Allure of the Seas
Fodor’s Expert Review
When Allure of the Seas debuted in 2009 it was the world’s largest cruise ship. At 18 decks high, and more than three football fields in length, Allure is a floating mega-resort, with something for everyone to enjoy. Thrill seekers will be wowed by the zip-line, climbing wall and surf simulator. Foodies will relish the array of specialty restaurants. Culture vultures will appreciate the Broadway-caliber shows, comedians and live music. And, of course, sun worshippers will appreciate the selection of pools and hot tubs.Read More
Due to the ship’s size, for better or worse, passengers can often forget they’re even on a cruise ship. The ship’s so large it’s been separated into seven distinct neighborhoods. Children will enjoy going for a ride on the full-size carousel on the Coney Island-style Boardwalk, while adults might enjoy reading a book or relaxing in the Central Park neighborhood on deck 8. Filled with real flowers, plants and trees, it’s a place to get in touch with nature, just like a park on land. More plants are found in the adults-only solarium, another peaceful respite from the non-stop excitement on the rest of the ship. Deck 5, where you board Allure of the Seas, resembles a suburban mall, complete with shops, a Starbucks and a casual pizzeria, like any food court might have.
This massive ship makes for a vacation that feels like you’ve truly escaped from the ordinary, into a floating fantasy world. If a floating version of a Las Vegas resort appeals to you, you’ll surely find this ship alluring.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
What to expect on board
Stateroom & Cabins
Allure of the Seas is one of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, the largest cruise ships in the world. All Oasis-class ships feature a revolutionary design where the ship is essentially split down the middle. Allure essentially contains two five-story buildings overlooking areas named Central Park and Boardwalk. It’s a complete game-changer for cruise ships, eliminating the standard inside cabin vs. ocean view designation, instead opening the door to cabins with balconies overlooking bustling areas where there are shows, live music and other entertainment. These cabins can be great options for families with kids, who might prefer to see the excitement on board, rather than the peaceful ocean.
Allure of the Seas offers more than twenty different room categories, but most rooms accommodate up to four guests. There are no single rooms, so solo travelers will have to pay a double occupancy rate. The most economical are the Inside Staterooms with two twin beds that convert into one king bed, a double sofa bed, and one bathroom featuring a small shower with sliding glass doors and a vanity sink area with ample shelving.
Staterooms with a view are a bit larger, contain a small sitting area and can sleep up to five, via a Pullman bed. The one bathroom would get busy with five people though. Passengers can choose a view of the ocean, or the Boardwalk or Central Park neighborhoods. Balcony Staterooms fit up to four people, giving them more space because of the generous fifty square foot balconies which contain a metal table and chairs.
Ten different suite categories range from the 287 square foot Junior Balcony Suite sleeping five to massive two-level multi-room suites. The Aqua Suite could fit up to sixteen. All suites have bathtubs and access to the suite lounge’s Coastal Kitchen, a restaurant designated only for suite level passengers. Higher-end suites include complimentary internet, alcohol and specialty restaurants.
For those with accessibility needs, there are 46 staterooms featuring wider doors and bathrooms with a raised toilet, roll-in shower with bench, grab bars and a lower vanity and sink. Lower closet rods, a lowered safe, and amplified telephones also make these rooms more accessible.
Food & Drink
Not surprisingly, a ship that carries some 6,000 guests has plenty of dining options. Many involve an additional fee, but luckily, plenty of quality free dining options are available as well.
There are three complimentary main dining rooms, which all serve the same menu. Two of the dining rooms offer passengers a set time (6 or 8:30) where they’ll dine with the same waiters each night. The third dining room offers My Time Dining, allowing passengers to change their dining time on a daily basis. The quality of the food in the complimentary main dining rooms is quite good, with a lobster night on each cruise and a wide variety of menu offerings each night, including shrimp cocktail and lobster bisque appetizers, strip steak, salmon and beef tenderloin.
The Central Park neighborhood is where passengers will find high-end dining for an additional fee. For those who want to splurge, white table cloth dining at Chops Grille or 150 Central Park would make for a memorable evening. A fun specialty dining experience for families with kids would be dinner at Izumi, a traditional Japanese steak house where chefs wow diners as they slice, dice and cook their meals. Kids would also enjoy a meal at Johnny Rocket’s 1950’s-themed diner. While lunch and dinner at the diner come with an added $13 fee, breakfast from 8-10 am is free. There are plenty of other specialty dining options available for added fees, including an ice cream and sweets shop, located right next door to a stand offering a nice selection of complimentary donuts. Passengers on a budget should familiarize themselves early on with which dining options are included and which will cost extra.
The ship offers a wide array of complimentary dining options. There’s a food-court style pizza parlor and a Starbucks-style café serving sandwiches and other lighter fare on Deck 5’s main promenade. There’s a hot dog stand in The Boardwalk neighborhood and the Wipeout Café serves hamburgers on Deck 15’s sports court. Unfortunately, neither restaurant offers vegetarian options.
Plenty of vegetarian choices and global cuisines are available in Deck 16’s Windjammer Marketplace. A typical cruise buffet experience, passengers will find crowds, lines and food that’s pretty ordinary. Those who want to avoid the crowds at breakfast should opt for a slice of paradise by heading to the more peaceful complimentary buffet inside the adults-only Solarium on Deck 15.
Room service is available 24 hours a day with an $8 charge for everything except the continental breakfast, which is complimentary.
Coffee, tea, lemonade and iced tea are the only complimentary drinks. Royal Caribbean offers three different drink packages. The unlimited soda package is $13.50 per day. The $34 per day Refreshment Package includes soda, along with juice, premium coffees and bottled and sparkling water. The Deluxe Package includes all of these drink as well as unlimited alcohol for $98 per day.
Allure’s size means there’s a myriad bars, from the Latin-themed Bolero’s nightclub, with a salsa band and dance floor, to the On-Air Club karaoke bar. There’s an English-style pub with a nightly folk guitarist, the higher-end Champagne Bar, which hosts singles events, including LGBTQ ones, and the Schooner Bar, a classic piano bar where passengers gather near the grand piano nightly to hear classic sing-along tunes. Vintages is a refined wine bar that hosts frequent wine tastings.
One of the many wow-factor spectacles on board Allure of the Seas is Rising Tide, an adults-only moving bar that ascends between the Royal Promenade neighborhood on Deck 5 and Central Park on Deck 8.
Royal Caribbean is known for having a wider range of world-class entertainment and activities than any other cruise line. There’s truly something for every age and interest. Kids will squeal with delight watching professional ice skaters leaping and twirling and their jaws will drop when they see high diving acrobats performing in the spectacular aquatic-themed show, “Oceanaria.”
Families can enjoy top-name Broadway shows like “Mamma Mia!” and laugh out loud together at the family-friendly comedy shows. There are also frequent fun-filled audience participation game shows and trivia contests perfect for the whole family. There’s plenty of adults-only entertainment as well, with comedians performing edgier humor. Of course, some adults also enjoy spending time at the ship’s massive casino, which was bustling every night.
In addition, there are dozens of musicians performing nightly. There’s a sophisticated jazz club on Deck 4 and a lively Latin band performing at Boleros on Deck 5. Seventies, ’80s, and ’90s cover bands are also performing nightly, as is a folk guitarist in the British pub and a sing-along pianist at Schooner Bar.
Many of the shows require reservations. Passengers should stop by the reservations desk on Deck 5 as soon as the board to sign up for shows, as some of them can fill up quickly.
Spa & Fitness
If you want to work out, Allure has an enormous fitness center packed with treadmills, cycles, weight machines and offering Pilates, yoga, and additional exercise classes for a fee. Two early morning stretch and exercise classes are complimentary, but space is limited and passengers need to show up ten to fifteen minutes early to secure a space. Connected to the fitness center is a nearly half-mile-long jogging track that encircles the ship on Deck 5.
Adjacent to the fitness center is the Vitality at Sea spa, offering a large menu of massages, facials, and other treatments. There’s a relaxation sitting room where guests wait for their services. Guests can choose to pay an additional fee to enjoy the Thermal Suites Room with its heated loungers, saunas, and steam rooms.
Key cruising tips
Health & Safety
Royal Caribbean recently lifted some COVID restrictions, making it easier to sail. Unvaccinated travelers can now sail on almost all cruises from the U.S., except for itineraries visiting Canada or Bermuda. Testing protocols have also been made easier. Vaccinated guests will no longer have to take a pre-cruise test on cruises shorter than 10 nights. Unvaccinated guests will need to test within 3 days of boarding, but self-administered home tests will now be accepted.
The dress code at the complimentary dining rooms is casual. Dress shorts and polo shirts would be acceptable, but no bathing suits or pool cover-ups at dinner. Some of the specialty restaurants, like Chops Grille and 150 Central Park, are an elegant dining experience, where more sophisticated dress is required. Formal attire is not necessary, but dress pants and collared shirts would be expected.
Kids will never get bored on board a Royal Caribbean cruise. There’s a complimentary kids club on Deck 14 for 3 – 11 year-olds offering fun programming throughout the day. The Adventure Ocean program divides kids into the 3-5 year-old Aquanuts, 6-8 year-old Explorers and 9-11 year-old Voyagers. Unlike most cruise ships, Allure also offers a nursery for children 6 to 36 months that charges $6 per hour before 6pm and $8 per hour at night.
Older tweens and teens also have their own spaces to hang out. The teen lounge on Deck 15 is where kids ages 12 to 17 can play video games, have fun with karaoke or head out to the teens- only dance floor. Right outside the teen lounge is the sports deck, which boasts a full-size sports court with rotating games of pickleball, basketball, soccer and dodge ball. Deck 15 is also home to two FlowRider surf simulators, ping pong tables, mini-golf and a zip line. If that’s not enough, Allure of the Seas also has a massive climbing wall, an ice skating rink and two arcades.
Families with younger kids will enjoy the free full-size carousel on the Boardwalk and the splash pad area on Deck 14. There are more fun activities the whole family can participate in at the Adventure Ocean kids zone, including drawing classes and entertaining science demonstrations.
Service aboard Allure is friendly and courteous, from the waitstaff to the room stewards. Although the guest information desk is helpful and personable, there can be long lines.
Royal Caribbean automatically adds a daily gratuity of $16 per person per day to all non-suite staterooms and $18.50 per person per day to suite guests. 18 % tip is automatically added to all beverage and spa/salon purchases.