My wife and I went on the Sept 23, 2012 cruise on the Allure of the Seas in the Western Caribbean.
General Information: We made the reservation about 3 weeks before the cruise. Our reservation was for a guaranteed outside balcony. We ended up with cabin 11202. We hadn't been on Royal for over 10 years. We weren't interested in the itinerary or the paid dining, we just wanted to get away. My guess is that most of these comments also apply to the Oasis. We are from Florida, in our early 60s.
Arriving at Port Everglades and Embarkation: We drove to the port, arriving around 11 am. The Allure was the only ship in port. There is a small, uncovered parking lot next to the pier. We had no problems parking our car. It costs $15/day and they take credit cards when you complete your cruise. We gave our bags to the porter and went inside. There were plenty of smiling faces directing us. The agents are sorted out by deck number and Crown and Anchor status. It took about 5 minutes to get our cards. The agent also took our photos, which are used whenever you board the ship. They use face-recognition software for both official purposes and to help the photographers keep track. We were then sent upstairs to the waiting room, which is divided into various areas depending upon your Crown and Anchor status. When the ship began boarding a little after noon, the back-to-back cruisers went on first. We then boarded by status, highest to lowest. We entered on Deck 5. Since the cabins aren't ready until 1 pm, we headed straight for the Park Cafe on Deck 8 for their famous roast beef sandwich. Great!
The ship: Yes, it is huge and has over 5000 guests and 2000 staff. But we rarely felt crowded. Lines anywhere were rare. If you have trouble walking, be aware that Central Park is 300 feet long (a football field). Walking from the front to the back of any deck is about 1/5 mile, each way. Decks 10, 11 and 12 are all cabins, making for much less traffic in the hallways. Also, they are isolated from the noise from deck 5 (promenade), deck 6 (boardwalk), deck 8 (central park) and deck 15 (pool). Note: Decks 11 and 12 have unmarked aft balconies overlooking the Aqua Theater. These balconies have chairs and have a great view to the side and rear. We really enjoyed the free, one hour tour given by the horticulturist in Central Park. He'll explain the purpose of the "ray gun" above the pool. The ship always docks on the right (starboard) side. Getting on and off at each port was quick and easy, since they don't use tenders. The casino uses cash. Some pools and spas were available 24 hours and while in port. Ziplining and the two flow-riders were free. The ship creates its own fresh water for drinking and swimming. They said it was the same as distilled. I didn't notice any smell or taste. We rarely felt any motion or vibration.
Cabin: We were in cabin 11202. The cabin had a connecting door, which turned out to be our biggest negative comment. The door is not soundproofed and we could easily hear the other folks talking. They did keep it down when we informed them of the problem, and it could have been much worse. The cabin is equipped with a hair dryer, shampoo, bar soap, a safe and a stocked mini-fridge. We took out some bottled water to make room for our stuff. That resulted in a charge, which we had no problem reversing. The cabin is located on one of the two "bumps" along the side of the ship. These bumps result in the larger balcony. Our cabin had the bed by the balcony. Alternating cabins have the sofa by the balcony. The flat-screen TV also serves as a message center for ship events. Make sure you view it daily, and look at your account to verify charges. You can also get in-room movies costing 11.95-13.95 each. For folks who are "over-sized": The bathroom and shower doors are both about 20 inches wide. The shower stall is circular, about 24 inches wide.
Food: We signed up for the My Time dining, which takes place on deck 5 in the MDR. Early and late dining are on decks 3 and 4. We found out they had changed their menu just a few weeks ago. We were very impressed by the food quality and quantity. The beef was always tender. They have several items available every day, such as shrimp cocktail and salmon. Vegetarian items were always listed. Some days we asked for multiple appetizers, entrees and desserts. No problem. Specialty items such as lobster tail and filet are additional cost. We did have lobster tail for free on one night. The staff was super; they even knew our names when they first came to the table. The menu is available on your cabin TV. We only ate at the free venues. Johnny Rockets has a free breakfast. The air conditioned Solarium always had healthier choices for breakfast and lunch. At dinner, the Solarium turns into the Samba Grill, a paid venue. Other free places were Park Cafe, with their made to order salads and sandwiches, Cafe Promenade with super desserts, Sorrentos has pizza, the Dog House on the Boardwalk has all sorts of hot dogs. The Windjammer did seem more crowded than other cruises. Maybe folks are just used to going there instead of other places. We took food back to our room (yogurt, cookies, brownies, etc.). Speaking of yogurt, there are 3 hidden, self-serve frozen yogurt machines, all on deck 15. One is in the free Wipe-Out Cafe, the other two are near the ray gun.
Entertainment: Reserving everything on line took me about an hour. The website is not as friendly as it could be. The hardest item to reserve was the Comedy Club because the room only holds about 120 people. Blue Planet was the best show, by far. Next was Ice Games. For both shows, remember that you are on a moving ship and that the ice stage is one-quarter the size of a normal rink. Some folks loved Chicago, others didn't. Because we were Crown and Anchor, we also had two backstage tours and the repeaters get-together.
Ports: Labadee: They didn't provide any maps on the ship for Labadee, but there are plenty of signs once you go ashore. Water was very hard to find. We had to wait until the free lunch at 11:30 to get some. Staffers set up lounge chairs and cabanas, but we had no hint if we were supposed to tip them for putting a chair in the sand. There were more than enough chairs and plenty of shade or sun. The cabanas ran out by 10 am. If you choose to stay on the ship, there are plenty of activities. We didn't get out of the compound at Falmouth. In Cozumel, we noticed some law enforcement folks wearing bullet-proof vests and carrying machine guns.
Debarkation: If you want to drag your own bags, you can get off as early as 6:30 am. Otherwise, the process was simple and fast. We were off and through customs in maybe 30 minutes.
A great value since our bill at the end was only $52!