September 2016 - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) Cruise on Allure of the Seas
Allure of the Seas
September 4 – September 11, 2016
Ft. Lauderdale – Nassau – St. Thomas – St. Kitts
Sweet Cruise on Allure of the Seas
This was our 19th cruise and 14th with Royal Caribbean. Last Fall, we sailed on Allure’s sister ship, Oasis of the Seas. Trust me, a week is not enough time to get familiar with a ship of this size, so we had to book again on this class of ship to catch all the cruising features we missed the first time around. Still not enough time, so we booked another cruise aboard the Oasis for early next year.
Hailing from Atlanta, the first adventure of our vacation was riding out Hurricane Hermine, at a friend’s home in Orlando on our drive south.
We stayed at the Crown Plaza not far from the port on Saturday prior to boarding the Allure Sunday morning. The staff was very friendly, our room was clean and comfortable and for $102 you can’t go wrong.
Port Everglades – Sunday 9-4-16
If you’re driving to the port, you want to look into Park ‘N Go. They transfer your luggage from your car to their mini-bus and then unload it again at the terminal facility for you.
We arrived at the pier at 10:30 and were quickly processed aboard. I’m recovering from knee surgery earlier this year and am wobbling around with a cane until I can fully chase cars again. At least five terminal cruise personnel offered me a wheel chair service or elevator ride to ease the boarding process. I said no thanks but it’s nice to know the help is available if you need it. Getting off the Allure a week later, I had the same type of offers of assistance in the terminal.
Nassau – Monday 9-5-16 (Labor Day)
We’ve been to Nassau on multiple cruises. It’s always a wonderful port to visit. No other cruise ships were in town, however, we were moored across from a U. S. Navy warship, the USS Lassen (DDG-82) an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer. I used its hull number to Google it and learn what type of ship it was. Google responded “BADASS.” A five inch deck gun, two Phalanx CIWS 20mm cannon, AEGIS Combat System Radar, two helicopters, torpedoes and a boatload of vertical launch, multiple flavor, missile tubes means this ship can unleash more devastation than all of WWII’s combatants combined. I mean, this ship can shoot down ICBM missiles raining on you from space and launch nuclear armed Tomahawk Cruise Missiles back at you. Yes, that kind of BADASS. Prior to recently moving to its new homeport of Mayport, Florida (Jacksonville) it sailed around the Spratly Islands (The Great Wall of Sand) that China has built up. So much for the line of death China decreed in the South China Sea. The R&R in Nassau, I’m sure was well earned for the crew of the Lassen and their families over the Labor Day weekend. Party-on, U.S. Navy.
Prior to the cruise, we purchased a four-night specialty restaurant package for $90 each. The mystery is, you can’t specify the restaurants you want until you get on board. The come-on is basically pay for three and get a fourth free. After boarding we were having coffee at the Café in the Royal Promenade. Having made plans for Giovanni’s Table that night, the couple we were sharing a table with booked dinner at Chop’s for $15 each with a roving waiter. That is a good deal versus the usual single meal price of $39. All of the specialty restaurants had agents roaming the Promenade offering discount dining deals for the first night. Keep that in mind.
The Windjammer Marketplace on deck 16 is too small for the ship. On the TV screen in your cabin, you can check the wait times in any of the ship’s dining venues at any time. Very often, for breakfast or lunch, the Windjammer shown as red, which means the lines to get in, began when you stepped off an aft elevator on deck 16. Instead, head to the American Icon dining room on deck 3. You can opt to order off the menu or try the buffet.
We had lunch one afternoon at the Sabor Mexican restaurant on the Boardwalk on deck 6. The service was so-so and the food forgettable and not worth the added cost. It would not survive on dry land as a Mexican restaurant for long.
Our specialty restaurant choices were Giovanni’s Table (twice), Chops Grille and 150 Central Park. I think the 150 Central Park dinner was my favorite, but their menu was limited.
Our other evening diners were spent at My Time Dining in the American Icon on deck 3. Great food, great dining! On the ship’s second formal night toward the end of the cruise, we were seated amidst a row of other tables for two. While the couple at the table next to us enjoyed their deserts, I scanned the menu and said aloud, “lobster tails, prime rib or tofu meatballs, tough decision.” The woman sitting next to and across from me, spewed red wine out of her nose. Success! We enjoyed the lobster.
Prior to sailing, you really need to get online and map out and book seats in the shows you want to see during your week aboard so you get the days and times you want.
We took in the comedians in the Comedy Club. They were o.k. and the headliner, was excellent. We missed our “Mama Mia” reservation and everyone we met onboard for the rest of the week, raved about the show. We missed it, so you shouldn’t. Jeff Tracta was the Headliner and is not to be missed. He’s very funny and a great impressionist.
Also, catch Ernesto’s Jazz Quartet anywhere on the ship you can. They are just superb musicians!
On one of our sea days back to Port Everglades, Joanne had booked me on a ship’s tour including the bridge, kitchen areas and engineering spaces. When enquiring where I was to go for the tour I was handed an injury waiver form to sign. Given I’m not as agile with my cane doing staircases and shoveling coal in the engines, I opted out of the tour. Maybe next cruise, I hope.
Booking Your Next Cruise While Onboard
For the first time we tried this on-board service, as we are more flexible now that we’re retired. We booked an Oasis cruise next March. The come-on is, a minimal deposit, a $100 onboard credit, the flexibility to change cruises up to a point. The RCI cabin pricing matrix is now so complex, their computers can’t even keep up. It’s now a function of things like deck height, view, proximity to elevators and god knows what else. Having been home less than two weeks from our vacation, we received an email that a $500 payment was due in a few days. The message also was missing Joanne’s Crown and Anchor membership number. The RCI agent couldn’t correct anything in their own system and said we could straighten out the details once we were within 90 days of our sail date.
Joanne is constantly checking the RCI web site to check pricing and the on board and web prices are identical, so no benefit there. In my mind, the jury is still out on whether this will become a good deal or not.
Disembarkation – Pro Tip
I wish I could say I thought of this but Joanne read it on a Cruise Critic message board. The last day aboard, you are issued numbered luggage tags that regulate the sequence everyone gets off the ship. They also are the numbered area in the acre sized cruise terminal where you will find your bags. When you put your bags in the hallway on the last night, get your phone out and take a photo or two of them.
When we went to collect ours with the help of a porter, we found three of them but were missing the fourth. Our guy asked what it looked like. Joanne whipped out her phone and displayed the photo. He told us to wait there and he went off to another area of the massive terminal. He returned in a couple of minutes with our bag. The paper tag had torn off the handle and the photo made it quick and easy to locate.
The Allure is a great ship with a wonderful crew and a fine vacation even if you never set foot off the ship for a week. We’ll be back. I mentioned a couple of services to help with your cruise and here are few links.
Crown Plaza Hotel: http://www.cpftlauderdalecruiseport.com/
Park ‘N Go: https://bookparkngo.com/ftlauderdale.php