For those of you who don't want to read the entire review, here's the takeaway:
There's lots of entertainment on the Allure of the Seas. However it is all by reservation. And the smart people book their reservations through the website a month or two in advance of their cruise. If you don't do this, yes you can still get in to see the shows. But it will likely mean standing in the "Standby" line for a good 45 minutes or so while you watch all the smarter people troop in ahead of you.
Now for the good things:
It is a very large ship and you can tell they put a good deal of thought into the design of it. On the lower decks, you can be wandering along "Park Avenue" and it doesn't really feel like you are on a ship. There are numerous hot tubs and swimming pools (kid's area separated from the adults pool area). A couple of the hot tubs are place so they hang out over the boat. The rock climbing is there along with a skating rink and a wave board/surf board facility.
There is a lot of deck space, including a quite a large glassed in area which is quite nice if the weather isn't up to snuffs. In fact, if I was on a cruise in bad weather, I'd certainly like to be on this ship.
And there is lots of entertainment on the ship. It isn't quite at the level as you'd see in Las Vegas (as a woman from Las Vegas informed me), but it is pretty good for a cruise ship.
Both the cabin and dining stewards spoke good English, which is a nice change compared to some cruises we've been on.
Now for the not-so-good things:
I suspect this boat only goes to ports where it can dock as tendering would probably take a long time to get off the ship. So you are restricted somewhat in where you go.
The food was ... Okay. It seemed to be very American-oriented. The grill in the buffet restaurant at the top featured ... hot dogs and hamburgers. And one of the restaurants is named "Chops". The dinners in the standard sit-down restaurant were, as I said, Okay. The buffet breakfast and lunches didn't have a lot of variety. I suppose there's only so much you can do for breakfast. But there might have been a bit more imagination for lunch as not much changed from day to day.
For some reason, the dining and entertaining schedules aren't in sync. Maybe the number of passengers on the ship makes this difficult to do? We booked an early dinner (6 pm) and usually didn't finish until 7:30 pm. On every other cruise ship we've ever been on, the evening show would start at 8 pm, so you had time to wander back to your cabin if you wanted to. (The later dining sitting would have a similar gap to allow them to attend the later show).
On Allure of the Seas, however, most of the shows started at 7:00 or 7:30 pm. That meant either rushing through your dinner, going to one of the buffet restaurants or attending one of the later shows (usually 10:30 pm). And this problem is worse if you need to stand in the standby line to get in (as per above).
One weird thing we encountered was at one show we took exception to a couple ahead of us letting in four of their party. We ended up talking to the manager of the venue about this. Remarkably, although at the end, I made a couple of suggestions to him about how the ship could better manage the standby line (Put a sign up so people know where to stand; Clarify the rules about how many people are allowed to be let into the line), he had absolutely no interest in either suggestion and told me so. (Helloooo! Who slept through Customer Relationship Management 101?)
My only conclusion from this is the staff at Allure of the Seas really doesn't care what happens in the standby line. So you are free to appoint one person of your party to hold your position in line and then everyone else can show up 10 - 15 minutes before the show is to begin.
One annoying thing for me was the fitness and sauna area. On all the other cruises I've been on, even if you aren't interested in buying a 'Spa Package', you at least are given a change room, shower and access to a sauna. Here? You could use the exercise/weight room and jog on the track (1 lap = 660 metres), but there was no place to change, no shower and no sauna. That's their decision of course. But I wasn't amused.
Another odd thing we noticed was that you had to give your stateroom card to get a towel on the sundeck and then again when you returned it. And if you had not returned all your towels by the second last day of the cruise, you would be hit $25 per towel. I have never seen this on any other ship. So I have to wonder if they really have a 'towel theft' problem, or is this regulation for the sake of regulation? Anyway, keep track of your towels as it could be expensive if you forget to turn in one or two.
Our ship was scheduled to go in for repairs in February. However, to keep it running until then (presumably some mechanical problems) they had decided not to run it at full speed. And on our first port, the crew was doing a lifeboat exercise. However there was a cracked cable, so they couldn't get the lifeboat up again. So we were delayed some 3 hours leaving and ended up arriving at our next port in the middle of the afternoon.
Does this suggest the ship is poorly maintained, or Royal Caribbean is "pushing the envelop" a bit? I don't know. Aside from the lifeboat problem and not cruising at full speed, we didn't notice any other problems.
Lastly, we talked informally to half a dozen other people and everyone said they did not plan on cruising on this ship again. The major reasons seem to be the lack of coordination between the dining and entertainment schedules and the need (if you forgot to get reservations) to line up for all the shows.