April is a great time of the year to cruise the Caribbean’s. Its not too hot not too cold, the waters are just beginning to warm up and the beaches not yet crowded. This was our first time on one of the top ten largest cruise ships in the world – Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas.
Cruises are a great way to travel because you get to experience different places while travelling all-inclusive – well – almost all-inclusive. We would cover that later on in this review. Lets start with the deal.
For this deal we purchased an RCI travel Package.
This package includes a 7-night resort vacation, standard 7-day cruise for $1002 USD vacation cash. All this for less than the price of a 7-day cruise. What I liked about it was the ability to make monthly payments in advance. However, when we booked the cruise we had to pay for upgrades as the Allure is not considered a “standard” 7-day cruise ship and we had to pay extra because we wanted a cabin with a balcony.
Tip: If you are looking at the RCI travel package make sure to purchase the package that covers the cruise you are interested in. Also if you are making monthly payments you would need to pay all in full 90 days before your cruise.
Vacation cash can be used towards your flight to Miami.
- Day One: Leave Miami, Florida
- Day Two: Nassau, Bahama
- Day Three: At sea cruising
- Day Four: Cozumel, Mexico
- Day Five: Roatan, Honduras
- Day Six: Costa Maya, Mexico
- Day Seven: At Sea cruising
- Day Eight: Arrive Miami, Florida
Cruise Ship Cabins
We got an ocean view cabin with a balcony on the 11th deck towards the front of the ship. We were very conveniently located close enough to the elevators and walking distance to the amenities on the top decks. The look on my wife’s face as we stood on the balcony while the ship departed Miami was worth every penny spent on upgrades. The view was spectacular. The room itself was a bit bigger than on previous cruises we had been on and I liked the fact that the showers had clear glass enclosures and foot rests.
I would definitely recommend ocean view cabins. The view late at night of the moon over the ocean is spectacular.
Dining ranged from good, very good to excellent depending on were you ate. On the top deck is the Windjammer buffet area. The food actually is good for a buffet, but can get repetitive. Caribbean day is do not miss day. There was really good authentic Island food – Jerk Chicken, yams, fried plantain, and rice and beans.
The formal dining restaurants had very good sit down meals. Lobster day is another do not miss day. Service was excellent and if you are hungry enough you could order two entrees without them raising an eyebrow. On the second day we found out that they had ala carte breakfast in the formal dining area. Makes a refreshing difference from the buffet breakfast in the Windjammer.
There are a number of high end specialty restaurants. You have to pay extra to eat at these places but the food was excellent. We actually had a complimentary dinner voucher courtesy of RCI which we used at the Italian restaurant on Central Park. We liked it so much that when they had a half price special we booked again. At $30 USD Prices in the high end specialty restaurant are compelling. However when you consider that the buffet and the formal dining meals are included in your cruise, its hard to justify spending another penny, even if its for prime steak.
If you are a drinker buy your alcohol package before boarding the ship, otherwise be prepared for a shock when you get the bill. For the occasional drinkers there are normally half price deals on the first day of the cruise – take advantage of these. We got a buy one get one free offer on beer when we first boarded.There also is a daily pop package available. Again purchase these a week in advance to take advantage of the discounts.
Entertainment on the ship is amazing. I signed up for everything. On this cruise they had the musical Mama Mia! It was Broadway quality. They also had an aquatic show. It was very impressive with performers diving one after another from high up into a pool on the ship.
There is a lot of other things to do on this cruise ship. They had comedians, family shows and dance lessons. Learning Tango from Carlos was fun. They even flew in a world class ventriloquist. There were multiple dance floors – Latin, top 40 and ballroom. Also there were bars with different groups performing. Its so easy to miss things. They hand out a daily planner which is the best way to track what is going on. Download the royal Caribbean app before boarding the cruise. You can use this to pre-book seats for shows and build your personal itinerary.
The cruise ship has a casino with table games and slots. Slots were fun but no one seemed to be winning anything serious. I definitely didn’t, even though I played every day. Next time I would give the Casino a miss.
Check out list of things to do on Allure of the Seas. I would recommend zip lining for those not afraid of heights.
Island Visit and Tours
Island tours are available for purchase on-board the ship. Prices are cheaper if bought in advance. As an alternative if you know the tour you are interested in they are far cheaper on the internet or in the town on the Island. Avoid buying them on the port as prices are the same as on the ship.
Bahamas has beautiful beaches. You can either follow the crowd to the public beach by the famous Atlantis resort or take the #10 bus (called Jitney) for the price of $2.50 to Cable beach. This is were the newest hotel Bahamar is. Although the hotel is not open to the public there is an public access to the beach itself at Goodmans Bay Park nearby. Alternatively you can buy a one day pass to Bahamas Breezes nearby that includes Buffet meal, drinks, deck chairs and parasol.
Cozumel is well known for its diamond stores. Keep an eye open for the cruise sponsored shopping tour. It includes lots of discount vouchers and a free trip to the downtown area where the shops are. Stop by the Senor Frogs at Cozumel port. Drinks are reasonably priced and its a lot of fun, the servers do a mean Macarena dance.
Roatan Honduras was the next stop. This Island is a bit more rustic. Beaches are not as nice as in the Bahamas. There is some seaweed in the water. We went on an Island tour which included a drive to a beautiful villa overlooking the Mahogany Bay and a trip to an Iguana sanctuary. The Iguanas are a local delicacy on the Island and over time have become almost extinct. Arch’s Iguana and Marine Park has been active in preserving them.
Our final stop was the Island of Costa Maya. This is the ideal place to start if you are interested in going on a tour of the Mayan ruins. It was another beach day again for us which was ruined by the seaweeds. Eventually we did get in the water but not after they had spend a couple of hours cleaning this up. Take advantage of the massages at the beach. Prices are cheap at $30 USD for 60 minutes. The port itself is very nice with an outdoor pool, lots of tourist shops and bars. There is enough there to keep you entertained during the day. We even had time to watch a Mayan dance.
Shopping on-board the ship ranges from expensive to affordable depending on where you buy and when. Keep an eye open for discounts on port days. Prices on Scarfs, beach bags and ladies purses continuously dropped with each port we got to. Designer watches and jewelry seemed quite expensive to me. There was even a day they had half price entrees at the specialty restaurants and spa deals. If you do decide to shop at the ports there is nothing wrong with bargaining. In fact the retailers expect it.
- Best time of the year to cruise is generally December to April. If you don’t mind the occasional rain prices in May after Easter are a bit better.
- Be prepared for hidden fees. A mandatory tip of $14 USD per day is automatically added to the bill on the last day. The wait staff do a great ob taking care of your room and in the dining so they definitely deserve it.
- Alcohol can be quite expensive and you are not allowed to bring your own drinks on the cruise. Pre-purchase your drinks package and take care of the early bird special discounts.
- There are a couple of formal dining days so bring some semi-formal clothing.
- Internet is expensive. There is a daily fee of $15 USD a day. It really is a good time to take a break from the internet and use it for far cheaper at an internet cafe or Starbucks on the Islands.
- Book your cruise early. Take advantage of special deals and choose nicer cabins up to a year in advance. Royal Caribbean allows you to make your reservation with a $100 USD deposit and then pay the balance within 90 days of sailing.