My impressions of my cruise on Allure of the Seas (7-nights, April 22, from FLL, to Labadee, Falmouth, Cozumel, FLL): The ship is a marvel! Less than two years at sea (launched November 2010) the ship is still in immaculate condition and offers so many amenities, one would be hard-pressed to experience everything that is offered in just one week. My favorites were: the entertainment, the food, the jogging track and the deck chairs on that same deck (5 aft) where I could sit and read or watch the frothy, turquoise wake. I walked that rubberized track every day. On shore days it was especially appealing because other exercisers were sparse and only a handful of maintenance crew were around, drilling, buffing or touching up paint.
My favorite shows (in order) were: Blue Planet, OceanAria, Chicago, Ice Games, Headliner (which was "Just Imagine" about the life of John Lennon) and Comedy. In my opinion, Blue Planet, OceanAria and the dinners every evening were worth the price I paid for this cruise. Everything else was a bonus. I've seen Chicago several times and though it's not a favorite, I thought this particular production was GREAT, in terms of the actors/singers/dancers and the staging.
As far as children go, if I had them, THIS is the cruise I would definitely take them on. There are many areas for kids and so many activities (and a carousel!). There was even a science lab. At breakfast every morning, one of the big, plush Dreamworks characters (such as King Julien) was available for hugging and photos. (I got a kick out of them from afar.) One day, I accidentally found myself walking the jogging track next to giant-sized Po from Kung Fu Panda. (Hey, this stuff is FUN!)
Central Park (Deck 8) is a stunner and I enjoyed taking the tour with one of the three arborists onboard. (There are 12,175 individual plants, 96 species. The logistics of getting the larger trees onboard and the installation was explained. Birds often hop a ride from one island to another!)
Though I didn't use the zip line, rock climbing wall or flowriders, plenty of others did and they were quite entertaining to watch. I'm under the impression that if you want to try any of these activities you'll have an opportunity, because many of the 5,000 passengers are too out of condition to take advantage of these offerings. I once observed a 5-minute span where the zip line was open but nobody was even queued up for it. These sports venues are a big motivator (for me, anyway) to lift weights and get my BMI down a couple of notches in case I should have the opportunity to cruise Allure (or perhaps Oasis) in the future.
The Captain, Johnny Faevelen from Norway, was accessible (he held a Q&A session) and daily on TV. He's rather impressive with is knowledge of the ship and seems easy going (with his green parrot perched on his shoulder). His amiable disposition must set the tone for the staff -- I talked with so many of them and they were all friendly and charming, from the busboys (and girls) to the activities directors.
Having sung these praises, I will now reveal what did not appeal. Crowds at elevators. My mom is not able to use the stairs because she still has her original 80-year-old knees. So, during peak periods, 3, 4, or 5 elevators went by without us because they were jam-packed with passengers. (This is with two separate banks of 6 elevators each near every venue. But, there are between 5,000 and 6,000 passengers competing for standing room on these elevators. When they're not crowding onto the elevators, they are either bumping into each other, or more likely, preventing other people from exiting the elevators by standing directly in front of the doors.) More Brits are needed to set an example of how to "let 'em off" before others can get on! And also to role model how to "Q," and also to role model how to show consideration for others in general. More Brits, please. (No -- I'm not British, I'm one of the many rude Americans!) Some people thrive on this crowd stuff , but I'm not on of them. I also love to find a quiet place to read, out of doors, so I can be near the water. I'm a sailor from way back and I've owned sailboats. I love the water. Since I did not get myself a balcony with ocean view, I never once found a QUIET place anywhere.
Finally, our cabin (a handicapped cabin on Deck 3) had loud noises ALL NIGHT LONG. Clangs, bangs, whirring. Even with well-placed earplugs, the noises penetrated. However, the size of that cabin, the bathroom, and especially the shower, all rate an A+.
A glass of wine can cost $13. Bingo is ultra expensive ($71 for a bingo machine, plus a 6x4 and an extra 6 bonus games. Ouch!) With different ports of call (I never got off the ship at Haiti, Jamaica nor Cozumel, a port I've been to many times before), an ocean-view cabin and the right price, I would definitely book another cruise on RC's Allure of the Seas, or perhaps The Oasis, as long as my knees hold out and I am still able to use the stairs.