'Chicago' and Shrek at Sea on Allure of the Seas

Gangsters and ogres inhabit the 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas, the newest, largest ship in the world. The giant floating resort is a sister ship to last year's highly publicized 225,282-ton Oasis of the Seas, but is not a me-too vessel as AOL Travel News discovered on a two-night preview cruise out of Fort Lauderdale.

Front and center in the "what's new?" category is entertainment, with Royal Caribbean executives bragging Allure of the Seas is "the entertainment ship."

The ship debuts both the cruise line's new partnership with DreamWorks Animation and "Chicago: The Musical," for the first time at sea.

Like its sister ship, Allure is so big it has neighborhoods – a family-focused Boardwalk with a real carousel; an open-air Central Park with thousands of real plants and trees; a Royal Promenade as wide as a road; an elaborate Pool and Sports Zone with four pools and activities including a zip line.

But the new ship also brings to sea Shrek and Fiona and Po (the "Kung Fu Panda") and a whole bunch of other DreamWorks Animation characters who appear in shows and parades, at character breakfasts and posing for photos with passengers, as well as on stateroom TV programming.

A new ice show in the ship's skating rink and diving show in the AquaTheater are based on "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Madagascar," respectively.

Allure is the first in the Royal Caribbean fleet equipped with new 3-D movie technology. Passengers can see movies in the ship's 1,400-seat main theater a week after they appear in land theaters – "Megamind" on the preview cruise – and for free.

Wandering around the Allure we bumped into Alex and Gloria from "Madagascar." Getting a preview with the professional skaters of the ice show, we hung out with Hiccup from "How to Train Your Dragon." Among the 17 characters onboard are new and older DreamWorks favorites.

Passengers can in fact experience DreamWorks 24/7 on the ship if they want to, but can avoid them too for more sophisticated fare like "Chicago: The Musical," Broadway's longest running show, playing in slightly trimmed down 90-minute version in the Allure's theater.

Paul Hardy, managing producer for Royal Caribbean Productions says the line did surveys and found "Chicago" topping the customer wish list when it comes to Broadway shows. The popular "Hairspray" already plays on Oasis.

The cruise line also debuts an original show production on Allure, "Blue Planet," with a cast that includes gymnasts, aerialists and trampoline experts who make the most of an extravagant stage set that has performers literally flying through the air.

Some of the same performers do high dives in the ship's impressive aqua shows.

The Allure of the Seas also has a number of other firsts, including the first Starbucks at sea – a venue exactly like what you'd find in your neighborhood with baristas making coffees and prices to match. Shopaholics will be pleased to find the first GUESS shop at sea too -- selling accessories only.

Allure of the Seas cruises from its homeport of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, on alternating eastern and western Caribbean itineraries, beginning Dec. 1.

Photos, Royal Caribbean
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