Testimonial by Hilary


Room:

We had a sea-view room with a balcony and were pleasantly surprised with how spacious it was as we had been told that the rooms on cruise ships were tiny! The bathroom was small, really only room for 1 person but it had everything and enough storage space so we could not complain. The bedroom area had the most comfortable bed Ive ever been in on holiday and plenty of wardrobe space, there was a dresser type area where the tv and fridge area were and some small presses, we had a couch and small coffee table that we hardly used anyway and the balcony was a nice size with a table and 2 chairs.

There was only room for 1 case at the bottom of the wardrobe so really my only gripe is that our other case was sort of in the way, I pushed it into the space under the dresser, this just meant that I could not sit in at the dresser to do my hair & make-up but I didnt really mind. Room service is available and we had breakfast on the balcony once, it was lovely and we tried to do it again but when the sun was up on our side of the ship it was too hot to sit outside!



Food:

No extra charge dining The varierty of food on board is amazing, we did not eat everywhere but here are my thoughts on where we did: Adagio, the main dining hall - This dining room looks amazing (very titanic-ish) and the food is great too. We chose the 'my time' dining option and on the occasions where we ate there, this worked well and we did not have to wait for a table. The menu changes daily and there were a couple of themed nights during the week, you can check the menu daily on your in-room tv, also the formal nights dont have to be super formal for you if you dont feel like getting very dressed up, a shirt for guys is enough. The Windjammer buffet - Food here is available all day, when breakfast is finishing on 1 side lunch starts on the other. It can be busy at times but we never felt crowded and there was always free tables.

The food was good and the selection was almost overwhelming, there was something for everyone all day long. Both of the above are great and I have no complaints at all about either, even though I thought they would be loud and busy they were not at all but we just preferred the smaller speciality restaurants, we liked trying them out! Sorrentos, Pizzaria on the royal promenade - Great Pizza, lots of flavours available all the time and if you are prepared to wait 15 mins they will make a pizza just for you. This is take-away or sit-in, a very popular spot but you never have to wait long. Park & Royal promenade cafes - A lovely selection of filled bagels & croisants, fruit and cookies also juices, teas & coffees. The Royal cafe is open 24hrs, very handy! The hotdog stand - Really nice hotdogs, we went here for lunch 1 day, nice surroundings on the Boardwalk.



Speciality restaurants (that we tried):

I cannot remember how much extra we paid for each but we did not think any were overpriced. Giovannis, Italian - If you like Italian you will love this, it really is authentic Italian food and we tried a couple of dishes that we had never even heard of! It is in Central Park and the decor is lovely. Samba grill, Brazilian steakhouse - I have never been to a steakhouse like this, I think there was about 9 courses. There is a starter and sides buffet and the waiters bring skewered meat to your table and cut it for you. Your table has a traffic light, you change it to green if you are ready for food and red if you are not. There are also Samba dancers entertaining. Izumi, Japanese & Sushi - We absolutely love sushi and were really impressed with Izumi.

This is the only restaurant where you actually pay per dish but it is very reasonable and you get lots of it. Definetely a place to try if you like Japanese and or sushi. Johnny Rockets, an american diner - Great american diner food, burgers, fries & malts etc. We went here for lunch 1 day and enjoyed the burgers and laid back atmosphere so much that we went back for dinner a few days later! We had booked Ritas Cantina but cancelled when we saw that everyone sat at big tables together, I know this sounds unsociable but we wanted to relax, we just didnt have time to try Chops Grille but anyone who had loved it and we decided not to try Chefs table as we thought it was a little pricey, but this price did include wine.



Drinks & Bars:

There is a huge variety of bars and lounges on-board, we tried a good few, but returned to a couple that we like most a few times! You should remember that if you go to a bar and dont see what you want on the menu a waiter will go to a bar that has what you want and bring it to you (with the exception of some specialty wines and beers) The sports bar - lots of tv's and a nice atmosphere. We got to see lots of rugby, but you should know that the waiters have no control over whats on the TV's, the main focus is on american sports but we saw lots of rugby as the world cup was on and a good bit of soccer was shown too. There is good entertainment here too, Karaoke and quizes, if this starts and you dont fancy it you can just take your drink and leave! The Viking Lounge - We really liked it here, it's very spacious with comfy chairs and nice background music, its very relaxing with great views, lovely for a pre dinner drink. The English bar - A huge selection of drinks from around the world, traditional decor, but there was an entertainment guy there that we found really annoying (taking the p out of people, changing songs and really loud) so we avoided the place a bit because of this.

The rising tide bar - This moves up and down over a couple of decks, its a nice novelty but its quite small. Piano bar - Very popular and comfy, sometimes standing room only, but the piano guy is very good. Pool bars - There are loads of these with sun bed service around the top decks, they also do daily special cocktails that are yum! Trellis bar - This is in the park and was lovely for an outdoor evening drink. Tango dancing bar (not the actual name) - Very popular but not our cup of tea! The Jazz bar - Great Jazz bar Vintages, wine bar - A really nice wine bar with a huge selection of wine with lots of leather couches and seats outside on the park. They also served Tapas which we did not try but they looked great. We also did a wine tasting session which cost €15 but you are only paying for the wine, really enjoyed this. There are more bars on-board, none of them are bad but you just cant get to them all! Nightclubs: Dazzles - Lovely location which did theme nights, 70's nights etc. Blazes - A late night nightclub with lots of R&B and rap The outdoor nightclub - Our favourite, great dance music (Ibiza-ish) its outdoors at the top of the ship, but it was not on every night.



Soda & Drink packages:

Water package - We purchased this, it was so hot that we went thru a huge amount of water and saved 20% by buying the package Soda package - I bought this, you get a special cup, but you dont have to carry it with you as there is a symbol on your sea-pass card. We found 1 soda package was enough as we could share sodas and keep getting refills. We didnt buy a wine package.



Evening entertainment:

Where to start here! There is just so much entertainment I can only touch on a small section of it.. Each day you will get a paper copy of the schedule of events to your room, this has timetables for all of the entertainment on-board (I brought this in my bag when we went out), also at the lifts there are touch screens that tell you what is on now and later and where. The Mr & Mrs Quiz, the Quest gameshow, worlds sexiest man, karaoke, iceskating, movies on big screens, cocktail shows, pre-dinner & after dinner dancing, flash mobs on the promenade and all sorts of quizes, this really is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to evening entertainment and of course there is the casino which is much bigger and better equipped than we thought it would be, all of the bars & nightclubs and the shops open late too!



Shows:

We went to see Chicago which we loved and the Ocean Aria which is a water show in the Aqua theatre, it was great too. We booked both when we got to the ship (you can do this on your in-room tv) but even if they say they are full you can go anyway, most people at the shows who had not booked got in as people who had booked probably decided not to go.. The shows change during the week, you can see the schedule for the week on your tv or on the daily schedule. There are a huge amount of childrens shows with the Dreamwork's characters but as we dont have kids I cannot say anything about these! You will also see Shrek and friends around the ship, you can have your photo taken with them, I met Puss in Boots! We had wanted to go to the comedy club and this was the only thing that was fully booked with a large queue each night for cancellations so we never made it.



Daytime entertainment:

Again there is an enormous amount of things to do during the day, these activites also take place even when the ship is at port so if you decide to stay on board there is still lots to do, if you want to! The Zip-line - I tried this and loved it, its free and you can do it as many times as you like (you just have to queue each time) I was lucky and did not have to queue for long, I had seen long queues on occasion, you cant book it so if you want to try it I would advise keeping shorts and socks in your pool bag and if you spot a short queue, you can join it. The Rock climbing wall - Loved this too and you can climb over and over for free. Again you need the shorts and socks so its handy to have them in your bag Pool areas - There are at least 6 pools, none of them are huge so you would not be swimming laps but they are great for relaxing and cooling down. There is an adult only pool which was busy but no kids!, a sports pool, a special childrens area which was really well kitted out and lots of jazcuzzi pools.

There are lots of sunbeds available in the pool area, but in the heat of the day the shaded beds were harder to come by. We preferred to stay up on the skywalk (the highest deck), it was quieter and just 1 flight of stairs up from the pools, it was quieter because there was no shade at all here (umbrellas are not allowed as it can get very breezy), the breeze does keep it cooler but without the factor 30 you might burn pretty quickly! The wave rider (surfing) and the boogie board looked like great fun and were popular without massive queues but I'm not a fan of fast flowing water so I just watched! Children! Just a small note about children on the ship, I was a little bit concerned that there would be tons of them and that we would not be able to escape them!! We spoke to a barman and he said that of the over 5000 passengers on our cruise we had just 300 children as it was September and schools had started back etc, during the summer months he said they would have approx 3 to 4 times this amount For this reason there never seemed to be a huge amount of children running riot on the ship, but they are quite strict on the times when children had to leave certain areas and most families with children stayed around the childrens pool areas and sometimes the sports zone during the day and the promeade an boardwalk at night.

Also if this is a concern for you, you will know very quickly where you are most likely going to meet lots of families and how to avoid them, this was one reason why we were drawn to the speciality restaurants.. But having said this even if I was thinking of going back during the summer, this would not deter me, who knows maybe in a few years I might have a couple with me! The different areas on the ship: The Royal Promenade - This is the main street on-board. Lots of bars, pizzaria, a cafe, starbucks and lots of shops, it was always busy and had a great buzz without feeling too packed. The Boardwalk - This is an outdoor area that has more children orientated shops, a merry go-round, but has bars, restaurants and the outdoor theatre, a lovely place in the evening when it got a little cooler. Central Park - Our room was on this deck, it is a lovely space and was never too packed, lovely restaurants and a bar and wine bar where you could have a drink outside to enjoy the park. Entertainment Place - The casino, comedy club, 1 of the nightclubs, ice-skating, the large theatre and smaller venues for shows and quizes, tons to do The Sports Zone - Including the wave rider, boogie boarding, basketball court, zip-line, crazy golf and more cafes and bars Fitness & Spa - The gym was very well equiped and there is a running track ( I found it too warm to run outside), the Spa was top-class also.



Port stops:

We docked in Haiti, Jamaica & Cozumel in Mexico. There are tons of trips in each port, you will find something for all tastes, Haiti had more sporty/adrenalin activites, Jamaica had more historical & sightseeing tours and Cozumel had both! In Haiti we did a trip with Sandbar Island trips. We went to a small deserted 'castaway' island for 2 hours where we relaxed and swam in the fab surroundings, we loved it. The boat and crew were great and the island was paradise. Then we strolled around Labadee, the market is nice to stroll around and the sellers are not pushy, the ship provided a large buffet BBQ, the food was of ships quality and we enjoyed it a lot. We could see lots of the sporty activities and they looked great, but we just didnt have the energy for them in the heat! In Jamaica we did a trip to visit a cave and to the waterfall that you can walk/climb up.

The cave was ok, but a lot of people did not like it as there were a lot of bats and parts of it were very dark and small, I liked it but the trip info did not mention the bats and dark! The waterfall was just great fun, you climb it as a group and you can hire the aqua shoes (you will need them), its not too difficult all ages were doing it and you can leave the fall at different stages if you are not enjoying it. The sellers at the waterfall were a bit pushy but our guide had us well warned so we were prepared and avoided them! A lot of people did a huge variety of trips in Jamaica and anyone we spoke to really liked it. A new port has been built for the Allure, it was almost finished when we visited and has a great selection of duty-free and souvenir shops. In Cozumel we did the sea-snorkel trip, this meant that we had to get a ferry to the mainland which takes about 30 mins and then a 20 min drive but it was absolutely worth it.

The beach where we snorkelled from was amazing and we were able to go within a few feet of the huge sea turtles, they didnt seem to mind that we were so close, lots of people dived down to them and once you dont touch them the guides dont mind, there were Baracudas and all other reef fish too, we both loved this and had lunch on the beach afterwards. We still had time for shopping when we got the ferry back to Cozumel, its great for jewellery and leather goods and there is a huge selection of shops there. Just to note that any alcohol that you buy in port will be taken from you when you re-board the ship but it will be sent to your room the night before you leave the ship.



I think I have covered most things here! I cant say enough how much there is to do on this trip and how great everything was, the staff are all really helpful too.



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