Allure of the Seas
Overall impression - Beautiful ship with something for everyone all of the time. We had cabins 11323 & 11325, which are Boardwalk balcony cabins and are third and fourth cabins from the AFT. These cabins have great views of the ocean and the Boardwalk, as well as the Aqua Theatre and zip lines
Embarkation was quick and easy. Due to customs delays resulting from the sequestration, we were told to arrive at 12:30. We did and were in our staterooms by 1 pm. Luggage arrived in our rooms at 3:45. Muster or safety drill was at 4:30 at the Aqua Theater at the end of the Boardwalk. As advised on Cruise Critic, we gabbed the Roast Beef sandwiches at the Park Cafe restaurant (deck 8 in Central Park) for our embarkation lunch. Good call. They literally carve the beef before you in your freshly made sandwich.
Day 1 - explored the ship and played mini golf with the kids. We had one of what would be our two dinners in My Time Dining at the main restaurant, Addagio. The prime rib was decent. Kids both had the pasta with seafood. That didn't look that great. Desserts and appetizers were average. We caught the 9:00 pm showing of the play, Chicago. While this is a Broadway show, this Allure version lacked something you find on Broadway. Individually, the singing, acting, and dancing was fine. Chemistry among the players was lacking a bit. Of course, it is miles ahead of the generic entertainment you get on most cruise ships. After the show, we caught the Ocean Aria show from our balconies above the Boardwalk. We had tickets for the Day 2 showing, but wanted to see it from our much higher vantage point. The show is outstanding, with incredible diving, gymnastics, and showmanship. Our first dinner was in the main dining room.
Day 2- a very brief port of call in Nassau. I was the only one in our family to leave the ship and that was to buy some casual long pants in town for my son. He only brought one pair of long pants and those were dress pants. We reserved the semi private Flow Rider lessons for the kids. There was only one other kid at the lessons. Great deal at $60 per kid for the hour. Both got up and surfed and rode it like a boogie board. We spent the rest of the day poolside and in the water. Dinner was at Chops. I had the porterhouse. It was half decent, but well below other steakhouses at sea. It was a thin cut of beef. I suppose I was expecting something closer to the Crown Grill quality of Princess and was disappointed. After, we headed to the Aqua Theater for our regular seating of Ocean Aria. It's a great show and better from the the seating in the theater. But if you have a Boardwalk Balcony, see it from both.
Day 3 - This was the first full day at sea. My 13-year old son told me that I HAD to do the zip line. Of course, I did. It's a fun 10-second ride. We hung out in the pools. There is a sports pool and we threw a rubber football around. Also rode the carousel with my daughter, hit the adult jacuzzi in the Solarium and just relaxed. While my wife passed, the kids and I had fun and caught the Dreamworks parade in the Royal Promenade. It was well done. We sat a bar on the second level. I admit that I had reservations about getting into the Dreamworks stuff. But this was a lot of fun. I think it was mid-afternoon. Dinner was at the Italian specialty restaurant, Giovanni's. Had the Osso Bucco, which was pretty good. Appetizers were outstanding. Overall, it's a better experience than Chops. But the specialty restaurants improved as the cruise went on (more on that later).
Day 4 - St Thomas. We actually purchased a ship excursion for the first time in our last four cruises. We love St John and the $40 per person price on a ferry leaving right next to the ship seemed like a great way to go. It was!!!! It's a 50 minute ferry right. You still need to pay $6 per person for transfer to and from the beach. Great afternoon at Trunk Bay, still our favorite beach by far, in the Caribbean. Great snorkeling and equipment rental was only $3. Fins are additional $2. Cheeseburgers and fried shrimp basket at the snack bar for lunch. Beautiful day all around. The evening show was the Beatles tribute band. They were actually very good and the crowd was into it. Apparently, they are a staple on many RCI cruises.
Day 5 - Saint Maarten - After breakfast at Park Cafe, we grabbed a taxi to Orient Beach (Kakao Resort) on the French side in St Martin. I had a beach massage a couple of resorts down in a private cabana for $45 for 1/2 hour. There's nothing like a good beach massage. The kids rode on something called Super Mable, which is an inflatable device that is towed by a very fast waverunner. We had a nice lunch on the beach and caught an afternoon taxi back. Taxis are $7 per person to and from the beach. We rested and got ready for our 8:30 pm Rita's Fiesta dinner and party. The Fiesta is a combination dinner and party, featuring music, dancing, and Margaritas (three different kinds). It's $20 for the alcohol package and $10 for kids and the virgin drink package. The food is not so great (fajitas, appetizers, and Mexican desserts). But you can't beat the good time and the three frozen margaritas for $20. Grab a bite before this event and have a great time.
Day 6 - At Sea - After two days at the beach, we all needed rest. We woke up late, and as usual, got breakfast at the Park Cafe, and then had a pool day. I found the Solarium adults only hot tub, which is really nice. But my son convinced me to hang out with the general public in the main pool area as well. This was a tough week back home in Boston and we did watch a good deal of news reporting on the capture of the Boston Marathon terrorists. At night, we had dinner at the Brazilian Steakhouse, Samba. Service was great and so was the food, especially the tenderloin, even a better cut of beef than I had in the porterhouse at Chops. Samba also has great ocean views and it's a great casual dinner. The night only got better with the big show, Blue Planet, in the Amber Theatre. To me, this is the Allure's signature show. Fantastic.
Day 7 - At Sea - Breakfast again at Park Cafe, followed by some pool time and a mid day Madagascar Aqua Theater Show, Well, that was a show worth skipping. In fact, it was one a singular disappointment on the Allure. Back to the Park Cafe for lunch and their great roast beef sandwiches. Headed back to the Solarium to get some sun and hot tub time, followed by the Ice Games skating show. The show was decent, but not a must do. Dinner was at Izumi, a Japanese hot rocks and sushi place with great water views as well. This was a surprise and a must do if you like Japanese. We had the combination dinners. I had the shrimp wonton soup, lobster make rolls, tempura, and tenderloin self cooked on the hot rocks. The dessert, three flavors of Japanese ice cream was also very good. I was surprised at how good Izumi was. After the show, we went to the adults only comedy club while the kids roamed the ship. The two comedians were very good and both had experience on tv shows and national comedy clubs. Great final show of our cruise.
Disembarkation - Like everything else, this was incredibly easy. It was quick and luggage was all together and easy to find.
Royal Caribbean delivered big time for us. We hadn't been on the line in seven years, for no particular reason. But we made sure to purchase future cruise credits before leaving.
Just a great cruise.