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harryfat1

Cheapo dad’s trip report on Allure of the Seas sailing December 14, 2014

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Looking forward to reading more.

 

Two questions - from where did you take the "top down" picture of the aqua area and wake? You're right - if it's a public area, I'm planning on "stealing" your location to get a photo!

 

Did you bring a laptop/tablet to keep the spreadsheet updated as you went through, or was all that information about event timings available before you went, and if it was, where did you find it?

 

The view from aqua theater was on deck 11, the not so secret balcony. We have boardwalk view balcony on deck 14 so we also saw the aqua show from our balconies. Here is one picture from night time on day 1 from our balcony overlooking aqua theater for the second show (we just came back from the 9 PM show):

 

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The top down view is simple, just the very back of the flow riders deck and look down. Stole this idea from another cruiser so you are welcome to steal it from me as well. Just be aware you are sticking you arms out over the glass so make sure your camera strap is around your neck as its windy and you have no shaky hands. You can try to do that during the day time shows to gain a different perspective but I think it's too high for show watching.

 

I didn't bring laptop and barely used my ipad. Believe it or not, I never looked at the spreadsheet schedule after I printed it and gave one copy to the kids for their cabin and one to my wife. Every night, we just look at the schedule for next day that shows up and circle what we wanted to do. I more or less know what I want to do and what I had reserved so that schedule is more to help my kids and my wife know what was planned. So there's no commando dad looking at the spreadsheet every hour and say "People, we are 7 minutes behind schedule to next event. Move it, move it".

 

As for the daily compass, there are many nice cruisers that came back from the western caribbean sailings and scanned and posted them online. Do a search for "Allure" in this board and go back to October/November and you should find couple good ones. That was what I used. I knew the ship may or may not keep the exact daily schedule but at least I have an idea on what's might happen. For example, on our cruise, since it was a holiday cruise, they have extra activity like taking pictures with Santa that wasn't on others but those are minor stuff.

 

Being anal, I kept every daily schedule from the cruise as a future reference but I wasn't planning to scan them as there are good ones already out but I will refer to the schedule couple times/scan them when I need to tell my story.

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Taking pictures

 

One of my all-time favorite tour guides was a guy in Mazatlán who took us to Stone Island back in 2010 and during the entire tour, he would jokingly say “How about that – take a picture!” That became our family saying ever since. So everywhere we travel to – we always say have this in mind: “take a picture”.

 

I am enjoying your review. Haven't gotten very far into it yet but just had to say we love Hugo. We always went to stone island with him. In 2010 I even had him sign my 50th birthday shirt. I missed seeing him when the cruise lines quit going to matzalan.

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OK, onward with the trip report. I think I have answered all outstanding questions posted so far. But if I missed your question, please remind me again as it’s hectic trying to find the right picture to tell my story and getting flickr to work and making sure I replied to any outstanding questions. Feel like in NFL football draft where the commissioner says “Harryfat is on the clock to post more pictures and continue with the story”.

 

So here is the view at the security gate. Note the various ships in port that day. Total of 6 large cruise ship and the smaller Bahama Express. These were all taken with the underwater point and shoot so not the best quality but didn't want a big old SLR on my neck as I go through security.

 

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All smiles at terminal 18 after we dropped off the luggage for the porter and started to walk into the building and be handed this letter:

 

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Lovely. Just the info you don't want to read before the cruise.

 

Then after security check, we stood in line for decks 6, 12 & 14. Supposedly they have a priority check in for lowly gold level members like yours truly, but looking at that line (all the way from the left across the picture to the guy in white sweat shirt) it sure looks longer than the line for no priority cruisers. So we went there instead. Think part of the problem is there is only 1 person checking in that long line of people, even though they have 4 monitors above implying there could be up to 4 workers but only 1 was working when we were there.

 

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Per the clock on the pictures, it took us 18 minutes in line from begin to end in getting our sea pass. Not too bad but certainly wasn’t as fast as other trip reports.

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Then we did the on board pictures in the middle section of the waiting area.

 

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If you have multiple cabins like we did, the photographer will ask one sea pass per cabin be given so they can start the facial recognition software link to your cabin.

 

Here is our onboard pic that we bought:

 

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Then we went up the escalator and was directed to sit in the gold section. On the way there, I saw the station where they have the wrist tags for kids under 12. So I stood in line waiting and then the lady that told us to go to the gold section ran over to us and asked why we are there instead of going to the gold section as directed by her and asked how old is my younger son as she didn’t want us to stop at “go” and collect $200. When told he is only 11, she went away begrudgingly.

 

Chill out, lady, I am with cruise critic, I know what I need to do. At any rate, so my son received his wrist tag, then we went over to the gold section and was told by another lady to sit in the exact 6 seats allocated. Don’t even think about sitting in a different seat as I think she would smack you so hard you would be in the ship’s infirmary the next 2 days. I could have used these ladies during the cruise as there were some chair hogs that could use some discipline.

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At any rate, I digress. Back to my story. So here we are sitting in the gold section and looking around, not too many people look like they are in a jovial mood.

 

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Then it struck me that cruise lines should start the people’s vacations/partying mood BEFORE they get on the ship. Such that if they brought out entertainers like ones you see on cruise (see Cuddy the assistant cruise director and the leopard girl working the crowd at the show on day 7).

 

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So what we needed was a “wave”, YMCA dance and maybe a Gangnam style dance to liven up this crowd as we waited. Every major entertainment event has a “warm up act”. They need to have couple of the party organizers at the cruise waiting area. The workers there are WAY too corporate anal. In theory my vacation started when I was issued the sea pass card downstairs so entertain me while I wait…

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Peasants – Using the RCI’s caste system of pecking order, we are the lowly commoner level (aka gold level), just above the “peasant” level first time newbies. So we were seated in the next to last section, just above the lowly first time cruiser peasants (in case you don’t get it, I am being sarcastic here so hold off on your hate comments). Per my un-scientific and non-engineering background calculation in comparing the thickness of the chairs of our commoner section versus the peasant section, I believe our seat paddings are at least 0.01 nanometers thicker than their seats. Good to be in the higher echelon class. Privileges of repeat cruisers. I almost feel special the way RCI treats us gold level folks.

 

They called the gold level people at 11:23 per the date stamp on my pictures. Maybe I was anxious to be called but it seemed like they called every precious gem and every element in the periodic table before they called our lowly Gold level. Are there like 87 levels on the Royal pecking order?

 

I thought about jumping up and shout “BINGO” when they announced our level and jump up & down shouting “We won. We won. We are boarding the ship now” as to practice for the actual bingo games but figured my kids will disown me from embarrassment.

 

I also thought I could do the Ickey Woods celebration dance (Google Ickey Woods GEICO if you don’t know what I am talking about) and jump and down and spike my Seapass card on the ground and do the shuffle and sing “Going on the Allure. Going on the Allure” and high 5 the people around me but I bet those ladies monitoring the lines would call security and have me remove from the building…

 

 

 

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Thank you so much for taking the time to report about your cruise on Allure. We will be on Oasis the end of next week for the same ports. Thank you for adding to the excitement. :)

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Thank you so much for taking the time to report about your cruise on Allure. We will be on Oasis the end of next week for the same ports. Thank you for adding to the excitement. :)

 

Actually I read your reviews as part of my cruise prep work so I will also thank you for contributing to my cruise planning.

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Yes, take pictures by all means. After the cruise is over, all you have left are photo memories so take as many as you can.

 

Great pictures, and great descriptions! Keep it up, enjoying your narrative style.

 

Really liked the tilt shift on the shore line picture. Did you use Photoshop for this?

Edited by Valiamo
spelling oops

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So we stepped on the ship/Promenade area for the first time. Yah/cheers/kiss the ground time. Well, maybe not - given how many people walk over these carpets daily. Then took few obligatory pictures of the area as everyone looks up and goes “oooh and ahhh and wooow” over the size of the place. I knew we had to move it along as there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people that are lining up behind us waiting to get aboard (the peasants are coming, the peasants are coming). But it’s human nature to just stand around that area to oogle with the first wow experience of the ship. So I didn't want to push too hard but I knew we had to get upstairs fast.

 

We then made it to the windjammer around 11:35 AM. I know the food of preference on the boards is for the roast beef sandwich at central park but given the various food tastes within our group, our preference is for the buffet. Food is subjective so we leave it at that.

 

I took these next 2 pictures to show that if you get to windjammer early, you will have your choice of tables/seats. We didn’t have any rollers or carry on luggage with us – each person has a back pack so we were traveling light. But as we were getting our food, the flood of rollers/luggage started to come inside the windjammer.

 

You get to see what I had for lunch that day. One good thing about photographing food nowadays with the social media in full swing as everybody takes pictures of their food and upload them on facebook or wherever. I am showing my age when I talk about the old days when nobody took pictures of food except for some of us weirdos with cameras in MDR. Now I fit right in.

 

 

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Great pictures, and great descriptions! Keep it up, enjoying your narrative style.

 

Really liked the tilt shift on the shore line picture. Did you use Photoshop for this?

 

Thanks for the kind words.

 

Not familiar with the phrase "tilt shift on the shore picture". Can you let me know which post it was from and what was in that picture? I don't have photoshop. I have paintshop to brighten some of my pictures with the 1 click enhancement to change some skin tones but I dont use on all the pictures since I have too many. That's the extend of my photo editing knowledge/patience as I have been too busy practicing Ickey shuffle dance for the next cruise....

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At any rate, I digress. Back to my story. So here we are sitting in the gold section and looking around, not too many people look like they are in a jovial mood.

 

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Well, the lady in the Green Bay shirt has a smile on her face, for obvious reasons :D Go Pack!

 

Great review so far. I like your writing style. blah blah blah.

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Enjoying your review. I was on the same sailing but I don't recall seeing you or your family, not surprising given that there were 6300 or so passengers.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Thanks for the kind words.

 

Not familiar with the phrase "tilt shift on the shore picture". Can you let me know which post it was from and what was in that picture? I don't have photoshop. I have paintshop to brighten some of my pictures with the 1 click enhancement to change some skin tones but I dont use on all the pictures since I have too many. That's the extend of my photo editing knowledge/patience as I have been too busy practicing Ickey shuffle dance for the next cruise....

 

You are very welcome! The pictures are in post 2 and 48 both picture #5, Red topped buildings. Foreground is blurred as is the background. Looks like a miniature shoreline. Been trying to re-create this type of photo.

 

You should have done your pre-boarding dance, it would have been very comical.

Edited by Valiamo

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You are very welcome! The pictures are in post 2 and 48 both picture #5, Red topped buildings. Foreground is blurred as is the background. Looks like a miniature shoreline. Been trying to re-create this type of photo.

 

You should have done your pre-boarding dance, it would have been very comical.

 

Oh, OK, I just know them a “miniatures” as that’s what my camera calls it. Didn’t know there was an official description for it. Sorry, I only know how to use it from my camera, which is 4 years old and I think it’s pretty common on many of the cameras nowadays if you want to get one. I just did a quick Google search and it looks like you can take a normal picture and convert it in Photoshop. But like I said, I don’t have Photoshop so can’t give you much info. I’m just the dummy that “selects the filter” from the camera and click the button.

 

http://mashable.com/2013/09/24/photoshop-tilt-shift/

 

I, too, like these toys like effects. Looking at your future cruise calendar, you will be going to Falmouth so you will have a lot of chance to play around with it. Falmouth is great for it as it has many structures beneath and gives it a good perspective. I didn’t do it for our cruise, but you can also use it for theater seats and maybe go to deck 5 in MDR and take pictures of the tables down on deck 3 to see if you can get the miniature effects.

 

Here are all the miniature pics I have from Falmouth. It was raining buckets on us that day, you can tell from the wet ground and nobody walking around the compound. We were supposed to have a pool day afternoon that day with thinking that most people are off the ship on tours and we have more access to the pools to ourselves but that plan fell through so I had some time to stand around on back of deck 14 taking these pictures. Have fun on your B2B.

 

As for the Ickey shuffle, think you can do it on your upcoming cruise. Just send me a picture of you being hauled away by security…

 

 

 

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Move it, Move it – No, I am not talking about the Madagascar parade. This is about the windjammer. As many have reported, the windjammer is too small for this size ship, especially with many cruisers from other cruise lines having been hard wired to make a bee line for buffet instead of trying Allure’s other venues. So before 12 noon, the place was filled to capacity. Actually it was nice for a while as all of sudden, you don’t see/hear a whole stampede of people/luggage rolling on the floor as you try to dodge them with your plate full of food. It was actually an enjoyable experience – how?

 

They stopped letting people walk in when there aren’t any more empty tables so the lines started to form outside of the windjammer and that made the inside guests eat in peace. Or as long as peace can last in this size ship as soon you begin to hear over the PA system recording in 4 or 5 languages to ask the guests to “Move it, move it. Move you fat buns out of here so other fat buns standing in line can come in and chow down to enhance their fat buns”. Well, maybe not in those exact terms, think it’s more politically correct way by saying “please vacate the dining area when you are done so other guests can also enjoy these amenities as you explore what the rest of the ship has to offer”. But I think my version is more to the point…

 

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This is what the buffet lines looks like from the back end as we were leaving.

 

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People buying drink packages outside

 

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The first place I wanted to visit is Viking Crown Lounge just above the windjammer as I read on the boards on the various changes to Oasis during her dry dock and I wanted to see/take pictures of the places that will be going away on the Allure come May 2015.

 

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So we had some extra time on our hands before they open the cabins at 1 PM and we made our way outside to see the beautiful port area of Fort Lauderdale with all the cruise ships. I envy east coast people to be able to see all these ships together all in one place. The west coast cruise scene is much sparser in its selection of choice ships.

 

Saw the Eurodam across from us. Last time we sailed the Caribbean was on the Westerdam as I always have special fondness for HAL ships – them “dam” ships.

 

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Then there’s Independence of the Seas to the far right. We would see her again in Falmouth on day 4.

 

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Here are various reflections from the glass windows of Allure

 

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If you position yourself at the correct angle, you can do a different type of selfie not seen elsewhere. Yeah, go ahead and steal this idea for your cruise…

 

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We then made our way to the Solarium area as I wanted to show my kids what the area looks like since they won’t be allowed to go there once the cruise starts. So this is one chance they get to sit in the lounge chairs. My in-laws went there every morning to chill out after their breakfast (they wake up much earlier than we do so they have their own schedule). I never made it back there again as sitting and relaxing wasn’t high on what I wanted to accomplish on this cruise.

 

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The white van area was where we were dropped off to get to the terminal. Looks like people are still arriving as it’s not 1 PM yet.

 

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Few more Solarium pics

 

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Now these 2 pictures are just so wrong. Classic case of entrapment here. They have a picture of a pretty woman and a hunky man and instinctively all the guys would want to follow the pretty woman and all the women would want to follow the hunky guy and then they would be detained by ship security locked up in the brig for using the wrong bathroom. Just plain case of entrapment. ACLU should hear about this.

 

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Few more pics of the ship

 

 

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Then it was 1 PM and they made the announcement that the cabins are ready so we made our way down 1 deck to deck 14 where we found the Internet/card room by the staircase on the way to the cabins.

 

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Really loving your review! I'll be going on Allure during her Europe "tour", so I'm soaking up every bit of information available. :D

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We have connecting cabins 14711/14713 and the in-laws have 14717. These are the Boardwalk view cabins. I am going to pull forward few pictures taken from other times into this discussion as it’s more relevant here than showing them later.

 

First one is the typical set up that has you have seen a thousand times before. This set up has the sofa closer to the closet.

 

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The way Royal configures their cabins, every other cabin has a opposite configuration in that it has the bed closer to the closet. I much prefer the former approach as you have more space to maneuver to get the clothes in the closet and you don’t have to try to navigate around the bed as soon as you walk in. Since we have connecting cabins, the door opens up in between and you can see from this picture that to the right is our cabin and to the left are the boys’ cabin and you can see the difference in room configuration. Do note that their sofa is longer so if more sitting space is important to you, look for that.

 

 

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This being the holiday season, we wanted to decorate the cabins. See the front doors.

 

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We also decorated the balcony glass with various easy re-useable peel on/peel off holiday stickers.

 

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Here are couple views from the cabin – first one looking forward

 

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Next one taken from my cell phone as I email the folks back home that we have boarded the ship and in our cabins. Note my son is in the grandma’s balcony videotaping things from their perspective.

 

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Great review it's nice to see a different approach to the review process. My DW and I are just like your and yours. I research the crap out of the boat before I board, reading every review and watching every video I can find on YouTube.

 

If I can make a request; at the end post let your boys each do a post saying what they thought overall. You often hear that reviewers had kids but you never hear uncensored by the parents what the kids thought.

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For what’s it worth, this is my 1,000th post here on CC. Milestone.

 

I will spend few minutes talking about cabin selection so if you already cruised on the Allure or made up your mind on what cabins you want, go ahead and skip this section.

 

We originally booked boardwalk view cabin 12729, note the non-professional free hand sucky drawing of the red arrow showing the cabin location. That was in theory the perfect cabin. Cheapo dad cramming 4 people in there like sardines as it’s a rare quad cabin at the very end. Perfect for watching the aqua shows and has next door access to the public balcony on deck 12. But my wife wanted 2 connecting cabins instead as it’s hard to get 4 people to take shower and be ready for dinner nightly.

 

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So few months after we booked this cabin, I saw a California resident sale on the Royal booking site and switched our booking to 2 connecting central park view cabins. The way Royal was pricing things for our cruise, they didn’t have much of a discount for 3rd and 4th passengers as other cruise lines have. Considering we are all RCI stock holders, for each cabin we book, we received $100 OBC so the math works out better that we did a new booking and saved few hundred dollars. As much as it was sad to give up the premium boardwalk end balcony, it was the logical thing to go for more space and save money.

 

Then after the final payment was made, about two months prior to sailing, I saw that Royal was heavily discounting some cabins as 1) some people bailed when final payments are due 2) they can’t sell them at the higher rack price. At that point, the new price of our central park cabins were below what we had paid but Royal wasn’t going to refund me the difference so the other option was to “upgrade” to a better cabin for more or less the same price. The decision was either to take central park balcony or boardwalk balcony.

 

If boardwalk balcony, which deck? Given I wanted boardwalk balcony originally, that was my preference but Royal is not family friendly with the boardwalk balcony configurations. If you look at the deck plans, very few of the boardwalk cabins are “connecting”, which is a must if you have kids/family. Then it has to be the “right” number of people meaning some cabins are doubles and triple connecting. That won’t work as we have a “double/double” (hey that sounds like burger ordering). Final deciding factor was I wanted to be on decks 11/12/14 as I know the secret balconies are going away soon and I wanted to be there before they are gone.

By time I was trying to figure all this possible options, another family came in and swoop up the cabin next door to ours so that’s why we didn’t have 3 cabins back to back to back. The original plan we had in decorating the 3 consecutive cabins (either on CP or Boardwalk) was to get the Christmas garlands and with suction cups, spell out the word “WOW” in each of the 3 windows (and charge RCI for advertising for them – cheapo dad always thinking ways to make $$). That plan went down the toilet as well.

 

Anyway, here are few pics on views from cabin. I will show more later on throughout the cruise.

 

Viewing through the balcony glass across on the other side. Note the holiday decorations on the glass.

 

 

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Oh, found one more miniature pic I took

 

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These 2 were taken on day 5, second formal night as we were done for the night and everyone went outside to the balcony for me to take a picture across the way. Note the 3 lid cabins are ours. Again, in perfect world, I wish I could have connected the 3. Also note the basketball court above us but we never had any noise issues.

 

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