Royal Caribbean: Allure of the Seas (7 Nights – Eastern Caribbean)
I was excited to try my 1st cruise which would be on board one of the largest cruise ships in the world, Allure of the Seas. This ship was massive compared to others at the port. The cruise departed from Fort Lauderdale and the ports of call were: Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Of course, I flew Virgin America nonstop to FLL from SFO. I was able to clear my Main Cabin Select upgrades both ways as a Silver member and even a 1st class upgrade on the way to FLL for only $170. The flights were perfect! The lead teammate for the flight there was at the FLL launch party which I attended so we reminisced the amazing times. I flew in the day before the cruise and stayed at the Sheraton FLL which was just fine for a 1 night stay with a free suite upgrade as a SPG Platinum. We boarded the cruise a bit late but at that point there were no lines to checkin which was awesome. Once on board we started to explore and also figure out how our group would communicate without cell phone service (onboard WiFi was super expensive). The group organizer handed out whiteboard film to put on our stateroom doors so we could leaves notes. Brilliant idea!
When booking the cruise we had a choice to book a handicap (accessible) room as all the others were booked. The room was 50% bigger which made it feel like a small hotel room but not tiny like the standard rooms. If you have the option I’d highly recommend booking one. The amenities of the ship were awesome: zip lining, wave pools, mini golf, multiple pools, gym, running track, rock climbing, shows, specialty restaurants, casino, clubs, bars, etc. The food in the dining rooms was decent and we always tried one of everything for desserts plus 2 entrees at dinner to get a sampling of their offerings. The unlimited drink option for $50/day was worth it since we split the cost between 2 people and just went to multiples bars to get drinks.
Stop 1: Our first port was Nassau. I didn’t enjoy it much as it was very dirty and run down. It was worth checking out but I wouldn’t return.
Stop 2: Our second port was St. Thomas. It was clean and we enjoyed a snorkeling shore excursion. The snorkeling at Turtle Bay was OK. The water was cloudy and too big of a group. We did end up going to a beach after Turtle Bay which was gorgeous and they even had a restaurant.
Stop 3: The final port was St. Maarten. This was my favorite stop of the entire trip. We rented scooters and was given a guided tour of the island by Johnny, the owner of the shop (http://tropicports.com/johnnysscooters/). He was buddies with the places along our route which made it feel like a locals tour. It was well worth it!
Specialty Restaurant: On our final night we opted to go to Chops Grille, a specialty steak restaurant. The dry-aged steak and high end appetizers were awesome. Give it a try!
Conclusion: I enjoyed spending a week with friends but I felt the cruise was like Las Vegas and I can only spend so many consecutive days before I want to go home. If I go on a cruise in the future, I would opt for a 3 or 4 night cruise. It was a great experience but I’ll stick to flying for now.