I will admit. I am not the best traveler, and I am an even worse morning person. Ever since I was a kid, if I was forced to wake up earlier than my biological clock allowed, I would have terrible morning sickness-esque symptoms. Terrible upset stomach, and a foggy feeling are not the best way to start the first full cruising day, but Ian’s 8am FlowRider lesson pulled us up to Deck 15 way earlier than my body was prepared for. Especially with the added motion of a cruise ship speeding through bobbing waves. Fortunately, I had filled up my souvenir cup with Dasani sparkling water on our way up to the FlowRider lesson. Every beverage package purchase for the cruise includes a Coca-Cola Freestyle souvenir cup, which works at the many Coca-Cola Freestyle machines all over the ship, and can be filled with soda or water at any of the bar locations onboard as well. Once seated at the very back of the ship, sipping my sparkling water, and watching the FlowRider instructors teaching Ian and a small group of others the tricks of the trade, my stomach began to settle, and I became Ian’s designated photographer. Usually, Ian is the photographer for our travels, and he has picked up a heavy collection of camera equipment to prove it. But I truly enjoyed snapping pics of him as he attempted, succeeded, and totally wiped out, as he learned how to surf and boogey board on the back of a cruise ship.
Once Ian’s hour of totally tubular action was over, we headed up to Windjammer Marketplace for some breakfast. At 9am, Windjammer was fairly empty again, and we managed to just walk right in, and seat ourselves. Bacon, a variety of eggs, breads, and pastries and desserts got my stomach kicked back into a normal gear, and ready for the rest of the day. While Ian wandered the ship taking pictures, I headed down to Amber Theater for the Port Shopping Show, to see what unique things could be found in each port. Diamonds, watches, bamboo fiber linens, and Jamaican rum cakes were all covered, and everyone in attendance received raffle tickets to win prizes at the show, and coupon books for discounted (and some free) items in the Falmouth and Cozumel ports. Though I didn’t win anything, I was intrigued by a few jewelry pieces that I ended up taking a look at when we reached Jamaica.
After the shopping seminar, I met back up with Ian, and we took a look at the art available for auction through Park West Gallery, at Comedy LIVE on Deck 4. There was a variety of work available, and there were several pieces I was fascinated by. So while Ian headed off to the Royal Slot Tournament, where the prize was a future cruise, I stuck around for the auction and complimentary champagne. “Absurdist” fairytale paintings by Michael Cheval, paintings of a couple strolling through rainbow hued trees by Slava Ilyayev, glittering paintings on gold and silver leaf by Patrick Guyton, and, my favorite, the hand ground aluminum and airbrushed works of Chris DeRubeis. I loved all of the works by each of them, but, alas, as we are spending this year (or more) traveling, we do not have a home to fill with beautiful works of art.
Leaving the art auction feeling as though I had spent an hour in a wonderful modern art museum, I walked upstairs to On Air on Deck 5 to meet back up with Ian, and take in the Diamond and Exotic Gemstone Seminar with Jeff, the port shopping guru. Grabbing a glass of pinot noir from the bar, I sat down and learned about the unique gemstones that would be available in the shopping ports of Falmouth and Cozumel. Tanzanite, larimar (a stone which can only be found in the Caribbean), blue diamonds, and, of course, the Crown of Light diamond. It was interesting seeing the difference between a standard 58 facet diamond, and the 90 facet Crown of Light diamond under a microscope. The Crown of Light seemed to shimmer and glow, even when it was not moving, because it reflects and refracts so much light. Even though I was not looking for a diamond, they were fun to learn about, and exquisite to see in person. After the event, everyone was given a complimentary charm to put on a bracelet which we were able to pick up for free in port. Considering Ian and I are pretty subdued when it comes to shopping for souvenirs, a couple of pieces of free jewelry was a nice addition to an expensive cruise.
Heading back over to Amber Theater for Bingo, Ian and I picked up a couple of my favorite drink on board, the mango daiquiri, before the games began. Led by a very enthusiastic crew member, Bingo was a fun way to spend an hour, with the added bonus of a potential cash prize. Though we didn’t win anything, it was exhilarating to stand up when I was one away from winning, and fun to boo those who stood up when they were one number away from winning, (it’s a Royal Caribbean Bingo tradition). Ready for a little quiet time, we decided to head back to the room.
Back upstairs in our stateroom, we took some time to relax for a few hours before dinner, the first formal night on the ship. Formal night was a wonderful excuse to get dressed up and be fancy for an evening. On formal night, if you are to eat in the main dining rooms, or specialty dining restaurants, the dress is supposed to be formal suite and tie for men, and a fancy cocktail dress or pantsuit for women; nonetheless, most men were wearing button ups or polo shirts without ties, and I even saw a few people wearing t-shirts and shorts with flip flops. Though I brought my complete outfit, Ian rented a tuxedo jacket on board, which had arrived while we were out enjoying our various activities. Finally all cleaned up, and wearing our evening finest, we headed down to our reservation at American Icon for dinner. For My Time dining, we were able to come down to American Icon at our leisure, rather than have a strict 6pm or 8pm seating at the other two main dining rooms on board. However, Ian had made a reservation for that night, as it was formal night, so that we could ensure we had a table to ourselves. The reservation time we were scheduled for was 6:15 to 7:45, and though I thought we should double check ahead of time, Ian was under the impression that we could show up whenever we wanted during that time frame. We were wrong. Showing up at almost 6:45, we walked up to the reservation desk and gave our room number. We were actually about a half an hour late. So, for future reference for anyone making a dining reservation on a Royal Caribbean ship, that is not a window in which you show up, it is the window you are expected to be actively seated at your table. Not that it was that big of a deal, but on formal night it seemed like a much more egregious faux pas. As I said though, there were people in shorts and flip flops, so I think we were fine.
Once we were seated, we were treated again to a basket of a variety of breads (my favorite being the pumpkin and sunflower seed), and given our menus for Saffron night. Following appetizers of shaved cantaloupe and honeydew melon, Ian ordered the Beef Tenderloin with mushroom sauce, and I ordered the Linguini Pomodoro. Finishing off with Sticky Bread and Butter Pudding, and the delicious Chocolate Fudge Cake, this meal started off our formal night on a high note. Making our way back up to Deck 5, we found the Royal Promenade filled with couples and families getting their pictures taken in front of various backdrops worthy of any Prom. Needing proof that I actually got Ian into a suit and tie, I dragged him over to one of the photographers, and we had our portrait taken.
By this time, I had been in four inch heals for three or four hours, and I needed to dress down. So, we trudged back to our stateroom, changed into normal street clothes, and headed back down to the shops on Deck 5 to check out the blue diamond event in Regalia Fine Jewelry. The shop did have a fair selection of blue diamonds, but I have had my heart set on a marquise cut diamond for several years now, and they just didn’t have what I was looking for. One of the sales associates did inform me that the designer of all of the blue diamond jewelry was in the shop, and pulled him over so that I could inquire if they did have my dream diamond. After giving him a rough description and carat weight range, he told me he would check back with his shops on the mainland in the morning, and give me a call the next day, which he never did. Well, as someone who has worked in a jewelry store for years, if you are not going to actively come after me for a sale, I am not going to cater to you and help you in getting the sale. So, no blue diamond for me on this trip; but, someday my dream diamond will be mine.
Roaming around the ship again, we stopped through Central Park for some more gorgeous night time photos, and made our way up to the upper decks to take some night shots of the pool area, and down to the Boardwalk and Aqua Theater on Deck 6. The lighting effects that illuminate the night on the Allure are simply spectacular, and it changes how every area of the ship looks throughout the course of the day. Swinging through the Solarium to get a few more shots of the lighting, art, and foliage, before making our way back down through the ship to Deck 7, and our freshly turned down bed. Even though we never saw him in our room, our stateroom attendant had to have been in our room at least twice every day, which earned him the nickname, Stateroom Ninja. While we were gone, our Stateroom Ninja had turned down the bed (which he had made up with new linens earlier in the day), and left the Day 3 Cruise Compass, as well as a little towel origami friend for us. As we got ready for bed, we scanned the new cruise compass and, seeing that the gangway was opening in Labadee at 8am the next day, decided to get as much sleep as we could before our first shore excursion day.