My husband and I sailed on the Allure from March 16-23 and had a fantastic time. We flew from frigid Ohio to Fort Lauderdale a day early so as not to fret about missing embarkation. An added bonus was dinner at Tropical Acres restaurant in Dania Beach with family who live in the area. I highly recommend this restaurant that features steak. Transfer from the airport to Homewood Suites was free, and our stay was free with hotel points. We arranged for a shuttle from the hotel to the port and port back to the airport for a total of $18.00 (total for both of us) which is a great deal.
Embarkation....arrived at the ship at 11:30 am and stood in line for an hour. Pleasant staff and when we finally got our sea pass we bypassed the photo area and thought we were on our way. NOPE....we were herded into another area where we sat and waited for another 30 minutes. Very disappointed as we had much better experiences with embarkation on other RCCL ships. We did hear later that this was an unusual issue.
We went straight to our cabin, 11231, inside balcony view of Central Park. Great cabin and location. Very quiet. Central Park is amazing...birds chirping during the day and crickets at night. The cabin was well appointed with tons of storage area, suitcases easily fit under the very comfy bed. Bathroom is small but we really like the shower doors which made the shower feel much larger. The light switches were confusing and we couldn't turn on any lights at first! We called maintenance and were instructed as to how to turn on the master switch, which we never touched again. Labels and written instruction would be helpful here. The interactive tv system was great.
The Solarium cafe was recommended in prior reviews as a great lunch place, so that is where we headed, just ahead of a large crowd. Food here is excellent....fresh, innovative, and healthy. I can still taste the roasted fennel with oranges! Yummy! Promenade cafe and Park Cafe turned out to be our other fav lunch spots. We only went to the Windjammer twice and it was ok, nothing special. Only ate breakfast once, and we had a 6 pm dining time at the Adagio dining room. We enjoy meeting other people and sharing experiences, and our table mates were wonderful. One couple was from Wales and the other from PA. It was delightful to sit down at the end of the day, share our excursion stories and enjoy very good food. The steak is mediocre though. Our server, Allison, was exceptional!
We reserved all shows quite a bit in advance, which I highly recommend doing. There were a lot of disgruntled passengers complaining about not getting into the shows. Do your homework, people, and be prepared! No desire to see Chicago, having seen it on Broadway. We saw all the other shows and Ocean Aria is spectacular! Don't miss it! Also enjoyed Blue Planet and the ice show. The headliner was a ventriloquist we had previously seen, but still enjoyed. The comedian, Eric, had me laughing so hard I was crying! We went to the Prohibition event, which was cute but could have been much better. It was too expensive for what was provided. The jazz quartet was enjoyable.
Nassau...stayed on board to have an enjoyable spa day. St. Thomas...we did the ultimate island tour . 2 hours of careening around winding, very steep roads in an open bus with nice views. The tour guide was rude and yelled at people to stop talking and listen to him. We spent 2 hours at Magen's Bay beach, which was a huge disappointment. We had to stand in line to pay for beach lounges and then drag them across the beach ourselves. Awful restaurant, awful drinks, then we had to drag the chairs back, get a receipt stamped and stand in line to get our deposit back. Hubby headed back to the ship when we arrived back in port and I perused the shops and purchased some bling. St. Martin was awesome. I took a 2 decker party boat around the island to the French port of Marigot. The boat was great fun and had awesome views. Rum punch flowed freely and the musician had a great voice. I would have loved staying longer than an hour in Marigot. It is very European and had great shops. When I return I will take a taxi straight to Marigot and spend the day there. There was a great bus tour to return to the port. Very enjoyable day!
Although the ship is enormous, the signage is phenomenal and we never got lost. The only place we felt crowded was at the pools. We love being at the pool, but need to be in a shaded area. One cruise day the only 2 chairs we could find were literally behind and in a corner of the kids pool area. Small problem, though. Although having a separate smoking area on deck is a great idea it doesn't translate well as the smoke drifts out and quite a bit of deck space is used for this. I wish RCCL would just go completely smoke free!
As usual, we loved trivia at the Schooner bar, and really enjoyed the pub. All the live music was great. Never made it to Bingo or saw a movie. The shops are ok, nothing special. It makes me laugh to see the hoards of people who attack the "sale" tables in the promenade!
This cruise was the first time I ever had to deal with "customer service". We were notified on the second day that our credit card had been denied! And it's a Royal Caribbean card! At the service desk we were provided with a free call to the cc company but weren't able to speak with a real person despite numerous attempts. We provided another card and called to advise them we were out of the country. I was very angry that we wouldn't get points for our purchases on our RC card! and I am dealing with that now that we are home.
We disembarked at 7:15 am and were through customs and at the airport via our pre-purchased shuttle at 7:50! A breeze! Great cruise, great ship, and we are booked on the Independence of the Seas for September, 2015. Retirement and more cruising with RCCL, here we come!!!