We were expecting a very nice, active cruise with a diverse group of passengers and that is what we got. We also expected big crowds and got that, too.
Royal Caribbean generally does a good job, and this cruise was no exception. Customer service is consistently good, but not outstanding. Things seemed a bit disorganized on embarkation, but that may have been due to a government inspection that was going on. The stateroom TVs and screens throughout the ship did not work for parts of the cruise, which made the customer service lines long. Customer service did an excellent job of getting people off of the lines who did not need to be there by answering questions before they got to the desk, but it would have been better if the TVs and kiosks worked. We ultimately got to see the shows we wanted, and ate dinner most of the time at the My Time times that we wanted, but it took a lot of work on the first day to get that to happen. More work that it should have.
The food was good but not great. I am a vegetarian and there was always a vegetarian dinner option available, although three of the nights it consisted of the same soy crumbles made different ways. The Indian and asian food stations at Windjammer were a bit of a disappointment, as there was not much variety. The food in the main dining room was pretty standard for most cruise lines. Service was fast. The Solarium Bistro had the best, and healthiest food, and often was not that crowded. A big disappointment was the lack of whole grain options. Solarium had brown rice and Windjammer had a multigrain bread for breakfast, but most other food was refined (white rice, white bread, white pasta, etc.) Also, no veggie burgers in Windjammer, although they did have them on Labadee when I asked.
Entertainment was pretty good. It was standard cruise line fare, albeit better than most cruises. It was nice that they had a full orchestra for some of the shows. Chicago was billed as a "Broadway" show but it was not. The cast was good, but not Broadway quality (I have seen Chicago on Broadway and lived in NYC for many years). The other shows were good compared to most cruise shows, and somewhat unique. They were entertaining and worth going to, but not he kind of shows you would buy tickets for on land. The ice show was supposedly based on Monopoly but had nothing to do with the board game and was just a way to promote different venues on the ship. Earl Turner performed in the headliner show. Supposedly they picked him up in Jamaica, he did three shows in two days, and then was dropped off in Cozumel. His show had a lot of energy and was entertaining, especially for the older crowd, since it was mainly oldies. The comedy show featured Cary Long (very funny) and Sonya White (not funny).
The entertainment staff is not that energetic. The main problem is cruise director Ken Rush, who seemed to be mailing it in. Many of the entertainment staff did not seem to want to be there. An exception was Zach the assistant cruise director from South Africa, who celebrated his birthday on board and had a lot of energy. His crew did a rousing YMCA and also some fun dance numbers, but the entertainment activities in general, particularly the trivia games and contests, fell flat. Given the number of people on the ship there was not enough variety in the activities. For example, they did dodgeball competitions multiple times.
RCL did a bit too much promotion for its line and the ship. They told us over and over that RCL is the best cruise line and Allure is the best ship. We were already on the ship, so it was not necessary. A lot of this was driven by Ken, who would not stop talking, even as people exited the room because they knew Ken had nothing of substance to say.
The Crown and Anchor events were good. RCL definitely sucks up well to its frequent cruisers. The Cruise Critic meet and mingle was surprisingly sparsely attended. RCL did a good job with it, so it was not their fault. We dropped the ball on this one.
The sea was calm and the ship hardly moved. It really did not even feel like a ship at all. It felt like we were in a big mall. I do not like much movement during cruises, but in all honesty, I would have liked it if they turned off the stabilizers for a little while and let the ship rock a bit, especially at night. I did not have any sea legs leaving the ship, which was a bit of a disappointment really.
The layout of the ship is excellent, and there are plenty of places to hide out and avoid the crowds if you know where to go. Solarium was our favorite, along with the chairs at the back of the walking track on deck 5. Avoiding Windjammer also worked well for us. We avoided the hot tubs, pools, and pool deck for most of the time, since it was just too crowded. Other activities were way too crowded as well, especially Flow Rider (which was fun, but not worth waiting a half hour to get a turn). There were long lines for the zip line and climbing wall as well. Ice skating times were limited and it was so crowded on the small ice rink that we got off after a few minutes. We took advantage of activities on the ship during port days, which was the only time you could enjoy them.
RCL gets a big thumbs down for the change to the Wifi plans. Rather than sell minutes, the plans now give you one consecutive hour for $30 and one full day for $50. Completely worthless IMO. You can still buy the unlimited plan for $179, which clearly is all RCL wants to sell. We made due by using free Wifi in Falmouth and Cozumel, so it was enough, but RCL really needs to get with the program and either lower the price of the unlimited plan and offer nothing else, or offer a useful limited plan for people like us who just wanted to stay in touch with a few e-mails from time to time.
Overall, I am glad we sailed Allure. Was it worth the premium that RCL charges for Allure and Oasis? No, but we expected that. We probably will not sail the Oasis class ships again in the near future if the premium pricing remains. Frankly, I think that the Freedom class is just as nice and a bit more manageable. But we had a great time and will certainly return to RCL again.