We began our back-to-back cruises with "maybe this ship IS too big" and ended them with "I want to sail again on this spectacular ship!"
What a ship! Yes, she's big but after the initial shock we found her easily navigable and well laid out. We found crowds only when shows let out of the Amber Theater and Studio B and sometimes in the Windjammer (which we only used a couple of times). And she's beautiful -- if you go try to find time to admire all the artwork and the decor.
A lot goes into the making of a successful cruise -- the ship, the crew, the food, the entertainment, the ports. We took these cruises not for the ports but for the ship and to escape the winter weather for a couple of weeks (it was 7 degrees when we left home!) Nothing disappointed -- the ship is incredible, the crew was to a person friendly, the food ranged from good to excellent, the entertainment was like nothing we've seen elsewhere and the ports were as expected.
My DH and I have sailed on all classes of Royal Caribbean ships and each has its advantages. Allure's size allows for all the different dining venues (we ate at all of them except Rita's and Johnny Rockets) and the various entertainment spots. If your budget and schedule allow try to go for two weeks -- there is so much to do it is extremely hard to fit it all into just one week.
Ocean Aria and Blue Planet are incredible and if you can see them more than once -- do! The headliner and comics changed each week so there were no repeats there. And I can't forget the ice show! Very good!
The captain, Captain Johnny, is VERY friendly and funny! He has a pet parrot on board named AJ who you might see on the captain's shoulder as he walks around the ship. Also he has three bikes, including a Harley, and we saw him twice riding the smaller two bikes through the ship! You know a ship is big when the captain can do that!
I want to particularly recognize some crew members that took great care of us during the two weeks:
- Dexter, the Diamond Club concierge
- Adelaine, our wonderful cabin attendant who couldn't do enough for us
- Fe and Carlos, the bartenders in the Diamond Club
- Arnold, Artie and Manoj, our wait staff in the dining room
- Cindy, the Loyalty Ambassador
- and Waverney, while not our attendant, was another bright spot in the crew.
We gained Diamond Plus status the second week and with it came some neat perks: we had access to the Concierge Lounge as well as the Diamond Club. Also we could take 3 free special tours -- the bridge, the kitchens, and the backstage tour. We took the bridge and backstage tour. Both we recommend. Also suite and Diamond Plus guests can have breakfast and lunch served in the Concierge Lounge which is a lovely quiet spot on decks 11 and 12.
Last but not least the ease of boarding and debarkation. 15 minutes tops to get on the ship and when we left at 8 AM it was 30 minutes from ship to taxi. We used the luggage valet service and recommend it highly. Once you put your luggage in the hallway you don't see it again until you get to your home airport. No lugging it through the long lines at customs and immigration. Well worth the $20!!