This was our 11th cruise but the first with RCCL so we felt like newbies again. We traveled with our son, daughter-in-law and their 2 young sons (3 yr & 9 mos)and had adjoining cabins. Our overall impression of the Allure of the Seas is that it is quite impressive. A big ship with lots of different things to do and see. We wondered what it would be like to travel with 6000 other passengers and for the most part it went quite well.
Embarkation was quick and easy even with the little ones in tow. The check-in lines are organized by deck and customer level and there were plenty of agents for each category. Cabins weren't available until 1 pm but we knew that ahead of time and arrived at the port just a little before 1.
Our balcony cabin was nice but nothing special. Our room steward wasn't around when we arrived but he showed up later in the afternoon and was quick to take care of our request to open the door between our balcony and that of our son and his family in the adjacent cabin. There are 2 basic layouts for the balcony cabins: one with the bed near the balcony door and the couch and desk closer to the cabin door and the other with bed closer to the door and desk/couch nearer to the balcony. Ours had the bed closer to the balcony door and we would have preferred the other arrangement. Something to check on when making your reservation if you have a preference. A couple of nice touches in the cabin were the glass shower door and an interactive TV that provides a lot of info and services. Our cabin was on deck 14 towards the stern. We discovered a public balcony at the end of our hallway that could hold about a dozen people and looked out over the aqua theater. We dubbed it "the Veranda" and usually had it to ourselves. After a little exploring, I found similar public balconies on the 11th and 12th decks. Our room steward was very friendly and was quick to realize that with small children in our party we would need extra towels and glasses.
Dining options abound but many require an additional fee. The food in the main dining room was good but not great. Service was wonderful and like our cabin steward, the dining room wait staff went out of their way to react to the needs of the little ones. The Windjammer buffet was laid out pretty well and we never had a problem finding a table. However, it closes at 10 pm and doesn't reopen until 7am so not available for late night snacks or an early cup of coffee and roll. We went to Chops Grille and Giovannis Table and both had excellent food an good service. The pizza shop was ok and the Dog House had a nice variety of tasty sausages.
Bar service was ok but many of the bars could have used an additional bartender. I was surprised that some of the bars quickly ran out of popular beers and wines.
The shows were spectacular. We saw Chicago, Blue Planet, Aqua Theater show and Ice games. All of them were outstanding and better than any other show we've seen on other cruise ships. They are very popular and I was glad we had made our reservations right after we booked the cruise.
There is a wide range of activities available on-board. We did the flowrider, climbing wall and zip line and lines were never too long. The walking/jogging track is great. It is a cushioned 0.4 mile oval. Fitness center is nice but crowded on sea days. My wife and daughter-in-law had fun taking a decorating class at the Cupcake Factory. The little ones enjoyed the carousel on the boardwalk and our 3yr old grandson had a ball driving the battery powered cars in the enclosed sport deck. The pools are salt water and as expected were very crowded on sea days. You could find a deck chair if you looked hard enough but it was usually pretty far away from any of the pools.
The children's programs were good and the 3 yr old enjoyed it when he went. A side benefit of using the children's program is that the parents are given a mobile phone that works on the ships local phone system. This was handy when we need to touch base with each other. At our stop at Labadee, the children's program moves to the island but there were no organized activities for the kids like there was on the ship.
Disembarkation was smooth and quick. We left the ship at 8:15 and were at our gate at the airport by 9:15. We elected not to get a transfer and had no problem finding a van to take the six of us and our luggage to the Fort Lauderdale airport.