Monday, November 29, 2010

Allure of the Seas--Is It Too Big?

How big is too big for a cruise ship?

Royal Promenade is a busy avenue
That’s a question people have asked since I returned from a special two-day media voyage on Royal Caribbean’s newest mega-ship. It’s a concern I had, too. Would its size overwhelm guests? Would they continually find themselves lost at sea? Would crowds of people defeat the purpose of relaxing on vacation?

Central Park viewed from an upper deck
Not to worry: Allure of the Seas is a modern marvel—beautifully decorated, cleverly designed, accommodating of guests’ needs, and easily navigated by directionally challenged people like myself (thanks to the interactive maps found on every deck for providing easy-to-follow directions to any location onboard).

Interior balconies have great views, too
Able to accommodate 5,400 guests and more than 2,300 crew members, Allure is the largest cruise ship in the world. Yet its spaces are manageable due to the neighborhood concept pioneered by Royal Caribbean on the Oasis of the Seas and further refined on the Allure.

“We were determined to create a variety of spaces to end the thoughts of the ship being too big,” says Adam Goldstein, President and CEO or RCCL. “Because this ship is so large, we can afford to make numerous smaller spaces that all work well together,” he adds.

Captain Hernan Zini agreed: “Despite its size, guest experiences in many venues are quite intimate. For example, walk through Central Park at night and you’ll feel like you’re alone there, or stroll by moonlight on deck 14 for fantastic views of the front of the ship.” He was right.

Along with Oasis, Allure of the Seas features seven neighborhoods highlighted by lush Central Park. Open to the sky, it’s a gardener’s dream with live plants and a “green” wall covered with vines flowing across 25 feet and soaring five decks high. A custom-designed irrigation and drainage system and micro-climate control techniques give Mother Nature a little help in maintaining this tranquil environment.

Other themed neighborhoods include activity-loaded Boardwalk, featuring a hand-carved carousel; Royal Promenade with many guest-friendly services; Pool and Sports Zone for anyone who loves excitement or just relaxing; Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center to ramp up the exercise level; Entertainment Place with multiple shows and theaters, and Youth Zone encompassing the Ocean Adventure kid’s club.

Boogie boarding on the FlowRider wave pool
Restaurants, shops, music, dancing, DreamWorks characters, theaters, shows, 3-D movies, lounges, ice rink, wave pool, zip line, rock walls, miniature golf, table tennis, jogging path, pools and hot tubs, spa and workout facility—if it can be found at a luxury resort, it’s probably on the Allure. With so many choices, passengers spread out around the ship. If you crave serenity, book a cabin with private ocean-view balcony or head to one of 16 passenger decks onboard. The choice is yours: you can party hearty, or find plenty of spaces to read, relax, and soak up some sun.

According to RCCL, the median age of guests is low 40s—keen travelers looking for a quality vacation that caters to an array of needs and preferences. That’s exactly what Allure of the Seas provides for couples, singles, and families. In this case, bigger means better.

Photos by Larry Burmeier

Read more about Allure of the Seas at

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