Although the Oasis and the Allure of the Seas are in the same class in the Royal Caribbean fleet, there are a few sundry modifications which the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has made to distinguish them from one another. During our bridge tour, we were informed by the crew that the Allure is sleeker, faster and more beautiful than her Sister ship, but this came of course from jaundiced eyes. She can now be declared to be the largest cruise ship afloat in that she is five centimeters longer than the Oasis. Nonetheless, our overall comparison and hence this review casts a different light upon the similar vessels and their value in the Caribbean fleet.
Of course, there are certain features which are common to most Royal Caribbean ships including the rock climbing walls, the Windjammer cafeterias, specialty restaurants, the libraries and card rooms, room service, excellent child care facilities and staff, the bars and of course many pools. In the Freedom Class we find further additions, but the Oasis and Allure offer many more selections from which both the avid and new cruiser can choose. The two flow riders are supplemented by a zipline and an additional higher rock climbing wall. Boasting seven "neighborhoods", Central Park, the Boardwalk, the Pool and Sports Zone, the Royal Promenade, the Vitality and Spa and Fitness area, the Youth Zone and the Entertainment Center, there is always something to offer any vacationer.
Specifically, however, this review is designed to be one of the Allure of the Seas, but it most definitely finds itself comparing it to its Sister, the Oasis of the Seas. Our initial impression and one shared by countless others we met over the seven days who could compare the two ships was that the service and responsiveness of the crew was lacking on the Allure. For example, upon boarding, we were searching for the Concierge Lounge which we had found without difficulty on the Oasis last December. Two separate crew members were totally unaware of its location as well as even incapable of advising us as to which direction on the ship was forward or aft. The "hospitality staff", which on the Oasis had consisted of a number of young, energetic and dedicated crew members selected from the elite of the fleet to assist and encourage everyone to have a special time with their respective trips and interests, was basically nonexistent. The fanfare which accompanied the Maiden Voyage of the Oasis of the Seas seemed to be substantially diminished. This is in some ways explicable in that it was only one year ago that her Sister sailed on her long anticipated Inaugural. Nonetheless, a bit more flourish on Royal Caribbean's part would have made the Maiden Voyage of the Allure of the Seas substantially more exhilarating for all concerned in this Diamond Celebration.
The entertainment on the Allure did not seem to be quite on par with that offered by the performers of the Oasis, though of course it by far surpasses that of other ships in the fleet. In the opinion of many of us who have seen the shows on each of the ships, "Chicago" was not as well produced or directed as "Hairspray" had been on the Oasis. "OceanAria" on the Allure was not as dramatic as an aqua production in that it did not include as much of the "Cirque du Soleil" style as had the "Oasis of Dreams". Similarly, the ice show was not as creative in its design, though the cast was as talented and possessed the same flair as that of the Oasis. However, "Blue Planet", the Allure's answer to the Oasis' "Come Fly With Me", was quite entertaining with scenes which astounded and intrigued all who attended the production. The 3-D Movies as well as the integration of Dream Works into the Entertainment Center appeared to be quite popular. The Boardwalk, unlike the same Neighborhood on the Oasis, was a prime site for both families and older cruisers alike to enjoy the party atmosphere, partake in a variety of hotdogs or burgers at Johnny Rockets or simply stroll as one would at a seaside resort. The Comedy Club was the most sought after venue on board with every show sold out from the first evening through the conclusion of the cruise. Innumerable bars, the Royal Casino, jazz clubs and Dazzles, a night spot, were comparable to those found on the Oasis. Central Park, which appeared to be better maintained than on the Allure's Sister, continued to be a space where one could just relax and enjoy the fresh air and a snack at the Park Cafe.
When one thinks of cruising, the topic of dining and snacking inevitably arises. There are far too many locations on the Allure to mention where, at any time of the day or night, food could be found. This is not to say that everything was appetizing or at times even palatable. Room service, though rapid and responsive, was far below the standard of quality which Royal Caribbean usually maintains throughout the fleet. Certain specific restaurants are, however, worthy of note. 150 Central Park, much like its namesake on the Oasis, provided a unique five-course meal which many would find to be both savory and exceptional. One issue which many had at this specialty dining location was that, as an initial offering, a cucumber martini was touted as cleansing to the palate and most enjoyable. This might have been true, but the staff fails to mention that the cost of the simple drink is $15. This is automatically added on to the $35 cover charge for the meal. Though the cost of the experience is quite acceptable, this deceptive ploy is appalling upon receipt of the evening's check. Giovanni's, the Italian family style bistro, did offer a variety of specialties which were quite tasty. One of the major shortcomings of the Oasis was underutilized or unpopular food venues. On the Allure, the Solarium Bistro was replaced by the Samba Grill, the Seafood Shack by Rosa's Cantina, and the Donut Shop by the Dog House. These were most certainly positive changes. However, the Samba Grill, a Brazilian Meat eatery, did not live up to our expectations and was far from what one anticipates in any such restaurant on land. Rosa's Cantina, with a minimal cover charge, did have adequate variety offered on its menu. The Dog House was fantastic as a casual and most welcomed addition to the Boardwalk. Unfortunately, as we have cruised on Royal Caribbean throughout the years, we have seen a definite decline in the quality and preparation of what was once superior food offered in the Main Dining Room. This, however, is not unique to the Allure but appears to be a trend on each of the fleet's vessels.
We would be remiss if we failed to mention the superior qualities of the Chef's Table. A once well-kept secret with a $75 cover charge is worthy at any price with its fine cuisine, elegant presentations and intimate setting as it seats only fourteen diners per evening. After the incomparable sous chef has enlightened attendees about his culinary creations, the knowledgeable sommelier explains in detail the wine offerings which accompany each of the five courses. The host for the evening and Concierge manager from both our Oasis and Allure sailings, Mr. Robert Espedido, must be congratulated for executing and maintaining the distinctive excellence of this once in a lifetime dining experience. As regular cruisers, we have attended the Chef's Table on four occasions (three times on the Oasis and once on the Allure), and none of the participants in this dining delight have ever been dissatisfied in any way with such a culinary extravaganza.
As evidenced by the commentaries above, we are Diamond Plus members of the Crown and Anchor Society with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. After three cruises on the Oasis of the Seas to enjoy and learn about the class of ships, including her Maiden Voyage, and this one on the Allure of the Seas, we have found the Allure to be somewhat lacking in several aspects of the sailing experience. We have spoken with many of our friends who have now sailed either on the Allure, the Oasis, or both. Most state that they will not return to the Oasis class until the prices of the cabins are reduced. The ports of call are limited out of necessity due to the sheer size of the two ships. Once you have cruised on vessels of this magnitude when the ship and not the ports become the destination, one wonders why there would be any practical or monetary value in repeating the experience. We have done so solely as a means of educating ourselves, but this will most certainly be our last voyage on this particular class of Royal Caribbean cruise ships.
Overall, the Allure is little more than a slight upgrade, refinement, and correction of flaws evident in our Oasis sailings. Perhaps, if one is inclined to spend significant additional funds to enjoy technological advances and the few extra benefits of taking a vacation on "the largest cruise ship ever to sail", the Allure or Oasis might be appropriate ships to select. Otherwise, booking a cruise on a smaller, less expensive ship with greater port offerings should be considered as a more viable option.