I once called Allure of the Seas “Shockingly Awesome.” Allure, along with her sister ship, Oasis of the Seas, are the largest cruise ships in the world, and they’ll be joined by a third Oasis Class vessel sometime in mid-2016. When I last cruised on Allure in 2011, she was a relatively new ship, and there was quite a bit of pent-up demand to sail on these enormous ships. There still is.
The statistics of these ships can seem daunting – over 6,000 guests and over 2,000 crew, 20+ dining venues, etc. The onboard spaces are visually stunning, if for not other reason than it is immediately obvious that these ships are huge. While there are a lot of things you can do to maximize your enjoyment of your Oasis class cruise, I think three tips rise to the top.
Do your homework – research the options available. It is entirely possible (likely) that there will be areas of the ship you won’t even see in 7 days. That’s one reason MrsMJ and I booked a back to back. Pick your favorite activities and focus on those. You can read my review of Allure of the Seas here and there is plenty of additional information available on other cruise-related websites.
Book your entertainment in advance – Oasis of the Seas debuted a reservation system for entertainment. You can certainly attend a show without a reservation, but that will be on a space available basis, meaning you’ll be waiting in a queue until 15 minutes prior to show time when they release open seats. Even if you’ve seen the show before (Cats on Oasis or CHICAGO on Allure) there’s something about seeing a Broadway style show at sea. Don’t miss the aquatic show either. I really enjoyed Blue Planet (Allure) as well. If you’re going to partake of the zip line, complete your waiver in advance too.
Keep an open mind on dining, and book most (but not necessarily all) of your specialty (and Dynamic) dining in advance – Currently, Oasis and Allure offer traditional dining with specialty options. Oasis will soon switch to Dynamic Dining, and Allure will follow next year. Dynamic Dining is an unknown for me, but I will rectify that next month when I sail on Quantum of the Seas. Assuming you intend to try one of the specialty restaurants on board, go ahead and book it in advance online, and rest easy knowing you have your desired restaurant and time. Here’s where the keep an open mind part comes in – if your desired time is not available, book something that you can tolerate (or don’t book at all) and then head to that restaurant on embarkation day. They hold some reservation times for onboard booking. In keeping with the open mind concept, don’t just follow the crowd to the buffet on embarkation day. Multiple venues are open, some free, some not. Many swear by Park Cafe. Solarium Bistro is a favorite of mine on Allure. We also enjoyed Rita’s Cantina on our first embarkation, the peace and quiet were well worth the modest upcharge.
I could say more, but I believe taking these three tips to heart in advance will accomplish the most for you in ensuring a well-enjoyed Oasis-Class cruise. These ships are like no other currently sailing, and I highly recommend at least one Oasis-Class experience for most cruisers. Cruised Oasis or Allure before? What would you add to these tips?
-MJ, October 27, 2014