How can a younger (slightly bigger) sibling carve out a distinctive niche for itself? Simple – by inviting Shrek and the other DreamWorks characters on board
When Allure of the Seas emerges from the Finnish shipyard where she was built, this new mega-ship will take the crown as the world’s largest cruise ship – beating its sister Oasis of the Seas by an impressive 5mm in length!
But the latest behemoth to join the Royal Caribbean International fleet will have to rely on more than size to make its mark, even though it boasts the same ground-breaking attractions – the seven neighbourhoods including the lush Central Park area and the Boardwalk; the AquaTheater, and a long list of restaurants and bars.
As the pioneer last year, Oasis has already stolen the limelight, leaving Allure to tackle the eternal quandary faced by all younger siblings; how to carve its own distinctive niche and unique identity? It is a point that has not escaped Royal Caribbean bosses, and the cruise line has worked hard to build a different on-board product to help Allure emerge from the shadow of its older sister.
As a result, Allure is being styled as an ‘entertainment ship’ following a string of product developments and new innovations; one of the most notable being the cruise line’s tie-up with the DreamWorks animation studio. This partnership has brought a new dimension to Allure’s entertainment offering, using some of DreamWorks’ most popular characters from shows including Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda. Passengers can expect to see characters wandering the decks for appearances in the Royal Promenade, popping up for character breakfasts and taking part in colourful parades.
All this will debut on Allure before being rolled out to Oasis and Royal Caribbean’s other vessels, Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.
Another highlight is the headline evening show in the ship’s 1,380-seat Amber Theatre. While Oasis debuted Hairspray on its launch last November, Allure will be introducing the Broadway musical Chicago in a special 90-minute version which Royal Caribbean promises is virtually no different to the land-based production. Allure’s theatre will also play host to another new feature – a 3D movie screen, which will show new releases from DreamWorks along with films from Disney and others.
Dining options on the new ship have been spiced up with a new option – Rita’s Cantina, a vibrant Mexican restaurant serving margaritas and fajitas in the Boardwalk neighbourhood, for a cover charge of $7.95. It sits on the spot where the Seafood Shack is located on Oasis. A few steps away is another new eating place, The Boardwalk Dog House, an outdoor hot-dog counter.
The peaceful Solarium on Deck 15, with its lush greenery and calming ambience, is the setting for another additional speciality restaurant, exclusive to Allure, which will open for dinner.
While breakfast and lunch will still be served at the Solarium Bistro, evenings will take on a livelier atmosphere with the new Samba Grill, costing $25 a head. This typical Brazilian steakhouse – or churrascaria – will serve as much grilled meat as diners can eat to the accompaniment of music from colourful live bands. Vegetarians may also get a look-in as Royal Caribbean is considering a non-meat option for $15.
The line has been keen to boost its shopping credentials after introducing the first Coach store at sea on Oasis last year. Shoppers on Allure will be able to snap up the latest Guess designs as the brand makes its sea-going debut with a store on the Royal Promenade and an accessory boutique on Deck Six.
Fans of pop culture icon Romero Britto will be able to browse his first store at sea and may even get a chance to meet the man himself as he plans to sail on Allure and organise his trademark painting parties.
Other than this, Allure is pretty much a carbon copy of its older sister, with a few tweaks here and there. The decor may be different in parts with alternative colour palettes and novel works of art adorning the walls, but it will still offer the same wow factor for those passengers new to the Oasis class of ships.
There’s no getting away from the huge size of this floating giant and the feeling that you’re not even on a ship, more a floating resort.
Passengers will be able to ride the hand-painted carousel in the Boardwalk or ride over it on a zip wire that skims daredevils more than 80ft through the air. At the AquaTheater, audiences can sit spellbound at the antics of the high divers and dancers in awesome aquatic shows.
Guests can admire the lush Central Park area with its thousands of tropical plants and trees; browse the shops in the Royal Promenade; scale the two climbing walls; or surf the waves on the FlowRider surf simulators.
On the accommodation front, Allure boasts the same range of suites and staterooms as those on Oasis, including the novel 28 airy loft apartments with double height windows and family suites and staterooms overlooking the Boardwalk and Central Park areas.
Allure of the Seas will be named in November in Fort Lauderdale, the Florida port it will be based at. From here, it will offer alternate seven-night Western and Eastern Caribbean cruises with prices for a nine-night fly-cruise in January ranging from £1,489 to £4,491.
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