Cruises

Allure of the Seas Cruise Review

The Allure of the Seas is, just by a few inches, the biggest ship sailing the seven seas (at least at the moment).

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Introduction

Launched in December 2010, Allure of the Seas is the second of Royal Caribbean's two groundbreaking Oasis Class ships — by far the largest cruise vessels ever built. Like the first in the series (Oasis of the Seas), it's designed as a megaship to top all megaships, with an unprecedented array of on-board amusements including four separate pool areas (each with a different theme), two FlowRider surfing pools, rock climbing walls, a miniature golf course, a zip line, a carousel, an indoor ice skating rink and (the piece de resistance) a restaurant-lined, open-air "Central Park" with live trees and plants that runs for hundreds of feet down its middle.

This is a vessel that is all about options, from its over 30 different categories of cabins (including a wide range of suites) to its more than two dozen eateries and bars. The idea is that you'll never be bored while at sea and, indeed, it's hard to imagine anyone running out of things to do. The ship is so big, in fact (more than 40% larger than any other ship other than Oasis), that the line has divided it into seven "neighborhoods," and at times it feels more like a small town than a ship (not much of a stretch, considering its massiveness). Like Oasis, it can hold 5,400 passengers at double occupancy and more than 6,300 when every extra pull-down bunk and pull-out sofa is filled. Add in more than 2,000 crew members, and at any given time there are around 8,000 people on board.

Gene Sloan's Opinion on the Allure of the Seas

Big and bustling, Allure of the Seas is the ultimate ship if you’re looking for a mega-resort experience at sea — and you don’t mind sharing your vacation with thousands of strangers. Like the biggest land resorts of Las Vegas or Orlando, it offers an eye-popping array of activities that ensure you’ll never be bored. And we do mean eye-popping. There is stuff on this ship you won’t find anywhere else at sea, from the (fun, if brief) zip line careening across the ship’s top decks to the family-friendly outdoor amusement area called Boardwalk (we love the hand-carved wooden carousel, Boardwalk Dog House hotdog stand and other Jersey Shore touches). Indeed, Allure’s deck-top areas are more impressive than those on any other ship at sea, other than its sister vessel, Oasis of the Seas. And its on-board entertainment is on par with the biggest Las Vegas casino resorts (we would rank the outdoor Aqua Theater dive shows as among the coolest things on the ocean, and the licensed-from-Broadway production of the musical Chicago as admirably close to the original).

With some of the most extensive children’s areas and programs we’ve seen and infused with DreamWorks characters such as Shrek, Allure is a great choice for families. The ship’s unusually diverse range of cabin sizes, meanwhile, is a boon for large, multi-generational families and other groups looking for a single ship that will satisfy a wide range of budgets.

The ship also flows incredibly well, despite its size. With as many as 6,300 passengers on board at a time, there are many areas of the ship that don’t feel particularly crowded. Surprisingly, there even are some quiet nooks on Allure, including (at times) the vessel’s much-ballyhooed, tree-lined Central Park. Still, make no mistake: Intimate, Allure of the Seas is not. This is mass-market cruising taken to an extreme, and if you’re the kind of person who demands uncrowded spaces and personalized pampering, this ship isn’t for you.

Gene Sloan writes about cruising for USA TODAY, the nation’s top-selling newspaper, and oversees USA TODAY’s online cruise site, The Cruise Log. Sloan’s stories also are distributed by the Gannett News Service to more than 80 other U.S. newspapers with a combined circulation of more than five million, including the Cincinnati Enquirer, The Detroit Free Press, and The Arizona Republic.

Allure of the Seas has one of the most diverse arrays of cabin types at sea, from small inside rooms to two-floor suites.


Allure of the Seas passengers can choose from a staggering 37 different types of cabins at a wide range of price points. That said, many of these different types of cabins fit into one of just a few broad categories: Interior cabins, ocean-view cabins (those with a window but no balcony); balcony cabins and suites. In many cases, the differences between cabins within these broad categories comes down to little more than your view.

One of the unusual features about Allure of the Seas is that in addition to balcony cabins facing the sea it offers balcony cabins facing inward over the ship's tree-lined Central Park area and amusement-themed Boardwalk area. In addition, there are so-called Aqua Suites at the back of the ship that overlook its outdoor Aqua Theater, and there also are window-only (no balcony) cabins overlooking the interior Royal Promenade. If you're in a spending mood, the Allure has some of the largest and most luxurious suites of any ship, including two-story Sky Loft suites and a Presidential Family suite that can accommodate up to 14 people. Other large rooms include Royal Suites (4 people) and Royal Loft Suites (6 people) that start at 1,165 sq feet.

Royal Caribbean also offers specific family-sized rooms. All these rooms are bigger than their conventional, two-to-three person counterparts and can fit up to six passengers, and include larger balconies. The balconies over Central Park are a little bigger than the ones overlooking Boardwalk, but smaller than the balconies that face out towards the sea.

This was the room we actually stayed in, so we have lots of photos and descriptions.


Cabin Layout

When you first enter your cabin you'll notice a master switch located next to the entrance. This is a little different from having to pop your keycard to get power, but the principle is the same. One flick of the switch on your way out and you're no longer burdening the ship with your electrical costs.

On the left side is the bathroom and a full-sized mirror. The closet is next to the bed, on the left side of the room. Opposite the bed is a small shelf on the wall with magazines, leaving just enough space to get through to the couch and TV. The couch seats three comfortably and can probably taking a sleeping body, provided that body is closer to child-sized (the bed does not fold out). On the other side of the room is a desk with storage space and a huge mirror. The TV is mounted on the wall and can be swiveled to face the bed. Thanks to a great layout and generally sound feeling of the build quality, we found it very easy to open the balcony doors.

Bedroom

The king-sized bed is very comfortable (not too firm and not too soft) and the white linen bedding is fresh and crisp. On both sides of the bed are night stands with built-in reading lamps. They can be switched on individually, so you won't disturb your bedmate as you plan your activities for the next day on a scratch pad.

The couch is next to the bed. Opposite that is a desk/dresser with a large vanity. Three outlets (110 volt), housed in a cleverly-designed casing, are on top of the dresser. Near the bottom of the dresser are three more. One of these is a European-style, 220-volt outlet. A television is mounted into the wall and can be turned to face the bed or the couch. Some of the ocean view balcony rooms can accommodate three passengers. Ours was not one of them, as the couch is not a fold-out.

Overall, the room feels spacious and not as confining as some we have experienced on other vessels.

Bathroom

As with the rest of the room, the bathroom is more spacious than on other ships, but still not large enough that two people can occupy it at the same time. The toilet sits between the counter and shower – a somewhat narrow space that could be a little more comfortable. Another thing that takes some getting used to is the sink. It's small and low. Taller guests will have to stoop uncomfortably. The shower, on the other hand, is spacious.

As for storage, the only spots are the small counter space next to the sink, the tiny shelf with the toiletries, or underneath the sink.

Closets & Storage

The room offers one large closet with sliding doors, located next to the bed. It's a little hard to get to, as the nightstand gets in the way a little. The closet contains two rows of hangers (one high and one low), as well as a shelf unit with a small safe (not large enough for a laptop) and some bath robes.

Next to the desk is another storage unit with two shelves. The desk itself has three drawers. All in all, the room's storage space is adequate enough for two people, but fitting in the luggage of three people could be tough.

Balcony

On the balcony are two chairs and a small table. The sides of the balcony are lined with milky glass doors, which can be opened upon request (e.g. if your family is in the next room). With only 52 square feet, the balcony is not big enough for lounge chairs, so you'll probably want to do your sunning out on the public sun decks.

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:

"Two twin beds (can convert to Queen), private bathroom and sitting area. (172.2 sq. ft.) Also includes hair dryer, TV, radio, phone mini refrigerator and safe." –Royal Caribbean International

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:

"Two twin beds (can convert to Queen). Private bathroom with tub and two sinks, marble entry, large closets, sitting area with table and sofa. (371 sq. ft., balcony 105 sq. ft.)" –Royal Caribbean International

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:

"Two twin beds (can convert to Queen). Private bathroom with tub, sitting area with table and sofa. (287.4 sq. ft., balcony 78.6 sq. ft.)" –Royal Caribbean International

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:

"Two twin beds (can convert to queen). Sofa converts to double, two Pullman beds, private bathroom and sitting area. (290.6 sq. ft., balcony 81.8 sq. ft.) Stateroom can accomodate up to 6 guests." –Royal Caribbean International

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:

"Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size), private balcony, sitting area, and a private bathroom. (182 sq. ft., balcony 50.8 sq. ft.)" –Royal Caribbean International

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:

"Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size), private balcony, sitting area, and a private bathroom. (182 sq. ft., balcony 50.8 sq. ft.)" –Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:

"Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size), sitting area, and a private bathroom. Boardwalk view bay window. (187.3 sq. ft.)" –Royal Caribbean International

We’ve not yet stayed in this cabin, but here’s what the cruise line has to say:

"Two twin beds (can convert to Queen) and private bathroom. Bay view window overlooking Promenade (194 sq. ft.)" –Royal Caribbean International

Cabin 10 Supplied Photo

A view of the Boardwalk. (Photo provided by Royal Caribbean International)

Cabin Description

We’ve not yet stayed in this cabin, but here’s what the cruise line has to say:

"Two twin beds (can convert to Queen), private bathroom and sitting area. (150.7 sq. ft.)" –Royal Caribbean International

Cabin 11 Supplied Photo

The Mid-Ship Balcony rooms can fit up to three guests. (Photo provided by Norwegian Cruise Line)

"Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size), central park view balcony, sitting area, and a private bathroom. (182 sq. ft., balcony 50.6 sq. ft.)" –Royal Caribbean International

Cabin 14 Supplied Photo

The porthole in these rooms offer a slightly obstructed oceanview. (Photo provided by Norwegian Cruise Line)

Cabin Description

"Two bedrooms (beds can convert to Queen), two Pullman beds. Vanity with chair in each bedroom, living area with double convertible sofa, dining room, marble entry, entertainment center, two bathrooms - master bath with tub. Expansive balcony with table and chairs. (820.2 sq. ft., balcony 803 sq. ft.) Stateroom can accomodate up to 8 guests." –Royal Caribbean International

Cabin 12 Supplied Photo

These Family Oceanview rooms have a rectangular window with a view. (Photo provided by Norwegian Cruise Line)

Cabin Description

"Two bedrooms (beds can convert to Queen), two Pullman beds. Vanity with chair in each bedroom, living area with double convertible sofa, marble entry, entertainment center, two bathrooms - master bath with tub. Private balcony with table and chairs. (575.9 sq. ft., balcony 246.5 sq. ft.) Stateroom can accomodate up to 6 guests." –Royal Caribbean International

Cabin 13 Supplied Photo

The Royal Suite is larger than most city apartments. (Photo provided by Royal Caribbean International)

Cabin Description

We’ve not yet stayed in this cabin, but here’s what the cruise line has to say:

"Two twin beds (can convert to Queen). Private bathroom with tub, shower and two sinks, marble entry, large closets, living area with table and sofa. Private balcony with table and chairs. (569.4 sq. ft., balcony 246.5 sq. ft.)" –Royal Caribbean International

Cabin 15 Supplied Photo

The Owner's Suite, both sweet and stately. (Photo provided by Royal Caribbean International)

Cabin Description

We’ve not yet stayed in this cabin, but here’s what the cruise line has to say:

"Two twin beds (can convert to queen). Sofa converts to double, two Pullman beds, private bathroom and sitting area. (290.6 sq. ft., balcony 81.8 sq. ft.) Stateroom can accomodate up to 6 guests." –Royal Caribbean International

Cabin 16 Supplied Photo

The Inside Staterooms are the most affordable rooms available. (Photo provided by Norwegian Cruise Line)

Cabin Description

We’ve not yet stayed in this cabin, but here’s what the cruise line has to say:

"Two twin beds (can convert to Queen). Sofa converts to double, two Pullman beds, private bathroom and sitting area. (260 sq. ft.) Stateroom can accomodate up to 6 guests." –Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We’ve not yet stayed in this cabin, but here’s what the cruise line has to say:

"Two twin beds (can convert to Queen). Sofa converts to double, two Pullman beds, private bathroom and sitting area. (260 sq. ft.) Stateroom can accomodate up to 6 guests." –Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We’ve not yet stayed in this cabin, but here’s what the cruise line has to say:

"Grand entrance with doorbell. Master bedroom with Queen bed and sitting area. Master bath with tub, shower, two sinks and bidet. Living room sofa converts to a double bed. Guest bathroom with shower, entertainment center, dining room with dry bar, piano. Private balcony with Jacuzzi and dining area. (1,284.1 sq. ft., balcony 345.7 sq. ft.)" –Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We’ve not yet stayed in this cabin, but here’s what the cruise line has to say:

"Stateroom can hold up to 14 guests, must have at least 8 to book. Two Master bedrooms with twin beds (can convert to Queen). Two Master baths with tubs. Two bedrooms with convertible twin beds/Pullman beds, one bedroom contains bathroom with shower. Guest bathroom with shower. Balcony with a whirlpool, dining area, and bar. Dining room with dry bar. Living room sofa converts to a double bed. (1,165.7 sq. ft., balcony 489.7 sq. ft.)" –Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We’ve not yet stayed in this cabin, but here’s what the cruise line has to say:

"Two deck high stateroom with panoramic views. Master bedroom and bath on second level. Bath has a tub, shower, two sinks and bidet. Stairway to second level. Four twin beds (can convert to Queens). Bath with shower on main level. Private balcony with whirlpool and dining area. Dining area with dry bar. Living room sofa converts to double bed. Closets on each level. Stateroom can accommodate up to 6 guests. (1,599.3 sq. ft., balcony 874 sq. ft.)" –Royal Caribbean International

The amenities scale with the size and quality of the cabin. Our small cabin offered relatively few extra amenities, though like all cabins it had access to a WiFi internet (for an extra charge).


Toiletries

On the bathroom shelf you'll find there are a few bath products: shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. In the shower is a liquid soap dispenser.

Appliances

In the top dresser drawer you'll find a hair dryer. That's all we could find regarding appliances. The ship does not allow irons in cabins due to the risk of fire.

Mini Bar

The mini bar contains Evian, Pellegrino, soda and beer, as well as a few snack boxes, all of which come with a charge. Prices for these drinks are the same as on the rest of the ship, but you can skip the gratuity here.

Phone and Internet

WiFi internet access is available in cabins (as it is across the entire ship) for an extra charge, currently 65 cents per minute (less expensive multi-minute packages also are available). There's also a phone in the room that is programmed with important numbers such as room service on speed dial. The phone also can be used to set an automatic wake-up call and can be used for international calls (at a steep extra charge) as well as internal ship calls.

In-room Entertainment & Services

All cabins of the Allure have digital clocks that include an iPod docking station. They also have televisions that, alas, offer a relatively poor array of stations. Among the limited number of television stations on the televisions are two news stations (CNN International and Fox News), TNT and a channel that plays a limited number of movies during each voyage. Cabin televisions also have an extensive and easy-to-navigate interactive menu with which you can check your account balance, order room service, make a dinner or show reservation, order movies, book excursions, check your onboard mail account, and surf the web. While convenient, the movies-on-demand available through the interactive television menu come at an exorbinant extra charge of $11.99.

Few ships offer as diverse array of eateries as Allure.


The Allure of the Seas feels like a small town at sea and offers the same variety of restaurants, some free and some with cover charges. The number of choices here is really staggering. Below is a brief run-down, but you can jump to a more in-depth description of each restaurant using the navigation at the bottom of the page.

The Adagio is the main dining room, offering the general fare you'd expect to please a large, diverse group.

Two restaurants are on the Boardwalk (deck six): Johnny Rockets and Rita’s Cantina. Johnny Rockets offers burgers, hot sandwiches, and breakfast. Johnny Rockets charges a fee of $4.95 for food, and smoothies and milk shakes are charged extra.

Rita’s is a Mexican/So-Cal restaurant with tacos, quesadillas, chili, fajitas, and excellent margaritas. Rita’s also organizes a couple of fiestas during the voyage ($20, including three drinks). For regular lunches and dinners, Rita’s charges $3 plus a la carte prices.

Central Park (deck eight) is where most specialty restaurants are located. Giovanni’s Table, the Allure’s Italian restaurant, is a more casual place to eat. The menu includes pasta, risotto, and meat dishes, as well as great desserts. Giovanni’s is one of the few places you can have lunch on embarkation day and on sea days. Of course, it's also open for dinner every day. Cover charges apply: $10 for lunch and $20 for dinner.

Then there's Chops Grille, the steakhouse. Chops is more formal and a good place for a romantic night out. The food is excellent but the menu is more limited. $30 service charge.

Also located in Central Park is the (no extra charge) Park Café, offering sandwiches, salads, and cereal for breakfast and lunch. The Park Café closes at 6pm.

By far the best restaurant on the Allure is 150 Central Park. It is Allure’s flagship restaurant and features not only its own kitchen (most restaurants share kitchens), but also its own certified executive chef. 150 Central Park has just two small menus that are rotated during the voyage. You can choose to have the sample menu with or without wine pairing, $75 or $40, respectively.

Another highlight is the Chef’s Table, only offered on Oasis class ships. It costs $95. As with other chef’s tables, the chefs prepare a special dinner with five courses and wine pairing. Both chef and sommelier talk you through the wine and food preparation before serving the courses.

As you might expect, the Allure also has a buffet, the Windjammer (deck 16). It's a huge place with aisles of international food, from American to Indian. The place gets very crowded, though, so it can be hard to find a seat.

Next to Windjammer is Izumi, a Japanese restaurant offering sushi, salads, soups, and other Asian specialties. Izumi is open for dinner every day and for lunch on sea days. Everything is charged a la carte.

On the other side of the ship, forward, is the Solarium Bistro. This is a healthy buffet that offers many kinds of fruits and cereals. It's open for breakfast and lunch.

At night, the Solarium Bistro transforms into the Samba Grill, a Brazilian-style steakhouse. For a fee of $25 you can eat as much meat as you want. Of course, there's also some healthier choices at the salad buffet.

If you don’t feel like going to a restaurant, the Allure of the Seas also offers room service, which we talk about in a different section of this review (for more click here).

Also, a word of warning on Allure's specialty restaurants: We found that they booked up extremely quickly once the cruise began, making it difficult for passengers who hadn't made reservations made in advance of their voyage. Within 24 hours of the start of our cruise, many of the best dining times for all seven days of the voyage at the specialty restaurants had been taken. In some cases, entire restaurants were booked solid for the entire week within 24 hours of the start of the cruise. We recommend that you make reservations for specialty restaurants as far in advance of your cruise as possible (you can do it online once you have booked and paid for the voyage).

Adagio is the ship’s main dining room and, for the most part, comes at no extra charge (a premium steak is available for an extra charge, as is a lobster dinner). Each night the menu at Adagio changes, so even if you never venture beyond the restaurant you never have to eat the same meal twice.


Overview

Spanning three decks (three, four and five), the Adagio is a grand space that can seat well over 1,000 people at a time. Round tables for six to twelve people are spread evenly about the room, and lining the walls are rectangle tables for two or four. The tables are covered with white linens, neatly folded napkins, wine and water glasses, and three pieces of silverware laid out next to an underplate. Between the table spread and the overall layout of the room, it's very sophisticated and elegant.

Adagio offers breakfast and dinner every day. Lunch is only available on sea days.

We found the food in Adagio relatively good, with some misses, and the service was prompt and friendly. On the downside, we found the dining room uncomfortably noisy at times, no doubt a result of its huge size.

Breakfast

At breakfast, you get a choice of food from a buffet set up in the dining room or ordering from the menu. The menu is basically the same as what you'll find at the buffet: pancakes, French toast, sausages, cereals, fresh fruits, pastries, breads, and eggs.

Lunch / Dinner

For lunch on sea days, Adagio offers table-served salads, sandwiches, burgers and pastas as well as an elaborate salad bar where chefs mix your salad in front of you based on your instructions for what you'd like in it. The bread basket at lunch was great, especially the onion bread, which came with an eggplant-olive tapenade. If you like Italian, we highly recommend the gnocchi with wild mushrooms and cream sauce. A lighter, and probably healthier lunch choice, is the tandoori lamb skewers, served with a delicious cumin-spiced sour cream.

For dinners, Adagio offers a different menu each night, including a "vitality" menu with healthy dishes and a chef’s signature menu. Also available is a 10-oz filet mignon from Chop’s Grill for an extra $15. The bread basket is as on the lunch menu.

Regular Royal Caribbean cruisers will find that the dinner menu at Adagio is identical as the one found at main dining rooms of other Royal Caribbean ships such as Freedom of the Seas (on which we also recently sailed). You'll find dishes such as escargot Bourguignon and crab and rice-noodle salad, as well as beef carpaccio with potato-arugula salad.

As on other Royal Caribbean ships, the chefs of the Allure are expert grill-masters, which is why we would always recommend meat dishes. Meat, fish, and pasta are offered every day in different variations. The lobster was decent, but overcooked, served with three small shrimps, three pieces of carrot, and one broccoli floret – overall a very boring dish. Much better was the linguini with a tasty mushroom-cream sauce. The linguini was al dente and the sauce perfectly seasoned.

Dessert

The dessert menu includes coconut crème brûlée, banana cream pie, chocolate souffles, raspberry panna cotta, and of course different ice creams and sherbets – all of them are delicious.

Wine List

The wine pairing recommendations on the menu change every day according to the menu. Most are only offered by the bottle, but the wine menu has several wines by the glass, starting at $6.

The freshly cut prosciutto you pass on the way in sets the tone for a delicious, savory Italian meal.


Overview

Giovanni’s is an inviting, trattoria-style Italian restaurant located along Allure's tree-lined Central Park neighborhood. There are tables for two and four, as well as for ten or more people, with both inside and (assuming its not raining) outside seating. Other than the Windjammer, it's the only restaurant open for lunch on embarkation day. It also offers lunch on sea days. The service charge is $15 for lunch and $20 for dinner.

Reservations are recommended, especially for dinner.

Lunch / Dinner

Before even starting to choose what to eat, the waiter brings a basket of Italian bread and a small plate with olive oil, balsamic, and parmesan to dip the bread in. The menu is full of Italian specialties like lasagna, saltimbocca, osso buco, veal meatballs, and pasta. The antipasti platter looks great. It's simply mouth watering to watch the waiters cut fresh prosciutto as you first walk into the entrance.

The lunch menu is not very long, but has some delicious choices, such as arugula salad with cured beef, big pieces of parmesan, and balsamic vinaigrette. We also enjoyed the taglierini ai calamari, capesante, pomodorini e pesto (pasta tossed with calamari, scallops, cherry tomatoes, and a creamy sauce). The calamari was not chewy at all and the bay scallops with the tomatoes and the cream sauce were the just right addition. In short, the dish looked and tasted amazing.

Dinner at Giovanni’s is only a little more formal, and the menu choices just somewhat more diverse. There are more pasta and fish dishes on the menu. Our favorite appetizer was the sformato di fontina e spinaci con funghi trifolati e pomodorini – a fontina and spinach soufflé with spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes. It was perhaps not the lightest appetizer, but everything complimented each other so well, we couldn’t stop enjoying it.

Because the appetizer was on the heavier side, we decided to go for a lighter main course. The baked sea bass was the perfect choice. The melt-in-your-mouth bass was perfectly cooked, served with baby lentils in a delicious red wine reduction and artichoke cream.

We think Giovanni's is one of the best specialty restaurants on the ship and a relatively good value at $20 per person. Just be sure to make your reservations early, as choice table times book up quickly.

Dessert

For dessert, Giovanni’s offers bomboloni, cannoli, tiramisu, panna cotta, chocolate cake, zupa inglese, and a trio of chocolate textures. Of these, the zupa inglese, a traditional sponge cake with layers of Italian custard and brandy-infused berries, is the best and not too heavy.

Giovanni’s also offers specialty coffees with liquor for dessert at an extra charge.

Wine List

Giovanni’s wine list is a section of Royal Caribbean’s complete wine list. Most wines are from Italy, but you also find some from France or other parts of the world. Prices start at $7 per glass or $27 a bottle and go up to $240 for a bottle.

It’s as traditional a steakhouse as you’ll find, right down to the dark wood panels.


Overview

Royal Caribbean’s Chops Grille is located in the Central Park area of Allure. The elegant setting, with its white table cloths and dark wood panels, is perfect for a romantic dinner. The menu is not expansive, but there should be at least one item to everyone's taste. The service charge is $30.

Lunch / Dinner

Appetizer choices include a cheese and onion soup, smoked duck salad, shrimp cocktail, and a oyster duet with Rockefeller and Kilpatrick oysters. One of the best appetizers here was the warm goat cheese and basil soufflé, a fluffy little cake made of cheese and basil served with portabello mushrooms and a creamy sage sauce. Another suggestion is the Chops signature salad, with beets, bacon, tomato, and Chops red wine vinaigrette, which is delicious.

Given this is a steakhouse, you probably can guess what you'll find for main courses: traditional steaks, veal chop, porterhouse, short ribs, and filet mignon, as well as a couple of fish dishes. The barramundi with potatoes, butternut squash puree, and a tempura vegetable bundle was great, except for the soggy vegetables.

Dessert

For dessert Chops offers a wonderful chocolate mud pie, as well as a red velvet cake, crème brûlée, and the lighter passionberry duo. The menu also contains some specialty coffee drinks.

Wine List

The Chops wine list offers a lot of pinot noir and chardonnay from France and other parts of the world. The lowest price for a glass of wine, alas, is a steep $11, which we find disappointing, and one can pay as much as $285 for a bottle of red wine. There are no wine pairings on the menu.

This is the best restaurant on the ship. Make your reservation before you sail to ensure you get a table.


Overview

Overlooking Allure of the Seas' tree-lined Central Park, this is the ship's showcase restaurant and one of the most elegant eateries anywhere at sea. Each night it offers a single, seven-course tasting menu with each dish prepared with great care and detail (there are two different tasting menus available during each cruise, available on alternate nights, so passengers who want to eat here twice will find some variety, assuming they time it right).

Since Allure of the Seas' debut in late 2010, the 76-seat eatery has been run by Minnesota chef Maureen Brandt, a young but talented graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who previously worked for famed New York chef Daniel Boulud. This is the only restaurant on the Allure that has its own kitchen and is not connected to the main galley at all. Gourmets will take great pleasure in the seven courses, which are based on traditional cuisine, but prepared in novel and exciting ways.

The decor of the restaurant itself is exciting in itself, featuring armchairs with high backs that look like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

When paired with wine, the cover charge for 150 Central Park is $75, and without wine its $40. Either way, it's worth every penny. We highly recommend to make reservations for the 150 Central Park before you get on board (do it online as soon as you book and pay for your cruise), as it tends to book up quickly.

Lunch / Dinner

The unique dining experience at 150 Central Park begins with a sampler of six salts from all over the world. No, it's not just foodie nonsense. The differences are surprising and easily noted. One of the salts from India actually tastes like boiled eggs. It's little touches like this that make a meal memorable.

Because we got to the 150 Central Park at the end of our voyage, we sat for the second tasting menu and can only report on that. It started with a delicious take on the traditional prosciutto and melon dish: The prosciutto was made from duck, and it was served with sweet pickled pearl onions and arugula.

The next course, a roasted sweet corn soup served with chili cilantro popcorn, sounds a little unusual, but tasted incredible. Next came scallops Grenobloise with brown butter hollandaise, fried capers, and smoked trout roe from BLiS. The scallops were perfectly seared, the hollandaise was to die for, and the roe popped in your mouth. Zucchini and summer herb ravioli were next, with a curry sauce, toasted cashews, leeks, and a tempura squash blossom. This was the only course we could have done without, even though the sauce was great, but the ingredients for the ravioli didn’t work together quite as well and the foam wasn't necessary.

The main course was a Harris ranch beef filet au poivre with sour cherry puree, camembert aligot (mashed potatoes with camembert), mushroom, baby turnips, and a cherry-peppercorn gastrique. The gastrique was delicious and the meat practically fell apart at the touch.

Dessert

For dessert, the 150 Central Park served a coconut tres leches cake, made with three different kinds of milk: regular milk, condensed milk, and cream. It was served with lime ice cream and mango pieces in coconut bubbles. The finish for this amazing menu was a cheese selection, with goat cheese, Brillat-Savarin, a triple cream brie, a semi hard Abondance, and, the best of all, a Fourme d’Ambert, a 15-year-old french blue cheese.

Wine List

I addition to the wine pairings on the tasting menu, the 150 Central Park offers all 150 wines of the Allure of the Seas. Still, we would recommend the wine pairings, which were intelligently thought out and matched well with the various courses.

A $95 cover charge and a limit of 14 seats per meal make this a exclusive offering.


Overview

Royal Caribbean offers Chef’s Tables only on its Oasis-class ships. On the Allure of the Seas the Chef’s Table can accommodate only 14 diners, but there are seatings every night of the cruise. Before every course, the sous chef introduces and explains the preparation of the dish. The sommelier follows up with a description of the (generous) wine pairings.

The food is served in the concierge lounge, with an amazing view over the Aqua Theater. The meeting point for the chef’s table is the library, where passengers are introduced and everybody can enjoy a glass of champagne. Everything, wine, food, and gratuity, is included in the $95 cover charge. Reservations are mandatory.

Lunch / Dinner

Dinner began with a smoked duck salad. The duck is marinated in Balsamic vinegar before being smoked, and has a lovely pink color. Three pieces are served on top of slices of sweet orange, and on top of that is a thinly sliced fennel salad, which has been soaked in ice water to lose its sharpness. Finished off with a orange-Grand Marnier drizzle, this salad was fruity and well-balanced.

The second appetizer was a trio of soups served in espresso cups. They come without a spoon, so you have to drink straight from the cup. The chef recommended a specific order. First came a butternut squash cream soup (even though there was no cream in the soup whatsoever), seasoned with cinnamon and spice mix. Our favorite was the second, the tomato consommé, a clear chicken soup made with vegetables, chicken, and tomatoes, and finished with fresh, diced tomatoes. The third soup was a lobster corn bisque, which began with a strong lobster taste, but finished sweetly.

For the warm appetizer we got a Serrano ham wrapped over pan-seared diver scallops. It was served with a sweet parsnip reduction, which complimented the sweetness of the scallops very well.

A roasted, milk-fed veal tenderloin over fondant potatoes, round-cut potatoes, pan-seared and oven-finished, was the main course. The medium-rare veal was marinated and laying on a bed of wild mushroom, drizzled with truffle glaze. This dish was delicious, the meat tender and juicy.

Dessert

For dessert, the chef served a flowerless roasted hazelnut chocolate cake. On the side was a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a traditional Chantilly creme. Amazing.

Wine List

The first three courses were paired with white wines. Only the veal was paired with Merlot, and the dessert with a hazelnut liqueur. All of them were excellent and a perfect fit.

It’s a fun Tex-Mex taqueria and bar that’s great for large parties. Not a romantic spot, though.


Overview

Rita’s Cantina is a combination of southern Californian taquerias and Mexican beach bars. You'll pay a flat fee of $3 per person just to get in and then a la carte pricing for each dish. Rita’s opens in the afternoon for late lunch and snacks. There's also a daily special called Rita’s Fiesta. For $20, passengers can get a preset menu, three drinks, and entertainment from the bar staff. The fiesta is a family-oriented event, and the portions are meant for four to ten people.

Lunch / Dinner

The menu consists of taco salad, chile relleno, shrimp ceviche tostadas, fajitas, and a wide selection of tequilas and margaritas. Being a Mexican restaurant, Rita’s also offers guacamole and salsa – both were mediocre, at best. The salsa is sweet and tasted like something out of the can. The guacamole had no taste at all.

The Rita's Fiesta dinner starts with tacos and salsa. After a short performance from the wait staff, Rita’s serves a huge plate with enchiladas, quesadillas, and tempura vegetables. The enchiladas were boring, and the tempura veggies had no taste to them, but the quesadilla was great. Next is an even bigger plate of beef fajita, with bell pepper and green onions, which was very tasty. All in all, the portions are far too big for only two people, or even four. It's better to go in with a big group.

Dessert

Rita’s has typical Spanish-Mexican desserts: sweet cinnamon churros, banana enchiladas, and an amazing Mexican flan.

Buffets are never “fancy,” but we were generally impressed with the size of the venue and breadth of food choices.


Overview

Windjammer is Royal Caribbean’s buffet-style venue for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The place is large, with the look and feel of a canteen, but alas not large enough for a ship of this size. No matter where the ship is, at port or at sea, the Windjammer is always crowded. There are several staffed islands of food, with a wide variety of cuisines, and many drink stations with juices, water, and soda.

Breakfast

For breakfast, Windjammer offers differently prepared eggs, French toast, pancakes, donuts, bread, cold cuts, cereals, and fresh fruits. For international guests, especially those from China, Japan, and Korea, Windjammer also has soups and rice-noodle dishes for breakfast.

Lunch / Dinner

Many of the food islands offer international food at the Windjammer. Choices include roast beef, salad bar, Asian buffet, pasta, hamburgers, hot dogs, soups, fruits, cold cuts and cheese. The list is almost endless, and the food is adequate for a buffet.

Dessert

Desserts are also displayed on an island, and the choices are many: cheese cakes, chocolate cakes, mousse, tiramisu and panna cotta – the choices are great.

It’s not formal, but this Japanese restaurant was tasty and refreshingly light.


Overview

Izumi is a Japanese restaurant, decorated with the typical bamboo, kimonos, and calligraphies. The center of the restaurant is a sushi bar with seats all around. Izumi charges a la carte, starting at $2 for two pieces of sushi.

Lunch / Dinner

Izumi offers a la carte Japanese food, like sushi rolls, sashimi, and soups. There's also a hot rock on which diners can grill their own meat, and hot pots (shabu-shabu), a kind of soup. The seaweed salad was great, as were the hot pots, especially if you don’t like sushi or sashimi.

Dessert

For dessert Izumi offers traditional dishes with an Asian touch, as well as some regular Japanese desserts. With the dessert sampler you will get all the different tastes. It includes a ginger-green-tea flan, a green tea mousse, a fruit cocktail with coconut milk, and the amazing dumpling with sweet bean mousse inside.

A healthy buffet isn’t an oxymoron if you stock it with the right food, like lots of fresh fruit.


Overview

The Solarium Bistro is the healthy buffet option on the Allure of the Seas. A relatively small restaurant, it serves breakfast and lunch, offering a patio with a wonderful view over the front of the ship. It's never as crowded as the Windjammer, so try and keep it a secret. There's just one food island, as well as a beverage station.

Breakfast

For breakfast, the Solarium offers yogurts, granola, fruit, and the healthier turkey meats, as well as salmon, eggs, and bacon.

Lunch / Dinner

At lunch, the Solarium serves up different salads, couscous, fruits, soups, and hot, healthy dishes. The food is good, for a buffet, especially the Waldorf salad.

Dessert

For dessert, you'll find fruits, yogurts, and cookies.

This meat-heavy churrascaria eatery won’t leave you hungry, but it’s far from the best one we’ve experienced.


Overview

Located at what is the healthy-focused Solarium Bistro by day, this is a (not so healthy, meat-focused) Brazilian churrascaria grill that is open for dinner only. The tables that by day are casual are re-set with white tablecloths and silverware at night, and soft lighting turns the eatery into a more upscale restaurant. The cover charge for the Samba Grill is $25, excluding drinks, which makes this a more expensive outing than the much-better, Italian-serving Giovanni's Table. In short, we found this outlet to be a disappointment, with uninspired meat selections, a so-so salad bar, indifferent service and overly loud background music that made it difficult to carry on a conversation. Several times during the course of the meal, a samba dancer performs, then tries to teach diners how to dance it, something that theoretically could be appealing but in this setting seemed contrived and intrusive.

Lunch / Dinner

Samba grill is a churrascaria, where waiters frequently bring a vast selection of slow-roasted meat on skewers, carved tableside. They also serve up baskets of pao de queijo, the yummy Brazilian cheese buns. Before the meat feast, you can fill your plate at the extensive buffet, with salads, antipasti, cold cuts, and fish.

Each table has a little light on it. Switching it to green means "I want more meat," while a red light means "I am done for now." The white lights indicates that "I want dessert."

As soon as you are ready, you can switch the little light to green and the “gauchos” start bringing out the meat. There are 13 different meats to choose from, one of the best pieces is the picanha, a Brazilian signature cut of beef sirloin. Other choices include linguica, a Brazilian sausage, chicken, lamb, beef ribs, and a parmesan pork loin.

Side dishes include fries, grilled plantains, and vegetables, as well as salsa verde (green herb dipping sauce), salt, and tomato salsa.

Dessert

Desserts include puddim de leite, a Brazilian-style flan, arroz doce, a sweet rice pudding with fruits, and a corn pudding.

Wine List

Being a Brazilian restaurant, the Samba Grill offers caiprinhas, Brazil’s signature cocktail with lime and Cachaca, a sugar cane liquor, for about $8. All other drinks are offered at bar menu prices.

The chain ‘50s-style diner that you’ve seen in every major mall in America is now on ships, too.


Overview

Johnny Rockets is located in the Boardwalk neighborhood. If you're not already familiar with the chain, it looks like a '50s drive-in diner, decorated with red benches, aluminum tables, and mini jukeboxes. There's a patio if you'd like to eat outside.

The cover charge is $4.95 for burgers and sandwiches. Drinks are charged separately. Breakfast is complimentary.

Breakfast

For breakfast, Johnny Rockets offers hot egg dishes and a cheesy-potato combo, and also sandwiches, french toast, and pancakes.

Lunch / Dinner

With a name like Johnny Rockets, expect typical diner food: onion rings, fries, fresh burgers, and sandwiches. The rocket double burger is huge, but tastes great, as does the grilled ham and cheese. Beverages include fountain sodas, milkshakes, malts, and floats with your choice of soda. All of these are charged separately.

Dessert

Desserts at Johnny Rockets are limited to Royal Caribbean’s Oreo Fudge Sundae and apple pie.

For a “healthy cafe,” they sure have a lot of giant bagels with cream cheese.


Overview

The Park cafe is located in Central Park (deck eight) and is only open from 7 am to 6 pm for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks. Everything on the menu is very healthy. Even the decoration of the restaurant looks “healthy” and light.

Breakfast

Breakfast at the Park Café includes pastries, paninis, cereals, oatmeal, and grits. There's also a make-your-own bagel station, with fresh salmon, different flavored cream cheese (tomato, raisin, and plain), as well as cheese, tuna salad, and cold cuts.

Lunch / Dinner

One of the best sandwiches at the Park Café is the roast beef panini, with a special horseradish sauce. For lunch, the bagel station turns into a salad station, with custom-made salads.

Dessert

The dessert counter offers cookies, cheese cakes, profiteroles, tarts, and sugar-free options.

The in-room dining menu is small, but offers good choices.


Overview

Since the Allure of the Seas has so many eateries just a few steps away from cabins, it may seem redundant to have room service dining available 24 hours a day. Still, it's there if you need it – a small menu with breakfast, lunch, and dinner item. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are also available. Room services takes 30 to 45 minutes to deliver food, on average.

Breakfast

Breakfast includes a large selection of cereals, fruits, beverages, breads, eggs, and yogurts, as well as some alcoholic drinks like Bloody Marys and mimosas.

Lunch / Dinner

The menu is rather limited: sandwiches, burgers, soups, salads, and entrees like pizza, chicken, and fish. For anything more adventurous, you'll have to overcome your fears/vertigo/anti-social behavior and leave the room.

Dessert

The dessert menu is just as short: cheese plate and a fruit plate, as well as cookies and some cake choices.

Drink Options

Room service delivers alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to the cabins, including mixed drinks. The price is the same as in the rest of the ship, starting at about $2 for a soda.

Drinks Overview

The Allure stocks 150 different wines. It’s not recommended, but you could drink all day for seven days and never have a repeat.


Royal Caribbean offers wines and beers from all over the world, as well as mixed drinks, juices, and soda. Even though every bar has a special drink menu, most of them will happily serve you any drink you like – if you ask nicely. Young adults under 21 will not get any alcoholic beverages (sorry, kids).

Beer & Wine

The Allure of the Seas has a large selection of wine –150 in total – as well as champagne and beer. Beer costs from $4.25 for a Miller Lite to $19.95 for a 3/4 liter Chimay from Belgium. The price range for wine and champagne is a little wider, since you can get a glass of red wine for $6 up to a bottle of wine for as much as $500.

Mixed Drinks

All the classic beach and pool drinks are here, complete with little umbrellas. From frozen drinks like mud slides and the "Royal Ritas," to martinis, cocktails, iced teas, and long drinks, the Allure offers a lot of options. Prices for mixed drinks start at $6 and go up to about $10.

Drink Packages

Royal Caribbean offers four drink packages on its ships. The soda fountain package for an adult is $6 per day, kids (under 18) pay $4. There are three juice packages:
• 6 bottles of juice for $20.15
• 8 bottles for $25.25
• 12 bottles for $35.55

The water packages include:

• 8 bottles for $28.45
• 12 bottles for $40.30
• 16 bottles for $50.55
• 24 bottles for $71.10

There are also some rather jauntily named wine packages.

Non-alcoholic Options

The Allure of the Seas offers non-alcoholic beverages all over the ship, including soda, iced teas, and juices.

No other ship offers as many pools and other deck-top areas.


Pools & Decks

The Allure of the Seas has four distinct pool areas, each with a different theme, all located on deck 15. The most elaborate of the four is the family-focused H2O water park pool area. There's also the Sports Pool, which is a little deeper; the Beach pool; and the main pool. In addition, the ship offers an adults-only lounge area with whirlpools called the Solarium, located at the front of the ship. Besides that, the Allure features two large whirlpools that are cantilevered off the side of the ship. They're located just outside the Solarium. Though Royal Caribbean does not condone the reservation of deck chairs, nobody really sticks to these rules – especially on sea days, when we found many pool and deck areas overcrowded.

Among the many lounge areas, our favorite was the quiet, adults-only Solarium on deck 15.


Solarium

Solarium is an adults-only lounge area located on deck 15 (forward), with an amazing view over the front of the ship and the sea beyond. The pool area is smaller than some of the others, but has a lively fountain in the center and is shallower on the sides, so you can let your feet hang in the water and enjoy a drink. Lounge chairs are distributed over two levels and there are two hot tubs decorated with palms nearby. There's also cushioned chairs with ottomans, some of which are shaded. Since this area is pretty big, you can almost always find a lounger for your sunning, even on sea days.

Main Pool

The main pool is located on the starboard side of the Allure and is about four feet deep. Around the pool are a lot of lounge chairs and sun chairs. The area features two whirlpools and overlooks the Central Park.

H2O Waterpark

The family-focused H2O waterpark features shallow pools for toddlers and babies and deeper areas for older kids. The interactive sculpture fountains and geysers look like a lot of fun. One of the pools has glass walls, and there's a whirlpool, as well, so kids can get their first taste of luxury. Fair warning: the area is almost always loud and crowded.

Beach Pool

This pool area is designed to look like a beach, with water lapping up along faux sand and lounge chairs placed in the shallow water. Parasols are distributed evenly. You can get soda and mixed drinks at the bar immediately next to it.

Whirlpools

Cantilevered over the side of the side of the ship, these two large whirlpools are located just outside of the Solarium pool area. They're built into nooks that extend 12 feet out from the ship, perched at one of the highest points of the Allure. There are two televisions located at these whirlpools showing sports events, but the ocean view is a lot better.

Sports Pool

The Sports Pool is 4 ft 9 in deep, intended for anybody who wants to exercise in the morning. Later in the day, though, this area is just as crowded as any other area. There's also has a shallow end for those who want nothing more than to hang their feet in the water.

The Allure is a little unique in that several of its best “open areas” are inside rather than outside, like the serene Central Park.


Promenade

The promenade on the Allure of the Seas is much more narrow than on most ships and primarily serves as the ship's jogging track. You can access it from the fitness center or from the stairs on deck six. One lap is 2,197 ft long, so one mile is about 2.4 laps. Along the track are motivational signs, to help you run just a little longer.

We found that the narrowness of the promenade causes congestion, with slower walkers and runners often in conflict.

Boardwalk

The Boardwalk (deck six aft) is one of the neighborhoods on the Allure of the Seas. Near the rear of the Boardwalk is the Aqua Theater, next to the Boardwalk bar. Both rock climbing walls can be accessed from here. Restaurant choices include Johnny Rockets, Rita’s Cantina, Boardwalk Dog House, Ice Cream Parlor, and Boardwalk Donuts. Shops like Pets at Sea, Pinwheel, Candy Beach, and Star Pier tempt you to spend more money, as does Smile, the costume-y photo booth.

Yes, just like the boardwalk of your youth (or the Hollywood version, anyway) this area is heavy on the tropes: the restaurants, a carousel, and even a Zoltar machine, which tells you the future or grants you a wish, just like in the movie Big. The Boardwalk is very family oriented and keeps everybody entertained. Royal Caribbean sells cabins overlooking the theater or the Boardwalk.

Central Park

Central Park is another neighborhood on the Allure of the Seas. Most of the specialty restaurants are located here. We appreciated the real, live plants on this deck, which gave it some vitality that contrasts with the squeaky sterility on too many ships. There’s a total of 97 different plant species from all over the world. It is a wonderful place to relax and maybe have a bite at the Park Café, or just go for a little walk. The effect is marred by a piped-in chorus of bird and cricket sounds but that’s what you get for taking your vacation on a cruise and not the Amazon. On both sides of the neighborhood are cabins with and without balconies.

Royal Promenade

The Royal Promenade is on deck five. It looks like a mall, replete with bars and shops. On bad weather days, the crew of the Allure organizes flash mobs and line dances or a live band plays above the cupcake shop. As mentioned earlier in the review, most shops are here, as are most bars, and you can also get some snacks and beverages at Sorrento’s, a pizza place, and the Cafe Promenade.

Sundeck 14

The sundeck is at the very front of the Allure, on deck 14. There are some lounge chairs and two binoculars, as well as a nice view on the helipad.

Deck 16

Deck 16 is the sundeck directly above the pool areas. Sun loungers and chairs are all around this deck, and two small bars are in the middle, so nobody has to go far to get a drink.

The View: Backdeck

The View is on the back of the ship, and equipped with sofas, cool looking chairs, and bean bags. This area is reserved for teenagers, and has direct access to the teen lounge Living Room.

Gold Card Member Deck

Above the Solarium is a deck area for gold card members only. It’s not a very large area, but has huge beach chairs, sun chairs and lounge chairs, and a bar. It’s very quiet, even on sea days.

Tour the deck plans of the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas


Ship Tour Overview

Deck 3

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Deck 4

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Deck 5

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Deck 6

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Deck 7

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Deck 8

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Deck 9

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Deck 10

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Deck 11

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Deck 12

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Deck 14

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Deck 15

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Deck 16

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Deck 17

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Deck 18

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Design

As the Allure is one of the newest cruise ships, the technology is quite advanced. It has interactive, touch screen signage throughout the ship. These panels let passengers review daily activities, find out how full their favorite restaurant is, and give the route to your room and other venues. You've seen Star Trek? Yup. It's Star Trek.

Additionally, the Allure features kiosks throughout the Royal Promenade and the Guest Service area where passengers can look up their account summary and print it out, make reservations for restaurants, and even check-in to airlines.

The ship is polished and sleek. Rooms are spacious (for a cruise ship) and there's almost no signs of rust or wear & tear. The Royal Promenade is still a little overdecorated, but not nearly as brassy as Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas.

In addition to the touchscreen panels, there are signs and navigational aids all over the ship. The most prominent are conveniently located next to all elevators.

On a ship this large, you’re never at a loss for activities. We particularly enjoyed the mini golf.


The Allure of the Seas has plenty of lounges, cafés, and snack bars, as well as a huge spa and fitness center, to ease the conscience after one – or several – decadent meals. Climb to the top of the rock wall (if you can) for a spectacular view of the lazier passengers lounging in the sun. Or take the Zip Line, which offers all the height with none of the exertion.

There are 13 lounges throughout the ship. If you’re looking for a slower pace, don’t hit up the Starbucks, which is located in the middle of the Promenade. Whatever happened to quiet cafes?


Lounge & Cafés

So you want to be social, but you don't want to hang out in a bar and you're not hungry enough for a restaurant yet. How about one of the Allure's many lounges and cafes? We classify these as areas of the ship where you can get a snack or play some quiet card games without the hustle and noise of a casino.

Seven Hearts

Seven Hearts is the Allure’s game room. It features tables with checkers and chess, some computers, and board games.

Pinnacle Lounge

The Pinnacle lounge is on deck 17. It’s typically used for receptions and other private meetings. It is bright and sunny, with a great view over the pool area and the ocean.

Sorrento's Pizza

Sorrento’s offers complimentary pizza slices, or do-it-yourself pizza for lunch, dinner and for the late night cravings.

Café Promende

Cafe Promenade offers coffee 24 hours a day, as well as pastries in the morning and small sandwiches during the rest of the day.

Jazz on 4

Alllure’s Jazz on 4 lounge is located on deck 4, as the name implies. It doesn’t have its own bar, but waiters come through and provide the passengers with drinks. There are no food options.

Boardwalk Dog House

The Boardwalk Dog house offers excellent hot dogs, with a variety of sausages, wieners, and brats and your choice of toppings.

Vitality Café

The Vitality Café is at the entrance of the spa and fitness center. It provides passengers with low-calorie snacks and smoothies.

Cupcake Cupboard

The name says it all. Cupcake Cupboard sells specialty cupcakes for $2.50 each (and $1.50 for mini cupcakes).

Boardwalk Donut Shop

Allure’s doughnut shop is only open from 7 am to 11.30 am. Better get there early if you want doughnuts and coffee for breakfast.

Wipe Out Café

The mini-version of the ship’s buffet, it offers fast food, including burgers, tacos, and just a few more items. You don’t get nearly the selection here that you would at the Windjammer.

Ice Cream Parlor

In the Ice Cream Parlor passengers can get any one of a variety of flavors starting at $1.95 per scoop.

iCafé

The main internet café on the Allure of the Seas is actually located in the game room, Seven Hearts. There are other hubs to be found on decks seven and nine.

 Starbucks

Allure’s Royal Promenade features the first Starbucks on a cruise ship. It’s hard to believe it took this long, actually. The café offers the standard coffee menu and snacks found onshore, with a la carte pricing (almost the same prices as on-shore). It’s open from 7 am to 11 pm.

Concierge Floor / Club Floor

The Concierge Club is on deck 11, next to the library. It overlooks the Boardwalk and has a great view over the Aqua theater. The concierge lounge is only accessible to Diamond Plus and Pinnacle club member of the Crown & Anchor Society, as well as passengers reserved in suites (except junior suites).

Children's Areas

The Adventure Ocean, a children's area, is located on deck 14. It includes several rooms: a theater, a science lab, and a workshop (for jewelery making and scrapbooking). Royal Caribbean is also offering a new nursery service, Royal Tots, where parents can hire a nanny for their babies, enjoy a night out, and even get a phone to check in with the nanny while they're out. For older kids, the Allure has the teen area, including Fuel disco, the Living Room lounge, the back deck, and the video arcade.

Conference Rooms

Four conference rooms are available on deck three, and can be booked through Royal Caribbean.

Libraries

The Allure of the Seas has one library on deck 11, right next to the concierge lounge.

Religious Services / Prayer Rooms

A bright and sunny prayer room is on deck 17, next to the Viking Crown Lounge. It is a calm and quite place, as you would expect from a chapel.

The Vitality Spa is large, with services that range from the simple to the unusual. They still use poultices?


Overview

The Vitality Spa is huge, with solo and couples massage rooms, a youth spa, a thermal room, acupuncture, a mud lounge, and a thermal suite with a rain forest shower and steam chambers.

Massages & Treatments

The Vitality Spa offer a variety of massages and body treatments, including a stone therapy, and an herbal poultice massage. Body tune-up therapies are also provided, like a cellulite reduction, cheek lifts, liquid tanning, and an aroma seaweed massage. Prices for massages, facials, and therapies start at $119 for a reflexology or Swedish massage and go up to $265 for the "absolute spa ritual." Men can also get some special treatments, including beard trimmings, grooming, and a facial treatment.

Hair Salon

The salon offers manicure and pedicures starting at $29, waxing for $15 and up, hair cuts and styling ($35+), highlights and coloring (from $69), special occasion make up for $75, and even a Brazilian blowout for curly hair, which costs $425 (just a little less than salons onshore would charge).

Spa Pools

There is no pool at the Vitality Spa, but it does have a spa bath for two.

Other Features & Services

Special services include a dermal filler treatment for $700 and more (depending on your skin) and Botox or Dysport wrinkle treatments, starting at $300.

Sure, you’ve seen the cardio and weight machines before. But have you tried the FlowRider?


Fitness Center

The fitness center offers 158 new cardio and resistance machines, as well as free weights, pilates, yoga, spinning, and boot camp classes, starting at $12 per class. Free classes are also available, including stretching and the fab abs classes.

Sportscourt

If you don’t want to let your game slip, you can come up to the Sports Court for a little basketball and soccer. The court is surrounded by a glass wall, so you don’t need to worry about losing the ball. The crew of the Allure organizes soccer and basketball tournaments and everybody’s invited to participate.

FlowRider

With Royal Caribbean’s FlowRider passengers can attempt to learn surfing, or just show off their skills. Never heard of it before? Here’s the official description. Suffice it to say, the FlowRider is a surf simulator that can get pretty challenging, especially with crowds of people sitting around judging you. The FlowRider is a popular place amongst teenagers and kids, but adults also make frequent use it, too.

Dunes Mini Golf

The mini golf course has just nine holes, so it’s not PGA rated (regrettable, but we enjoyed it nonetheless).

Rock climbing

The rock climbing walls can be accessed from the Boardwalk. They offer varying degrees of difficulty.

Zip Line

The first zip line on sea stretches straight over the Boardwalk, from one end of the open deck to the other – and looks like a lot of fun, if you are not afraid of heights. We didn’t, um… we didn’t try it. (Sorry.)

Shuffleboard

Behind the Aqua theater are two large shuffleboards areas with equipment, but it’s hard to even see them there, so they are not used very often.

Ping Pong

In front of the Wipe Out Cafe are six ping pong tables. Let the tournament begin.

The Allure features the first flagship Guess store at sea. Meh.


Guess Store

Allure of the Seas introduced the first flagship Guess store at sea, in the Royal Promenade, with designer handbags, watches, jewelery, sunglasses and clothing. The prices are not much lower than on land, but at least you do get everything duty free.

Solera

Solera sells designer perfumes and make up, as well as creams and lotions.

Willow

Willow has clothing, accessories, and shoes.

Regalia

Regalia is Allure's jewelery store, and features sales and yellow rubies.

Breeze

Breeze is one of the stores located on deck 16, right by the arcade, and sells Royal Caribbean branded sports and surf attire.

Focus Photo

Focus Photo is Allure's photo gallery and located on deck 6, opposite of the Schooner bar.

The Shop

The Shop sells duty free alcohol, cigarettes, and cigars.

Britto - Coach

Coach offers designer handbags. Britto, next door, has luggage and nicknacks designed by the artist Romero Britto.

Pinwheel

Pinwheel offers kids clothes from Hello Kitty and some other comic heroes, but most of it is from Hello Kitty.

Pets at Sea

At Pets at Sea you can choose an animal and stuff it right there.

Smile

Smile is another photographic studio where passengers can dress up in different costumes or just take nice portraits.

Others

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Sea Trek sells diving gear and classes, and is located on deck 16.

Candy Beach

Candy Beach has a huge selection of different toffees, truffels, and other candy.

Star Pier

At Star Pier you can buy designer sports and beach clothing and accessories from Lucky brand and others.

3D movies are not any cooler at sea than they are on land, but the Allure has them if you want them.


Movie Theater

Allure's main Amber Teater is equipped for 3D movies, but Royal Caribbean also shows other features at the huge screens by the Aqua Theater.

Arcade

The arcade on the Allure is pretty big and has plenty of games for young and older gamers.

Gaming

The Allure of the Seas organizes several Bingo and card games during the voyages.

Lectures & Classes

The Allure doesn't offer many classes, but there is a cupcake decoration class for $22 per person.

Many, many bars and clubs will keep the social butterflies going well into the night.


Nightlife & Shows

Royal Caribbean refers to Allure of the Seas as the “ship of entertainment”, which is a very good description for this ship. Not only are there plenty of shows, parades, and movies to attend on board, but there's also 16 bars and clubs, as well as one of the largest casinos you'll find on a cruse ship.

A tapas bar with plenty of wines available.


Overview

Vintages is located on deck eight in Central Park and is a fantastic spot for a pre-dinner glass of wine. The bar is full of plush sofas, comfortable chairs with pillows, and small metal tables—all surrounded by hundreds of wines in temperature-controlled shelves.

Food

The small-plate tapas at Vintages are served daily from 11 am to 1 am and cost $2 to $13. Certain menu items are available as combination plates that feature a number of different snacks.

Drinks

True to its name, Vintages serves a range of wines from all over the world. Wine is available in regular-sized glasses, or in a smaller glass portion.

Activities

Vintages offers wine tastings and classes, with times and prices available upon request.

This Latin American bar has a fun decor, with fun drinks and a dance floor to match.


Overview

Boleros is decorated in bright orange and red tones, features comfortable leather armchairs, and has a number of heavy, wooden, egg-shaped tables, and it would be a wonderful place to hang out at night if not for one great flaw: An incredibly smoky smell that is so intense that smokers and non-smokers alike will quickly become uncomfortable in it. This is a result of Boleros being one of just a few places inside the ship where smoking is allowed. Day and night, the lounge is a veritable way station for smokers who stop by for a quick hit of nicotine and, as a result, its fabric and furniture has become completely ruined with a permanently embedded smoky smell that will permeat your clothes after just a few minutes. We suspect the ventilation in this space is not adequate for its use.

Drinks

Being a bar with a Latin flair, Boleros offers a lot of rum and tequila-based drinks like caipirinhas, mojitos, and wines from that region. Beer and other mixed drinks are also available. Most cocktails start around $6, while beer and wine start around $4.25 per drink.

Activities

Boleros hosts the occasional live band and is a great spot to dance.

A classic English Pub in the Royal Promenade offers a quieter place for a drink


Overview

The Bow and Stern is Allure's English pub. The room is covered with dark, wooden panels, wood furniture, maritime decor, and very comfortable leather armchairs. The pub has the largest beer list of any venue on the ship, and it is one of the most popular bars with travelers.

Drinks

The beer list at the Bow and Stern is extensive. In addition to its wide selection of international beers, the Bow and Stern also offers cocktails, wine, and liquor. Beer prices start at around $4.25, while cocktails begin at $5.

Activities

Every night, the Bow & Stern hosts a live musical act with the occasional sing-along.

Feeling the performance itch? Try Allure’s karaoke bar.


Overview

On Air, like its counterpart on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and the line's Freedom Class ships, is a karaoke and sports bar. Several TVs run along the walls at On Air, all showing various sporting events. Benches, chairs, and tables are arranged in front of a small stage where performers can try their hand at karaoke every single night. There's even a small booth where you can record your karaoke tune if you want to save it.

Drinks

On Air has beer, mixed drinks, cocktails, and wine. Drinks start at $4.25 (for beer) and go to $8 and up for cocktails.

Activities

Other than the aforementioned karaoke nights and sports on TV, On Air has no special events.

Now this is unusual. A bar set atop an elevator that moves up and down every half hour.


Overview

The Rising Tide bar is one of the most popular attractions in the Royal Promenade. It's an oval-shaped, glass-enclosed elevator that goes up three decks to Central Park every half hour. This isn't a cramped elevator that's meant to bring you to your hotel room—it's actually a spacious, futuristic bar that is fun to watch or ride.

Drinks

Rising Tide offers similar drinks to the rest of the bars on the ship, like plenty of beer and cocktails, but you won't find many frozen drinks here.

Activities

The Rising Tide hosts daily "singles" events several times a day. So, if you're looking for a date, this is the place to be.

If you like nautical themes, this is the bar for you


Overview

The Schooner is Royal Caribbean's trademark sailing-themed bar with maritime decorations, glass tables, blue armchairs, and a piano in the center of the room. Royal Caribbean also features a Schooner bar on a number of other ships, so Royal Caribbean regulars will find this familiar.

Drinks

The Schooner Bar has a long martini menu, various margaritas, iced tea, wine, and beer.

Activities

The Schooner has some of the best live entertainment on the ship, as well as hosting trivia nights every now and then.

The Champagne & Martini bar serves… any guesses?


Overview

The Champagne Bar is a calm bar just off the Royal Promenade. Chairs and couches are found all over the room, as well as a unique chandelier hanging over the center.

Drinks

As one might expect, the Champagne Bar offers a bunch of different champagnes, sparkling wines, champagne cocktails, and martinis.

Activities

The Champagne Bar is probably the quietest bar on the ship, so it doesn't have any extraneous activities. Many people tend to pass right by it without even knowing it's there.

Talk about a room with a view! From high atop the ship, you can have a drink and view the seas.


Overview

The Viking Crown Lounge is located on deck 17, just above the Windjammer buffet. The floor to ceiling windows offer a beautiful ocean view, as well as some direct views of the ship's pool areas. With its dark brown color scheme and beige chairs, the Viking Crown Lounge feels a bit more sophisticated than some of the other bars on the ship.

Drinks

Just like the other bars on the ship, the Viking Crown Lounge offers mixed drinks, frozen drinks, beer, and wine

Activities

Live entertainment at the Viking Crown Lounge include easy listening and jazz, but the lounge is also a good place to play cards or check out the view.

Allure’s dance club caters to travelers, 18 and up.


Overview

Located on deck four, Blaze is a dance club that is mostly attended by young adults. Red leather chairs and benches with high backs decorate the club, and an oval bar dominates the room. The dance floor is small, but there are plenty of seats if you don't feel like getting up. While Blaze is catered to younger people, you must be at least 18 years old to get in.

Drinks

Blaze has the same drinks, with roughly the same prices, as all the other bars on the ship.

Activities

Since Blaze aims to attract younger people, there are some activities reserved for 18-20 year-olds, like meet and greets or parties with various DJs.

Dazzles is a dance club that caters to an older crowd.


Overview

Dazzles, located on deck eight aft, overlooks the Boardwalk from a two-level-high window. The upper level of Dazzles is one of the two designated smoking areas inside the ship. Small, round, iron tables, as well as white and purple armchairs are found throughout the club, which makes the place a comfortable venue to sit and listen to a live band (or have a private function).

We took these photos during the day, when photography was allowed. It looks much cooler at night.

Drinks

Martinis and wine are popular on Dazzles' drink menu, with most drinks starting around $7.

Activities

Every night, Dazzles has a live band play tunes from the '60s to the '90s, and everybody can get on the dance floor to show off their moves.

A pool-side bar in the adults-only lounge area.


Overview

The Solarium Bar provides drinks to everyone in the adults-only Solarium area. The bar is located on the upper level (deck 16), and has a few comfortable lounge chairs and stools.

Drinks

Frozen drinks are popular at the Solarium Bar, but you can also order beer, wine, soda, and juice.

Activities

On some nights, the Allure organizes a South Beach-style party at the Solarium Bar.

It’s your friendly, neighborhood bar in the Central Park area.


Overview

Trellis is located outdoors along the tree-lined Central Park and has no "inside" per se. The bar is almost smack dab in the center of the park, and it features a few high tables and chairs, as well as some bar stools. The purpose of Trellis is to provide drinks to all the nearby restaurants, so it can be a bit busy during mealtime. Still, the service was speedy, so we never had to wait too long for our drinks to arrive.

Drinks

Trellis offers all kinds of drinks, including martinis, cocktails, beer, and wine.

There isn’t much to the bar itself, but the Boardwalk bar has a great view of the Aqua Theater.


Overview

The Boardwalk Bar is located in the amusement park-like area with a view over the Aqua theater. There isn't much in the way of decoration here, but a few stools surround the bar area.

Drinks

Frozen drinks, cocktails, margaritas, beer, and wine can all be ordered at the Boardwalk bar.

You’ll see a whole lot of wipe outs here with a view of the FlowRider surfing simulator.


Overview

The Wipe Out Bar overlooks the FlowRider, so it's a fantastic spot to watch the brave people trying their best at the surfing machine.

Drinks

To accommodate for the fact that lots of kids tend to hang out in this area, the Wipe Out offers juice and soda in addition to its extensive drink list.

Most of the Allure’s pools have a small bar dedicated just to that area.


Overview

Around the pool areas are a total of four different bars. The Sand and the main Pool Bar are located between the two main pool areas on deck 15, while Stern and Mast are found just above on deck 16.

Drinks

The pool bars offer mostly beers, soda, and frozen drinks.

This is one of the largest casinos you’ll find at sea.


Overview

Allure's casino is huge. It boasts hundreds of slot machines and a number of tables with card games. One side of the casino allows smoking, while the other side is a smoke-free area.

Slot Machines

Hundreds of slot machines, starting with penny slots, are found on the casino floor.

Card Games

Various poker games, as well as blackjack tables, are located in the casino.

Tables

The casino housed two roulette tables and two craps tables.

Casino Food & Drinks

The bar in the casino will make you any drink you want, but the drinks aren't free for gamblers like they are in Las Vegas (all drinks are sold at regular bar prices).

Casino Rewards Program

The more you play the slots, the more points you can earn towards some nice rewards. Rewards can be as small as a key chain, or, if you earn enough points, as large as a dinner at Chops Grille.

Highlights include the musical “Chicago” and an aquatic show similar to Cirque du Soleil.


Shows & Performances

Allure of the Seas offers a wide variety of entertainment options, including the Broadway production "Chicago,' which is one of the top shows in the main theater. Also new to Allure's Amber theater is the acrobatic show "Blue Planet". Other shows include the "newly-wed" game show, dance performances, and a celebrity impersonation show called "Celebrity Showtime." All shows are free of charge, but it is highly recommended that you book seats in advance.

Services & Staff

Very friendly and attentive staff overall


We found the staff on Allure of the Seas — including waiters, room stewards and the workers in the ship's spa, fitness area and at the guest relations staff — all very friendly and polite. Since the ship is so large, it can be a challenge for the staff to remember your name—unless you become a regular at a bar or restaurant. But the professional staff responds to needs and inquiries quickly, and any problems we had were resolved promptly.

Daily shows with the Cruise Director are shown on TV, which is a good way to get information about the day's activities. You can also use Allure's Cruise Compass to find about events, and, if you need more information, the guest services counter opens at 7 am and is staffed all day. There's also a future cruises office where you can purchase special cruise sales for your next trip on the Allure of the Seas.

Staff

Overall the staff of the Allure was very friendly and attentive. We did run into a a few difficulties at the main restaurant, and we were not impressed with the way the head waiter handled the situation. Our table waiter, however, was great, and handled the problem without complaint. As with most cruise lines, waiters and bar tenders do work in different places throughout the day.

Tipping

Royal Caribbean does not include tips in the final bill, so you have to tip waiters and stewards yourself at the end of the voyage. The line recommends $3.75 per passenger per day for the dining room waiter; $2.15 for the assistant waiter; $5 for the room steward and housekeeper; and 75 cents for the head waiter. Instead of tipping in full at the end of the trip, you can always tip the bar tender or your steward with cash—which may get you some better service during your voyage. The line also gives passengers the option of having the gratuities billed to their onboard account.

Dress Codes

The dress code throughout the voyage is "smart casual" on most nights for the main dining room and most other restaurants. Chops Grille and 150 Central Park do ask you to dress in more formal attire, however. Depending on the length of the trip, Allure of the Seas also has formal nights where everyone dresses up for a chance to meet the captain of the ship.

Loyalty Programs

After one cruise with Royal Caribbean you become eligible for entry in the Crown & Anchor society as a gold member. Members gain one point for every night on a cruise, or double points if you stay in a suite. The more you cruise with Royal Caribbean, the more points you get—with 30 points you are elevated to Platinum status, at 50 points Emerald status, etc. Pinnacle Club is the highest status level, and it requires 700 points to achieve this level (that's 100 seven night voyages in a normal room). Members get different benefits, like on-board credits, parties, and special offers at the spa, stores, or internet service.

General Safety

The mandatory safety drill is held on embarkation day and the crew has a second drill during the voyage. Emergency exits, life jackets, defibrillators, and fire extinguishers are located all over the ship, while lifeboats are located on deck five.

Clinics

The clinic is located on deck two aft and is open from 8 am to 11 am and from 4 pm to 7 pm. If you need treatment here you can expect to pay a fee of around $90.

Smoking Regulations

Royal Caribbean ships are all non-smoking, except for designated public and private smoking areas. All cabins are smoke free, but smokers are allowed to have a cigarette on cabin balconies (provided you have one). Cigar and pipe smokers have their own designated area.

Overview

Just a few years ago Freedom of the Seas was the largest ship in the world, but next to the newer, bigger Allure of the Seas it almost seems small. If it's the biggest, most amenity-filled ship you crave, Allure clearly is the better choice, with its wider array of eateries, lounges, shows and deck-top activities. Allure also offers a wider array of cabin types. That said, both ships have a lot in common (as one would expect, given they're operated by the same line). The two vessels share a similar vibe and offer many of of the same restaurants and bars. Both ships also feature the family-focused DreamWorks experience, which for now only is found on a handful of Royal Caribbean ships.

Keep in mind that you'll pay a premium to sail on Allure of the Seas as compared to Freedom of the Seas, as Allure remains in high demand (as it has been since its debut in late 2010). If price is a driving factor for you, Freedom may become the better bet. Also, if the gargantuan size of the Allure of the Seas overwhelms you, but you still like the options offered on the ship, the smaller Freedom of the Seas may be a better choice.

Overview

Both the Carnival Magic and Allure of the Seas are big, bustling ships with lots of onboard activities, but there are notable differences between the two vessels. Allure of the Seas offers more choice in dining, with a number of quite elegant and upscale restaurants as well as multiple casual outlets, and the ship also offers a far wider array of cabin types. Overall, Allure of the Seas also has a more sophisticated feel as well as a more robust array of entertainment choices. Still, the Carnival Magic is a fun, lively vessel with a lot of options of its own that will appeal to the young and young-at-heart. Keep in mind that you'll pay a notable premium to sail on Allure in lieu of the Carnival Magic, and if you're budget is tight, the Carnival Magic may very well be the better bet.

Overview

Like Allure of the Seas, the Norwegian Epic is a true mega-resort at sea, with lots of eateries, lounges, shows and deck-top activities. Both vessels are tailor-made for families with kids, with extensive children's areas and kiddie-friendly deck-top pools and other amusements. To compete with Allure's family-focused DreamWorks Experience, which involves characters from such movies as Shrek and Madagascar, the Norwegian Epic offers Nickelodeon All Access entertainment that lets children mingle with the likes of SpongeBob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer. Overall, though, Allure of the Seas is simply a better designed ship, with more spectacular interior spaces, deck-top amenities and cabins. If it's a choice between the two, and money is not an factor, we'd go with Allure every time. The catch: Money often is a factor, and you'll pay a notable premium to sail a similar itinerary on Allure of the Seas.

Conclusion

If it's a big, bustling mega-resort experience you crave, Allure of the Seas is hard to beat. At 225,282 tons, it's more than 40% bigger than any other cruise ship afloat (other than its older sister, Oasis of the Seas), and has an industry-leading assortment of on-board eateries, bars, lounges and showrooms as well as the most diverse array of deck-top attractions ever built on a vessel. This is a ship with a record breaking four — count 'em — separate pool areas across its top decks as well as not one but two giant rock climbing walls, two surfing simulators, a miniature golf course and a zip line, among other attractions. There is, quite simply, just a ton to do.

Families, in particular, will love Allure of the Seas for its many kid-friendly options. In addition to its long list of deck-top amusements (a dream to tweens and teens), the vessel is home to DreamWorks character-infused shows and one of the most elaborate children's programs at sea, with separate spaces and activities for a wide range of age groups (even toddlers are given the red carpet with a nursery for children as young as six months old — a rarity on cruise ships). Couples without kids and singles, too, also will find plenty to love on this ship, including a surprising number of quiet areas and some romantic and fine dining.

Bigger isn't better for everyone, of course, and for people who like an intimate, uncrowded vacation experience, Allure of the Seas is a poor choice. On a typical week it sails with more than 5,000 passengers on board (its maximum occupancy, with every berth filled, is nearly 6,400). Keep in mind, too, that due to its large size, the ship only can visit a limited number of ports that may, or may not, appeal to you.

Still, in our view, Allure of the Seas and its sister Oasis of the Seas are the best large, mass-market ships at sea, and we wouldn't hesitate to choose them over a long list of competitors. That said, there is one small catch: They'll cost you. Even before the two ships began rolling out in late 2009, cruisers had realized they were going to be something special, and they booked them in droves, driving up cabin prices to a significant premium to other vessels. Expect to pay several hundred dollars per person per week more for a Caribbean cruise on Allure of the Seas than on one of the large, mass-market ships operated by Carnival or Norwegian Cruise Line. Allure of the Seas also routinely sells at a premium to other (older and smaller) Royal Caribbean ships on similar itineraries.

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