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Royal Caribbean silences skeptics with Allure of the Seas

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On December - 14 - 2010

By Anita Dunham-Potter (editor@www.expertcruiser.com)

Last December, Royal Caribbean International introduced Oasis of the Seas, at the time the world’s largest cruise ship spanning 16 decks, encompassing 220,000 gross registered tons and, with all berths filled holds 6,200 passengers. Back then the massive size of the ship was the focus of every media story. Will it float? Will it fit into ports? Will it take half a day to get on and off?

AllurepoolsLast month with the launch of Oasis’ slightly larger sister ship, Allure of the Seas, the size factor isn’t even a consideration. The skeptics have been proven wrong and the big story is how these mammoth vessels are attracting a wide-ranging group of passengers. “There are no more questions that the Oasis-class ships are working,” says Royal Caribbean president Adam Goldstein.

Indeed, both Allure and Oasis are expected to carry 600,000 passengers in 2011 with some 30 percent of those customers coming from non-North American markets. The clear attraction is that there are no ships at sea remotely like them and with the launch of Allure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean upped the ante and added more unique offerings earning it the nickname “the entertainment ship”.

Parks, pools and more

AllureSolariumLike her sister ship, Allure has the wow amenities such as a zip-line and a carousel. It features the Rising Tide bar that ascends and descends from the ship’s Promenade area—with indoor stores and cafés—to its Central Park, an open-air “park” with pathways, flower gardens and canopy trees that spans the length of a football field.

The Aqua Theater situated at the very back of the ship of has the deepest pool at sea (18 feet) is by night an outdoor amphitheater, hosting synchronized swimming and diving shows featuring athletes jumping from as high as 72 feet up, and like the famed Bellagio in Las Vegas’ a fountain show set to music, laser lights, and videos. During the day guests can watch movies, football games or choose to relax on chairs located on the surrounding tiered platforms.

AllureCaroselAllure has four pools: Two are made to feel like a beach, with sloped entries you can walk into just as if you were walking into the ocean. Staterooms come in all shapes and sizes with revolutionary cruise ship accommodations in 37 different categories and unique offerings such as duplex “loft suites” that have 18-foot windows looking out to the ocean. Other staterooms have views of the line’s seven “neighborhoods,” such as Central Park, the Boardwalk, home to the Carousel, and other venues.

The Youth Zone features 28,700 square feet just for kids and teens, with Kids Avenue, a central boulevard connecting various themed play areas; a nursery for infants and toddlers; and a theater for children. This gives parents time to enjoy the adults-only retreat, the open air Solarium. Adults have their own swimming pool and six whirlpools—four of them cantilevered 136 feet above the ocean. At night, the Solarium transitions into an adults-only setting for specialty dining and outdoor dancing.

AllureParadeNew fairy tales

Eight distinct features give the Allure a personality different than its sister ship. Allure boasts a number of new venues including the first Starbucks at Sea; new restaurants such as Brazilian steakhouse Samba Grill and Mexican eatery Rita’s Cantina; a 3-D movie theater and more.

Allure also is the first cruise ship with DreamWorks characters onboard including Shrek and Fiona, which is due to a new partnership between Royal Caribbean and DreamWorks Animation. Dubbed “The DreamWorks Experience” the onboard offerings will include a “How To Train Your Dragon” ice show; “Madagascar” aqua show; character breakfasts, character meet-and-greets and other movie-themed events will take place on each sailing.

Big production shows are different on Allure as well. While Oasis has “Hairspray,” Allure brings another Tony Award-winning musical to the seas, “Chicago”. Additionally, the “Blue Planet” show on the Allure is a whirling acrobatic wonder set to Beatle tunes.

And more ‘fare-y’ tales
Last year with the launch of Oasis of the Seas fares were at a premium since there was no other ship at sea like it. What a difference a year makes as Allure enters the market.

AllureWaterShowStewart Chiron, a cruise industry expert who is nationally recognized as The Cruise Guy, notes the fares during Oasis’ launch late last year and into the first quarter this year averaged $1,471 per person based on double occupancy for an inside stateroom – at the time double the fare for similar digs on other top notch cruise ships. With Allure’s entrance into the Caribbean scene thus doubling capacity fares have gone down – a lot. Chiron notes that Allure’s fares are 31 percent less than Oasis’ fares a year ago averaging $1069 per person. Fares for both vessels going into 2011 are very similar with Oasis averaging a slightly higher premium at $1104 per person. This of course is good news for families wanting to try out Oasis and Allure, but were turned off by last year’s higher price tag.

Allure of the Seas like Oasis sails from Port Everglades and the world’s largest cruise ship terminal. Amazingly with this state-of-the-art facility Royal Caribbean is able to get passengers from curbside to the vessel in just 15 minutes – a feat other large ship cruise operators are envious of.

Royal Caribbean’s “Nation of Why Not?” campaign defines its fleet as the ideal destination to declare independence from ordinary cruise vacations. Clearly, Allure and Oasis are anything but ordinary and the growing number of passengers flocking to these ships has other cruise lines wondering what they can do to top it.

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