My wife and I have been cruising for fifteen years and love it. We have never had a bad cruise and we have cruised on Costa, Carnival and Norwegian. The Allure ranks a little higher overall than Costa, Carnival and Norwegian but far below Holland America, Princess, Celebrity, and even the other RCI ships including the Oasis which we cruised on in December 2011.
We live in Tampa, FL so we departed for Fort Lauderdale at 8:00 am for the 4 1/2 hour drive. We arrived at the terminal at noon, dropped off our luggage and parked not more than 100 yards from the terminal. Check-in was a breeze and we were at the buffet within 30 minutes. After a quick lunch, we headed for our cabin to unpack. We were to meet our two sons, their wives, and six other friends for early dinner. The cruise was to celebrate our 60th Wedding Anniversary.
Dinner was good considering the number of meals they serve each day. No cruise ship ever really serves hot food. The service was great. We finished dinner about 1/2 hour before Chicago started so we went to the Amber showroom. We had booked all of the shows months in advance of the cruise. After fighting the crowds to walk the length of the ship we finally got in line for the show. This was the first in a number of lines we were to stand in.
"Chicago" was outstanding. In fact every show we went to was top notch. I do wish, however, that you could reserve a seat when you book the cruise. We waited in line for every show and when we arrived only 15 minutes before the Aqua show the only seats that were left were in the area when the performers threw water on you and it was a formal night to boot. They laughed while they wetted us down but it was not funny.
On Tuesday night we reserved a table for twelve at the Chops Steakhouse. What a waste of money. The food was no better than the main dining room and the service was not nearly as good. It was also extremely loud. It was the last special dining venue we went to.
The next night at the main dining room I ordered a steak from the every day menu. The first bite I took resulted in a piece of metal sticking in my lip. I pulled it out and no real damage was done. My son and I concluded that it was a bristle from the grill cleaning brush. The waiters were very nice about the whole thing but it was not their fault. They replaced steak but my appetite was gone and It was dessert time before the new plate arrived so I settled for the sweets.
We like to spend a lot of time in the Solarium. I usually arrive there at 7:30 in the morning and have coffee and work puzzles until my wife joins me for breakfast. I got a kick of watching the people arrive with arms full of towels to reserve their favorite spot in the sun. When my wife and I retired to the big hot tub on the shady side of the ship the only things getting sun on the deck were the towels.
The best time of the day was lunch time at the park cafe. The roast beef sandwiches were outstanding. It did not take long for the cruisers to find the best place for lunch so you had to get there before 11:30 am to get a seat. After noon the lines were long and the seats scarce.
We had been to every port of call so we stayed on the ship when it was in port and enjoyed the lack of crowds. There were lots of small children which we had not seen on the Oasis but for the most part they were well behaved. However, some parents needed lessons in stroller pushing.
We liked to dance before dinner at the Dazzles lounge. The music was good, however, the dance floor and seating capacity could not handle the crowds. The chairs were so close together that you had to ask people to get up in order to get out to go eat.
Half way through the cruise I went to guest services to ask them to put my son's gratuities on my bill. The lady said that she could not do it until the last day so she took all of the information and assured me it would be done. It was not done and I was not about to stand in line another time.
Finally, there was debarkation. I has driven so there was no need to get off early so I opted for the 8:30 to 10:30 time slot. We had a late breakfast and arrived at the Adagio Dining room at 8:30. There was the longest line I have ever seen on a cruise ship. We sat for 2 1/2 hours watching the line slowly move around the dining room. Then we were invited to "join the line". One hour later we put the suitcases in the trunk and headed back to Tampa.
To us the Allure was a mixed bag. We enjoyed the entertainment, the variety of activities and the stateroom and dining room service. We will probably stay clear of the megaships in the future. Life is too short to spend much of it in line.