Allure of the Seas is not your grandma’s cruise ship

Night lights glow on Royal Promenade

Got a vision of cruising that involves gray-haired folks leaning on canes, gorging themselves at midnight buffets, and displacing water in the hot tub with their overflowing bodies?

Well, you’ve got it all wrong.

Today’s cruisers are an entirely different breed. And ships like Royal Caribbean’s new Allure of the Seas are a prime reason.  “We’re attracting people who might not otherwise consider cruising,” said RCCL Chairman Richard Fain in one of the media sessions I attended as a guest on a special two-day sailing of the Allure for travel industry professionals.

Rehearsal for amazing water show

Company officials stressed that both of their mega-ships, Oasis and Allure, are “doing phenomenally well,” which means people like the concept of a vacationing on a resort at sea. “When you come on a cruise, you don’t have to plan a thing,” says Captain Hernan Zini. “Everything is right here; the biggest problem is finding time to do it all.” I discovered that was absolutely right when trying to sample as many activities as possible during our short time on the ship.

Overview of Central Park from upper deck

Cruising is the perfect choice for a lazy (or busy) man’s vacation, which is a big part of the appeal for younger career-minded folks. Families have discovered how easy cruising is because there’s something for every age and gender from the daycare center for babies to programs for children and teens—and, of course, adult activities and entertainment.

On Allure of the Seas families are especially attracted by its exclusive contract with DreamWorks , which allows it to build shows around characters such as Shrek and figures from movies like Madagascar.  Spectacular water shows featuring high divers, gymnasts, and dancing waters are fun for everyone.  Ice shows like How to Tame a Dragon amaze adults as the skaters perform triple lutzes and axels, while kids delight in watching Hiccup whiz by using every inch of the 60 x 40 foot rink. Production of “Chicago, the Musical” is another not-to-be-missed event featuring talent on par with the best Broadway shows.

Inviting pool area for young children

And then there are outdoor activities, not the least of which are the expected pool and hot tubs (unfortunately, I didn’t have time to research this amenity) and unexpected kiddie water park highlighted by colorful structures beckoning tots to shallow spaces.  Don’t be afraid to try climbing the rock wall, slide along the zip line (looking down on Central Park), or get drenched boogie-boarding on the FlowRider. None of it is as difficult as you might think (I took pictures for a colleague of her 71-year-old husband zipping when she was too fearful to watch).  Add in spa and exercise facilities, hand-carved carousel rides, games, dancing, music, parades, table tennis, miniature golf, deluxe jogging path—whew, I’m breathless just thinking about it all.

The demographic onboard changes with the seasons (families cruise more in summer and around holidays), length (seven-day cruises are popular with mid-life folks while retirees often opt for longer voyages), and destinations (North Americans love Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries), the overall age and activity level of cruisers continues to skew younger. “Even in difficult economic times, if you give people something of value, you’ll do okay,” says RCCL President CEO Adam Goldstein.

DreamWorks characters like Shrek entertain guests

Toss away any notions of being bored on Allure of the Seas; there’s just so much to see and do, you can’t possibly accomplish it all in one week.  So you’ll need to book another cruise—and maybe even decide to get off the ship when it docks at exotic ports.

Photos by Beverly Burmeier

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