cabin steward was good and kept the room in good shape.  
    ·       Disembarkation
    o   Tried to use Lyft for a ride to car rental area at the FLL airport.  My phone data service was terrible and it appeared others were having the same problem.  I set up a ride, hit enter and the signal crashed requiring me to try again.  The cars that were picking people up were not marked and that caused people to step out into the traffic lane and turn around. My brother in law does this on the side and he has stickers on his car so it can be identified easily.  Cost would have been somewhere between $8 -$10.    After some attempts my wife finally said let’s get a cab.   Good call.  The trip was $12 and we just jumped into a readily available cab.   Saving a few bucks wasn’t worth the aggravation we were having for such a short ride.     
    ·       Final thoughts
    o   The ship doesn’t feel crowded except at certain times, like peak times in the Windjammer or leaving the ship in ports.  Elevators were sometimes a wait, like before or after shows but not a big problem.  But the photo setups in the Royal Promenade were overdone.  They seemed to be everywhere and blocked a lot of traffic and most were nearly begging people to participate.  These could be cut by half and still not be crowded.  The exception was the one on the actual staircase which then blocked that staircase for use which was really awkward when trying to get between these floors.  Special events in the Royal Promenade also made things crowded but pulling the photo set ups away could have helped this too.
    o   I continued to have confusion about front and back of the ship which surprised me   I usually get oriented in a few days.  I wished there was some art work in the cabin halls to help get your bearings.  There are some ship diagrams but these don’t really serve as ‘mile markers’ because they all look the same.  We put a post-it note on the door to avoid cruising past our door by mistake which happened once. 
    o   I loved the ship.  So much live entertainment in the evening.   Easy to get meals near where you are located.  But it is so big and doesn’t feel as connected to the water.  It’s easy to forget you’re on a ship.   I wasn’t even sure about how to access the mid-level outside deck at first.   We are going to go with a first time ever cruiser on the next trip, so I suggested a Voyager class to provide more of a ship feel.  
    o   Almost all the staff was excellent and really friendly with rare exceptions.   Even those that weren’t excellent were very good.   Exceeded my expectations many times. 
    o   I didn’t do the Meet and Mingle as I had planned.   Too many other things to do.  
    o   Dry erase wipe boards are probably not a favorite item of the room stewards.  I noticed that black marker smudges transferred to the door from the erasing residue.  I suspect they clean up easily but would add an extra task to their work. 
    o   We traveled with another couple and the gent wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a cruise.  They had cruised before so they had some idea of what to expect but on much smaller ships and other brands (Carnival and Big Red Boat – remember those).  First time on RCCL though. (I did get the $25 OBC for a referral).  He said it definitely exceeded his expectations.    
    After we returned I needed to get another trip lined up.   I did talk to the next cruise office but I was surprised that I could probably do a more tailored search to meet my needs on my own.   They can find specific trips but I was expecting to sit down tell the person all my priorities and be presented several options.   But they are limited in the factors that can be entered.   There isn’t much advantage to using their service. As I recall for a refundable trip the bonus offered on board was $25 OBC.  When I returned I booked a Nov 2019 trip refundable fee trip on Adventure of the Seas with a special incentive from BJs Warehouse that got me a great price and flexibility. 
  11. Like
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from NS8VN in My review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing.   
    Hi everyone.  Here is my review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing. 
    We flew in and out of Orlando to visit friends and then drove back and forth to Fort Lauderdale.   Flights to Orlando were cheaper also.   We stayed north of Fort Lauderdale in Embassy Suites – Deerfield Beach the night before.   Staying in town might have been easier, but the resort was very nice.  We just weren’t there long enough to really enjoy it.  We traveled with another couple, old friends from our old home town.  We met at the port when arriving for Embarkation Day. 
    ·       Coconuts Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale for lunch on the day before
    o   Good – had the popular appetizer Scoobies (crab claws) which were good.  
    o   Expensive lunch including the $10 valet.  We did order more than needed, the meals were larger than expected. 
    o   It felt like a kick off to the trip because of the location.  I could have gone for a cheaper option and been happy.  Traffic in this area was a bit heavy when we were there. 
    ·       Rental Car
    o   Budget Cruise Port Rental car location changed and I didn’t get informed of the change.  It was a confusing series of calls before I talked to a live person that could tell me the new location address.  The person that helped me was from Avis that shares the location.   Budget does not have much ability to link to a live customer service agent.  This would have worked fine if I had been informed of the change prior to arriving.   As it was I was delayed at least an hour circling the area and placing useless calls.  
    ·       Check in
    o   Lines for Diamond and Emerald used for lesser categories which would have made me mad if I wasn’t a lowly Gold member.  They were also lined up about equal to our lines.
    o   Smooth but later than I had planned to check in due to the rental car situation.  It would have been much easier if earlier.  My group waited for me to arrive so we were all delayed.  
    o   The first-time cruiser line was faster than our Gold status line. 
    ·       First impressions – Embarkation Day
    o   Royal Promenade
    §  Wow this is a big space and it’s easy to forget you are on a ship.
    o   Park Café – OK but crowded although we arrived later than I wanted.
    §  I should have tried another buffet (Wipeout?) or a specialty restaurant.
    §  Made the experience more stressful than needed
    §  Chairs were very close together, worse when most people had some kind of luggage.
    §  Kummelweck sandwiches were OK but not worth the hype.   I’ve had a real one somewhat recently in northern NY for the first time, so I’m not an expert but I knew what to expect.   I took two and combined them into one sandwich to increase the meat to bread ratio.  Some of the beef was not trimmed well and was very fatty.
    §  We only picked up to go items after this experience.  But to be fair it was much calmer later.  Never did any breakfast food here. 
    o   Bar in Central park- Slow, couldn’t scan paper seapass cards during the embarkation time.  
    §  Appeared the scanners were not turned on in any location.  Park Café had the same problem.  This caused unnecessary line ups.  I walked away a couple of times because I was waiting so long.    I was concerned that the long wait at bars would continue, but after the scanners worked I had no trouble at bars.
    ·       Boardwalk        
    o   Really a fun unique area.  But very dependent on what is open.  There are times it is really dead and doesn’t have non-stop carnival atmosphere like I expected.   Almost every space is an extra cost venue.  Donuts were dry and no one in our party liked them.  The candy shop was really more limited than I expected.  The hot dogs were good but this space wasn’t open much.  And it tends to impede traffic flow because it’s not clear where to line up and kind of in a choke point.  This location could really use some fries, I sure missed them.  The carousel was not open very often but frankly seemed underused anyway.  We rode it once without any music playing which I thought was odd.  Later I saw it operating and heard some music playing.  It was never lined up when I saw it operating.
    ·       Activiities - Sports deck
    o   Zip line – I rode this 3 times on the first day.  Once suited up you might as well do it multiple times.   It was actually a little more thrilling than I expected.   Make sure you understand what the ride operator is doing.  My last ride I did not have the main attachment clipped before the ride operator asked me to ‘sit in the harness’.   So, he had to attach this out of the normal sequence after I said something is not right.  If I had been released I would have had to support my weight with the hand grips.  The secondary line was attached but it is very slack.  The hand grips are a little fat and frankly not that easy to grip, at least in my opinion. That was my last ride. 
    o   Flow Rider – I didn’t do well and tried this once.  For me it was a constant spray of water in the face.  I didn’t flip immediately off the back, I spent most of my time forward at the bottom.  I will probably try this on a future cruise but didn’t feel the need to conqueror it on this trip.  I was looking for a chill out on this trip.
    o   Putt-Putt Golf – This was fun but there weren’t enough adult golf clubs.    We had to share which wasn’t a big deal.  There was a big group ahead of us and so they had used a lot of the clubs.  Still a fun time and not crowded.
    o   Arcade – I prepaid for this for the $20 amount and received a letter in my stateroom about setting my card at a specific arcade between 5-10pm.   I was busy and thought I would catch up later.   Apparently, this meeting time is to make sure the appropriate card is credited.  Like for a child that doesn’t have charging ability.   I later tried to go into the Boardwalk arcade to complete my registration.  I couldn’t do it on my own.  Tried to call from there and the phone was broken.  Went to Customer service.  They said it will work the following day.  Cut to the next day and my party of 4 go to the arcade to play some skee ball.  Card didn’t work, phone was missing this time.   I asked customer service to remove the charge, I was tired of messing with it and it wasn’t worth more running back and forth to me.  It took a couple more calls to get the credit reflected.   This was an unneeded aggravation so I probably won’t bother next time.  I thought it would just work right away.  Maybe that could be an option when purchasing it in advance.   That is what I was expecting. 
    o   Captain’s talk - Really funny captain.  I enjoyed this more than expected.  Lots of concerns about the life boats but the original question of how people are seated on the boats was never answered.   Someone asking about employee wages (wages to tip ratio) was pretty sharply rebuked which was a little uncomfortable.   But the other discussion items were both interesting and funny at time. 
    ·       Dinner – Grande
    o   We didn’t do any specialty restaurants, except Guacamole in Sabor.
    o   Waiter was good but it took me a while to calibrate to his accent.
    o   Asst Waiter was a nice fellow but seemed to get overwhelmed
    o   Head Waiter was more attentive than any I have had before.
    o   One night the staff was struggling
    §  The next night I saw a Sabor staffer (black shirt and tan shorts) helping out during a busy night.  They could have used him the previous night when they were struggling.  I suspect they asked for reinforcements after that night when they were in the weeds.
    o   I noticed one family coming in at least ½ hour after the assigned time almost every night when they were in the MDR.   No complaints or comments from the staff.   
    o   We enjoyed the MDR and had early seating.  We never felt rushed at all.   I was a little concerned about that with early dining.  But I wouldn’t do it any other way.  I don’t think I would like MTD.  It just seems like more things to schedule and keep track of.   I like that at the start of the day we all knew what time we were getting together.  My wife and I missed one dinner when we returned too late from Falmouth.   So it was dinner in the Windjammer which was fine. 
    o   Food was hit and miss, typical of other sailings I’ve had.   Sometimes it looked good and didn’t taste great.  Other times it was the reverse.  You had to taste some things because they sometimes actually better than the appearance.  Weird.  But generally, it was good.
    o   We asked our waiter for curry dishes which he brought most nights.   I got that tip from Matt.  This was a nice bonus and I really enjoyed the variety. 
    ·       Food
    o   All the food seemed luke-warm.   Rarely was anything hot unless it was cooked to order.
    o   I was prepared for the worst so Sorrento’s wasn’t a huge disappointment.   But I don’t know how freshly made pizza can taste so much like mid-grade frozen pizza.  We did eat it in the evening when at the lounges but only for the lack of any other hot food availability.   The ‘pizza burger’ appeared to be a regular pizza with an additional crust put on top.   That just felt like a way to push the bread even more.     
    o   There should be some kind of casual to go food offering that is more substantial in the evening.   Even if it was ala carte beyond the current offerings.   Near the other bars so isn’t a trek to find.  I went on Mariner of the Seas just before they added a service charge to Johnny Rockets and it was open later (I think it was until 11 or 12).  That was fun and I confess I was there most nights. 
    o   Promenade Café was convenient for evening snacks but I have the same complaint about the bread to filling ratio.   Most sandwiches were not very good.   I did like the flavor of the Muffuletta but again very skimpy with the filling.
    o   We sat in the Solarium much of the time during sea days.  Having the café (buffet) so close by was a huge plus.  We carried items out and back to our chairs which was really nice for a quick bite.  I had a chicken breast that was so much better than my expectation for a buffet item.   Limited menu but so convenient and quick. 
           Breakfast in MDR
    o   We did Breakfast in MDR 4 times and of these only 1 was really relaxing.  The other 3 were way too slow with things arriving at the wrong times.   My wife was not pleased with this experience.   Normally I really like the relaxing pace but this didn’t have the same feel. 
    ·       Breakfast in Johnny Rockets
    o   OK but not great.  As I recall the pancakes were premade and not what I expected. 
    ·       Room service – We did this once after the Cozumel port visit.   Very good quality for burgers and chicken strips.   Quick service. 
    ·       Entertainment
    o   Mama Mia – Cute but kind of a silly story.  Music, dancing and singing ability were top notch.  I’ve seen the movie and enjoyed this much more.   I thought the music was recorded but at the end they showed the band.   I was really impressed at the level of musicians and singers. 
    o   Jazz on 4 – specifically a show with the Mama Mia conductor and some of the actors singing individually.  Excellent.  I was sleepy this evening and considered turning in earlier but was glad I didn’t. 
    o   Ocean Aria Aqua Show – Excellent show. Get there early and get a seat that’s not under an awning.   From way in back you won’t see the high divers. 
    o   Blue Planet – Good.  A little weird but entertaining enough with a good mix of music dancing and acrobatics.
    o   Headliner - Las Vegas Tenors – We all enjoyed this group.   I met a man from Australia that didn’t like it and we kidded each other a bit about our tastes.  He indicated he was not familiar with many of the songs, which was surprising. 
    o   Game Ice show.  Great demonstration of talent but like some shows on cruise ships a little silly.  Overall very enjoyable. 
    o   Dazzles – The band named Centerpiece performed here off and on in the evening.  Excellent band especially the lead guitarist.  I wanted to hear them more. 
    o   Pub – Guitar player.  Friendly guy.  Not a great voice.   A customer sang with him one time and he was better.  The customer sang in English which was not his native language.  Kind of funny.  I love this space.   I would have liked to see some variety in the talent.   Staff was very attentive. 
    o   Schooner Bar – Piano player.  Not my favorite.  Seemed a little at odds with the patrons at times.  ‘I’m not going to play that now’.    Talented but relied on his computer accompaniment too much I thought.  He had a list of songs and that was it.  I tired of him quickly.  I would rather hear a rougher piano only song than just a limited menu.  I like the live experience for interaction and improvisation.  I don’t want a jukebox.  He was good but in the three times I saw him I heard Piano Man each time.   Don’t blame that on the patrons, he said something to the effect that it’s expected so he’s going to do it now.  
    o   Comic show – I saw two shows in the Comedy Live and the family friendly one in the theatre.  Kivi Rogers was better IMO.  I’m not a potty humor fan at all, not a prude, it just seems too easy.  A lot of both shows goes there.  Even the family show goes in this direction more than I would like.   Some families would not be pleased with the content in the family show.   
    ·       Royal App – This was down more than it was up.  
    o   It would have been really nice if it worked.   I went to Customer service and they had IT reset my account after trying very hard to help me on the spot.  It was almost funny watching them struggle like I did.  After IT reset my app it updated.  It worked for awhile but they stopped again.   It doesn’t stop cold, it just doesn’t display any schedule detail, just venue locations.
    ·       Labadee, Haiti port – Stayed on the ship
    o   First time I’ve ever stayed on the ship at a port stop.  It was so relaxing.   The only thing to mention is that there are less towel stations and bars open.  When you see something you need, grab what you want and then go to your favorite location. 
    ·       Falmouth, Jamaica port – Hilton Rose Hall resort (non Royal excursion)
    o   The bus ride over was well organized and the bus driver talked on the way like a mini tour.  
    o   We did have a fellow passenger that seemed a little self-entitled.  She asked for a stop to get a Red Stripe beer.  We had just walked through the port area with bars and we were driving about 20 minutes to an all-inclusive resort.  The bus driver accommodated her and stopped at a local bar.  I don’t really know but it seemed like we took a convoluted route out of town to get there.  The bar stop only took a couple of minutes, but there were some disgusted fellow passengers that couldn’t believe this one passenger was delaying everyone else’s arrival.  Lots of puzzled looks to each other around the bus behind this couple in the front seat.  People – remember you are not the only one that has value.  If you want special treatment, hire a cab to take you. 
    o   Nice place.  Very well kept.  The lawn was perfect and looked like a putting green. 
    o   Food was OK but not great.   The food on the ship was probably a little better.  The jerk shack was a nice touch and that definitely had some flavor.   Ordering was a little like the soup cook episode of the Seinfeld show.  I went with a week-long guest we met on site so I know I was doing it correctly but it wasn’t all smiles like the rest of the resort.   This visit kind of convinced me I wouldn’t like a week at an all inclusive as much as a cruise.   Very similar experiences, cheaper liquor in the drinks at the Hilton than the ship, I expect the entertainment is not nearly as good.   I think more than about 4 days would be boring. 
    ·       Cozumel, Mexico – Turquoise Beach Bar
    o   I wanted to try little bar this after reading a review.   It was accurately described but I had a different idea about what it was.  It was a little more rustic than I expected. And I had the impression it was going to be off the beaten path away from the heavier traffic area.  It had a good view of the ships.   We were the only ones there for awhile so we had good service.  They do serve food but the food comes from the restaurant across the street.   I have a picture of the server coming back across the street with our food which was kind of funny to watch.  A little like Frogger video game.   No chicken dishes were available.   My wife only ate guacamole.  She has a little more confidence in chain locations and wasn’t too happy with my selection. 
    o   This bar had two levels and its open air.  Downstairs we went to the restrooms and down there were a pot belled pig and a dog.   We originally thought the kitchen was downstairs, so it’s probably good this wasn’t the case. 
    ·       Casino
    o   Smoky and a little crowded in some areas of the room.  I only played out a free $5 offered mid-way thought the cruise.  Cashed out at a whopping $7 but that was more than my cruise mates that finished with nothing. 
    o   I didn’t sign up for a group slot pull.  I’ve done these before and enjoyed them but so many other things to do instead. 
    ·       Cabin – # 9607 Cabin was laid out well.  The view over the Central park area would have been perfectly positioned to hear the nightly entertainment if we had a balcony.  I would try to get a balcony above this location next time.  Our cabin steward was good and kept the room in good shape.  
    ·       Disembarkation
    o   Tried to use Lyft for a ride to car rental area at the FLL airport.  My phone data service was terrible and it appeared others were having the same problem.  I set up a ride, hit enter and the signal crashed requiring me to try again.  The cars that were picking people up were not marked and that caused people to step out into the traffic lane and turn around. My brother in law does this on the side and he has stickers on his car so it can be identified easily.  Cost would have been somewhere between $8 -$10.    After some attempts my wife finally said let’s get a cab.   Good call.  The trip was $12 and we just jumped into a readily available cab.   Saving a few bucks wasn’t worth the aggravation we were having for such a short ride.     
    ·       Final thoughts
    o   The ship doesn’t feel crowded except at certain times, like peak times in the Windjammer or leaving the ship in ports.  Elevators were sometimes a wait, like before or after shows but not a big problem.  But the photo setups in the Royal Promenade were overdone.  They seemed to be everywhere and blocked a lot of traffic and most were nearly begging people to participate.  These could be cut by half and still not be crowded.  The exception was the one on the actual staircase which then blocked that staircase for use which was really awkward when trying to get between these floors.  Special events in the Royal Promenade also made things crowded but pulling the photo set ups away could have helped this too.
    o   I continued to have confusion about front and back of the ship which surprised me   I usually get oriented in a few days.  I wished there was some art work in the cabin halls to help get your bearings.  There are some ship diagrams but these don’t really serve as ‘mile markers’ because they all look the same.  We put a post-it note on the door to avoid cruising past our door by mistake which happened once. 
    o   I loved the ship.  So much live entertainment in the evening.   Easy to get meals near where you are located.  But it is so big and doesn’t feel as connected to the water.  It’s easy to forget you’re on a ship.   I wasn’t even sure about how to access the mid-level outside deck at first.   We are going to go with a first time ever cruiser on the next trip, so I suggested a Voyager class to provide more of a ship feel.  
    o   Almost all the staff was excellent and really friendly with rare exceptions.   Even those that weren’t excellent were very good.   Exceeded my expectations many times. 
    o   I didn’t do the Meet and Mingle as I had planned.   Too many other things to do.  
    o   Dry erase wipe boards are probably not a favorite item of the room stewards.  I noticed that black marker smudges transferred to the door from the erasing residue.  I suspect they clean up easily but would add an extra task to their work. 
    o   We traveled with another couple and the gent wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a cruise.  They had cruised before so they had some idea of what to expect but on much smaller ships and other brands (Carnival and Big Red Boat – remember those).  First time on RCCL though. (I did get the $25 OBC for a referral).  He said it definitely exceeded his expectations.    
    After we returned I needed to get another trip lined up.   I did talk to the next cruise office but I was surprised that I could probably do a more tailored search to meet my needs on my own.   They can find specific trips but I was expecting to sit down tell the person all my priorities and be presented several options.   But they are limited in the factors that can be entered.   There isn’t much advantage to using their service. As I recall for a refundable trip the bonus offered on board was $25 OBC.  When I returned I booked a Nov 2019 trip refundable fee trip on Adventure of the Seas with a special incentive from BJs Warehouse that got me a great price and flexibility. 
  12. Like
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from Skid in My review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing.   
    Hi everyone.  Here is my review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing. 
    We flew in and out of Orlando to visit friends and then drove back and forth to Fort Lauderdale.   Flights to Orlando were cheaper also.   We stayed north of Fort Lauderdale in Embassy Suites – Deerfield Beach the night before.   Staying in town might have been easier, but the resort was very nice.  We just weren’t there long enough to really enjoy it.  We traveled with another couple, old friends from our old home town.  We met at the port when arriving for Embarkation Day. 
    ·       Coconuts Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale for lunch on the day before
    o   Good – had the popular appetizer Scoobies (crab claws) which were good.  
    o   Expensive lunch including the $10 valet.  We did order more than needed, the meals were larger than expected. 
    o   It felt like a kick off to the trip because of the location.  I could have gone for a cheaper option and been happy.  Traffic in this area was a bit heavy when we were there. 
    ·       Rental Car
    o   Budget Cruise Port Rental car location changed and I didn’t get informed of the change.  It was a confusing series of calls before I talked to a live person that could tell me the new location address.  The person that helped me was from Avis that shares the location.   Budget does not have much ability to link to a live customer service agent.  This would have worked fine if I had been informed of the change prior to arriving.   As it was I was delayed at least an hour circling the area and placing useless calls.  
    ·       Check in
    o   Lines for Diamond and Emerald used for lesser categories which would have made me mad if I wasn’t a lowly Gold member.  They were also lined up about equal to our lines.
    o   Smooth but later than I had planned to check in due to the rental car situation.  It would have been much easier if earlier.  My group waited for me to arrive so we were all delayed.  
    o   The first-time cruiser line was faster than our Gold status line. 
    ·       First impressions – Embarkation Day
    o   Royal Promenade
    §  Wow this is a big space and it’s easy to forget you are on a ship.
    o   Park Café – OK but crowded although we arrived later than I wanted.
    §  I should have tried another buffet (Wipeout?) or a specialty restaurant.
    §  Made the experience more stressful than needed
    §  Chairs were very close together, worse when most people had some kind of luggage.
    §  Kummelweck sandwiches were OK but not worth the hype.   I’ve had a real one somewhat recently in northern NY for the first time, so I’m not an expert but I knew what to expect.   I took two and combined them into one sandwich to increase the meat to bread ratio.  Some of the beef was not trimmed well and was very fatty.
    §  We only picked up to go items after this experience.  But to be fair it was much calmer later.  Never did any breakfast food here. 
    o   Bar in Central park- Slow, couldn’t scan paper seapass cards during the embarkation time.  
    §  Appeared the scanners were not turned on in any location.  Park Café had the same problem.  This caused unnecessary line ups.  I walked away a couple of times because I was waiting so long.    I was concerned that the long wait at bars would continue, but after the scanners worked I had no trouble at bars.
    ·       Boardwalk        
    o   Really a fun unique area.  But very dependent on what is open.  There are times it is really dead and doesn’t have non-stop carnival atmosphere like I expected.   Almost every space is an extra cost venue.  Donuts were dry and no one in our party liked them.  The candy shop was really more limited than I expected.  The hot dogs were good but this space wasn’t open much.  And it tends to impede traffic flow because it’s not clear where to line up and kind of in a choke point.  This location could really use some fries, I sure missed them.  The carousel was not open very often but frankly seemed underused anyway.  We rode it once without any music playing which I thought was odd.  Later I saw it operating and heard some music playing.  It was never lined up when I saw it operating.
    ·       Activiities - Sports deck
    o   Zip line – I rode this 3 times on the first day.  Once suited up you might as well do it multiple times.   It was actually a little more thrilling than I expected.   Make sure you understand what the ride operator is doing.  My last ride I did not have the main attachment clipped before the ride operator asked me to ‘sit in the harness’.   So, he had to attach this out of the normal sequence after I said something is not right.  If I had been released I would have had to support my weight with the hand grips.  The secondary line was attached but it is very slack.  The hand grips are a little fat and frankly not that easy to grip, at least in my opinion. That was my last ride. 
    o   Flow Rider – I didn’t do well and tried this once.  For me it was a constant spray of water in the face.  I didn’t flip immediately off the back, I spent most of my time forward at the bottom.  I will probably try this on a future cruise but didn’t feel the need to conqueror it on this trip.  I was looking for a chill out on this trip.
    o   Putt-Putt Golf – This was fun but there weren’t enough adult golf clubs.    We had to share which wasn’t a big deal.  There was a big group ahead of us and so they had used a lot of the clubs.  Still a fun time and not crowded.
    o   Arcade – I prepaid for this for the $20 amount and received a letter in my stateroom about setting my card at a specific arcade between 5-10pm.   I was busy and thought I would catch up later.   Apparently, this meeting time is to make sure the appropriate card is credited.  Like for a child that doesn’t have charging ability.   I later tried to go into the Boardwalk arcade to complete my registration.  I couldn’t do it on my own.  Tried to call from there and the phone was broken.  Went to Customer service.  They said it will work the following day.  Cut to the next day and my party of 4 go to the arcade to play some skee ball.  Card didn’t work, phone was missing this time.   I asked customer service to remove the charge, I was tired of messing with it and it wasn’t worth more running back and forth to me.  It took a couple more calls to get the credit reflected.   This was an unneeded aggravation so I probably won’t bother next time.  I thought it would just work right away.  Maybe that could be an option when purchasing it in advance.   That is what I was expecting. 
    o   Captain’s talk - Really funny captain.  I enjoyed this more than expected.  Lots of concerns about the life boats but the original question of how people are seated on the boats was never answered.   Someone asking about employee wages (wages to tip ratio) was pretty sharply rebuked which was a little uncomfortable.   But the other discussion items were both interesting and funny at time. 
    ·       Dinner – Grande
    o   We didn’t do any specialty restaurants, except Guacamole in Sabor.
    o   Waiter was good but it took me a while to calibrate to his accent.
    o   Asst Waiter was a nice fellow but seemed to get overwhelmed
    o   Head Waiter was more attentive than any I have had before.
    o   One night the staff was struggling
    §  The next night I saw a Sabor staffer (black shirt and tan shorts) helping out during a busy night.  They could have used him the previous night when they were struggling.  I suspect they asked for reinforcements after that night when they were in the weeds.
    o   I noticed one family coming in at least ½ hour after the assigned time almost every night when they were in the MDR.   No complaints or comments from the staff.   
    o   We enjoyed the MDR and had early seating.  We never felt rushed at all.   I was a little concerned about that with early dining.  But I wouldn’t do it any other way.  I don’t think I would like MTD.  It just seems like more things to schedule and keep track of.   I like that at the start of the day we all knew what time we were getting together.  My wife and I missed one dinner when we returned too late from Falmouth.   So it was dinner in the Windjammer which was fine. 
    o   Food was hit and miss, typical of other sailings I’ve had.   Sometimes it looked good and didn’t taste great.  Other times it was the reverse.  You had to taste some things because they sometimes actually better than the appearance.  Weird.  But generally, it was good.
    o   We asked our waiter for curry dishes which he brought most nights.   I got that tip from Matt.  This was a nice bonus and I really enjoyed the variety. 
    ·       Food
    o   All the food seemed luke-warm.   Rarely was anything hot unless it was cooked to order.
    o   I was prepared for the worst so Sorrento’s wasn’t a huge disappointment.   But I don’t know how freshly made pizza can taste so much like mid-grade frozen pizza.  We did eat it in the evening when at the lounges but only for the lack of any other hot food availability.   The ‘pizza burger’ appeared to be a regular pizza with an additional crust put on top.   That just felt like a way to push the bread even more.     
    o   There should be some kind of casual to go food offering that is more substantial in the evening.   Even if it was ala carte beyond the current offerings.   Near the other bars so isn’t a trek to find.  I went on Mariner of the Seas just before they added a service charge to Johnny Rockets and it was open later (I think it was until 11 or 12).  That was fun and I confess I was there most nights. 
    o   Promenade Café was convenient for evening snacks but I have the same complaint about the bread to filling ratio.   Most sandwiches were not very good.   I did like the flavor of the Muffuletta but again very skimpy with the filling.
    o   We sat in the Solarium much of the time during sea days.  Having the café (buffet) so close by was a huge plus.  We carried items out and back to our chairs which was really nice for a quick bite.  I had a chicken breast that was so much better than my expectation for a buffet item.   Limited menu but so convenient and quick. 
           Breakfast in MDR
    o   We did Breakfast in MDR 4 times and of these only 1 was really relaxing.  The other 3 were way too slow with things arriving at the wrong times.   My wife was not pleased with this experience.   Normally I really like the relaxing pace but this didn’t have the same feel. 
    ·       Breakfast in Johnny Rockets
    o   OK but not great.  As I recall the pancakes were premade and not what I expected. 
    ·       Room service – We did this once after the Cozumel port visit.   Very good quality for burgers and chicken strips.   Quick service. 
    ·       Entertainment
    o   Mama Mia – Cute but kind of a silly story.  Music, dancing and singing ability were top notch.  I’ve seen the movie and enjoyed this much more.   I thought the music was recorded but at the end they showed the band.   I was really impressed at the level of musicians and singers. 
    o   Jazz on 4 – specifically a show with the Mama Mia conductor and some of the actors singing individually.  Excellent.  I was sleepy this evening and considered turning in earlier but was glad I didn’t. 
    o   Ocean Aria Aqua Show – Excellent show. Get there early and get a seat that’s not under an awning.   From way in back you won’t see the high divers. 
    o   Blue Planet – Good.  A little weird but entertaining enough with a good mix of music dancing and acrobatics.
    o   Headliner - Las Vegas Tenors – We all enjoyed this group.   I met a man from Australia that didn’t like it and we kidded each other a bit about our tastes.  He indicated he was not familiar with many of the songs, which was surprising. 
    o   Game Ice show.  Great demonstration of talent but like some shows on cruise ships a little silly.  Overall very enjoyable. 
    o   Dazzles – The band named Centerpiece performed here off and on in the evening.  Excellent band especially the lead guitarist.  I wanted to hear them more. 
    o   Pub – Guitar player.  Friendly guy.  Not a great voice.   A customer sang with him one time and he was better.  The customer sang in English which was not his native language.  Kind of funny.  I love this space.   I would have liked to see some variety in the talent.   Staff was very attentive. 
    o   Schooner Bar – Piano player.  Not my favorite.  Seemed a little at odds with the patrons at times.  ‘I’m not going to play that now’.    Talented but relied on his computer accompaniment too much I thought.  He had a list of songs and that was it.  I tired of him quickly.  I would rather hear a rougher piano only song than just a limited menu.  I like the live experience for interaction and improvisation.  I don’t want a jukebox.  He was good but in the three times I saw him I heard Piano Man each time.   Don’t blame that on the patrons, he said something to the effect that it’s expected so he’s going to do it now.  
    o   Comic show – I saw two shows in the Comedy Live and the family friendly one in the theatre.  Kivi Rogers was better IMO.  I’m not a potty humor fan at all, not a prude, it just seems too easy.  A lot of both shows goes there.  Even the family show goes in this direction more than I would like.   Some families would not be pleased with the content in the family show.   
    ·       Royal App – This was down more than it was up.  
    o   It would have been really nice if it worked.   I went to Customer service and they had IT reset my account after trying very hard to help me on the spot.  It was almost funny watching them struggle like I did.  After IT reset my app it updated.  It worked for awhile but they stopped again.   It doesn’t stop cold, it just doesn’t display any schedule detail, just venue locations.
    ·       Labadee, Haiti port – Stayed on the ship
    o   First time I’ve ever stayed on the ship at a port stop.  It was so relaxing.   The only thing to mention is that there are less towel stations and bars open.  When you see something you need, grab what you want and then go to your favorite location. 
    ·       Falmouth, Jamaica port – Hilton Rose Hall resort (non Royal excursion)
    o   The bus ride over was well organized and the bus driver talked on the way like a mini tour.  
    o   We did have a fellow passenger that seemed a little self-entitled.  She asked for a stop to get a Red Stripe beer.  We had just walked through the port area with bars and we were driving about 20 minutes to an all-inclusive resort.  The bus driver accommodated her and stopped at a local bar.  I don’t really know but it seemed like we took a convoluted route out of town to get there.  The bar stop only took a couple of minutes, but there were some disgusted fellow passengers that couldn’t believe this one passenger was delaying everyone else’s arrival.  Lots of puzzled looks to each other around the bus behind this couple in the front seat.  People – remember you are not the only one that has value.  If you want special treatment, hire a cab to take you. 
    o   Nice place.  Very well kept.  The lawn was perfect and looked like a putting green. 
    o   Food was OK but not great.   The food on the ship was probably a little better.  The jerk shack was a nice touch and that definitely had some flavor.   Ordering was a little like the soup cook episode of the Seinfeld show.  I went with a week-long guest we met on site so I know I was doing it correctly but it wasn’t all smiles like the rest of the resort.   This visit kind of convinced me I wouldn’t like a week at an all inclusive as much as a cruise.   Very similar experiences, cheaper liquor in the drinks at the Hilton than the ship, I expect the entertainment is not nearly as good.   I think more than about 4 days would be boring. 
    ·       Cozumel, Mexico – Turquoise Beach Bar
    o   I wanted to try little bar this after reading a review.   It was accurately described but I had a different idea about what it was.  It was a little more rustic than I expected. And I had the impression it was going to be off the beaten path away from the heavier traffic area.  It had a good view of the ships.   We were the only ones there for awhile so we had good service.  They do serve food but the food comes from the restaurant across the street.   I have a picture of the server coming back across the street with our food which was kind of funny to watch.  A little like Frogger video game.   No chicken dishes were available.   My wife only ate guacamole.  She has a little more confidence in chain locations and wasn’t too happy with my selection. 
    o   This bar had two levels and its open air.  Downstairs we went to the restrooms and down there were a pot belled pig and a dog.   We originally thought the kitchen was downstairs, so it’s probably good this wasn’t the case. 
    ·       Casino
    o   Smoky and a little crowded in some areas of the room.  I only played out a free $5 offered mid-way thought the cruise.  Cashed out at a whopping $7 but that was more than my cruise mates that finished with nothing. 
    o   I didn’t sign up for a group slot pull.  I’ve done these before and enjoyed them but so many other things to do instead. 
    ·       Cabin – # 9607 Cabin was laid out well.  The view over the Central park area would have been perfectly positioned to hear the nightly entertainment if we had a balcony.  I would try to get a balcony above this location next time.  Our cabin steward was good and kept the room in good shape.  
    ·       Disembarkation
    o   Tried to use Lyft for a ride to car rental area at the FLL airport.  My phone data service was terrible and it appeared others were having the same problem.  I set up a ride, hit enter and the signal crashed requiring me to try again.  The cars that were picking people up were not marked and that caused people to step out into the traffic lane and turn around. My brother in law does this on the side and he has stickers on his car so it can be identified easily.  Cost would have been somewhere between $8 -$10.    After some attempts my wife finally said let’s get a cab.   Good call.  The trip was $12 and we just jumped into a readily available cab.   Saving a few bucks wasn’t worth the aggravation we were having for such a short ride.     
    ·       Final thoughts
    o   The ship doesn’t feel crowded except at certain times, like peak times in the Windjammer or leaving the ship in ports.  Elevators were sometimes a wait, like before or after shows but not a big problem.  But the photo setups in the Royal Promenade were overdone.  They seemed to be everywhere and blocked a lot of traffic and most were nearly begging people to participate.  These could be cut by half and still not be crowded.  The exception was the one on the actual staircase which then blocked that staircase for use which was really awkward when trying to get between these floors.  Special events in the Royal Promenade also made things crowded but pulling the photo set ups away could have helped this too.
    o   I continued to have confusion about front and back of the ship which surprised me   I usually get oriented in a few days.  I wished there was some art work in the cabin halls to help get your bearings.  There are some ship diagrams but these don’t really serve as ‘mile markers’ because they all look the same.  We put a post-it note on the door to avoid cruising past our door by mistake which happened once. 
    o   I loved the ship.  So much live entertainment in the evening.   Easy to get meals near where you are located.  But it is so big and doesn’t feel as connected to the water.  It’s easy to forget you’re on a ship.   I wasn’t even sure about how to access the mid-level outside deck at first.   We are going to go with a first time ever cruiser on the next trip, so I suggested a Voyager class to provide more of a ship feel.  
    o   Almost all the staff was excellent and really friendly with rare exceptions.   Even those that weren’t excellent were very good.   Exceeded my expectations many times. 
    o   I didn’t do the Meet and Mingle as I had planned.   Too many other things to do.  
    o   Dry erase wipe boards are probably not a favorite item of the room stewards.  I noticed that black marker smudges transferred to the door from the erasing residue.  I suspect they clean up easily but would add an extra task to their work. 
    o   We traveled with another couple and the gent wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a cruise.  They had cruised before so they had some idea of what to expect but on much smaller ships and other brands (Carnival and Big Red Boat – remember those).  First time on RCCL though. (I did get the $25 OBC for a referral).  He said it definitely exceeded his expectations.    
    After we returned I needed to get another trip lined up.   I did talk to the next cruise office but I was surprised that I could probably do a more tailored search to meet my needs on my own.   They can find specific trips but I was expecting to sit down tell the person all my priorities and be presented several options.   But they are limited in the factors that can be entered.   There isn’t much advantage to using their service. As I recall for a refundable trip the bonus offered on board was $25 OBC.  When I returned I booked a Nov 2019 trip refundable fee trip on Adventure of the Seas with a special incentive from BJs Warehouse that got me a great price and flexibility. 
  13. Like
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from Bob_KY in My review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing.   
    Hi everyone.  Here is my review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing. 
    We flew in and out of Orlando to visit friends and then drove back and forth to Fort Lauderdale.   Flights to Orlando were cheaper also.   We stayed north of Fort Lauderdale in Embassy Suites – Deerfield Beach the night before.   Staying in town might have been easier, but the resort was very nice.  We just weren’t there long enough to really enjoy it.  We traveled with another couple, old friends from our old home town.  We met at the port when arriving for Embarkation Day. 
    ·       Coconuts Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale for lunch on the day before
    o   Good – had the popular appetizer Scoobies (crab claws) which were good.  
    o   Expensive lunch including the $10 valet.  We did order more than needed, the meals were larger than expected. 
    o   It felt like a kick off to the trip because of the location.  I could have gone for a cheaper option and been happy.  Traffic in this area was a bit heavy when we were there. 
    ·       Rental Car
    o   Budget Cruise Port Rental car location changed and I didn’t get informed of the change.  It was a confusing series of calls before I talked to a live person that could tell me the new location address.  The person that helped me was from Avis that shares the location.   Budget does not have much ability to link to a live customer service agent.  This would have worked fine if I had been informed of the change prior to arriving.   As it was I was delayed at least an hour circling the area and placing useless calls.  
    ·       Check in
    o   Lines for Diamond and Emerald used for lesser categories which would have made me mad if I wasn’t a lowly Gold member.  They were also lined up about equal to our lines.
    o   Smooth but later than I had planned to check in due to the rental car situation.  It would have been much easier if earlier.  My group waited for me to arrive so we were all delayed.  
    o   The first-time cruiser line was faster than our Gold status line. 
    ·       First impressions – Embarkation Day
    o   Royal Promenade
    §  Wow this is a big space and it’s easy to forget you are on a ship.
    o   Park Café – OK but crowded although we arrived later than I wanted.
    §  I should have tried another buffet (Wipeout?) or a specialty restaurant.
    §  Made the experience more stressful than needed
    §  Chairs were very close together, worse when most people had some kind of luggage.
    §  Kummelweck sandwiches were OK but not worth the hype.   I’ve had a real one somewhat recently in northern NY for the first time, so I’m not an expert but I knew what to expect.   I took two and combined them into one sandwich to increase the meat to bread ratio.  Some of the beef was not trimmed well and was very fatty.
    §  We only picked up to go items after this experience.  But to be fair it was much calmer later.  Never did any breakfast food here. 
    o   Bar in Central park- Slow, couldn’t scan paper seapass cards during the embarkation time.  
    §  Appeared the scanners were not turned on in any location.  Park Café had the same problem.  This caused unnecessary line ups.  I walked away a couple of times because I was waiting so long.    I was concerned that the long wait at bars would continue, but after the scanners worked I had no trouble at bars.
    ·       Boardwalk        
    o   Really a fun unique area.  But very dependent on what is open.  There are times it is really dead and doesn’t have non-stop carnival atmosphere like I expected.   Almost every space is an extra cost venue.  Donuts were dry and no one in our party liked them.  The candy shop was really more limited than I expected.  The hot dogs were good but this space wasn’t open much.  And it tends to impede traffic flow because it’s not clear where to line up and kind of in a choke point.  This location could really use some fries, I sure missed them.  The carousel was not open very often but frankly seemed underused anyway.  We rode it once without any music playing which I thought was odd.  Later I saw it operating and heard some music playing.  It was never lined up when I saw it operating.
    ·       Activiities - Sports deck
    o   Zip line – I rode this 3 times on the first day.  Once suited up you might as well do it multiple times.   It was actually a little more thrilling than I expected.   Make sure you understand what the ride operator is doing.  My last ride I did not have the main attachment clipped before the ride operator asked me to ‘sit in the harness’.   So, he had to attach this out of the normal sequence after I said something is not right.  If I had been released I would have had to support my weight with the hand grips.  The secondary line was attached but it is very slack.  The hand grips are a little fat and frankly not that easy to grip, at least in my opinion. That was my last ride. 
    o   Flow Rider – I didn’t do well and tried this once.  For me it was a constant spray of water in the face.  I didn’t flip immediately off the back, I spent most of my time forward at the bottom.  I will probably try this on a future cruise but didn’t feel the need to conqueror it on this trip.  I was looking for a chill out on this trip.
    o   Putt-Putt Golf – This was fun but there weren’t enough adult golf clubs.    We had to share which wasn’t a big deal.  There was a big group ahead of us and so they had used a lot of the clubs.  Still a fun time and not crowded.
    o   Arcade – I prepaid for this for the $20 amount and received a letter in my stateroom about setting my card at a specific arcade between 5-10pm.   I was busy and thought I would catch up later.   Apparently, this meeting time is to make sure the appropriate card is credited.  Like for a child that doesn’t have charging ability.   I later tried to go into the Boardwalk arcade to complete my registration.  I couldn’t do it on my own.  Tried to call from there and the phone was broken.  Went to Customer service.  They said it will work the following day.  Cut to the next day and my party of 4 go to the arcade to play some skee ball.  Card didn’t work, phone was missing this time.   I asked customer service to remove the charge, I was tired of messing with it and it wasn’t worth more running back and forth to me.  It took a couple more calls to get the credit reflected.   This was an unneeded aggravation so I probably won’t bother next time.  I thought it would just work right away.  Maybe that could be an option when purchasing it in advance.   That is what I was expecting. 
    o   Captain’s talk - Really funny captain.  I enjoyed this more than expected.  Lots of concerns about the life boats but the original question of how people are seated on the boats was never answered.   Someone asking about employee wages (wages to tip ratio) was pretty sharply rebuked which was a little uncomfortable.   But the other discussion items were both interesting and funny at time. 
    ·       Dinner – Grande
    o   We didn’t do any specialty restaurants, except Guacamole in Sabor.
    o   Waiter was good but it took me a while to calibrate to his accent.
    o   Asst Waiter was a nice fellow but seemed to get overwhelmed
    o   Head Waiter was more attentive than any I have had before.
    o   One night the staff was struggling
    §  The next night I saw a Sabor staffer (black shirt and tan shorts) helping out during a busy night.  They could have used him the previous night when they were struggling.  I suspect they asked for reinforcements after that night when they were in the weeds.
    o   I noticed one family coming in at least ½ hour after the assigned time almost every night when they were in the MDR.   No complaints or comments from the staff.   
    o   We enjoyed the MDR and had early seating.  We never felt rushed at all.   I was a little concerned about that with early dining.  But I wouldn’t do it any other way.  I don’t think I would like MTD.  It just seems like more things to schedule and keep track of.   I like that at the start of the day we all knew what time we were getting together.  My wife and I missed one dinner when we returned too late from Falmouth.   So it was dinner in the Windjammer which was fine. 
    o   Food was hit and miss, typical of other sailings I’ve had.   Sometimes it looked good and didn’t taste great.  Other times it was the reverse.  You had to taste some things because they sometimes actually better than the appearance.  Weird.  But generally, it was good.
    o   We asked our waiter for curry dishes which he brought most nights.   I got that tip from Matt.  This was a nice bonus and I really enjoyed the variety. 
    ·       Food
    o   All the food seemed luke-warm.   Rarely was anything hot unless it was cooked to order.
    o   I was prepared for the worst so Sorrento’s wasn’t a huge disappointment.   But I don’t know how freshly made pizza can taste so much like mid-grade frozen pizza.  We did eat it in the evening when at the lounges but only for the lack of any other hot food availability.   The ‘pizza burger’ appeared to be a regular pizza with an additional crust put on top.   That just felt like a way to push the bread even more.     
    o   There should be some kind of casual to go food offering that is more substantial in the evening.   Even if it was ala carte beyond the current offerings.   Near the other bars so isn’t a trek to find.  I went on Mariner of the Seas just before they added a service charge to Johnny Rockets and it was open later (I think it was until 11 or 12).  That was fun and I confess I was there most nights. 
    o   Promenade Café was convenient for evening snacks but I have the same complaint about the bread to filling ratio.   Most sandwiches were not very good.   I did like the flavor of the Muffuletta but again very skimpy with the filling.
    o   We sat in the Solarium much of the time during sea days.  Having the café (buffet) so close by was a huge plus.  We carried items out and back to our chairs which was really nice for a quick bite.  I had a chicken breast that was so much better than my expectation for a buffet item.   Limited menu but so convenient and quick. 
           Breakfast in MDR
    o   We did Breakfast in MDR 4 times and of these only 1 was really relaxing.  The other 3 were way too slow with things arriving at the wrong times.   My wife was not pleased with this experience.   Normally I really like the relaxing pace but this didn’t have the same feel. 
    ·       Breakfast in Johnny Rockets
    o   OK but not great.  As I recall the pancakes were premade and not what I expected. 
    ·       Room service – We did this once after the Cozumel port visit.   Very good quality for burgers and chicken strips.   Quick service. 
    ·       Entertainment
    o   Mama Mia – Cute but kind of a silly story.  Music, dancing and singing ability were top notch.  I’ve seen the movie and enjoyed this much more.   I thought the music was recorded but at the end they showed the band.   I was really impressed at the level of musicians and singers. 
    o   Jazz on 4 – specifically a show with the Mama Mia conductor and some of the actors singing individually.  Excellent.  I was sleepy this evening and considered turning in earlier but was glad I didn’t. 
    o   Ocean Aria Aqua Show – Excellent show. Get there early and get a seat that’s not under an awning.   From way in back you won’t see the high divers. 
    o   Blue Planet – Good.  A little weird but entertaining enough with a good mix of music dancing and acrobatics.
    o   Headliner - Las Vegas Tenors – We all enjoyed this group.   I met a man from Australia that didn’t like it and we kidded each other a bit about our tastes.  He indicated he was not familiar with many of the songs, which was surprising. 
    o   Game Ice show.  Great demonstration of talent but like some shows on cruise ships a little silly.  Overall very enjoyable. 
    o   Dazzles – The band named Centerpiece performed here off and on in the evening.  Excellent band especially the lead guitarist.  I wanted to hear them more. 
    o   Pub – Guitar player.  Friendly guy.  Not a great voice.   A customer sang with him one time and he was better.  The customer sang in English which was not his native language.  Kind of funny.  I love this space.   I would have liked to see some variety in the talent.   Staff was very attentive. 
    o   Schooner Bar – Piano player.  Not my favorite.  Seemed a little at odds with the patrons at times.  ‘I’m not going to play that now’.    Talented but relied on his computer accompaniment too much I thought.  He had a list of songs and that was it.  I tired of him quickly.  I would rather hear a rougher piano only song than just a limited menu.  I like the live experience for interaction and improvisation.  I don’t want a jukebox.  He was good but in the three times I saw him I heard Piano Man each time.   Don’t blame that on the patrons, he said something to the effect that it’s expected so he’s going to do it now.  
    o   Comic show – I saw two shows in the Comedy Live and the family friendly one in the theatre.  Kivi Rogers was better IMO.  I’m not a potty humor fan at all, not a prude, it just seems too easy.  A lot of both shows goes there.  Even the family show goes in this direction more than I would like.   Some families would not be pleased with the content in the family show.   
    ·       Royal App – This was down more than it was up.  
    o   It would have been really nice if it worked.   I went to Customer service and they had IT reset my account after trying very hard to help me on the spot.  It was almost funny watching them struggle like I did.  After IT reset my app it updated.  It worked for awhile but they stopped again.   It doesn’t stop cold, it just doesn’t display any schedule detail, just venue locations.
    ·       Labadee, Haiti port – Stayed on the ship
    o   First time I’ve ever stayed on the ship at a port stop.  It was so relaxing.   The only thing to mention is that there are less towel stations and bars open.  When you see something you need, grab what you want and then go to your favorite location. 
    ·       Falmouth, Jamaica port – Hilton Rose Hall resort (non Royal excursion)
    o   The bus ride over was well organized and the bus driver talked on the way like a mini tour.  
    o   We did have a fellow passenger that seemed a little self-entitled.  She asked for a stop to get a Red Stripe beer.  We had just walked through the port area with bars and we were driving about 20 minutes to an all-inclusive resort.  The bus driver accommodated her and stopped at a local bar.  I don’t really know but it seemed like we took a convoluted route out of town to get there.  The bar stop only took a couple of minutes, but there were some disgusted fellow passengers that couldn’t believe this one passenger was delaying everyone else’s arrival.  Lots of puzzled looks to each other around the bus behind this couple in the front seat.  People – remember you are not the only one that has value.  If you want special treatment, hire a cab to take you. 
    o   Nice place.  Very well kept.  The lawn was perfect and looked like a putting green. 
    o   Food was OK but not great.   The food on the ship was probably a little better.  The jerk shack was a nice touch and that definitely had some flavor.   Ordering was a little like the soup cook episode of the Seinfeld show.  I went with a week-long guest we met on site so I know I was doing it correctly but it wasn’t all smiles like the rest of the resort.   This visit kind of convinced me I wouldn’t like a week at an all inclusive as much as a cruise.   Very similar experiences, cheaper liquor in the drinks at the Hilton than the ship, I expect the entertainment is not nearly as good.   I think more than about 4 days would be boring. 
    ·       Cozumel, Mexico – Turquoise Beach Bar
    o   I wanted to try little bar this after reading a review.   It was accurately described but I had a different idea about what it was.  It was a little more rustic than I expected. And I had the impression it was going to be off the beaten path away from the heavier traffic area.  It had a good view of the ships.   We were the only ones there for awhile so we had good service.  They do serve food but the food comes from the restaurant across the street.   I have a picture of the server coming back across the street with our food which was kind of funny to watch.  A little like Frogger video game.   No chicken dishes were available.   My wife only ate guacamole.  She has a little more confidence in chain locations and wasn’t too happy with my selection. 
    o   This bar had two levels and its open air.  Downstairs we went to the restrooms and down there were a pot belled pig and a dog.   We originally thought the kitchen was downstairs, so it’s probably good this wasn’t the case. 
    ·       Casino
    o   Smoky and a little crowded in some areas of the room.  I only played out a free $5 offered mid-way thought the cruise.  Cashed out at a whopping $7 but that was more than my cruise mates that finished with nothing. 
    o   I didn’t sign up for a group slot pull.  I’ve done these before and enjoyed them but so many other things to do instead. 
    ·       Cabin – # 9607 Cabin was laid out well.  The view over the Central park area would have been perfectly positioned to hear the nightly entertainment if we had a balcony.  I would try to get a balcony above this location next time.  Our cabin steward was good and kept the room in good shape.  
    ·       Disembarkation
    o   Tried to use Lyft for a ride to car rental area at the FLL airport.  My phone data service was terrible and it appeared others were having the same problem.  I set up a ride, hit enter and the signal crashed requiring me to try again.  The cars that were picking people up were not marked and that caused people to step out into the traffic lane and turn around. My brother in law does this on the side and he has stickers on his car so it can be identified easily.  Cost would have been somewhere between $8 -$10.    After some attempts my wife finally said let’s get a cab.   Good call.  The trip was $12 and we just jumped into a readily available cab.   Saving a few bucks wasn’t worth the aggravation we were having for such a short ride.     
    ·       Final thoughts
    o   The ship doesn’t feel crowded except at certain times, like peak times in the Windjammer or leaving the ship in ports.  Elevators were sometimes a wait, like before or after shows but not a big problem.  But the photo setups in the Royal Promenade were overdone.  They seemed to be everywhere and blocked a lot of traffic and most were nearly begging people to participate.  These could be cut by half and still not be crowded.  The exception was the one on the actual staircase which then blocked that staircase for use which was really awkward when trying to get between these floors.  Special events in the Royal Promenade also made things crowded but pulling the photo set ups away could have helped this too.
    o   I continued to have confusion about front and back of the ship which surprised me   I usually get oriented in a few days.  I wished there was some art work in the cabin halls to help get your bearings.  There are some ship diagrams but these don’t really serve as ‘mile markers’ because they all look the same.  We put a post-it note on the door to avoid cruising past our door by mistake which happened once. 
    o   I loved the ship.  So much live entertainment in the evening.   Easy to get meals near where you are located.  But it is so big and doesn’t feel as connected to the water.  It’s easy to forget you’re on a ship.   I wasn’t even sure about how to access the mid-level outside deck at first.   We are going to go with a first time ever cruiser on the next trip, so I suggested a Voyager class to provide more of a ship feel.  
    o   Almost all the staff was excellent and really friendly with rare exceptions.   Even those that weren’t excellent were very good.   Exceeded my expectations many times. 
    o   I didn’t do the Meet and Mingle as I had planned.   Too many other things to do.  
    o   Dry erase wipe boards are probably not a favorite item of the room stewards.  I noticed that black marker smudges transferred to the door from the erasing residue.  I suspect they clean up easily but would add an extra task to their work. 
    o   We traveled with another couple and the gent wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a cruise.  They had cruised before so they had some idea of what to expect but on much smaller ships and other brands (Carnival and Big Red Boat – remember those).  First time on RCCL though. (I did get the $25 OBC for a referral).  He said it definitely exceeded his expectations.    
    After we returned I needed to get another trip lined up.   I did talk to the next cruise office but I was surprised that I could probably do a more tailored search to meet my needs on my own.   They can find specific trips but I was expecting to sit down tell the person all my priorities and be presented several options.   But they are limited in the factors that can be entered.   There isn’t much advantage to using their service. As I recall for a refundable trip the bonus offered on board was $25 OBC.  When I returned I booked a Nov 2019 trip refundable fee trip on Adventure of the Seas with a special incentive from BJs Warehouse that got me a great price and flexibility. 
  14. Like
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from JLMoran in My review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing.   
    Hi everyone.  Here is my review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing. 
    We flew in and out of Orlando to visit friends and then drove back and forth to Fort Lauderdale.   Flights to Orlando were cheaper also.   We stayed north of Fort Lauderdale in Embassy Suites – Deerfield Beach the night before.   Staying in town might have been easier, but the resort was very nice.  We just weren’t there long enough to really enjoy it.  We traveled with another couple, old friends from our old home town.  We met at the port when arriving for Embarkation Day. 
    ·       Coconuts Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale for lunch on the day before
    o   Good – had the popular appetizer Scoobies (crab claws) which were good.  
    o   Expensive lunch including the $10 valet.  We did order more than needed, the meals were larger than expected. 
    o   It felt like a kick off to the trip because of the location.  I could have gone for a cheaper option and been happy.  Traffic in this area was a bit heavy when we were there. 
    ·       Rental Car
    o   Budget Cruise Port Rental car location changed and I didn’t get informed of the change.  It was a confusing series of calls before I talked to a live person that could tell me the new location address.  The person that helped me was from Avis that shares the location.   Budget does not have much ability to link to a live customer service agent.  This would have worked fine if I had been informed of the change prior to arriving.   As it was I was delayed at least an hour circling the area and placing useless calls.  
    ·       Check in
    o   Lines for Diamond and Emerald used for lesser categories which would have made me mad if I wasn’t a lowly Gold member.  They were also lined up about equal to our lines.
    o   Smooth but later than I had planned to check in due to the rental car situation.  It would have been much easier if earlier.  My group waited for me to arrive so we were all delayed.  
    o   The first-time cruiser line was faster than our Gold status line. 
    ·       First impressions – Embarkation Day
    o   Royal Promenade
    §  Wow this is a big space and it’s easy to forget you are on a ship.
    o   Park Café – OK but crowded although we arrived later than I wanted.
    §  I should have tried another buffet (Wipeout?) or a specialty restaurant.
    §  Made the experience more stressful than needed
    §  Chairs were very close together, worse when most people had some kind of luggage.
    §  Kummelweck sandwiches were OK but not worth the hype.   I’ve had a real one somewhat recently in northern NY for the first time, so I’m not an expert but I knew what to expect.   I took two and combined them into one sandwich to increase the meat to bread ratio.  Some of the beef was not trimmed well and was very fatty.
    §  We only picked up to go items after this experience.  But to be fair it was much calmer later.  Never did any breakfast food here. 
    o   Bar in Central park- Slow, couldn’t scan paper seapass cards during the embarkation time.  
    §  Appeared the scanners were not turned on in any location.  Park Café had the same problem.  This caused unnecessary line ups.  I walked away a couple of times because I was waiting so long.    I was concerned that the long wait at bars would continue, but after the scanners worked I had no trouble at bars.
    ·       Boardwalk        
    o   Really a fun unique area.  But very dependent on what is open.  There are times it is really dead and doesn’t have non-stop carnival atmosphere like I expected.   Almost every space is an extra cost venue.  Donuts were dry and no one in our party liked them.  The candy shop was really more limited than I expected.  The hot dogs were good but this space wasn’t open much.  And it tends to impede traffic flow because it’s not clear where to line up and kind of in a choke point.  This location could really use some fries, I sure missed them.  The carousel was not open very often but frankly seemed underused anyway.  We rode it once without any music playing which I thought was odd.  Later I saw it operating and heard some music playing.  It was never lined up when I saw it operating.
    ·       Activiities - Sports deck
    o   Zip line – I rode this 3 times on the first day.  Once suited up you might as well do it multiple times.   It was actually a little more thrilling than I expected.   Make sure you understand what the ride operator is doing.  My last ride I did not have the main attachment clipped before the ride operator asked me to ‘sit in the harness’.   So, he had to attach this out of the normal sequence after I said something is not right.  If I had been released I would have had to support my weight with the hand grips.  The secondary line was attached but it is very slack.  The hand grips are a little fat and frankly not that easy to grip, at least in my opinion. That was my last ride. 
    o   Flow Rider – I didn’t do well and tried this once.  For me it was a constant spray of water in the face.  I didn’t flip immediately off the back, I spent most of my time forward at the bottom.  I will probably try this on a future cruise but didn’t feel the need to conqueror it on this trip.  I was looking for a chill out on this trip.
    o   Putt-Putt Golf – This was fun but there weren’t enough adult golf clubs.    We had to share which wasn’t a big deal.  There was a big group ahead of us and so they had used a lot of the clubs.  Still a fun time and not crowded.
    o   Arcade – I prepaid for this for the $20 amount and received a letter in my stateroom about setting my card at a specific arcade between 5-10pm.   I was busy and thought I would catch up later.   Apparently, this meeting time is to make sure the appropriate card is credited.  Like for a child that doesn’t have charging ability.   I later tried to go into the Boardwalk arcade to complete my registration.  I couldn’t do it on my own.  Tried to call from there and the phone was broken.  Went to Customer service.  They said it will work the following day.  Cut to the next day and my party of 4 go to the arcade to play some skee ball.  Card didn’t work, phone was missing this time.   I asked customer service to remove the charge, I was tired of messing with it and it wasn’t worth more running back and forth to me.  It took a couple more calls to get the credit reflected.   This was an unneeded aggravation so I probably won’t bother next time.  I thought it would just work right away.  Maybe that could be an option when purchasing it in advance.   That is what I was expecting. 
    o   Captain’s talk - Really funny captain.  I enjoyed this more than expected.  Lots of concerns about the life boats but the original question of how people are seated on the boats was never answered.   Someone asking about employee wages (wages to tip ratio) was pretty sharply rebuked which was a little uncomfortable.   But the other discussion items were both interesting and funny at time. 
    ·       Dinner – Grande
    o   We didn’t do any specialty restaurants, except Guacamole in Sabor.
    o   Waiter was good but it took me a while to calibrate to his accent.
    o   Asst Waiter was a nice fellow but seemed to get overwhelmed
    o   Head Waiter was more attentive than any I have had before.
    o   One night the staff was struggling
    §  The next night I saw a Sabor staffer (black shirt and tan shorts) helping out during a busy night.  They could have used him the previous night when they were struggling.  I suspect they asked for reinforcements after that night when they were in the weeds.
    o   I noticed one family coming in at least ½ hour after the assigned time almost every night when they were in the MDR.   No complaints or comments from the staff.   
    o   We enjoyed the MDR and had early seating.  We never felt rushed at all.   I was a little concerned about that with early dining.  But I wouldn’t do it any other way.  I don’t think I would like MTD.  It just seems like more things to schedule and keep track of.   I like that at the start of the day we all knew what time we were getting together.  My wife and I missed one dinner when we returned too late from Falmouth.   So it was dinner in the Windjammer which was fine. 
    o   Food was hit and miss, typical of other sailings I’ve had.   Sometimes it looked good and didn’t taste great.  Other times it was the reverse.  You had to taste some things because they sometimes actually better than the appearance.  Weird.  But generally, it was good.
    o   We asked our waiter for curry dishes which he brought most nights.   I got that tip from Matt.  This was a nice bonus and I really enjoyed the variety. 
    ·       Food
    o   All the food seemed luke-warm.   Rarely was anything hot unless it was cooked to order.
    o   I was prepared for the worst so Sorrento’s wasn’t a huge disappointment.   But I don’t know how freshly made pizza can taste so much like mid-grade frozen pizza.  We did eat it in the evening when at the lounges but only for the lack of any other hot food availability.   The ‘pizza burger’ appeared to be a regular pizza with an additional crust put on top.   That just felt like a way to push the bread even more.     
    o   There should be some kind of casual to go food offering that is more substantial in the evening.   Even if it was ala carte beyond the current offerings.   Near the other bars so isn’t a trek to find.  I went on Mariner of the Seas just before they added a service charge to Johnny Rockets and it was open later (I think it was until 11 or 12).  That was fun and I confess I was there most nights. 
    o   Promenade Café was convenient for evening snacks but I have the same complaint about the bread to filling ratio.   Most sandwiches were not very good.   I did like the flavor of the Muffuletta but again very skimpy with the filling.
    o   We sat in the Solarium much of the time during sea days.  Having the café (buffet) so close by was a huge plus.  We carried items out and back to our chairs which was really nice for a quick bite.  I had a chicken breast that was so much better than my expectation for a buffet item.   Limited menu but so convenient and quick. 
           Breakfast in MDR
    o   We did Breakfast in MDR 4 times and of these only 1 was really relaxing.  The other 3 were way too slow with things arriving at the wrong times.   My wife was not pleased with this experience.   Normally I really like the relaxing pace but this didn’t have the same feel. 
    ·       Breakfast in Johnny Rockets
    o   OK but not great.  As I recall the pancakes were premade and not what I expected. 
    ·       Room service – We did this once after the Cozumel port visit.   Very good quality for burgers and chicken strips.   Quick service. 
    ·       Entertainment
    o   Mama Mia – Cute but kind of a silly story.  Music, dancing and singing ability were top notch.  I’ve seen the movie and enjoyed this much more.   I thought the music was recorded but at the end they showed the band.   I was really impressed at the level of musicians and singers. 
    o   Jazz on 4 – specifically a show with the Mama Mia conductor and some of the actors singing individually.  Excellent.  I was sleepy this evening and considered turning in earlier but was glad I didn’t. 
    o   Ocean Aria Aqua Show – Excellent show. Get there early and get a seat that’s not under an awning.   From way in back you won’t see the high divers. 
    o   Blue Planet – Good.  A little weird but entertaining enough with a good mix of music dancing and acrobatics.
    o   Headliner - Las Vegas Tenors – We all enjoyed this group.   I met a man from Australia that didn’t like it and we kidded each other a bit about our tastes.  He indicated he was not familiar with many of the songs, which was surprising. 
    o   Game Ice show.  Great demonstration of talent but like some shows on cruise ships a little silly.  Overall very enjoyable. 
    o   Dazzles – The band named Centerpiece performed here off and on in the evening.  Excellent band especially the lead guitarist.  I wanted to hear them more. 
    o   Pub – Guitar player.  Friendly guy.  Not a great voice.   A customer sang with him one time and he was better.  The customer sang in English which was not his native language.  Kind of funny.  I love this space.   I would have liked to see some variety in the talent.   Staff was very attentive. 
    o   Schooner Bar – Piano player.  Not my favorite.  Seemed a little at odds with the patrons at times.  ‘I’m not going to play that now’.    Talented but relied on his computer accompaniment too much I thought.  He had a list of songs and that was it.  I tired of him quickly.  I would rather hear a rougher piano only song than just a limited menu.  I like the live experience for interaction and improvisation.  I don’t want a jukebox.  He was good but in the three times I saw him I heard Piano Man each time.   Don’t blame that on the patrons, he said something to the effect that it’s expected so he’s going to do it now.  
    o   Comic show – I saw two shows in the Comedy Live and the family friendly one in the theatre.  Kivi Rogers was better IMO.  I’m not a potty humor fan at all, not a prude, it just seems too easy.  A lot of both shows goes there.  Even the family show goes in this direction more than I would like.   Some families would not be pleased with the content in the family show.   
    ·       Royal App – This was down more than it was up.  
    o   It would have been really nice if it worked.   I went to Customer service and they had IT reset my account after trying very hard to help me on the spot.  It was almost funny watching them struggle like I did.  After IT reset my app it updated.  It worked for awhile but they stopped again.   It doesn’t stop cold, it just doesn’t display any schedule detail, just venue locations.
    ·       Labadee, Haiti port – Stayed on the ship
    o   First time I’ve ever stayed on the ship at a port stop.  It was so relaxing.   The only thing to mention is that there are less towel stations and bars open.  When you see something you need, grab what you want and then go to your favorite location. 
    ·       Falmouth, Jamaica port – Hilton Rose Hall resort (non Royal excursion)
    o   The bus ride over was well organized and the bus driver talked on the way like a mini tour.  
    o   We did have a fellow passenger that seemed a little self-entitled.  She asked for a stop to get a Red Stripe beer.  We had just walked through the port area with bars and we were driving about 20 minutes to an all-inclusive resort.  The bus driver accommodated her and stopped at a local bar.  I don’t really know but it seemed like we took a convoluted route out of town to get there.  The bar stop only took a couple of minutes, but there were some disgusted fellow passengers that couldn’t believe this one passenger was delaying everyone else’s arrival.  Lots of puzzled looks to each other around the bus behind this couple in the front seat.  People – remember you are not the only one that has value.  If you want special treatment, hire a cab to take you. 
    o   Nice place.  Very well kept.  The lawn was perfect and looked like a putting green. 
    o   Food was OK but not great.   The food on the ship was probably a little better.  The jerk shack was a nice touch and that definitely had some flavor.   Ordering was a little like the soup cook episode of the Seinfeld show.  I went with a week-long guest we met on site so I know I was doing it correctly but it wasn’t all smiles like the rest of the resort.   This visit kind of convinced me I wouldn’t like a week at an all inclusive as much as a cruise.   Very similar experiences, cheaper liquor in the drinks at the Hilton than the ship, I expect the entertainment is not nearly as good.   I think more than about 4 days would be boring. 
    ·       Cozumel, Mexico – Turquoise Beach Bar
    o   I wanted to try little bar this after reading a review.   It was accurately described but I had a different idea about what it was.  It was a little more rustic than I expected. And I had the impression it was going to be off the beaten path away from the heavier traffic area.  It had a good view of the ships.   We were the only ones there for awhile so we had good service.  They do serve food but the food comes from the restaurant across the street.   I have a picture of the server coming back across the street with our food which was kind of funny to watch.  A little like Frogger video game.   No chicken dishes were available.   My wife only ate guacamole.  She has a little more confidence in chain locations and wasn’t too happy with my selection. 
    o   This bar had two levels and its open air.  Downstairs we went to the restrooms and down there were a pot belled pig and a dog.   We originally thought the kitchen was downstairs, so it’s probably good this wasn’t the case. 
    ·       Casino
    o   Smoky and a little crowded in some areas of the room.  I only played out a free $5 offered mid-way thought the cruise.  Cashed out at a whopping $7 but that was more than my cruise mates that finished with nothing. 
    o   I didn’t sign up for a group slot pull.  I’ve done these before and enjoyed them but so many other things to do instead. 
    ·       Cabin – # 9607 Cabin was laid out well.  The view over the Central park area would have been perfectly positioned to hear the nightly entertainment if we had a balcony.  I would try to get a balcony above this location next time.  Our cabin steward was good and kept the room in good shape.  
    ·       Disembarkation
    o   Tried to use Lyft for a ride to car rental area at the FLL airport.  My phone data service was terrible and it appeared others were having the same problem.  I set up a ride, hit enter and the signal crashed requiring me to try again.  The cars that were picking people up were not marked and that caused people to step out into the traffic lane and turn around. My brother in law does this on the side and he has stickers on his car so it can be identified easily.  Cost would have been somewhere between $8 -$10.    After some attempts my wife finally said let’s get a cab.   Good call.  The trip was $12 and we just jumped into a readily available cab.   Saving a few bucks wasn’t worth the aggravation we were having for such a short ride.     
    ·       Final thoughts
    o   The ship doesn’t feel crowded except at certain times, like peak times in the Windjammer or leaving the ship in ports.  Elevators were sometimes a wait, like before or after shows but not a big problem.  But the photo setups in the Royal Promenade were overdone.  They seemed to be everywhere and blocked a lot of traffic and most were nearly begging people to participate.  These could be cut by half and still not be crowded.  The exception was the one on the actual staircase which then blocked that staircase for use which was really awkward when trying to get between these floors.  Special events in the Royal Promenade also made things crowded but pulling the photo set ups away could have helped this too.
    o   I continued to have confusion about front and back of the ship which surprised me   I usually get oriented in a few days.  I wished there was some art work in the cabin halls to help get your bearings.  There are some ship diagrams but these don’t really serve as ‘mile markers’ because they all look the same.  We put a post-it note on the door to avoid cruising past our door by mistake which happened once. 
    o   I loved the ship.  So much live entertainment in the evening.   Easy to get meals near where you are located.  But it is so big and doesn’t feel as connected to the water.  It’s easy to forget you’re on a ship.   I wasn’t even sure about how to access the mid-level outside deck at first.   We are going to go with a first time ever cruiser on the next trip, so I suggested a Voyager class to provide more of a ship feel.  
    o   Almost all the staff was excellent and really friendly with rare exceptions.   Even those that weren’t excellent were very good.   Exceeded my expectations many times. 
    o   I didn’t do the Meet and Mingle as I had planned.   Too many other things to do.  
    o   Dry erase wipe boards are probably not a favorite item of the room stewards.  I noticed that black marker smudges transferred to the door from the erasing residue.  I suspect they clean up easily but would add an extra task to their work. 
    o   We traveled with another couple and the gent wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a cruise.  They had cruised before so they had some idea of what to expect but on much smaller ships and other brands (Carnival and Big Red Boat – remember those).  First time on RCCL though. (I did get the $25 OBC for a referral).  He said it definitely exceeded his expectations.    
    After we returned I needed to get another trip lined up.   I did talk to the next cruise office but I was surprised that I could probably do a more tailored search to meet my needs on my own.   They can find specific trips but I was expecting to sit down tell the person all my priorities and be presented several options.   But they are limited in the factors that can be entered.   There isn’t much advantage to using their service. As I recall for a refundable trip the bonus offered on board was $25 OBC.  When I returned I booked a Nov 2019 trip refundable fee trip on Adventure of the Seas with a special incentive from BJs Warehouse that got me a great price and flexibility. 
  15. Like
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from Rose City Cruiser in My review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing.   
    Hi everyone.  Here is my review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing. 
    We flew in and out of Orlando to visit friends and then drove back and forth to Fort Lauderdale.   Flights to Orlando were cheaper also.   We stayed north of Fort Lauderdale in Embassy Suites – Deerfield Beach the night before.   Staying in town might have been easier, but the resort was very nice.  We just weren’t there long enough to really enjoy it.  We traveled with another couple, old friends from our old home town.  We met at the port when arriving for Embarkation Day. 
    ·       Coconuts Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale for lunch on the day before
    o   Good – had the popular appetizer Scoobies (crab claws) which were good.  
    o   Expensive lunch including the $10 valet.  We did order more than needed, the meals were larger than expected. 
    o   It felt like a kick off to the trip because of the location.  I could have gone for a cheaper option and been happy.  Traffic in this area was a bit heavy when we were there. 
    ·       Rental Car
    o   Budget Cruise Port Rental car location changed and I didn’t get informed of the change.  It was a confusing series of calls before I talked to a live person that could tell me the new location address.  The person that helped me was from Avis that shares the location.   Budget does not have much ability to link to a live customer service agent.  This would have worked fine if I had been informed of the change prior to arriving.   As it was I was delayed at least an hour circling the area and placing useless calls.  
    ·       Check in
    o   Lines for Diamond and Emerald used for lesser categories which would have made me mad if I wasn’t a lowly Gold member.  They were also lined up about equal to our lines.
    o   Smooth but later than I had planned to check in due to the rental car situation.  It would have been much easier if earlier.  My group waited for me to arrive so we were all delayed.  
    o   The first-time cruiser line was faster than our Gold status line. 
    ·       First impressions – Embarkation Day
    o   Royal Promenade
    §  Wow this is a big space and it’s easy to forget you are on a ship.
    o   Park Café – OK but crowded although we arrived later than I wanted.
    §  I should have tried another buffet (Wipeout?) or a specialty restaurant.
    §  Made the experience more stressful than needed
    §  Chairs were very close together, worse when most people had some kind of luggage.
    §  Kummelweck sandwiches were OK but not worth the hype.   I’ve had a real one somewhat recently in northern NY for the first time, so I’m not an expert but I knew what to expect.   I took two and combined them into one sandwich to increase the meat to bread ratio.  Some of the beef was not trimmed well and was very fatty.
    §  We only picked up to go items after this experience.  But to be fair it was much calmer later.  Never did any breakfast food here. 
    o   Bar in Central park- Slow, couldn’t scan paper seapass cards during the embarkation time.  
    §  Appeared the scanners were not turned on in any location.  Park Café had the same problem.  This caused unnecessary line ups.  I walked away a couple of times because I was waiting so long.    I was concerned that the long wait at bars would continue, but after the scanners worked I had no trouble at bars.
    ·       Boardwalk        
    o   Really a fun unique area.  But very dependent on what is open.  There are times it is really dead and doesn’t have non-stop carnival atmosphere like I expected.   Almost every space is an extra cost venue.  Donuts were dry and no one in our party liked them.  The candy shop was really more limited than I expected.  The hot dogs were good but this space wasn’t open much.  And it tends to impede traffic flow because it’s not clear where to line up and kind of in a choke point.  This location could really use some fries, I sure missed them.  The carousel was not open very often but frankly seemed underused anyway.  We rode it once without any music playing which I thought was odd.  Later I saw it operating and heard some music playing.  It was never lined up when I saw it operating.
    ·       Activiities - Sports deck
    o   Zip line – I rode this 3 times on the first day.  Once suited up you might as well do it multiple times.   It was actually a little more thrilling than I expected.   Make sure you understand what the ride operator is doing.  My last ride I did not have the main attachment clipped before the ride operator asked me to ‘sit in the harness’.   So, he had to attach this out of the normal sequence after I said something is not right.  If I had been released I would have had to support my weight with the hand grips.  The secondary line was attached but it is very slack.  The hand grips are a little fat and frankly not that easy to grip, at least in my opinion. That was my last ride. 
    o   Flow Rider – I didn’t do well and tried this once.  For me it was a constant spray of water in the face.  I didn’t flip immediately off the back, I spent most of my time forward at the bottom.  I will probably try this on a future cruise but didn’t feel the need to conqueror it on this trip.  I was looking for a chill out on this trip.
    o   Putt-Putt Golf – This was fun but there weren’t enough adult golf clubs.    We had to share which wasn’t a big deal.  There was a big group ahead of us and so they had used a lot of the clubs.  Still a fun time and not crowded.
    o   Arcade – I prepaid for this for the $20 amount and received a letter in my stateroom about setting my card at a specific arcade between 5-10pm.   I was busy and thought I would catch up later.   Apparently, this meeting time is to make sure the appropriate card is credited.  Like for a child that doesn’t have charging ability.   I later tried to go into the Boardwalk arcade to complete my registration.  I couldn’t do it on my own.  Tried to call from there and the phone was broken.  Went to Customer service.  They said it will work the following day.  Cut to the next day and my party of 4 go to the arcade to play some skee ball.  Card didn’t work, phone was missing this time.   I asked customer service to remove the charge, I was tired of messing with it and it wasn’t worth more running back and forth to me.  It took a couple more calls to get the credit reflected.   This was an unneeded aggravation so I probably won’t bother next time.  I thought it would just work right away.  Maybe that could be an option when purchasing it in advance.   That is what I was expecting. 
    o   Captain’s talk - Really funny captain.  I enjoyed this more than expected.  Lots of concerns about the life boats but the original question of how people are seated on the boats was never answered.   Someone asking about employee wages (wages to tip ratio) was pretty sharply rebuked which was a little uncomfortable.   But the other discussion items were both interesting and funny at time. 
    ·       Dinner – Grande
    o   We didn’t do any specialty restaurants, except Guacamole in Sabor.
    o   Waiter was good but it took me a while to calibrate to his accent.
    o   Asst Waiter was a nice fellow but seemed to get overwhelmed
    o   Head Waiter was more attentive than any I have had before.
    o   One night the staff was struggling
    §  The next night I saw a Sabor staffer (black shirt and tan shorts) helping out during a busy night.  They could have used him the previous night when they were struggling.  I suspect they asked for reinforcements after that night when they were in the weeds.
    o   I noticed one family coming in at least ½ hour after the assigned time almost every night when they were in the MDR.   No complaints or comments from the staff.   
    o   We enjoyed the MDR and had early seating.  We never felt rushed at all.   I was a little concerned about that with early dining.  But I wouldn’t do it any other way.  I don’t think I would like MTD.  It just seems like more things to schedule and keep track of.   I like that at the start of the day we all knew what time we were getting together.  My wife and I missed one dinner when we returned too late from Falmouth.   So it was dinner in the Windjammer which was fine. 
    o   Food was hit and miss, typical of other sailings I’ve had.   Sometimes it looked good and didn’t taste great.  Other times it was the reverse.  You had to taste some things because they sometimes actually better than the appearance.  Weird.  But generally, it was good.
    o   We asked our waiter for curry dishes which he brought most nights.   I got that tip from Matt.  This was a nice bonus and I really enjoyed the variety. 
    ·       Food
    o   All the food seemed luke-warm.   Rarely was anything hot unless it was cooked to order.
    o   I was prepared for the worst so Sorrento’s wasn’t a huge disappointment.   But I don’t know how freshly made pizza can taste so much like mid-grade frozen pizza.  We did eat it in the evening when at the lounges but only for the lack of any other hot food availability.   The ‘pizza burger’ appeared to be a regular pizza with an additional crust put on top.   That just felt like a way to push the bread even more.     
    o   There should be some kind of casual to go food offering that is more substantial in the evening.   Even if it was ala carte beyond the current offerings.   Near the other bars so isn’t a trek to find.  I went on Mariner of the Seas just before they added a service charge to Johnny Rockets and it was open later (I think it was until 11 or 12).  That was fun and I confess I was there most nights. 
    o   Promenade Café was convenient for evening snacks but I have the same complaint about the bread to filling ratio.   Most sandwiches were not very good.   I did like the flavor of the Muffuletta but again very skimpy with the filling.
    o   We sat in the Solarium much of the time during sea days.  Having the café (buffet) so close by was a huge plus.  We carried items out and back to our chairs which was really nice for a quick bite.  I had a chicken breast that was so much better than my expectation for a buffet item.   Limited menu but so convenient and quick. 
           Breakfast in MDR
    o   We did Breakfast in MDR 4 times and of these only 1 was really relaxing.  The other 3 were way too slow with things arriving at the wrong times.   My wife was not pleased with this experience.   Normally I really like the relaxing pace but this didn’t have the same feel. 
    ·       Breakfast in Johnny Rockets
    o   OK but not great.  As I recall the pancakes were premade and not what I expected. 
    ·       Room service – We did this once after the Cozumel port visit.   Very good quality for burgers and chicken strips.   Quick service. 
    ·       Entertainment
    o   Mama Mia – Cute but kind of a silly story.  Music, dancing and singing ability were top notch.  I’ve seen the movie and enjoyed this much more.   I thought the music was recorded but at the end they showed the band.   I was really impressed at the level of musicians and singers. 
    o   Jazz on 4 – specifically a show with the Mama Mia conductor and some of the actors singing individually.  Excellent.  I was sleepy this evening and considered turning in earlier but was glad I didn’t. 
    o   Ocean Aria Aqua Show – Excellent show. Get there early and get a seat that’s not under an awning.   From way in back you won’t see the high divers. 
    o   Blue Planet – Good.  A little weird but entertaining enough with a good mix of music dancing and acrobatics.
    o   Headliner - Las Vegas Tenors – We all enjoyed this group.   I met a man from Australia that didn’t like it and we kidded each other a bit about our tastes.  He indicated he was not familiar with many of the songs, which was surprising. 
    o   Game Ice show.  Great demonstration of talent but like some shows on cruise ships a little silly.  Overall very enjoyable. 
    o   Dazzles – The band named Centerpiece performed here off and on in the evening.  Excellent band especially the lead guitarist.  I wanted to hear them more. 
    o   Pub – Guitar player.  Friendly guy.  Not a great voice.   A customer sang with him one time and he was better.  The customer sang in English which was not his native language.  Kind of funny.  I love this space.   I would have liked to see some variety in the talent.   Staff was very attentive. 
    o   Schooner Bar – Piano player.  Not my favorite.  Seemed a little at odds with the patrons at times.  ‘I’m not going to play that now’.    Talented but relied on his computer accompaniment too much I thought.  He had a list of songs and that was it.  I tired of him quickly.  I would rather hear a rougher piano only song than just a limited menu.  I like the live experience for interaction and improvisation.  I don’t want a jukebox.  He was good but in the three times I saw him I heard Piano Man each time.   Don’t blame that on the patrons, he said something to the effect that it’s expected so he’s going to do it now.  
    o   Comic show – I saw two shows in the Comedy Live and the family friendly one in the theatre.  Kivi Rogers was better IMO.  I’m not a potty humor fan at all, not a prude, it just seems too easy.  A lot of both shows goes there.  Even the family show goes in this direction more than I would like.   Some families would not be pleased with the content in the family show.   
    ·       Royal App – This was down more than it was up.  
    o   It would have been really nice if it worked.   I went to Customer service and they had IT reset my account after trying very hard to help me on the spot.  It was almost funny watching them struggle like I did.  After IT reset my app it updated.  It worked for awhile but they stopped again.   It doesn’t stop cold, it just doesn’t display any schedule detail, just venue locations.
    ·       Labadee, Haiti port – Stayed on the ship
    o   First time I’ve ever stayed on the ship at a port stop.  It was so relaxing.   The only thing to mention is that there are less towel stations and bars open.  When you see something you need, grab what you want and then go to your favorite location. 
    ·       Falmouth, Jamaica port – Hilton Rose Hall resort (non Royal excursion)
    o   The bus ride over was well organized and the bus driver talked on the way like a mini tour.  
    o   We did have a fellow passenger that seemed a little self-entitled.  She asked for a stop to get a Red Stripe beer.  We had just walked through the port area with bars and we were driving about 20 minutes to an all-inclusive resort.  The bus driver accommodated her and stopped at a local bar.  I don’t really know but it seemed like we took a convoluted route out of town to get there.  The bar stop only took a couple of minutes, but there were some disgusted fellow passengers that couldn’t believe this one passenger was delaying everyone else’s arrival.  Lots of puzzled looks to each other around the bus behind this couple in the front seat.  People – remember you are not the only one that has value.  If you want special treatment, hire a cab to take you. 
    o   Nice place.  Very well kept.  The lawn was perfect and looked like a putting green. 
    o   Food was OK but not great.   The food on the ship was probably a little better.  The jerk shack was a nice touch and that definitely had some flavor.   Ordering was a little like the soup cook episode of the Seinfeld show.  I went with a week-long guest we met on site so I know I was doing it correctly but it wasn’t all smiles like the rest of the resort.   This visit kind of convinced me I wouldn’t like a week at an all inclusive as much as a cruise.   Very similar experiences, cheaper liquor in the drinks at the Hilton than the ship, I expect the entertainment is not nearly as good.   I think more than about 4 days would be boring. 
    ·       Cozumel, Mexico – Turquoise Beach Bar
    o   I wanted to try little bar this after reading a review.   It was accurately described but I had a different idea about what it was.  It was a little more rustic than I expected. And I had the impression it was going to be off the beaten path away from the heavier traffic area.  It had a good view of the ships.   We were the only ones there for awhile so we had good service.  They do serve food but the food comes from the restaurant across the street.   I have a picture of the server coming back across the street with our food which was kind of funny to watch.  A little like Frogger video game.   No chicken dishes were available.   My wife only ate guacamole.  She has a little more confidence in chain locations and wasn’t too happy with my selection. 
    o   This bar had two levels and its open air.  Downstairs we went to the restrooms and down there were a pot belled pig and a dog.   We originally thought the kitchen was downstairs, so it’s probably good this wasn’t the case. 
    ·       Casino
    o   Smoky and a little crowded in some areas of the room.  I only played out a free $5 offered mid-way thought the cruise.  Cashed out at a whopping $7 but that was more than my cruise mates that finished with nothing. 
    o   I didn’t sign up for a group slot pull.  I’ve done these before and enjoyed them but so many other things to do instead. 
    ·       Cabin – # 9607 Cabin was laid out well.  The view over the Central park area would have been perfectly positioned to hear the nightly entertainment if we had a balcony.  I would try to get a balcony above this location next time.  Our cabin steward was good and kept the room in good shape.  
    ·       Disembarkation
    o   Tried to use Lyft for a ride to car rental area at the FLL airport.  My phone data service was terrible and it appeared others were having the same problem.  I set up a ride, hit enter and the signal crashed requiring me to try again.  The cars that were picking people up were not marked and that caused people to step out into the traffic lane and turn around. My brother in law does this on the side and he has stickers on his car so it can be identified easily.  Cost would have been somewhere between $8 -$10.    After some attempts my wife finally said let’s get a cab.   Good call.  The trip was $12 and we just jumped into a readily available cab.   Saving a few bucks wasn’t worth the aggravation we were having for such a short ride.     
    ·       Final thoughts
    o   The ship doesn’t feel crowded except at certain times, like peak times in the Windjammer or leaving the ship in ports.  Elevators were sometimes a wait, like before or after shows but not a big problem.  But the photo setups in the Royal Promenade were overdone.  They seemed to be everywhere and blocked a lot of traffic and most were nearly begging people to participate.  These could be cut by half and still not be crowded.  The exception was the one on the actual staircase which then blocked that staircase for use which was really awkward when trying to get between these floors.  Special events in the Royal Promenade also made things crowded but pulling the photo set ups away could have helped this too.
    o   I continued to have confusion about front and back of the ship which surprised me   I usually get oriented in a few days.  I wished there was some art work in the cabin halls to help get your bearings.  There are some ship diagrams but these don’t really serve as ‘mile markers’ because they all look the same.  We put a post-it note on the door to avoid cruising past our door by mistake which happened once. 
    o   I loved the ship.  So much live entertainment in the evening.   Easy to get meals near where you are located.  But it is so big and doesn’t feel as connected to the water.  It’s easy to forget you’re on a ship.   I wasn’t even sure about how to access the mid-level outside deck at first.   We are going to go with a first time ever cruiser on the next trip, so I suggested a Voyager class to provide more of a ship feel.  
    o   Almost all the staff was excellent and really friendly with rare exceptions.   Even those that weren’t excellent were very good.   Exceeded my expectations many times. 
    o   I didn’t do the Meet and Mingle as I had planned.   Too many other things to do.  
    o   Dry erase wipe boards are probably not a favorite item of the room stewards.  I noticed that black marker smudges transferred to the door from the erasing residue.  I suspect they clean up easily but would add an extra task to their work. 
    o   We traveled with another couple and the gent wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a cruise.  They had cruised before so they had some idea of what to expect but on much smaller ships and other brands (Carnival and Big Red Boat – remember those).  First time on RCCL though. (I did get the $25 OBC for a referral).  He said it definitely exceeded his expectations.    
    After we returned I needed to get another trip lined up.   I did talk to the next cruise office but I was surprised that I could probably do a more tailored search to meet my needs on my own.   They can find specific trips but I was expecting to sit down tell the person all my priorities and be presented several options.   But they are limited in the factors that can be entered.   There isn’t much advantage to using their service. As I recall for a refundable trip the bonus offered on board was $25 OBC.  When I returned I booked a Nov 2019 trip refundable fee trip on Adventure of the Seas with a special incentive from BJs Warehouse that got me a great price and flexibility. 
  16. Thanks
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from bellemiche in My review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing.   
    Hi everyone.  Here is my review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing. 
    We flew in and out of Orlando to visit friends and then drove back and forth to Fort Lauderdale.   Flights to Orlando were cheaper also.   We stayed north of Fort Lauderdale in Embassy Suites – Deerfield Beach the night before.   Staying in town might have been easier, but the resort was very nice.  We just weren’t there long enough to really enjoy it.  We traveled with another couple, old friends from our old home town.  We met at the port when arriving for Embarkation Day. 
    ·       Coconuts Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale for lunch on the day before
    o   Good – had the popular appetizer Scoobies (crab claws) which were good.  
    o   Expensive lunch including the $10 valet.  We did order more than needed, the meals were larger than expected. 
    o   It felt like a kick off to the trip because of the location.  I could have gone for a cheaper option and been happy.  Traffic in this area was a bit heavy when we were there. 
    ·       Rental Car
    o   Budget Cruise Port Rental car location changed and I didn’t get informed of the change.  It was a confusing series of calls before I talked to a live person that could tell me the new location address.  The person that helped me was from Avis that shares the location.   Budget does not have much ability to link to a live customer service agent.  This would have worked fine if I had been informed of the change prior to arriving.   As it was I was delayed at least an hour circling the area and placing useless calls.  
    ·       Check in
    o   Lines for Diamond and Emerald used for lesser categories which would have made me mad if I wasn’t a lowly Gold member.  They were also lined up about equal to our lines.
    o   Smooth but later than I had planned to check in due to the rental car situation.  It would have been much easier if earlier.  My group waited for me to arrive so we were all delayed.  
    o   The first-time cruiser line was faster than our Gold status line. 
    ·       First impressions – Embarkation Day
    o   Royal Promenade
    §  Wow this is a big space and it’s easy to forget you are on a ship.
    o   Park Café – OK but crowded although we arrived later than I wanted.
    §  I should have tried another buffet (Wipeout?) or a specialty restaurant.
    §  Made the experience more stressful than needed
    §  Chairs were very close together, worse when most people had some kind of luggage.
    §  Kummelweck sandwiches were OK but not worth the hype.   I’ve had a real one somewhat recently in northern NY for the first time, so I’m not an expert but I knew what to expect.   I took two and combined them into one sandwich to increase the meat to bread ratio.  Some of the beef was not trimmed well and was very fatty.
    §  We only picked up to go items after this experience.  But to be fair it was much calmer later.  Never did any breakfast food here. 
    o   Bar in Central park- Slow, couldn’t scan paper seapass cards during the embarkation time.  
    §  Appeared the scanners were not turned on in any location.  Park Café had the same problem.  This caused unnecessary line ups.  I walked away a couple of times because I was waiting so long.    I was concerned that the long wait at bars would continue, but after the scanners worked I had no trouble at bars.
    ·       Boardwalk        
    o   Really a fun unique area.  But very dependent on what is open.  There are times it is really dead and doesn’t have non-stop carnival atmosphere like I expected.   Almost every space is an extra cost venue.  Donuts were dry and no one in our party liked them.  The candy shop was really more limited than I expected.  The hot dogs were good but this space wasn’t open much.  And it tends to impede traffic flow because it’s not clear where to line up and kind of in a choke point.  This location could really use some fries, I sure missed them.  The carousel was not open very often but frankly seemed underused anyway.  We rode it once without any music playing which I thought was odd.  Later I saw it operating and heard some music playing.  It was never lined up when I saw it operating.
    ·       Activiities - Sports deck
    o   Zip line – I rode this 3 times on the first day.  Once suited up you might as well do it multiple times.   It was actually a little more thrilling than I expected.   Make sure you understand what the ride operator is doing.  My last ride I did not have the main attachment clipped before the ride operator asked me to ‘sit in the harness’.   So, he had to attach this out of the normal sequence after I said something is not right.  If I had been released I would have had to support my weight with the hand grips.  The secondary line was attached but it is very slack.  The hand grips are a little fat and frankly not that easy to grip, at least in my opinion. That was my last ride. 
    o   Flow Rider – I didn’t do well and tried this once.  For me it was a constant spray of water in the face.  I didn’t flip immediately off the back, I spent most of my time forward at the bottom.  I will probably try this on a future cruise but didn’t feel the need to conqueror it on this trip.  I was looking for a chill out on this trip.
    o   Putt-Putt Golf – This was fun but there weren’t enough adult golf clubs.    We had to share which wasn’t a big deal.  There was a big group ahead of us and so they had used a lot of the clubs.  Still a fun time and not crowded.
    o   Arcade – I prepaid for this for the $20 amount and received a letter in my stateroom about setting my card at a specific arcade between 5-10pm.   I was busy and thought I would catch up later.   Apparently, this meeting time is to make sure the appropriate card is credited.  Like for a child that doesn’t have charging ability.   I later tried to go into the Boardwalk arcade to complete my registration.  I couldn’t do it on my own.  Tried to call from there and the phone was broken.  Went to Customer service.  They said it will work the following day.  Cut to the next day and my party of 4 go to the arcade to play some skee ball.  Card didn’t work, phone was missing this time.   I asked customer service to remove the charge, I was tired of messing with it and it wasn’t worth more running back and forth to me.  It took a couple more calls to get the credit reflected.   This was an unneeded aggravation so I probably won’t bother next time.  I thought it would just work right away.  Maybe that could be an option when purchasing it in advance.   That is what I was expecting. 
    o   Captain’s talk - Really funny captain.  I enjoyed this more than expected.  Lots of concerns about the life boats but the original question of how people are seated on the boats was never answered.   Someone asking about employee wages (wages to tip ratio) was pretty sharply rebuked which was a little uncomfortable.   But the other discussion items were both interesting and funny at time. 
    ·       Dinner – Grande
    o   We didn’t do any specialty restaurants, except Guacamole in Sabor.
    o   Waiter was good but it took me a while to calibrate to his accent.
    o   Asst Waiter was a nice fellow but seemed to get overwhelmed
    o   Head Waiter was more attentive than any I have had before.
    o   One night the staff was struggling
    §  The next night I saw a Sabor staffer (black shirt and tan shorts) helping out during a busy night.  They could have used him the previous night when they were struggling.  I suspect they asked for reinforcements after that night when they were in the weeds.
    o   I noticed one family coming in at least ½ hour after the assigned time almost every night when they were in the MDR.   No complaints or comments from the staff.   
    o   We enjoyed the MDR and had early seating.  We never felt rushed at all.   I was a little concerned about that with early dining.  But I wouldn’t do it any other way.  I don’t think I would like MTD.  It just seems like more things to schedule and keep track of.   I like that at the start of the day we all knew what time we were getting together.  My wife and I missed one dinner when we returned too late from Falmouth.   So it was dinner in the Windjammer which was fine. 
    o   Food was hit and miss, typical of other sailings I’ve had.   Sometimes it looked good and didn’t taste great.  Other times it was the reverse.  You had to taste some things because they sometimes actually better than the appearance.  Weird.  But generally, it was good.
    o   We asked our waiter for curry dishes which he brought most nights.   I got that tip from Matt.  This was a nice bonus and I really enjoyed the variety. 
    ·       Food
    o   All the food seemed luke-warm.   Rarely was anything hot unless it was cooked to order.
    o   I was prepared for the worst so Sorrento’s wasn’t a huge disappointment.   But I don’t know how freshly made pizza can taste so much like mid-grade frozen pizza.  We did eat it in the evening when at the lounges but only for the lack of any other hot food availability.   The ‘pizza burger’ appeared to be a regular pizza with an additional crust put on top.   That just felt like a way to push the bread even more.     
    o   There should be some kind of casual to go food offering that is more substantial in the evening.   Even if it was ala carte beyond the current offerings.   Near the other bars so isn’t a trek to find.  I went on Mariner of the Seas just before they added a service charge to Johnny Rockets and it was open later (I think it was until 11 or 12).  That was fun and I confess I was there most nights. 
    o   Promenade Café was convenient for evening snacks but I have the same complaint about the bread to filling ratio.   Most sandwiches were not very good.   I did like the flavor of the Muffuletta but again very skimpy with the filling.
    o   We sat in the Solarium much of the time during sea days.  Having the café (buffet) so close by was a huge plus.  We carried items out and back to our chairs which was really nice for a quick bite.  I had a chicken breast that was so much better than my expectation for a buffet item.   Limited menu but so convenient and quick. 
           Breakfast in MDR
    o   We did Breakfast in MDR 4 times and of these only 1 was really relaxing.  The other 3 were way too slow with things arriving at the wrong times.   My wife was not pleased with this experience.   Normally I really like the relaxing pace but this didn’t have the same feel. 
    ·       Breakfast in Johnny Rockets
    o   OK but not great.  As I recall the pancakes were premade and not what I expected. 
    ·       Room service – We did this once after the Cozumel port visit.   Very good quality for burgers and chicken strips.   Quick service. 
    ·       Entertainment
    o   Mama Mia – Cute but kind of a silly story.  Music, dancing and singing ability were top notch.  I’ve seen the movie and enjoyed this much more.   I thought the music was recorded but at the end they showed the band.   I was really impressed at the level of musicians and singers. 
    o   Jazz on 4 – specifically a show with the Mama Mia conductor and some of the actors singing individually.  Excellent.  I was sleepy this evening and considered turning in earlier but was glad I didn’t. 
    o   Ocean Aria Aqua Show – Excellent show. Get there early and get a seat that’s not under an awning.   From way in back you won’t see the high divers. 
    o   Blue Planet – Good.  A little weird but entertaining enough with a good mix of music dancing and acrobatics.
    o   Headliner - Las Vegas Tenors – We all enjoyed this group.   I met a man from Australia that didn’t like it and we kidded each other a bit about our tastes.  He indicated he was not familiar with many of the songs, which was surprising. 
    o   Game Ice show.  Great demonstration of talent but like some shows on cruise ships a little silly.  Overall very enjoyable. 
    o   Dazzles – The band named Centerpiece performed here off and on in the evening.  Excellent band especially the lead guitarist.  I wanted to hear them more. 
    o   Pub – Guitar player.  Friendly guy.  Not a great voice.   A customer sang with him one time and he was better.  The customer sang in English which was not his native language.  Kind of funny.  I love this space.   I would have liked to see some variety in the talent.   Staff was very attentive. 
    o   Schooner Bar – Piano player.  Not my favorite.  Seemed a little at odds with the patrons at times.  ‘I’m not going to play that now’.    Talented but relied on his computer accompaniment too much I thought.  He had a list of songs and that was it.  I tired of him quickly.  I would rather hear a rougher piano only song than just a limited menu.  I like the live experience for interaction and improvisation.  I don’t want a jukebox.  He was good but in the three times I saw him I heard Piano Man each time.   Don’t blame that on the patrons, he said something to the effect that it’s expected so he’s going to do it now.  
    o   Comic show – I saw two shows in the Comedy Live and the family friendly one in the theatre.  Kivi Rogers was better IMO.  I’m not a potty humor fan at all, not a prude, it just seems too easy.  A lot of both shows goes there.  Even the family show goes in this direction more than I would like.   Some families would not be pleased with the content in the family show.   
    ·       Royal App – This was down more than it was up.  
    o   It would have been really nice if it worked.   I went to Customer service and they had IT reset my account after trying very hard to help me on the spot.  It was almost funny watching them struggle like I did.  After IT reset my app it updated.  It worked for awhile but they stopped again.   It doesn’t stop cold, it just doesn’t display any schedule detail, just venue locations.
    ·       Labadee, Haiti port – Stayed on the ship
    o   First time I’ve ever stayed on the ship at a port stop.  It was so relaxing.   The only thing to mention is that there are less towel stations and bars open.  When you see something you need, grab what you want and then go to your favorite location. 
    ·       Falmouth, Jamaica port – Hilton Rose Hall resort (non Royal excursion)
    o   The bus ride over was well organized and the bus driver talked on the way like a mini tour.  
    o   We did have a fellow passenger that seemed a little self-entitled.  She asked for a stop to get a Red Stripe beer.  We had just walked through the port area with bars and we were driving about 20 minutes to an all-inclusive resort.  The bus driver accommodated her and stopped at a local bar.  I don’t really know but it seemed like we took a convoluted route out of town to get there.  The bar stop only took a couple of minutes, but there were some disgusted fellow passengers that couldn’t believe this one passenger was delaying everyone else’s arrival.  Lots of puzzled looks to each other around the bus behind this couple in the front seat.  People – remember you are not the only one that has value.  If you want special treatment, hire a cab to take you. 
    o   Nice place.  Very well kept.  The lawn was perfect and looked like a putting green. 
    o   Food was OK but not great.   The food on the ship was probably a little better.  The jerk shack was a nice touch and that definitely had some flavor.   Ordering was a little like the soup cook episode of the Seinfeld show.  I went with a week-long guest we met on site so I know I was doing it correctly but it wasn’t all smiles like the rest of the resort.   This visit kind of convinced me I wouldn’t like a week at an all inclusive as much as a cruise.   Very similar experiences, cheaper liquor in the drinks at the Hilton than the ship, I expect the entertainment is not nearly as good.   I think more than about 4 days would be boring. 
    ·       Cozumel, Mexico – Turquoise Beach Bar
    o   I wanted to try little bar this after reading a review.   It was accurately described but I had a different idea about what it was.  It was a little more rustic than I expected. And I had the impression it was going to be off the beaten path away from the heavier traffic area.  It had a good view of the ships.   We were the only ones there for awhile so we had good service.  They do serve food but the food comes from the restaurant across the street.   I have a picture of the server coming back across the street with our food which was kind of funny to watch.  A little like Frogger video game.   No chicken dishes were available.   My wife only ate guacamole.  She has a little more confidence in chain locations and wasn’t too happy with my selection. 
    o   This bar had two levels and its open air.  Downstairs we went to the restrooms and down there were a pot belled pig and a dog.   We originally thought the kitchen was downstairs, so it’s probably good this wasn’t the case. 
    ·       Casino
    o   Smoky and a little crowded in some areas of the room.  I only played out a free $5 offered mid-way thought the cruise.  Cashed out at a whopping $7 but that was more than my cruise mates that finished with nothing. 
    o   I didn’t sign up for a group slot pull.  I’ve done these before and enjoyed them but so many other things to do instead. 
    ·       Cabin – # 9607 Cabin was laid out well.  The view over the Central park area would have been perfectly positioned to hear the nightly entertainment if we had a balcony.  I would try to get a balcony above this location next time.  Our cabin steward was good and kept the room in good shape.  
    ·       Disembarkation
    o   Tried to use Lyft for a ride to car rental area at the FLL airport.  My phone data service was terrible and it appeared others were having the same problem.  I set up a ride, hit enter and the signal crashed requiring me to try again.  The cars that were picking people up were not marked and that caused people to step out into the traffic lane and turn around. My brother in law does this on the side and he has stickers on his car so it can be identified easily.  Cost would have been somewhere between $8 -$10.    After some attempts my wife finally said let’s get a cab.   Good call.  The trip was $12 and we just jumped into a readily available cab.   Saving a few bucks wasn’t worth the aggravation we were having for such a short ride.     
    ·       Final thoughts
    o   The ship doesn’t feel crowded except at certain times, like peak times in the Windjammer or leaving the ship in ports.  Elevators were sometimes a wait, like before or after shows but not a big problem.  But the photo setups in the Royal Promenade were overdone.  They seemed to be everywhere and blocked a lot of traffic and most were nearly begging people to participate.  These could be cut by half and still not be crowded.  The exception was the one on the actual staircase which then blocked that staircase for use which was really awkward when trying to get between these floors.  Special events in the Royal Promenade also made things crowded but pulling the photo set ups away could have helped this too.
    o   I continued to have confusion about front and back of the ship which surprised me   I usually get oriented in a few days.  I wished there was some art work in the cabin halls to help get your bearings.  There are some ship diagrams but these don’t really serve as ‘mile markers’ because they all look the same.  We put a post-it note on the door to avoid cruising past our door by mistake which happened once. 
    o   I loved the ship.  So much live entertainment in the evening.   Easy to get meals near where you are located.  But it is so big and doesn’t feel as connected to the water.  It’s easy to forget you’re on a ship.   I wasn’t even sure about how to access the mid-level outside deck at first.   We are going to go with a first time ever cruiser on the next trip, so I suggested a Voyager class to provide more of a ship feel.  
    o   Almost all the staff was excellent and really friendly with rare exceptions.   Even those that weren’t excellent were very good.   Exceeded my expectations many times. 
    o   I didn’t do the Meet and Mingle as I had planned.   Too many other things to do.  
    o   Dry erase wipe boards are probably not a favorite item of the room stewards.  I noticed that black marker smudges transferred to the door from the erasing residue.  I suspect they clean up easily but would add an extra task to their work. 
    o   We traveled with another couple and the gent wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a cruise.  They had cruised before so they had some idea of what to expect but on much smaller ships and other brands (Carnival and Big Red Boat – remember those).  First time on RCCL though. (I did get the $25 OBC for a referral).  He said it definitely exceeded his expectations.    
    After we returned I needed to get another trip lined up.   I did talk to the next cruise office but I was surprised that I could probably do a more tailored search to meet my needs on my own.   They can find specific trips but I was expecting to sit down tell the person all my priorities and be presented several options.   But they are limited in the factors that can be entered.   There isn’t much advantage to using their service. As I recall for a refundable trip the bonus offered on board was $25 OBC.  When I returned I booked a Nov 2019 trip refundable fee trip on Adventure of the Seas with a special incentive from BJs Warehouse that got me a great price and flexibility. 
  17. Like
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from Lovetocruise2002 in My review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing.   
    Hi everyone.  Here is my review of the Allure of the Seas April 22, 2018 sailing. 
    We flew in and out of Orlando to visit friends and then drove back and forth to Fort Lauderdale.   Flights to Orlando were cheaper also.   We stayed north of Fort Lauderdale in Embassy Suites – Deerfield Beach the night before.   Staying in town might have been easier, but the resort was very nice.  We just weren’t there long enough to really enjoy it.  We traveled with another couple, old friends from our old home town.  We met at the port when arriving for Embarkation Day. 
    ·       Coconuts Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale for lunch on the day before
    o   Good – had the popular appetizer Scoobies (crab claws) which were good.  
    o   Expensive lunch including the $10 valet.  We did order more than needed, the meals were larger than expected. 
    o   It felt like a kick off to the trip because of the location.  I could have gone for a cheaper option and been happy.  Traffic in this area was a bit heavy when we were there. 
    ·       Rental Car
    o   Budget Cruise Port Rental car location changed and I didn’t get informed of the change.  It was a confusing series of calls before I talked to a live person that could tell me the new location address.  The person that helped me was from Avis that shares the location.   Budget does not have much ability to link to a live customer service agent.  This would have worked fine if I had been informed of the change prior to arriving.   As it was I was delayed at least an hour circling the area and placing useless calls.  
    ·       Check in
    o   Lines for Diamond and Emerald used for lesser categories which would have made me mad if I wasn’t a lowly Gold member.  They were also lined up about equal to our lines.
    o   Smooth but later than I had planned to check in due to the rental car situation.  It would have been much easier if earlier.  My group waited for me to arrive so we were all delayed.  
    o   The first-time cruiser line was faster than our Gold status line. 
    ·       First impressions – Embarkation Day
    o   Royal Promenade
    §  Wow this is a big space and it’s easy to forget you are on a ship.
    o   Park Café – OK but crowded although we arrived later than I wanted.
    §  I should have tried another buffet (Wipeout?) or a specialty restaurant.
    §  Made the experience more stressful than needed
    §  Chairs were very close together, worse when most people had some kind of luggage.
    §  Kummelweck sandwiches were OK but not worth the hype.   I’ve had a real one somewhat recently in northern NY for the first time, so I’m not an expert but I knew what to expect.   I took two and combined them into one sandwich to increase the meat to bread ratio.  Some of the beef was not trimmed well and was very fatty.
    §  We only picked up to go items after this experience.  But to be fair it was much calmer later.  Never did any breakfast food here. 
    o   Bar in Central park- Slow, couldn’t scan paper seapass cards during the embarkation time.  
    §  Appeared the scanners were not turned on in any location.  Park Café had the same problem.  This caused unnecessary line ups.  I walked away a couple of times because I was waiting so long.    I was concerned that the long wait at bars would continue, but after the scanners worked I had no trouble at bars.
    ·       Boardwalk        
    o   Really a fun unique area.  But very dependent on what is open.  There are times it is really dead and doesn’t have non-stop carnival atmosphere like I expected.   Almost every space is an extra cost venue.  Donuts were dry and no one in our party liked them.  The candy shop was really more limited than I expected.  The hot dogs were good but this space wasn’t open much.  And it tends to impede traffic flow because it’s not clear where to line up and kind of in a choke point.  This location could really use some fries, I sure missed them.  The carousel was not open very often but frankly seemed underused anyway.  We rode it once without any music playing which I thought was odd.  Later I saw it operating and heard some music playing.  It was never lined up when I saw it operating.
    ·       Activiities - Sports deck
    o   Zip line – I rode this 3 times on the first day.  Once suited up you might as well do it multiple times.   It was actually a little more thrilling than I expected.   Make sure you understand what the ride operator is doing.  My last ride I did not have the main attachment clipped before the ride operator asked me to ‘sit in the harness’.   So, he had to attach this out of the normal sequence after I said something is not right.  If I had been released I would have had to support my weight with the hand grips.  The secondary line was attached but it is very slack.  The hand grips are a little fat and frankly not that easy to grip, at least in my opinion. That was my last ride. 
    o   Flow Rider – I didn’t do well and tried this once.  For me it was a constant spray of water in the face.  I didn’t flip immediately off the back, I spent most of my time forward at the bottom.  I will probably try this on a future cruise but didn’t feel the need to conqueror it on this trip.  I was looking for a chill out on this trip.
    o   Putt-Putt Golf – This was fun but there weren’t enough adult golf clubs.    We had to share which wasn’t a big deal.  There was a big group ahead of us and so they had used a lot of the clubs.  Still a fun time and not crowded.
    o   Arcade – I prepaid for this for the $20 amount and received a letter in my stateroom about setting my card at a specific arcade between 5-10pm.   I was busy and thought I would catch up later.   Apparently, this meeting time is to make sure the appropriate card is credited.  Like for a child that doesn’t have charging ability.   I later tried to go into the Boardwalk arcade to complete my registration.  I couldn’t do it on my own.  Tried to call from there and the phone was broken.  Went to Customer service.  They said it will work the following day.  Cut to the next day and my party of 4 go to the arcade to play some skee ball.  Card didn’t work, phone was missing this time.   I asked customer service to remove the charge, I was tired of messing with it and it wasn’t worth more running back and forth to me.  It took a couple more calls to get the credit reflected.   This was an unneeded aggravation so I probably won’t bother next time.  I thought it would just work right away.  Maybe that could be an option when purchasing it in advance.   That is what I was expecting. 
    o   Captain’s talk - Really funny captain.  I enjoyed this more than expected.  Lots of concerns about the life boats but the original question of how people are seated on the boats was never answered.   Someone asking about employee wages (wages to tip ratio) was pretty sharply rebuked which was a little uncomfortable.   But the other discussion items were both interesting and funny at time. 
    ·       Dinner – Grande
    o   We didn’t do any specialty restaurants, except Guacamole in Sabor.
    o   Waiter was good but it took me a while to calibrate to his accent.
    o   Asst Waiter was a nice fellow but seemed to get overwhelmed
    o   Head Waiter was more attentive than any I have had before.
    o   One night the staff was struggling
    §  The next night I saw a Sabor staffer (black shirt and tan shorts) helping out during a busy night.  They could have used him the previous night when they were struggling.  I suspect they asked for reinforcements after that night when they were in the weeds.
    o   I noticed one family coming in at least ½ hour after the assigned time almost every night when they were in the MDR.   No complaints or comments from the staff.   
    o   We enjoyed the MDR and had early seating.  We never felt rushed at all.   I was a little concerned about that with early dining.  But I wouldn’t do it any other way.  I don’t think I would like MTD.  It just seems like more things to schedule and keep track of.   I like that at the start of the day we all knew what time we were getting together.  My wife and I missed one dinner when we returned too late from Falmouth.   So it was dinner in the Windjammer which was fine. 
    o   Food was hit and miss, typical of other sailings I’ve had.   Sometimes it looked good and didn’t taste great.  Other times it was the reverse.  You had to taste some things because they sometimes actually better than the appearance.  Weird.  But generally, it was good.
    o   We asked our waiter for curry dishes which he brought most nights.   I got that tip from Matt.  This was a nice bonus and I really enjoyed the variety. 
    ·       Food
    o   All the food seemed luke-warm.   Rarely was anything hot unless it was cooked to order.
    o   I was prepared for the worst so Sorrento’s wasn’t a huge disappointment.   But I don’t know how freshly made pizza can taste so much like mid-grade frozen pizza.  We did eat it in the evening when at the lounges but only for the lack of any other hot food availability.   The ‘pizza burger’ appeared to be a regular pizza with an additional crust put on top.   That just felt like a way to push the bread even more.     
    o   There should be some kind of casual to go food offering that is more substantial in the evening.   Even if it was ala carte beyond the current offerings.   Near the other bars so isn’t a trek to find.  I went on Mariner of the Seas just before they added a service charge to Johnny Rockets and it was open later (I think it was until 11 or 12).  That was fun and I confess I was there most nights. 
    o   Promenade Café was convenient for evening snacks but I have the same complaint about the bread to filling ratio.   Most sandwiches were not very good.   I did like the flavor of the Muffuletta but again very skimpy with the filling.
    o   We sat in the Solarium much of the time during sea days.  Having the café (buffet) so close by was a huge plus.  We carried items out and back to our chairs which was really nice for a quick bite.  I had a chicken breast that was so much better than my expectation for a buffet item.   Limited menu but so convenient and quick. 
           Breakfast in MDR
    o   We did Breakfast in MDR 4 times and of these only 1 was really relaxing.  The other 3 were way too slow with things arriving at the wrong times.   My wife was not pleased with this experience.   Normally I really like the relaxing pace but this didn’t have the same feel. 
    ·       Breakfast in Johnny Rockets
    o   OK but not great.  As I recall the pancakes were premade and not what I expected. 
    ·       Room service – We did this once after the Cozumel port visit.   Very good quality for burgers and chicken strips.   Quick service. 
    ·       Entertainment
    o   Mama Mia – Cute but kind of a silly story.  Music, dancing and singing ability were top notch.  I’ve seen the movie and enjoyed this much more.   I thought the music was recorded but at the end they showed the band.   I was really impressed at the level of musicians and singers. 
    o   Jazz on 4 – specifically a show with the Mama Mia conductor and some of the actors singing individually.  Excellent.  I was sleepy this evening and considered turning in earlier but was glad I didn’t. 
    o   Ocean Aria Aqua Show – Excellent show. Get there early and get a seat that’s not under an awning.   From way in back you won’t see the high divers. 
    o   Blue Planet – Good.  A little weird but entertaining enough with a good mix of music dancing and acrobatics.
    o   Headliner - Las Vegas Tenors – We all enjoyed this group.   I met a man from Australia that didn’t like it and we kidded each other a bit about our tastes.  He indicated he was not familiar with many of the songs, which was surprising. 
    o   Game Ice show.  Great demonstration of talent but like some shows on cruise ships a little silly.  Overall very enjoyable. 
    o   Dazzles – The band named Centerpiece performed here off and on in the evening.  Excellent band especially the lead guitarist.  I wanted to hear them more. 
    o   Pub – Guitar player.  Friendly guy.  Not a great voice.   A customer sang with him one time and he was better.  The customer sang in English which was not his native language.  Kind of funny.  I love this space.   I would have liked to see some variety in the talent.   Staff was very attentive. 
    o   Schooner Bar – Piano player.  Not my favorite.  Seemed a little at odds with the patrons at times.  ‘I’m not going to play that now’.    Talented but relied on his computer accompaniment too much I thought.  He had a list of songs and that was it.  I tired of him quickly.  I would rather hear a rougher piano only song than just a limited menu.  I like the live experience for interaction and improvisation.  I don’t want a jukebox.  He was good but in the three times I saw him I heard Piano Man each time.   Don’t blame that on the patrons, he said something to the effect that it’s expected so he’s going to do it now.  
    o   Comic show – I saw two shows in the Comedy Live and the family friendly one in the theatre.  Kivi Rogers was better IMO.  I’m not a potty humor fan at all, not a prude, it just seems too easy.  A lot of both shows goes there.  Even the family show goes in this direction more than I would like.   Some families would not be pleased with the content in the family show.   
    ·       Royal App – This was down more than it was up.  
    o   It would have been really nice if it worked.   I went to Customer service and they had IT reset my account after trying very hard to help me on the spot.  It was almost funny watching them struggle like I did.  After IT reset my app it updated.  It worked for awhile but they stopped again.   It doesn’t stop cold, it just doesn’t display any schedule detail, just venue locations.
    ·       Labadee, Haiti port – Stayed on the ship
    o   First time I’ve ever stayed on the ship at a port stop.  It was so relaxing.   The only thing to mention is that there are less towel stations and bars open.  When you see something you need, grab what you want and then go to your favorite location. 
    ·       Falmouth, Jamaica port – Hilton Rose Hall resort (non Royal excursion)
    o   The bus ride over was well organized and the bus driver talked on the way like a mini tour.  
    o   We did have a fellow passenger that seemed a little self-entitled.  She asked for a stop to get a Red Stripe beer.  We had just walked through the port area with bars and we were driving about 20 minutes to an all-inclusive resort.  The bus driver accommodated her and stopped at a local bar.  I don’t really know but it seemed like we took a convoluted route out of town to get there.  The bar stop only took a couple of minutes, but there were some disgusted fellow passengers that couldn’t believe this one passenger was delaying everyone else’s arrival.  Lots of puzzled looks to each other around the bus behind this couple in the front seat.  People – remember you are not the only one that has value.  If you want special treatment, hire a cab to take you. 
    o   Nice place.  Very well kept.  The lawn was perfect and looked like a putting green. 
    o   Food was OK but not great.   The food on the ship was probably a little better.  The jerk shack was a nice touch and that definitely had some flavor.   Ordering was a little like the soup cook episode of the Seinfeld show.  I went with a week-long guest we met on site so I know I was doing it correctly but it wasn’t all smiles like the rest of the resort.   This visit kind of convinced me I wouldn’t like a week at an all inclusive as much as a cruise.   Very similar experiences, cheaper liquor in the drinks at the Hilton than the ship, I expect the entertainment is not nearly as good.   I think more than about 4 days would be boring. 
    ·       Cozumel, Mexico – Turquoise Beach Bar
    o   I wanted to try little bar this after reading a review.   It was accurately described but I had a different idea about what it was.  It was a little more rustic than I expected. And I had the impression it was going to be off the beaten path away from the heavier traffic area.  It had a good view of the ships.   We were the only ones there for awhile so we had good service.  They do serve food but the food comes from the restaurant across the street.   I have a picture of the server coming back across the street with our food which was kind of funny to watch.  A little like Frogger video game.   No chicken dishes were available.   My wife only ate guacamole.  She has a little more confidence in chain locations and wasn’t too happy with my selection. 
    o   This bar had two levels and its open air.  Downstairs we went to the restrooms and down there were a pot belled pig and a dog.   We originally thought the kitchen was downstairs, so it’s probably good this wasn’t the case. 
    ·       Casino
    o   Smoky and a little crowded in some areas of the room.  I only played out a free $5 offered mid-way thought the cruise.  Cashed out at a whopping $7 but that was more than my cruise mates that finished with nothing. 
    o   I didn’t sign up for a group slot pull.  I’ve done these before and enjoyed them but so many other things to do instead. 
    ·       Cabin – # 9607 Cabin was laid out well.  The view over the Central park area would have been perfectly positioned to hear the nightly entertainment if we had a balcony.  I would try to get a balcony above this location next time.  Our cabin steward was good and kept the room in good shape.  
    ·       Disembarkation
    o   Tried to use Lyft for a ride to car rental area at the FLL airport.  My phone data service was terrible and it appeared others were having the same problem.  I set up a ride, hit enter and the signal crashed requiring me to try again.  The cars that were picking people up were not marked and that caused people to step out into the traffic lane and turn around. My brother in law does this on the side and he has stickers on his car so it can be identified easily.  Cost would have been somewhere between $8 -$10.    After some attempts my wife finally said let’s get a cab.   Good call.  The trip was $12 and we just jumped into a readily available cab.   Saving a few bucks wasn’t worth the aggravation we were having for such a short ride.     
    ·       Final thoughts
    o   The ship doesn’t feel crowded except at certain times, like peak times in the Windjammer or leaving the ship in ports.  Elevators were sometimes a wait, like before or after shows but not a big problem.  But the photo setups in the Royal Promenade were overdone.  They seemed to be everywhere and blocked a lot of traffic and most were nearly begging people to participate.  These could be cut by half and still not be crowded.  The exception was the one on the actual staircase which then blocked that staircase for use which was really awkward when trying to get between these floors.  Special events in the Royal Promenade also made things crowded but pulling the photo set ups away could have helped this too.
    o   I continued to have confusion about front and back of the ship which surprised me   I usually get oriented in a few days.  I wished there was some art work in the cabin halls to help get your bearings.  There are some ship diagrams but these don’t really serve as ‘mile markers’ because they all look the same.  We put a post-it note on the door to avoid cruising past our door by mistake which happened once. 
    o   I loved the ship.  So much live entertainment in the evening.   Easy to get meals near where you are located.  But it is so big and doesn’t feel as connected to the water.  It’s easy to forget you’re on a ship.   I wasn’t even sure about how to access the mid-level outside deck at first.   We are going to go with a first time ever cruiser on the next trip, so I suggested a Voyager class to provide more of a ship feel.  
    o   Almost all the staff was excellent and really friendly with rare exceptions.   Even those that weren’t excellent were very good.   Exceeded my expectations many times. 
    o   I didn’t do the Meet and Mingle as I had planned.   Too many other things to do.  
    o   Dry erase wipe boards are probably not a favorite item of the room stewards.  I noticed that black marker smudges transferred to the door from the erasing residue.  I suspect they clean up easily but would add an extra task to their work. 
    o   We traveled with another couple and the gent wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a cruise.  They had cruised before so they had some idea of what to expect but on much smaller ships and other brands (Carnival and Big Red Boat – remember those).  First time on RCCL though. (I did get the $25 OBC for a referral).  He said it definitely exceeded his expectations.    
    After we returned I needed to get another trip lined up.   I did talk to the next cruise office but I was surprised that I could probably do a more tailored search to meet my needs on my own.   They can find specific trips but I was expecting to sit down tell the person all my priorities and be presented several options.   But they are limited in the factors that can be entered.   There isn’t much advantage to using their service. As I recall for a refundable trip the bonus offered on board was $25 OBC.  When I returned I booked a Nov 2019 trip refundable fee trip on Adventure of the Seas with a special incentive from BJs Warehouse that got me a great price and flexibility. 
  18. Love
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from Diane.M in Sorry...newbie   
    That's true but responders can be a little less patient than the ones on this board.   Some are nice others like to argue.   I was very happy to find this group.   Great for a newby.
  19. Like
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from Boston Babe in Sorry...newbie   
    That's true but responders can be a little less patient than the ones on this board.   Some are nice others like to argue.   I was very happy to find this group.   Great for a newby.
  20. Like
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from Lovetocruise2002 in Sorry...newbie   
    That's true but responders can be a little less patient than the ones on this board.   Some are nice others like to argue.   I was very happy to find this group.   Great for a newby.
  21. Thanks
    Kurtp13 got a reaction from Lindsay in This is SO awesome had to share...   
    Wow great list.  This has to be mostly universal across the fleet.  I'm carrying a copy on my Allure cruise coming up.  
    Is there something similar for Virgin drinks?  
×
×
  • Create New...