Glitzy: The Allure of the Seas’ Royal Promenade, the centre of the ship, is where all the parades take place and it is also the main shopping avenue on the ship. Inset, the world’s largest ship the Allure of the Seas. *AFP photo
Glitzy: The Allure of the Seas’ Royal Promenade, the centre of the ship, is where all the parades take place and it is also the main shopping avenue on the ship. Inset, the world’s largest ship the Allure of the Seas. *AFP photo
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I’ve been on the largest cruise ship in the world.

Last week my wife and I sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, which is two inches longer than its sister ship Oasis of the Seas. 

That means I’ve now been on four of the top five biggest cruise ships in the World, with only the Norwegian Epic on the ‘left to do’ list (by comparison, the Norwegian Breakaway is the world’s eighth largest cruise ship).

Last year I was on the Oasis twice so the layout was familiar, but there have been some upgrades made by Royal Caribbean to the class of ship.

The first was the adding of two Coca-Cola dispensing machines — but before you shake your head as this being a minor trifle, this is unlike any Coke machine you’ve ever seen before. 

Once you purchase the unlimited drink package (at $50 plus) you get a cup to use in this wonderful dispenser of over 100 flavours of soda and water. 

Royal is calling it Coke Freestyle and it’s available on five ships now — Allure, Oasis, Freedom, Enchantment and Majesty.

Coke Zero peach, Fanta lime, Mr Pibb cherry lime — this machine has it all. And being from Bermuda where the flavour choices are limited, this was an
unexpected treat.

Another update for regulars of Royal Caribbean is that the line is no longer publishing the discount coupon book for Crown & Anchor members. Instead, your discounts are attached to your Seapass card and you’ll get them automatically when you use a spa service, purchase wine, get your clothes pressed or any of the other amenities you are entitled too. There will be a document in your cabin outlining your discounts so Crown & Anchor members will know what to expect. As an added bonus, it helps make the line a little extra green but not publishing hundreds of coupon books every cruise. 

There are three eateries on the Allure, which are not on the Oasis — The Boardwalk Dog House, Rita’s Cantina, and Brazilian steak house Samba Grill. (Overall there are 25 dining options on the Allure).

The Dog House serves up a variety of hot dogs. I disliked specialty buns for being too dry and not split open enough and stuck with a regular bun. I was on the Breakaway earlier this year and preferred their hot dog cart Sobrett’s over the Dog House.

Likewise, the Brazilian steakhouse on the Breakaway suited my style over Royal’s  Samba — but either way you can eat until you have had more than your fill of course after course of meat.

Rita’s Cantina had it’s grand re-opening while we were onboard. We had the cigars, which is like a taquito and the fajitas. Both were good and the regular portion of fajitas could feed four people. 

We ate most of our meals in the main dining room and were seated at a table for 10. Overall, we and our table companions were underwhelmed. This is first time I’ve been on Royal that I would have said that. The service was good but the worst night saw three of us at the table order steak off the regular items menu (every night the menus change, but there are several items that are staples from day-to-day) because we saw nothing else we liked. 

All three of us left half-eaten steaks on our plates. I tried to make mine more palatable with some A1 Steak Sauce, but even then I couldn’t finish it. 

My wife is celiac and has to have a gluten-free meal and the wait staff ensured not to contaminate her meals. 

The new menus, which has gluten-free options (as well as other dietary needs like diary-free) clearly marked helped.

Usually, my favourite meal is the Thanksgiving-themed one on the last night of the cruise with turkey, stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes and cornbread. Over the course of the last year the cornbread and mashed potatoes have disappeared with a baked potato replacing the mashed. It ended up being another main dining room  disappointment.

We ate breakfast there and that ended up being a minor disaster. The wait was horrendous. 

It was that way all trip. Thankfully Royal has signage which passengers can use to see how long the wait is any restaurant so we avoided it after our first mishap and could see it was rammed full every other morning.

People could also have breakfast at the Windjammer buffet, which works for most people, but not so good for someone who is celiac, so Johnny Rockets became our choice for breakfast.

The food wasn’t all bad. The Cupcake Cupboard has an improved gluten-free cupcake, which is actually quite yummy. Last year it was so bad my 12-year-old nephew refused to eat it — when a young boy won’t eat what’s supposed to be a sweet treat, you know it’s bad. Also, the gluten-free pizza at Sorrentos was delicious.

Shows

The ship has the regular variety of nighttime entertainers that you would come to expect on a ship this size — piano man, jazz band, guitar player and classic group. It hit all the right notes to diversify to its over 5,000 passengers.

The highlight of the week might have been the aquashow Oceanaria. Besides the high dives into the pool, the standouts were two brothers who were hand-balancers and could contort themselves into different shapes — their feats of strength impressed the crowd as did their V-8 abs (eight pack). 

The high dives took place at various stations, but the highest is at 17.5 meters.

Another standout was Blue Planet production show in the Amber Theatre — a combination of singing, tumbling and dancing.

International skaters

We also took in the Ice Games show, which featured an international cast of skaters. The show was based on a Monopoly game, but instead of Park Place, the locations were ship venues like the Boardwalk or Giovanni’s Table. The highlight was an ice skater who could use a multitude of hula-hoops. The show was also interactive as a variety of audience members got to push a button to roll the dice to move around the Monopoly board.

The Comedy Club was outstanding and the two comedians who left the audience in one almost non-stop laugh fest.  

The disappointment from the main entertainment was Chicago. We had seen Hairspray on Oasis last year and the cast is good enough to play on Broadway. One of the problems may have been it was the cast’s first show on the ship. The other part of the problem is the two of the best songs from Chicago are front-loaded — Cell Block Tango and We Both Reached for the Gun. 

The ship also has a multitude of parades down the Allure’s Royal Promenade, many of which feature characters from Dreamworks like the King Fu Panda or the Vikings from How to Train your Dragon. 

The highlight for us was the Hallowe’en costume parade — one for children and one for adults. There were close to 200 entries in the adult category, which is saying something when more than 400 adults plan to bring outfits onboard to participate. We dressed as luminous jellyfish, which my wife very creatively made.