After having sailed on the Allure last May, and the service being less than stellar, I wasn't expecting much by the way of service. But I wanted my husband (who wasn't with me last year) to experience it. I loved the entertainment, and since he is a musician, I knew he would love it too. I have to say, the service in every area, was beyond my expectations this time around.
Embarkation: We also received the notice not to arrive at the port until 12:30 pm, but we had already arranged the car to pick us up at our friend's house, where we stayed for a couple of days pre-cruise. We arrived at 10:45, boarded at 11:45, and at Park Cafe eating roast beef sandwiches by 12:15. Our luggage was by our door when our rooms were ready at 1:00.
I really wanted to try all the different venues, as last year I was with others who wanted to stick to the Windjammer and the MDR. So I went along, but I feel like I missed out on not just the food venues, but also some of the entertainment venues, as they had to do Karaoke every night! I sort of felt like this was my "do over" cruise on the Allure.
Breakfast: We ate at MDR last day, and it was a great buffet; Solarium a couple of times (very healthy and good); Johnny Rockets (just ok, nothing special); Wipe Out (nice omelets); and room service once. It was nice to do the room service and eat on the balcony. But I wanted to try all the different venues, so we only did room service once. It was very quick. They gave us a big pot of coffee! Be sure to order the coffee for two, or you will get a tiny little pot.
Lunch: We ate at Park Cafe for our first meal on board. IMHO the roast beef was just ok. I didn't think it lived up to all the hype, and the salads were just ok too. There were way better salads available elsewhere. Wipe Out, we ate at once for lunch because I had an urge for guacamole. It was good! And of course the frozen yogurt was yummy too. Solarium was good for lunch (nice salads and healthy food). The Windjammer was not bad at all, but we only ate there once for lunch. The MDR was the best because of the salad bar/buffet was really good. I actually wish I had discovered this sooner, but it wasn't until Friday that we ate here and that thanks to the Cruise Critics and lunch after the Cabin Crawl. We also had little sandwiches and cookies the last day at Park Promenade. We ate here for many late night snacks last year, so I wanted to avoid it (those Coconut cookies are way too addicting). Also the little shrimp salad sandwiches are delicious!
Dinner: We had dinner at the MDR (My Time) all but two evenings. The service was excellent. A big thanks to Romeo and Richard, who were our waiter and assistant waiters. The food was very good, but our table mates really made it great! You won't find Escargot, even though it is on the menu. We were told the first night that they could not get it right now, but it mysteriously was available one evening. Chops was great too, where we celebrated our 14th anniversary. A very sweet thing happened, when our table mates ate at Chops the same evening and were seated right next to us. It was just a coincidence, and not planned at all. We were also purchasing one of those really cool red wine decanter thingies. When we went to pay our bill, the waiter very discreetly let us know that the next table had paid the bill. It made our evening very special! A big thanks to Sherry and Brad!!! The last night we had dinner at 150 Central Park. This was a new menu this week with a new chef. It was such an amazing meal, and a great way to end our cruise! I bought the cookbook, and it was signed by the chef. I can't wait to replicate this meal!
A note on the wine package: We ordered the 5 bottle premium package online. Online there were a lot of choices as to the wine selection. In reality it was a very limited selection and we were disappointed. I would not do this again.
Chicago was a new cast, with our show being the second time they performed together outside of rehearsals. I liked the show better than last year. The music was great, but the story itself, well I'm just not a huge fan of Chicago. It was 90 minutes without an intermission, which was way too long. My husband fell asleep! Ice Games was just ok, and I fell asleep! The Headliner show was Earl Turner, which was basically a musical history of R & B and Funk. What a great performer!!! Blue Planet and Ocean Aria were both amazing too! The comedians were hysterical. Get to these shows early for good seats--like at least 30 minutes early. And please do not save seats. That is highly annoying and will really tick off your fellow cruisers!
I want to give a special recognition to Bruce Gordon and his jazz quartet. We spent a lot of time on Jazz on 4 to hear Bruce sing. He also played throughout the ship and we tried not to miss him. But he doesn't get talked up like the main shows, and that's unfortunate because he so talented.
We also went to a jazz show at Dazzles one night, which showcased Bruce and three other jazz ensembles which including some members of the Allure orchestra. In the middle of the show the cast of Chicago showed up. They had their own private, very loud party on the second level, during their fellow performers performances. They took over the dance floor, and their behavior disgusted us so much we walked out early. They obviously wanted it to be all about them, the great and wonderful cast of Chicago. Not! Let me say that my husband is a professional violinist, who has played for a lot famous artists, been on a Grammy nominated album, and just played for a Presidential Inaugural concert. We know how professionals should behave, and this was not it! If I had seen this before I saw Chicago, I would not have attended their show. It ruined our evening in Dazzles, which we had been looking forward to for days. Not to mention that one of the cast nearly had a wardrobe male function. It was pathetic.
One other venue worthy of note: The Champagne Bar was a really nice place to have a martini. They serve canopies with your drinks before dinner. That was a very nice touch. We never did make it to Karaoke!
Service: Last year our room attendant could care less, so I was not expecting much. But Genero, our room attendant this time was great. In fact we had nothing but great service everywhere on the ship.
Debarkation: We stayed on until 8:30 and there were long lines to get off the ship. Not a big deal because we had a late flight. Getting our luggage was a breeze, and catching a cab to FLL was really quick. It was $12 and we gave him a nice tip. Way cheaper than taking a cruise transport, and no waiting to fill up a van.
Overall cruise experience: When I plan a year for a vacation, usually the expectations never quite lines up with the actual experience, and I end up a little disappointed. But this went way beyond my expectations in so many ways. My husband and I are very social and love making new friends. We met so many people that made our cruise so much fun and we laughed a lot! It really was the people who made it so special. Thanks Royal for a great vacation!