Yes, yes, yes, I know it’s been 3 months shhhhhh. But I recently returned from my first vacation of the year last week, and I have much to share. Though I did not traverse the globe or get my passport stamped, I took a much-needed cruise to relax and decompress after three weeks of IB exams and all the chaos of senior events and graduation. I ate at the buffet, fell asleep on a sunny lounge chair (multiple times, in fact), and spent at least 40% of my time in hot tubs. And, as much as the ‘traveler purist’ within me hates to say it, it was glorious.
There were 3 stops on this voyage to the Eastern Caribbean, and I did manage to emerge from a haven of pools and duty free shops to explore some of the region’s most idyllic islands, but what I did ashore will be revealed in due time. For now, it’s all about the ship. And what a ship it was: Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas
With a massive passenger count and a “neighborhood” compartmentalization, the Allure of the Seas is truly a floating city. Or you could just go with Miguel Washington’s (the week’s onboard comedian) apt description: The Big Ass Ship of the Seas. So, without further ado, my tour of this floating metropolis…
The Allure of the Seas was the world’s largest cruise ship until about a couple months ago, when its title was usurped (much like in a soap opera-esque family power struggle) by its almost incidentally larger sister ship, the Harmony of the Seas. Its weight is equivalent to an indeterminate—but undoubtedly large—number of blue whales (1,000, maybe? I am far too lazy to actually calculate this). Its length is equivalent to the height of some tall monument or building (Eiffel Tower? Empire State Building? Again, I am still in cruise mode so your guess is as good as mine). Just know that it is really, really huge—the Donkey Kong of oceangoing vessels. It is a cruise ship that could literally swallow other cruise ships.
The Allure of the Seas holds over 6,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members, yet very rarely (besides embarkation and debarkation) does the ship actually feel crowded—this is due to the ship’s innovative “neighborhood” concept. The ship is divided into seven distinct neighborhoods, each containing activities and attractions that keep guests dispersed throughout the ship instead of concentrated in one place at certain times of the day—this way, no particular neighborhood feels crowded. In fact, in some instances, I would argue that the Allure feels less crowded than some of its smaller counterparts.
Some of the seven neighborhoods include: The Boardwalk, Central Park, The Pool & Sports Zone, Entertainment Place, and The Royal Promenade, each of which serves a particular purpose and contains specific types of venues. But rather than going through each neighborhood—and because I have an unhealthy obsession with maps—here’s a map of the ship:
(Yes, I drew the ship. Don’t come for me—I’m a writer, not an artist)
Central Park: A living park at sea. Located in the center of the ship, this tranquil area of paths, plants, and trees is never crowded and is home to the ship’s fancy specialty restaurants. Interior rooms on higher decks actually have balconies facing the park, like New York City apartments soaring above the OG Central Park. The perfect place to have a drink, listen to some live jazz guitar, or enjoy a signature kummelweck roast beef sandwich at the Park Café.
Main Pool: One of four pools on Allure. Accompanied by two hot tubs and efficient stadium-style lounge chairs.
Beach Pool: A saltwater pool with a beach-like entry. Colorful umbrellas, chairs, and more hot tubs abound.
Solarium: An adults-only (in theory) glass-covered space at the front of the pool deck. Home to several hot tubs and a small pool. Some of the best views on the ship, and the best place to eat a healthy breakfast.
Amber Theater: Some of the best live productions are shown here. Allure boasts the full-length musical “Mamma Mia,” perfect for any ABBA nut. The ship’s original stage show “Blue Planet” is not to be missed either, with its Cirque-like aerial stunts and talented singers. Make sure to book free show tickets before cruising to avoid waiting in the stand-by line.
Studio B: An ice-skating rink. At sea. They offer free skating times for all ages, but what’s really exciting are the stunning ice shows starring professional skaters and even former olympians.
Royal Promenade: The heart of Allure. A cobblestoned walkway with shops, cafés, and bars. Any major parties or parades mid-voyage are likely to take place here. Two decks high and a football field long, it’s a shopping mall at sea.
Izumi: Sushi and hibachi in a modern, elegant space. The rolls are delicious, and the mochi ice cream is not to be missed for dessert.
The Boardwalk: An open space at the back of the ship with a donut shop, ice cream parlor, clothing store, arcade, and a full-size working carousel.
Johnny Rockets: What more could one ask for than fries, a burger, and a shake with a side of sea breeze?
Wake Chairs: A calm, uncrowded spot at the aft end of the ship’s jogging track with chairs that face the ship’s tranquil wake.
Aquatheater: One of the deepest pools at sea is surrounded by a massive amphitheater at the ship’s stern. Shows here—performed by more former olympians—feature more Cirque-like acrobatics, water dancing, and of course some incredible diving (including a 30-foot high dive). All on a moving ship in the middle of the ocean. If this doesn’t make you say, “Wow,” nothing will.
One could truly have a full vacation on the Allure of the Seas simply by not getting off the ship at all. Activities and venues are endless, though there is still plenty of sunny deck space to lay back with a beach read and doze off in. The choice is yours—and believe me, there are plenty of choices.
If You Go…
- Staterooms are, shall I say, snug. But with so much to do other than sleeping, size is not as big of a deal as it’d be on a smaller ship. Go with the classic oceanview balcony, or mix it up with an interior balcony that faces either Central Park or the Boardwalk.
- Make sure to book your shows and dinner reservations in your online cruise planner prior to sailing. This isn’t something you have to do on smaller ships, but the high passenger volume requires it. If you booked a cruise specifically to avoid extra planning, there’s always the option of waiting in a stand-by line 10 minutes before a show starts. Though I wouldn’t suggest doing that at the minuscule comedy venue.
- No cash is accepted onboard any Royal Caribbean ship—your “SeaPass” key card acts as your cruise credit card as well as your room key. So don’t lose it.
- Very rarely does one feel motion on a ship this huge, so this is a great option for those who get seasick easily (like my mom). At times, it’s easy to forget that you’re on a ship at all.