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Allure of the Seas

Size Matters

By Patricia Mack

Allure of the Seas arriving in Ft Lauderdale

Oasis of the Seas may be one year older than the Allure of the Seas, but it's Allure that is the "big" sister, exceeding Oasis' considerable length by 5 millimeters and thus claiming the title of "world's largest cruise ship."

Those 5 millimeters — all of 0.2 inches — were the source of some hilarity on board the inaugural voyage out of Fort Lauderdale this month, as Richard D. Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., scratched his head trying to recall when he had authorized the change-work order.

"I thought I was the CEO," he joked about the affable Capt. Hernan Zini, who authorized the alteration which gives him bragging rights to the title of master of the largest cruise ship on the seas. The two ships are almost mirror images as a quick review of their stats reveal. These two enormous ships each have 16 decks and encompass 225,282 gross registered tons and carry 5,400 guests at double occupancy. There are 2,700 staterooms, 1,956 balconies, 24 guest elevators, and 2,165 crew members. Both ships alternate a Western Caribbean with an Eastern Caribbean seven-night itinerary from the home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

Allure of the Seas' Central Park
Allure of the Seas' AquaTheater

The ships also share the seven neighborhoods design, AquaTheater, glitzy stores, rock climbing, a zip-line across the ship and multiple swimming pools. And both have exceeded company projections for success, measured in advance bookings.

"Allure was the second ship," said Fain. "We didn't think there'd be the interest in her to rival Oasis, but it has." Not only are both ships popular among the cruising public, but Royal Caribbean's other ships that visit the Caribbean are also doing well, despite what some pundits predicted would be a slump due to the popularity and publicity that follows the two sisters.

Despite the lookalike features, there was some serious "tweaking" that took place after Oasis set sail last year and before construction of the $1.5 billion Allure was completed in Turku, Finland a few months ago.

"We had a document some 77 1/2 pages thick containing feedback on what was and was not working as well as we had hoped on Oasis," said Fain.

Which led to some alterations such as converting the healthy eating fine dining restaurant at the Solarium into a Brazilian churrascaria (steak house) called Samba Grill. Passengers, Royal Caribbean found, may eat healthily at breakfast and lunch (which is still served at the Solarium Bistro) but come dinner — cottage cheese and pears don't cut it. However, healthy offerings are now a regular feature on the nightly dinner menu at Adagio, the ship's main dining room.

Play space for children on Allure of the Seas

A donut shop on the Oasis' Boardwalk became the Boardwalk Dog House on Allure with sausages, breads and toppings that are proving irresistible. Lines, as they say, are out the door.

There were also upgrades to Vintages, a charming wine bar in the ship's Central Park. The Amber Theater, hosts full production Broadway plays such as Chicago and Hairspray as well as 3-D movies.

And perhaps one of the most important departures — an alliance with DreamWorks and its cast of characters who roam the ship, take part in elaborate parades, and will host characters breakfasts and other family-oriented programs. The ship made history again by naming Princess Fiona — a 3-D character of Shrek fame — as Allure's godmother.

"Nothing about this ship is 'the usual'," said Fain. "So why should the godmother be?" Despite his enthusiasm for Fiona, Fain admits that he was skeptical about the partnership with DreamWorks. "We're not in the movie business," he said. "I wasn't at all sure this was the right thing for us." His opinion has changed.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks' CEO, on hand for the inaugural, said he is pleased and excited with the initial launch and enthusiastic about the future. "It is a first and exceptional step for us," Katzenberg said. "I think we have enormous possibilities here and as you may have noticed, I don't dream small."

For additional information about booking a cruise on Allure of the Seas or Oasis of the Seas visit www.cruiseroyalcaribbean.com.

See our Oasis of the Seas Feature
See our Feature on Allure of the Seas' Chef Molly Brandt

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