The Allure of the Seas is one of Royal Caribbean's largest ships, along with her sister ship the Oasis of the Seas, Although the two ships have much in common, including the seven-neighborhood concept, this new ship has its own distinctive entertainment, dining, and retail options. The Harmony of the Seas, which was launched in 2016, is slightly larger than her two older sister ships and now is considered the "world's largest cruise ship".
Although much has been said about the size of the Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, the ships are only about 65 feet longer than other Royal Caribbean ships. The increase in size is in the height (18 decks) and width. Therefore, most ports are able to dock these two huge ships. However, the infrastructure of many ports and the surrounding areas cannot support the large influx of visitors. The Allure of the Seas currently sails round-trip seven-day cruises to the eastern or western Caribbean year-round from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. However, some far afield ports like Hong Kong and Singapore are planning to expand their ports to accommodate this mega-ship.
Royal Caribbean executives are calling the Allure of the Seas the "entertainment ship", and it certainly has lots of family and adult activities and amenities. The most noticeable addition is the result of Royal Caribbean's partnership with DreamWorks Animation. Celebrity characters from DreamWorks movies such as Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fun Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon are incorporated into parades, character breakfasts, skating shows, and photo opportunities on the Allure of the Seas. On a two-day preview cruise of the ship, the characters seemed to be everywhere--the sail away party show at the AquaTheater, the Move It! Move It! Parade on the Royal Promenade, the DreamWorks character breakfast in the Adagio Dining Room, and in an ice show in Studio B.
Other New Features on the Allure of the Seas
- The Allure of the Seas has added specially equipped 3-D movie screens in the Amber Theater, and this main theater is home to two shows--Chicago: The Musical, which is an adaptation of the famous Broadway play, and Blue Planet, which is a spectacle of acrobatics, music, and dance. The AquaTheater has a new aquatic production called OceanAria, and Studio B has two new ice shows.
- The Allure of the Seas has most of the same dining venues as its sister ship the Oasis of the Seas, but Royal Caribbean has added a Brazilian steakhouse called the Samba Grill; Rita's Cantina, a Mexican restaurant; The Boardwalk Dog House, a hot dog specialty counter; and a distinct dining experience at upscale 150 Central Park.
- Shopping is entertainment for many of us, and the Allure of the Seas has several shopping areas on the ship. In addition to upscale and familiar stores from other ships, contemporary artist Romero Britto has opened his first Britto Concept Store in the Central Park neighborhood, and the Royal Promenade has a GUESS store.
- Computer users appreciate the guest service kiosks in the Royal Promenade where they can print their SeaPass folio or airline boarding passes. Apple iPod docking stations are found in all staterooms.
Now that we've seen what's new on the Allure of the Seas, let's take a tour of the ship's seven neighborhoods.
- Allure of the Seas Boardwalk
- Allure of the Seas Central Park
- Allure of the Seas Entertainment Place
- Allure of the Seas Pool and Sports Zone
- Allure of the Seas Royal Promenade
- Allure of the Seas Vitality Spa and Fitness Center
- Allure of the Seas Youth Zone
- Summary and Wrap-UP
Allure of the Seas - Boardwalk
The Allure of the Seas Boardwalk neighborhood is aft on deck 6. When you enter the Boardwalk, the beautiful carousel greeting you certainly brings back memories of classic seaside piers like Coney Island or Atlantic City. Like the carousel on the Oasis of the Seas, the figures on this one were specially made for Royal Caribbean from poplar wood. The full-sized carousel features a menagerie of 18 moving figures for the riders, and there's a stationary seat for those who don't want to sit astride. Several carved horse figures next to the carousel show the evolution of the final product from a large block of wood to painted show horse.
The open air Boardwalk is flanked on one end by the 3-deck Dazzles Bar and on the other by the AquaTheater. The Boardwalk has 6 AquaTheater suites, 221 balcony cabins, and 8 Boardwalk-view cabins overlooking the bustling area.
Families love Boardwalk dining at Rita's Cantina taqueria or Johnny Rockets diner, having a hot dog at the Boardwalk Dog House, or homemade ice cream or sweets at the ice cream parlor and donut shop. Adults also like the Boardwalk Bar and the margaritas at Rita's.
Before they eat, some might want to try one of the two 43-foot tall rock climbing walls. Each has multiple climbing routes. Those who don't want to try their hands and feet at rock climbing can explore one of the shops on the Boardwalk, including a novelty photo shop, stuffed animal shop, candy store, teen and children's retail shops, or the Carousel cart.
The AquaTheater is used both day and night for aquatic acrobatic, synchronized swimming, dancing fountains, and light shows. It has amphitheater-type seating and a 17-foot deep pool that accommodates high divers. Billed as the most technologically-advanced area of the ship, it has to be seen to be believed. The stage goes up and down, fountains dance, lights change, and the large screens flanking the stage show it all. The OceanAria water show is shown six times per week, with two performances on each of the first three nights of the cruise. If the weather cancels one of these nights, the shows are rescheduled for later in the week.
Let's move to a quieter, more peaceful and romantic neighborhood--Central Park.
Allure of the Seas - Central Park
City dwellers feel right at home at Central Park midship on deck 8 of the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas cruise ship. It's like a cosmopolitan open-air park with no views of the ocean. You really feel like you are experiencing summer in the city in this unique area. The area is lush and green, with many places to sit and have a quiet drink or just snuggle with your best friend. Central Park is open to the sky, but this central piazza of the ship is surrounded by restaurants, bars, and shops. Like in a city, these retail areas are topped with staterooms.
Central Park has four restaurants and two bars. The most exclusive restaurant on the Allure of the Seas, 150 Central Park, has a young executive chef with a signature elegant dining experience. The Park Cafe, Chops Grille, and Giovanni's Table are popular venues also found on the Oasis of the Seas.
The Vintages wine bar has both indoor and outdoor seating, and I love the quiet atmosphere at the Trellis Bar. It's a perfect spot for a late evening drink.
Central Park also has three retail shops: the Britto Store and art gallery, a Coach store, and a portrait studio.
While Central Park is one of the quietest places on the Allure of the Seas, Entertainment Place is one of the most vibrant.
Allure of the Seas - Entertainment Place
Entertainment Place is on deck 4, just a short walk down the stairs from the Royal Promenade. This neighborhood on the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas cruise ship is filled with the large casino, show lounges, and theaters.
The Amber Theater is the main large theater and it has a huge stage and "fly space", which allows for a lot of creativity in designing productions. Blue Planet, with its aerial acrobatics, dance, and music, has the largest set Royal Caribbean has ever used for a show. It includes a tree that is 22 feet wide on a stage that is 50 feet wide (about 10 feet wider than most Broadway stages). For the first three minutes of the show, guests see the tree, but they don't see the 17 of the 25 Blue Planet performers hidden in the tree. These performers finally come to life and use trampolines and other gymnastic apparatus in their aerial and acrobatic show. Blue Planet plays twice a week.
The other main show in the Amber Theater is Chicago: The Musical, a 90-minute version of the Broadway play, which is shown three times a week. The cast of 19 has to be able to sing, dance and act. The styling of Chicago is a nice contrast to the athleticism of Blue Planet, and I was surprised to learn that the two shows have some of the same cast members. These artists must love the variety of their jobs!
In addition to these two main shows, the Amber Theater is used to show 3-D movies, and the Allure of the Seas is Royal Caribbean's first ship to have 3-D movie screens.
The Studio B ice rink is the other large theater at Allure's Entertainment Place. Two ice shows, one called Ice Games, and the other How to Train Your Dragon, are bound to entertain guests. Ice Games brings the classic board game Monopoly to life, with spinning dice and elaborate costumes. How to Train Your Dragon is a shortened ice version of the popular DreamWorks movie.
Other venues at Entertainment Place include Jazz on 4, a jazz and blues club; Comedy Live, a comedy club; and the Blaze nightclub.
Our next venue is mostly outdoors on decks 15 and 16--the Pool and Sports Zone.
Allure of the Seas - Pool and Sports Zone
The Allure of the Seas Pool and Sports Zone covers all of deck 14 and most of deck 15. It offers great views down onto Central Park. As expected, the primary focus for this deck is outdoor relaxation in one of the pools or on one of the lounges. The Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas has four pools on deck 15--the main pool with hundreds of lounge chairs; the beach pool with a gently sloping entry facilitating easy entry; H2O Zone, which is a kids splash area and wading pool; and the Sports Pool, which is used for lap swimming in the morning and water team sports in the afternoon. Pool Deck 15 also has 10 whirlpools.
Those who want to do more than just relax by the pool can try out one of the two large FlowRider surf simulators, the zip line across Central Park, miniature golf, or basketball, volleyball, or soccer on the Sports Court.
Adults love the gorgeous Solarium, which has numerous small seating areas. In addition to its two whirlpools, the adults-only Solarium has a small pool and four cantilevered infinity whirlpools suspended 136 feet over the ocean.
Although much of the focus on the pool decks is a fun activity, the area has two retail shops, four restaurants, and six casual bars. The Samba Grill is a new Brazilian steakhouse restaurant open in the evening with a large salad bar and delicious, never-ending slabs of meat and fish. In the daytime, the Samba Grill serves as the Solarium Bistro and offers health-conscious breakfast and lunch. Other restaurants include the casual Wipe Out Cafe, the Windjammer Buffet, and the a la carte Izumi Asian Cuisine and sushi bar.
Let's move back indoors to walk down the Royal Promenade.
Allure of the Seas - Royal Promenade
The first Royal Caribbean Royal Promenades were located on the Voyager- and Freedom-class ships. The Royal Promenade on the Allure of the Seas is a marvelous indoor mall area, lined with shops, bars, and restaurants. Serving as the entry area for embarking passengers, it's the first thing an Allure of the Seas passenger sees. It's also the hub of the ship featuring parades and parties and is a good place to people-watch.
The Royal Promenade has three restaurants similar to those on the Oasis of the Seas--the Bow and Stern English pub, the Cafe Promenade, and Sorrento's Pizzeria. Those with a sweet tooth love the Cupcake Cupboard, and the area even has the first Starbuck's at sea.
The bars on the Royal Promenade are diverse, fun, and are identical to those on the Oasis of the Seas. They include the Schooner Bar, On Air Club, Boleros, Rising Tide, and the Champagne Bar. The most innovative bar is the Rising Tide, which doubles as an elevator connecting the Royal Promenade with Central Park three decks above. It's a wonderful concept and a real conversation piece.
Adding to the mall-like atmosphere on the Royal Promenade are the eight retail outlets, including GUESS, a photo store, Regalia fine jewelry and gifts, Solera perfume and cosmetics, a logo and souvenir shop, boutique fashion store, and a liquor store.
The next area is guaranteed to help you relax and rejuvenate--the Vitality Spa and Fitness Center.
Allure of the Seas - Vitality Spa and Fitness Center
The goal of the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas Vitality Spa and Fitness program is the total wellness of the mind, body, and spirit. Guests can continue the treatments and workout program they have at home or start a new one. The entire Vitality neighborhood has 47 staff and 29 treatment rooms in the spa. In addition, there is a thermal suite with heated benches, enrichment lounge with wellness lectures, separate fitness center, beauty salon, medi-spa with acupuncture and other cosmetic treatments, and a teen and kid spa. Three massage rooms are large and dedicated to couples.
One interesting feature of the spa is the "man cave", which provides treatments for the urban man including collagen, deep cleansing, and even shaving lessons! Men want to escape from the stressful daily lives just like the women in their lives.
Workout enthusiasts appreciate the 158 exercise machines, including a Kinesis tri-dimensional pulley system, spinning machines, gravity reformer, and dozens of the latest cardio and resistance equipment items. Classes are held in spinning, kickboxing, Pilates, and yoga.
The Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center also has a small cafe and retail shop.
The last neighborhood on the Allure of the Seas is the Youth Zone.
Allure of the Seas - Youth Zone
The Allure of the Seas is certainly large enough to have something for all age groups and interests, and Royal Caribbean has several age-appropriate groups for kids in its Adventure Ocean program. Each group has their own dedicated space in the huge Youth Zone (28,700 square feet). The Allure needs this much space during the busy summer and holiday times when up to about 1900 kids are onboard.
Each year, The Allure entertains about 400,000 kids under 18, with about half of those under 12. Kids from over 70 countries are using Adventure Ocean, so the Youth Zone has an international staff. The ship has 39 youth staff, and according to the Adventure Ocean manager, their goal is to create energetic, safe, and fun activities for their young charges ages 6 months to 17 years. Most of the Adventure Ocean activities are free except for those under three.
Royal Caribbean uses Fisher-Price toys in Adventure Ocean, and each age group has different types of toys and special play sessions. The kids get a daily schedule just like the adults do, with all the planned activities listed. Most play sessions have a theme.
The Allure of the Seas Youth Zone has six age groups:
- Royal Babies and Tots - 6 months to 3 years
- Aquanauts - ages 3 to 5
- Explorers - ages 6 to 8
- Voyagers - ages 9 to 11
- Tweens - ages 11 to 12
- Teens - ages 13 to 17
Parents are encouraged to put their children in the matching age group. According to the Adventure Ocean manager, this works about 90 percent of the time. If it doesn't, then the child can be moved. One rule is strict--babies must be fully toilet-trained before they can move from the Royal Babies group to the Aquanauts. No pull-ups or diapers are allowed at Adventure Ocean activities. The Youth Zone can accommodate special needs children, but can't provide 1-on-1 care. The parents are welcome to stay with their children if they wish.
The Royal Babies and Tots is a drop off nursery with one dedicated nursery staff for each four babies. The number is adjusted based on demand. The charge is $8 per hour and is open from 9 am until about midnight. The nursery is open on both sea and port days. Parents can book in advance, but drop-ins are welcome. The Allure of the Seas provides a deck phone for parents to use while they are on the ship.
The Aquanauts use many of the Fisher-Price toys in their activity room. The Explorers have Nintendos and Wiis and use the art room, science lab, and Adventure Ocean theater in their activities. The Voyagers also use all of the same facilities as the Explorers but are more independent. They also use the FlowRiders and sports courts. The Adventure Ocean staff do not have any activities for those 3-11 at the pools, but all three age groups are involved with the DreamWorks experience. The characters are in Adventure Ocean about once or twice a day, and often there is a DreamWorks theme day.
The tweens and teens have their own schedule and six dedicated staff to work with the 200-800 youth who participate each week. Their space is on deck 15, while the rest of Adventure Ocean is on deck 14. The kids don't sign in and out like they do for those under 12. They have a Living Room area, which is a lounge with TVs, games, computers, and music studio. They also have a teen night club, and outside back deck. The tweens/teens area is near the table tennis, sports court, and Wipe Out cafe, but they use the entire ship for their fun, having scavenger hunts, dancing, swimming, and hanging out with their new friends.
Allure of the Seas - Summary and Wrap Up
Like her sister ship the Oasis of the Seas, the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas is designed for fun for all ages. The entertainment, activity, and dining options are vast and fun. This is one ship you could sail on for a week and never disembark in the ports of call. It's also a ship you could sail on for a week and forget you were on a ship, especially if your cabin was inside or overlooking Central Park.
Similar to the Oasis, I was amazed at the technology and innovation on this ship. Anyone who loves a large ship cruise experience or all-inclusive Caribbean resort will love sailing on the Allure of the Seas. I'd even recommend this class of ship to those who have said they don't like cruising because they feel confined or complain about not enough space. I'm just sorry that in my two nights on the ship, I didn't have time to try all the restaurants, shows, and activities!
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.