The Allure is one beautiful masterpiece of engineering & design. I'm sure some people could find something wrong with the layout or some other trivial matter, but why bother? We were on vacation, and thoroughly excited to be there. By far, my favorite public area of the ship was Central Park. I made every effort to spend time there, even if it were to walk through the park listening to the piped in sounds of crickets chirping. Of course, it didn't hurt that Vintages wine & tapas bar were located there. On other ships, I have either enjoyed my morning IV drip of coffee sitting on my stateroom balcony or on the top deck looking out at the Caribbean sea. While that did not change much, I did find myself sitting in Central Park in the early morning hours just relaxing and sipping away.
I was excited to be back on a Royal Caribbean ship, after having sailed twice before with RCCL and once with another line. There were pros and cons to both lines, but the scales balanced a little more in favor of Royal, so that is why we chose the Allure. Sadly, the MDR meals that I fondly recall from 2005 & 2006 are no where near as tasty as they used to be. We generally don't splurge on the specialty restaurants, and it seems that RCCL has started lowering the quality of food in the free venues in order to draw people in to the pay venues. Honestly, I don't think I would want to pay for the options that are available for a fee. If I want Mexican food, I don't want Tex-Mex style. If I order a steak, I don't want someone ruining it by pouring a sauce over it. I could go on, but with the price of flying out of Canada being almost quadruple that of flying from the U.S., a lot of my extra spending money was spent before I even landed in Ft. Lauderdale.
I found the staff onboard were not quite as friendly as I remembered. True, our stateroom attendant and MDR serving staff did a great job. What stood out to me the most were the people that obviously were being "nice" because they had to be. Some invisible person over my shoulder was greeted quite a bit wherever I went. Even when I tried to make small talk or joking about wanting to hide onboard the last day, I had three instances where the people stated that I would then find out how hard there job is. I realize their job is difficult, and their hours are sucky, but I shouldn't have to hear them complain about that. What really got me was the time that I was obviously cussed out by a guy because I used four cups to fill up two water bottles. I stacked all four cups together, set them at the table closest to the kitchen, and turned to walk away. It was then that I heard him. No, I couldn't understand the words he said, but it was clear what the words meant. I didn't dare tell the guy he was out of regular coffee a little later on, so I had to suffer through one cup of decaf.
I really dislike having to reserve shows in advance. If they supplied the week's worth of cruise compasses in advance, then I would know what nights I have free. I factor in one show a night as part of the cruise cost, and it was disappointing to not have a welcome aboard show or a farewell show. The C&A booklet was very disappointing. I think we used some of the wine coupons at Vintages, and we made our one trip to the casino for the free spin (and won a whopping 15 cents each).
I loved all the things to do on the ship. While there is way too much to do in one week, I tried to do as much as I could. Somehow I seemed to always find myself with a Coney in hand whenever I ventured out onto the Boardwalk. Late nights found me with pizza and cookies, just to hold me over in case. The zip line was fun, and I was able to wear my prescription sunglasses because I had brought a strap to keep them from falling. The gym was great. While I didn't fall for the trick of paying to use the sauna, I immensely enjoyed the opportunities afforded with the various gym equipment.
I'm sure I'm missing something, but all in all, it was a great trip. I'm glad that I tried the Allure, but I probably would not go on a mega-ship again. I probably will sail with Royal in the future, but I think our next one (tentatively planned in two years) will be on another line that offers a little more benefit for the money.