A Texas-sized cruise aboard the Allure of the Seas

January, 2023
cruise ship

The Allure of the Seas, left, is larger than an aircraft carrier. Pam LeBlanc photo

Anyone who knows me probably wondered if I’d lost my mind in November, when I boarded the Allure of the Seas, the largest cruise ship ever to sail out of Galveston. 

It’s no secret that I’m usually happier tucked in a sleeping bag outdoors than in a fancy hotel, much less on one of those floating cities known as a cruise ship. Still, I was curious. How would an outdoorsy person who has a hard time sitting still fare on a vessel as big as the Lone Star State’s reputation?

The colossal, 12-year-old, 1,187-foot Allure of the Seas can carry up to 6,780 passengers and 2,100 crew members. It is the fifth-largest cruise ship on the planet and the biggest to ever depart from Texas.  

Allure of the Seas

The Allure of the Seas has six hot tubs. Pam LeBlanc photo

A look at the cruise ship

The Royal Caribbean’s website showed a vessel outfitted with a merry go round, four swimming pools, six hot tubs, 24 guest elevators, an ice rink, a zipline, an outdoor stadium, an indoor theater, a casino, shops, a mini-golf course, a pickleball court, a surfing simulator, two rock climbing walls, shops, a bar that moves up and down between floors, restaurants –– and, thank God, a running track. 

Read more: Fishing, kayaking and beachcombing on Matagorda Bay

So, in November, I joined 3,500 or so passengers on the Allure’s inaugural cruise out of Royal Caribbean’s swanky new $125-million, solar-powered terminal in Galveston. 

It was, in a word, an experience. 

cruise ship

Passengers relax on lounge chairs aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. Pam LeBlanc photo

Related: Family friendly fun in San Antonio (even if your kids bail on you) 

No, I didn’t hate it. And no, I don’t need to do it again, either.  

I had a blast, especially when we docked in Cozumel for half a day, and I squeezed in two scuba dives. But some things –– like an ice skating show based on the board game Monopoly or an indoor parade featuring pirate ships on wheels –– only need to be experienced once. 

Allure of the Seas

The Allure of the Seas is the largest cruise ship ever to sail out of Galveston. Pam LeBlanc photo

I’ve taken a lot of flak for this stance, mainly from acquaintances who love cruises. It’s a polarizing issue. And I get it. I see the appeal of cruises for multi-generational groups. Also, compared to other forms of travel, big ships are relatively affordable, especially when you catch a deal.  

Highlights of my cruise

But there’s a lot to enjoy onboard a big ship. So, without further ado, here are my 10 favorite things about spending five days aboard the Allure of the Seas.  

Related: Three and a half cool days in historic Pensacola, Florida 

  1. I’m a sucker for a good musical, and the ship’s rendition of Mamma Mia! would have impressed me even if I’d watched it on Broadway. Sipping a cocktail and watching the show in a glitzy theater while the entire venue gently swayed just added to the experience.
  2. I’m an avid water skier and was hoping I could master stand-up surfing on the ship’s surf simulator. I never graduated from boogie boarding but had a blast trying.
  3. My last night on the ship, country-pop singer Kelsea Ballerini performed on the outdoor stage, while the first real cold front of the season whipped through. Someone from the ship handed out beach towels to the audience members, and Ballerini never complained – she just put on a great show. 
  4. I’m curious about the inner workings of such a huge ship, and I geeked out during a behind-the-scenes tour of the engine room, where the head engineer along with the ship’s environmental officer explained everything I ever needed to know about  Azipods, water purification, and recycling.  

cruise ship

Linda and Dave Scott of Plano relax on the deck of the Alllure of the Seas. Pam LeBlanc photo

5. I randomly met Linda and Dave Scott, a Plano couple in their early eighties who were perched on deck chairs in matching shirts that said, “Cruising through life one port at a time.” The November cruise marked their 62nd  ocean excursion. And after a two-year hiatus while the pandemic raged, they’d booked a total of six cruises in 2022, they told me. 

6. Our ship stopped for about six hours in Cozumel, and I squeezed in two scuba dives along the island’s gorgeous coral reef. Highlights of the dives? A spotted eagle ray, a puffer fish, a peacock flounder, and a host of blue, pink, and yellow schools of fish.  

7. The best bar on the ship –– a cozy British pub –– made me feel exactly like I was sipping my old fashioned in London.  

Allure of the Seas

Chris LeBlanc rides a carousel aboard the Allure of the Seas. Pam LeBlanc photo

8. One evening I returned to my cabin to discover the attendant had formed my bath towel into the shape of a bat and hung it from the ceiling. 

9. I vowed to avoid the elevators and take the stairs, and my quads burned by the end of each day – in a good way. I got plenty of exercise. 

10. But the best part of all? Just sitting on the balcony of my cabin on the tenth floor, watching the ocean scroll past. 

Allure of the Seas

Passengers stroll through Central Park aboard the Allure of the Seas. Pam LeBlanc photo

If You Go

Getting there:

It takes about four hours to drive 190 miles from Austin to Galveston, where I picked up boarded the Allure of the Seas at Royal Caribbean’s new terminal. 

Stay:

Aboard the ship, of course.

Do:

Eat, boogie board, watch shows, gamble, eat again, soak in a hot tub, run on the track, play mini golf, eat, ride the merry go round, play pickleball, watch a belly flop contest, eat, go to an ice skating show, watch a parade, sit on the deck, and eat once more.  

Eat & Drink:

The ship features eight complimentary eateries, plus 10 specialty restaurants, where passengers pay an additional fee to dine. There are also numerous bars. crab.

Pro Tip:

Check the Royal Caribbean’s website for deals. (One recent special touted a seven-day Western Caribbean Cruise on the Allure of the Seas for $411 per person.)  

Follow Austin Travels


Austin Travels is a women-owned, Austin-based travel magazine committed to highlighting destinations in Texas and beyond through the lenses of diverse and talented writers.

Subscribe

The Driskill: A Staycation Steeped in History

The Driskill: A Staycation Steeped in History

A Texas-sized cruise aboard the Allure of the Seas

A Texas-sized cruise aboard the Allure of the Seas

January Festivals: Top 10 Texas events this month

January Festivals: Top 10 Texas events this month

Experience holiday magic in these 15 Texas Towns

Experience holiday magic in these 15 Texas Towns

November’s Top 10 Texas Festivals

November’s Top 10 Texas Festivals

A Dozen Central Texas Pumpkin Patches Near Austin

A Dozen Central Texas Pumpkin Patches Near Austin

October Festivals: 10 Texas Celebrations to check out this month

October Festivals: 10 Texas Celebrations to check out this month

Fishing, kayaking and beachcombing on Matagorda Bay

Fishing, kayaking and beachcombing on Matagorda Bay

Gone glamping: Get away, comfortably, this fall near Austin

Gone glamping: Get away, comfortably, this fall near Austin

September Festivals: Celebrate in these 10 Texas Towns this Month

September Festivals: Celebrate in these 10 Texas Towns this Month

Relax and unwind in Round Top, Texas

Relax and unwind in Round Top, Texas

Cozy up around a firepit at a Valencia hotel this fall

Cozy up around a firepit at a Valencia hotel this fall

August Festivals: 10 Texas towns to visit this month

August Festivals: 10 Texas towns to visit this month

Seeking out adventure and finding respite at Horseshoe Bay Resort

Seeking out adventure and finding respite at Horseshoe Bay Resort

Family friendly fun in San Antonio (even if your kids bail on you)

Family friendly fun in San Antonio (even if your kids bail on you)

Bastrop State Park: A backyard gem, then and now

Bastrop State Park: A backyard gem, then and now

Eight beginner-friendly places to paddle in Central Texas

Eight beginner-friendly places to paddle in Central Texas

July Festivals: 10 Towns to Visit this Month

July Festivals: 10 Towns to Visit this Month

Nine Nearby, Natural Spots to Keep Cool this Summer

Nine Nearby, Natural Spots to Keep Cool this Summer

June festivals: 10 Texas Towns Worth a Trip

June festivals: 10 Texas Towns Worth a Trip

Hiking, horses and history at Hill Country State Natural Area

Hiking, horses and history at Hill Country State Natural Area

Explore the great outdoors in little Castell, Texas

Explore the great outdoors in little Castell, Texas

Camping out at Enchanted Rock

Camping out at Enchanted Rock

Walk in the footsteps of Judge Roy Bean in little Langtry, Texas

Walk in the footsteps of Judge Roy Bean in little Langtry, Texas

Getting back to nature at the Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary

Getting back to nature at the Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary

Heading to Brenham? You’re in for a treat

Heading to Brenham? You’re in for a treat

5 hotel pools ideal for beating Austin’s summer heat

5 hotel pools ideal for beating Austin’s summer heat

Thirteen things to love about Lubbock

Thirteen things to love about Lubbock

May Festivals: 10 Texas towns worth a trip this month

May Festivals: 10 Texas towns worth a trip this month

Glamping out at Onera Fredericksburg

Glamping out at Onera Fredericksburg

Six places to park your campervan in Texas this Spring

Six places to park your campervan in Texas this Spring

5 fun family-friendly experiences on the Texas Coast

5 fun family-friendly experiences on the Texas Coast

April Festivals: Celebrate blooms, berries and birds at these top 10 Texas events

April Festivals: Celebrate blooms, berries and birds at these top 10 Texas events

Go wild: A dozen spots to see Texas bluebonnets and wildflowers

Go wild: A dozen spots to see Texas bluebonnets and wildflowers

A new way to ride: Take an E-bike for a spin

A new way to ride: Take an E-bike for a spin

March Festivals: 10 Texas Celebrations Worth a Trip

March Festivals: 10 Texas Celebrations Worth a Trip

Three Texas sips to warm you up this winter

Three Texas sips to warm you up this winter

February Festivals: Top 10 Texas celebrations to check out this month

February Festivals: Top 10 Texas celebrations to check out this month

January Festivals: Top 10 Texas events this month

January Festivals: Top 10 Texas events this month

Weekend getaway: Carefree in Concan at 7 Bluff Cabins

Weekend getaway: Carefree in Concan at 7 Bluff Cabins

A winter retreat at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines

A winter retreat at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines

10 Magical Holiday Hotels to Check off Your List

10 Magical Holiday Hotels to Check off Your List

Seeking relaxation and uncovering empathy at Miraval Resort

Seeking relaxation and uncovering empathy at Miraval Resort

Texas towns shining bright this holiday season

Texas towns shining bright this holiday season

Soaking in the holidays and Austin’s history at the iconic Driskill Hotel

Soaking in the holidays and Austin’s history at the iconic Driskill Hotel

Martin Dies Jr. State Park is an East Texas treasure

Martin Dies Jr. State Park is an East Texas treasure

Make your way to Matagorda Bay for coast without the crowds

Make your way to Matagorda Bay for coast without the crowds

Fishing up old memories and making new ones at Inks Lake State Park

Fishing up old memories and making new ones at Inks Lake State Park

FIRST LOOK: Inside Chef Tim Love’s new Fort Worth shipping container hotel

FIRST LOOK: Inside Chef Tim Love’s new Fort Worth shipping container hotel

Go to Garner this fall for the Frio, foliage and family fun

Go to Garner this fall for the Frio, foliage and family fun

Wurstfest: New Braunfels’ epic Bavarian bash is back

Wurstfest: New Braunfels’ epic Bavarian bash is back

Discover the diversity of LBJ National Grasslands

Discover the diversity of LBJ National Grasslands

November Festivals: Top 10 Texas events to check out

November Festivals: Top 10 Texas events to check out

20 Texas pumpkin patches ripe with fall fun

20 Texas pumpkin patches ripe with fall fun

October festivals: 10 top Texas celebrations to check out

October festivals: 10 top Texas celebrations to check out

Falling for Fredericksburg: Sample all this Hill Country haven has to offer

Falling for Fredericksburg: Sample all this Hill Country haven has to offer

Central Texas Camping Guide

Central Texas Camping Guide

A fall paddle down the Devils

A fall paddle down the Devils

5 nearby parks perfect for an RVshare road trip

5 nearby parks perfect for an RVshare road trip

September festivals: 10 top Texas events

September festivals: 10 top Texas events

Texas Glamping Guide

Texas Glamping Guide

Women, wind and waves: Surfing for adventure

Women, wind and waves: Surfing for adventure

Dive in: 7 swimming holes and natural spots to splash into near Austin

Dive in: 7 swimming holes and natural spots to splash into near Austin

Girls getaway: 24 hours in San Antonio’s Historic Pearl District

Girls getaway: 24 hours in San Antonio’s Historic Pearl District

A downtown Houston hotel reimagined –– plus 5 things to do nearby

A downtown Houston hotel reimagined –– plus 5 things to do nearby

Texas 2021 Beach Guide

Texas 2021 Beach Guide

A true escape: Domovina Ranch in Smithville

A true escape: Domovina Ranch in Smithville

Royal treatment: 24 hours of spa bliss at one of Houston’s poshest hotels

Royal treatment: 24 hours of spa bliss at one of Houston’s poshest hotels

7 magical things to do with kids in Big Bend and West Texas

7 magical things to do with kids in Big Bend and West Texas

Photo Essay: The missions of San Antonio

Photo Essay: The missions of San Antonio

Becoming a birder at Galveston’s FeatherFest

Becoming a birder at Galveston’s FeatherFest

Seminole Canyon’s world-class rock art is a lens to history

Seminole Canyon’s world-class rock art is a lens to history

Need a break? An Archer Hotel Austin staycation, plus Domain shopping guide

Need a break? An Archer Hotel Austin staycation, plus Domain shopping guide

Discovering Surfside Beach, a Texas Gulf Coast treasure

Discovering Surfside Beach, a Texas Gulf Coast treasure

Nature and nurture: Hill Country wellness retreat offers a salve for the soul

Nature and nurture: Hill Country wellness retreat offers a salve for the soul

Gruene Hall: Daytrip to this timeless Texas treasure

Gruene Hall: Daytrip to this timeless Texas treasure

Everyone’s an artist at Amarillo’s Cadillac Ranch

Everyone’s an artist at Amarillo’s Cadillac Ranch

Get away while giving back to foster children at stunning Hill Country glamping spot

Get away while giving back to foster children at stunning Hill Country glamping spot

Plan Your Outdoorsy Adventure

Plan Your Outdoorsy Adventure

Discover history and simple pleasures in Baffin Bay

Discover history and simple pleasures in Baffin Bay

Texas bluebonnets are back! 10 wildflower hotspots

Texas bluebonnets are back! 10 wildflower hotspots

8 Great State Parks for Camping with Kids

8 Great State Parks for Camping with Kids

Fishing and Sea Turtles and Birding, Oh My: A weekend at South Padre Island

Fishing and Sea Turtles and Birding, Oh My: A weekend at South Padre Island

Relax and relish the coastal charms of Rockport

Relax and relish the coastal charms of Rockport

Social distancing in sleepy Sonora: Escape to a luxury ranch resort 3 hours from Austin

Social distancing in sleepy Sonora: Escape to a luxury ranch resort 3 hours from Austin

Lessons in life and death on the beach in Port Aransas

Lessons in life and death on the beach in Port Aransas