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reaton

Allure of the seas 7/21-8/4 a tale of b2b cruises (in 2 parts).

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First, I would like to thank all the previous b2b cruisers who have posted before. Your tips and tricks were so valuable (excuse me while I go get a Gray Goose and cranberry). 

 

First some background. We are currently in Fort Lauderdale on turn around day. The first half of our cruise was a western (Haiti, Jamaica, Cozumel). The second will be a Eastern with St. Martin, San Juan, and Haiti again. We do not have the beverage package for either week, but we did do the unlimited dining package for both weeks. I will not be doing a day-to-day recap because I’m horrible at keeping daily notes- props to those of you who can it is more difficult than it looks. Instead I will report on observations made of the unlimited dining package, sailing a b2b, and tips we observed for living in a balcony cabin for 2 weeks.

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Overall experience so far: 

this was my 3/4 cruise and Dh’s 2/3. His first was a Mediterranean cruise on NCL in the Haven suites. When booking this trip, the budget was a little less, but I knew I had to find a way to make him a cruise addict also (spoiler alert: he’s already planning future trips). Staff wise everyone has been amazing. We are in a balcony on the 12th floor. And that leads me to the first tip: USE A GOOD TRAVEL AGENT. I’ve used the local travel agent at the mall for previous trips (after doing all the leg work myself) (both land and cruise). I’ve booked directly with the resort/cruise line. This trip we used a travel agent who specializes in cruises. She had access to a group booking for both sailings and saved us around $2,000 total. We were then able to use the savings to buy excursions and the dining package for both weeks.

 

Our room steward has been amazing. I can totally see him being promoted at some point.  The service he has provided has been on par with that that we have received in suites (and that was great service too). 

 

All staff on board have been amazing. The first night, in Chops, dh mentioned that I’d been looking forward to the red velvet cake. When we were ready to leave, the waiter presented us with 3 slices of red velvet cake to take with us (in addition to the dessert we ate there). It stayed in the fridge in our room and was an awesome mid afternoon snack. I don’t really like nuts. When I mentioned that to the waiter at 150, he brought me cheesecake with chocolate sauce instead of Nutella. OMG it was SO good. 

 

The only bad part so far has been the manners of some passengers. Please. Thank you. Excuse me. Sorry my momma raised me with these phrases. However, having seen some mention of this also on Facebook, I’m wondering if it’s a single group of passengers (we’ve noticed it particularly with a group in matching t shirts- not that matching t shirts are bad, just that this group seems.... entitled). It will be very interesting to see what we see next week.

 

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Dining package (I guess continued since I sorta jumped the gun above)The dining package has been no problem anywhere we’ve tried to use it. The only place we haven’t tried is vintages. On the last sea day, we went for an afternoon snack at Johnny Rockets (read ice cream sundaes). Absolutely no problem. We also ate a full meal there earlier in the week when we had a late lunch on our excursion. I was surprised to find that sodas are also included in the price (though not milk shakes unless you have the drinks package). P.s.  get the cheese and bacon fries with ranch. It’s something a sub shop does at home, and Johnny Rockets lived up to my expectations. 

 

Just for research purposes, my husband attempted to order 2 steaks at Chops (he usually orders a 12 ounce filet at home so 2 6 ounce filets seemed like a good idea). Only problem was the ensuing meat coma. No problem in ordering at all. 

 

Lunch on turn around day will be provided in Giovanni’s. When we dined there, our waiter spoke very fast, I’m not sure if he was nervous or if it was just his normal personality. It did make the experience seem somewhat rushed. Our steaks that night were also not cooked to order (they came out barely rare when we’d ordered medium). When we mentioned the issue it was quickly resolved. I’m interested to see if we have a different experience next time. This leads me to the best part of the dining package on both legs of a b2b: we have decided on our favorites, and have an opportunity to try everything at least a second time. 

 

Our current list of loves: 1. Chops 2. Izumi hibachi 3. 150 Central Park 4. Samba 5. Johnny Rockets 6. Giovanni’s 

 

Trust me- ranking them was hard because they’re all so good. 

 

Lastly, a special note to Izumi hibachi. Absolutely no problem getting reservations. We frequently go to these restaurants on land, and have been disappointed on cruise ships before- sorry NCL Epic you did let us down on that one. Allure really shines here! The entire staff was awesome and helped to make the dining experience memorable.

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Other additions: Around thanksgiving last year, I scored a great deal on the aforementioned dining package. We also purchased at that time a bungalow on Columbus cove, Dunn’s river falls climb (and vip bamboo beach club, and a 3 reef snorkel by boat in Cozumel. First, the beach bungalow was AWESOME. it was great to have our own space throughout the day. It was located close to the lunch buffet and we were able to bring lunch back to our cabana to eat. We had a cabin attendant who brought drinks and checked in regularly. Interestingly, as I believe so,done asked recently, there were only 2 of us. That left a substantial number of water bottles left in the cooler at the end of the day. We were able to bring them back on board with us no problem.  

 

Normally, I book private excursions, but because of the time change in Jamaica, I was a little nervous to do so. The ship excursion there was ok. The falls were very busy, but there was nothing the tour operators could have done about that. The beach portion wasn’t great, but that could have been because they seemed to be behind on time (we were pretty late making it back to the ship). 

 

The 3 reef snorkel had both good and bad parts. I loved that it was by boat (I sometimes struggle to swim out from shore against the current on snorkeling excursions). However, I’m the future I would book this as a private excursion. There were around 50 people on our boat and that made snorkeling in a small area extremely difficult. I lost count of the number of times I was kicked in the head. Overall I loved the idea, just not something I would do with such a large group. 

 

This coming week we have no ship excursions planned. We will be going to the Lazy Lizard on St. Martin where I have already reserved chairs (and hopefully we will have WiFi at that point). For the stops in San Juan and Haiti we may stay on the boat and enjoy the far emptier pool deck, we’ll see.

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Thoughts, observations, and tricks We were able to bring 4 bottles of wine and 24 17 ounce soda/water on board at the beginning of the first cruise. No one even asked about it (I was carrying half and dh was carrying half). 

 

We will not have Internet next week but should have access to WiFi on Wednesday, and real internet via our phones on Thursday. If you have any questions, or need pictures of something let me know and I’m happy to see what I can do

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2 hours ago, reaton said:

Overall experience so far: 

this was my 3/4 cruise and Dh’s 2/3. His first was a Mediterranean cruise on NCL in the Haven suites. When booking this trip, the budget was a little less, but I knew I had to find a way to make him a cruise addict also (spoiler alert: he’s already planning future trips). Staff wise everyone has been amazing. We are in a balcony on the 12th floor. And that leads me to the first tip: USE A GOOD TRAVEL AGENT. I’ve used the local travel agent at the mall for previous trips (after doing all the leg work myself) (both land and cruise). I’ve booked directly with the resort/cruise line. This trip we used a travel agent who specializes in cruises. She had access to a group booking for both sailings and saved us around $2,000 total. We were then able to use the savings to buy excursions and the dining package for both weeks.

 

Our room steward has been amazing. I can totally see him being promoted at some point.  The service he has provided has been on par with that that we have received in suites (and that was great service too). 

 

All staff on board have been amazing. The first night, in Chops, dh mentioned that I’d been looking forward to the red velvet cake. When we were ready to leave, the waiter presented us with 3 slices of red velvet cake to take with us (in addition to the dessert we ate there). It stayed in the fridge in our room and was an awesome mid afternoon snack. I don’t really like nuts. When I mentioned that to the waiter at 150, he brought me cheesecake with chocolate sauce instead of Nutella. OMG it was SO good. 

 

The only bad part so far has been the manners of some passengers. Please. Thank you. Excuse me. Sorry my momma raised me with these phrases. However, having seen some mention of this also on Facebook, I’m wondering if it’s a single group of passengers (we’ve noticed it particularly with a group in matching t shirts- not that matching t shirts are bad, just that this group seems.... entitled). It will be very interesting to see what we see next week.

 

I had some manner issues with a few passengers, also some pushing and shoving and being yelled at for standing in front of seated people during the promenade parade with two ten year old girls that the parade director told us where to stand.

 

 

 

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Thank you so much for your review and letting us ask questions.

 

 I've read that with UDP there are very limited times available to book the specialty restaurants once you get onboard.  What was your experience regarding availability?  What times were you able to book for dining? 

 

I am also on a B2B.  Would they let you book your dining reservations for the second leg during the first leg? 

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1 hour ago, cruiseluvr10 said:

 ...

I am also on a B2B.  Would they let you book your dining reservations for the second leg during the first leg? 

 

Possibly, it's worth asking.

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1 hour ago, cruiseluvr10 said:

Thank you so much for your review and letting us ask questions.

 

 I've read that with UDP there are very limited times available to book the specialty restaurants once you get onboard.  What was your experience regarding availability?  What times were you able to book for dining? 

 

I am also on a B2B.  Would they let you book your dining reservations for the second leg during the first leg? 

 

We had absolutely no issues making reservations (I had a plan at the beginning of week 1 and we made them around noon on the first day). We were even able to move some reservations around later in the week. Most meals we’ve eaten around 7 pm as that is our preferred time on vacation. 

 

At the the end of the first week there is a number to call to make reservations. You can also make them as soon as you reboard. Both worked great. We also made chops reservations for the second week in Chops at the end of the first week. 

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Just boarded to sail with you on your second cruise.  I’m with you in that I’ve never run across ruder people on a cruise before.  Because they’re in a group, they feel it’s ok to yell and scream.  Hopefully it’ll get better.  I really like the smaller ships but I’ll give this one a chance.  

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@reaton

--just curious, and please forgive the nosiness, but since you mentioned what a great deal you got on both your balcony and the UDP, can you tell us how much these actually were? We are paying @$3300 (total) in our October 2019 Allure CP balcony B2B booked directly with RC (including Protection Plan on 1 leg), and the TA we consulted said she could not have done better. So, if the TA saved you $2,000, what was your net?

 

The best price we have seen for UDP in Cruise Planner for either leg has been $175 pp. If you beat that, I wonder if it was due to the conversion from the prior "every night dinners" version to the new UDP?

 

Thanks--reviews like your make us even more anxious for October to arrive!

Edited by mayleeman
OP name added

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No problem 😃We paid $4700 for the cruise itself in a 6D ocean view balcony (2000 for one week and 2700 for the other week). Keep in mind, because of work, I can only vacation during the summer (or very expensive times during the year like Christmas break), so this does influence the price significantly. October would be much cheaper, but unfortunately is not a time we can cruise. The $2000 savings is comparing what we paid to what I found as a Mach booking directly through RCCL. Travel agents can’t always beat the cruise line price, but they should always offer some incentive to book with them (we also got $150 on board credit). 

 

The dining package was $126 (per person per week), which was significantly less than it was being offered for at the time ($199 I think was the going rate). This was for a random one day only around thanksgiving. 

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@reaton  Thanks. Great deal for dining! My wife retired on March 31 (me, long ago) so we do have the flexibility to cruise in fall and spring if we find good prices--maybe the best part of retirement besides not having to work!

 

The TA offered me $50 total ("as a courtesy") to assume the 4 cruises I was inquiring about (all in a 30 day period after booking directly), and said our prices we got were so low she had no room to offer more. I didn't want to give up control for that much. She is a well-established Web presence with a few specialty associates scattered around, but I think she really focuses on groups and destination weddings, so we were small potatoes comparatively.

 

Enjoy the rest of part 2!

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Great review!  Who is the Hotel Director on board?  We've had great experiences with Kevin Thorogood in the past and really hope it's him.  THank you!

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Just adding a small tidbit as I’m on this cruise as well.  At all 3 ports, we docked on the starboard side.  Murphy’s law.....our room is on the port side.

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18 minutes ago, sellwingri said:

Just adding a small tidbit as I’m on this cruise as well.  At all 3 ports, we docked on the starboard side.  Murphy’s law.....our room is on the port side.

 

Oasis class ships almost always dock on the starboard side.

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2 minutes ago, Host Clarea said:

 

Oasis class ships almost always dock on the starboard side.

Great info, Bob!  Thanks.  Had no idea.  We’re on Harmony next month in a starboard balcony so we should see more of the ports.

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10 minutes ago, sellwingri said:

Great info, Bob!  Thanks.  Had no idea.  We’re on Harmony next month in a starboard balcony so we should see more of the ports.

 

The view depends on what side of the dock the ship uses.  In other words, you could be looking down at the dock, but not have the port in view.

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On 8/2/2019 at 9:51 AM, sellwingri said:

Just adding a small tidbit as I’m on this cruise as well.  At all 3 ports, we docked on the starboard side.  Murphy’s law.....our room is on the port side.

 

We noticed this also as we were in a port side room. However, the view in Labadee was great!! 

 

We’re headed home now (19 hour road trip). When we stop tonight (because 19 hours in a car is not the way to end a vacation), I’ll try to summarize some of our observations reguarding specialty dining and the b2b experience. 

 

Im already missing the steak 🤷🏻‍♀️

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