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

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Thanks to everyone’s kind words. It really helps to hear this stuff is helpful to someone out there as I know I prefer step by step walk through when I read others reviews but I know it’s not for everyone. My wife never reads cruise critics. Two months before the cruise, she didn’t even know which islands we were visiting; she just knew it was western Caribbean as she only cared about the ship and she is the “wing it” type. She just shows up on the cruise and let the professionals guide her so everyone has their preferences.


When I am uploading the pictures late at night when the whole family is asleep, it does creep into the mind “does anybody really want to read all this detail?” It would certainly be easier to just write a single post saying we enjoyed the cruise – We came, we saw, we ate, we pooped, we got fat, we left. But that doesn’t help others in their research on what we enjoyed so I am glad this info is useful to you folks.


There’s the famous philosophical thought, if a tree falls and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Conversely, if one write a cruise trip report and nobody reads it, does it become a diary instead? Think about that one as you lay in the Solarium lounger looking over the deep blue ocean. Or maybe not…

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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.


Thanks for the kind words. Glad this is helpful.


OK, you may need to remind me toward the end to have my kids come on and write their summary. At the snail pace I am going, it will take awhile to get to end of the trip and a lot of brain cell will have died by then, so a reminder would be great.


As a cheapo dad, I will make sure they write to say they like it. "You know how much money and effort we had to do to get you on this cruise? You better like it or else no more cruises for you..." Just kidding.

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Fun review, great pictures, I like the tilt-shift ones too. I always forget to enable that feature on my camera, derp. Will try next month on Indy :cool:

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So we were just in the cabin chilling out and oogling over the view/scenery. Then our cabin steward, Abel, came by and introduced himself. We requested that he opens the connecting cabin door as well as the balcony partition. He said he can do the interior cabin door later as he has the key but he would a supervisor’s key to unlock the balcony partition in-between cabins. Then he asked if we wanted ice and we do, in both cabins.


Abel is very nice. Does a good job and provided extra blankets after day 1 when he saw us using the blankets in the bag from underneath the bed. We prefer to have colder room temperature but with extra blankets to snuggle up. Hey, personal preference, don’t knock it.


Then as I was looking over the Seapass card, I noticed the table assignment was 430. That doesn’t sound right. I was pretty sure it was 413 and not 430 from the RCI’s email (which I printed it out and brought with me in my backpack. Am I that anal? Don’t answer that). So I wanted to make a trip to the MDR to see what our table looks like and if they somehow changed table on us.


Went down to deck 4 and of course, as one expects with all cruises, there is a line to have dining issues resolved. However, I do say I like Royal’s style in having a screener to take your card/talk about your issues and then ask you to see in the lounge where they have refreshments for you as you sit and wait. Other cruises, you have to stand in line with the masses to wait.


First the waiter showed us our assigned table on the card, table 430. Went there and it’s a table for 8 away from the railing. Eh? What happened to 413? That one is still there. Railing table for 6 but now belongs to someone else? OK. We need to talk. So we waited for a while to speak to a manager at the podium with the monitor. Who informed us somehow their reservation system connected our party with another couple whom we never met as “traveling together” and assigned us a table of 8 with them. At risk of sounding anti-social, I am not sure I want to sit with strangers on our family cruise and I am sure they rather not be with us anyway. So that needs to be remedied. I showed the manager the hard copy print out on what corporate HQ assigned me but he said he can’t change us to that table as other people have that on their sail card.


So we went back to the seats while he asks a staff person to go to couple places on deck 4 to find us an table for 6. After more wait, we were called back to the podium where the manager informed us of a new table assignment. Table 654. Not by the railing as those are all filled but a window view. Not ideal but we will take it. To make it official, the manager takes a sharpie marker and blacked out our table assignment of 430 and hand wrote 654 on it. Lovely looking everytime I whip out the card to see that big black mark on it.


Took around 30 minutes to have this whole issue resolved. Take home lesson for me next time on sailing on RCI is to have a follow up email back to dining request few days before the sailing to re-confirm what HQ assigned for me didn’t get over ridden by the ship or someone else.


In hindsight, the new table was good as we had a wonderful waiter, Russell, from the Philippines. Since it was winter time, with sun setting early, window seat gave no benefits of view for most of the nights. But since RCI no longer have signing and performing waiters, there is less to see from the railing other than the classical music on certain evenings. So that was another pre planning idea/project down the tubes.


Here is the waiting lounge area in front of MDR. Note the drinks and the couple waiter screeners to help with small issues that won’t require you to see the manager at the podium.




Everyone’s waiting to have their dining issues resolved




That table for 6, toward the back by the railing on the right is table 413 that was assigned to us by HQ. Great seat/location. Right as you walk in and you see the captain’s table and performances. Of course, photo opp. Hope someone else on cc will use this table in the future and let me know your thoughts.




Here is what we could have seen




One last photo of MDR before we left



Edited by harryfat1

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OK, now what? Question I hear the entire cruise from the clan as they know I am the scheduler. My kids wanted to see Boardwalk/ride the carousel as we saw it from above in our cabins but they want to be right there. Off we went as it’s just short walk up from MDR to Boardwalk.


Boardwalk as the name implies, it’s about the old days of beach boardwalk era. We have one here in northern California in Santa Cruz as I am sure many areas by the shore lines have their own version. For these next series of pictures, I went “old school” as in really old school and used Paint shop to strip out the colors and make it look retro as I thought that would make it more appropriate and breaks up the monotony of just color pics in every post. Just ignore the modern day electronics in the pictures...


This is first time I am using Paintshop as I bought it really cheap on discount from eBay awhile back since it’s an older version but even then, it has more photo editing features that I will ever need.














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Couple more retro pics before we turn back to normal style.


Here’s Zoltar. I rented the movie “Big” from Netflix prior to the cruise as my kids were too young to know about the story. So if you want to prep your family for the cruise, check out that movie. Unlike the Zoltar in the movie, this one needs to be plugged in. For what it’s worth, the Zoltar on Allure looks slightly different than the one on the Oasis from the pictures I have seen.






Few pics of Boardwalk.








Then we walked toward the back of the ship to the aqua theater where they were showing the Patriots versus Dolphins game so for those traveling on Sunday to the ship during the fall/winter, you can watch the games on the screen. From the number of fans cheering for the Pats, sounds like a large number of New Englanders are on board.



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A little show and tell time. Up to now, I have been assuming all the readers know what I meant by “not so secret balcony”. In case you don’t know, it’s reference to the end of the deck open balcony area. In the older version of Oasis and current version of the Allure, decks 11/12/14 are open to the public, but not everyone knows about them so for a while on these boards, they are referred to as “secret balcony” but think the secret is long out by now but just in case there are some new comers that will sail on the Allure is reading this and wondering, “what is that guy talking about?”


So we go back to the deck 12 cabin I referred to earlier, see the left red arrow? If you walk behind the rock wall in the interior hallway, you come out on the other side of the balcony where the right red arrow is – same deck by where the guy is standing. Our deck is 14, one above (blue arrow) and it’s not as good as you can see there’s that cross beam blocking the view. So if you have a choice to pick your cabin/aqua theater view watching, try 11 or 12.


In 2014, when Oasis went through her dry dock changes, Royal being the greedy gravy sucking pigs that they are, they eliminated access to the public balconies and put in suites so they can make more money (hey wait a minute, I am a Royal shareholder. I should be applauding any money making ideas). So if yu sail on the Oasis going forward, this discussion won’t apply to you. If you will be on the Allure next few months, before her dry-dock this Spring, you can still have access to the public balconies. Before I left on our cruise, I don’t believe there was an official announcement on Allure taking out these balconies on her dry-dock but it’s a general consensus it will happen since Oasis did it. I haven't been following any news of late. Can anyone confirm on any new developments?




These public balconies are great as I took many pictures from here. Will be sad in not able to have access to them ion future cruises.


The port side balconies




My wife and the inlaws wandered off to the back of the theater while I stayed by the rock wall with the boys






This side of the port seldom gets photographed as it’s not sexy or pretty as the other side





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From the back of the ship, we can see the Princess ship (Regal Princess) behind us.




A little closer view




In your face view, 35X zoom in. Where is their captain?



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Great review!


May steal... Er be inspired by the boardwalk style photo ideas



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Love your writing style and the retro pictures. Thanks for sharing!



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After we have had enough of the Boardwalk, we made our way back inside the ship and stopped off at the photo section. Ship photos are big business for the cruise lines and if you see the number of people lining up to buy photos on last day of any cruise, you know people are spending money on them. However, just like the crazy aunt that is locked up in your basement that everyone knows she exists but nobody every talks about here during family gatherings. That’s how I feel about ship photo area. Seldom mentioned in most cruise reports.


Well, here are couple pictures of the area. They have signs all around that won’t allow you to take pictures when the pictures are out so I can only sneak in pictures when the store isn’t open. For Royal/Celebrity/Disney, they use the same vendor for taking these pictures so you can go online through the web from your cruise vacation reservation to book a package prior to the cruise if that is important to you.






Of course you know I can’t pass up on taking pictures of cost as I would need to do a cost analysis. Depending on how many pictures you want, you might want to get the “all” package which, I believe is around $350. Then you can take literally hundreds of pictures and have them all for your archive records or you can buy these smaller packages.


If you are a gold member or above on Royal’s caste system, you can have a buy 1 get second at 50% off deal. That’s what we did as we have our own camera (really? Bet you didn’t know that) and we just wanted few family pictures that we can’t do ourselves.




If you have cruised on other ships before, you know what a pain it is to try and find your picture amongst the thousands posted on the wall. In some ways, this has been mitigated on the Allure with their facial recognition software that can tag your face with your cabin binder. On each person’s sail card, it has the column number and binder number where your personal photos are kept. For example, one of our cabins is 4-67 and another is 4-53. That means at column 4 and binders 53 and 67 will have your pictures. That is the working theory. That’s not to say, the walls are completely bear with no photos. They still print out some for display so you still have to check the walls daily but majority of your photos will be in your binder.


You see columns 2 & 3 in the first page on this page and the empty wall that would be filled throughout the cruise.


For most part, I would say 95%+ of the time your pictures will show up in your slot. But there will be other times when pictures show up with complete strangers and you say “Who are these people?” and you give the pictures for the workers to be places in the right binders. Not sure if the error is more human (the ones that you them there or software’s tagging error).


If you have hundreds of pictures by the end of the cruise, it may be easier to use the on screen viewing machines you see here. Just slide your sail card and out pops all the digital pics associated with your account. One tip that is hard to follow as we ourselves seldom follow it is to buy your photos early in the cruise if you like it. Don’t wait until the last day to buy it when the line is literally 30 people deep. But we all have tendency to say, well, maybe my next picture will be better than this one and I won’t need two so I will wait. Problem is so are the rest of the passengers so use your judgment on this one.


So now does that mean we should unlock the crazy aunt from basement to let her out? You nuts? Of course not – remember the chaos last time we unshackled her and she ran over to the neighbor’s yard? Oh yeah, never mind…

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So after locking up the crazy aunt back at the basement, we ventured down the pretty spiral staircase of Focus (will show in later posts) and made our way back to the Royal Promenade. The area is always the center of activity and of course day 1 boarding is probably the most hectic day with people coming onboard right there (the entrance of where the guys are doing the hand stand). Guest services have its share of long lines.


This being the holiday season, they have the Christmas tree up and of course, that’s worth couple pictures (remember “dirt” from the beginning posts?). So what are we doing here? To stand in line to book a tour excursion.


I know what you are thinking – this dude is dumber than he looks (is that even possible?) – why would you want to stand in line on day 1 at the tour excursion desk when you had days/weeks/months of opportunity to book your tour online from comforts of your home?


I understand what you are thinking, but we have on board credits (OBC) up the wahzoo since we are 1) shareholders credit of $100 per cabin 2) TA credits 3) Royal Caribbean credit card bonus points from booking this cruise. Since it’s established from the onset that we are not foodies and not spending extra money on food, I can’t buy enough $10 t-shirts during the cruise to use up all the credits. And if I book the tours online, I have to pay via credit card right then instead of using the OBC. To use the OBC, it has to be done while on the ship.


Thus, we stood in line with bunch of newly found friends as shown in the last picture. By time that was done, they were ready to shut down all services to get ready for the muster drill.











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Our muster station was F1. All the F series folks met in Adagio dining room. If you get there somewhat early, you get a seat. Late arrivers must stand for the whole presentation but you get to leave first so pick your poison. Remember to bring your sail card with you as they do scan to track who didn’t show up.


The process itself is pretty painless as it’s a more involved version of the airline life vest demonstration. Gone are the old days of having to stand at the outdoor Promenade deck in sweltering heat packed like sardines with buffy men/women who never heard of the word “deodorant”.




People leaving the drill




Saw a closet full of life vests just right by the dining room closet. So you know there are always some in the area.




After the drill, we made our way up to deck 12 for the sail away party. Now if there’s one time you realize there are a lot of people on the ship, the ending of the muster drill event is one of them. People packed into elevators trying to go up to top deck as well as trying to walk up the elevators. We opted to walk up 7 decks on our own but I think by deck 10, I was looking for a refreshment station.

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Enjoying your review and pictures. Don't think I'll ever get on a ship that large, but looks like you're keeping busy!



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Great pictures! I like your tilt & shift shots. Thanks for posting


I also need to thank you in return since your reviews were useful in my prep work. I showed my family before the cruise of the youtube video of your friend - GMan's - belly flop winning flop and we al agree that GMan would have won hands down if he was on our cruise.

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Ours is bigger than yours/Nah, nah, nah, nah - As we arrived at deck 12 huffing and puffing and looking at the variouis ships in the area ready to sail away, I know what is on everyone’s mind – ours is bigger than yours. When you are on either the Allure or Oasis, you look out at other ships in port (either in FLL or in the ports), you mentally compare “your ship” to every other ship out there and you can be totally smug in saying, “Ours is bigger than yours. Nah, nah, nah, nah…”


Hey, no need to feel embarrass about it. We all do it. That’s our way to justify that we spent extra money to be on the Allure and have to walk the extra distance of a mega ship from one end to the other daily but it’s worth it because our ship is bigger than your tiny puny ship.


That line of thinking is OK as it’s not immature. It’s just an adult person’s educated method of comparing the product you purchased versus other contenders that you have rejected during the product comparison phase of the cruise booking. However, if your thumb your nose and give the other ship the raspberry standing on deck 16 looking down at their deck 12 and screaming your thoughts across the port with a blow horn – ours is bigger than yours - than you might be overdoing it slightly.


Of course, the people on the other side of the port are thinking, “What fools would sail on that big old ship? Way too big and crowded for my taste. Look at the ship’s fat butt – not even completed.” That’s fine. Let them think that way. They’re just jealous that we are sailing on a vastly superior ship than theirs…


With that in mind, here is the Regal Princess sailing away. Remember, no blowhorns…






Then the Celebrity Silhouette sailed off.



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One advantage of being in the back public deck besides watching the sail away in semi privacy is that you can also watch the Madagascar’s sail away party as the same time as you just move over to the other side of the balcony to watch all the activities in the aqua theater.














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As you recall, the original plan was that we emailed the request for the port web cam to focus on us on deck 12, in the back balcony sailing away after 4:30 with 6 Asiana in Hawaiian shirt. Oh, speaking of timing, slight digression here. If you were on Oasis/Allure prior to mid November 2014, your sail away was 5 PM. Any sailings after that, they moved the sailing to be 4:30 officially but I don't think they sail away that early as they typically wait for the other ships to leave first.


So as the show is happening, another ship sailed off, the HAL’s Nieuw Amsterdam sailed off at 4:45. Views of Fort Lauderdale on a gorgeous late afternoon. I can be out here forever taking pictures and soaking in the ambience.














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Then the countdown for our cruise sail away started on the big screen and the penguins of Madagascar kidnapped the captain (it’s only funny if you have seen the movie). We would be in big trouble if the penguins were in charge.






As the ship slowly move away from the dock and we see water movement and the pods churning up water and churning as we are 200 yard out and then nothing.








Nothing as meaning nothing, zip. The engines stopped and we are just dead in the water. HUH? During the show, I was texting with my best friend back in CA as he was watching us sail away in the Port Everglades web cam and he noticed we had stopped as well online.


So everyone stood around not knowing what was happening. After awhile, my wife and son just sat down and waited and at which time he said he was hungry as he was too excited to eat at the early lunch and now needs to eat. Great. Then my friend text me saying there are red flashing lights with fire trucks at the pier. The situation sounds worst by the minute. This can’t be good.



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