First things first, the Allure is not a ship' it's a huge city hiding within the Allure. No matter how many pictures you've seen or how many reviews you have read, you will not be prepared for its magic. Not only is it huge, but it's gorgeous with the best entertainment on the seas today (I'm sure of this!). For me, it was a bit overwhelming, and although I had the best 7 days, at times, I felt it was too big, losing some intimacy that I've come to expect from a cruise. For instance, I usually met a zillion people on-board, but this time, you might say hello to someone and never see them again on the ship. It's not a complaint, but rather, a fact. We've cruised with Carnival, Disney, and Princess, but we seem to keep coming back to Royal Caribbean. The benefits for past passengers are great and their shows are usually spot-on' the Allure was, indeed, a spot or two above our high expectations.
Let's start a bit slower' we had a cabin overlooking the promenade' I was expecting a much smaller cabin based on many reviews. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it was small, but it was large compared to some other cabins, for sure! The room lay-out was perfect for my husband and me; the couch was a bonus point, although we mainly used it to place our wet bathing suits. The bathroom and shower' hmm, yes it was small, very small, but at least, it didn't have those dirty shower curtains. Speaking of dirty stuff, I found quite a bit of hair on the bathroom floor; within a matter of minutes, Royal Caribbean was in our room sanitizing the bathroom. Question: why wasn't this done prior to our arrival? On the other hand, I was given a free meal at Chops Grill for my husband and myself and' I knew the bathroom was clean!
We ate dinner in the dining room every night, except the last night (I did mention a free meal at Chops). We had early seating and requested a table for 2; we were given a table for 8. The ma'tre-d told me that there were no tables for 2, but after a few smiles and kind words, she seemed to find me such a table! The place was jammed the first night with individuals searching for their table numbers and waiters trying to help us to our seat. Our waiter kept apologizing for not giving us more attention; we basically were looking for him all night for something or another. He never smiled (and I mean never), and he seemed over-whelmed or upset' or perhaps a bit of both. We asked to have our table switched, and we were put in a smaller room off of the main dining room. I would search for this area next time; it was wonderful. There were fewer tables, more intimate, and we received amazing service from our waiter, Ted. It made for a great dinner experience; there were larger parties and families' and yet, I felt an intimate feeling. As for the food, it's typical of Royal Caribbean; I expected a menu change with the Allure, which I did not get. But, overall, I had no complaints. The food was tasty, and Ted was quick to meet any needs we had. Was this 5-star dinning, no, but it was good' very good for my taste buds.
Now, we did go to Chops on the last night. I am always hesitant to pay for a dinner when we get dinner every night for free' but I will book a meal at Chops whenever the opportunity presents itself. AMAZING food, AWESOME service, and a FABULOUS dining experience. The oyster appetizer was unbelievable with the presentation being spectacular. I had the petite fillet mignon and could not finish it. Our desserts were picture perfect, and I mean that!!!! The chocolate cake (whatever they called it!) was worth the calories. BEST dining experience on a cruise ship ever.
As for the other dining venues that we tried' we never had crowds. I loved that they sat us in Windjammer, so although I've read of the long lines, we never experienced this at all' even on the last day of the cruise. We missed the omelet station, but we found this at a restaurant by the sports area (too many names to remember). We also enjoyed the Park Avenue Grill (I believe that's the right name) where we could make our own salads and don't overlook their roast beef sandwich' the horseradish makes it! Again, we had no problem getting a seat; it worked out fine.
Next' the entertainment was the caliber that I would expect for a Broadway show in New York City. We loved ALL of the shows; I did feel a bit cheated that there was not a show on the last night except for the comedians again (their show was a little different!). You do need to make reservations for the shows, but if you cannot get the times you want on-line, you can easily change things around on your first day. I suggest that you do this as you board the ship, even before you have lunch. Also, we found it easy to make additional changes during the cruise. We ended up seeing the comedy show three times (they were funny!), and we never had a challenge with the waitlist line either. We only heard that people were turned away for the Ice Show, but we never had a problem at all. Don't miss ANY show, including those specifically for families with children' adults will enjoy them, too. The Dreamworks parade is phenomenal' bright and spectacular. See it on the second day and the last day; they are similar but not the same. We loved them both. Get there early and pull up a chair by the pizza place or cupcake cupboard.
A few minor complaints' we had 2 rainy days where many people came back onto the ship, but there was no entertainment (well not a lot) scheduled during the day (expecting passengers to stay in the ports). I think some extra entertainment options need to available on such rainy days. People were complaining that there was not much to do except visit the Solarium, which is partially covered. In addition, I felt that many of the activities were held at the same time, so I had to pick and choose. I know that always happens, but it frustrated me a bit.
The staff was wonderful and friendly with the exception of the cruise director, Ken. Sorry guys, but I found him to be a bit standoffish. He never smiled, and he called parties 'his' party' I didn't think he owned the ship. At the Quest show (don't miss this or the Love & Marriage Game show), he told the audience that someone complained that the show was not appropriate, but he just did not care because it was all done in fun. I think he needs to care, because the passengers are paying his salary. This was just the attitude that I received' he passed me once with an energy drink in his hand, never looked up, and never smiled. I like being recognized by cruise directors and receiving a smile! Now, let me add that many passengers love Ken; he's been doing this for a long time. I just wasn't impressed.
What else can I share' I could probably write a book. Oh yes, arrival and departure were a breeze. We were on the ship before 11:30 and our luggage was in our stateroom before 1:30. We were off the ship in a matter of minutes' really! You can leave at any time' don't worry, your luggage will be there. We put in for a 10:00 departure, were ready by 8' left with no problem, and our luggage was waiting for us. It was a breeze and a treat that we were not expecting.
Would I go back on the Allure' in a heartbeat. The messages on Cruise Critic really helped prepare me for a once in a lifetime experience. I hope to do the same and would welcome any questions at email@example.com All in all, it was probably my best cruise experience ever' it was very different from what I had anticipated, but the difference was quite wonderful. We were prepared to wait for the elevator, wait in lines for breakfast, and wait to move throughout the ship' none of this was the case. While there were over 6,000 people on board, they must have been hiding, because although the ship was crowded, we still did everything we set out to do. I cannot wait to cruise again in December with Royal Caribbean' most likely!