If you love superlatives, this new 5,400-passenger ship is just bursting with them! At 225,282 tons and 1,187 feet in length, it’s the world’s biggest cruise ship and it features seven distinct neighborhoods (including the open-air “Central Park” and a “Boardwalk” with a hand-carved carousel), 25 restaurants and eateries, four pools, 10 hot tubs, 24 glass-walled elevators and 456 slot machines— and even the first Starbucks at sea. Yet its sheer size and open design somehow make it feel less crowded and less maze-like than some other megaships. And activities abound: choose from a zipline, the surf-simulating Flow- Rider, a climbing wall, a skating rink, the musical Chicago and a fantastic water show, among other offerings. Obviously, Allure of the Seas is popular with families, but high-energy couples will find plenty of adult-only havens, such as the Vitality Spa, the Solarium with its pool and hot tubs, and the Rising Tide Bar (which rises and lowers in the Promenade). Accommodation selections are just as plentiful—Allure of the Seas features a slew of categories, from a cozy 150-square-foot inside stateroom to a two-story, 1,724-square-foot royal loft suite, complete with a baby grand piano. Our pick is the balcony stateroom; if you want a splurge, upgrade to junior suite, which has a bathtub rather than just a shower.
Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International
Dining-wise, there’s a smorgasbord of 25 options (13 of them included in the cabin rate, although beverages aren’t). There’s a fun selection of internationally inspired hot dogs at the Boardwalk Dog House, an enormous buffet and à la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner in the main dining room. For an extra fee (about $20-$25 per person per meal), you can dine at specialty restaurants that include Samba Grill Brazilian Steakhouse, Giovanni’s Table Italian restaurant, and the romantic, fine-dining option, 150 Central Park.
Top Itinerary: Allure of the Seas sails year-round from Fort Lauderdale on seven-night cruises to the Eastern Caribbean (Nassau in the Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Maarten) and Western Caribbean (Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico). Choose Eastern if you love to shop and explore cities. Colonial Nassau bustles with duty- free shops, and yet soft white sand is only a short taxi ride away on Paradise Island.In Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas you can reach new heights on the Paradise Point Tramway, before dropping serious dollars on jewelry and electronics downtown. On St. Maarten, if you’re tired of shopping you can zipline, snorkel or rent a car to explore this dual Dutch-French isle and have lunch on Orient Beach (cabin rates start at $749 per person for a 7-day sailing and include meals and some activities; royalcaribbean.com).