If it's late August, I'm Probably Cruising - Allure of the Seas Trip Report 26/8/2018 - 2/9/2018


DIS Veteran
Apr 8, 2015

It’s become an annual tradition that we take two trips per year. One trip, we go somewhere with my mother-in-law (as documented here). The other trip (this one), we go with my parents. Usually it’s been a cruise, although there have been some exceptions, such as in 2016 when we went to Beaches Ocho Rios. Our original plan was to go on Caribbean Princess, and not gonna lie - I was really looking forward to it, but my brother thought there might be some potential issues with babysitting for his almost 2yo, so right off the bat there was a bit of a dilemma on what to do.

The answer, of course, is to find another ship. Our TA was able to cancel that cruise and book the Allure with basically the same itinerary. We have 12th floor Central Park balconies with their Dine/Drink/Discover package + $250 OBC. We also prepaid gratuities for the first time so we won’t have to worry about that on a day-to-day basis.

So with that in mind...

Dramatis personae:

Kevin aka starvenger - that’s me
Le - wife aka my SO aka the big boss
Hannah aka H- 10yo
Olivia aka O - 7yo

Grandpa aka a yeh - my dad
Grandma aka a mah - my mom

Younger brother aka 2nd brother aka No2
Sister-in-law aka L
Niece #1 aka K - 7yo, about 11 months younger than O.
Niece #2 aka F - 4yo

Youngest brother aka J
Sister-in-law aka KMC
Nephew aka JJ - almost 2

Coincidentally, my dad’s friend and HIS 3-generation clan are also going on this cruise. So if you're on the ship and you see a loud, Cantonese-speaking group on the cruise, it’s probably us. :)


Day 1 - Fort Lauderdale
Day 2 - Nassau
Day 3 - At Sea
Day 4 - Cozumel
Day 5 - Roatan, Honduras
Day 6 - Costa Maya
Day 7 - At Sea
Day 8 - Go home :(

As you can see, we’ve got something of a port-heavy itinerary. Ideally, I prefer a 3 port/3 at sea split, but you play the hand you’re dealt, and this is what we got.

For excursions, we don’t have anything scheduled for Nassau.. Given the proximity of everything to the port, it’s likely that we let the kids go to Adventure Ocean and just walk around the tourist area. We may even go as far as Junkanoo Beach and get some fish fry, but we’ll see where the day takes us.

For Cozumel, I’ve booked the all inclusive day resort Nachi Cocum. I’ve heard good things about most of the Cozumel day resorts, so I’m curious to see how this one works out.

In Roatan, I booked an island tour through the Cruise Planner, which marks the first time since 2013 that I’ve booked an excursion through the cruise line.

For Costa Maya I’ve reserved spots at Tropicante bar. Like Nachi Cocum this bar gets good reviews and it should provide some good food and beach time.

On Board
As always, we have fixed early dining. My dad likes this time, and with 13 people dining together it’s difficult to work My Time dining properly. Outside of the “free” lunch, we’re not doing any specialty dining. But if anyone wants pictures of the menus etc, I’ll try and get those for you.

On Harmony last year, we tried to avoid the buffets and I think this will continue on this cruise. We do this not because we hate buffets or we’re trying to curb our food intake. Rather, the buffets tend to get very crowded unless you avoid peak times, and the Allure provides enough alternate food options that you don’t feel forced to go eat there.

As my wife doesn’t drink a lot, we’re not getting any drink packages. With 4 ports I don’t think it’s cost effective anyway, but this does mean that I’ll be looking for the drink card (10 drinks for ~$75-80) if it shows up. We will, however, be taking advantage of the 2 bottles of wine per cabin allowance, because there really isn’t any reason not to, right?

We got the all-in USB photo package. Those of you that have traveled Royal or DCL will be familiar with this, as it’s the same company that manages both. So long as one of the four of us are in the picture, we’ll see it show up in our photo folder.

I did sign up with the CC group that’s on board. As always, I’m kind of 50-50 on whether I’ll participate in their activities or not, but talking to them on FB they seem like a good bunch.

Speaking of communication, Royal does not have a chat feature on their app (a long-standing peeve of mine. DCL’s chat feature is not great, but at least they HAVE one and it does what its supposed to do) so we’re going old school with magnetic whiteboards. (side note: I didn’t have much time to do decorations this time around so no additional magnets on the door.)

Trip Updates
We did spring for a wifi package, as my wife will likely need to work while on board. She’s a partner at an accounting firm, so it’s hard for them to let her stay out of contact for too long. But this does mean that the wifi got expensed, so I might do some quick updates while on board.

If you have anything you want me to look up for you while I'm on board, let me know!
  • Frozen2014

    DIS Veteran
    Jan 12, 2014
    Oh yah...would love to hear about your trip. You are always so helpful in posts so great to follow along. Sounds like such a nice trip too with all extended family on your side. We've been on Allure and loved it...and the Central Park rooms look great.

    Have an awesome cruise! Look forward to hearing about it.


    Slythermom to 2 'claws and a Princess
    Nov 28, 2012
    Kevin - You will LOVE Nachi Cocum!!! Great for adults and kids. I have reservations back there on my solo trip in November. Really looking forward to that.

    I can't wait to read your review. Safe travels!
  • starvenger

    DIS Veteran
    Apr 8, 2015
    Oh yah...would love to hear about your trip. You are always so helpful in posts so great to follow along. Sounds like such a nice trip too with all extended family on your side. We've been on Allure and loved it...and the Central Park rooms look great.
    We've done Central Park balcony once before. If I were to rank Oasis class balconies I'd probably rank them third behind Oceanview and Boardwalk, but I might revise that after this trip.

    Kevin - You will LOVE Nachi Cocum!!! Great for adults and kids. I have reservations back there on my solo trip in November. Really looking forward to that.
    Good to hear. My kids really only want a beach and a pool, so I feel that this will work out. The port schedule also shows 3 other ships coming in that day, so the patron cap should theoretically make things a bit less hectic for us.


    Just keep swimming...
    Oct 19, 2008
    So looking forward to your TR! You are always so helpful in your posts. Enjoy every moment of your trip! :-)


    DIS Veteran
    Jan 12, 2014
    We've done Central Park balcony once before. If I were to rank Oasis class balconies I'd probably rank them third behind Oceanview and Boardwalk, but I might revise that after this trip.
    We're trying Boardwalk room for first time on Symphony (next year). Never tried Central Park but they look really neat too. Looking forward to hearing your feedback. We also have same stops as you next year so love to hear about them. Safe travels and have an amazing cruise!


    DIS Veteran
    May 26, 2003
    Looking forward to reading all about your cruise! We will be taking our first cruise aboard Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas in December 2019 for a 4 night Bahamas trip. We were going back and forth trying to decide between Navigator of the Seas and Mariner but with the new refurbishment on Mariner, I was sort of outvoted lol. We were also thinking of heading to Junkanoo Beach in Nassau and possibly visit Queen's staircase and if enough time visit Atlantis Resort. I'm the oldest of the group (all the rest are between ages of 26-36) so I'm leaning more towards Queen's staircase and Atlantis. Have an awesome trip!
  • KashasMom

    DIS Veteran
    Apr 28, 2012
    Waiting patiently for your review! We were on the NCL Bliss Aug 25th - Sept 1st. Will write a review this week.


    DIS Veteran
    Apr 8, 2015
    Day 0 - Leaving the 6ix
    (Aside: The day before, one of the gazillion channels was showing View From the Top. Which is not a great movie by any means, but falls under the category of “entertaining crap”. Especially because a) I was flying out in 2 days, and b) I’m a former employee of an airline that once used Cleveland as an “Express” hub.)

    As with many of us, the trip begins the day before. Well, it probably begins before that as I tend to think about what to pack a couple of weeks ahead. But that’s a minor thing. We actually like flying in 2 days before as my wife loves to hit Sawgrass Mills. But since we were in Orlando not even a month ago, there was no need and so we booked Westjet at the “leisurely” departure time of 9:45am.

    Of course, “departure” time and “wake up” time are two different animals. Our plan was to arrive around 7:30, so that meant waking up between 6-6:30 so that we could get on the road at 7am. We’d checked in the previous day, so realistically we simply needed to arrive before the bag drop cutoff.

    (Aside: I think we’re average packers when it comes to cruising. We could probably fit all our clothes and toiletries into one standard bag + a rollaboard, but we space it out so that we have 2 standard bags plus the rollaboard. We also carry 3 backpacks. H carries stuff for the kids (read: Hello Kitty dolls and change of clothes), Le has blankets, sanitizing wipes and cup noodles and I’ve got the electronics)

    Being a Saturday morning, traffic was light, and we arrived at Toronto Pearson in short order. We did our usual division of labour as I dropped off Le and the kids with the bags and went to drop the car off at the Park ‘n’ Fly valet. I got back to the terminal, and it was off through security and US pre-clearance. Since we have NEXUS and thus Global Entry, we made it through CBP without much issue. With that said, the regular line wasn’t that long, and I estimate that we saved 10 minutes. After all was said and done, we were into the departure area proper around 8am.

    The US departure zone in Terminal 3 is interesting. It used to be a bland area with a few overpriced food options. A few years ago they started a makeover of Terminal 3 entirely, and now the US departure zone is now a nice looking area with a few overpriced food options. It sounds like I’m joking, but when your cheapest option is the Starbucks…

    In any event, getting on the plane was no problem. We had row 4, which is right behind Premium Economy. The Westjet planes are kind of weird, in that the rows between Premium Economy and the exit rows appear to have more pitch than those at the back. In addition, row 4 is considered “Zone 1”, so you have the option to get on at any time after boarding begins.

    Flight was somewhat eventful, as there were bouts of turbulence and a thunderstorm in the Fort Lauderdale area that delayed us around 30 minutes. In fact, weather reports showed that there was a chance of rain on every day of the cruise (some 40%, some 80%). But knowing that Florida and Caribbean weather can be unpredictable, and being “pot-committed” to the cruise, we just had to let things play out and see where we were headed.

    Because we were only staying the night, we didn’t bother renting a car. Instead, we decided it would be better to taxi/Lyft/Uber it to wherever. The hotel had a shuttle, but we thought a taxi would be faster.

    Our hotel, as it was last year, was the Hyatt Place 17th Street Convention Center. Once again we booked through valuetrips.com, which gave us a rate of $120/night. And at that price, it’s well worth it. The rooms shown on the website are pretty accurate, and I’d say that you could easily sleep 8 people in a room if you wanted. Plus, breakfast and wifi are included, and they have an “amazing” cruise port luggage tagging station:

    The good thing about the hotel is that it’s close to restaurants, a Publix, a Ross, a Dollar Tree and a Total Wine, so if you’re missing some essentials (like wine), you can run (well, walk. It’s August in Fort Lauderdale) over and pick it up.

    It was about 3:30 when we checked in, and raining, but still we were hungry so we walked over to a place I’d seen good reviews of, Kelly’s Landing.

    Kelly’s is definitely a “blink and you missed it” place as from the outside it’s rather unassuming. The inside is warm and inviting.

    So initially, we were just going to go in for a quick bite and have a larger dinner later. After looking at the menu, however, we decided to get:

    • Lobster Bisque
    • Chicken Wings
    • Crab Cake Entree
    • Kelly’s Fried Combo

    I’ll be honest - it was all pretty good, except for the bisque. Crab cakes in particular were quite good - all crab, no filler. And suffice it to say, we were done as far as having a proper dinner went.

    We went back to the hotel, at which point my parents and my brother’s family were back from Sawgrass Mills (they arrived the day before), so we let the kids catch up with one another. Around 6, J and his family also got in from LAX, and after talking about their food, everyone except us went over to Kelly’s Landing to eat.

    Later on, the kids were still a little peckish, so I walked over to one of the Chinese takeaways and got a stir fry beef noodle as O was craving some Asian food. Less than a day in and she wants some.

    But after all that, it was one more sleep and on to the ship!

    Next: Embarkation Day!


    DIS Veteran
    Feb 6, 2010
    Looking forward to your trip report. We're on the same cruise in November right after Allure moves to Miami.


    DIS Veteran
    Apr 8, 2015
    Day 1 - Embarkation
    Embarkation day is always an exciting one. And yet… one must wait patiently before heading out. So I suppose it was for the best that the hotel had a hot breakfast downstairs. Mind you, scrambled eggs and sausages isn’t the most exciting thing one could eat, but we’d be eating all week, so a small breakfast wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

    After breakfast, we packed our stuff up, rearranged some things to “optimize” for boarding, and then, we waited.

    OK, it wasn’t entirely like that. My brother went back to the airport to return his car, and the kids (and cousins) played around in the room a bit. Then we split up the wines amongst the 4 cabins. Meanwhile, I made sure our room account was squared up.

    And THEN we waited.

    Finally, it was about 10am, and we figured it was good enough. By dad and brothers wanted to go later, but we figured “the earlier, the better”, and so we got our stuff, and headed downstairs so I could use, you guessed it,

    My wife has the Uber app on her phone, so she ordered a driver, and faster than you can read Homer’s The Iliad (ok, it was 5 minutes), the car was there.

    The drive is basically 5 minutes from hotel to terminal, and when we got there, we could see folks that just got through customs and were waiting for rides. And we wondered, what would it be like to be one of the last people on board before turnover?

    Regardless, we dropped our bags off, tipped the “porters”, and went over to the security area.

    (Aside: I’ve never felt comfortable tipping the front line porters, since the ones I’m giving the tips to seem to only collect the bags and your money, while their colleagues do most of the (literal) heavy lifting. But I give the tips anyway because I assume that the monies are pooled together and divided evenly.)

    Since we were there fairly early (a little after 10:30 I believe) the lines looked like this:

    Beyond security, the check-in lines were non-existent. I feel this is similar across the board, where the security gates are a bottleneck. An unfortunate fact of life in this day and age, but this means that once you’re through, it’s pretty quick. Check in confirmed our identities, we were told that our physical SeaPass cards would be at our cabins, and off we went upstairs.

    But hey, since we have the photo package, why not take a picture first?

    We got the kids their ID wristbands and… we’re too early to board. So we sit and wait.

    Fortunately this wait was only about 5 minutes. Our area got called and it was time to board!

    In the interest of doing a quick comparison to DCL, you scan your SeaPass card and then you board. No announcing of the families or anything, just a walk straight into the Promenade. I suppose that those used to the pomp and circumstance might find this off-putting, but I feel that on the Oasis class, that “first look” of the Promenade helps to make up for it.

    (Note: if you are on an Oasis class, the Rising Tide bar and grand staircase is closer to the rear of the ship, so stay to the left as the entry ramps branch off. The forward entrance nets you a first look at… the pub. Bit of a difference in first views, that.)

    Well, now that we were on board, the first thing we wanted to do was, of course, eat. But we weren’t completely hungry, so we went to check if the rooms were ready yet. They were not, and in fact the doors were shut, cutting you off from your cabin like you were Luke Skywalker on Cloud City. So after that fail, we decided to see if Solarium was open for lunch.

    It was not.

    So it was off to the one place I wasn’t looking forward to going to, the Windjammer. Not that the food is bad or anything, but 2 cruises previous (DCL Fantasy) I got tired of the buffet as we ate at Cabanas for every breakfast and lunch. And again, it’s not that the food was bad, but generally speaking we eat at times when just about everyone else eats, and peak crowds at a buffet isn’t an appealing thing to do all the time. Besides, many of the other areas have a limited buffet so the “eat all you can” portion of things wasn’t exactly going away at any point in time.

    Fortunately, our early boarding time afforded us the luxury of a less-crowded Windjammer. For food, I mostly stuck to the veg and some beef from the carving station. I felt like I ate enough, and no sense rushing things on the first day.

    With full bellies, it was time to do something we previously never had the chance to do - get in an early swim before the boat left the port (and before too many people were on board). Really can’t argue with a kids area that’s almost entirely empty.

    While we were at the pool, we heard the announcement that the cabins were now available. Seemed like a good idea to drop off the carry on bags (which was great for me since I had all the electronics).

    As promised, the SeaPass cards were on the door.

    Since we had the Central Park balcony, we got a bottle of wine and lunch for 2 at a specialty restaurant. The room itself had a sofa that turned into a double sized bed. My brother’s room actually had the same sofa/bed PLUS a pullman, so I guess his room could sleep five, although I wouldn’t want to try that.

    We also got a surprise as our TA gave us $25 obc. That’s not a whole lot, of course, but we weren’t expecting anything so this was a nice surprise.

    Back to the pool deck, and my brother and his kids joined us in the splash area.

    At 3, we decided to go back to the cabins to shower and get ready for the Muster Drill. We met our attendant, Lafaite from Haiti, and went to the drill. Our station was in Studio B (the ice rink), and after the necessary announcements we were subjected to a couple of videos. One was a cutesy, animated jingle about washing your hands, and the other was a clumsy “secret agent” safety video. Granted, I get that the whole point is to relay the safety information in a (hopefully) memorable manner, but this was pretty bad.

    After the muster drill, it was time for dinner.

    We were dining at Silk on the fifth floor. Which felt a bit unusual since every other fixed dining experience we’ve had was at American Icon on 3. Not sure if the large party had anything to do with it, as we had a couple of other large parties near us. One of which was my dad’s friend’s family. Sort of.

    Sort of, because our mutual TA managed to mix up our tables and we ended up all mixed together across two large tables. But no problem, as we sorted that out and everyone ended up sitting with their proper families.

    After all this, our staff ended up being Gerland from India and Minghao from China. Both quite good servers imo.

    I was told that the crab cake wasn’t as good as Kelly’s Landing. I had the antipasti, mushroom soup, prime rib and key lime pie, and all of it was quite good.

    After dinner was our first show, Mamma Mia. I’m not a fan of ABBA (although strangely, I do like Erasure’s cover of Take a Chance on Me) so I had zero expectations with this musical. And… it wasn’t bad. Despite being a jukebox musical they actually tried to make the songs fit the plot instead of vice versa. I can’t comment on the entire show as O only made it about 45 minutes before wanting to sleep. And to be honest, I was a little tired myself, and so that was it for the day.

    Next: Nassau


    DIS Veteran
    Apr 8, 2015
    Some additional notes/thoughts about the cabins.
    • Most of the Allure balcony cabins are the same size as on Harmony. And yet, it feels a little roomier on Allure, especially around the sofa/sofabed area. I don’t think there’s much difference between pulling out the trundle or converting the sofa to a double, but walking between the beds and the desk it felt like there was maybe 6-12” more space. Chalk it up to recency bias or listing mean cabin sizes, I suppose.

    • Harmony requires you to insert a card in a slot to activate power. Allure has no such requirement.

    • The Allure bathroom is… cozy. You can, of course, do everything you need to in there, but it is tight. DCL cruisers wax poetic about the split bathroom, and I feel they are fully justified in doing so. There’s something to be said about being able to shower in private without people coming in to brush their teeth or whatever.

    • The shower is compact, as standard cruise cabin showers tend to be. It is a full shower, and not a tub, with doors and not a curtain.

    • Unlike Harmony, which had a normal shower door, the Allure has two sliding panels. I like this setup better, as the open door tended to get in the way of, well, everything.

    • Still, there’s a better than average chance that you will bang a body part against the wall, even if you’re a kid.

    • There is a liquid dispenser in the shower, and for the first time I noticed they labelled it - it’s apparently 2-in-1 shampoo. I continue to use it only when rinsing swimsuits.

    • The soapdish is, imo, inconveniently placed high for some people - probably around 5 feet (I’m 5’9” and find it awkwardly placed). It also does a terrible job of holding travel bottles. My suggestion here is to take a facecloth, put it on the soapdish, then put your bottles on top of that. This should prevent your bottles from constantly hitting the floor.

    • Television channels seem to have been revamped. No longer must you suffer through Megamind and Monsters vs Aliens all the time. You can now suffer through Dora the Explorer all the time. There's also MSNBC, Fox News and BBC World News for those who want to find out what's happening outside of the cruise bubble.
    • Rooms feature an alarm clock with dual iPhone 4 (or earlier) docking stations. Perfect for anyone still clinging onto their iPhone 3 or 4.

    • There is one 3-unit outlet on the desk. Not certain of the amps or wattage but I had my Anker 4-USB wall charger in there and I was able to charge an iPad, iPad mini and 2 phones with no issues.

    • Central Park balcony views are nice, but they still don’t match up to ocean view.

    It is rather quiet in the evening though, so if you're bothered by outside noise when trying to sleep, you shouldn't have any issues here.


    DIS Veteran
    Apr 8, 2015
    Day 2 - Nassau

    This was our second time in Nassau. The first time through, we went to the Colonial Hilton for a beach day. But with 4 stops on this cruise, we decided to make this a de facto ship day.

    Breakfast was in the Solarium. I loved the view and the atmosphere, plus the convenience, but my wife wasn’t impressed. Her rationale was that it was basically a Windjammer breakfast with a couple of “healthy” things tossed in. Fair enough.

    Because it was a port day, Adventure Ocean was a combined room for the 6-11 year olds, so H, O and K would all be in the same group. That was fine with us. We dropped our kids off at 9, and headed out to the tourist district.

    Unfortunately most shops were closed. And it was hot and humid. After walking around for an hour, and stopping into the “Port Shopping Expert recommended” touristy places like Diamonds International et al, we went back to the boat. In hindsight, had we left at 10:30 or so, I think we would’ve enjoyed ourselves more.

    I did, however, see a great sign:

    Back onto the ship, we had some time to explore. I don’t have pictures, but I finally went onto the Sun Deck. There was nothing happening here (but it was hot), but it provided a great view. And I somehow forgot to take pictures.

    At noon we picked up the kids (including K), found my dad (who also stayed on ship) and looked at the video board to see what was open for lunch. All roads apparently led to WindJammer, so off we went. With the port day, it wasn’t all that busy, so again, it was nice to not feel like you were fighting for a table and/or food.

    In the afternoon, we hit the pool. Again, the kids area was not crowded, presumably due to the port day. Makes for easier supervision, I think.

    Since it was formal night, we wrapped things up around 3:30 so we could shower, change, and get ready for pictures. But it turns out that we were actually too early for pictures, as the photo stations didn’t officially start until 5:15pm. Oops.

    Fortunately, my dad has Diamond status, and we made use of his free happy hour drinks

    We took quite a few pictures. Probably got our money’s worth on the photo package on this night alone.

    The menu:

    For dinner, I had the wedge, calamari, cod and souffle. But an issue arose, as they didn’t have cod and substituted for haddock. No worries, I was ok with that. Except that, when I got my fish, it seemed like they cooked it the exact same was that they would cook the cod, and so the haddock was way overcooked. I’m generally not one to send food back, but given the inedibility of the fish I kind of had to, and switched to the seafood linguine instead. This was quite good, although it was hard to find a lot of the bay scallops. Souffle was the star of the night, as it often is when offered. When I went on my only Princess cruise in 2006/07, they had souffles every night, which was incredible, and perhaps spoiled me for future cruise dessert expectations.

    After dinner, we did some additional pictures. And in the Champagne Bar, the kids provided ample justification for not letting them charge anything to their SeaPass cards:

    Seriously, you lot are not even close to 21. I suppose you could order a gin and juice (hold the gin) though.

    Next, we changed and went out to the Boardwalk to watch OceanAria. Even though I’ve seen this show before it still fascinates me. It’s a lot of fun to watch, and while I don’t think it’s near the level of O in Las Vegas (an obvious inspiration), it is still pretty darn good, and IMO the best show on Allure.

    After the show, we hung around the Boardwalk for a bit, and the kids rode the carousel. And possibly wished that they could be big

    And that was it for their day. I hit the casino for a little while (not as smoky as I'd remembered. Guess they improved the ventilation so that the smoke doesn't drift as much to the non-smoking side), won $40 at Blackjack (quit while you’re ahead), and called it a night.

    Next: Sea Day


    DIS Veteran
    Jan 12, 2014
    Loving your review so far. Such a nice family. We were on Allure so nice to hear about experiences. Love how you got in the pools so early. The Central Park rooms look nice (but hey what you mean about not beta balcony). A room with 4 only includes lunch for 2? That doesn't seem right. Looking forward to hearing more.


    DIS Veteran
    Apr 8, 2015
    The thing with 4 person cabins (and I suppose this is true with other cruise lines as well) is that 4 adults would have a hard time sleeping in that one room. Two adults and two teens might also have issues if the teens need to share a double bed. The expectation is likely 2 adults, two children, and the kids cost $10 for the meal, so you could take them, or treat it like an adults only meal.


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