Feature Video From August 31- September 2. Allure of the Seas shipyard visit in Turku, Finland.
The second of Royal Caribbean’s world-changing Oasis-class ships, Allure of the Seas is a few inches longer than her older sister-ship Oasis of the Seas, and so technically holds the crown as the largest cruise ship ever built, measuring in at 225,282 gross tons and carrying a remarkable 5,400 guests at double occupancy, plus nearly 3,000 crewmembers.
That few inches of difference aside, Allure is essentially identical in conception and layout to Oasis, but since Oasis is probably the most revolutionary cruise ship ever built, that means Allure is pretty special too, from her incredible number of guest amenities to her game-changing design, which took the monolithic cruise ship superstructure and split it lengthwise into what are essentially two long buildings set atop her hull — one to port and one to starboard, with a long, deep canyon between them and various joins along the way to provide structural strength.
The reality of it all is even more revolutionary than the engineering, because what the split superstructure has allowed Royal Caribbean to do is really open up the inside of the ship to natural light and air in a way never seen before on a cruise ship: On Allure and Oasis, there’s no more inside cabin versus outside cabin, public room versus outside deck — despite the ships’ overwhelmingly huge size, they provide a level of connection with the sea and the outdoors that you usually only get aboard much smaller ships. And of course here you get more too — much more.
The key to Allure’s layout and amenities is its “neighborhood” concept, in which public rooms and attractions are grouped into several themed sectors of the ship, each designed to appeal to a particular niche of Royal Caribbean’s clientele.
For families, there’s the Boardwalk, set in the stern in the central open-air space between the two halves of the ship’s superstructure. Stretching for almost a third of the ship’s length, it’s designed to resemble an old-time entertainment boardwalk a la Atlantic City or Coney Island, with a traditional carousel featuring hand-carved wooden horses; a daily Family Festival with face-painting and family games; an ice cream parlor and candy shop; a casual Mexican restaurant with a huge menu of margaritas; a hot dog stand; a Johnny Rockets burger joint; a studio where kids can create their own stuffed animals; carnival attractions like a mechanical “Zoltan” fortune teller and funhouse mirrors; and more.
Right in the stern, the highlight of the Boardwalk is the AquaTheater, an outdoor amphitheater ringed around the largest and deepest freshwater pool at sea, where Royal Caribbean stages amazing shows featuring synchronized swimming, acrobatics, aerialism, and incredible high diving from a pair of 30-foot platforms. To either side of the pool, a pair of giant screens project what’s going on underwater.
During the day, passengers can swim or take scuba lessons at the AquaTheater, lounge in the tiered deck chairs around it, or challenge themselves at the twin, six-deck-high rock-climbing walls that flank the space—the biggest climbing walls at sea, by far. On evenings when no shows are scheduled, the water takes over at the AquaTheater, with jets spraying up to 65 feet high, all choreographed to music and a light show.
A full 225 balcony cabins and eight window cabins flank the Boardwalk space, rising seven decks to either side and providing the ship’s most fun accommodations for families with young kids.
Those kids can also take advantage of spaces designed just for them at the ship’s Youth Zone, one of the best children’s centers in the business. Covering an amazing 28,700 square feet, it offers ten distinct experiences, including a gym and activities area, a theater where kids can put on shows, a workshop for crafts, Imagination Studio for art projects, the Adventure Science Lab for science-themed learning and fun, and a video arcade.
Young kids between 6 months and 3 years can mix it up at the Royal Babies & Royal Tots nursery, one of only a handful of real nurseries in the cruise business. Teens, on the other hand, have their own disco, outdoor deck, arcade, and living-room-style lounge located one deck up. Around the ship, throughout each voyage, kids can also enjoy shows, parades, special meals, and other events presented in collaboration with DreamWorks Animation, the film studio behind hits like Madagascar and Shrek.
All this may make you think Allure is a ship just for young families and kids, but that’s just not so. For adults traveling without kids, the Central Park neighborhood is the place to be. Sitting at midships and six decks down in the ship’s central canyon, the 21,000-square-foot space is an open-air tropical garden with an upscale, bucolic, adult atmosphere. A wide, tiled pathway runs from end to end, passing amid some 12,000 trees, plants, vines, and flowers, not to mention a whole range of calm, sophisticated adult pleasures. For dining, there’s:
For drinks and socializing, there’s Vintages wine bar, serving wines by the glass and hosting various wine-tasting events; the cute little open-air Trellis Bar; and Rising Tide, the cruise world’s only moving bar, which makes a very slow ascent and decent between Central Park and the Royal Promenade neighborhood below. For shopping, the park’s forward end houses low-key spaces: a Coach shop selling high-end bags; a portrait studio; and an art gallery where passengers can buy prints and other objects by pop artist Romero Britto.
Overall, though, Central Park is made for quiet relaxation and getting in touch with nature—at least as much as you can aboard a giant cruise ship.
Benches set throughout the space offer great perches for reading and daydreaming. And horticulturists are also on hand during the day to give tours of the park’s greenery, including an interpretive garden full of regional Caribbean plants. Up above, 254 balcony staterooms and 70 window-view staterooms flank the park to port and starboard, offering green spaces below, the sky above, and wonderful mood lighting in the park at night.
Below Central Park and lit partially by enormous skylights, the Royal Promenade is a carry-over from Royal Caribbean’s Voyager- and Freedom-class ships, where it’s been a staple since 1999. Running about half the ship’s total length, the promenade aboard Allure resembles the mixed-use shopping/entertainment/residential districts in any number of American cities, and acts as a central boulevard for the ship: a meeting spot, a place to hang out, and a venue for music performances and the parade of characters from DreamWorks Animation that take over at regular points throughout each cruise—Shrek, the Madagascar Penguins, Puss in Boots, and the lot.
Almost twice as wide as the Royal Promenade on the Voyager- and Freedom-class ships, this one features the Latin-themed Bolero’s nightclub; the On-Air Club sports bar; an English-style pub; the more high-end Champagne Bar and Schooner Bar; the Cupcake Cupboard for fresh cupcakes; a pizzeria; a Starbucks coffee shop; Cafe Promenade, which serves snacks and light meals; and more than half a dozen shops, including the first Guess fashion boutique at sea.
One deck down, several of the ship’s entertainment spaces are clustered in Entertainment Place, which features a comedy club, a disco, a jazz club, a huge casino, and the Studio B ice rink, where guests can go skating themselves or watch several professional ice shows, including one themed on the DreamWorks movie How to Train Your Dragon. Just forward, the ship’s enormous, three-deck main theater offers production shows, featured guest performers, and the ship’s production of Chicago: The Musical, one of the very few full-on Broadway styles shows at sea today.
Other random public rooms scattered around Allure include the Viking Crown Lounge, perched at the very top of the ship; the 1930s-style Dazzles Nightclub, offering views down into the Boardwalk neighborhood; the gorgeous, three-level Dining Room, able to seat more than 3,000 guests at a time; and Izumi, an intimate, casual Asian restaurant with seats for just 76 guests.
If you want to work out, Allure has an enormous fitness center outfitted with treadmills, cycles, weight machines, and a Kinesis wall, and offering Pilates, yoga, spinning, and kickboxing classes, plus a nearly half-mile-long jogging track—by far the longest on any cruise ship and nearly twice as long as an Olympic-size track.
If relaxation is more your thing, head to the tranquil Vitality at Sea spa, which offers calming relaxation rooms; a Thermal Suite with heated loungers, saunas, and steam rooms; and a large menu of massages, facials, and other treatments. Alternately, you can visit the Solarium, an amazing indoor-outdoor space on decks 15 and 16, where a river-like water feature, a pool, and two whirlpool tubs separate the lounging areas into calm little islands.
In an indoor space on the Solarium’s main level, the Samba Grill is based on the popular South American churrascaria concept, where servers circulate with different cuts of meat on skewers, slicing off a slab for anyone who ‘s switched on the little green light on their table. There’s also traditional Brazilian soup, shrimp and salmon, and an amazing buffet, plus a samba dancer who undulates around the room throughout your meal.
Outside, Allure offers one of the most unusual pool decks at sea, split across both sides of the ship’s superstructure and presenting four distinct options: a traditional main pool; a beach pool where the seating area slopes right into the water; a sports pool that’s dedicated to lap swimming for part of the day and games like water basketball and water polo at others; and the H2O Zone water park, full of water cannons and sprayers, plus separate wading and current pools and a dedicated pool for infants and toddlers. Several hot tubs and a number of private cabanas flank each of the adult pools, and a pair of bars are located at the center of the deck, equidistant from all four sections.
Behind the pool zone is the ship’s sports zone home to a miniature golf course, a large basketball court, two FlowRider Surfing Simulators, a casual pizza-and-burger stand, and a launch pad for a zipline that sends bold cruisers flying nine stories above the Boardwalk neighborhood.
Once you’ve worn yourself out with all there is to do on board, you’ll need a good place to rest up, and Allureoffers plenty—some facing the ocean and others facing in toward Central Park, the Boardwalk, and the Royal Promenade.
The majority of staterooms run between 179 and 199 square feet, and offer flatscreen interactive TVs, a sitting area, a mini-fridge, and bathrooms with big shower stalls and plenty of shelf space.
Family cabins are a sizable 260 to 271 square feet and sleep six.
From there, you move up into the 13 different suite categories, which range from the 287-square-foot Junior Suites to the 27 amazing Loft Suites clustered at the very top of the ship, near the Viking Crown Lounge. Each is two stories high, with a living room below and a loft bedroom above, both of them looking out at the views through a two-story wall of windows and an extra-large balcony. It doesn’t get much better than this.
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