We just returned from the 5 day Allure of the Sea cruise. For a little background information, I was traveling with my husband (we are both in the mid to upper 30's), my parents, and my two kids (ages 17 months and 4). This was my 21st cruise. I am a platinum member with Royal Caribbean but have not sailed them in at least 10 years.
I will say this was my second favorite cruise of all time! I will give you all the pros and cons but I know if you are sailing on this, you will love it.
Embarkation: This is where I will say I was the most dissatisfied. Given the magnitude of the ship and the fact we were on a sold out cruise, I thought check in was a mess. We had to wait over 45 minutes once we got on the boat for an elevator. Part of the reason was probably because everyone wanted to rush on the second that we were allowed to get on (we didn't want to miss another second of our cruise). I was just about ready to get off the boat for the mess of embarkation but am so glad we continued on.
Rooms: We had two balcony, adjoining rooms (11211, 11213) overlooking Central Park. We took two rooms because with two kids 4 and under, we wanted more room. They would have drove us crazy in the same room,lol. My husband slept with one kid and I slept with the other. It was perfect! The rooms are very nice. They had all the amenities of a regular cruise ship I have been on with perhaps slightly more space (my husband says no but I felt it was slightly bigger than any other cruise I was on). I loved that it overlooked Central Park because it was beautiful to look at and outdoors, which was a plus! We had a great room steward who made us towel animals each day. Housekeeping was immaculate with our rooms.
Entertainment: A+! Hands down the best entertainment on any ship I have ever been on! Please if you go on this cruise, go to all the shows. On this particular cruise, they were not stringent on reservations because they were trying to fit everyone in. I managed to get into every show (and one or two I did not even have reserved). Chicago was very good- not my favorite show, just because I am not a huge Chicago fan but the talent was amazing. OceanAria was awe-inspiring. I actually saw it twice it was that good. Along with the amazing talent, Blue Planet and Ice Games were equally as impressive. I swear they must scout out the Olympians for these shows. JUST AMAZING! The cruise director was alright, not my favorite but not bad. He seemed a little stressed during the cruise but that could have totally been me.
Food: Very good. I rate it a B+. In the past Royal Caribbean, had some standards that are no longer on the menu including nightly souffles. However, they still have the chilled fruit soups in the main dining room. We did anytime dining and it was good. However, I will warn you that if you go around 8-9 PM without a reservation, you will have a good 45 minute wait. I highly suggest you making a reservation. We liked our servers so much the first night, we requested them the rest of the trip. We ate at two speciality restaurant- the sushi restaurant (Izumani) and 150 Central Park. I really liked both but 150 Central Park was my favorite. This is a good 3 hour meal so be prepared. The ambiance and tastefulness was second to none!
Activities: Since our ports were diverted to Bahamas and Cozumel, we did not do much in terms of excursions. Honestly I have been to both places many times and given our short stay on the boat, I wanted to enjoy it. We did briefly go to the Atlantis by a taxi and a local beach in Cozumel, but only for about an hour or two.
We greatly enjoyed the zip line and flow rider. We never got to use the rock climbing wall, mini golf, or ice rink but we plan to on our next return trip.
The pools areas are very nice! I preferred to sit in the solarium for a good portion of our trip since it was a kid-free zone. We did travel with kids but more on that after. We used the hot tubs and just relaxed. Bar service did hassle you with getting drinks but what can you expect on a cruise- that always happens! We did not hear much of the outdoor band but probably because of our location we were sitting near.
Service: I give the service a C+. Honestly, I was very disappointed with the service on this ship. I think part of the reason is the mayhem with the prior 9 day cruise, but the people who worked on the ship did not seem happy at all. Our waiter and room steward were excellent, but other people on the ship, just didn't seem to care. Hopefully it was just our cruise though. I do have to say though in the dining room, my dad got sick one night and the chef personally came out to find out what he would like to eat. That was one extremely gracious measure!
Kid club: THE BEST!!!!!! As I said before, I have a 17 month old and 4 year old. After being holed up in a hotel room with them in Ft. Lauderdale, this momma needed a break. I signed the baby up for the Royal baby program which was so wonderful. It was $8 a hour and worth every penny. They gave you a beeper in case they needed you and were open from 9 AM-12 AM all days of the cruise. The older daughter went to the 3-5 year old program which was free. She had a blast and cried every night when she had to leave! It was a godsend to have this on a ship. I also recommend checking out the Madagascar characters, carousel, pool splash area park, and the Boardwalk if you have kids.
Disembarkation was a breeze.
All in all, this was an amazing trip. I can't wait to go on it again. I have a ton of pictures that you can check out here of the ship: [URL="http://www.the-mommyhood-chronicles.com/2012/09/wordlesswednesday-allure-of-the-seas-largest-cruise-ship-in-the-world/"]http://www.the-mommyhood-chronicles.com/2012/09/wordlesswednesday-allure-of-the-seas-largest-cruise-ship-in-the-world/[/URL]