Note: With the opening of a completely new Royal Caribbean cruise terminal in Galveston and the introduction of its largest ship ever to sail from Texas — Allure of the Seas — Cruzely was invited to sail on the inaugural trip from the island. The four-day cruise leaves Galveston, headed to Cozumel. I’ll be live-blogging the experience each day to share what it’s like.
You can read our other days here:
- Allure of the Seas Galveston Inaugural (Live Blog Day 1): Making Texas Cruise History!
- Allure of the Seas Galveston Inaugural (Live Blog Day 3): This Much Fun in Mexico… Without a License?
It’s Day 2 aboard Allure of the Seas as the ship continues its first voyage from Galveston. Today was a sea day on the way to Cozumel, and that meant a chance to get around the huge ship to see and experience all the things there are to do aboard.
After a late night (and a long day) during the first day of the cruise, we took our time getting up and about in the morning, but we couldn’t sleep in too late. That’s because since this cruise is a trip focused on travel partners and media, there was an entire “immersion” session focused on the new Icon of the Seas starting sharp at 9 a.m.
This session was led by Jay Schneider, who is the Chief Product Innovation Officer at Royal Caribbean. That’s a fancy title, but when it comes to new ships and concepts, he’s the lead on pushing the envelope of what’s possible on a cruise ship.
And if you’ve followed any of the news on Icon of the Seas (you can see our coverage of it here), then you know it’s got a whole lot that’s new. This session dove into a lot of the details on the ship, including a chance to do a 3-D tour of several areas… but being careful not to release any details that aren’t yet public.
During the session, Jay offered up a number of details about the new ship, including some facts and figures that we haven’t heard anywhere else. For example, all the staterooms — with the exception of interior cabins — will be larger. The main promenade on the ship will be two decks and the venues lining the promenade will be open to the area instead of having closed facades. On the top deck, the new neighborhoods, waterpark, and massive pools have been shared publicly, but it was shared that the new ship will have 60% more water on the pool deck than the Oasis class.
Some more figures that we found interesting: The tonnage comes in at greater than 250,000 gross tons (Oasis-class ships like Allure of the Seas are around 235,000). It will hold 7,508 passengers at max capacity. There are 23 new food and beverage experiences. And there will even be escalators to get you around certain areas of the ship instead of dealing with elevators or stairs.
You can read more about Icon of the Seas here, but sitting in on the information session, it’s obvious that this ship is going to be a big push to another level in cruising.
Hitting the Pool Deck and Solarium
Following the session, it was time to take advantage of the good weather and spend some time on the pool decks of Allure. While it’s been a bit cloudy, there was still a chance to get some sun. And with temperatures in the 70s and a light breeze, it’s actually been extremely comfortable.
One thing I’ve noticed however, is that the seas have had some moderate swells. As a result, the ship has rocked quite a bit today. It’s actually more than I’d expect on a ship this large. It’s not enough to make you sick, but there’s some definite weaving when walking back and forth on the ship!
To get some sun, we spent time on the main pool deck before heading over to the Solarium a little later. Since the ship is sailing a bit more than half full (I heard there are about 3,700 passengers onboard), there’s been no trouble finding a spot to enjoy the weather.
The one issue? The pools have felt like an ice bath! We planned to take a dip in the Solarium pool, only to say “Nope!” the instant we touched the water. Instead, we had to settle for the hot tub. It’s a rough life.
For lunch, we stopped in the Solarium Bistro. I like eating here on Oasis-class ships as it’s smaller than the main buffet and the food options just seem better to me. But the secret is definitely out. Heading in around 12:30, there was a line that snaked around the entire room, and it took a good 10-15 minutes before we could grab something to eat — and that’s with the ship not completely full. Next time I’d plan to eat a littler earlier to avoid the wait.
Non-Stop Things to Do in the Afternoon
The afternoon saw more time to check out all the things to do around Allure of the Seas. During the day we played a game of putt-putt, we took the zipline across the back of the ship, and played ping-pong.
But there was also a lot going on during the day as well. During the afternoon we checked out the Sexiest Man Competition, which is always hilarious (including the answer one guy gave to “What sort of fruit would you be and why?” when he said he would be grape because he’s as juicy as they come). The five brave guys that volunteered to participate had the entire crowd at the Aqua Theater rolling.
And then there was the production of Mamma Mia! put on in the theater. Now, I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of the musical. It’s just not my taste. But my wife was interested in seeing it and while we didn’t stay for the entire two-and-a-half-hour production, the large chunk that we watched was extremely well done.
If you’re a fan of the musical, then you don’t want to miss it. And if you’re not… well, it doesn’t hurt to entertain your wife with heading to the show anyway.
The Ship Transforms With Formal Night (Central Park, Anyone?)
Tonight was formal night on the ship, and it’s always fun to head back to your room in the afternoon, relax in the cabin for a bit, dress up, and then see that the entire ship has transformed from t-shirts and shorts to dresses and suits.
In this case, we did our part, getting dressed up and heading to the main dining room. I must say that my one big issue with eating in the dining room is that it’s normally slow service. I’m not the sort of person that wants to have an hour-and-a-half meal… even on vacation.
But tonight, the entire experience was similar to what you see at a regular restaurant. We were seated right away, our order was taken quickly, and then each course was brought out just a few minutes later. It wasn’t rushed at all, but it also wasn’t a ton of sitting and waiting. Two thumbs up in my book!
After dinner, since we had already hit the production show earlier in the afternoon, we had an evening where there was nothing on the schedule that we had to plan around. Instead, we were able to just enjoy each other’s company and the ship.
My wife and I first headed to Rising Tide bar. If you’re not familiar, it’s a large platform in the middle of the promenade that rises to Deck 8 in Central Park. We sat, had a drink, and watched as we slowly lifted up above the rest of the ship.
From there, we exited into Central Park. If you want a romantic “date night” spot on Allure, then this is my recommendation. The weather was comfortable with a nice breeze. The winding path and foliage provide lots of privacy so it feels like you’re on your own even though you are on a cruise ship. And tonight there was a three-piece band lightly playing mellow jazz that drifted through the air.
Hanging out here was a perfect cap on a nice evening… although I might have had one more mojito than I really needed!
On Day 3 the ship is in Cozumel.
- I think we’ve all seen how service and quality has seemed to suffer seemingly everywhere on land since the pandemic. It’s jumped out to me how Allure of the Seas seemed to have avoided that. I’m amazed at how clean everything is around the ship. The service is great. It’s a nice change from what I think many of us have gotten used to back home.
- During the talk on Icon of the Seas, they talked about “tradition, evolution, and revolution” of the ships and venues. One venue that was mentioned about “tradition” and will always be on Royal Caribbean ships is the Schooner Bar. That stood out to me because personally, the bar has never been a spot that I’ve had to visit. Last night I saw that it wasn’t particular full in the evening, either. What am I missing?