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Durham Mama Bear

Weighing our options (Allure - Eastern Caribbean)

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I am SO excited for my family's very first cruise ever this July (7-14) on the Allure. My mother- and father-in-law (avid RC cruisers) are treating my family of three (me, husband, and son who will be 3 weeks shy of 6) and my brother-in-law's family (husband, wife, 13 and 15 year old boys) to the cruise and are helping us with transportation there. We will be responsible for all extras (excursions, premium dining, tips, etc.).

I am having difficulty navigating the shore options available to us and haven't been able to find any sites that review the options. Ideally, I would like to take our son with us when in port because this will be his first international experience. We don't *really* love the beach and are definitely foodie-friendly (but not alcohol; we just don't drink it) and can definitely do walking tours but maybe not hikes. What are your thoughts on the available options?

Of course, I will take any additional tips or tricks for making our first cruise a successful one! I don't expect us to do any premium dining, but I would be interested to hear in what extras are really worth it. We also enjoy dancing, music, comedy, art, watching sports, and of course, travel.

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You're going to have so much fun on the Allure! We've been on her four times and can't wait to get back. Here's a fun thing that's free. Immediately after the muster head up to deck 14, go to the port side and head forward all the way, step through the sliding glass door and you will be on the observation deck right over the bridge and you can even walk out on top of the "wings". Great viewing place when leaving port. It is pretty windy though. The entertainment will be "Mamma Mia", "The Blue Planet" and "Ocean Aria". Book them on line as soon as you can, get to the venue at least 30-45 minutes before the shows to get good seats. The Blue Planet and Ocean Aria will blow you away, especially the kids! We always book Ocean Aria twice, in the event the show is cancelled due to weather. 

Go to this website, http://www.royalcaribbeanincentives.com/ship/allure-of-the-seas/deck-plan/ and check out what is on each deck. I printed the deck plans and we studied  them weeks before we boarded the Allure. That way, we didn't spend a lot of time wandering around looking for a specific place. Park West Art gallery has a couple of auction on board during cruise days. You can preview what they have for free they day of the auction before the auction. :27_sunglasses:

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52 minutes ago, rjac said:

You're going to have so much fun on the Allure! We've been on her four times and can't wait to get back. Here's a fun thing that's free. Immediately after the muster head up to deck 14, go to the port side and head forward all the way, step through the sliding glass door and you will be on the observation deck right over the bridge and you can even walk out on top of the "wings". Great viewing place when leaving port. It is pretty windy though. The entertainment will be "Mamma Mia", "The Blue Planet" and "Ocean Aria". Book them on line as soon as you can, get to the venue at least 30-45 minutes before the shows to get good seats. The Blue Planet and Ocean Aria will blow you away, especially the kids! We always book Ocean Aria twice, in the event the show is cancelled due to weather. 

Go to this website, http://www.royalcaribbeanincentives.com/ship/allure-of-the-seas/deck-plan/ and check out what is on each deck. I printed the deck plans and we studied  them weeks before we boarded the Allure. That way, we didn't spend a lot of time wandering around looking for a specific place. Park West Art gallery has a couple of auction on board during cruise days. You can preview what they have for free they day of the auction before the auction. :27_sunglasses:

+1 on @rjac , suggestions, as far as shore excursions go, you can also look on Tripadvisor.com, they will have similar excursions as Royal and also feedback from people that have gone, then you can book through Royal.

You didn't say what ports you are going to? Add that info and more people will add their advice.

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Philipsburg,  look at Bernard's tours, private tour company not associated with Royal (They have a web site), San Juan you really don't need a tour, walking Old Town (Where the ship docks) is pretty cool, there are 2 old Spanish forts in old town that your son might enjoy walking through (They are very cool), Labadee is Royals private island, consider this your beach day, they have a section that has a bunch of water toys that your son might really like, there might be a charge I don't remember.

Hopefully some other parent will chime in here, (I'm a grand parent, so have not had to worry about a kid for a long time).

Pinging @melski94 , @mom2mybugs for children input.

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I have 4 kids ages 18 to 7 now.  I agree with @tiny260 about the forts in Old San Juan.  I would suggest going to El Morro and after that wind your way down to get a bite to eat in Old San Juan.  My kids enjoyed it for the few hours we were there.

Labadee is a beach day.  We tend to get a beach bungalow as a hangout place but that might not be right for you if you don't love the beach, however it is nice for a large party as you can have 8 people there.  You could also try the aqua coaster or keep that as a ship day.  My teens love the zip line and we've done that every time.  There is a charge for the aquapark.  We haven't done it but booked it for our first time this March.  There are plenty of free things to do on Labadee including the free beach BBQ.  

Last year in St. Maarten, we did a private tour as we wanted to see the island.  We'll go on a snorkeling tour this March.  I don't know many things beyond a beach or tour here.

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I haven't been on allure yet, but I definitely advise the teens to go to the teen center on the first night... They will make friends and then they usually meet up all over the ship and not necessarily stay at the teen center.  My youngest was 13 on our first cruise but many of the excursions we have been on are kid and adult friendly.  Just read the descriptions... Any of the moderate ones should be perfectly fine for a 7 year old.  On allure, be sure to reserve show times.  Have a great trip!!!  Jane

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As far as restaurants in San Juan - Old San Juan is super walk able, and you have a ton of options there. As far as a food experience, look up a restaurant called Barrachina. They have really good Mofongo, and the original pina colada was made there (which I'd be willing to bet you could just order without alcohol). Maybe about a 10 minute walk from the fort El Morro, and there are lots of little shops and things along the walk. We found a really cool little chocolate shop (I don't remember where) where we stopped in for a couple truffles. 

All in walking distance to the ports! 

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On 1/6/2019 at 6:16 PM, tiny260 said:

Philipsburg,  look at Bernard's tours, private tour company not associated with Royal (They have a web site), San Juan you really don't need a tour, walking Old Town (Where the ship docks) is pretty cool, there are 2 old Spanish forts in old town that your son might enjoy walking through (They are very cool), Labadee is Royals private island, consider this your beach day, they have a section that has a bunch of water toys that your son might really like, there might be a charge I don't remember.

Hopefully some other parent will chime in here, (I'm a grand parent, so have not had to worry about a kid for a long time).

Pinging @melski94 , @mom2mybugs for children input.

+1 for Bernard's Tours in St. Maarten! Amazing way to get a little bit of the entire island on your stop. 

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2 hours ago, KLA said:

As far as restaurants in San Juan - Old San Juan is super walk able, and you have a ton of options there. As far as a food experience, look up a restaurant called Barrachina. They have really good Mofongo, and the original pina colada was made there (which I'd be willing to bet you could just order without alcohol). Maybe about a 10 minute walk from the fort El Morro, and there are lots of little shops and things along the walk. We found a really cool little chocolate shop (I don't remember where) where we stopped in for a couple truffles. 

All in walking distance to the ports! 

Kayla, if you are in San Juan again, check this place out (See picture) it's about 1 maybe 2 block almost straight up from the port, we were doing pre-cruise hotel at the Sheraton, we kind of found it by accident, we asked the concierge at the hotel and everything she recommended seemed to commercial tourist trap type place, so we took off walking. This place has more of a locals type vibe and everything was excellent, price, service, food quality, according to my wife the Sangria was the best she has had since being in Barcelona.

We are leaving on Sunday on Allure, second stop is San Juan and plan on having lunch at this restaurant, planned on visiting the forts again, but if the government doesn't open between now and then I'll have to make other plans.

DSCF0155.JPG

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22 minutes ago, tiny260 said:

Kayla, if you are in San Juan again, check this place out (See picture) it's about 1 maybe 2 block almost straight up from the port, we were doing ore-cruise logging at the Sheratan, we kind of found it by accident, we asked the concierge at the hotel and everything she recommended seemed to commercial tourist trap type place, so we took off walking. This place has more of a locals type vibe and everything was excellent, price, service, food quality, according to my wife the Sangria was the best she has had since being in Barcelona.

We are leaving on Sunday on Allure, second stop is San Juan and plan on having lunch at this restaurant, planned on visiting the forts again, but if the government doesn't open between now and then I'll have to make other plans.

DSCF0155.JPG

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand, sold. I'm eyeing a NYE cruise for the end of 2020 with my family (they LOVED Mariner and my niece was a fan of kids club since she got sick of hanging out with the adults, so I think OA class would be a great fit) and San Juan is a stop... this is exactly the kind of place we'd want to go! 

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On 1/6/2019 at 5:59 PM, Durham Mama Bear said:

Thanks so much. Great advice! We are going to Philipsburg, San Juan, and Labadee (days 4, 5, and 6). 

those are our stops in November...i'm reading and following.

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On 1/6/2019 at 4:55 PM, rjac said:

You're going to have so much fun on the Allure! We've been on her four times and can't wait to get back. Here's a fun thing that's free. Immediately after the muster head up to deck 14, go to the port side and head forward all the way, step through the sliding glass door and you will be on the observation deck right over the bridge and you can even walk out on top of the "wings". Great viewing place when leaving port. It is pretty windy though. The entertainment will be "Mamma Mia", "The Blue Planet" and "Ocean Aria". Book them on line as soon as you can, get to the venue at least 30-45 minutes before the shows to get good seats. The Blue Planet and Ocean Aria will blow you away, especially the kids! We always book Ocean Aria twice, in the event the show is cancelled due to weather. 

Go to this website, http://www.royalcaribbeanincentives.com/ship/allure-of-the-seas/deck-plan/ and check out what is on each deck. I printed the deck plans and we studied  them weeks before we boarded the Allure. That way, we didn't spend a lot of time wandering around looking for a specific place. Park West Art gallery has a couple of auction on board during cruise days. You can preview what they have for free they day of the auction before the auction. :27_sunglasses:

Agree with this.  Just got off the Allure myself a couple weeks ago and absolutely loved it.  Just a beautiful ship, excellent food, great entertainment.

Definitely suggest booking reservations in advance for shows as they fill up.....Especially the comedy shows.  That was probably my one complaint on the allure....The comedy venue is too small for such a big ship.  And they only had 2 comics for the whole week doing basically the same routines.  I would've liked to see a few different comics.

Can't comment much on Eastern excursions but the ship is amazing.  

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