At the time it was built, Allure of the Seas was the largest cruise ship ever built. Royal Caribbean introduced many new concepts on this ship including the Central Park (courtyard view) Balconies and the Boardwalk View (Partial Ocean View) balconies on this class of ship with the debut of her twin sister Oasis of the Seas. These ships were also some of the first to feature a full Broadway show production. But the big questions would be “Is bigger always better?” To be fair there were some things we really loved about this ship, but other aspects that had us longing for a smaller more intimate ship.
Layout of Ship
This is one aspect of the ship that both annoyed and delighted. We found it easy to reach the entertainment and dining venues, really from anywhere on the ship, but many of the venues were inward facing, meaning that there wasn’t an ocean view to be found in so many places on the ship. If you want ocean views on this ship, the only place you are really going to get them is in an outside ocean view balcony. That makes booking that type of cabin extremely important for those who love the feeling of being at sea. None of the bars or lounges had exterior window, or if they did you could see either the courtyard or boardwalk but not the ocean.
Other ships we have sailed this year included the Celebrity Solstice class and Holland America Pinnacle Class which feature ocean views in relaxing spaces like the forward facing observation lounges or the aft facing Sunset Bar or Lido deck. The specialty restaurants also have windows that face the ocean on these ships. Ocean Views on the Allure of the Seas were hard to come by in a relaxed setting. The aft area of the Allure of the Seas had a small bar that was sandwiched between the two Flowriders, not exactly a relaxing space. The forward facing Atrium was a large relaxing adults only space but because of the metal structure supporting the glass, it was hard to get a good panoramic Ocean View.
There is plenty of natural light during the day in all the interior spaces. This is due to the clever design of the Central Park Space which is all open air and three of the specialty dining venues are located off this space. The Royal Promenade is a two story interior atrium that gets natural light from the large sky lights that take on a second function as sculptural elements in the central park. So even though there were no ocean views in these spaces, the large interior space and the natural light kept them from feeling closed in.
For some cruisers, it is more about the amenities of the ship rather than the ocean views and for that aspect with all kinds of fun things to do and dozens of venues, that ship fully delivered on the promise of a nonstop active vacation. For those looking for an active, thrill seeking vacation the ship delivered with its features like the duel Flowriders on the aft of the ship, the skating rink, beautiful hand carved carousel, zip line and sports court. The walking track on this ship was one of the longest I have every been on. I could do my three mile walks in 7.5 laps.
There were more pools and hot-tubs than one could count. During the day the kids enjoyed the splash pad and kids pools. For adults wanting a more relaxing setting there were hot tubs in the adults only Atrium. With our ship only sailing at about 75% capacity, none of these areas was ever over crowded. From these top two pool decks, one could grab a lounge chair facing in towards the pools or outward toward the ocean. There was plenty of pool side entertainment with a Caribbean band playing on the bridge that connected the 4 pool areas so the music could be heard from the entire expansive deck. The music could also be heard from the open area in the Central Park as well.
We were in an Ocean View Balcony, which is the category that I would recommend to most guests. We enjoyed being able to see the ocean and the islands as we approached each morning. We thought the size of the room worked well for two guests. We had a love seat size sofa and plenty of closet and bathroom space. The bathroom certainly wasn’t the biggest we have had at sea, but the layout made it comfortable enough to shower and dress in there.
This ship had many different types of accommodation from the least expensive inside cabins, to the courtyard balconies, to ocean view, promenade view, board walk view, and Suites. The suites on this class of ship are designed with families in mind. When I first started as an agent with CruiseOne, we got to tour many of the suites on the sister ship the Oasis of the Seas. The family suites are perfect for an active family looking for a room with a little more space. For folks who love an active vacation with a expansive budget, the Two Story Suites or Aqua Show View suites are fantastic indulgence. Royal Caribbean even provides a “Genie” to guests in the top level suites who serves as a personal concierge for guests in the accommodations. With so many types of cabins and suites there is a type of accommodation for just about any budget. My one major recommendation is that if that connection to the sea, ocean breeze, ocean views are important to you, book an ocean view balcony, because there are very few other places on the ship where you will feel that connection.
This was one area where Royal Caribbean really succeeds. The three specialty shows on board the ship were fun, well performed and nothing like what we have seen on other cruise ships this year. Reservations are required for all of these shows and we were able to make the reservations via the Royal Caribbean App once we boarded the ship. That urgency to make the reservations made the first hour of embarkation not as relaxing as it would be if guests didn’t need to do that as soon as they boarded but we needed to get that done right away so that we could then go and make our “unlimited specialty dining reservations”
The first of these specialty shows was the Aqua Show in the aft facing Aqua theater. This show featured and incredible mix of gymnastics, hand balancing, aerial acrobatics, trampoline skills and most exciting diving. We very much enjoyed the skill level presented and the high dives that two of the specialty divers performed. One interesting aspect of the show is that they recognize their “support diver” as an important part of the show. This is someone that the audience doesn’t see until the very end of the show when he surfaces. He was under water the whole time connecting the various set pieces and different apparatus that rise out of the water during the show.
The next show that we really loved was the ice skating show. Though the difficulty of the jumps and spins is limited by the size of the rink, known as a studio rink, the skaters did a good job of keeping the show fun and entertaining. While there were only a few triple jumps in the show and none of the quads that we saw during the recent 2022 Winder Olympics, the music, choreography and novelty of the show made it very enjoyable. The show was themed around Royal Caribbean and Monopoly and also featured a variety of music including classical, Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” and several Michael Jackson songs.
Mama Mia the Musical
The final big production we saw was the full Broadway version of Mama Mia. This was a full production with all the songs and even a 15 minute intermission. I have pasted a stock photo below because they asked for no photography during the show and I wanted to make sure that I truly enjoyed the show. It was a professional production. I have seen the movie several times. The singing was much better in the live production than in the movie. Lets face it Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep are two of the best actors around, but their singing skills leave something to be desired. We were not left wanting for better singers in this show and it even included songs that were cut from the film. I especially like the “Knowing Me and Knowing” you number which Sam sings to Sophie, explaining about the difficulties of marriage and his own failed marriage.
The cast had high energy and the dancing numbers were lots of fun. I haven’t ever seen a Broadway, West End or even national touring company of this show, so I don’t have any thing other than the movie with which to compare, but I will say if you loved the movie, you will love the Royal Caribbean live production even more. I wish more cruise lines, maybe even sister line Celebrity, would follow this trend and present full Broadway musicals on board. For those of us who don’t live near large cities with local or touring productions, the chance to see a full show was a treat.
Other Entertainment and Nightlife on Board
There were many activities to enjoy through out the day including trivia, sports, pool side music. Unfortunately, since I work my travel agency business during the day, I did not get to partake in much of the day time activities. However, in the evenings, I was able to enjoy things like the live jazz, comedy club, live Latin and salsa music. There were several occasions to enjoy live piano music and there was one special concert in Central Park that featured the Mamma Mia cast members singing their favorite Broadway tunes from other shows. We actually found it very easy to move from venue to venue in the evenings and enjoy the different types of entertainment offered.