Background: We are a couple in the 30's from Finland who enjoy exploring the world and cruising as well in a relaxed way. Cruised with Carnival, MSC, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and HAL. Chose the Allure because of the ports of call and for the first time, also for the ship itself. We took this cruise on March 11th 2012, in combination with a following cruise on the HAL Westerdam.
Embarkation: Dropped our car at Thrifty's at Port Everglades and the shuttle buss dropped us at Allure's check in. As most people mention on cruise critic, embarkation is extremely efficient, respect.
Ship overall: The Allure is simply beautiful. Everything is so innovative, there are so many places to explore, staff is professional and friendly. You just have to experience this ship to realize how amazing it is. One of our concern was the up to 6000 guests that would be on this ship, but we were positively surprised that it never felt crowded or busy (apart from Windjammer lunch, Park Cafe lunch and peak time at getting of the ship at a port). Every evening we walked on the deck, finding ourselves almost being in solitude. If anyone is concerned about the amount of people on this ship, there is no reason for any concern.
Another issues that we were positively surprised with, was how easy it was to find a deck chair on the place you'd preferred. We tend to come out on deck around 3pm usually and there is really so much space.
The jogging track on deck 4 must be the best jogging track on sea ever!
Next to enjoying the sun, there is so much to do on this ship. The promenade is a good spot to sit down at Sorrento's (request your own pizza(!)) or the 24hr open Cafe Promenade (delicious cakes (!)). The shops are nothing spectacular. The donut and hotdog stand are nice touches to try it out once. There are so many bars and venues that for sure you won't get bored.
Room: We have an Ocean-view Balcony The room was very clean and nicely decorated. The room and bathroom reminded us of the Celebrity Silhouette room we had. We found the room small compared to other cruises we have taken. Also the storage space was created not sufficient. We would have expected a slightly larger stateroom.
Balcony: The balcony was above our expectations. It was bigger than we expected. It was clean. We spent a lot of time here.
Food: When on holidays and considering wearing suits during work, we do not want to dress up during our holidays and therefore do not attend the MDR. For dinner, we went to Windjammer. During dinner at Windjammer, there was plenty of space to sit and eat. Good opening times, till 9pm. The food selection was somewhat disappointing (e.g. Jewel of the Seas had a way better selection and quality). During lunch, the Windjammer was indeed crowded. Never tried it for breakfast. We used park-cafe for breakfast, which was really, very, very good. Sometimes it was busy, but we always found a seat. They have a really good breakfast selection (and health if you wish) and to sit there in the mornings and have your breakfast in/along central park was really great.
2 major comments we would like to make in respect of food issues:
1. Even though it is clearly stated that one should not refill its own cups at water/coffee stations, people continue doing this. I find this extremely unhygienic and do not understand the some people do not have any sense of understanding that filling up own water/coffee cups can spread a possibly virus. Unfortunately staff does not seem to bother.
2. Whilst room service during the day was great and delivered timely, the breakfast room service was by far the worst we had in respect of delivery. We never got it delivered in time. We are not picky and don't mind if it is delivered 15 minutes earlier or later than indicated, but on the Allure we got our breakfast call 40 minutes before our indicated time. We never received our breakfast on time, it was either between 20-40 minutes before scheduled time or half an hour after scheduled time.
Entertainment: The Allure Aqua show is a must see, simply amazing. Maybe we had too high expectations about Blue Planet and that is why were not overly impressed. Headliner show was fine. The other entertainment we did not use. But as indicated by others, suggest to make reservations in advance.
Ports of call:
Labadee: A nice and clean beach destination (however not being the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean). They have quite a few local Haitians selling souvenirs. Compered to sales people in other countries in this world, we did not find them pushy and they offered very reasonable prices (negotiate (!)). Lunch on Labadee was OK if you're in for a burger style menu. We noticed kids behind the fence that separates RCI Labadee from the rest of Haiti. That was of course not nice, to sit there and eat your burgers, etc, and watching those kids. I filled up a plate and brought them food.
Fallmouth: We were looking forward to visit Jamaica. Having done enough rafting, jungle, waterfall tours, we decided to go to Montego Bay for the day. There is a shuttle buss from Fallmouth to Montego Bay for USD 10 pp one way. But please be aware. Though it says, it is a shuttle from Fallmouth Pier to Montego Bay, the driver and host for sure make you feel it is some kind of excursion. First they stop at a shopping place, even though everyone in the buss indicated that they were not interested. Then they tried to dump us at a beach where we had to pay USD 5, even we indicated we wanted to be dropped at the hip strip. We also had to agree on a pick up time, which was set by the largest group in the buss. Luckily this time was OK for us, but if you wanted to stay longer, you had bad luck. Also they insisted of receiving the round trip fare already beforehand, which we declined. So all in all, we got from Falmouth Pier to Montego Bay for 10 USD per person one way on the times we wanted, but it was not hassle free. Montego Bay is nothing spectacular, the beaches seemed to be crowded, the hip strip has only few, yet expensive shops. We went to a bar/pub next to Doctor Cave's beach, which must have just one of the most beautiful terraces in the world, overlooking the sea. Had a beer, wrote our expensive and old postcards and returned to Falmouth.
Cozumel: We did not have any expectations here, but this appeared to be the best port on this cruise. We went to Playa Palancar (20 USD one way by taxi). Nice beach and if you come before 1pm, you can find a good seat. It was not very crowed, very mellow atmosphere. And great Margaritas.
Debarkation: Very smoothly, we waited departing Jewel +1 hr for international customs, but at Allure we waited only 5 minutes and the considering we had a late departure number.
The cruise was simply amazing, mainly because of this wonderful ship! I could recommend it to anyone! Having said that, would like to make a few comments:
- The price of the cruise is quite high compared to other cruises. One week on a new Celebrity Solstice class is about 500 Euros cheaper.
- Room service breakfast: As indicated above, the timing should definitively be improved.
- The rooms appear to be a bit small.
- Windjammer food selection and taste is nothing spectacular.
- Strict rules should be enforced to stop people filling up their own water/coffee bottles.