The Allure of the Seas—alongside its sister the Oasis—is an incredible mega-ship that provides endless activities for its 6,000 passengers. We took a week-long trip from Fort Lauderdale to three stops in the Caribbean: the Bahamas, St. Maarten, and the US Virgin Islands.
After a quick and easy boarding process, we took some time to explore the Allure’s seven “neighborhoods.” The Royal Promenade is especially incredible, with its super high ceilings and spacious feeling. While strolling through the Promenade we noticed a Freestyle Coca-Cola machine (which lets you choose your own mix & match flavors), so even though we’d never purchased a soda package on a cruise ship before, the machine looked so fun we just had to get it! We thought it was worth it on the Allure, but we probably won’t buy a soda package again since it’s quite expensive.
Our exterior balcony stateroom was spacious, and we appreciated all the nooks and crannies where we could store our clothes and toiletries (as cruise ships almost never have a traditional dresser or chest for clothes). The complimentary shampoo and conditioner is average quality at best, but we find that it’s easier to use what’s provided than to bring our own bottles. If you prefer to use high quality bath and body products, you probably will be disappointed by these free ones, but we thought they were fine for a week. Our room steward also did a fantastic job keeping our cabin spotless, and of course we loved the origami towel animals that he would leave in our room each evening with turndown service.
We had a set dining time and assigned table in the Allure, so we got to know our head waiter and assistant waiter, and enjoyed making a personal connection with them. The main dining room was also incredibly accommodating of dietary restrictions, which has been our experience on other Royal Caribbean ships as well. The meals we ate here and in the Windjammer Cafe were really delicious, and we were definitely pleased with the quality of the food onboard.
The diving and figure skating shows on board are both must-sees. While the Broadway-style performances in the Opal Theatre were entertaining, they don’t have the thrills we saw in the water and on the ice. Be sure to check both of these out!
In addition to taking advantage of the onboard athletic activities like ice skating and the FlowRider surf simulator, the Allure’s gym is the largest and nicest we’ve seen on any cruise ship. The gym never felt crowded, and there were numerous cardio and weight machines to choose from. Given the spaciousness of the fitness center—and the lack of crowds we experienced across the ship—it was really hard to believe just how many people were onboard. Royal Caribbean did a tremendous job creating a ship that could accommodate thousands of vacationers at one time. On the Allure, our ‘sea’ days were just as fun and exciting as those we spent ashore in the Bahamas, St. John, and St. Maarten.
A large number of the Nassau shore excursions offered through Royal Caribbean are to Atlantis—which we’d visited before—so we decided to book a catamaran snorkel tour. We have snorkeled in some truly epic coral gardens, so although we certainly enjoyed our Bahamas tour, the snorkeling was pretty average. There were definitely sea creatures and coral to look at, but not the same diversity of sea life that you’d find in Hawaii, for instance. However, we love sailing on a catamaran, so this was still a fun trip that we really enjoyed.
US Virgin Islands
The ship docked at Charlotte Amelie in St. Thomas, but we decided to take a day trip to St. John. To our dismay the weather was overcast and rainy, so the ferry ride from St. Thomas to St. John was choppy and rough. The ferry operator told us that it was a short taxi ride from the dock to Trunk Bay (which he recommended as a great snorkel spot), so we tried to wait out the rain in hopes of a couple of hours of clear weather, but no luck! Instead, we went shopping and had a leisurely lunch at the shopping center a few minutes walk from the ferry, which still made for a lovely afternoon even though it wasn’t quite what we’d hoped for.
We weren’t especially impressed with Royal Caribbean’s St. Maarten shore excursion options, so instead we booked an island tour with a well-reviewed company called Bernard’s. The tour took us from the cruise pier to several of St. Maarten’s must-see locales, including the iguana farm, the French/Dutch border, Orient Beach for lunch and some swimming, and Maho Beach to watch the low-flying planes. We loved touring the whole island, and our guide was friendly and knowledgable about St. Maarten’s history and culture. Because the tour was offered by an outside provider we weren’t sure if it would be as reputable as those booked through Royal Caribbean, but we had a great experience with Bernard’s. Also- be forewarned that the signs at Maho Beach about the jet blast are not exaggerating about the intensity of the jet engines at takeoff. The blast was enough to knock us backwards, and we were already about 25 feet away from the fence that blocks the airfield from the beach. You can clearly see we were blown away in the video!
In summary, the Allure of the Seas—and its sister the Oasis—are the best cruise ships we’ve been on to date. It’s hard to imagine how Royal Caribbean can top these ships, but we can’t wait to see them try!