My husband and I had just returned from a February cruise on Celebrity when an excellent deal showed up to go on the Allure of the Seas in April. We travelled with AirTransat on a direct flight so we did not have to stay overnight in a hotel as we normally do.
The flight was on time and everything went smoothly. We had arranged transport to the ship with Air Transat and arrived at around 1:30 PM.
Embarkation was very fast and they obviously have this down to a science. We were on board in about 15 minutes and sent up to the Windjammer buffet. This place was a zoo! Of course it is the same on most cruises since there are a lot more passengers than seating at any of the buffets. The ship was sailing FULL so there were at least 5,000 passengers. We eventually managed to get a table and some food. By then our cabin was ready so we headed down there to check it out.
We were in cabin 14546 which is on deck 14 (Starboard, Forward). We were about 5 cabins from the front of the ship and had a ocean balcony. I was not impressed with the cabin and found it smaller than others we have had. The bed was comfortable and we managed to find room to pack everything away once our luggage arrived. There is a closet with a bank of shelves and then three drawers in the desk area. That is the total of storage area except for the small shelves in the bathroom. The TV was big and there was a convenient plug in unit for three items on the desk for charging things and using the hairdryer.
The balcony was small and I was very disappointed in the seating. On every other ship I have been on the chairs have been high backed and adjustable so you could lay out on your balcony and enjoy the sun. This ship has two low-backed mesh (not adjustable) straight chairs and a table. You could sit down and eat at the table but you certainly weren't going to lay out in the sun. The table was a good size but they really need to change the chairs.
The first day all you are doing is trying to find you way around the ship since it is so massive. There are two banks of elevators (fore and aft) and the center of the ship is open which is where the Boardwalk, Promanade and Central Park are located.
Dining - another disappointment. We like plain food so we normally eat most of our meals in the buffet. We did eat in the MDR on the first night to have the prime rib and it was not very good. The colour and texture of the meat reminded me more of ham than beef and it was quite small.
As with any cruise ship you never go hungry but this ship cut out a lot of things. There were no "stations" to get freshed cooked eggs or omlettes and instead they cooked eggs in large quantities (about 24 a time) and they put them in a tray on the heat rack so the eggs were warm and rubbery when you got them.
The bread was not very good and there was not a pasta station either or a place to get fresh waffles or crepes. The fruit was cut into cubes and put in square box-like containers rather than sitting out in slices. The watermelon was pathetic and mushy. The best item was the pineapple.
We did have breakfast one day at Johnny Rocket's (which is free for breakfast only) and that was a good meal. The lunch and supper menu is $4.95 plus the cost of any special drinks like milkshakes (which were $5.00) and desserts.
I had a free hot dog at the vender on the Boardwalk and it was OK but if you want a special type or sausage there is a fee.
At one place (outside the ice-cream parlour I think) that they were SELLING small bags of theater-type popcorn for $1.00 a bag and also cotton candy.
ACTIVITIES - These were great and we really enjoyed the mini-golf course which was the best one we have ever seen on a ship. We also tried the zip line and it was fun but the landing can be tricky. We enjoyed watching everyone using the Flow Riders although it wasn't our thing since we are seniors and not into surfing. A lot of people were enjoying the basketball courts and there were four ping-pong tables which were enclosed with glass to cut down on the wind. The two rock climbing walls were impressive but I really didn't see a lot of people using them. There was also skating available during the day and evening for about 30-45 minutes but we did not bother with that.
The pools were great and there were four large ones. I think two of them are for adults only and at least one was salt water. There was a huge water park for the kids and the children's program is impressive. They have characters from all the DreamWorks shows walking around the Promanade during the day for pictures and to meet the children. On the last night there is a big parade with Shrek, the Penquins, and the characters from How to Train Your Dragon.
There were also 3-D movies but they were another disappointment. They are not true 3-D where the characters seem to be floating in front of you. I found it just as good to watch the movie without the glasses. We watched The Green Lantern and my husband went to The Three Muskateers but I didn't bother. I suggest you take ear plugs with you as well since they are VERY LOUD.
SHOWS - We booked all our shows in advance. The first night we went to the Comedy Show which was pretty good. There were two comediennes and the only problem I had was when the second guy got up the first guy sat at the back (directly behind us) and yelled and clapped very LOUDLY at all the other guys jokes. This is an ADULT show with a lot of profanity and so forth.
Aqua Show - This was impressive but we did not have great seating and it I would suggest you go early and get seats in the center about 6 - 7 rows back or you will get splashed. The divers were amazing. The only downside was the beginning where a guy in costume chases a woman around the audience for about 10 minutes (she is also in costume). There was a commentary between them but only the people near them could hear it.
Ice Show - This was also very well done although the theme of Monopoly was a bit of a stretch. The costumes were great and the skating very good. Again I would suggest ear plugs unless you want to have hearing loss.
Blue Planet - This was fun as it was creative and the acrobatics were impressive.
SERVICE - This was excellent and our room attendant (Adolph) was wonderful. We had towel animals and every request was filled promptly.
SHIP - Basically it is a shopping mall on water. There was a children's clothing store, a candy store, a cupcake store, an ice-cream store, a GUESS store, a ship store, two (at least) clothing stores where a polo shirt cost $98.00, a jewelry store and several others.
I had an ice-cream (once) and didn't find it all that good at it tasted more like ice-milk rather than ice-cream. I think it cost about $3.00.
I also tried the Cupcake place and ended up dumping most of it in the trash. I had a Vanilla, Vanilla cupcake which looked lovely only to discover that the icing is HARD icing and about 2 1/2 inches thick. The cake part was stale and you had to literally chip off pieces of the icing. Yuck. There are also cupcake decorating classes (for a fee). The cupcake cost $2.75.
Casino - Typical casino where we played the penny slots every night and came out ahead a few dollars. One side is for smokers so you have to check.
Ports - Labadee was very nice and we enjoyed a day at the beach although you do have to take a lot of $1.00 bills for tips as the "tram" asks for tips and there are people who will set up your lounge chair who also expect tips. There was a very good meal which was actually better than we had on the ship and lots of clean washrooms, etc.
Falmouth, Jamaica - we only went off the ship to look around and the whole place is new, clean and very nice.
Cozumel, Mexico - we have been here several times before and went to Chankanaab for the day and it was great.
ANOTHER big surprise was than when you returned to the ship from any of the ports there was NOTHING to greet you...no ice water, no cold towel! We have had this on every other cruise line we have been on and it is wonderful. I was shocked that RCI doesn't bother with this either.
DISEMBARKATION - We did the walk-off since we had to meet our bus at 8 AM and it went very, very smoothly and we were off in about 10 minutes.
SECRET PLACE - AFT on Deck 14 on both sides are quiet balcony areas with chairs and loungers!!
Overall I was not impressed with Royal Caribbean and I am not sure if we will ever cruise with them again. We will be going back to NCL.