Ahhh, Allure of the seas! We booked this family cruise a year ago. I have read every review about the Allure since. I have to admit that prior to sailing, I was a little surprised by what some people complain over. After just arriving home last night, I can see and agree with some of the good and bad that has been brought up.
This ship is simply amazing. I think nobody would disagree with that. With so many people on board, what takes place is a work of art. From the dining room to the cleaning staff, to just trying to keep up with the daily tasks....it is a feat of proportionate magnitude from start to finish. It is modern and very clean. That alone is worth the price.
There is a lot to talk about. So much that it can't be done in a review like this. Royal Caribbean is in the WOW business. This is truly an experience. It can be as crazy or as quiet as you want it to be. They give you the tools and it is up to you to make the memories. Having said that, there are a few things I wanted to hit on.
Food: My wife and I are "amateur" foodies. We love good food and could not wait to see what was in store for us. Along that line, we eat a very specific way and we found that overall the food was good. Not excellent. I'm actually sad to write that as we wanted to experience the best! The main dining room did deliver except for one night. The plating was fantastic and the service was awesome. I did feel pushed at times. As for the remaining locations, breakfast and lunch outside the main dining room was weak. The bacon at every venue was paper thin and the eggs are powdered. You can hit the wipe out for an made to order omelet. The solarium rocked for lunch with an array of healthy food choices. We simply avoided the windjammer as it was a culmination of people gouging themselves. Chops was the best. We were delighted in the food and the choices. They do allow you to use the premium alcohol package inside chops. Anything you would drink anywhere else, you can get inside of chops. Johnny Rockets had breakfast for free only. Everything after 11:00a.m. is $4.95. The breakfast there was average at best. Your basically limited to the menu items. The bottom line is you won't go hungry. For 75% of the people, the food is fantastic and totally better (or worse) then they eat every day. Pizza, cookies, hamburgers...you name it (yuk). The solarium was by far the healthiest option for a meal any time of the day.
Embarkation/Debarkation: Very impressed. Not a problem. The worst part was leaving the ship and waiting in the cattle stalls shuffling along with your full set of luggage to clear customs. Not easy or pleasant, but not RC's fault.
Pool Deck: We love the pool deck and hit it every day. It was crowded. We did have a hard time finding a chair in the shade. Yes, towels were everywhere saving seats. I never saw the seat saving rule being enforced. Forget the solarium, those seats are saved early and vacant the rest of the day, covered with towels and no people. If you're ok with full sun, you can find a chair. The mast bar was the least busy and Oliver from the Philippians will hook you up. My biggest complaint is simple, but a big one for me. Having cruised before, I was looking forward to music while laying out on the deck. The Allure offers music, but it is quiet and not audible from the top pool decks. It was pop music down by the pool. There were scheduled times for the band to play. Yes, one band for the entire ship for all the pools. Usually they would play an hour from 12:00p.m. to 1:00pm, then 3:00 to 5:00 on sea days only. On the top deck you can't hear the ocean, you can't hear the music below you. It is nothing but people walking by and the engine running. That does sound good, I know right? However minor this is to some, this really is a personal beef for me. Something that I know people will laugh at, but I really like calypso while laying on the pool deck. Oliver from the mast bar brings his own little stereo to the bar to listen to while he is serving. So as you walk up, he is singing and dancing to his own music. Just crazy to me! Enough of that.... RC, get some music!!!
We had room 11229. It has no room on one side next to it, however it is right next to a service station for the staff. The payoff is, it offers a larger extended deck overlooking central park. You get two chairs and a table, plus two more chairs and a drink table. We would notice the service station being used during the day, so if you sleep in it might bother you. Saturday night, we heard them all night long as they were moving luggage etc. I would get that room again. I very much enjoyed overlooking central park as the noise was minimal and in the evenings, there was jazz in central park and you could sit and listen to it. The room was very clean and nice. I loved the self closing closets and the touch button safe. Make sure you watch the morning rush show with the director. He goes over the entire day with what is going on. Also catch the top ten craziest questions ever asked. Cracked us up! i.e. do these stairs go up or down? or, which elevator takes us to the front of the ship? or, what elevation is the ship at? Ken Rush (director) worked his tail off. He comes across as arrogant and you get tired of his voice by the end. I'm just thankful for him as he did share lots of tips and good info. You're in room tv is really a great way to do everything you need. Book shows, check your balance or watch replays from the previous nights shows. Amazing really.
Sea sickness: Never was an issue. We took lots of stuff, sea bands etc., but it was smooth and although you can feel it, very nice!
Shows: Very talented staff. Chicago is a unique story. I think that people sometimes don't get it and criticize the show for the show itself. The acting was good and although not Broadway, it was entertaining and good. Blue planet was super cool. I didn't care for the story, but the actors were still very good. I probably would not go back to see either one. I did hear the comedy was excellent, and the ice show as well. The quest was interesting to say the least. You will see crazy stuff. I was very surprised at the content. We saw nudity and more. Be warned. It is not for young kids.
Premium Alcohol Package - I'm a numbers guy. I did the math. You need 5-7 drinks per day per person to break even (give or take a few). I never saw anyone drunk. We totally got our monies worth. Look, any other vacation (with some exceptions...i.e. an all-inclusive resort in Mexico), you're paying for all your drinks. I spent $30 bucks on three drinks (Mai Tai) in Hawaii last year. Only on a cruise can you drink anything you want and not worry about the cost. They really did not skimp on the alcohol and they were all very good. My family all met at the Martini bar for drinks at 5:00p.m. before dinner every night. It was wonderful. You do have to sign a slip for every drink. The biggest disappointment is the wine selection. It is a red Cabernet/Merlot or a Chardonnay or pinot grigio. I think maybe also a Riesling. We like a red so we were very limited. One red type for the entire cruise! Really? Good thing I love cabs. There are a lot of red wines that are cheap enough to add to the "premium package". You can order Grey Goose Vodka or Ketel One, but they give you only one wine selection. Disappointing to say the least. We also had no problem buying alcohol at the ports. They took it at customs and we got it delivered to our room the last night. If you like to drink, even a little, I would recommend pre-paying. The drinks will simply add up and it is not hard to have a drink on the deck pool at 1:00, 3:00, 4:30....wine with dinner and a cocktail at a show. Bam, your even! The bow and stern offered a wide selection of beers and I think there really was only one beer not covered in the package. I had to laugh at the soda people. Packing that big cup around everywhere, all day! They were everywhere on Monday and by Friday you hardly saw anyone packing them around. Sheeple come on!!
Value: There is so much to do at any given moment you really have to pick and choose. Dancing, live music, classes. I found myself overwhelmed with the choices. There is a ton of shows we missed and things I had hoped to do but never could because I was doing something else. I didn't get to rock climb, zip line or use the flow rider. The lines for these were always long and I simply did not want to wait. On a 7 day cruise, you eventually crash and end up almost taking the bulk of at least a day off to rest. I did notice that there was a lot of stuff that didn't even start up until after 11:00 at night. Dancing and bands etc. That made it hard to stay up late into the night and then catch stuff during the day. Throw in some shore excursions and you're in for a full week! I loved St. Maarten and the Segway tour was above and beyond. Very fun and worth the money. When looking for a vacation, you could never do all we did for what we paid. A five star hotel, restaurant and entertainment for one price. We had one couple in our party that enjoyed bingo and played every day. It's crazy to think about everything going on all at the same time. The Allure is an experience and we did find it busy at times. I felt almost penalized as we stayed on board during the Bahamas. We have been there before. Everything shuts down when the ship is at port. I can see why some people would say it is too big and too busy. I can see how some like a less lively and smaller crowd. We all cruise for different reasons. If my biggest complaint is the pool deck music, they have to be doing something right, right? Overall, when I consider everything, it is a great vacation for the money. I would recommend the Allure and I can't wait to go back!
Use the Purell hand dispensers, they are everywhere. Especially before meals.
Use the push buttons to open the doors. Nice touch RC!
Read the compass laid on your bed every night. It is the newspaper of the ship and very well done!
Stay at the Embassy Suites in Ft. Lauderdale. Nice location and take the taxi from the airport. (cheaper than the shuttle)
Take a taxi to the port instead of the shuttle. It is also cheaper.
Eat at Chucks across the street from the Embassy Suites. Very nice prime rib dinner!
The taxi from the port to the airport comes in at about $14. It's quick and easy.
Great port! We took the Segway tour and loved it! Wellington is a super star and he went above and beyond the tour by allowing us to have a lot of fun. We really had a great time! We also ate at the Blue Bitch bar on the boardwalk. Great food, free WIFI and frenziedly staff with good prices. St. Maarten was a wonderful port.
Took a taxi to Megan's Bay! Awesome beach with bathrooms and shade.