Just got back from our quick getaway to the Allure of the Seas for Valentines weekend. Its the first time they book the ship for a 3 night outing and it was clear that they were not that ready for this type of short trip.
First things first, the Allure is a beautiful ship with all the amenities and activities one can hope for. There are too many things to do and explore that 3 or 7 days is not enough to enjoy the ship. I would venture to say that the best way to really enjoy Allure will probably be on back to back cruises for 14 days (and im still not sure !!)
The embarking process was simple and straightforward. The ship is superb. The problem was the dining venues.
It so happened that it rained all weekend long, Allure is not designed for rain, the key to the ship is being able to disperse the 6300 cruisers throughout the 7 neighborhoods of the ship. The problem is that when it rains, the Boardwalk, Central Park and the top decks can't be used which then causes severe overcrowding on those locations that are available. This happened to us on sea day and on Nassau when the rain kept pouring down on us.
I know we cant control weather but the Allure designers could have planned to have some type of covering mechanism for when this happens like those used in stadiums so that traveller can enjoy the venues regardless of weather.
Since all alternate dining venues are in Central Park, the first two nights of the cruise we had to go to the restaurants using scarcely available umbrellas. Figure this, you all dressed up and rain pouring, you have to run to your restaurant and risk falling or hurting yourself. This is what was happening.
To make matters worse, Giovanni's Table and Chops Grille have outdoor tables, because of the rain, these were not available and they had to accomodate everybody inside. This lead to large waiting times due to the overwhelming demand for the restaurants and the limited amount of tables available. Again, covers for the outside tables may be a good idea.
Giovanni's table was great (Thursday, Feb 14). Food superb. Chops Grille (Friday, Feb 15) on the other hand was awful. The filet mignon was overcooked, was not tender at all, and tasted like plastic. I've had better steaks in Sizzler and Longhorn. I don't know if it was because of the amount of people on the restaurant but the food was subpar, even worse than that. What a complete disappointment.
We also ate at Samba Grill on Saturday the 16th but had to wait over 45 minutes in our table seated for a waiter to notice we were there to eat. There where three tables around us and we were all wondering when they would come to give us service. Again, overcrowding was an issue but we paid $30pp to eat there and having to wait 45 to get some bread and get the process started is completely unnaceptable.
The food was good, but after the wait at lease I was not that receptive anymore.
RCI does a great job with its ships, but I think the sheer amount of people on board is too much to keep the Gold Level of Service that they advertise.
I also saw many people fall on the upper decks particularly on the stairs that lead to the Zip Line and Flowriders. RCI has to do something about this because in the 45 minutes that I waited for the Zip Line, to ladies fell really hard on those steps. The rain and water from the flowrider make it very slippery and RCI should take measures to ensure people dont slip.
Id go back to Allure but its just too big and too crowded. I'll stick to my favorite the Radiance Class...