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Allure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation Day

21 Feb 2016

Well, we are finally here! It is embarkation day and time to board Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas!

We stayed in Cambria Hotel and Suites in Fort Lauderdale the night prior to our cruise.  We chose this hotel primarily for the fact it has suites and is fairly close to the port (7 mile drive).

The hotel was exactly what we wanted, which is a nice and clean hotel that has enough room for us and our two kids.  

There is a half wall between the king size bed and a pull-out sofa bed.  Perfect!

Surprisingly, I was able to sleep extremely well in the sense that I was able to fall asleep easily and actually got a semi-decent amount of sleep the night before. 

That being said, we were up and ready much too early and left the hotel at 9am to drive the few miles to the port. Oh well, we would have to wait somewhere, may as well be the port!

Arriving at Port Everglades was pretty simple and straight forward.  I dropped the kids, wife and luggage off and then opted to park the car. Always a good strategy to avoid extra lugging around.

We were probably at the port at around 9:45am (we stopped for gas), and security was not allowing guests in yet.

I believe security opened up around 10-10:15am and we were checked-in and seated fairly quickly. Probably 10 minutes from security to check-in.

The boarding process at Port Everglades was simple and easy.  Guests are seated in groups according to their Crown and Anchor status, and by 11:30am, we were onboard Allure of the Seas.

Hearing me say that Allure of the Seas is large and impressive probably is no major secret, but it is still worth mentioning because nothing properly prepares you for the immense scale of this ship. 

Once onboard, we headed straight to Windjammer for lunch and managed to get a table and enjoy one of my favorite Royal Caribbean traditions ever: embarkation day lunch.

Following lunch, we went to Adventure Ocean and were very pleasantly surprised to find out that Adventure Ocean and the nursery were both open on embarkation day!

I spoke with a crew member, who said that Royal Caribbean changed the policy of not being open on embarkation day due to guest feedback.  As a parent, I love this change!

We were able to register my oldest daughter quickly for Adventure Ocean and sign up my youngest daughter for the nursery every night of the cruise.  Awesomesauce!

The Adventure Ocean space in general is amazing due to the sheer size of the facilities available.  We have been on a number of Royal Caribbean ships, but never seen so many facilities dedicated to kids.  For parents, Oasis and Quantum class are really top notch

Right at 1pm, the staterooms were ready and we headed to our connecting Central Park balconies to check them out.

True to form, the balcony staterooms were perfect with a lot of space and great views. In fact, our balcony divider was already removed prior to our arrival!

After we dropped all of our stuff off in the room, it was time to explore the ship!

I noticed on the Royal Promenade they had "sushi to go" available.  Interesting concept, but it makes sense for folks that just want a roll or two without the sit down experience.

I also had an opportunity to look through the teen club, so here are some photos for anyone interested.

I headed up to the Wipeout bar to enjoy some views of the Flowrider action, as well as partake in my first official cruise drink! I went with the lavaflow, because it has been my favorite option as of late on Royal Caribbean cruises.

Following muster drill, we went up to the pool deck for sailaway.

 Our muster drill was late (4:30pm), so by the time I got up to the pool deck, we were already on the move.

With Fort Lauderdale (and mortgages, obligations and life in general) behind us, we were on our way to enjoy our 7-night cruise!

Next up, we headed to the Boardwalk to check it out all out.

I love Central Park, but Boardwalk is not without its merits. My daughters certainly enjoyed it there.

We decided to go up to the room to relax a bit and also get ready for dinner.

Before dropping my daughters off in Adventure Ocean and the Nursery, we met Po from Kung Fu Panda. My daughter loved it.

With the kids under Royal Caribbean supervision, my wife and I went to Boleros for some pre-dinner drinks.

At Boleros, it is a must to try their mojitos and they did not disappoint. Perfection!

Dinner was in the main dining room and I think we had a great first evening.

I think of all the main dining room menus, the first night is the weakest, but I enjoyed everything I ordered and have a great group of waiters. 

Following dinner, we did a walk through Central Park before collecting our (very tired) children.

Not much evening entertainment tonight, but we had a great time and are super excited for tomorrow.

Part of what I am working on is keeping my plans and expectations in line with my kids needs and understanding a night that ends before 11pm is not a disappointment.

Tomorrow is our first sea day and that means lots of exploring (and eating).

If you have questions, feel free to post in the comments below!

Also, I tend to do a lot of Periscope live broadcasts, so be sure to follow me so that you do not miss any of it at @therclblog.

Stray observations

  • Voom internet is, well, amazing.  It is super fast and $15 per day.
  • The decision to open Adventure Ocean on day 1 is something that happened about 6 months ago. I noticed it on Brilliance of the Seas, but assumed it was because it was a 4-night cruise.
  • Central Park view balconies are amazing.  I love the ambiance and sheer beauty.  
  • There are a ton of stations around the ship selling the drink package.  I do not believe any guest can plead ignorance if they do not buy a drink package because they did not know about it.
  • I asked in 150 Central Park if there was a first night discount. The answer is essentially no. They crew member indicated it could happen, but they really do not do it at 150 Central Park anymore.
  • I had a surreal feeling all day, because it did not seem "real" that I was actually onboard. I love embarkation day and that feeling of having the entire cruise ahead of me.

Live Blog Index

Almost-live blog on Allure of the Seas - Day 6 Cozumel

03 May 2014

We decided to go to the wipe out cafe this morning for omelets and waffles. The cafe wasn't that busy and was great for a quick bite.

We dropped the kids off at kids’ camp for a bit. They wanted to go play games with their groups. This gave us time to pack up for our dolphin encounter at Dolphinarus. While packing up, we got to watch the Navigator of the Seas pull in. 

After picking up the girls, we grabbed a taxi over to Dolphinarus. It seemed fairly crowded, but later we learned that extra Carnival excursion tours were there today because of missing a stop in Grand Cayman.

The excursion provided about 45 minutes in the water with the dolphins! The drinks were good along with the snacks we tried.

From there we grab a taxi to take us to downtown so we could try Matt's favorite restaurant!

We were the only tourists there. There was a steady stream of locals that came to pick up food. Thankfully we didn't have to try too much Spanish though we were ready to try.

We got salsa and guacamole for appetizers. It was various tacos around the table! Everything was so fresh and tasty! The tortillas were freshly made.

After lunch, we did a little shopping before heading back to the ship.

After cleaning up, we went down for some casual pictures that I wanted to try and get with the girls. The photographers have always been very accommodating and took their time to get some really good pictures.

After, the girls wanted to ride on the Rising Tide Bar. I took them aboard and ordered them some Shirley Temples to enjoy.

Tonight the girls were going off to Grammy for pizza and then sitters, while we went to try out the Chefs Table!

We had received our invitation to the dinner along with a 20% off coupon for the dinner. The coupon was a nice surprise though strange to get in a way since we were already saying yes to the price by making the reservation.

Everyone met in the library at 7:30. We were met with a glass of champagne and then escorted into the concierge lounge. The chefs table is upstairs. It was very nice decor with the lighting fixtures over the table made out of silverware.

One criticism of the table was that the room was open to the first floor. The first few courses took place while the lounge was very noisy. It was a little distracting from listening.

We were introduced to the chef and the sommelier. They explained that they would each cover the course from each of their perspectives from first explaining the preparation of the course. Then the sommelier would explain why the wine was selected.

The courses were great, but the amazing course was the two soups. So the first course was seafood and grapefruit with grapefruit notes. This acidic course effected your taste buds in such a way on purpose that the second course, the sommelier had us taste the soups then sip the wine then back to sip the soups.

The soups totally changed the taste like magic! First the consommé tasted like a vegetable soup but after the wine it transformed it to asparagus soup.

After the dessert course, even more desserts were brought out! And to top it off, we received a signed copy of the cookbook featuring recipes from the specialty restaurants. So while the price seems high for the dinner, we got 6 glasses of wines, dinner, and a cookbook for a price (not to mention the 20% off coupon) that was way less than 150 central price if you include the wine pairing.

After dinner we hurried over to see the Blue Planet show. We really enjoyed this show as well. We usually haven't gone to many of the shows in the past, but my mother in law was really looking forward to seeing the various shows


Glad I was able to get all the tickets with the exception of the comedy shows.

Almost-live blog on Allure of the Seas - Day 5 Sea Day

30 Apr 2014

Today we started our day after strolling around the top deck as well as getting some Starbucks coffee.

Then we made our way to the character breakfast. Let me just say: chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!!!! There was everything from chocolate milkshakes to chocolate pancakes, to an assortment of chocolate muffins. Everything else from the morning breakfast menu was available as well.

There is no fee for this breakfast. I am not sure if the theme changes, but this morning was Madagascar movie theme with appearances from Alex the lion, King Jillian, and Gloria. The characters would come around to each table for a photo op as well as pass out stickers. Again our head waiter found us and said hello and even offering to go get more chocolate items for the girls!

Then after the breakfast, we dropped the kids of at camp. Kids’ camp theme today was Kung Fo fighting camp with a show for mid morning at the adventure ocean stage.

We opted for some Solarium time this morning while they were at camp. Then we took the girls to Johnny rockets for lunch again. Again, the food was hot and fresh with the burgers and the onion rings.

After lunch, we went to the belly flop contest and enjoyed with front row seats!

Then we dropped the girls back off for circus theme camp for our older daughter and a nap at the nursery for our younger daughter so we could hit the spa.

The spa had a great fresh fruit smoothie bar as well as other items. It was relaxing, but my only comment was my spa service was in just an alcove off the main atrium of the spa.

We picked up the girls to get them ready for formal night! It was Lobster night! I decided to get the peach soup, mushroom tart, and the fisherman plate. The food was really good as usual. After dropping the girls off for bed, we were off to try the Rising Tide Bar. It was fun to try and the sound of the water fountain from underneath while the bar was up on deck 8 was very nice!

Next up was Viking Crown Lounge. I really like the decor in the new lounge. It had a great view of the pools below all lit up at night. The duet band was a lot of fun for 90s night, but we weren't able to stay long.

We had tickets for the headliner act: Jeff Tracta with "a journey through pop culture”. He was an impressionist about fifty years of comedy, music, and pop culture. The show was very entertaining.

Almost-live blog on Allure of the Seas - Day 4 Falmouth

27 Apr 2014

We were up early again this morning.

After a quick walk up on the top deck, we made our way down to the diamond lounge for a bagel or muffin. It’s nice that most mornings it opens up before some of the other options.

Then we made our way down to check out the board walk as we wait to arrive in Falmouth. We noticed the donut shop display cases. There was some interesting flavored like key lime as well as old favorites. The girls played around on the little climb and slide play structure next to Rita's for a bit.

We docked around 10:30. Independence of the seas was in port the same day as us. We had booked a day at Rose Hall Hilton for today. We decided to go through a local company because it was less expensive and stayed longer than the excursion offered through Royal Caribbean.

We ended up leaving 45 minutes late because two people never showed, but we still had plenty of time for the day at the hotel.

We had picked this excursion because of the water park and lazy river for the girls! The hotel was about 20-30 minutes from the ship.

An attendant greeted us after making our way towards the pool and pointed out where to get towels and setup chairs for us. The food and drinks were good and the service was very friendly. We probably will be going back in July because the girls had so much fun.

After we made our way back to port, we wanted to walk around for a bit in the port area, but we had to get ready to take the girls to Izumi for their dinner. We were eating at Chops later. The hostess at Izumi sat us at a window table for sunset. We ordered the hot lava rock for cooking beef tenderloin as well as wonton soup. We happened to order shrimp goyoza as well, but the girls discovered they loved those and ate two orders themselves on top of the soup and beef tenderloin.

We also tried the tempura vegetables and spicy tuna roll that's not listed on the menu. The service was great. We did our best to keep the girls from being disruptive in the restaurant. All the food was wonderful!

After dinner, we made our way down to the boardwalk for the girls to make a Pet-at-sea and get some ice cream before turning them in for the night with the sitters.

We had reservations at Chops Grille with our server Emrah from the first night. We had a great night. He remembers everything from options we liked to the wines we ordered.

The mushroom soup, tuna tartare, and French onion soup are amongst my favorites! He had told us to come with an empty stomach so we could try as many different favorites! One thing I noticed is that the desserts seemed to be made much more simplistic in presentation from what we remembered on Enchantment, but the flaming cream brûlée was fun to watch with the dimly lit restaurant.

Chops Grille is always a great option on board and tonight was the same way.

We finished out the night in the casino for 70s night. We wish we could have seen the 70s party but Chops was calling our names and I didn't bring my yellow leisure suit and wig on this cruise. Next time!

Almost-live blog on Allure of the Seas - Day 3 Labadee

25 Apr 2014

After getting up early, we eventually decide to go to Johnny rockets for breakfast. They have made to order omelets, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches.

After breakfast, we checked about the waiting list for cabanas on Labadee, but unfortunately they were all booked.

We made our way off the ship and saw that they had a water taxi over to Columbus cove beach near the aqua trek park. The water taxi saved a lot of time and walking.

We picked out our spot and had a beach attendant set up our chairs and even got a shade tent for over a couple of chairs. We also got a couple of floats for the water to rent for the day.

After playing in the slightly cold water for a bit, it was time for our hour in the aqua trek water park. The aqua park was a lot of fun and very tiring. There were various degrees of difficulty to get on the inflatables or trampolines. My daughter lasted about 25 minutes before she was tired and the life vest was irritating her arms.

Then we made our way over to the Dragons Tail coaster. It had said we needed to be there within the hour before or after, but we used one ticket then and one ticket later with no problem. The coaster was a lot of fun. We were much faster the second time down the coaster. It was a lot of fun and the lines were never that long. While waiting in line, it was fun to watch the people go down the zip line overhead. 

Also, I saw the beach beds that they have added on adrenaline beach. They look nice, but they don't seem to be worth the same price as the private cabanas that are offered for suite guests. 

After the finishing up the first run down the coaster, we had lunch over in Columbus cove. It consisted of the usual burger, hot dog, cole slaw, potato salad, but also had jerk chicken and beef ribs.

After lunch, we were feeling hot on the sand so it was time for Labadoozies! Once our daughters tried them, they ditched the strawberry smoothies for the rest of the trip! We spent the rest of the afternoon playing with beach toys that a local had available to rent and enjoyed one of the beach bands that had always been around Labadee and that music that is so quintessential to Labadee now. I even bought their cd since my youngest daughter enjoyed dancing around the beach to the music.

After our second run down the coaster and another round(s) of Labadoozies, we packed up to head back mid afternoon so our youngest could get a nap in at the nursery on board. One nice touch on the way back was the wet towel drop off right outside the security station on Labadee. After getting back on board, I had a small snack at the wipe out cafe up on the sports deck. They were serving pizza, fries, burgers, hot dogs. I had hoped they would be serving nachos or tacos, but this particular afternoon.

After a short nap, we made our way down to the cupcake board for a decorating class for our daughter. They were making a monkey cupcake. She really enjoyed it and so did I since I got to eat it. She wanted a different flavored that she had seen in the display case.

After Nora's nap and getting dressed, we planned on taking the girls to Izumi for their dinner and some sushi for us. We were going to 150 Park later in the evening. Unfortunately we didn't make reservations and they were booked until later. We made a reservation for the next night and decided on Rita's Cantina.

It was better than I had expected. There was fresh guacamole with chunks of avocado. The steak fajitas were really good!

After dinner, we had tickets to see the aqua show OceanAria.  It was one of the best shows I have seen even compared to a cirque du Soleil show. It held our daughters attention the entire time.

After getting the kids settled in for the night, we were off to 150 Park. The concept of the restaurant is farm to ship. The dinner is a five course tasting menu that was presented to us on a personalized menu for us to keep.

The most interesting part was the different salts to try that could be sprinkled on the unsalted butter for the bread.

The food was very good as well as the service. Here is a list of the courses for the evening.

After dinner, we were off to the casino for the rest of our sitter time.

Almost-live blog on Allure of the Seas - Day 2

23 Apr 2014

Our day started at 7am. My girls have always been early risers except lately if it's a Monday morning! I took them out to explore the tops decks and other areas.

After letting my wife get a little extra sleep, the girls and I met her in the windjammer for breakfast. We discovered that they don't have an omelet station in the windjammer though another day we discovered you can in the wipe out cafe, MDR, and Johnny rockets.

After breakfast, we went to drop off the girls at camp. Woohoo. We were free! We went down to meet Joan in the MDR for breakfast without the kids.

Then we were off to the solarium to enjoy the kid free time. At first we stayed down below relaxing in the lounge chairs, but then we realized that there were cushioned lounge chairs on the upper level of the solarium. These cushioned lounge chairs were also shaded too and right next to a bar! Yes please! Gentle ocean breezes provided a wonderful relaxing atmosphere and the ride on the ship was still so incredibly smooth! 

The solarium was pretty full but not packed like I expected it to be. After picking the kids up at 12, we took them for lunch at Johnny Rockets. Just outside JR, the girls saw a balloon artist and face painter on the boardwalk and just had to have a poodle on a leash balloon pet. Johnny Rockets wasn't too crowded at all. We sat inside so we could see the action.

I split a Route 66 with Michelle and the girls got cheeseburgers and vanilla milkshakes. The burgers were hot and fresh just like the onion rings. The fries were not so great. The girls enjoyed watching the crew members dance and Dava even joined in the dancing. It was fun to discover that the jukebox machine at our table actually worked. I had always assumed they were just for looks.

Then it was off to the nursery for Nora. They had a cot for her to sleep on which was just like she is used to at her daycare. Dava had a blast playing around the kids’ pool area and lazy river with some friends she made in the morning in camp.

Then Dava and I were off for some boogie board time on the Flowrider. We both enjoyed our first time. We both decided we would need to get the private lesson. Hopefully we can do that in July on Freedom.

Since it was formal night and I forgot my bow tie and vest, I tracked down the tailor and rented a bow tie and cumber bun. 

On my way to see the tailor, the head waiter saw me and stopped me to tell me he had made us a reservation in the MDR tonight at 6:15. Before dinner, we had some pictures taken with the girls in their fancy dresses.

At dinner, he mentioned chops reservation was made as well for us. We mentioned we were going to try the other restaurants this week to on some nights. He offered to make reservations again, but said we hadn't heard back yet. He called his contact again and found out all nights were confirmed except the very last night. He said he would make us our reservations for the specialty restaurants we wanted to do: 150 central, chops, and chef's table.

After dinner, we tucked the girls in when the sitters got to our room. We were off to play some 3 card poker, the Vintages for some more wine and tapas/desserts since we skipped dessert at the end of dinner.

Then we went to our first show of this cruise: Chicago. It was a great show. We really enjoyed it. We usually tend to skip the shows at sea, but the shows this past week on board Allure were anywhere from good to Wow!

Almost-live blog on Allure of the Seas - Day 1

22 Apr 2014

We welcome Royal Caribbean Blog reader Shawn Wallace, who recently sailed on Allure of the Seas and wrote up this "almost live" blog post series to share. Enjoy!

Hi everyone! This is a review of our cruise that started back on April 6th. 

We had booked this cruise last year in July while on board Enchantment. This cruise on Allure was a retirement gift for my wife's mother.

For this cruise, I was traveling with my wife Michelle, our two daughters Dava (6) & Nora (2), and wife's mother Joan. We had selected this particular cruise based on being Spring break week and also take her on an oasis class ship. Since Allure leaves on Sunday, we chose Allure so we could travel down on Saturday. After spending the night with local family, we got to the port around 11 am.

The terminal that Allure was docked at seemed to be small. I wondered how congestion was later in the day. We got through security and checked in within minutes! We had to wait to board until 12pm. At first I thought that might be due to cleaning on board due to norovirus cases from previous cruise which was mentioned in a letter they passed out with our first compass, but now I think it was just due to the time it took to get everyone off.

My first impression when we walked into the promenade was Wow! The promenade was so grand and gorgeous!

We made our way to guest relations to make our requests for sitters at sea which we had hoped for days 2-7 as well as get on the waiting list for a cabana. 

Then we made our way up to Adventure Ocean to register the girls in camp. The nursery lets you pre-scheduled up to 15 hours at first and let us know they can only take a set number of kids which I think was 10-12 but I never saw any more than 4 in there the entire week. From there we made our way to Park Cafe only to find a long line out the door.

We thought after all the comments about Windjammer being crowded and that Park Cafe might be the better idea for lunch. So we decided to go up and try the Windjammer! I loved that they found you a table first. I looked all over but missed the honey stung chicken! Oh well, it's something for me to look for on the next cruise! I did find some great beef curry! My daughter was even able to get the cheese melted on her burger.

After lunch, we made our way down to check out the sports deck. First up was playing a round of mini golf. Then we watched the people on the Flowriders and zip line. After, we wanted to drop off our carry-on baggage and made our way down to our rooms.

We had two rooms on this cruise. We had an ocean view balcony (8714) with our youngest daughter. This room also had a Pullman over the sleeper sofa. Joan and my older daughter had a room across from us in 8715 that had a balcony over the boardwalk neighborhood. When we got to our room, our bags were already waiting on us.

After getting unpacked, it was time for our muster station. Thankfully it was in the main dining room. This was a great change from being outside next to the lifeboats. I missed the sail away party as our youngest daughter passed out during the muster drill, but I thought sleep would be better for her and give me a chance to look over the compass before dinner.

We made our reservations for My Time for 6:30. After changing, we made our way down to deck 5.

Tonight is where we met the best dining room staff we have ever had wait on us. Our assistant waiter, Emrah, for this evening was normally a waiter in Chops. We mentioned that we would be making a reservation later this week when we knew what nights we had sitters at sea. Emrah was so lively and engaging with us and our kids.

While we were talking to Emrah, our head waiter happened to walk by while we were talking about chops. He spoke up and said he would make us a reservation, but we explained we didn't know our plans yet. He called guest services himself on the spot and found out that we were confirmed for the next night. He had us a reservation for chops that we would later have to change, but what wonderful service. He gave my wife his business card with his extension if we needed anything! I say this because of all the extra help and changes he made for us just like that the rest of week! We were his VIP even though I could tell he made everyone feel like that!

I had the great bay scallops dish that was a great replacement especially for when escargot was not available. My second appetizer was the watermelon raspberry soup followed by prime rib.

After dinner we checked out the arcade after hearing earlier in the day that the games would be free for an hour. Unfortunately we missed the free hour, but the girls got plenty of games in that night. Then we were off to the ice cream parlor for a little treat before turning in for the night to let them get some rest. I noticed this evening on our way out that this ship was going to be so smooth!

The first day, I never felt it rock or the vibration of the engine! After checking out the compass for the next day, we called it a night.

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