We arrived in Ft.L a few days early so we wouldn't have to worry about cancelled flights due to weather and stayed at the Marriott Renaissance. It's a beautiful hotel located within sight of the pier.
This was our first cruise with RCI so we didn't know quite what to expect. I had a slightly different view of the embarkation area. We entered a human warehouse that could hold thousands of people and were moved around like cattle. It was efficient but not terribly pleasant.
The ship itself is amazing. The public areas were beautifully designed, and the Christmas decorations added a festive air. My favorite area was Central Park. Gardeners will love all the different plants and trees, many of which are identified by small signs. I heard birds chirping and thought the sounds were piped in until I saw a few birds flying around. All this in the middle of an ocean!
We had an outside balcony room which I really enjoyed. I liked to sit on the balcony and watch the ocean. It was very peaceful. We were on the starboard side even though we were told that port side is better because that's the side that faces the port when the ship is docked. That's not necessarily true of the Allure for every port. We had a nice view of Atlantis from our cabin, and we faced the port in St. Maartins. The cabin itself was a good size for the two of us, with plenty of storage. Sticking our luggage under the bed helped a lot. The shower was tiny but manageable. The only problem with the room was the family next door. They had a baby that didn't stop crying. We complained at customer service, and they said they would try. We heard nothing after, but fortunately, the family was able to move to a larger cabin.
The food in the MDR was mostly decent, but not wonderful. In general, I was pleased because feeding several thousand people cannot be an easy chore. The first night, I had salmon that was excellent. The other nights weren't so great. I even had to send another fish entree back because it tasted old. Our wait staff was very good. The waitress was fast and efficient. She was also not shy about making recommendations if asked. One night, my husband ordered a strip steak, and she suggested that he get something else. He ordered it anyway, and of course, he should have listened to her. It was tough and dry. She was nice enough to get him something else, but we didn't let him forget his error for the rest of the cruise. We ate at Chops one night, and our steaks there were very good.
Instead of doing most of my shopping while in port, I did a fair amount while on the ship. I bought a nice watch and a bracelet at a couple of their sales for a good price, and I picked up some nice tee shirts as gifts for only $10 a piece. The ship had some surprisingly good sales with no tax.
All in all, we had a wonderful, relaxing time. The crew in general went above and beyond to make our week enjoyable, and it was a sad time when we docked back in Ft.L. We enjoyed it so much that we took RCL's offer of putting down a $100 deposit which will give us an extra $100 in shipboard credit on a future cruise. I'm looking forward to trying another class of ship.