The thought of being on a cruise ship with 5,400 other people is rather daunting. You imagine standing in long lines to board, long lines to eat, long lines to see shows, long line, long lines. Perhaps because Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has been working its way up over the years to the largest cruise ships afloat, it has had ample opportunity to discover how to staff and organize and to figure out what works. When we boarded the Allure of the Seas for its maiden voyage today, there were no lines at all. The check in kiosks were organized by deck and we handed in the documents, got the cabin keys and went aboard. It all went so fast we were too early to go to the cabin, so we wandered around taking photographs and saying “Wow!” at regular intervals.
Words are going to be inadequate to describe this ship. And because there are so many venues and most of them are so large, photographs won’t do them justice either. But we will do our best to document what is sure to be an incredible experience. The only venue we can compare this ship to is some of the larger, more opulent Las Vegas casinos that replicate being in Venice or New York City. There also is an aspect of Disneyland; everything looks perfect and photogenic.
There are three major atrium areas; walking in them feels like being on a street in a town. Central Park is open air and full of plants and trees. It has some large glass constructions that function as sky lights for the walking area below called the Royal Promenade. Both these areas boast an assortment of restaurants and stores, just like a real town. Parades and street performances take place in both areas intermittently. The Boardwalk area is also outside and is anchored by a theater which features an Aqua Show with divers and other athletic feats. Both sides of the pool have climbing walls and a zip line sends screaming cruisers whizzing by over head. For the less daring a picturesque carousel with hand carved old timey horses, twirls sedately.
There are 26 unique restaurants, three swimming pools, ten whirlpools, a surfing area, a mini golf course, a basketball court, and countless lounges and bars. One bar travels between three floors and the drinkers can only leave the bar when it is on the same level as a floor. And these are only the features of the ships that we managed to find today.
High caliber, quality entertainment also gets rave reviews on the Allure. Tonight we saw “Blue Planet,” a show that would rival anything we have seen in Las Vegas or New York. The mediocre plot was vaguely about the environment, but the special effects and skills of the dancers and athletes made it amazing. As I sat focused on the stage I could see Ken’s head whipping around as he tried to identify where all the special effects were coming from. At times it was hard to know where to look. Performers entered from the sides, beneath the stage and from above. Trapezes would descend and suddenly lines would unwind and hurl performers toward the ground. At one point moving water and schools of fish were projected on a scrim. Behind it performers hung from lines, dressed in kelp costumes, looking for all the world like seaweed. In another scene the tree of life entered the stage. Eventually we could tell that many of its limbs and branches were dancers, who animated the tree. We can’t wait to see this show again on the next cruise, so we can take in a bit more of all that was going on.
The cabin has more electric outlets than we have ever had before. Usually we bring an extension cord and multi plug to keep all our gizzmos humming, but here we even have two docks for our Iphones. An interactive TV allows us to book shows, make restaurant reservations, check the bill, book shore excursions, surf the web, etc. All of these activities used to involve standing in line in olden times. Technology has made it much easier to handle 5,400 passengers.
As we sailed out of Ft. Lauderdale harbor the fire boats gave a watery salute and we turned south. There was absolutely no sensation of sailing on the ocean. We had to look out the balcony in the stateroom to verify that we were indeed on the move.