Hubby doesn’t like to cruise. Mother eagerly seeking a cruise companion. Is that a no-brainer or what? Time to hit the high seas for a mother-daughter getaway!
Valentine’s week (sorry honey!) turned out to be the best deal on the Allure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s largest ship and my choice for our great adventure. I had heard a lot about its amenities like Central Park and the Boardwalk and its fabulous shows and thought it was something mom would really enjoy. Turned out to be a great choice. Despite a few glitches with weather and traffic getting to Ft. Lauderdale (I flew into Orlando, mom picked me up, and we drove the 4 hours down) the rest of the week went smoothly. We spent the night in Ft. Lauderdale so had plenty of time the next morning to get to the port. We brought a wheelchair for mom since she was having some hip problems, and I didn’t want her to have to walk everywhere. Great idea — gets you straight to the head of the line! Have to admit I did need some help pushing her up the five-story boarding ramp and in other spots on the ship (and almost tipped her over a couple of times — oops!) But it worked out well, and I sure got my upper-body exercise!
We chose a balcony cabin overlooking Central Park, and it was wonderful. My first time having a balcony, and I really enjoyed the openness. Central Park was great for people watching and listening to live music in the evenings. I didn’t mind not seeing the ocean as there were plenty of places on the pool deck to enjoy the view. Actually, the best place to be near the ocean was on the jogging track on deck 5. I ran almost every day and loved it — the track circled the entire ship. My absolute favorite place was the very back of the ship where you could see the huge wake as we meandered across the ocean. They had chairs available to sit and enjoy the quiet beauty, but I never got the chance to relax out there. Just kept running by it! Next time for sure.
The ship made three stops during our cruise. We enjoyed a beach day at Royal Caribbean’s private area on Labadee, Haiti, and did some shopping in the ports of Falmouth, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico. I was thrilled to find free wi-fi at the Diamonds International shops, where I used my iPad to chat with Maureen and email Dan. We’d heard Atlanta was in the midst of an ice storm, so it was nice to get in touch and hear everything was OK. We sure picked the right week to get away — couldn’t argue with sunshine, blue skies, and 80-degree temperatures!
During days at sea, we relaxed in the solarium, shopped, and explored the ship. Although we didn’t take advantage of the cool amenities like the Flow-rider, zip line, or rock climbing wall, it was fun to watch those who did. And we took advantage of all the shows, which were exceptional.The musical Chicago was fabulous, the Aqua Theater was really impressive, and we loved the ice skating show and the Blue Planet, a spectacular mix of song, dance and aerialists.
The Allure carries more than 6,000 passengers, which apparently sounds scary to some people, who think it could be overwhelmingly crowded. Yet as large as it was, we still ran into our tablemates from the dining room at various places on the ship, and we continually crossed paths with a couple we met at the comedy show. Although we never got their names, we greeted each other like old friends every time we bumped into each other! Directional assistance on the ship is unsurpassed; they have interactive screens everywhere that you can touch to find out where you are and where you want to go. Plus they color code all the hallways. (Did I mention I LOVE this ship??) As long as we saw the blue signs, we always knew we were in the right hallway for our cabin. Very handy. It did get crowded at times, particularly around the dining areas, but I think it was worse for us trying to maneuver the wheelchair around people and always having to take the elevator. Otherwise I think we would have been fine. There are plenty of quiet, uncrowded places you can escape to if you want some solitude.
The week flew by, and I was sad to see it come to an end. Definitely a special experience spending time with mom and enjoying each other’s company. Next time, though, (after she gets a new hip) we’re planning to ditch that wheelchair and hit the dance floor!