Group of 18 Adults, 14 were previous cruisers. Married and singles with ages ranging from 24 to 64. While we were a very diverse group we enjoyed a major passion of Ballroom Dancing.
We used a Travel Agency for booking. Travel Agency did group reservations for the shows and dinner (individually we could change any reservations we didn't want or add reservations on the RCI website). We had Main Dining Room early seating, 6 p.m. We had a table of 10 and a table of 8 next to each other. We would rotate people around the tables so we all had an opportunity to sit with each other sometime during the cruise. It was no problem getting reservations for a group of 18 approximately 3 months prior to sailing. Because we had a range of cabins, we could not get all the cabins co-located.
From our experience if you are considering Group Travel - airline fares are cheaper if you do them individually (versus as a group). Group airfare from Augusta to FLL was approximately $450/person roundtrip. We did our own airfare (which better accommodated individual travel needs (some left later than others) and airfare averaged to about $247/person roundtrip.
We had group reservations at the Holiday Inn Express on 17th Street for the night before the cruise. Hotel offers free shuttle from FLL, but you MUST CALL them to be picked up. TIP: Try to get a room on the 1st floor if possible as the 1 SMALL elevator can only hold about 3 people with suitcases which can impact your timing when everyone is trying to leave the hotel for the port in the morning. The hotel offers free breakfast. Plenty of restaurants across the street and Walgreens is down the block for those last minute purchases. Note - you need to walk DOWN THE BLOCK to the traffic light to cross the very busy street.
TIP: For last minute purchases - down the block from hotel is Walgreens and across the stress is Ross Dress for Less. VERY EASY WALK.
Our cabin was 14148 which is under the pool deck. Only time we heard noise from the pool deck (see below for "party noise") was when they were brining in/out the towel bins for the pool deck. Cabin was perfect, no issues. Plenty of storage and amble hangers (3 dozen). Attendant was Ms. Vita - lovely friendly lady who was always available and made the cutest towel animals for us. We decorated our cabin door. Ms. Vita said she never saw so many notes left on the door or so many people stopping by to take photos at our door. We probably had close to 100 notes left on our door by the end of the cruise. Door decorations purchased at Dollar Store for a total cost of $3.
Shows - we all have different tastes so what I this is fabulous you may not prefer and vice versa. I'm just going to give the highlights of the shows with approximate times and tips for viewing. All shows have beverage service available.
Blue Planet - This show lasts approximately 47 minutes. It is an extremely creative and artistic show - whimsical, alluring, and intriguing is the only way I can sum it up. The special effects get better and better and better leaving most of the audience spell bound. Bottom line is the show revolves around a fabulous singer (Mother Nature) in numerous scenes full of dancers, acrobats, singers and other miscellaneous performers. Best place to sit is in the bottom level - if you can swing the middle area but really anywhere in the theatre gives you a great view.
Headliner Show (2 Funny Men). This show lasts approximately 45 minutes. This show is 2 brothers who are not only comedians but also perform some type of unusual spinning rope tricks (sorry, do not know the name of the rope with the ball attached). Anywhere in the theatre will give you good access to their show. An audience member was caught taping the show (no taping allowed).......show was stopped immediately and security came down (do not know if the device or confiscated or simply turned off). Either you love this show or you hate it.....that is the only way I can sum it up.
Comedy Club (Phil Tag was the headliner). This show lasted 75 minutes and consisted of 2 comedians. Definitely R rated (language and content)! Phil is really good......does audience interaction (asking questions - mainly to folks in the front row only so don't be afraid you will be pulled up on stage). There are approximately 95 seats in the club and all offer a good view.
Chicago. This show lasts approximately 90 minutes and involves singing, dancing, acting and music. Great show but my opinion is that is a little long - 60 minutes would have been perfect. If you can, sit in the balcony area.
Aqua Theater Show. This show lasts approximately 60 minutes and involves divers, acrobats, dancers and amazing muscle cup men..............WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sit as close as possible to the stage but beware of the "SPLASH AREA"......the divers and swimmers intentionally splashing water into the audience!
The MDR food was FABULOUS. Our waiter, Bobba (Yulsuf, Istanbul, Turkey) was amazing. Naturally, he would provide his recommendations for each course. If 1 of us would order something he wouldn't recommend, he would bring that particular item and then something he recommended. EVERYTIME, his recommendation won out. AND, he would bring us additional plates of floor for "sharing"........2 additional plates of food per course which we could try. Lobster night was the 2nd formal night - all the lobster you could possibly desire! A lot of food snobs and gourmet cooks at our table as well as picky eaters..........we all LOVED the food!
We had group reservations at Samba Grill. A lot of food - way too much meat. After the appetizer course there are 9 different meats brought out to you (beef, chicken, and lamb)! Beware, they will try to get you to drink the bottled water which is extremely expensive (1 couple drank $55 of bottled water that evening). The desserts were sinful (very large size desserts).
Numerous members of the group ate at specialty restaurants and raved about the food quality and service.
Other venues: Of course we snacked around the ship from Sorrento's to Starbucks to the Windjammer. The roast beef sandwiches at Park Cafe were great; the healthy choice food in the Solarium was large and diverse. We ate a couple breakfasts and lunches in the Windjammer which tended to get a little crowded during peak meal times. The only problem we had in the Windjammer was at lunch during a particularly rough day at seas. The ship was rolling and a teen dropped her entire LARGE plate of food down my back (I was sitting at a table). She didn't apologize just laughed and ran away. I had a wet smorgasbord of food from neck to waist.
Dancing: We are all experienced Ballroom Dancers (Pro's & AMs). Plenty of places to dance depending upon your style of dance and music choice (Blaze, Bolero's, Dazzles & Viking Lounge). Dance Floors are SMALL! Bolero's has largest dance floor (Latin Dancing). Dazzles played a mix of music ranging from oldies to ballroom to booty shaking and Blaze was night-club style geared towards the younger crowd. Between all the lounge music venues we could have danced from 5:30 p.m. to around 3 a.m.!
Excursions: We only did the Atlantis Water Park (Nassau) this time around - we had been to the other islands numerous time and decided we would just get off the ship walk around grab a drink and return to enjoy the majesty of the beautiful Allure!
The Atlantis Water Park is an expensive excursion but we felt it was well worth it. We left ship at 7:30 via a shuttle van to Atlantis by 8 a.m. We had a walk-thru tour of the aquarium before pointed to the actual water park. We were all told to be at the pickup location at 2 p.m. The pools open at 8 a.m. Plenty of chairs and towels available. LOCKERS are rental - I believe the costs are $7/small; $12/medium & $15 large. DO NOT LOSE the key otherwise you will be charged $50 (we had a several people in our group lose their key while on the water ride - the force of the water can literally take it off your arm). The actual water rides do NOT OPEN until 10 a.m. although some of the kiddie areas were open and had small slides. Be in LINE before 10 a.m. if you are doing any of the water rides - especially if you need the inter-tube. We were able to do each of the rides, several 2x before noon. Water rides are amazing. What a thrill!!!! Unfortunately we had bad weather and got poured on while in the water........no sunburn! Around 1 p.m. lightning moved in and we had to leave the water until them deemed it safe. We decided to return back to the ship. BE AWARE - you walk will more than likely walk thru the FREEZING cold resort to your pick up point. Be sure to bring a extra DRY cover up to wear. TIP: Bring water-shoes with you.
Allure's Gym was well equipped with the latest equipment! TIP: Bring your own water bottle to the gym as you either have to purchase bottled drinks there or use the water fountain.
NOISE at Night: The only time we heard any noise from the pool deck was during a party. On Friday night one of the parties (21 & Over - strictly enforced) was on the top deck of the solarium. It was sponsored by a liquor company and was a Miami Style Nightclub atmosphere. DJ's were spinning fabulous music via LARGE Speakers. There were 2 designated areas for dancing. Music played until around 3 a.m. We could hear the bass from the speakers in our cabin (really didn't bother us).
We did have some rough weather for a couple days, swells of 9 to 15 feet. The ship was a rocking! We took Bonine during the entire cruise so we didn't have any sea sickness. BUT we did we wobbled around quite a bit. Most noticeable was the track area (Deck 5)........water was all over the deck and as fast as they could squeegee it off it was back. Rocking ship and water DO NOT MIX (ouch)! Loved the rocking motion at night as the bed was a giant rocking chair!
Express walk-off. Left cabin at 6:30, each armed with 2 spinner type suite cases and we were actually sitting on the plane at 7:10 a.m.
The cruise was fabulous, the ship magnificent, the service impeccable, the food great and the fellow passengers were friendly and fun to be around. If you looked you could find things wrong as there is no pleasing everyone. We would do this ship again and again and again!