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Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) Allure of the Seas has shown from her christening that she is more than a follow up to the largest cruise ship on Earth. In fact, she is the very largest — five centimeters longer than Oasis of the Seas, which debuted in December 2009.
Allure has already garnered plenty of buzz from the entertainment industry: “The Today Show” with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb broadcasted live segments from her, Taylor Swift performed amid week-long “Taylor-mania” activities and Adam Sandler and Katie Holmes filmed portions of “Jack and Jill” onboard. Even Oprah Winfrey chose Allure as one of her Favorite Things.
The naming ceremony was also over the top, as Princess Fiona from “Shrek” presided in 3-D. While this wasn’t the first time an animated character served as a ship’s godmother (Tinkerbell was chosen for the Disney Wonder), this was the first godmother in 3-D.
The move underlined RCI’s new partnership with DreamWorks Animation, which involves 3-D movies, a “How to Train Your Dragon Ice Show,” a “Madagascar Aqua Show” and characters from “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda” featured in Royal Promenade parades.
Overall onboard entertainment continues to impress at the AquaTheater on Allure, which presents the new “OceanAria,” a story of ancient people of the sea told through gymnastics, spectacular diving, synchronized swimming and dancing fountains. The Broadway hit, “Chicago,” is also performed onboard.
The layout on Allure is almost exactly like that of Oasis, with seven neighborhoods that spread guests throughout the ship and make Allure seem much more intimate than she is. The design is so cleverly done that there is little crowding, except for in the Windjammer Marketplace and during Royal Promenade parades.
In port, RCI has created a number of stations at the docks so passengers can reboard the ship quickly, and the process is often faster than on ships with considerably fewer guests to handle.
Allure has plenty of onboard amenities as well, from the iPod docking stations in all accommodations, unique at this point in the fleet, to new dining options. One restaurant that adds panache to the ship’s nightlife is Rita’s Cantina on the Boardwalk. It’s a combination of a Mexican beach bar and Southern California taqueria, offering the likes of tequila, margaritas, guacamole, shrimp ceviche tostados and taco salads. The cover price for food is approximately $8. Live guitar music and dancing attract passengers to the Boardwalk at night.
Another addition on the Boardwalk is complimentary and very popular, especially with families. The Boardwalk Dog House is a glorified hot dog stand, with bratwurst, hot dogs, sausages and lots of toppings. The Dog House has taken the position occupied by the heavily visited Donut Shop on Oasis. (The store moved next to the Ice Cream Parlor.)
Following its Coach store on Oasis, Allure debuted the first Guess store at sea, placed on the Royal Promenade in place of the photography store. Another new feature is the guest kiosks in the Promenade, where passengers can print out their running bills or email them, print airline reservations and keep track of their alternative restaurant reservations, spa appointments, etc. The Royal Promenade also claims the first Starbucks at sea, open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. with all the standard Starbucks choices.
Among younger passengers, Allure drew praise with the Adventure Ocean Theater and Science Lab and the teen areas, Fuel Disco, The Living Room and the Back Deck. Like Oasis, the ship has the Royal Babies and Tots nursery service.
Apart from the FlowRiders, an ice skating rink and sports courts, Allure has a huge selection of spa and fitness services available, from 158 cardio and resistance machines to a Youth Spa, Vitality Cafe and kickboxing, spinning and yoga classes. The spa has couples’ massages, a dry float bed and steam rooms for men and women.
In terms of accessibility, Allure shines, with 46 wheelchair accessible staterooms (33 with balconies). The wonderful handmade Carousel on the Boardwalk has a ramp for wheelchairs, and the basketball court, miniature golf course, video arcade and youth and teen center are accessible. In addition, all of the 24 dining and bar venues offer wheelchair seating and, like every Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship, Allure has a pool and a whirlpool with lifts.
Shipbuilders contend that every ship has a very different character, even if it is an exact construction duplicate of other vessels. Allure certainly has her own personality offering a taste of show business and a lot of enjoyment for those who sail with her.