Last night, comedian Paul Merton's new travel series kicked off in style with a Caribbean cruise onboard the Allure of the Seas.
The comedian, better known for Have I Got News For You, was on his first ever cruise holiday and on arriving onboard declared that he was expecting to be playing shuffleboard with the Captain. Little did he know what was in store for him on the world's largest cruise ship!
Allure of the Seas is, as mentioned, the largest cruise ship in the world and is only matched by her sister ship Oasis of the Seas. The 362 metre long, 5,400 passenger, 222,000 tonne ship, is approximately five times bigger than the Titanic and carries almost 2,500 crew to keep everything running, from the engines to the coffee machines.
On arrival Merton looked shocked with the sheer size and magnitude of Allure, entering the Boardwalk he likened it to a huge shopping mall on a boat [sic], before asking the camera "we [surely] can't be in a warehouse, can we?" As Merton continued on his embarkation he seemed a little disorientated by the size of the ship while trying to find his cabin, acting surprised to find that his suitcase had made it to his stateroom before him. Though he appeared happy with his accommodation, he was less impressed with the towel animal, a usual cruise ship favourite, that greeted him on his bed — Royal Caribbean had kindly left him one in the shape of a pig.
While onboard, Merton visited the ship's ice-rink, the slightly mad zip-line and the belly flop competition taking part in the Aqautheatre pool. During his wondering around the ship you really do get a feel for how large the ship is, and even though I've been onboard Independence of the Seas, I really couldn't imagine how huge Allure was until I saw the footage. Visiting the mini-golf he joked about feeling sea-sick while playing golf. While wandering around he commented that he thought "cruises used to be for the over-fed, newly-wed and nearly dead" before going on to say how wrong his pre-conception was.
During the voyage's main formal night, the Captain's Dinner, Merton sat at the Captain's table, which is usually reserved for the ship's most important customers and was surprised to find that one of the guests has been on over 70 cruises. He also interviewed a few Brits onboard, though not to stereotype, but they were in the ship's Irish pub at the time. It became clear that the people onboard loved the size of Allure of the Seas, the magnificent choice of pretty much everything and the attentive service.
During the show, Merton undertook a variety of excursions, though tended to do his own thing as opposed to the cruise line's own trips. One of the interesting places he visited was a school in Labadee that had been set-up by Royal Caribbean, in order to help the local community. It's always interesting to see what the cruise lines put into the local communities they visit, apart from the obvious tourist income.
One of his more random trips was to visit the Jamaican dog-sled team, and while I expected something along the lines of Cool Runnings after watching the dogs pulling what looked like a glorified tricycle, I was pleasantly surprised to find out about the team's success. As this was a TV show, he also visited a once famous cafe in Mexico, where the owner is now looking after a variety of tigers, leopards and panthers that had been mistreated by previous owners or were in need of a home.
Though the excursions had little to do with the ship, they highlighted how there is more to the Caribbean than sandy, white beaches, vibrant, but friendly locals and duty-free shopping.
By the end of the program you get the feeling that the sheer size of the ship, the facilities, activities and entertainment onboard, were far beyond what the comedian had expected. Though the ship has been visited by members of the Iglu team, it had always seemed too big for me, especially as I'm used to the Sun class Princess ships, but having seen this through a first time cruiser's eyes, I am now surprisingly intrigued by it.
The great thing about Iglu is we have fans of every type of cruising, we have staff who regularly cruise with Royal Caribbean, others who prefer small ships and even some who will only cruise with Cunard given the choice. In summary, last night's episode of Paul Merton's Adventures has gotten us all talking about this amazing ship.
If you missed the program you can watch the episode online and if this has inspired you to check out the world's largest cruise ship, here is our current Allure of the Seas top offer.
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