My second cruise with Royal Caribbean, and first on the Allure. The ship is gigantic, but certainly felt over crowded, especially compared to my experience on the Liberty a couple years back. The idea of the neighborhoods is alright, with Central Park being beautiful and charming, the Boardwalk feeling cheesy (except for the Aqua theatre), and the Promenade feeling over crowded and just not large enough for the amount of guests cruising.
The food was hit and miss, and generally seemed to have less variety than when I travelled last. Again, the Windjammer often felt overcrowded, with sometimes long waits to get a table. We were asked a few times if we wanted to share with other travelers. Our favorite of the complimentary spots was the Park Cafe in Central Park. The food here was generally better and seemed fresher than the Windjammer. We ate in the main dining room on our final night, and found the meal very tasty and wished we had spent another night or two here. We ate as well at Izumi (excellent) and Giovanni's Table (I rate it "eh," me wife liked it more).
On board activities were fun and entertaining, but varied in quality. The Aqua show was fun and had a very talented cast of divers. Chicago seemed like a high school drama production. The Men's Belly Flop competition was a surprisingly entertaining diversion. The Blue Planet production was by far my favorite and seemed to have the highest level of production value and energy from the cast. I highly recommend seeing this.
So much more about the cruise, but I do have a complaint or two. Sorento's pizza is still garbage. The ship needs more pool real estate for the number of guests wanting to use it. And finally, something new from my last cruise, the automatic gratuities applied to the account. I have no problem at all tipping for services I use, however I don't feel I should have to tip for dinner service in the dining room when I don't use it, especially when an automatic gratuity is added to my bill when I dine at a specialy restaurant. While the guest information video states I can make adjustments to the gratuities by filling out a form, this is not the case. As the guest service agent explained to me when I returned the form, they cannot reduce or adjust the automatic gratuities, only remove them from the account. Then I would have to fill out an adjustment form with the names of the individuals I would like to tip. Far too much hassle on the morning of departure, so I let it go. But with all the automatic tips added to our bills during the trip (Starbucks, the ice cream shop, the champagne bar and bar stands, etc.), it seemed they were desperate to milk us dry of tip money.