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