WOW! I must have said this word like a billion times on the Allure of the Seas. Kudos to the Royal Caribbean marketing team for using WOW in their promotions because it sums up our entire week on the Allure very nicely. This is my first written review about a cruise ship so I figured I would break down the cruise into smaller chunks to talk about. Here’s how our week on the 3rd largest cruise ship (6,500+ passengers) in the world went…
After You Read My Review on Allure of the Seas, Check out Our Allure Cruise Vlogs.
If you are not familiar with the word embarkation, it’s simply a fancy cruise word for checking in. Getting to the port is easy from Orlando. We drove down the turnpike/I-95 and we were at Port Everglades in about 3.5 hours. We left at 8ish and arrived around 12pm. Not too shabby. Parking was interesting to say the least. First thing, make sure you have your cruise docs handy when pulling into the port. They have a security gate where you must show ID and cruise docs for everyone in the car. This was something that they do not do in Miami or Port Canaveral. Unfortunately our cruise docs were in my luggage pouch, which was all the way in the back of the car. Lucky for me however, I quickly opened the Royal Caribbean app and pulled up my cruise docs on there. I didn’t know if it would work but luckily it was sufficient for the security officer. He did take my phone and make sure all ID’s matched the names on the cruise docs.
Ok, so we got through the first gate, now it was time to find the porters, drop off our bags and then park the car. This was not our first time so even though we had not been to Port Everglades, we still knew the gist of what would happen next. Unfortunately, it’s important to remember that not everyone on your cruise is a returning cruiser. There are lots of first timers and they get confused really easily when it comes to the porters and baggage. There was a car in front of us that was facing this very thing. They were confused and that led to them stopping short in the middle of the road, which led to the police screaming and yelling and blowing whistles. It gets everyone really stressed out. So had the car not been in front of us, we would have blown through the baggage drop off procedure. But it was all right. Again, not our first time so we absorbed the little bit of stress, dropped off our bags and proceeded to park the car. All in all, the whole thing from front gate to parking space, took about 25 minutes.
Now time to head to the check-in counter. The signs were clearly marked showing the entrance for all guests. There are two separate entrances, one for suite guests and diamond members and the other for everyone else. We were then directed to the security line. Here is where my first thought of “OMG, how are they going to process 6,000 people through security?” It turned out that there were a bunch of different security lines. If you didn’t look at all the cruise decorations, you would have thought you were at the airport. With all the security booths, the lines were long but they kept moving. 15 minutes later we were standing at the check-in counter. BTW: The fastest security process in all of our cruise travels, even with VIP suite access.
Checking in at the counter was super easy. We filled out our health questionnaire, our picture was taken for our cruise card and we were off to board the ship. We officially landed on the Royal Promenade (the main Allure deck 5) at 12:55pm. Seriously the fastest we have ever checked in and boarded a cruise ship. As we stood there are on Deck 5 with our jaws wide open in amazement, the announcement was made that all cabins were available. I mean, talk about perfect timing. The rooms were open at 1pm.
Let’s talk about the cabin: We were in an oceanview room on deck 3. If you do not know what an oceanview room is – it is a room that has a window but no balcony. Usually these rooms are lower to the ocean (not always) and because you are lower, you have a great view of the ocean. I really loved our cabin. I know there are people out there that think we were pretending to like the cabin because we have been staying in a lot of suites lately, but I honestly, truthfully liked the cabin a lot. This was our first oceanview room. We have stayed in inside staterooms, we have stayed in balconies and we have stayed in suites but this tops my list as one of my favorite rooms. What made this room so special to me? The window. I know this may seem funny but the window was amazing. I loved the light when we would walk through the door and at night, it was amazing to sit on the bed and watch the ocean go by. In a balcony room or suite, you have to walk out on the balcony to see the water rushing by. Yes, you can look out and see the horizon but there was something soothing about watching the wave action right outside your window. It was something new and it was different. I will never forget the memories of lying in bed with Sean just watching the waves pass by. It was a great moment that truly made the oceanview the best room ever!
Space – Yes, the room is small but because of the size, it forces you to use every space that’s available. For me, this is very important. I do not like clutter and there is nothing worse than clutter in a small cabin. This is where I was so appreciative of all the storage space. I found that everything had a place. There were drawers for all my hair stuff. I fantastic shelf space next to the mirror for all my makeup, deodorant, sunscreen, etc. There was nice shelving in the closet for tshirts, underware and even our shoes. The closet space to hang clothes was small but it was doable. The sliding door on the closet made it difficult to reach the middle clothes that were hanging but again, not the end of the world. There was even great storage space in the bathroom but because there was so much storage in the cabin itself, I didn’t end up using the bathroom storage at all.
Bathroom – Ok, unless you are in a suite, no one is writing home about how large bathrooms are on a cruise ship. They are small and this was not an exception. But the bathroom was adequate. I will take a smaller bathroom for a larger cabin any day. So you have a toilet, a sink and a shower. Yes, the shower feels like a phone booth but feeling like Clark Kent every day is something right?! Just joking (or am I), lol. The bathroom was enough to get in do your business and get out. That’s about it. I will say one thing though, the ventilation was amazing. The cabin never got steamed up after opening the bathroom door. So that was a plus!
So all in all, I loved our cabin (and I am being honest). I loved our little window that looked out into the ocean. I loved that everything had a space and we were clutter free. And I loved my superman transformation everyday!
Let’s talk about the size of this ship…saying this ship is massive is putting it mildly. This ship is huge. Like really, really big. On day one it was a little overwhelming. There are all these activities and you don’t know where to start or where to go. But after you get your bearings, which doesn’t take that long, the Allure has a great design and flow. The coolest, and definitely the most unique, thing about the ship are the neighborhoods. There is a Central Park area and there is a Boardwalk area. Both of these were spectacular and worth a visit to this ship. Walking through Central Park at night was one of our nightly highlights and going to the Boardwalk to get morning donuts and then take a spin on the carousel was so amazing.
Now this is not the grandest, most beautiful ship you have ever seen. It is a floating theme park. If you took Universal Studios and placed it on the water, you would have the Allure. But what Allure lacks in grandeur, it makes up for with stuff to do. There is something around every corner and at any time of the day. If you are bored on this ship, you are definitely doing something wrong.
WOW! (there’s that wow again, lol) Seriously all I can say is WOW! The entertainment on Allure is Vegas quality. I mean every where you turned there was live music and the musicians on this ship are top notch.
Mamma Mia – We saw this on the first night and we were blown away with the quality of the production. This was better than most shows I have seen on land (in all fairness, I have never seen a show in NYC. Don’t hold that against me). The performers were amazing. The singing was amazing. The live orchestra/band was amazing. The sets…well, the set was one piece that would be spun around to create a “new scene” but…the use of the set was amazing. So all in all, the show was…AMAZING! Even Sean, who really doesn’t like broadway shows, enjoying every minute of Mamma Mia. Congrats to the cast for converting my non-show loving husband into someone who now wants to see more shows. (Seriously, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now I have a broadway play buddy. Woohooo).
OceanAria – This is Royal Caribbean’s big diving show and there is only one word for this one…AMAZING! Seriously, there are some really talented divers and acrobats that perform in this show. The music was wonderful and the location is great. If you don’t know, OceanAria is performed in the back AquaTheater. The theater is outside so it was lovely to have the ocean breeze while watching some of the coolest diving I have ever seen (and just keep in mind that we are on a moving cruise ship, with wind, while these performers are diving. The physics of jumping into the air, when you have a pool that is moving below you, is astounding. Let all that sink for a minute).
Private Stock – Private Stock was a headliner show in the big Amber Theater. They were wonderful. The show was all about rock n roll and they ROCKED IT! From Guns N Roses to Celine Dion, the show rocked from start to finish. This band was awesome! A great way to spend the evening.
Blue Planet – Another WOW moment & performance. The show was all about the earth. The singers from Mamma Mia sang pop music songs that referenced parts of the earth, Songs like ‘What a Wonderful World’, ‘Kiss the Rain’, etc., while the dancers and acrobats did some amazing stunts and dance routines. There is a water scene that is absolutely breathtaking. This is a not-to-be-missed show for the whole family. Great from start to finish!
Live Music – The musicians on Allure are fantastic. From big bands in the Dazzles club to the small, intimate saxophone player in Central Park, the music on Allure was top notch.
Overall – WOW! Seriously just wow! I have never experienced cruise ship entertainment like this before. I would say the entertainment onboard is worth the cruise price in itself. I would recommend making reservations for everything before you board. I made all of our reservations before and it made it super easy to walk up to every show 15 minutes before and find a seat. They do open the seats up for everyone at the 5 minute mark so don’t stress too much if you don’t have a rezzy.
This was one of my biggest concerns on this ship. What would be like to be on a cruise ship with 6500 people? To be honest with you, it never felt like 6500 people. I never felt crowded or boxed in. The elevators did jam up around meal times but other than that, it was pretty open. There is always something going on all over the ship, so that kept people spread out.
Another thing I was worried about was children. Please don’t hate me for this. I love kids. I was a teacher for 6 years but having kids run around you, causing mayhem, is not a fun vacation. I didn’t know what to expect since this was such a kid friendly cruise ship. I was pleasantly surprised to really not see kids much at all (and we were told there were 3800 under 18 onboard). Even in the buffet, which for me is where I have experienced the worst child interactions on past cruise ships, the buffet was orderly and all the kids I saw there were behaving in a non-banshee like state. Kudos to Royal Caribbean for having such a great kids program!
So yeah, the crowd was never an issue. Woot!
This is the category that everyone talks about on a cruise. What is the food like? Here are my thoughts about the meals that we experienced:
American Icon Grill | Casual Sit Down – Great breakfast. They have a menu side to the restaurant and a small buffet. We never had to wait longer than 5 minutes for a table. We even ended up sharing a table one morning with 3 other couples and it was fantastic (For the Record: they do not force you to eat with others. They ask if you would like to share a table and we decided to try it out. We ended up meeting awesome people and it was a great way to start the day). We did not try the buffet here but the menu items were great. We had made-to-order eggs, cereal, coffee, orange juice and pastries. This was definitely my favorite breakfast spot.
Windjammer Marketplace | Buffet – We tried the breakfast buffet once and we were not that happy with the offerings. They had all the usual breakfast food but it was just ok. The scrambled eggs were runny. The toast was cold. They do have a made-to-order egg stand but the line was really long so that was out. We came to realize that we are not breakfast buffet people. If you are in a hurry and want something quick, the buffet is the place to be. I will stick to the sit down restaurant where I always have fresh coffee and the food comes out hot and fresh.
There are a few other complementary breakfast options that we never explored. You can enjoy breakfast at Johnny Rockets, the Park Cafe and in the Solarium. Again, having all these breakfast options leads to fewer lines and wait times. Love that!
Windjammer Marketplace | Buffet – We had a few lunches here and it was wonderful. We had tacos, nachos, curry. Everything that we tried was tasty and delicious. I would definitely recommend the buffet at lunch, even though I didn’t care for the breakfast.
Park Cafe | Central Park Casual – Park Cafe is like a little hidden secret in Central Park. We had wonderful made-to-order salads but they also have wraps, sandwiches & soups. Another thing they have is amazing deserts. A great place to grab a chocolate chip cookie!
American Icon Grill | Casual Sit Down – We loved lunch here. We enjoyed burgers and salads. They also have a small buffet where you can get made-to-order salads (like Park Cafe) and they also have an incredible line up of desserts. I had the best chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. So yummy!
Again there are bunch of other options available for lunch. You can grab a some food at the WipeOut Cafe and you can grab a burger and fries at Johnny Rockets (small fee). You can also enjoy some of the specialty restaurants for lunch. We were looking at trying Giovanni’s (Italian) for lunch but we honesty forgot and then the cruise was over. Definitely want to try this next time.
American Icon Grill | Main Dining Room | My-Time Dining – Some of the best dinners we had were here. We only ate at the buffet on the first night and then every other night we ate in the main dining room. I was only able to make one reservation so I was nervous about being able to eat here every night. But we walked up around 630-7pm every night and only waited about 5 minutes to get a table each night. That was awesome!
The food was wonderful. We had a different meal each night. We had everything from prime rib to spaghetti and every meal was fantastic. The only meal we didn’t care for was the NY Strip. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either. Our favorite meal was the prime rib. It was so tasty and we were introduced to horseradish sauce which is now our must have for any future prime rib dish.
One cool thing you can order in the main dining room, is filet mignon from Chops Grille. We tried this on the last night just to see and it was wonderful. There is a $16.95 up charge for the steak but it is so worth it, especially if you don’t want to go to the Specialty Restaurant. We loved the filet. It was actually better than our Chops Grille NY Strip (but I’ll get to that in a second). I would definitely recommend trying the filet if you want the steakhouse quality meal, without the specialty restaurant price tag.
Windjammer Marketplace | Buffet – We only ate here the first night (until we were introduced to the main dining room) and we loved our dinner. It was a great first night place to get acclimated to the ship and enjoy a quick, casual meal. We had pasta and grilled chicken and it was tasty and great. We also had a great view of the AquaTheater which was awesome on our first day. I would definitely recommend the buffet for dinner. They had a great selection.
Chops Grille | Steakhouse | Specialty Restaurant ($39/pp) – We ate here for Sean’s birthday. It is a lovely restaurant. Small but elegant. We had a two top table by the window so you could look out at Central Park while you dined.
Before I talk about the dinner, I have to mention the gentlemen that were seated 10 minutes after us. These gentlemen (2 of them) were older and they were mean. They sat down yelling at the hostess who was seating them (and I do mean yelling). And then they started yelling at their server. These guys were just plain mean and everyone in the restaurant was being effected by their nastiness. I am telling this story because I do not believe we had the best experience at Chops because of their incessant complaining and anger. Everything was thrown off because of these guys. All of our appetizers were served at one time. We didn’t get great drink service. And I attribute this all to the guys sitting next to us because none of the servers wanted to be anywhere near them. We watched the crew literally break down because of these two. Oh well. You can’t choose your restaurant neighbors . I would love to come back to Chops again and give it another try, minus all the drama. Ok, back to the meal…
We started off with some wonderful bread. And then we had our appetizers and finally we received our main course. The steaks were good. We both ordered NY Strip steaks. They were cooked perfectly but they didn’t have a lot of flavor. The meat was tender but needed a lot of salt and pepper added. They had great sides and the dessert was delicious. After trying the filet in the main dining room, I would definitely recommend getting that over the NY Strip. The filet had more flavor and was a better piece of meat.
We enjoyed Chops Grille very much. If I compared Chops to Cagney’s on Norwegian Cruise Line, I would say Cagney’s comes out ahead. Atmosphere aside (thanks jerks), the food is better at Cagney’s. We have never had the filet mignon at Cagney’s but comparing the NY Strips, Cagney’s wins. The entrees may be best but Chops had much better side dishes. Overall though, I would definitely recommend Chops Grille if you are looking for a great steak (get the filet) and something different from the main dining room.
I wasn’t going to write about this but it was something that surprised me onboard so I wanted to mention it. On this cruise, we did not get the alcohol drink pass. We are not heavy drinkers so the price of the drink pass did not seem economical for us. If we wanted a drink, we would just order a la carte and be happy about life.
The one thing that we didn’t know about was the soda program. I researched this a bunch before leaving for the cruise and it is a great beverage package, if you like soda. Now I like an occasional soda at dinner but I wasn’t sure I would like to drink that much soda so I didn’t order the package before we left. Once on the ship, I saw that they have the Coca-Cola machines where you touch the screen to choose your beverage. I was watching someone and I noticed they had Minute Maid Lemonade and Powerade on the menu. I did an immediate double take because I was like “Powerade?? That would be awesome to have because cruises are so dehydrating. And they have the no-sugar Powerade as well. What???” So the next thing you know, we were purchasing the soda package and it was awesome!!!!! I definitely recommend this because there are so many drinks that are not soda (and you can still get your occasionally dinner soda as well). Having the Powerade option was especially nice on port days. It was so great knowing we could grab some quick sugar free hydration and it was all included.
This is the saddest part of the trip. Packing it all up and heading home. So how did the Allure handle disembarking 6500+ passengers….in the most efficient and timely manner we have ever experienced. Seriously, this was by far the fastest and easiest disembarkation we have gone through, excluding suite disembarkation (suite disembarkation is a completely different way to leave the ship and is still the best way to leave).
Ok, back to leaving. We received all the information about leaving the previous day. All of the information was in our cabin, along with bag tags. The paperwork we received explained the two ways you could leave the ship. The first way was express walk-off. With this option, you are responsible for carrying all of your luggage off the ship. There is no assistance but the elevators still run (I called about this before making our decision) so basically express walk-off is just like leaving a hotel. You roll your luggage out the door and then off the ship. With this option, you are the first to leave the ship but that means you are up at the crack of dawn. Not a big deal for some but that could make or break this option for some as well.
The second option was using the luggage assistance. With this option, you attach the tags that were dropped in your room, put your luggage outside of your room the night before, and then the crew will collect your bags, which will be waiting for you once you get off the ship. Think of this option like a plane and just like a plane, you pick up your luggage in baggage claim after you get off the ship. There is a number on your luggage tag and when they call your number, you can exit the ship. With this option, you can sleep in a little later or enjoy a later breakfast.
We had to get home pretty fast so we decided to go with the express walk-off. They do have breakfast in the morning but we decided we were good with cruise ship food so we opted out of breakfast and headed for the exit.
Let me just say how awesome Deck 3 really is. Deck 3 is home to the American Icon Grill, only 2 decks down from the Royal Promenade (the main deck) and was easily accessible to leaving the ship during disembarkation – we had the only deck going up on the elevators. Everyone else was fighting to come down to deck 5 except us.
Disembarkation takes place on Deck 5 which was awesome because we had the ability to catch an elevator going up. This never happens during disembarkation because everyone is usually going down. We were lucky to have a completely empty elevator so we rolled our luggage in and calmly pushed the button for Deck 5. Seriously, Deck 3 for the win! Once we were on Deck 5, we were directed to the express walk-off line. This is something we have experienced before and this is usually where the end of the cruise thunder dome begins. It is our most dreaded part of the cruise. We have seen fights. We have seen yelling. We have seen people literally push other people over. (Like I said, welcome to the thunder dome.) If it could happen, we have seen it standing in the express walk-off line. So here we were faced with the same line. So we took a deep breath and followed the instructions and made our way to the back of the line. The line seemed kind of long but again, nothing out of the ordinary for express walk-off. I believe we were in line around 6:30am. And you know what….THERE WAS NO THUNDER DOME! Everyone was happy and chatting and then to our surprise at 6:45am the line started moving. WHAT?? COULD THIS BE TRUE?? Yep. The ship was cleared and we were heading off. Woohoo! And it turned out that “long line” wasn’t actually that long. We were at customs by 6:55am. It only took 10 min to officially be off the ship and back in the U.S. (on other cruise lines, the express walk-off line would take about an hour and a half to finally make it to the customs booth. And that’s with only 4000 passengers. I will say Royal Caribbean exceeded every expectation for how smooth and efficient disembarkation went)
So all in all, disembarkation was a breeze! Two thumbs way up for Royal Caribbean!!!!
The Allure of the Seas is an amazing ship. You will definitely be saying wow when you see all there is to do. We truly had the best week onboard. I cannot wait to go on this ship again because there were so many things we didn’t get to experience. We completely forgot about the mini-golf. We missed half of the nighttime entertainment venues because we were doing other entertainment options. There is so much to do and just not enough time to do it. I will say that the Allure of the Seas is not a relaxing cruise. This is a theme park. How many times do you say “wow, that was a really relaxing day at Magic Kingdom?” You could relax if you wanted to but then you would be missing all the amazing activities onboard. If this was our 5th time on the Allure, I think we would know exactly what we like and don’t like but because this was our first time, we wanted to see and do as much as we could (again, not very relaxing, lol). I definitely recommend the Allure for anyone looking for a cruise that never stops (or sleeps for that matter). It really is Vegas on the sea.
I hope you have enjoyed my review. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions I can answer.
Thanks so much for reading!
If you are interested, check out our full ship tour video here.
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Stefanie Mullen is a Travel Filmmaker, Vlogger, Artist, Brand Ambassador and the CFO & Customer Service ninja of Rampant Design, Inc. She is a talented painter and former Walt Disney World parade performer. Stef is married to the AMAZING Sean IRL.