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 previous day here:
- Allure of the Seas Galveston Inaugural (Live Blog Day 1): Making Texas Cruise History!
- Allure of the Seas Galveston Inaugural (Live Blog Day 2): Doing it All on a Day at Sea
Sometimes you wake up in the morning and the day that you expected… doesn’t turn out to be the day that’s actually in store. And often, those can be the best — and most memorable — days, especially on vacation.
Case in point: Our stop on Day 3 of the inaugural cruise aboard Allure of the Seas from Galveston.
For this cruise, the stop in Cozumel was extremely short. The ship was scheduled to open up the gangway at 8:30 a.m. and all aboard was at 1:30 p.m. Because of that, it was a question of what exactly to do in so little time.
Originally we planned to do an excursion. That way we don’t have to worry about watching the clock. But when we looked to book something on the Royal Caribbean app, just about everything was already sold out even though the ship isn’t even sailing full. Take that as a good lesson — if you want to do an excursion, then book early.
So we figured we would maybe try to hit a beach club once we hit port or maybe just take a taxi into town and explore. With so little time, we didn’t want to venture too far. But while having a little breakfast in Central Park during the morning, we decided to check just one last time…
At 8:00 a.m. — just before the gangway opened — we checked, and sure enough, a couple of excursions that were previously sold out now had a handful of spaces available. This included an excursion called “Captain your Speed Boat, Snorkel, & Beach.” It was one that we had been interested in booking, but there were no spots available earlier. This morning, there were now six spots. (Let that be another lesson… check back in occasionally to see if spots open up.)
We rushed to the Shore Excursions desk, booked the trip, and at 8:15, we were told that we needed to be at the meeting point at 8:45.
Needless to say, we hustled. That meant heading back to the room to get everything we needed for the day and then out to the gangway. The weather during the morning was perfect. Warm, partly cloudy, and looking like a postcard. That’s always a good sign.
Thankfully we were able to make it down in plenty of time, and that’s with me taking a few minutes to get some pictures of the new Celebrity Beyond (great looking ship!), which was docked next to Allure in port.
Taking Our Own Boat Out for a Spin
For this excursion, we met up at the pier, signed the waivers, and loaded up into two taxi vans for a group of about two dozen of us. The trip from the pier to Barracuda’s Beach Club on the north end of the island took about 20-30 minutes. And while most people don’t think about the ride to and from an excursion as part of the experience, it’s actually one thing I really like. We were able to watch all of San Miguel pass by, which was busy with six different ships in ports today.
Once at the beach club, we were the only group there despite so many ships in port. There was a quick safety video and an explanation about how the boats worked. And with that, we were ready to drive… no license needed, no test… just grab the life jacket, snorkel gear, know the hand signals from the guide, and hop in your own personal speed boat.
The boats themselves are 15 feet long, fiberglass, and equipped with a 30 horsepower outboard. Once in the boat, we slowly made our way out from the beach, and then it was time to go full throttle. The guide would zig-zag and circle back and forth as we followed, giving us a chance to do some high speed turns. And while the water was relatively smooth, with other boats going around, we’d cross over their wake and nearly jump out of the water in our boats.
In total, I’d guess that we were going about 25-30 miles per hour. On land, that doesn’t seem that fast, but in an open boat, cutting over waves and sitting right on the water, it feels like flying. You couldn’t wipe the smiles off everyone’s faces.
After about 20 minutes of riding, we reached the snorkel spot. There, we tied up with the lead boat, grabbed the mask and snorkel and dove into the water. Our guide led us on a snorkeling tour for about 30 minutes. If you’ve been to Cozumel, you know that the big draw is just how crystal clear the water around the island is. And having been to the Yucatan plenty of times, I will say it wasn’t the most scenic spot to snorkel.
Still, there was lots of aquatic life to see. That included lion fish (which I had actually never seen before), stingrays, and even a starfish that must have measured about a foot across.
From there, it was back in the boats for another ride back to the beach club. In this case the ride was a little longer, and once we reached past a point on the island with less wind, the water turned to glass with nobody else around. It’s just our group of boats flying over smooth water and having a blast. It’s seriously something that I won’t forget. Hell, it makes me want to buy a boat.
Back at the beach club, we tied up, unloaded, and then it was time for a quick lunch (a big plate of tacos, nachos, and a quesadilla for $8 per person) and some time to hang out by the pool before the taxi arrived to take us back.
While we didn’t have much time in Cozumel, this excursion definitely made the most of it. We were back at the cruise port at 1:00, with 30 minutes before all aboard. To think of all we packed in, and how much fun it was, it seemed like a deal for $99 per person.
Even More Going on Back on Allure
Back on the ship, we left Cozumel around 2:15. And pretty much directly after sailing from a port, you can feel a lull in the ship as many people come back, regroup in the cabin, and get ready for the evening.
In this case, we took advantage of that lull to take a turn on the Flowrider with hardly any line. If you’re into activities, then not only is this ride a staple of Royal Caribbean, but it’s also a must-do. And Allure of the Seas has two Flowriders, so one side can be doing bodyboarding (which is the basic skill) and then stand-up surfing (which is more advanced).
I took advantage, taking a couple of rides as we sailed away from Cozumel. Of course, afterwards deserved a congratulatory drink from the bar and some chill-out time just watching Mexico get smaller in the distance.
Tomorrow night there is lobster served in the main dining room, so we decided to opt for a quick dinner in the Windjammer buffet for this evening.
One thing I really like is that there seems to be more individual plated dishes since the pandemic at the buffet. With these, you just grab the plate you want and take it away. Not only is this more sanitary (fewer people touching the same set of tongs to grab something), but it’s also faster for the line, and the food simply looks so much better versus when you’re just grabbing something from a bowl and piling in onto your plate.
While we ate, we sat at the back of the Windjammer, which looked out over the Boardwalk and Aqua Theater about 10 decks below. We could see the performers warming up for the evening show. Holy cow, you can’t imagine how talented these folks are. Just casually jumping on the trampoline on the stage, they were doing moves that made ME dizzy. It was definitely a fun thing to watch while eating dinner.
As mentioned earlier, one nice thing about a ship the size of Allure of the Seas is that there is always something to do or see… no matter what you’re into.
Tonight, we watched a group called MO5AIC. This is an acapella group that’s fairly popular, appearing on America’s Got Talent. But it’s not just five guys singing. They create essentially an entire band using only their voice. There’s a beatboxer providing a drum kit completely with his voice, others creating guitar rhythms, and then that’s layered with singing.
It was highly entertaining, especially when the beatboxer had his chance at a solo and created sound effects that you can’t even imagine a human voice being able to do. The crowd loved it.
One thing to know is the show is LOUD (at least where we sat), but it’s also high-energy and highly entertaining. The packed theater provided a well-earned standing ovation following the performance.
From there, we ended the night at the Battle of the Sexes game show. This show is across the fleet, and I’ve seen it once or twice before. If you’re wanting to have a good laugh, then I’d suggest it. At the start of the show, a group of women volunteers and a group of male volunteers are called down. They form the teams that will battle each other in a series of challenges (guys versus girls), which are all silly and a bit embarrassing.
For instance, there is walking with a ping-pong ball between your knees to drop it in a hat. There is the singing competition that moves from person to person one after another where they have to start singing a song immediately. Can’t think of one or repeat a song? You’re out.
And then the grand finale is the balloon popping. Each member of the team blows up a balloon and then has to pop it against another team member. It starts chest-to-chest, and then back-to-back, eventually turning into one guy having to sit on another and then… well, I don’t want to give away the final position.
Is it a high-end production show that could be in Las Vegas or Broadway like Mo5aic? No way. Is it hilarious to watch? Absolutely.
Day 4 the ship is at sea, headed back to Galveston.
- During the early evening, I was able to tour some of the high-end suites aboard Allure of the Seas. You wouldn’t even recognize these at being on a cruise ship. Think of rooms that take up two decks, complete with 15-foot tall windows, lofts, private jacuzzies, and bathrooms that you wouldn’t believe. If you have the money, these rooms are like nothing else on the ship.
- I’m sure it’s been there for a while, but I never knew there was a swimming area at the Royal Caribbean pier in Cozumel. Head to the pier and go to the size of Tequila-A-Go-Go or behind the Cozumel photo sign. There’s a ramp down to the water (see the picture above with people swimming to get an idea). There’s no beach, but it’s a chance to go swimming with the cruise ships in the background. I saw lots of people catching photos here.