Allure of the Seas

28 June - 5 July 2015. Filed under category Travel.

In 2011, at the very start of my nomadic wanderings, my dad took my family on a Mediterranean cruise. Now, four years later, it was time for a repeat performance.

The Allure of the Seas

The Allure of the Seas

This cruise ship is one big lady! The biggest in the world, in fact, at 362m (1,187 ft) long, 63m (208 ft) wide and 72m (236 ft) above sea level. She’s a bit of a porker though, weighing in at 100,000 tons. A staggering 6,000 guests are served by, in the word of their own promotional video, an ‘army’ of 2,400 crew members.

The Allure of the Seas is the younger sister of the Oasis of the Seas. I simply love the fact that the Allure is 5 cm (2 in) longer than the Oasis, or 0.01% longer. How can something so big be so petty. If the Allure would be travelling at 4,983km/s relative to the Oasis, then due to Einstein’s law of relativity, the Allure would contract to just under Oasis’s length. This is unlikely though since the max speed of the Allure is only 0.0116 km/s (41.9km/h  or 26mph). It’d have to be 428,000 times faster to lose its position as the biggest cruiser in the world.

The whole family.

Let’s go through what’s inside this monstrosity. Deck 4 has a Casino, a theatre and an Ice Skating rink. Deck 5 has the grand promenade, a little mini-town complete with shops, restaurants and street lights. It also has a 700m (0.43 mile) long running track around the circumference of the ship. A stair from the track leads to the gym on Deck 6. (Yes, I’m finally back at the gym after a 1.5 year long break.) Deck 6 also has a board walk with an old-fashioned carousel and a water-show theatre. Deck 7 has two rock-climbing walls. Deck 8 has a park. I’ll say that again. Deck 8 has a frickin’ park. Trees and everything. Deck 15 has pools, hot tubs and other water features as well as a mini-golf course. Deck 16 has the best thing on the entire ship, two Flow Riders. More on that later. Deck 17 is the out-of-bounds mini-deck for the rich and famous, as well as certain nomads who just happened to make friends with the staff.

And those were just the highlights. There are plenty more bars, game rooms, restaurants and so on. But you get the idea. It. Is. Big.

The Route

Cruise Map

Day 1: Boarding in Barcelona

No sightseeing as, well, we were busy boarding the ship. Unpacking, gym, walk around the ship, explore.

Day 2: Mallorca, Spain

After a quick transfer bus, we were in the town. The main sights in Mallorca are the beach (which we ignored) and the gothic monstrosity that is the cathedral. It was properly impressive. A huge cavern of space with slender pillars supporting the roof far above, and with the sun hitting the rose window casting coloured light over half the church. Well worth the visit.

We walked around a bit, but the children only wanted to go ‘back home’ to the ship and play in the pools, and the adults weren’t hard to convince.

Day 3: Marseilles, France

Another easy transfer from the port left us in a rather unimpressive Marseilles. Due to the heat, we took a little train (on wheels) that drove around the bay and up a high hill to Notre Dame, the cathedral in Marseilles. Best thing there was the view. Then we took the train back down the hill and a second little fake-train around the old city, which I thought looked pretty dull.

This time, the adults were happy when the children demanded to be taken back to the boat and its pools and cocktails. (ok, the latter may have been entirely the adult’s contribution to the argument.)

Marseilles View

Day 4: La Spezia and Day 5: Civitavecchia, Italy

La Spezia? Civitawhat? Are they Italian pasta dishes? No, they are tiny little industrial ports far from anything interesting enough to warrant getting of the ship. La Spezia is 2 hours from Florence and 1 hour from Pisa. Civitavecchia is 1 hour from Rome.

After having discovered the Flow Rider (more on that soon) it was decided to forgo the hours spent in hot tourist busses and instead stay and enjoy the ship. I pleaded with the rest of the family to make the sacrifice and go to these amazing tourist destinations so that I could write about them for the benefit of my beloved Modern Nomad readers, but they were resolute in their decision. “Could you not have gone alone,” you ask? Heartless person! I only get to see my family once or twice a year, and you want to tear me away from them! Shame on you!

Moving swiftly on.

La Spezia View

Day 6: Naples, Italy

Naples is famous for two things: being the birthplace for pizza and Mount Vesuvius, which buried nearby Pompeii. The volcanic eruption in the year 79 AD didn’t single out Pompeii however. Another less famous city, Herculaneum, was similarly buried. Unless Pompeii is on some kind of bucket list, I’d recommend Herculaneum. It is smaller than Pompeii, but in no way small. It is also much better preserved and lies closer to Naples. I was amazed at how this 2000 year old ruined city still has entire buildings standing, with mosaics and even walls with painted motifs, all wonderfully preserved.

I also had the best Margareta pizza of my life.

Day 7: At sea, returning to Barcelona

A full day, spent on the ship, guilt-free since the only destination off-ship was a watery grave.

But what is there to do on the ship?

How to spend a day on the Allure

Imagine a size-zero photo model being given lemon-merengue pie and asked to cut herself a slice, two days before shooting her hope-to-be breakthrough movie in Hollywood. Imagine the slice she’ll cut herself. That is the pie-chart showing the percentage of what I’ll be covering below.

I’ll skip past the dining. We all dine, and the Allure had average food, unlike the princely feasts provided on my 2011 Cruise with MSC. I’ll skip past the exploration of each bar’s unique set of cocktails, ‘cause it’d make me sound like a raving alcoholic. (Best Sidecar I’ve ever had though!) I’ll skip past the pool time on deck. Pool, sunshine. We know the drill. Just be warned not to go near the children’s play area. It is demoralizing to see what unrestraint joy looks like when you’ve reached your mid-30’s. (One more Sidecar good Sir!) Clubbing… Meh. Cruises are primarily for old people and families, so the nightlife is a bit sad. (I hear gay cruises are quite different…) And I trust any reader of mine knows enough statistics to stay away from the Casino.

The Flow Rider

Your first metaphorical port of call when you aren’t visiting your literal port of call is the Flow Rider. Water is shot out over an inclined surface, creating a continuous wave. How awesome is that! On this continuous wave, you can do two things. The easier one is to boogie board. You hold on to a wide floating board and get dragged along after it or jump up and kneel on it, leaning forward to go forward and vice versa to go back. The other option is to stand up on a surf board and try to remain upright for as long as you can. This is maddeningly hard, and even more so when you look at how easy the professionals make it look.

Rock Climbing Wall

Rock Climbing

I had never done any climbing, discounting climbing on various art pieces at Burning Man. I figured that it might be technically hard, especially the parts that jutted out, but I figured that with the harness in place, it at least wouldn’t be scary. I was wrong.

Halfway up the 13 meter tall wall, I encountered my first trick-grip, a loose grip which when I grabbed it swivelled around. That unsettled me. Two third’s up, I made the mistake of looking down, and my non-logical lizard brain informed the rest of my brain that I was about to die at any moment. This was also the time that my legs and arms began to shake violently from fatigue. I wanted to let go, but no. When I fell, it’d be because I made a mistake, not because I gave up. Three-quarters of the way up, and I realised that I might actually make it. And when I finally did, I was one very happy Swede, clinging on to the wall, still not entirely certain if the harness would work.

This was way scarier than bungee jumping.


The rock climbing gave me a taste for being suspended from a harness. Next up was the zip-line spanning diagonally across the ship and about a third of the length. I figured that they were perhaps a little overly safety-conscious when they insisted that I wear a protective visor to stop flies from hitting my face. We were in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea! I hit a couple of seagulls, but no flies.

Ice Skating

The ship had an ice skating rink. I never quite found out why, but there it was, so I gave it a go. It must have been ten years since I last skated, so I was pretty rusty, but I survived. Ironically, this was probably the most dangerous activity of them all, with all them children zooming around ones feet, tripping you up and adults with their sharp skates, ready to slice of your fingers if you fall.


The theatre, the water theatre, ice rink and another small stage put up shows every night, ranging from atrocious (Stand-up comedian, I’m glaring at you…) to amazing. Best thing was the Blue Planet, featuring a tree so big that it had to be built on-board the ship since it was impossible to lift in. On said tree, bark-camouflaged people lay perfectly still, appearing as roots and branches until suddenly, the entire tree comes alive with their movements. … You had to be there I guess.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vestibulum augue lectus, ultricies congue dolor suscipit, interdum ornare diam. Did you really think it would be that easy? Duis venenatis dui orci, et molestie nisl iaculis viverra.

Vestibulum efficitur risus sem, sed pulvinar eros feugiat vel. I know all your tricks. Morbi tempus nisl a porta elementum. But by all means.Duis mattis, augue nec vehicula ultrices, turpis tellus tincidunt justo, id venenatis magna dolor in ligula. Go on searching.

Travel Updates

When the Allure returned to Barcelona, I stayed here for two weeks. On Monday 20 July, I’ll go to Sweden for 5-6 days, then London for a week or two. Then I’m not sure where I’m going, but I do know I’ll return to the USA mid-August to go back home to Burning Man.


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  1. Pdragon says:

    Gustav, you left some lorum ipsum text on the end of the page. Also you call yourself a very happy Sweden.
    Glad you enjoyed the cruise.

    1. You weren’t meant to see that. Now you know too much.

  2. Oby says:

    Great blog!! Jealous much!! Love the video of you on the flow rider, it looks amazeballs. A park on ship??? A park?? I couldn’t believe it!!

    1. Perhaps instead of the next board game, you might want to buy a FlowRider?

  3. J says:

    If you enjoyed the cruises, consider the Atlantis or RSVP charters. Everything from the regular cruise and “specialized” programming for every type of gay available.

    Enjoy Burning Man, I as skipping this year to do the RSVP Alaska cruise in August. See you back on the playa next year!

    1. Sorry to hear you’re not going to BM this year, but the cruise sounds like a fun replacement! Enjoy!

  4. Burndett Andres says:

    Thanks for taking me somewhere I\’d never go on my own…as usual, Gustav. Greatly enjoy your blog even though our lifestyles have to be polar opposites. Perhaps that\’s why I find it so fascinating. XOXOXO

  5. Crys Klier-Hoffman says:

    First, the deep down inside I have always wanted to be an archaeologist me is so in love with the overview photo of Herculaneum. There is something which absolutely draws me to so many questions for which there are no answers.
    Second, long ago, when I first started following your blog, I told you about Josh and you sweetly said you would carry him with you on your adventures so he could see the world the way he wanted to. I firmly believe you do and he does.
    Third, what I saw when you were on that boogie board in the first bit of video was as close to unrestrained joy as a soaking wet man riding the waves on a gigantic ship can get.
    I hope you have a blast at Burning Man. I’ll be following the Man’s burn and the Temple burn online. If I can be selfish, please take just one second to breathe in a little extra of it all for me and for Josh. Thank you.

    1. I always think of Josh when I make that solemn first trip out to the Temple. And I didn’t even know that you could view this online. I’ll wave! 🙂

      1. Crys Klier- Hoffman says:

        I’ll wave back. <3

  6. JasonC says:

    Gustav……. !!!

    (They also have Scandinavian cruise May 2016… You could take your family 😉

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