August 20th 2017

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Allure of the Seas – Big is beautiful

 

Continent: Europe. Country: Spain. City: Barcelona.

Allure of the Seas – Big is beautiful

By Kirsty Ricketts Travel Counsellor

Living only 10 miles from Southampton, too many it probably seems madness that I flew to Barcelona to join a cruise ship. However my reasoning was that Allure of the Seas, currently the largest cruise ship in the world, was spending her summer season in the Mediterranean following her spruce- up in dry dock earlier this year.

Approaching Barcelona Cruise Terminal, it is hard not to be taken aback by Allure's size. She takes up two passenger terminals in length and the Norwegian Epic, a large cruise ship in her own right, was docked alongside and it looked like she would fit into Allures internal promenade. Check-in was very slick and I was soon taking my first steps on board. The first thing I was struck by when I boarded the Royal Promenade was that I did not feel like I was on board a ship, here was no kind of engine noise or movement, and it felt like I was on solid ground.

After a wander round the Royal Promenade I headed to the aft of the ship to explore the Boardwalk. This area has a funfair theme with a carousel being the first striking feature you come to. With a "doghouse" and donut shop on either side the boardwalk really has a flavour of America. Further along finds a real American diner and a few play items for children and the young at heart before I finally got to the Aqua Theatre, an open-air multi storey zone used for evening shows as well as movies.

Two decks up is a unique feature to the Royal Caribbean oasis class ships, Central Park. This interior promenade is open to the sky and has trees growing to create the park atmosphere. There are small coves of seating where you can relax in the tranquillity of the open air park, sipping a drink from the park and deciding which shop or restaurant to visit next.

On the top decks there are four main pools as well as five whirlpools, a current pool and a sports area. There are six table tennis tables and a nine whole mini golf course which is interesting to play when the ship is moving and the ball moves of its own accord. Two flow riders are entertaining for anyone whole would like to have a try at surfing and there is even a zip line that takes you across the boardwalk ten decks below.

Our first port of call was Palma de Mallorca, where you can take a trip to the Drach caves where hidden within the caves is Lake Martel, considered to be one of the largest subterranean lakes in the world. The city of Palma itself is a beautiful Mediterranean style where you can wander around the narrow streets or cities the cathedral that sits high in a hill overlooking the city. Marseilles was our next stop, although you need to watch out for the fact that the port is a fair distance from the centre of the city so the transfer is fairly costly. The walk along the harbour front is very pretty with plenty of typical French cafes to sit and soak up the atmosphere.

The cruise has three stops in Italy, the first of which was La Spezia, one of the ports used for Pisa and Florence. Pisa itself is a small town so the main attraction is the Square of Miracles, the home to the stunning cathedral and infamous leaning tower. The issue you may find here is that this makes the square a tourist trap all year round. Florence can easily be combined with Pisa and is a fabulous city to visit. There are many streets to explore as well as the stunning Duomo and The Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge across the River Arno and home to over forty gold shops.

Civitavecchia is the port for Rome; however the trip into Rome is at least two hours away so you will need to factor this in if you want to see this fascinating city. The ship will not wait for passengers who do not make it back in time unless you are on one of their official shore excursions. Naples was our last stop, with plenty of options of thing to do such as Pompeii, Vesuvius, Sorrento and Capri it is a hard decision of what to do.

It is so important to get the right ship and itinerary for your needs, get this wrong and you a liable to not enjoy your hard earned holiday or even be put off cruising for life. Talk to me to get truly independent advice of the different cruise lines and itineraries so that can find the perfect match for your needs. 

Keywords: Royal Caribbean, Allure Of The Seas,