So, that brings up the picture package! On some of the cruise lines you can pre-purchase a picture package of either a set number of the ship photographer pictures, say 10 or 20 photos, or you can get ALL of the pictures they take. I thought about pre-purchasing the picture package before the cruise. But I did that before and we really didn't make very good use of it. And it's expensive if you don't like the pictures or if you don't make the time to get many pictures taken. But on the other hand, if you like even maybe 10 or so pictures, the package more than pays for itself. It's a delicate balance here!
In the end, I didn't pre-purchase the package. But in the back of my mind, I wanted to get the package. I have no idea why!!! Really, what do I need most of these posed shots for??? As I said, most really aren't great and they cost a lot! But I guess it's part of the memories and I'm a photography nut, so it's just part of what I like I suppose! So, going in, I knew I was going to have us posing for lots of ship photographer shots and see if we'd make the package work for us. Turns out - we got the package. Was it worth it? Well, the pictures are of things that I would consider to be good memories and it's rare that we have shots with the four of us together. So for that reason - sure, money well spent. But I choose not to think about how much I spent on them! However, I'd rather have spent that money on the photos than on a drink package, but that's my priority.
So.....here come some ship photos!
So, we finally were ready to go. But I haven't mentioned our cabin set up! When we booked we were able to take advantage of one of the Buy One Get One Half Off specials, so it made the most sense for us to get two cabins. I knew Keith and I would want an Ocean View Balcony, but I didn't want to pay for two of them. So, after pricing everything out, the kids were directly across the hall from us in a Boardwalk Balcony and we had an Ocean View Balcony.
We had a bit of an On Board Credit, mostly from pre-booking the specialty dining...we're food people and love to try the restaurants on board, so we made all of our dining reservations before we sailed. If you book more than three (I believe) specialty restaurants you receive a discount on the total and that discount is then credited back to you in the form of an OBC.
I've never let Alex and Megan have charging privileges on their cards, really they've never needed them. But Megan has been begging to be able to use hers. She figured she'd be a the teen club and if she was walking back, gee what if she wanted a Starbucks? Good grief - could she sound anymore like a 13 year old girl? If I wasn't with her how would she get her Caramel Macchiato? So, I decided to put the OBC on her card and to be fair give Alex a charging privilege with a limit set up. He told me he didn't need it, he wasn't buying anything onboard. But I wanted to be fair.
Also, while at Guest Relations, I got a 2nd set of key cards for their room so Keith and I could open their door - very handy to wake them up in the morning!
So, heading to Guest Relations as soon as we boarded, we again had no wait! So far the crowd control on board was really great!
But let me back up a second....I have no pictures of walking on board. Of that first experience just walking onto such a massive ship! You enter right into the Promenade, right at the Rising Tide Bar and for me, it was immediately disorienting. No feel of being on a ship, like others say, you feel like you're in a mall. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. But it's just how it feels. We've sailed on the Navigator, which also has a Promenade, but this one is wider and longer.
Yes, there were people everywhere, but it wasn't overwhelming or disorganized. People seemed to have a purpose with where they were going. Everyone was in good spirits, which I would say for the entire trip.
While at the Promenade, we also signed up for the Cupcake Decorating class for one of the sea days. Now that business was taken care of, it was time for lunch! By now it was probably nearly 2:00 and Megan and I still hadn't eaten anything since we had our morning shopping trip!
We decided to just go to the Windjammer for lunch. I'm going to just come right out and say it....none of the four of us liked it at all. We've sailed on pretty much the major mainstream cruise lines at this point, and also on the Navigator on RCCL and of every cruise we've been on, the buffet selection as well as the layout just didn't appeal to us at all. My theory on this was that with a ship that could have over 6000 passengers when sailing at capacity, if the buffet was the most appealing place to dine, and truly had something for everyone, it would be an absolute madhouse. So, as compared to other buffets we'd been to, it just didn't offer the typical cruise ship lunch selection. There was plenty of food, yes, no denying that. But it wasn't the style of buffet we were used to. That's fine, there are plenty of other choices! It just wasn't for us, and we didn't go back for lunch again.
Next up, dropping off our carry on bags and check out our cabins!
Just checking out this really cool model of the Allure on the way to the cabin, or maybe it wasn't on the way because at this point, we didn't know if we were coming or going! This ship is HUGE!
The details on this model are super cool! Be sure to check it out if you sail on the Allure! It's pretty cool to look at it when you first board, and then later in the week. You'll probably notice things you didn't see the first time!
Yes - we're finally really on board! Finally some ship pictures right?
So, off to our cabins we went....