I love to travel, anywhere anytime. I enjoy traveling to new places, be it across the ocean or an hour away from home! Trip advisor is my most favorite website (Cruise Critic a close 2nd) whenever we travel near or far I check out hotels, restaurants, activities, plan flexible itineraries. I take a lot of time to research everything, and we have always had great trips.
For me, our families vacation planner , the best part of cruising is NOT having to plan. Cruising has become our get away from the cold and relax vacation. Pack, get on board ,distress and do what we want when we want. We look forward to getting our cruise compass at night and decide what we might do the next day.
Spontaneity is NOT an option on the Allure. Your planning needs to be done months in advance. I did not realize this when I first booked, only 8 weeks prior to sailing. Trying to book good times for restaurants and some shows was impossible. On past cruises we have enjoyed going to the comedy shows- tried to reserve after booking - ALL were sold out. I was able to book Chicago for the first night, the Aqua show and the
The Allure is a beautiful ship with so many options for food, entertainment, & activities. We absolutely LOVED Central Park at night, listening to music. I found the ship very easy to navigate. We learned our way around quite easily within the first 24 hours.
I just really didn't like having to wait in lines for dinner and shows. This is something I have never dealt with on any other cruise. I was also disappointed in the quality and selection of food in the included options. It really seemed(to me) as though RCCL is trying to steer you away from the Included dining options. $$$
Embarkation went very smooth- we did one night per-cruise in Fort Lauderdale at the Ritz Carlton.(Very nice- Spectacular Service!) We arrived at the port about 12:30 and were on the ship in less than 20 minutes.
Food- The food in the specialty restaurants(except Samba) is so much better than any of the 'included' options.
Windjammer Cafe- Always packed- Food looked fair
After boarding, we walked around for about half an hour, then headed to the Windjammer for lunch. This was the first of more than half a dozen trips to the windjammer, where we never could find a seat. We never did end up eating in the Windjammer because of the extreme crowding. I know people say "first day'. Well it was pretty much the same every time we tried, for breakfast or lunch.
My husband commented that it looked much smaller than buffets on previous cruises, so I checked. Our last cruise was on the Eclipse, passenger capacity 2850, their cafe seats 850. On the Allure, with 5400+ passengers(the cruise director said our sailing had 6400) the windjammer seats 719 - 15% less seating in a boat with twice as
On Celebrity we have always really enjoyed the Oceanview cafe, with their eggs Benedict and omelet stations for breakfast and pasta, salad and Carvery stations for lunch. I didn't see any of that in the Windjammer anyway.
The last time we tried was when we were in port Cozumel, when many people were on shore . Well that day for lunch Half of the cafe was closed! So still very crowded.
We ended up having lunch at the park cafe day 1, after waiting in line about 30 minutes. We had lunch there 3 other days, with a 2-10 minute line. It has a fairly limited menu, but what we had there was good for lunch. We both liked the roast beef sandwich, as well as the made to order salads which, but no cheese?
We had breakfast there 2 days., but preferred the Solarium cafe for
breakfast. I had their egg mcmuffin one day and it was pretty bad. The panninnis were good, and at breakfast were the make you own salad is at lunchtime, they have a make your own bagel station.
This was our favorite spot for breakfast, but it is a fairly limited buffet, and the same every day. It is a healthier option, no real bacon or sausage(turkey) If that works for you, this is a good option, never too crowded. We had lunch there one day as well.
MTD and MDR
We have always done traditional late seating dining. When booking, our agency didn't ask but just signed us up for MTD. With the different show times, I thought it might be great to go down to eat whenever you want. Well it was a disaster! I tired to make reservations for times that might coordinate with the shows, but the only times available were 5pm and 9pm. After reading more online, people said if you didn't have reservations, try to get them as soon as you board. We did, waited in another long line only to be told the only time a reservation was available was 9pm.
We went down the first night early, about 7, because we had a reservation for Chicago at 9. The lines were ridiculous - we waited in line about 15 minutes with very little movement and 100 people in front of us. We left. After trying a few of the specialties that were full we ended up at Samba Grill.
The 2nd night, Formal night, we went back to the MDR, this time about an hour later, 8ish, and only had to wait about 15 minutes.
The last formal night, we went about 7:45 and had to wait in line 45 minutes.
We had a ala carte breakfast in the main dining room on a port day, and it was fair. We went back the next day to check out there buffet, but once again HUGE line..... So we left .
So we had 3 meals in the MDR- each time service was very good- the food quality - average to good. Nothing special.
The Specialty Restaurants
We only went here because it was our only option-day 1. I did not care for the quality of meat at all- in fact this was my least favorite meal the entire cruise. It takes awhile, to serve 9 course of meat! So we also missed our reservations for Chicago the first night.
I was very disappointed with the service in Chops. From the minute we walked in, I felt they were really trying to rush us. We had 8:30 reservations, so I doubt there would be people behind us. After being seated for about five minutes the waiter who was running around said he be with us in a few... He came back about 5 minutes later and asked if we were ready to order- I told him we wanted to order a drink first, he never even asked. Immediately after ordering our drink he asked again, are you ready to order, so we did. Our appetizers came before we even got our drinks. The food here was excellent. I had a filet that was cooked perfect and my husband had some fish he really liked
as well .
We had lunch here one day and dinner 2 nights. One just because is was empty and right outside the oceanaria show, so instead of waiting in line for the MDR we just walked into Rita's. It had decent Mexican food, and very cheap compared to the other specialty restaurants.
Our last night we had a fantastic dinner at Giovanni's, along with excellent service and a very friendly waiter. Tip- I again had the filet, which was just as good as at chops, and the cover charge is less.
Johnny Rockets, & the hot dog stand on Boardwalk. We tried them both and they were about what one would expect. Decent food, nothing special.
I had made reservations for Chicago for the first night. Not being able to be seated in the MDR, we went to Samba and were not able to be out on time to make it to the show. We got there about 1 minute before it began, and it was SRO. We did stand for about 10 mintues, but I didn't want to stand for the whole show, so we left. The next night we went to the late show of Chicago(11:30) and were able to get in. Sat in the last row. I enjoyed the Show, but not the hassle of trying to see it.
Ditto with the Comedy Club!
The Comedy Club
Since all shows were sold out prior to boarding, I checked again on the TV immediately after getting on the ship. Still no availability. We went to the comedy show the first three nights trying to get in. Finally on the third night we were able to get in the early show. I thought the comedians were hilarious, especially Jim David, but once again, having to wait in line 3 nights was definitely a nuisance.
I had tickets for Oceanaria, and after missing Chicago we went to the theatre about 20 minutes early. Already 70% full. I thought the show was good, except the slapstick parts. After the show we went to Ritas Cantina for dinner. There was a 2nd show that night, I noticed people started lining up almost an HOUR before the 2nd show- SO if you want a really good seat, plan to get there and hour early.
This was your typical Cruise ship show, which I always enjoy, and Blue Planet was no exception.
The only other cruise I was on that featured a headliner show was on the Brilliance to the Panama Canal, and we saw Mickey Rooney. I like having that kind of show. Tony Tillman was very entertaining and put on an excellent show.
I didn't care for the Ice Games show. Really corny, with fair skaters.
Having no desire to go to any of Allures ports, we have been to Jamaica and Cozumel a few times, this cruise the ship was our destination.
We did enjoy Labadee, just being able to walk off the ship and walk to the beach. We got off fairly early, (before 10) went to the beach and sat out for a few hours. The close beach got very crowded a little later.
In Falsmouth, we had previously done Dunns River Falls and another excursion, so we just went shopping at the dock, and didn't go beyond the gates. Typical stores, nice area, we were only off the boat an hour or so.
In Cozymel we decided to take a cab into town. It has been about 15 years since we have been there. The town was not in good condition and the shop owners very pushy with trying to lure you into their stores. We got tired of that very quickly and just headed back to the ship.
Went as smoothly as embarkation. We had a later flight, and didn't have to leave the ship until 10am. We had a leisurely breakfast in the Solarium, then went back to our room and watched for our number to be called. When it was, we were off the ship and in a cab in less than 20 minutes. I certainly do not miss the old days of waiting for hours in a lounge to disembark!
For myself and my husband, there were more negatives about this cruise than any other we have ever been on. Bigger isn't better for everyone. We will definitely be going back to a 2-3000 passenger ship next time, where we can just show up for the shows, and don't have to wait an hour in line for dinner.
BUT, I never say never~ I might consider a mega liner again if we took our children and granddaughter, but I would have to plan way in advance and figure out all the reservations.