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JohnK6404

Allure of the Seas, 5/19/19-5/26/19... “Semi-Live” Blog!

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Just some final thoughts to wrap things up!

This was our first cruise on an Oasis class ship. Our prior RC cruises were on Majesty, Explorer and Liberty (in that order). My wife and I have entered the bigger and newer is better stage of our cruising lives and the Allure exceeded our high expectations going into the cruise! My wife, from the time we booked over a year prior, kept stating that this cruise would be "epic" and she was not wrong! I was just hoping it would not be "NCL Epic"... no mechanical failures and dock crashes! 😱

We now want the "WOW" factor that these ships deliver. We definitely agree with @Lovetocruise2002 and the Oasis class is now our favorite class of ship! :27_sunglasses: We still want to sail and experience Anthem too since she's in our backyard (no airfare - woohoo)! 

One of the most common misconceptions that I hear from folks at home that have yet to sail on an Oasis class ship is that it must be so crowded with 5.5K-6K+ passengers onboard. I think they believe it will be like Penn Station or Grand Central Station everywhere you go! Every person that we have spoken to (including all of the great feedback and insight on the forum) that has sailed an Oasis class ship has completely dismissed that assumption. These ships are so well designed to handle and disperse crowds (I hear the Quantum class has some traffic issues). 

OK... Yes, when you're entering or exiting any venue after a show it will be crowded, but that's certainly not unique and is unavoidable since everyone is leaving at the same time.

Yes, on a sea day the pool deck and solarium will be busy by mid to late morning. That has been true of every ship we've sailed to date. However, we had no problem walking through the pool deck and solarium at any time of day.

Yes, the Royal Promenade will be busy when they have some sort of show or event... true of any ship. We would avoid the Promenade if something was going on and would take an alternate route to traverse the ship (pool deck, Central Park, etc.).

Yes, the Windjammer will be crazy busy by mid-morning especially on sea days!

... and Yes, you will have to wait for elevators during certain peak times of the day (around meal and show times, etc.). We would try to take the stairs if it was just a couple of decks. At other times, we could be the only people waiting for an elevator on our side of the deck!

However, most of the time there were no crowds! You can probably see in my pics that most of the common areas were not crowded. I could walk through Central Park and maybe encounter a handful of people walking around (not of course including those seated in the restaurants). When we walked through the Boardwalk it was never crowded. Very few people on the Sun Deck and bridge wings. There are so many places to go onboard for peace and quiet when you would like some.

 

Some Positives/Comments:

  • We elected for My Time dining, our first choice, and booked our times (6:00 PM every evening except for later times on 2 port days - Jamaica & Cozumel) in advance on the Cruise Planner. We had the same awesome server team (Kadek, Oleksandr & Jose) every night (even on the later evenings) and we were seated at the same window table 6 of the 7 evenings (we had specialty dining only for lunch this cruise - Chops, Giovanni's and Izumi). The odd evening when our usual table was occupied, we elected to wait maybe 15-20 minutes for another table in the same section to open up. We wound up with the other window table in our section next to our usual table!
  • The Key was worth every penny especially at $19.99! The overall experience was so amazing that we all feel we have to purchase the Key from now on as long as it's offered and reasonably priced! We are only Platinum level in C&A and it's unlikely we'll be able to book a suite anytime soon so the Key was the only way to get some of that amazing VIP treatment! We all wanted the VOOM package anyway, so for effectively less than $10/person per day more, it was a no-brainer for all of us!
  • The Nellie's Beach over-the-water cabana was amazing (cabana NW4)! The attendant (Regis) and driver (Willie) made it even more special. If my wife an I had cruised alone, we would not have splurged for this cabana. If you go with family and/or friends, we highly recommend renting one of these cabanas! 
  • All of our specialty dining meals for lunch were outstanding (Chops - the Key complimentary lunch, Giovanni's - CP balcony cabin complimentary lunch, and Izumi).
  • The Key debarkation breakfast in the MDR was really nice, but the expedited and escorted departure from the ship through the terminal and through security was amazing! We were led directly to our waiting luggage and proceeded through a special customs line (aisle we entered was marked for Star class) and were out in less than 10 minutes! 
  • Nice change in how they organize your photos taken by Royal throughout the cruise! It has changed since we last sailed in OCT 2015. The days of walking through the photo gallery hunting for your individual photos (often buried under someone else's photos) sorted by day and/or event are apparently over. They now create binders for each stateroom and you are assigned a specific tower and slot in the Focus photography store/gallery. Your photo tower info is printed on your SeaPass card. Just find your assigned tower and slot and grab your binder... the pics taken up that point are all together! Ahhh, the little things!

Some Negatives/Comments:

  • Checking in at the terminal and boarding the ship was horrible to say the least! We took the time to complete the pre-cruise check-in process and set up our profile, uploaded our photos, scanned our passports and linked our credit card well before the cruise. However, when we got to the check-in area, we were delayed as the terminal employee insisted she had to take another photo, re-scan our passports, etc. What is the purpose of offering pre-cruise check-in if you need to go through the entire process all over again at the terminal? The delay was compounded as all four of us had to wait while she went though the check-in process! Once we finally got past the check-in stage, we entered the waiting area and asked for assistance as we all purchased the Key and did not know where to wait to board. They looked at our printed SetSail passes and our digital SetSail passes, but stated we could not advance to the Key waiting area since the SetSail pass did not indicate we had the Key! Even after I showed them proof that we purchased the Key (invoice from the Cruise Planner), we were told we had to wait in another section along with everyone else. They seemed very confused and had to consult with each other. We could tell that it was going to be at least 30-60 minutes from that point. We grabbed another terminal employee to explain the situation... he explained that the suite and Key guests have already boarded the ship! He finally let us jump on the line to board the ship. I cannot believe that no one had iPads or printed lists in the boarding area (as they have in the check-in area) to confirm our reservation and Key status. Lesson learned... make sure you get a new SetSail pass printed with the Key logo at the terminal before entering the waiting area (one of the groups behind us had these) if your SeaPass does not have the Key logo!
  • The Prohibition Party was not what we expected. We understood there was a story aspect to the party, but expected more music and dancing. I think the band only played a handful of songs the entire 2 hours of the party! We mistakenly expected a normal lounge/club style seating arrangement, but they set the club up theater style and we wound up sitting in the second to last row. A bunch of folks got up half-way through the party and left... It was fun for all of us to dress in 20's garb, but I don't think we'll ever do the Prohibition Party again.

 

Once again, we had an amazing time overall and can't wait until our next cruise. My wife started planning our next cruise with our friends during the cruise!

They have narrowed it down to Harmony, out of Port Canaveral (very convenient for our friends), in either April or May 2021... I think my wife is more obsessed than me with researching now! 😊 We definitely have to include Perfect Day as one of the stops this time. I don't know if we can wait that long! LOL!

Now, Mariner and Navigator 4-night cruises have caught our eye... hmmm... may something to satisfy our hunger until Harmony? :27_sunglasses:

We didn't take advantage of Next Cruise promo because we did not nail down a month/year with our friends and the Summer of 2021 schedule has not been released. We met with a Next Cruise rep for info, but he confirmed that if we wanted the fully refundable deposit option, we would have to put down the normal deposit ($500 instead of $200 for non-refundable) and the OBC would be reduced to $75 (instead of $100 for a balcony cabin).

Thanks for following and I apologize for the delay! I just found out this weekend that another really good friend of ours booked Allure for her family of four (6/30/19 sailing - same itinerary)! She's a hardcore Disney cruiser (18 cruises on Disney and counting!) and is a little overwhelmed with Royal's process with only 4 weeks to plan... she forgot that we just sailed on Allure and that another one of our friends just sailed on Harmony (same itinerary too)... I think we all can help! 😜

If anyone has any questions, please let me know!

  

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GREAT RECAP @JohnK6404 !!

54 minutes ago, JohnK6404 said:

One of the most common misconceptions that I hear from folks at home that have yet to sail on an Oasis class ship is that it must be so crowded with 5.5K-6K+ passengers onboard. I think they believe it will be like Penn Station or Grand Central Station everywhere you go! Every person that I have spoken to (including all of the great feedback and insight on the forum) that has sailed an Oasis class ship has completely dismissed that assumption. These ships are so well designed to handle and disperse crowds (I hear the Quantum class has some traffic issues).

As you know, we were on Symphony while you were on Allure and it is sooo true. We were amazed at how it never felt crowded to us. And to take it one step further, yes, Anthem did feel crowded at times--but what really surprised us is that it appeared to us to take more time walking end to end (MDR to theater) on Anthem than it did on the Oasis class. What a great design.

 

54 minutes ago, JohnK6404 said:

The Key was worth every penny especially at $19.99! The overall experience was so amazing that we all feel we have to purchase the Key from now on as long as it's offered and reasonably priced! We are only Platinum level in C&A and it's unlikely we'll be able to book a suite anytime soon so the Key was the only way to get some of that amazing VIP treatment! We all wanted the VOOM package anyway, so for effectively less than $10/person per day more, it was a no-brainer for all of us!

Agree 100%!

 

54 minutes ago, JohnK6404 said:

The Key debarkation breakfast in the MDR was really nice

IIRC, you said you also had the Royal VIP Signature Breakfast---OMG, it was the 2nd best meal of the week and the biggest portion!

Different ship and different itinerary, but I enjoyed spending that week with you through this forum. Have fun planning and happy sailing.

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12 hours ago, JohnK6404 said:

These ships are so well designed to handle and disperse crowds

Definitely agree with that assessment.   The only time I felt claustrophobic was leaving the muster drill when several stations dumped out to the same elevator bank.   Venues that are busy on every ship are busy at the same time on the Allure (Windjammer) but I didn't think they were any worse.   The only hiccup on the pool deck is the walkways are narrow and if there's a scooter coming it's a one way avenue.   We also stopped at Labadee and I didn't think it was overrun/over whelmed with people, with the exception being the buffet area.

The one caveat is that we sailed in October so I'd imagine the amount of kids on board was down a fair bit.   We'll be on the Oasis next summer so it will be interesting to compare.

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I thoroughly enjoyed your Blog! We sail on the Allure July 7-14, 2019 and are so excited! Have never been on a ship this big. In fact, the last time I cruised on Royal Caribbean was on the Viking Serenade when my now grown children (32 and 30) were toddlers. We went to Disneyland first then my hubby took the kids home and I cruised with my mom and sisters! Good times were had! This time it’s myself, my sister-in-law, my daughter and my son-in-law! More good times will be had! Thanks again for sharing...can’t wait to get on that big ship and enjoy all it has to offer! Thanks again for your thoughts, comments, insight and all your beautiful photos!

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5 hours ago, Cindy Leslie said:

I thoroughly enjoyed your Blog! We sail on the Allure July 7-14, 2019 and are so excited! Have never been on a ship this big. In fact, the last time I cruised on Royal Caribbean was on the Viking Serenade when my now grown children (32 and 30) were toddlers. We went to Disneyland first then my hubby took the kids home and I cruised with my mom and sisters! Good times were had! This time it’s myself, my sister-in-law, my daughter and my son-in-law! More good times will be had! Thanks again for sharing...can’t wait to get on that big ship and enjoy all it has to offer! Thanks again for your thoughts, comments, insight and all your beautiful photos!

Thank you so much! Have an amazing time next month!

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On 6/4/2019 at 10:40 PM, JohnK6404 said:

The Nellie's Beach over-the-water cabana was amazing (cabana NW4)! The attendant (Regis) and driver (Willie) made it even more special. If my wife an I had cruised alone, we would not have splurged for this cabana. If you go with family and/or friends, we highly recommend renting one of these cabanas! 

Was this paid for per person or purchased one cabana is one cabana and you can have up to how many people for a selected price? 

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6 hours ago, Lakew92 said:

Was this paid for per person or purchased one cabana is one cabana and you can have up to how many people for a selected price? 

Hi @Lakew92 !

It's a single purchase (not a per person charge) and from what I recall, you can officially have up to 8 people share the cabana. I've heard of people squeezing in a couple more (YouTube reviews), but I'm assuming it all depends on how strict the cabana attendant is... I purchased the cabana through the Cruise Planner and just split the cost with our friends.

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