Allure of the Seas April 8th
Much has been said about Allure and I would agree with most of it. A little background -- we were a party of 8 -- 4 adults in our 50's and 4 girls ages 12 to 15. All of us but one girl had cruised before. One of the two families is a Diamond member. Here are some random thoughts.
Embarkation and Debarkation -- AMAZING! The best we have ever seen.
Cabins -- we all had D4 outside balcony cabins. We thought they were smaller than on the Voyager class but the bed is bigger (wider actually -- more like a king than a queen) which was nice. Glad we got the girls their own cabin. It would be very tight with 4 people in a cabin. There is plenty of storage but it is all at a right angle and seems hard to use.
Neighborhoods -- loved them especially Central Park. The girls liked the Boardwalk.
Bar service -- great. The pours are ample. There are a lot of bars. We didn't make it to many of them.
Spa -- OMG -- this is like a real spa with a dressing room and showers and robes and slippers. I loved it. Beautiful surroundings. I wish they had a steam room and sauna you could use before and after your treatment like in a land based spa. Also the robes are very shear which was awkward. My therapist was average but I would defiantly go again.
Onboard events --We loved the Flowrider and the zip line is fun. Go when they open on a sea day and the youngsters are still asleep! No lines! The carousel was fun too. Bingo is fun as ever and they have a new pull tab game. Like lotto. I won so I liked it. It was always easy to find chairs/loungers. As usual lots to do and not enough time to do it.
Food -- my favorite part. I'll break this into the different locations where we ate. We had My Time Dining which is ok if you make the reservations in advance. Don't just show up at 7 or 7:30. One night they had a 40 minute wait at the time. Not sure I would do this again but if I did I would book all nights pre-cruise and then release them as I added specialty restaurants. You can request the same table and servers for the whole week which would make it great. We had the same table 2 of the three nights we were in the dining room. My girls missed the relationship with the waiter and asst. waiter. That has always been fun for them on past cruises.
Dining room -- we only had dinner here but I hear it is the only place to get eggs/omelets made to order at breakfast. I will try breakfast there next time. 2 of our 3 dinners were good. The food selection was good. Portions were adequate and the temperature of the food was appropriate. Oh and it tasted good! The second formal night was another story. Very poor service -- dinner took 2 Â½ hours and we didn't really like anything we ate. It was disappointing. They also got rid of Escargot which we all love. Please bring it back! We thought the food on the first two nights was comparable to other cruises on RCCL we have taken. It was fine.
Breakfast -- we tried several places but I never got that great breakfast I wanted. I LOVE breakfast. It seems that in all the venues everything is prepared somewhere else and they are just serving it. It may be served and not a buffet -- like at Johnny Rockets - but it is still all buffet pre made stuff -- even the omelets. My favorite was the Solarium. It has a nice selection and is not crowded. I'll try the a la carte menu in the main dining room next time.
Park Place -- the roast beef sandwich is great. So are the made to order salads for lunch. We had breakfast here twice and liked those as well. The bagel bar is fun. I got pre-made sandwiches from here the morning we were in Cozumel and took them with us on our snorkel tour. I had brought a zip loc bag from home. This was more convenient than waiting for room service and had better choices. Overall we liked it for a quick bite.
Johnny Rockets -- we only had breakfast here once. It is all premade. Even the omelets. It was ok but I was expecting made to order eggs. The girls loved the burgers and shakes.
Solarium -- I had lunch here twice and breakfast three times. I liked the slower/smaller feel. There was hardly a line and tables were easy to get. They had a nice salad bar at lunch and other lunch type items with a healthy flair. This would be my pick for an easy lunch onboard.
Room service -- we ordered room service for breakfast one morning. It came during the appointed time and had all that we had ordered. I liked it and especially having breakfast on our balcony. My DH did not like the food as much.
150 Park -- LOVED it. If you are even slightly adventurous you need to try this. My DH even liked it and he is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Very interesting take on food. Read the menu. The service is top notch. A wonderful evening. One of our best meals ever! The wine flight is great but too much for me. We shared it. They did pour our single serving into two glasses for us. Others on our cruise had to do this themselves. The smoked almond soup was our favorite. I would have gone back for the second menu (they have two per week) if I could have talked my DH into it.
Chops -- My DH's favorite. We have been to numerous Chops on RCCL ships. The last time on Mariner in 2010 was not good. This time the food and service were wonderful. I had the veal chop which was a bit fatty but the steaks were great. The girl's liked it as well. Everyone felt it was well worth the price.
Rita's Cantina -- the adults went there for lunch one sea day. It was fun. We live in Southern California so I was worried I would not like the food. We can get GREAT Mexican food at home. The girls had been earlier in the cruise and assured me it was great. Get the crispy taco's they told me. I did and did not like them. They were filled with fajita meat and grilled veggies. My idea of a taco is meat and fresh veggies and cheese. The grilled veggies seemed slimy and fatty to me. If average Mexican is ok for you, it is worth a try. Just don't expect too much.
Izumi -- Don't bother. We tried to get our money back. I had not pre-booked it but someone in our party loves Asian food and wanted to go so we did. The hot rock was alright but the portion of food was very small. After we all went to the windjammer for desert and extra munchies. The sushi is frozen as it would have to be given they are at sea. The service was slow and und attentive as well. We will not go back.
Windjammer -- I only set foot in there the one night for dessert after Izumi. It was busy then at 7:30 pm. I can only imagine it during peak breakfast and lunch times. Steer clear of it. There are many other options that are less crowded and less stressful.
Vintages -- what a gem. I went there by myself on the last sea day for lunch. I had the Dali tapas sampler ($8) which I could not finish - except for the dessert -- chocolate pops! Great wine by the glass and I loved the tapas. A lot of food for the price. While I was there two families came in for lunch. The parents enjoyed the wine, kids had soda and everyone shared the tapas. Wished I had thought of that. I will definitely think of them again for lunch or dinner.
Giovanni's table -- Our only regret is we did this the last night of the cruise. Had we done it earlier, we would have gone twice. Everyone loved it. With 8 of us family style worked out great. We had 5 appetizers 4 pasta's and 3 entree's. The shrimp entree was a favorite. I ordered the Osso Bucco and was disappointed. Again it was fatty. The tenderloin was also great. We are not tiramisu fans but fought over the last bites of it. It is that good! GO here!
Sorrento's pizza -- it is ok -- tastes like frozen supper market pizza. The girls loved it. It is a nice late night snack. I had it one night after dancing.
If I had to pick my favorite breakfast, lunch dinner and snack
Breakfast -- Solarium but I wished I had tried the Main Dining Room al a carte menu
Lunch -- Vintages for tapas or Park Place for a made to order salad or the roast beef sandwich
Dinner -- 150 Park -- if you are not a foodie, you can't go wrong with Chops
Snack -- cupcake cupboard -- let it warm up for about 15 minutes. They keep them cold.
Overall -- we love cruising and this was no exception. The ship is huge but you really do not ever feel like it is crowded. We loved the neighborhoods and the selection of specialty restaurants. My only complaint was it did not feel like a ship. You only see the water from the top deck or your stateroom. The ship is so stable you don't get the rocking at night that I love. It really is a lovely floating hotel that moves you from place to place. I wish they had kept views of the sea rather than having built outside cabins along both sides of the ship. (e.g. dining room, schooner bar, etc.) We will definitely cruise again next year. I'm already looking for itineraries.