We rounded up six experienced cruisers who are all friends and we went on Allure January 5th sailing out of Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale. For several of us it was the second and third time on Allure. For me it was the third. After having been on Oasis of the seas I feel Allure is the better ship. They are very similar physically but Allure has a little (free) sausage stand out on the boardwalk that I really like (on Oasis it doesn't exist). Since I'm a foodie, these type things are a factor to me. While I'm on the subject of food, let me give you my evaluation.
Royal Caribbean has a few quirks they don't seem to want to fix. It is my opinion that most mid range cruise lines are going down hill when it comes to food. Because regulations prevent any proteins ( meat, fish, chicken etc.) from being fresh, and therefor must be frozen when brought aboard, it puts all the lines at a disadvantage, but they seem to do fairly well in their preparations trying to overcome the handicap.
That said, my real issue is that Royal does a very poor job on some very basic staples. Hamburgers in the windjammer cafe are overcooked and dead and the pizza on the entire ship is horrible! When folks at the buffet don't want to eat last nights leftovers from the dining room, they always go to the staple fast foods ie: pizza, burgers, and maybe spaghetti and meatballs? Royal does a very bad job with all three. If you want to spend $5 bucks you "Can" get a good burger at Johnny Rockets, but what's the excuse in this day and age for not having decent pizza, or properly cooked pasta and meatballs? (Princess is best for all of these items)
I do love the Allure for its beautiful boardwalk, Central Park, big casino, great diving show, the red velvet cake at " Chops", and all the fresh " great " breads/rolls all over the ship. If they would hire an Italian to make meatballs that are "Italian" and pasta that is truly "al dente", a tomato sauce that is Italian, pizza with good dough and fresh "Italian" toppings, Royal Caribbean would be the best in my opinion. Of course most folks aren't as picky as I am and I'm sure don't care but these easy fixes wouldn't take much to improve and keep me from continually going back to Princess after I take an RC cruise.
Let's face it, the big new ships are all beautiful, and depending on your budget, the rooms are all nice. Service is generally good on most ships although the European touches and people have become too expensive for the lines and have been replaced with a more diverse and less expensive group of folks that need much more training because of cultural differences. Taking all this into account, and the fact that most Caribbean ports of call are beautiful (my favorite being St. Maarten), the difference between ships can be "FOOD". The staples of pizza, pasta, and burgers at lunchtime Is quite important. The dining rooms are going downhill. Formal nights are no longer formal when you see men in t-shirts and the staff says nothing. I guess that's a reflection on the average food now being served under the guise of a fancy menu and head waiters (who no longer have the urgency to please because the masses have hardened them)
Understanding the limitations of today's cruising, with the need for cruise lines to constantly fill these large ships with more average people rather that the elite crowd of yesteryear, the staple foods of pizza, pasta, burgers etc have become even more important than most cruise lines are acknowledging.