After leaving the Grand Canyon, we headed south to the desert landscapes of Phoenix. We enjoyed a couple of days relaxing in Scottsdale before saying a sad farewell to our trusty hire care, George, and taking a flight to Fort Lauderdale.
We had really enjoyed our road trip through some of North America's iconic national parks, but after 6,500km we were looking forward to some down time. And so we boarded the Allure of the Seas - the second largest cruise ship in the world - bound for the Western Caribbean. The behemoth is 362m long and 72m high with 16 passenger decks. There are a total of 5,500 passengers. It was launched in 2010 and refurbished in 2015 and was in immaculate condition.
The Caribbean had long been on Karen's bucket list. And so the day after leaving Fort Lauderdale we arrived into Nassau, The Bahamas. We joined the excursion to the Blue Lagoon Island - a 45 minute ferry ride from the main island. Early morning storms cleared in time for the kids to enjoy a swim in the lagoon and explore the island.
Our next stop was Cozumel Island in Mexico, where I celebrated my birthday. We booked a self-drive Jeep safari to the southern most point of the island - Punta Sur, a national park. We climbed an old lighthouse and had spectacular views of the coastline, which was just as you imagine the Caribbean - azure blue waters, white beaches and verdant green vegetation. We spent the afternoon snorkelling in crystal clear and warm waters - spotting stingrays, moray eels, star fish and beautiful schools of fish. We finished off my birthday celebration with a great family dinner on the ship.
We were originally scheduled to then head further south to Costa Maya in Mexico. However, the imminent arrival of Hurricane Nate saw us return to The Bahamas for another day. By all accounts, the Captain made the right call - as 20ft seas were reported around Costa Maya! In contrast, we hardly felt the Allure of the Seas move.
Our sea days were spent swimming, surfing on the FlowRider, zip lining and rock climbing. The kids made friends at the Kids Club and we may have consumed a few cocktails to ward off dehydration (I can't quite recall). The ship has four theatres, ten restaurants and just enough bars. We saw some great shows - who would have thought you could have an ice skating show on a ship! We were not sure what it would be like to be on such a large cruise ship - but it was great. Despite the cruise being full, it never felt too crowded. Everything about the cruise ran smoothly - exemplified by our departure, where it took just 20min to leave the ship, collect our bags, pass through immigration and be on our bus to the Avis depot nearby!
For our last few days in the US, we had planned to visit the Florida Keys. Hurricane Irma put an end to that plan. So after a bit of last minute planning, we picked up a car and headed north to Orlando... for the last instalment of our North American adventure.
Phoenix and Fort Lauderdale
On Board Allure of the Seas
Activities on Board