Life happens. As it turned out, my sweet husband and I had not been away alone for more than one or two nights in three years. Three years! I could not believe it. We are approaching 20 years of marriage (23 together) and we needed to get away. Luckily, the stars aligned this summer. He had vacation time and the boys had plans to be out of town (camp, teen tour) so I started to plan something.
My husband has been flying a lot for business this year and he just wanted to hang out and relax. I had a tough year too, so relaxing and doing a lot of nothing seemed to fit the bill right now. We did not want to break the bank (teenagers + summer = expensive). We looked into resorts in Florida and the Caribbean which were overpriced considering the fact that the summer weather here is either rainy and/or crazy humid & hot. We decided to look at cruises.
Living in South Florida means that we have been on a lot of cruises. They are easy for us. Just drive up and sail away. I researched all cruises that were leaving out of South Florida during July. I ended up waiting until the last minute to book but was still lucky enough to get a great deal on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas.
I wondered, "Could I have a romantic and relaxing vacation with my husband on a ship with over 6300 other passengers? "
Yes, you read that right. During our sailing, there were 6311 passengers of all ages and from 71 different countries. The Allure of the Seas is the world's largest cruise ship. It is 220 feet high. It looks like a building when docked. We had sailed on Allure's sister ship, Oasis of the Seas with the kids and had a great time so we knew that the ship was nice but we were concerned that perhaps this giant floating resort might not be the most relaxing choice but we booked it anyway.
Luckily our concerns were unfounded. Royal Caribbean has figured out a way to sail with all of those people and have so many different things going on that the ship never feels crowded. I am serious. They are able to load and unload all of those people, feed them, entertain them and house them and it seriously feels less crowded than on smaller ships with a third of the passengers!
The Allure of the Seas is an amazing vessel. It is truly a five star resort at sea. It has an ice skating rink, two surfing machines (Flowriders), two rock climbing walls, a mini Atlantic City boardwalk complete with a carousel and 25 different places to eat onboard. The food choices range from hot dogs and burgers to full-out gourmet specialty restaurants including one with a menu from famed Miami Chef Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine.
There is a mall in the middle of the ship which not only houses shopping venues, but also serves as an activity hub of bars, snacks and parades. My favorite bar onboard (and I visited most of them) was the Rising Tide. This little bar is a ride. You get on it, get a drink and it rises two stories to Central Park. Central park is a garden in the middle of the ship which houses a Brito art Gallery and several food venues.
|Rising tide bar!|
The entertainment onboard is not like the cruises of years past. Yes, they still have some of those funny passenger contests like Belly Flops and the Newlywed Game, but there is a dive show onboard that rivals anything that you will see in Vegas. There is a comedy club, a jazz club, a latin dance bar and more. Seriously, there was too much to do.
Yes, we were able to relax. Our balcony cabin had delightful views all week. Even though we live in paradise, there is something magical about looking out at an open sea for a week. We slept (a lot). We ate and drank (a lot). We relaxed. We hung out. We were able to have the vacation that we wanted which was perfect.
We were able to purchase a few hours of wifi onboard to check on the kids but were 99% unplugged all week. No texts, no calls, no internet. This is the bonus of cruising. It's amazing to realize how much time we spend with our phones, iPads and computers. It was really nice to sit through a dinner without a phone buzzing.
After seven days, we felt relaxed and reconnected. As the summer winds down (school starts in less than two weeks!), I think that we made the right vacation choice.
Diet cokes in Mexico have Spanish names!