Allure of the Seas Live Blog

Allure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Sea Day

In:
12Jun2016

Today is my last day at sea, so my plan today is to enjoy the ship and take it all in.

I woke up a little late, so I decided to pass on breakfast and just sit on my balcony a bit. I’ve realized I didn’t use my balcony this cruise much at all, but I’m going to say it’s because I was in a group. I did decide to pack my room up before I headed out today, just wanted it out of the way.

I noticed the ship felt very crowded today, it seems as everyone was out and about.

They had all kinds of sales on the Promenade deck; if you want something I’d recommend waiting until the last day. I saw the Michael Kors shop have some big sale and people were lined up waiting for them to open. 

Lunch at Johnny Rockets 

Today I had lunch at Johnny Rockets right when they opened at 11:30am.

Johnny Rockets has a cover charge of $6.95, but everything is included (minus the milkshakes) and comes with a soft drink also. When you sit down they bring a plate of fries and onion rings to the table while you look over the menu.

I ordered the smoke house burger, which is a double on the menu, but I asked for just one patty to save room for desert.

For dessert I had their apple pie and ice cream, which might be the best desert all week. Within about 20 minuets of opening every seat was taken and they had a line to get a table.

I thought in years past they would give you a pager, but everyone was just standing in the heat on the boardwalk deck. Overall it was a great lunch and fun times at Johnny Rockets.

When I left the boardwalk I saw a passenger band playing by the carousel, I’ve never seen anything like this before.

Many of the guest were taking pictures and sticking around to listen to them. 

Afternoon on board 

For my last afternoon on board I wanted to spend as much time as possible by the pool.

I went to the Solarium first to let all my lunch settle.

I noticed so many opened chairs today; many were in the sun but no troubles finding a pool chair. After an hour or so in the solarium I moved over to the beach pool.

The beach pool is my favorite pool on board; they have the umbrellas for shade, which is nice.

The pool also has water running off to the first row of chairs, so pick up those pool bags. The beach pool water was so warm today, I’ve never been hot in the pool before but it was. 

Dinner 

Well friends, I think I have a problem; dinner tonight was back at Sabor.

This is my 4th time eating here this week, and couldn’t be more excited to be back. In my previous visits here it’s always been very busy, but tonight the restaurant was empty.

Our table ordered four guacamoles to get us started with some starts. We tried this Jalapeño stuffed chicken starter and it was absolutely amazing, we then ordered two more!

For my main course I went with chicken taco’s just to try some thing different.

The taco’s were great, but I was so full from all the appetizers I could only eat one. It was a fun way to end the cruse as a group, we said goodbye to our friends and toasted farewell. 

Wrap –Up 

After dinner I headed down to the pub again for one beer before bed.

Again, the pub was packed for the singer, he did such a great job. When I headed back to the room I saw all the bags in the hallways, this always makes me so sad to see, unless I’m on a back-to-back of course. 

The Allure of the Seas is a great ship, she still looks brand new and I never saw any signs of wear.

The ship felt a lot more crowded than I remember Oasis class ships feeling, we were a completely full ship. There are so many options for every type of cruiser, entertainment is great, so many pools, bars of all options. T

The Allure is also great for children they made this ship with the largest kids pool in their fleet, called H2O.

As far as the Internet goes, they have two types of Voom now, I did the voom + stream package. I was able to FaceTime and Periscope on my balcony so it really works everywhere. Only twice did the voom go down, but was back up within 15 minutes. 

Occasionally, I had to remind myself I was on a cruise because there are very few locations with views of the Ocean. Also, the ship never rocked because the ocean was so calm. 

Disembarkation 

I opted to do the express walk off option leaving the ship. They put luggage tags in the cabin but if you want to do the express just ignore them.

The express departure started at 6:30AM, and I go in line around 6:20am. Getting off the ship was very organized and customs line was a breeze. I was at the airport by 7:00am for my 10:30am flight; next time I might book earlier flight on Oasis class ships. 

Well friends my cruise has come to an end, I’ve really enjoyed taking you along with me. My passion for cruising is so strong but so is sharing it with others, I think it helps building the excitement for your next cruise. Until next time, I’ll see you at sea!

Allure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Labadee

In:
11Jun2016

Michael Poole is LIVE blogging from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas. Follow along for updates on all the fun!

Today is our last port stop in Royal Caribbean’s private island Labadee. This island stop has always been one my favorites over the years.

When we arrived at 9am, they have a welcome show on their jet ski’s and boats. If you have a balcony on the starboard side (right side) you will hear them blowing the whistles welcoming everyone to the beautiful Labadee. This is when I really started getting excited about our beach day and ready to get off.

Around 10am we were walking off the ship, and noticed the ferry boat halfway down the pier giving free trips over to Columbus Cove Beach.

The ferryboat is only one way, so you must walk or find the bus going back. This beach is where all the kids jumping floats, they also have a full lunch setup. 

Once we were all settled in our beach chairs, which are included in the cruise I decided it was time for a labadoozie.

These drinks are included in the premium drink package in the small plastic cups. However, you can buy the souvenir cup with the drink package for an extra $2.95 and they will fill it all day.

I went with souvenir cup option so I could enjoy it longer in the water.

The bar service was really slow at first, as they were still setting up and having some computer issues, but they worked things out. 

Lunch in Labadee 

For lunch today, I ate the beach lunch in Labdee which is also included in the cruise. The lunch opens at 11:30am and closes at 1:30pm.

I would recommend having an early lunch around when they open. I went through the line at 1:15pm and all the food had been picked over and they were out of their ribs.

I went with a hotdog, chicken legs, and rice for lunch.

The lunch here has never been my favorite but it’s not a bad option if you want to stay out on the beach longer.

After another hour at Labadee we decided to head back to the ship to shower up then nap. We could have stayed a little longer, but we were all just so hot. 

Dinner at Sabor 

I know you must be thinking again! We just love Sabor and wanted something a little more casual for our meal before the Quest. 

Dinner tonight was different that my previous times at Sabor. The restaurant was completely full with a wait, which caused the service to get very backed up. Lucky for us, we had plenty of time and plenty of guacamole.

I ordered the $5 guacamole and $5 chicken quesadillas, that combo is my go to.

There were times where we had to walk up to the sabor bar for more water or refill on our margarita, but it doesn’t bother me. 

Quest 

After dinner tonight we at the Quest in Studio B at 10pm, doors open at 9:30pm.

We arrived around 9:15pm and there was already a line forming to go in. My group had been talking about the Quest all week, so we were really excited.

If you don’t know what the Quest is, I’m not going to spoil it for you, just go.

Our team won first place, so we were all very excited. 

After Quest 

 After the Quest, we were all excited and not wanting the evening to end, so we headed to the pub.

The pub was completely packed; I’d never seen any pub so busy before. The live music has been so outstanding all week, it looks like people are coming back and staying. They tend to have a mixture of all types of music types and they do take requests.

After staying here for a while we decided to check out the solarium under the stars pool party. I will say, it looked really fun but after 15 minuets of being outside I was pretty soaked and which I had my swim trunks on. 

That’s a wrap on my Labadee day, tomorrow is our last day at sea…

Allure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - San Juan

In:
10Jun2016

Enjoy this LIVE blog from Michael Poole, who is onboard Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas.

It is hard to believe my cruise is already on day 5, it’s flying by fast.

Today we are docked in San Juan from 7am to 2pm.

I’m sad to report I didn’t wake up until 9:30am and my group got off at 7:30am. Since I’ve been to San Juan before I decided to stay on board and just explore an empty ship all morning.

I explored the Boardwalk and even found a monkey out there!

Okay it’s not a real monkey, but he sure was cute. 

Lunch at Park Café 

Since I didn’t eat breakfast I was starting to get hungry, all the lunch options didn’t open until 11:30am. I almost went for Sabor again, but decided I’d go have a big salad in Park Café.

When I arrived to Park Café there was a line, again. It seems that this place has really become more popular over the years because I never recall seeing a line here.

Once you walk in to the left you will see a salad bar, with various toppings. After the salad bar they have pre-made sandwich’s packaged up and small bags of chips.

Followed by the famous roast beef sandwich, my favorite! 

Afternoon on board 

I decided I wouldd go enjoy some time on the pool deck, but I wanted to relax in the solarium.

The solarium on this class ships is really impressive, I like how it’s partly covered with openings to let fresh air come in for a nice breeze. They also have the only freshwater swimming pool on board. 

I’m sad to report when we left San Juan at 2pm we left a family of 4 on the pier, they arrived just minutes before we left.

This is a good wake-up call for myself to make sure I arrive to ship on time and not risk the ship leaving us. 

Dinner – Formal Night 

Tonight was our second formal night, we decided to get ready early and enjoy some pre-dinner drinks in the champagne lounge. This bar is usually very empty but on formal night it’s busy.

Shortly after, we decided we were all a little hungry and didn’t want to wait until dinner to eat, so it’s pre-dinner time.

To do something different we took the Rising Tide bar up to Central Park, then some tapa’s at Vintages.

They have a full menu of the tapa’s you can order starting around $5. They also offer a selection of them for $12-$20, which is great for 4+ people.

Tonight was lobster night in the Main Dining Room and that’s always something to get excited about. The lobster was very enjoyable and they are always willing to bring out more, if you can eat them.

The service has been really good in the dining room, we haven’t had any issues what so ever. I’ll also note one person in our group can only eat gluten free options and the staff has been great about getting him specials items not on the menu. 

Comedy show 

After dinner we had 11pm reservations for the comedy show. I would suggest arriving at least 20-30 minutes before the reserved show time.

There will be two long lines when you arrive, one for reservations and one without.

At 10:55pm they let the standby line start coming in to fill any empty seats. I was actually surprised with the number of extra people got in 20-30, but a large amount also didn’t once it was full.

The show was really funny; they have a host and two comedians, and last one hour. The show is not something you want to take the kids too, as the jokes can push the limits sometimes. Of course, I sat in the front row, seat 1 and was picked on the whole show, but I loved it!

After the show we wrapped up at the pub for a few songs and called it an night. 

Tomorrow is Labadee!

Allure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - St. Maarten

In:
09Jun2016

Our blogger, Michael Poole, is on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas this week and is LIVE blogging every day. Follow along for daily updates.

Morning on board 

Today was our first port stop in the beautiful St. Maarten.

Honestly, I was a little ready for our first stop; I’ve never started a cruise on two sea days before.

I woke up early this morning and went for my first run on the cruise. After that meal last night the run was much needed. I decided to run on the track since we were docking in St. Maarten. On Oasis class ships they have a track on deck 5, and 2.3 laps is 1 mile.

After my run I decided to grab breakfast at the Solarium Bistro, this is also a free breakfast option. If you are looking for a lite breakfast, or fast I’d recommend this venue. 

St. Marrten 

We docked at 8am, but since we did not have an excursion booked, we waiting until 9:15am to get off the ship. Unless you have something booked, try to wait just an hour to get off; it can be a little busy in the gangway.

Once you walk off, they have a water taxi what will take you over boardwalk for $7 round-trip. The cruise compass had a $1 off the water taxi ride coupon, but for some reason they didn’t take it.

The ride over is around 5 minutes but it’s very pretty.

Once we arrived to the boardwalk, we just explored and did some shopping.

Around 11am we decided to have lunch at The Blue Bitch restaurant.

I’ve been eating at this restaurant for many years now, and it’s become my little tradition. 

Afternoon in St. Maarten 

This afternoon, all we wanted to do is enjoy some beach time. They have people selling beach chairs, umbrellas, and a bucket of beers for $20. This also comes with free Wi-Fi, but you just have to walk up to the restaurant to use it since the signal is too weak on the beach.

At 4:30pm was all on board, and I stayed at the beach until 4:15pm, really took full advantage of my day here.

Once I was back on board, we all decided to keep the fun going and head up to the beach pool for an hour.

I usually like to get in the pool once I’m back on board anyway because it’s so hot. 

Dinner – Costal Kitchen 

Tonight for dinner, I was invited to the new suite restaurant – Coastal Kitchen.

The restaurant is located where the Viking Crown Lounge used to be before her dry dock a year ago.

Once I arrived they have a locked door and you must enter your SeaPass card.  The process of getting in is very similar to the Diamond Lounge.

If you are staying in a suite, they don’t mind you taking a few friends with you to dinner, and it’s also complimentary.

For starters we had some flat breads and mushroom soup. The soup was by far the best soup I think I’ve ever had, nothing like the soups you get in the main dining room.

For the main course we all went with the steak, which was also good, but I think it was just the filet of beef they serve in the main dining room.

Overall it was a great dining experience, but for me, I’ll stick with Sabor

Evening on board 

Tonight was the 70’s party on the Royal Promenade at 10pm.

I noticed they were selling seats on the Rising Tide bar for the duration of the 70's Party. The cost for the VIP sections was $40 per person, and included all drinks during the party.

The show was really fun, I watched from the Schooner Bar, but I didn’t see a lot of dancing happening.

Since we were all in the dancing mood we headed to dazzles where they also had a 70’s themed music, with a live band. 

Today as a fun filled day, very action packed. Around midnight is where I called it an evening.

Tomorrow is San Juan!

Allure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Sea Day

In:
08Jun2016

Our blogger, Michael Poole, is aboard Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas and LIVE blogging every day his adventure!

Morning Time 

Well, it’s another sea day on board the Allure of the Seas, and I’d say I took full advantage of the day.

I started my day off with off at the Next Cruise Office booking the Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise on Harmony of the Seas, September 16, 2017.

They have a notebook outside the office where you can fill in an appointment time.

The big perk of booking on board is bonus on board credit, which you can take now or push to that cruise. This was a fairly easy process and they pull all your information off the sea pass card. 

Now that I’m excited about my new cruise booking, it was time to head to our pre-arranged bar crawl.

We planned to stop at four bars and then end up at Sabor for lunch. Well after the second bar, I think we all decided to go have some lunch, oh well the bar hop was a good idea right? That’s the beauty about cruising; you can change plans and do what you want. 

Lunch at Sabor 

I know what you must be thinking by now, how many times are you going to eat at Sabor?

Our lunch group was for 10 and the service was a little slower, but that’s expected for a large group.

I had the perfect margarita and the world’s famous guacamole.

They bring a cart over tableside and ask how you would like it prepared: mild, medium, or hot.

For my lunch I went with the chicken quesadilla, not the most exciting thing on the menu but will never let you down.

My total was $10 for the two, so a great option for someone who might be on a budget.

And for those of you who are dying to know, we ordered 6 guacamoles for the table. 

Afternoon on board 

After lunch I had around an hour to kill, so I thought between a nap or swimming for the first time… Well I figure I’ll sleep when I get home, the pool won.

Really surprised myself, but this was my first time in the pool the whole cruise.

The pools have been very busy but I’ve always seen chairs open. I like going to the beach pools because it has tables in between the chairs and umbrella’s to help block some of the sun. 

Mama Mia 

Today we had reservations at Mama Mia and I was so excited about seeing it again.

I saw it a few years back on Broadway when they brought Mama Mia to Quantum of the Seas when she launched.

Our show reservations were for 5pm, but for this show I’d suggest arriving at least 45 minutes early but try for an hour.

If you notice in the picture this was the line at 4pm waiting to get into the show for the prime seat.

The show is two and a half hours long, with a 15-minute intermission.

I’m sad to report I left for coffee at intermission and didn’t return. I was really enjoying the show and they do such a great job, but I was just too sleepy, maybe I should have napped. 

Dinner at Giovanni’s Table 

Tonight we had made reservations for Giovanni’s Table for 13 guests at 8pm. I was really excited about dining here because it’s the best group setting venue with their family style dining.

For our starters, they just brought them all out, so it was fun trying new things you perhaps wouldn’t order before.

I’m a big fan of their lasagna so we contacted our Diamond concierge to have that pre-arranged for us. This is a dish they just serve at lunch, but will often save some for dinner if ask a day before hand.

Our main courses worked the same way; they just brought everything out in the center of the table. At this point in the meal I was getting into what I call a food coma.

The service tonight for a large table like this was absolutely outstanding; we never had empty drink cups, wine glass, ect. After the meal was done, our waiter and chef came out to the table to thank us for dining with them and hoped we had enjoyed their food.

It was funny, because our waiter sat down at the head of the table after to have conversation with us for 10-15 minutes. The cover charge was $25 per person, that also includes gratuities, however we all left extra for their service. 

Well friends today was very action packed from start to finish. At 10:30pm I decided I couldn’t handle anything else except my bed. I wanted to feel very rested for my fun day in St. Maarten. Thanks for following along!

Allure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
07Jun2016

Michael Poole is live blogging from Allure of the Seas this week. Follow along to see his journey!

Over the years I've started to enjoy the ship just as much, if not more than the actual destinations so any time I have a sea day, I’m in paradise.

Today I woke up and grabbed a coffee at Café Promenade. They have free coffee or you can order one for an up charge. If you have a drink package that includes coffee this is where you us it on Oasis class ships, as the true Starbucks is excluded.

After my coffee I decided to go on the outside track, but sadly not to run! I wanted to enjoy my coffee while taking in the views of the aft of the ships. 

Lunch at Park Café & Sabor 

Lunch today was back at Park Café, there was no line so the first day rush appears to be over. I did not take a picture of my lunch because I got the very same thing as yesterday, roast beef sandwich and a salad.

We were just enjoying each other at Park Café and I made the suggestion to move over to Sabor for a drink.

I actually starting laughing when I got there because, we left one lunch walked straight to the next, I think I know somebody that does that too…

I ordered a spicy margarita and boy was it spicy. I took around three sips and just started to get very and sweating, so I asked the bartender if there was any way to bring the spice down. However, she just suggested making me another drink at no charge.

If you have the premium drink package the margarita’s are included here. We enjoyed most of the afternoon at Sabor 

Formal Night 

Tonight was formal night with the Captain’s reception on the promenade.

One of my favorite spots on formal night is the Schooner Bar by the glass looking over. I arrived here at 6pm to start building our section of seats.

I like sitting here so you are not packed on the promenade. The captain’s reception is a great option if you don’t have the drink package because they hand out free champagne from 8pm.

The captain made talked about how many passengers were on board, where everyone was from, and a little history about the ship. 

Dinner 

Tonight we headed back to the main dining room for dinner.

One of my second favorite meals in the dining room is tonight for the lobster bisque soup and filet of beef. I went with the two orders of soup and double meat on filet of beef.

Tonight’s dinner was going at a much faster pace than last night. I noticed the table beside us tell the waiter they had a show in 30 minutes so their dinner was rushed out to the table. After dinner we went to dazzles where they had a game going to sing the song when they cut the music off. At first I did not think I would like the game, but I stayed and thought it was really fun.

After the game was over the had a live band playing 80’s music, which I loved. 

Tomorrow is another sea day, but it’s action packed with a bar hop, Mama Mia, and Giovanni’s Table!

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

In:
06Jun2016

Royal Caribbean Blog writer Michael Poole is on Allure of the Seas this week and is LIVE blogging his experiences right here. Check back every day for a new post, all about what he did onboard.

Pre Cruise – Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Over the years it’s become tradition of mine to fly down early and water the ships leave Port Everglades.

We had two ships leave today one Carnival and the Oasis of the Seas. I was so excited to see the Oasis up close; even if you have seen it many times it’s still very impressive.

If you are wondering how to get out to the rocks I wrote a full blog post on how.

After the beach we had dinner at Boatyard restaurant. The restaurant is very nice, mostly seafood options and on the water, however it’s very expensive if you are looking to keep it on a budget.

Cruise Day – Allure of the Seas

This morning, we all had a pre-arranged shuttle through our hotel to take us to the ship at 9:30am. I know, I usually don’t arrive at the terminal this early but in a group you just go with the flow.

When we arrived around 9:45AM the porters where standing curbside to help us. However, once we went inside the terminal the security lines don’t start taking guest until 10am.

Once it reached 10am we were right though with no issues, actually very fast. I mention we have a group of 35, around half of us are Diamond or Diamond Plus and we were all able to sit together in the Diamond lounge. The boarding process started at 11:15am, and we were on board at 11:25am.

Once on board, we all rushed straight to Park Café for lunch and it wasn’t opened yet! That kind of seams to be the theme today, they did open at 11:35am.

I will say, the line here was unlike I’ve ever seen before, I think the secret is out about having lunch here on day one.

Sail away

On the Oasis class they don’t put you outside under the lifeboats for the muster drill, rather in large venues.

My location was in the Aqua Theater, so it’s much more enjoyable than the method on ever other Royal Caribbean ship.

For the sail away party we decided to meet in the Wipeout Bar in the aft.

his bar is between the two FlowRider facing the very back. If you are looking for a location without a lot of people I would suggest this area. They had great bar service here and it’s a different kind of view than you are usually used to poolside.

Pre-Dinner

Tonight, my group decided to meet in the Champagne lounge for pre dinner cocktails.

I must report, they were out of the two champagne that were included in the premium drink package. So needless to say the champagne lounge didn’t have any champagne. They said, by tomorrow they should restock on the bottles so we will see what they have.

I notice the limit on the drinks for the premium package is now $13 vs the $12 limit they have had in the past.

I went with the Cucumber Martini, which is good, but the real one is down in 150 Central Park.

Dinner / Aqua Show

Dinner tonight was in the main dining room, on deck 4. We went with second seating at 8:30pm.

My favorite meal all week was tonight the famous prime rib!

We also brought a bottle of wine for the table to share, if you are wondering there is no cork fee for your own bottles.

Around 10:15pm, we forgot we had the aqua show in 30 minutes so we quickly left dinner, to change for the show. Even though you have reservations for this show you want to arrive at least 20 minutes early for a good seat.

They have a little pre show in the crowd that helps pass the time and it’s funny too.

For those of you that have seen both Oasis and Allure aqua show, I think the Oasis on is far better. However, the show on Allure is still very enjoyable and I recommend everyone going to this show over all of them.

Few Random Thoughts

  • Voom didn’t work great the first few hours still in port, but it works great now.
  • Always a line at the freestyle coke machines.
  • Next Cruise office now on deck 5 on the promenade.
  • Haven’t been in the windjammer yet, and I don’t miss it.
  • Staff on board very friendly, bar staff fairly fast.

What questions do you have? Please comment below. Next up, sea day!

Live blogging from Allure of the Seas - Preamble

In:
31May2016

Royal Caribbean Blog writer Michael Poole is going to be LIVE blogging from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas later this week. Follow along here for all the fun he will be sharing!

Well friends, I am back for another live blog from Allure of the Seas.

As many of you likely recall, the Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise was on Allure of the Seas this past February. I am going to try and take you on a different journey, but still copy some of Matt’s daily trips to Sabor. This will be my second time cruising on the Allure of the Seas and it has been some years since I was last on her. She was just 3 months old the last time, so I’m excited to see how she has matured.

I am sailing on this cruise with my brother; Jason Poole and his husband, Caleb. But also joining us is 23 other friends! We met most of our group on other cruises over the years and have stayed in touched. There are a few people in the group - friends of friends - that will be new friends to me. However, sailing in a large group is going to be a lot of fun and I will share many group photos.

Itinerary

This cruise is sailing to the Eastern Caribbean, but has a unique itinerary because it is stopping in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

It has been a few years since I last sailed to San Juan, so I am excited to explore and take endless photos of old San Juan. I’ll also be stopping in St. Maarten and ending the cruise in Labadee, Haiti.

The reason I booked the cruise on this date, was because of the stop in San Juan, as they usually stop in St. Thomas. I booked this cruise a year ago while on board Freedom of the Seas, using their next cruise-booking perk.

Cabin Type

When I originally booked this cruise, I booked into a Central Park Balcony. I know many people have fallen in love with these balconies and I understand why.

However, they just are not my favorite, but I booked this cabin because they were the best value at the time. Over the course of a few months, I noticed the boardwalk balcony dropped in price to what I was paying, so I jumped cabins.

Well believe it not; as time went on, I was able to switch to an ocean balcony for the very same price. So over the course of a year, I’ve been in three different cabin types.

I will be sailing in ocean balcony cabin D8 – 6688. I know almost everyone likes their balcony to be on the higher decks, but trust me on this one… Try a balcony on a lower deck on Oasis Class ships. Here are my reasons: Promenade one deck down, Boardwalk is right down the hall, Central Park is two decks up, Schooner Bar for my balcony beer just a few feet away.

Pre – Cruise

Friday I’ll be flying down to Ft. Lauderdale late, so I won’t have any plans other than heading to my hotel. However, Saturday will be a full day in South Florida to kick start our vacation.

We plan to explore around the city and experience eating at some new places. In the afternoon hours, I’ll be heading over to the beach to watch The Oasis of the Seas sail away. If you are interested in watching, I’ll be sharing the sail away live on Periscope app, @mpoole3.

Well friends, the next post will be from the Allure of the Seas! I am really excited to share my experiences with you virtually.

Please comment below if you have any questions about the ship.

Allure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Sea Day

In:
27Feb2016

Today is our last day of the cruise, and that is always a really tough day mentally because of the inevitability of the end of the cruise approaching.

Oddly, our children slept in quite a bit today to the point I had to get up to do some research for the blog by virtue of my alarm.  Clearly, the only way they sleep in is when we take a cruise.

I spent the beginning of my morning with tea at Cafe Promenade, followed by some work for the blog.  

At 11am, everyone in the group got together in Central Park to record an upcoming episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast. 

It was a lot of fun reminiscing about our time together and sharing experiences, recommendations and stories.  Look for that podcast episode to air next week.

For lunch, we headed down to the Boardwalk for Johnny Rockets.

The line to get in was very short, but the wait to get our actual food took a really long time.  Because the inside restaurant was full and the outdoor seating was nearly, if not completely, full.  We did not have much to do, but it took longer than usual to get our food.

Once the food arrived, it was quite good and I enjoyed my meal there.

Following lunch, it was time for naps for the kids right before we saw Ice Games.

Ice Games is the ice skating show on Allure of the Seas and it might just be the best ice skating show I have seen on any Royal Caribbean cruise.

The music, acrobatics and energy in the show were quite possibly even better than the ice show on Freedom of the Seas.

Following the show, it was back to the room to pack.  The worst cruise related activity ever!

I headed up to the pool deck one last time to see the sunset and while not the most beautiful ever, it is always really enjoyable to witness while at sea.

I also managed to find a little bit of time to go to the casino. I have spent the least amount of time ever in the casino on this cruise (much to my wife's joy) and managed to do quite well!

We dropped the kids off at Adventure Ocean and then proceeded to have our pre-dinner at Sabor for "one last guac".

We had margaritas and guacamole only and it was a great way to top off our cruise adventure.

With the end of the cruise, I cannot help but look back on our week aboard Allure of the Seas and think about what I liked, what went well and what lessons I learned for future cruises.

First and foremost, I would cruise again on Allure of the Seas in a heartbeat.  It is a wonderful ship with a great crew that offers an incredible amount of activities for guests to do.  If you ever have thought, "I wish there was more to do onboard", the Oasis class ships are perfect for you.

It is a credit to the crew onboard Allure of the Seas that they can provide such enticing and great entertainment throughout the day and night that so often, everyone kept saying, "I am not sure what to do because there are so many great possibilities."

I also thoroughly enjoyed cruising with so many wonderful friends that joined me for this group cruise.  Putting together group cruises is no easy task and I constantly wonder if what I have planned will be remotely fun and if people will have a good time.

I thought we had a fantastic group that all enjoyed the experience across many ways.  It seemed like as we said our goodbyes today that everyone felt a great loss at knowing we will not be congregating for drinks at the Champagne Bar, or spotting each other on a nearby balcony or running into one another in the hall.  I really felt like everyone had a great time onboard and would love to do it all over again.

A big thank you to everyone that has been following along on this live blog since day one and have offered up some great comments, questions and suggestions along the way. I am so lucky to be able to share this cruise experience with all of you and it makes me even more excited for our next cruise adventure on Navigator of the Seas in April.

If I shamelessly plug for a moment, I will note that we have two more group cruises lined up over the next 12 months and I am personally inviting each and every one of you to join us for it.  If you thought this live blog was fun, then the group cruises are definitely for you.

Once again, thank you for all of your support by reading these live blogs and I cannot wait to do this again very soon!

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Allure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Cozumel

In:
26Feb2016

Our late evening last night meant we all were sleeping in this morning, although my wife and I were surprised how late the kids sleep.

We decided to engage in the time-honored parenting tradition of using the kids as an alarm clock, but even by 8:30am, they were sound asleep and we needed to get going.

We had ordered breakfast room service to our room to arrive between 8am and 8:30 am, and it came just before 8:30am.  We got it for the kids, so that they could eat and get ready quickly.

Our plan for today in Cozumel was simple: drop the kids off at Adventure Ocean and the Nursery and then me and my wife could enjoy a day together on shore.

We were off the ship by 9:30 and we were on our way.

The day in Cozumel started off windy and overcast, but by about 11am the skies cleared, the sun came out and it was a marvelous day.

We took a taxi into town and I dropped my wife off at a local massage spot in Cozumel, run by a very nice American ex-pat.  She offers massages in her house for very reasonable prices and we had used her on our previous visit in November.

The massage took an hour, so I spent my time walking around.  I had brunch at a restaurant a few blocks away, Lonchería Chelly.

It is a no-frills Mexican cuisine restaurant and I was looking for something light to fuel my day. 

I ordered ceviche, which turned out to be really, really good.   It was a huge serving and I ate way more than I was planning on, but it was worth every bite.

I headed back to the massage parlor to meet up with my wife and we went to find somewhere for my wife to have a little bite to eat.

We ran across a cute little coffee shop nearby that had a light breakfast option along with coffee.

My wife had chocolate waffles with strawberries that came out great and it was exactly what we were looking for.

Next up we did some shopping in town and found some jewelry for my wife.  Just like when we look for restaurants, we walk around the various streets and see what is available.

For lunch, we went back to my absolute favorite restaurant, Comidas Caseras Tonita.  It is a family-run restaurant that is frequented by various locals and they make some of the best food we have found in Cozumel.

Their guacomole and salsa are amazing and the Veracruz style grilled fish are very tasty.  My only regret is I cannot physically eat any more.

Following lunch, we did some more shopping in town and grabbed a coffee to go from a great little shop and then grabbed a taxi to bring us back to the port.

Back on the ship, we picked the kids up from Adventure Ocean and let them take a nap before dinner.  I have mentioned Adventure Ocean and the Nursery quite a bit and the staff at both locations do an amazing job keeping the kids entertained and the fact both my kids enjoy going there is a testament to the quality of service offered there.  

As the kids napped and subequently got ready for their evening back in Adventure Ocean, I partook in some pre-dinner at Izumi.

I had no problem getting in and went for my favorite dish on the menu: DX Sushi Combo.  It is by far the best value for what you get.

I then raced up to the pool deck to join my fellow group cruisers to see if the sailaway and see all the late stragglers running to the ship from the bar. 

Docked next to us was Liberty of the Seas, and it gave me an excellent vantage point to see the new water slides and aqua park that were added during her refurbishment last month.

As an added bonus, there was a spectacular sunset!

We dropped the kids off at Adventure Ocean and headed down to the Champagne Bar to try something I hear lots of chatter about: the cucumber martini.

As the name implies, it has a cucumber taste to it but it was really smooth and I could really tell why so many enjoy having this drink.  

Dinner tonight was in the main dining room, with the highlight being coffee ice cream as the ice cream selection.  I asked for as much as they could give me!

Following dinner, we went to the theater to watch Blue Planet.

Blue Planet is a show that depicts the natural wonders of Earth in song and dance.  The performances were really quite good and the musical selections were enjoyable as well.  

Tomorrow is our last sea day and our last day on the cruise.  Not much I can do but try to squeeze in as much as fun out of our day as possible!

Stray observations

  • Cozumel remains a favorite port to visit.  It has a lot of tourist trap elements, but if you are willing to explore, there are some great hidden gems for the gastronomically inclined.
  • There was a huge line to get a taxi this morning. If the taxi line is long, a good tip is to walk out of the port area, take a left and go to the nextdoor El Cid resort.  You can pick up a taxi there with absolutely no wait.
  • If exiting the theater on deck 4 and you encounter a large crowd, go up to deck 5 to exit. There are less guests on deck 5 and their deck empties into the Royal Promenade, whereas deck 4 empties into the casino, which is quite narrow.
  • Watching guests try out the FlowRider is quite the spectator sport.
  • The pool towel renting policy of scanning your SeaPass card is alive and well on Allure of the Seas, despite earlier indications it was gone fleet wide.  It appears the policy differs from ship to ship.
  • The best time to do any popular activities, such as the FlowRider or Zip Line is anytime after first seating of dinner.  That deck empties out!

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