We booked this cruise 13 months prior to embarkation. If I can offer one line of advice for fellow travelers, and especially fellow cruisers, DO YOUR RESEARCH!! In my opinion, it is common knowledge to book a cruise in advance so if you do not do your research and are disappointed, the cruise line is not at fault. If you are a member of Cruise Critic and are able to write a review, then please read about your ship and destinations inside and out. I say this because it is so disheartening to see negative reviews written, especially about the most amazing ship in the world to date-the Allure of the Seas.
My husband and I were among the thirteen people in our group that ranged from ages 15 through 47. Everyone in our group is related except for the two of us and to say we vacationed with the best friends we could ever have is putting it lightly. We are a fun-loving, low-key, entertaining, "live each day to the fullest" group. We all knew everything about the ship as soon as we boarded so we all had a fantastic time with no unexpected surprises.
We arrived around 11:30 a.m. during the day of embarkation and were on board within 25 minutes. The woman that reviewed our passports and gave us our Sea-Pass was so sweet and helpful. I have read reviews where people complain about embarkation. I cannot understand it. This is our third cruise and we have never had an issue.
We all immediately went to the Windjammer for lunch. There was a slight issue with my friend ordering her alcoholic beverage and the time it took to receive it, but given the fact that a few thousand people just boarded a ship within a matter of a few hours, it was completely understandable.
All of our luggage arrived within its entirety by approximately 2:00 p.m.
We chose the balcony oceanview on the 9th Floor and will definitely pay more for this view than we would for an inside stateroom. The view is worth the trip. There were no smokers within close range of our room so we were never bothered by cigarette smoke. The setup of the room was pretty decent. The space for folded clothes is a little odd, but it wasn't an issue. I thoroughly enjoyed our room, especially since I was sick one day and slept for 20 hours straight.
We are not fans of musicals (except for a few) and tried Chicago believing we would enjoy it but unfortunately, we did not like it. This is not the cruise line's fault; it's not our type of enjoyable show. The ice show and diving shows were amazing. One of the comedians is from the town next to where we live so we could totally relate to his humor. We were not fans of the headliner but that was because we didn't particularly enjoy Motown music. I have read so many negative reviews about people waiting to go into the shows and we never had a problem. Since there were thirteen of us and we did most things in the evenings together, I think we are a pretty good judge.
We ate at 6:00 each night and none of us missed the meal in the main dining room, except the one night I was ill and unable to make it to dinner. Our waiter that took over for the main waiter was fabulous and the most knowledgeable person we all met on the ship. The food was excellent and the nights we dressed up made it more elegant. The four teenagers were at one table next to ours and the nine adults were at the next table. If I could bottle those dinners in a jar, I would. We created some wonderful memories. The line to get into dinner was approximately 2-3 minutes each night, especially on formal nights. I have read a ton of complaints about the lines. We arrived on time each night and never had an issue.
My husband and I and one other couple purchased the more expensive drink package for $770 total for both of us for the week. You do receive a receipt with each drink but with a zero balance. There are a few, and I mean very few, top-shelf boozes that are not included in this package. We do think it was worth the money and we did not worry about what we spent because we paid for it in advance.
Some things people don't mention:
1)There is a jogging/walking track on board which is great if you just can't make it to the gym. There are soooo many people that do not speak the English language and we especially noticed it on the jogging track. Joggers stay to the left and walkers stay to the right. I am a walker and out of courtesy and because of the signs everywhere, I stayed to the right so the runners could go by. I don't know if it was the language barrier, but many non-English speaking people could not understand to stay to the right if they were walking.
2)Trivia nights were our favorite things to do. We have been on two Royal Caribbean cruises and absolutely love the music and movie trivias which were mostly held in the Schooner Bar. The prizes are crummy but participating and the fact that we won one time were enough for us.
3)Mob dancing in the promenade is fun to watch as it is to participate.
4)The hot dogs from The Dog House are absolutely delicious. They are included in the cost of your trip. You have to visit The Boardwalk at least once. Just to feel like a child, ride on the merry-go-round once.
5)Take advantage of the Cruise Compass! All the information you want is in your Cruise Compass. That was my best friend (besides my husband and friends) every day. I have read reviews where people said they couldn't find information for the daily events until the very end of the trip and on the television. This is completely untrue! The Cruise Compass is in your room before the next day so you can plan your activities every morning.
6)The band that played in Dazzles each night was fantastic and could play anything from the 50's to today's music. This comes from someone that doesn't generally enjoy cover bands.
People are human and there were a couple of cranky people that worked for the cruise. How did we cure that? We talked with them, smiled and didn't complain unnecessarily. The thing that was constantly noticeable to us were unhappy passengers. I am from the United States so maybe I am biased but the majority of people that were unfriendly were not from the United States. If you are going to spend a minimum of $4,000, why would you not want to enjoy it? Our next destination will either be another Allure cruise or Quantum of the Seas. This trip was worth the year of planning and saving. There is so much more that I haven't said but to sum this trip up, it should be at the top of everyone's bucket list.