Allure of the Seas – Final Thoughts

In the interest of giving formal reviews for the excursions we participated in, Ian and I rated each excursion, and put together lists of some important things to keep in mind for people booking these excursions on future Royal Caribbean cruises.  Here are our findings:

Labadee, Haiti

Amiga Island Experience: 5.5/10

Ian’s Rating: 6/10                   Amanda’s Rating: 5/10

  • Positives:

Clear blue water

Decent views of the ocean and mainland Haiti

Quiet and secluded

  • Negatives:

Not much to see on the snorkel tour

Only the first drink on Amiga Island is complimentary

(For the price of the excursion drinks and snacks should have all been included)

The Amiga Island excursion is best for those who wish to do little more than lounge around on the beach, but want a more secluded beach experience than can be found in Labadee proper.  Though we enjoyed lounging on the beach and snorkeling, the reef and fish activity in the area was pretty bland.  Views of the mainland and clear blue water were definite plusses, but the fact that only one drink was included in the price of the excursion was kind of ridiculous.

 

Arawak Water Park: 6/10

Ian’s Rating: 6/10                          Amanda’s Rating: 6/10

  • Positives:

Fun but exhausting

Swims from one obstacle to another were refreshing

Adrenaline thrill each time you jump back into the water after climbing an obstacle

  • Negatives:

Life vest is mandatory/ made it more difficult to swim

Strenuous workout pulling yourself from the water and climbing the obstacles

Will definitely get salt water up your nose on reentry

Climbing handles are hard on your feet

The Arawak Water Park excursion was a repetitive cycle of swimming, excruciating climb to the top of a float, sliding/jumping back into the water, repeat.  That being said, we did enjoy conquering obstacles we didn’t think we would be able to climb, and had fun playing in the water park.  Upper arm strength is key in being able to pull yourself out of the water and onto the obstacles.  For several days after visiting the water park, I felt like I had pulled muscles in my arms and torso, and was concerned I may have herniated a muscle in my side (thankfully I did not).

*Highly suggest water shoes, as the pier was hot and the handles on the floating obstacles were extremely hard on our feet.  Added bonus, the wet floats will likely be less slippery with shoe treads.*

 

Dragon’s Tail Coaster Single Ride: 8.5/10

Ian’s Rating: 8/10                         Amanda’s Rating: 9/10

  • Positives:

Great views of the cove and docked cruise ship

Thrilling ride speeding through the forest trees

Able to go as fast or slow as you want

  • Negatives:

The ride was very short, only taking a few minutes

Riders with shorter arms will have to lean forward to disengage brakes fully

The Dragon Tail Coaster Single Ride was actually an addition to our Arawak Water Park excursion ticket, but it is possible to get an all day, multi ride pass for the coaster as well.  Because it is so short, but an extremely enjoyable ride, I would suggest the multi ride pass for this excursion.  The price difference between the single ride versus the multi ride pass was negligible, and we wish we had chosen the All-Day Pass instead of the single ride.

 

Falmouth, Jamaica

Chukka All-Inclusive Thrill Seeker Adventure: 8.5/10

Ian’s Rating: 8/10                          Amanda’s Rating: 9/10

Zipline

  • Positives:

Great views of the property

Fly through the trees and across rivers

Most lines end right where the next begins, with little walking between them

  • Negatives:

Only about half a dozen lines

Half of the lines are self-braking, but the others require braking with your hands

The zipline course at Chukka spans only a fraction of the overall property, and begins only a short walk from the main buildings of the complex.  Equipment includes helmets, a harness (not the most comfortable), and gloves for braking on the lines.  Of all of the places we have gone ziplining, this is the only one which has required manual braking, and it was a little difficult to get used to.  Helmets include clips for straps if you wish to wear a GoPro.

ATV/Dune Buggy

  • Positives:

Drive through the property and orchards

Single riders on ATVs, two riders in Dune Buggies

Opportunity to switch Dune Buggy drivers half way through

Climb steep hills and splash through mud

The guides are all amazing

  • Negatives:

There is a LOT of mud, and it DOES get on you

Ride seemed a bit longer than it needed to be

Be sure to wear clothes and shoes you don’t mind getting covered in coppery-red mud.  Even in the dune buggies, our shoes and socks were covered in mud by the end of the ride, and mud flicked up from dune buggies in front flecked the rest of our clothes.  Motorcycle helmets are mandatory, and helped keep mud from splattering our faces.  The guides are all extremely friendly, and even stopped and gave us fresh Ugli Oranges from the orchard on our way back to the main complex.

River Tubing

  • Positives:

A nice relaxing trip down a slow river

Amazing views of the forest and 19th century architecture on the property

The Captains are fantastic and make the experience incredible

  • Negatives:

Getting in and out of the water, you do get wet

The river water is quite chilly (but refreshing)

The water at the edges of the river is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes

A trip down the tubing river only takes about 20-30 minutes, but it takes just as long to get set up with a life vest and inner tube, and then more time to walk or catch a ride back up from the river.  Our Captains (Breasty and Banana Man) were exceptionally funny, and kept us laughing the whole time (even when it started raining).  They were even awesome enough to pull us to the edge of the river, go up to a nearby bar, and bring rum punches back for everyone on the tour.  This river tubing tour is what bumped my rating for the whole excursion up from a 7/10 to a 9/10, and that is primarily thanks to Banana Man and Breasty.

 

Cozumel, Mexico

Xplor All Inclusive: 9.5/10

Ian’s Rating: 9/10                          Amanda’s Rating: 10/10

Ziplines- Ian: 4/5  Amanda: 5/5

  • Positives:

14 Ziplines

Speed up to 30 kilometers (~20 miles) per hour

Tallest line is 45 meters (~150 feet) above ground

Unique water landings

  • Negatives:

Steep climbs up stairs and ladders to get from one line to the next

These ziplines are the absolute best I have ever been on, and I want to go back to Mexico just to ride them again.  The ziplines are split up amongst two separate courses, each ending in a splash down landing into the park’s cenote.  Together, the two courses are almost 4 kilometers (~2.5 miles) long.  Because of the area the park is in, there is very little elevation change, meaning the only way they could make tall ziplines was to build up.  This is where you can get you quadriceps workout on your vacation.  The first line requires a spiraling climb up a steep tower staircase, and each line ends at the bottom of another spiral staircase to the next line.  The exception to this rule is the one line which you take a waterslide down to (which is fantastic).

*Though there were some people who did the ziplines barefoot, I was glad to have sneakers on for the metal spiral staircases and rough ground between lines.*

Amphibious Vehicle- Ian: 7/10  Amanda: 7/10

  • Positives:

Drive through jungle trees, over bridges, across rivers, and into dark tunnels

Nice to get off your feet for a while

Steep inclines and declines

  • Negatives:

We visited during the dry season, so not really amphibious

10 kilometers (~6.5 miles) felt too long and drawn out

Though I’m sure most of the year the rivers and puddles on the Amphibious Vehicle Course are full and plentiful, we happened to visit during a dry spell, and the course was dry as a bone.  Every so often along the course there would be distance signs and little tidbits of information, giving you something to look at, but other than that it was mostly trees.  The highlights of the course were the cavernous tunnels which required headlights to navigate, and the bridges which passed over rivers (diminished to creeks).  It was nice to be able to sit and relax for a half hour, but the length of the course felt too long, when there were no puddles to splash through to break up the monotony.

River Raft- Ian: 6/10  Amanda: 5/10

  • Positives:

Caves and river system are extremely interesting and beautiful

The caverns are well lit, showing off intricate stalactites and stalagmites all around the river

2 different circuits of about 500 meters each (~1/3 mile)

  • Negatives:

You use hand paddles which leave your fingers exposed (can scrape your hands on the stone walls)

Paddling with your hands like that cramps your shoulders quickly

Paddling through the underground river was peaceful and relaxing, but this is where you get your trapezius muscle workout.  With only two small hand paddles, it is difficult to gain momentum in the calm water, and easy to wear out your shoulder, neck, and back muscles.  The scenery of the cavern system was gorgeous, and there are few other places in the world in which you can raft down an underwater river, so the experience was still wonderful.  Scraping the paddles (and my hands) along the rough stone walls of the caves was a small price to pay for a unique experience like that.

Cenote Swim- Ian: 7/10  Amanda: 7/10

  • Positives:

Refreshing swim down a 50 meter (~170 feet) or 400 meter (~1/4 mile) cenote tube

Stunning stalactites hang like stone icicles above your head

Little fish swim alongside you in the clear water

Ends with a swim through a waterfall

  • Negatives:

Life jackets are mandatory

The water is on average 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit)

When was the last time you flossed your colon?  Never?!  Well, the cenote swim is just for you!  The mandatory life jackets we had to wear to partake in the cenote swim had an uncomfortable strap which had to be passed from back to front between your legs, and fastened to the front of the vest.  Bobbing up and down in the water made it even more uncomfortable.  Fortunately, by the time we made it to the cenote swim, we had very little time left, so we decided to take the shorter, 50 meter swim.  Stepping into the water, it was so cold we couldn’t imagine swimming the full 400 meters, but by the time we made it to the end of our swim, we had acclimated to the temperature just fine.  Swimming through the cave tunnels, and the final waterfall before the exit was exhilarating, and if we had more time we would have gone back and swum the 400 meter circuit as well.


The entire day at Xplor All Inclusive Resort, there were cameras set up in various locations, which allowed us to get snapshots of our adventures without having to worry about losing or damaging our own camera.  Purchasing the pictures at the end of the day, we had a full record of all of the exciting adventures we had at Xplor, and our memories of everything will definitely bring us back to Xplor Park in the future.

*The whole day we were walking over rough ground, and I kept my shoes on the entire time.  Even though it made it slightly more difficult to swim in the cenote, I was glad to have them on climbing in and out of the water, and walking around the park.  I highly suggest closed-toed shoes/sneakers at Xplor Park.*

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