My mother Jill had a wish and that was for an unforgettable family holiday full of cherished memories and experiences. Picture this if you will: a family tour group consisting of myself, my husband, our twin boys aged ten, my sister and brother-in-law and their two children aged ten and eight, my father and beautiful mother plus two close family friends. After five days of non-stop, fun-filled activities in amazing Miami we transferred to the port at Fort Lauderdale for a seven-night cruise of the eastern Caribbean aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas.
One of the most enduring memories of this incredible holiday was how a minibus filled with laughter, singing and chit-chat fell silent as we collectively caught our first glimpse of this utterly incredible vessel. It dwarfed every other ship in its vicinity and left us speechless until the oohs and aahs began. The boarding process was very efficient and when we entered the ship and stepped into the Royal Promenade the oohs and aahs simply did not stop. It is so easy to forget that you are on board a ship and you are never left wanting for choices or options.
Our itinerary took us first to the pristine blue waters of Nassau in the Bahamas. Our family of four had two interconnecting rooms which was perfect in terms of providing additional space, particularly at shower time. One of the best moments was opening the curtains on the first morning and walking onto our connecting balconies to take in the absolutely stunning view of Nassau. There were postcard-quality snapshots to be had wherever you turned.
One of the best moments was opening the curtains on the first morning and walking onto our connecting balconies to take in the absolutely stunning view of Nassau.
Our next port of call was San Juan in Puerto Rico which was also stunning. We enjoyed a walking tour which included a number of popular landmarks as well as sampling local coffee and food. Once we were left to ourselves to fill in the remainder of our shore excursion we were always assured of where we were in relation to the port because of the sheer size of Allure of the Seas: she stood far above the majority of the buildings. From Puerto Rico we headed to Charlotte Amalie on the island of St Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our boys were thrilled to meet a number of the “locals” – big iguanas! St Thomas is another beautiful location and is full of streets offering duty-free shopping as well as beautiful historic architecture. We enjoyed another pre-booked land tour which amongst other things took us to Blackbeard’s Castle.
At the beginning of the cruise and with some initial reluctance, my husband and I relinquished our children to the Allure of the Seas Kids Club; there are a number of on-board kids’ clubs for children of different ages. We worried that our children would be upset that we were not including them in our activities while they were at kids’ club but such was their experience on their first visit that they demanded to return as often as they could.
They really enjoyed the interaction with similaraged children from all corners of the globe and all the activities they got to take part in, so much so that time spent with mum and dad was borderline-boring in comparison! On board our floating palace our kids also adored the flowrider wave machines, the flying fox, the minigolf course and the swimming pools and sports courts, and it would probably be poor of me not to mention the scrummy frozen yoghurt and ice cream self-serve machines!
On board our floating palace our kids adored the flowrider wave machines, the flying fox, the minigolf course and the swimming pools and sports courts.
Our group of 12 encountered no problems at all with dining on board and with the ship’s My Time Dining programme mealtimes were a breeze. Do remember though to pack your sports or walking shoes as the food is so plentiful and delicious that you really need an added incentive to burn calories! And while some people might have qualms about being on board a cruise ship with more than 5,000 other passengers, let me say that Allure of the Seas is so well designed that we never felt crowded or needing space. The ship also provides a wonderful array of never-ending activities for all interests and ages. We pre-booked shows for every evening we were at sea and each one was spectacular and memorable.
Our Royal Caribbean cruise provided the perfect holiday experience for our large, age-diverse travel party and in a family holiday of a lifetime crammed with unforgettable experiences (we headed to Orlando after the cruise), it was a collective favourite. It has us wanting to find another cruise location to plan ahead for.
In loving memory of my very beautiful mother, Jill.