This was our 5th cruise, the 2nd with Royal Caribbean. We cruised the western Caribbean on the Allure. Royal Caribbean once again proved to be our favorite cruise line! There was so much to do on this ship, things going on concurrently; we recommend reading the Cruise Compass each morning, and plan your day. The ship is amazing, not only because it is huge and beautiful, but also because there is just so much to do in so many venues; literally something for everybody no matter what age or interest. Thoughts from our experience:
- The shows: book online before your cruise date. They fill up. Get to each (especially Chicago, OceanAria & Ice Games) 45 minutes early and get in line to get a good seat, even with a reservation. Reservations are checked at the door with your seapass; saving seats is discouraged, but people still do it. Don't book an evening show on lobster night (Thursday, day 5 for our cruise, which was also the 2nd formal night). Chicago and OceanAria are must-sees; exceeding expectations. Blue Planet also wonderful. Our Headliner was Paul Boland, a comic singer impressionist and he was wonderful. The Comedy Show starred A J Jamal & Rick Corso; very hilarious. We scheduled it for the last evening, a great way to end the cruise, but we missed the Move It! Move It! Parade in the Royal Promenade going on at the same time (7:45 PM), which we wanted to see; no way of knowing that at the time we scheduled. About the Amber Theatre: the AC vents are under each seat on the main floor & when the AC is running (which was most of the time, it is VERY cold, to the point of being a distraction; even my husband was cold; recommend wearing slacks and enclosed shoes and bringing a wrap for the ladies. Also, on the lower balcony, don't sit directly behind the sound/lighting control area (which is on the rear of the main floor) because there are two computer screens on and lit all the time and the light from them is also very distracting. About the Aqua Theatre: the first 3 rows are "splash zones" something you may or may not like. Every other row thereafter is alternating, beach-like chairs, and benches. Probably not a bad seat in the house, but we preferred a seat with a back.
- Best meal we had was in the Samba Grille. Go hungry and don't fill up on the salad bar, as there are 9 different meats coming your way as the main course. It's a wonderful atmosphere and a very enjoyable evening; plan on two hours to enjoy the experience.
- We really enjoyed the 70s Street Party in the Royal Promenade on the the 6th night. We arrived there after 10 PM, after seeing Blue Planet, and it was just gearing up; lots of fun!
- Don't miss the MoveIt! MoveIt! Parade; we saw it on day 2: it started at 11:15 AM; get to the Promenade early and get a seat in front of Sorrento's or the Bow & Stern (the chairs will already be lined up) because that's where the Dreamworks characters perform). I think this is the same parade that is performed again on the last evening (7:45 PM) of the cruise.
- We stumbled upon Chip Colvin's Intimate Evening of Broadway Piano Melodies (9:30 -- 10:30PM) and it proved to be one of our most enjoyable evenings. It's in Jazz on 4, itself a cozy, intimate venue. Chip is the conductor for the orchestra of Chicago. He's very talented, both as a vocalist and pianist. We ended up staying for his second set, which had cast members from Chicago joining him each singing their own selections. You actually felt you got to know the cast a bit; we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Jazz on 4.
- Piano Bar in Schooner Bar with Liam Stewart was a more lively form of music, but he's also a very talented pianist
- We enjoyed our time in the Solarium; it's beautiful and relaxing.
* The Cruise Director, Allan Brooks, was fabulous!
- The ports: Labadie proved to be the port we enjoyed the most. We had been there before and thought Royal Caribbean has done a nice job of developing the beach area. In Falmouth, we took a tour to a Sugar Plantation (1700's Great House & More at Leisure), which was interesting, but the Chukka folks (who seem to have a lock on the tours booked through the ship)were very disorganized getting the various tours onto the proper busses in the morning. After returning from that tour, we rode the Falmouth open-air trolley ($20/ each and you can buy tickets at the dock area right before riding) was interesting, but we didn't really see much in the way of restored Georgian architecture; not sure it was worth the trip. We had been to Cozumel before, the weather was cool and rainy, so we spent the day in the Solarium onboard.
All in all the Allure is fantastic...we highly recommend it!