If you fancy the ultimate luxury vacation, head on a cruise around the Caribbean.
Departing from its home port of Fort Lauderdale, Royal Caribbeans Allure Of The Seas takes you on an incredible trip to the Bahamas, Cozumel, Roatan and Costa Maya.
Id never been on a cruise before and I really didnt know what to expect. Id seen TV programmes where people took cruise holidays, but I tended to associate heading on a cruise with grandparents singing karaoke or playing shuffleboard on the sea.
Allure of the Seas was different.
After boarding the ship from Fort Lauderdale, I was greeted by a stunning lit-up floor filled with shops, restaurants, bars and more.
To the left was a champagne bar. The ship had the feeling of an old-fashioned boudoir.
To the right were a whole line of bars and restaurants, with champagne and wine stores and a stand just for cocktails.
This isnt a boat just for pensioners in need of a comfortable holiday – there are plenty of bars and entertainment perfect for younger travelers, groups, and couples.
Thats a deliberate move – the average age of British passengers taking cruise holidays has dropped over the last six years, and the latest Royal Caribbean figures show that in 2016, bookings for groups of friends or family accounted for 20% of all passengers.
The typical cruise passenger is changing, and heading on a cruise is no longer the reserve of your nan. Royal Caribbean has clearly taken notice of that trend and designed Allure of the Seas to be great fun for twenty-somethings too.
There were plenty of fancy restaurants on board, serving up dishes from all around the world, and the food is all included in your standard cruise package.
You can pick from spots that served up pizza, Italian sandwiches, sushi, Mexican fare and more, or head to the all you can eat buffet, which is much posher than it sounds – I had the best lobster and mussels there.
For drinks, there were plenty of cocktail bars to choose from. You have to pay for drinks separately, but there are drinks packages you can buy.
You can really tell the bartenders take pride in their drinks. Honestly, you wont get a nicer Miami Vice or piña colada anywhere else.
While the food was amazing, the rest of the ship was even better. There was a deck full of pools – massive outside pools surrounded by deck chairs, smaller pools for kids, and an array of huge hot tubs bubbling away.
There was one specific place under a glass roof that I loved, with round hot tubs and a waterfall pool.
In terms of entertainment, there was an ice rink where skaters performed, theatres where you could watch shows, a cinema, a sports area and more.
I wont lie, I spent a lot of time by the pool with a cocktail. I was trying to live the life of luxury, obviously, and I succeeded.
As mentioned above, the cruise took me across the Bahamas, Cozumel, Roatan and Costa Maya.
I had the most glorious experience in the Bahamas. We stopped in Nassau, and I got off the boat to go snorkelling in the ocean. It was a dream.
I spent the morning on a speed boat, sailing out across the ocean to the snorkelling spot.
There was music on the boat and spaces to sunbathe while fresh coconut water was handed around. It was an incredible experience – and that was before actually getting into the water.
Even though Ive snorkelled before, there was something extra special about doing it in the ocean – it was pretty unbelievable swimming around the ocean with fish swimming right up to my face my body.
The next day, we visited Cozumel where you can visit old ruins, visit massive waterparks and theme parks or just enjoy its beaches.
The next stop was in Roatan, one of Hondurass Caribbean Bay Islands. Its known for its beaches, dive sites and marine life, including whale sharks. And at the busy West Bay Beach, theres a coral reef right near the shore.
There are spots to go diving, snorkelling, and try different water activities.
Our final stop was Costa Maya. I got off the ship greeted by musicians playing the drums and the harp.
The locals were so friendly – everyone smiling and complimenting you as you walked by.
I walked into the tiniest village filled with street performers and beach shops selling unique jewellery.
There was also a little beach hut selling cocktails. I bought one and found a beach next to it, with wooden sun loungers on the sand looking out on the ocean.
While having a walk around, I also noticed a large pool which surrounded one of the bars, with loud music playing as everyone played volleyball. Id have loved to have spent a couple of days there.
Though getting off the boat and exploring was amazing, the ship itself really made the holiday.
I had the most wonderful room, with a large TV, a large bed, and I even had my own balcony which looked out on the waters, with a little table where I could sip back a glass of wine – and just so you know, whatever you buy from the bar you can take around the ship and back to your room, so theres no need to pay for room service.
Staff were lovely – the rooms were constantly spotless, and they even create swans out of the towels to place on your bed which was a really lovely added touch.
What I loved about the ship was also how much there was to do in the evenings. Over the week I was on there, I spent time in the casino on the bottom floor and an ice show. You can also head along to clubs, comedy nights, those classic karaoke sessions, and water shows.
The ship also puts on special nights. During my trip there was one night when everyone had to get dressed up to the nines. It was lovely walking past seeing so many gorgeous people in suits and stunning dresses.
The best way I can describe the entire experience: It was like something out of a movie.
While the ship is simply beautiful, theres so, so much to do, and so many excursions that you can book with the ship – including diving, swimming with dolphins, feeding sting rays, zip lining, you name it, theyve got it.
And thats what you need when youre away for a week – exciting things to do, before heading back and spending the night relaxing, enjoying yourself and feeling like youre surrounded by nothing but luxury.
Flights and prices
There are packages with Royal Caribbeans Allure Of The Seas starting from $559 (£434.40) per person for a seven night stay.
You will need to fly to and from Fort Lauderdale, the ships home port. There are flights from London Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale from £270 return with British Airways.