Dinner and a Show: Cruising to Chicago (with prosciutto antipasto!)


Cruising to Chicago (with prosciutto antipasto!)

Royal Caribbean’s “Ship of Entertainment” boasts a world of restaurants and a city’s worth of shows

By Christine Koubek

My friend Annemarie and I were meandering along a well-landscaped sidewalk on Allure of the Seas — past olive trees, restaurants, boutiques, and a gallery with richly colored pop-art paintings — when she asked, “Where is the ocean?”

We had barely seen water since we boarded Royal Caribbean’s newest ship earlier that day, and now we were on our way to dinner and then a show. I followed her gaze upward at several decks’-worth of balconies fronting cabins that looked like urban apartments. We surveyed walls of flowering mandevilla vines, garden beds stuffed with rabbit-foot ferns, butterfly lilies, birds of paradise, and trees that reached more than two decks high.



<a name=”vid6Chicago”><i>Chicago</i> cruises with <i>Allure</i></a> <br />

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Vistas in blue — not green — were the focal points on every other cruise I’d taken. “It is an unusual ship,” I said. “It’s as if Royal Caribbean sliced off a city block and floated it out to sea.”

Central Park, as this verdant section of Allure is known, features over 12,000 — yes 12,000 — plants. The lush park design first debuted on much-ballyhooed older sister Oasis of the Seas. Allure launched a year later, in December 2010, with a similar park and a fresh lineup of shows that included a DreamWorks partnership and the first staging at sea of Chicago, one of Broadway’s longest-running musicals. Thanks to those additions, Allure quickly became known as the line’s “ship of entertainment.”

As we quickly discovered, entertainment is not the only thing Allure excels at. There is a small city’s worth of dining options (many with an associated fee), including sushi bar Izumi, Mexican-themed Rita’s Cantina, Royal Caribbean’s popular steakhouse Chops Grille, and Brazilian steakhouse Samba Grill, where gauchos carve bacon-wrapped chicken and sirloins table-side.

We walked past signature restaurant 150 Central Park. We’d heard the restaurant is best saved for a night without a post-dinner show. The meal itself is a bit of a production….


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