You’ve been fantasizing about sailing the Caribbean since long before your tots arrived, and now that you are a parent it’s hard to imagine how you can make your dreams of romantic dinners on deck and long strolls on foreign beaches come true. Royal Caribbean has the answer for you. Grab your first mate and your little crewmen and prepare to board the Allure of the Seas for a seven-night Western Caribbean cruise that will take your family to Jamaica, Mexico and Haiti for a vacation of a lifetime that includes adventure, entertainment and even a little (or a lot of) alone time for mom and dad. Read on to find out more.
The Allure of the Seas departs from Port Everglades (the cruise ship terminal) in Ft. Lauderdale. If you are traveling by plane from out of state, Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International is the closest airport to the dock and boarding area. The fastest way to get to Port Everglades, from the airport is by taxi, which will cost approximately $10.
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Royal Caribbean also offers Transfers, bus service of its own that transports passengers arriving from both Fort Lauderdale Airport and Miami International Airport. A Royal Caribbean Guest Transfer costs approximately $29/person. Transfers can be scheduled through a travel agent, if you are using one or by calling Royal Caribbean reservations department.
Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
100 Terminal Dr.
Royal Caribbean Reservations Department
All adults boarding the Allure of the Seas will need to have a passport before boarding. Minor children do not have to have a passport, however they will need to have a birth certificate that contains the name of a parent who is accompanying them and is in possession of a passport. Make sure you have all of the documentation you need with you ahead of time. You can read more about it on the Royal Caribbean Travel Documentation Page.
Between getting through customs and the boarding process, it is best to be prepared for the possibility of long waits. Bring some form of entertainment, snacks and beverages for the kids. It will most likely be one of the few times on your trip that you will break out your portable entertainment devices.
The minute you step onboard the Allure of the Seas and see all of the ships relaxation and entertainment options, the stress from travel and navigating the masses will disappear. With seven distinct neighborhoods, 25 dining options, 2,384 crew members waiting to serve you and most important of all—complimentary care for your youngest sailors—it won’t take long for you to call this giant ship home.
There are a variety of staterooms that can accommodate families of all sizes. Some have ocean views and others have balconies that face the decks. All of the suites are beautifully designed to make the most of the space provided and come with television, telephone, private bath or shower, a vanity and hair-dryer.
photo Annette Benedetti
Childcare Programs and DreamWorks Experience
Perhaps the best feature this cruise has to offer for guests with young children, is their youth programs that serve children from six months all the way up through their teen years.
Royal Babies & Royal Tots
The Royal Babies and Royal Tots program are designed and run by early childhood experts. The Babies program provides interactive and enriching classes for parents with infants ages 6 to 18 months old. The Tots program is designed for children 18 to 36 months old offers 45-minute interactive playground session with age-appropriate activities and toys. Parents must be with their children for both programs.
Adventure Ocean Youth Programs
There are three different youth programs that include tons of fun, parent-free activities and entertainment for kids ages 3 to 11 years old.
The Aquanauts serves the 3 to 5 year old set who spend their days conducting experiments, preparing shows for their parents and playing with lots of cool toys. These little ones also have the opportunity to participate in a pirate parade and join for pirate night and circus day.
Note: Children must be potty trained to participate in this program.
The Explorers Program serves children ages 6 to 8 years old. This is a preplanned, curriculum based program that offers opportunity for art, drama, some video games and time on the sports deck of the ship as well.
The Voyager Program is designed for 9 to 11 years old. It is similar to the Explorer Program, but much “cooler,” of course. Sometimes these kiddos get a little special time in the teen and tween area as well.
Tween & Teen Programs
There is a special area of the ship dedicated to the teen and tween cruisers. If you have family members who fit into this older age group they will enjoy making new friend, playing sports, spending time in their own arcade, dancing and participating in arranged parties.
All of the programs are staffed by experienced, multilingual professionals. The programs are designed to accommodate children with special needs and are autism friendly.
Kids can attend the Adventure Youth Programs from 9-2 a.m. So there is plenty of time for parents to go on adventures of their own or get in some alone time.
Note: A fee applies for children who attend the programs after 10 p.m.
The Allure of the Sea offers a multitude of family experiences based around your kids’ favorite DreamWorks characters including Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. You and your little ogres will have the opportunity to dine and have your photos taken with special DreamWorks friends as well as watch some of their favorite DreamWorks flicks.
The Allure of the Seas is massive and with Seven neighborhoods to explore, you will be hard pressed to experience the whole ship before stepping off on your last day.
This neighborhood is exactly what you would think. Take a lovely stroll through a miniature Central Park filled with gardens and quiet nooks that offer privacy. This area is peaceful and home to several restaurants that are perfect for date night or an upscale evening dinner. Dine alfresco at Central Park Café or consider indulging in Italian handmade pasta at Antonio’s Table.
This family oriented neighborhood is home to a beautiful Carousel and Aqua Theater and offers games, casual restaurants, bars, and access to two rock climbing walls. During the daylight hours, this is a great place for playing, shopping and watching staged shows and at night the Aqua Theater transforms into a magical place where you can watch acrobats and divers deliver amazing entertainment under the stars.
Shopping, dining, shows and nightlife take place here. The shopaholics in your family will love spending their afternoons strolling up and down this neighborhood but when the evening falls the bars come alive with dancing, singing and so much more.
Pool & Sports Zone
Where does one begin when there is so much to do for every member in your crew? This fun zone is home to multiple pools, miniature golf, ping pong tables, two FlowRiders (for surfing), a basketball court and two zip lines.
Parents should be prepared for either a lot of time alone, while the kids are off having fun, or the best family game time you have had in years.There are private cabanas for downtime, six whirlpools, and bars sprinkled throughout so you can grab that beverage with the colorful umbrella you’ve been waiting for.
Want to get away from the kids? Visit the Solarium where it’s adults only. A nice option for when your little ones would rather be in their Adventure Youth Program.
Vitality Spa & Fitness
Get that facial or massage you have been wanting (or needing) for so long now. Vitality spa is the place to go to get pampered. Inside of Vitality Spa the fitness buffs in the family will be pleased to find a Fitness room where weights, treadmills, elliptical machines and more are waiting to help you stay in shape. The deck just outside the spa is a track that goes all of the way around the ship so you can even get a run in.
Just like it sounds, this neighborhood is where guests will find theaters, night clubs, a comedy club and Casino Royale. This is where many of the shows are held and nightlife goes on and on and on.
All of the youth programs are located in this fun, beautifully designed area. Everything about this space is geared for your most precious travelers. They will feel welcome the minute they arrive into the neighborhood and you will feel confident leaving them behind in the hand of capable staff.
The seven-night experience includes three exotic stops in three different countries. Each stop allows passengers to head to shore and explore a country for a day. There are excursions passengers can choose to go on or you and your family can choose to relax on a new beach at each stop.
Labadee is a private beach resort that is surrounded forested mountains and offers up pristine beaches, an aqua park and coral reefs to explore. This is a place ripe with opportunities for both adventure and relaxation.
The aqua park is filled with giant inflatables that provide hours of jumping, climbing and sliding into the sea. Your adrenaline junkies will be thrilled to find out that Labadee is home to a dragon slide, roller coaster and the Caribbean’s longest zip line.
While your young adventurers wear themselves out, you can enjoy lying on white-sand beaches in the sun.
You won’t regret taking the time to get to know Jamaica. The options for excursions are endless: ride through Caribbean waters on horseback, explore the Green Grotto Caves, or go on a jungle tubing adventure and visit Reggae Hill.
We suggest the Jungle Tubing Adventure where you will take a winding journey down gentle rapids in inner tubes. Don’t miss this chance to see the lush beauty of the landscape and then visit Reggae Hill where you can enjoy traditional music, dance, food and drink provided by the local people.
Enjoy a day of swimming, snorkeling and shopping on this stop. The beaches in Cozumel are stunning and there is a small aqua park with inflatables for the children to enjoy. Choose from a multitude of excursions including and opportunity to make real Mayan chocolate and piñatas while learning a little about the local culture. You and your little adventurers are sure to return back to the boat feeling satisfied and all tuckered out.
Food and beverages are a big part of the cruising experience and Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas does not fall short of delivering the best. There are a multitude of complimentary dining venues where you can receive table service for an array of menu types. You will have no trouble finding something for everyone in your crew. From pizza to hotdogs to world-class cuisine, be prepared to dine and indulge on almost everything.
Along with complementary dining there are specialty-dining options that allow you to reserve a night for a fine dining experience. Many of the fine dining establishments are themed and offer options that include sushi, Italian and Mexican cuisine. Consider including a specialty dining package to your trip if this appeals.
Booking Your Cruise
If you are ready to book a cruise now, you can find a variety of packages available online. We would suggest calling and book your cruise through a Royal Vacation Planner in order to make sure you get the most out of your getaway.
The Allure of the Seas offers families with children of all ages a real opportunity for a luxury getaway. When you do finally step off the ship, you are guaranteed to feel rejuvenated and like your Caribbean getaway dreams have come true.
Cost: Prices start at $649/person
Royal Vacation Planner: 866-562-7625
Does your family have a favorite cruise experience? Share it with us in the comments below.
—photos and story by Annette Benedetti
This trip was paid for by Weber Shandwick but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.