This is not a review as such of the ship, it is a review of my experiences of being on the ship. I am not new to cruising, having sailed on various RCCL ships and I had sailed on the 12/1 & 12/5 sailings on Oasis last year so I knew in some ways what to expect, or so I thought.
The Allure is really beautiful even more so than her sister the Oasis, the Allure just has a different feeling about her in my opinion. Perhaps it is the dEcor or perhaps it is the different stores and eateries she has from her sister I can't really explain but I loved her from the first moment I stepped onboard.
For the 12/1 sailing I was in an Owners Suite with 3 of my friends. I was rather surprised that as we sat in the suite area in the Terminal before boarding there wasn't even a cup of coffee to be had. Yes some nice seats with lovely cushions but coffee would have been nice while we waited but hey we are here for the ship and the fun with our friends.
Embarkation was a breeze, no worries on that and soon we were able to actually board the ship and be amazed at the beauty of the Allure.
Now to be honest I cannot remember what I first did when I boarded well apart from the fact I just stood there with my mouth open looking around at the Royal Promenade. This is my favourite area on Royal Caribbean's ships and the Allure RP did not disappoint.
So to our suite, beautiful Owners Suite on deck 11, 11640. Fantastic suite but with 4 ladies sharing it, it wasn't ideal because there is actually only one bed. There was a sofa bed in the sitting room though. Having only one bathroom wasn't an issue at all for us as we had different times in the day/night when we liked to bath or shower. For the 4 nights we swapped who was sharing the bed and who was having the sofa bed, and who the roll away bed. We tried having two roll-away beds, it didn't quite work out, not comfortable or practical in our case but it was only 4 nights and I knew I was going to be in a D4 for the 12/5 sailing with my own bed.
When I first stepped out onto our balcony I was delighted by the size of it, it was enormous. With a table and 4 chairs on one side and two chaise loungers on the other side it looked fabulous and I couldn't wait to spend some time out there with my friends.
But wait what's this water coming down at the right hand side, ummm that's a bittie strange, och no worries probably maintenance is doing some cleaning above or something we thought.
Wrong, this water coming down continued for the whole cruise. We could not sit out and enjoy our balcony as it seemed every-time we went out there the water started, very strange indeed.
We peeked over to our neighbours balcony and low and behold they were having the same problem.
We spent so much of our time on this cruise contacting maintenance, guest services, concierge, security, supervisors, housekeeping and stateroom attendant to let them know when the water started pouring down again. Our balcony and items on it were soaked through.
From what we could gather it appears the problem was caused by the hot tub on the balcony of the Presidential suite above us. The children in that suite had a new game, "fill the hot tub-drain the hot tub"..."fill the hot tub-drain the hot tub". We also had to endure the noise from what sounded like chairs being thrown around, shouting, loud music, tempers tantrums, continuous jumping around on the balcony and worst of all seeing a lit cigarette being thrown overboard from their balcony.
Apparently security had a problem contacting the parents to get this matter resolved, well that is what we were told anyway. We paid a lot of money so we could all sit out and enjoy our time together on our lovely balcony but we couldn't do so unless we had umbrellas and Wellington boots on, hey maybe we should have had a cruise shower or wet t-shirt party out there.
But we didn't let the wet balcony get us down as we carried on with our plans,with my roomies being fun loving crazy ladies the fun was never ending. Two of the ladies wore head-boppers every day and night onboard the ship. On the night we went to Rita's Fiesta we had huge sombreros and black stick on moustaches, oh the looks of some folks in the Concierge Lounge that night was priceless but hey no worries we were having good clean fun.
The CL on Oasis Class ships have the best views, right over the Boardwalk and a nice menu at lunch time with free wine or beer. I wish though they had more to nibble on before dinner as we were late seating and there wasn't a lot left by the time we went into the lounge at night.
Service was great in the CL and we had a lot of fun there with the Maritza & Fernando and their assistants. I never had to wait long for a drink, after the first visit the same waiter always came up to me and nodded, I then nodded back and whoosh my vodka with coke appeared.
Sadly the MDR was the not a good experience. The Maitre D had emailed me before I left the UK confirming that everything had been taken care of with regards to those who were linked to my reservation, ummm, no not true. We had to get this sorted out first before dinner and sadly the evening went downhill very fast because we had to all send back our main course, 3 times !!
The seafood that should have been hot was lukewarm, the chicken marsala was the same and with two people it was covered in salt. The steaks ordered were either not cooked as ordered or were again lukewarm. I was so happy to get out of there that night although I was assured it all would be better the next night. Nope not the case. I gave up with the MDR after that on that sailing.
My room-mates had lots of problems with getting their Dplus Amenities and OBC, we seemed to spend so much of this sailing at Guest Services that soon we would have our own personal path to the desk.
We were though very happy with the gifts we received on this sailing, Allure Inaugural Towel, RCCL Tote Bag, Water bottle, Allure Hat & Lanyard. One of the ladies was delighted to receive her first Crystal Block on this sailing, although when it was delivered we had no idea who it was for as there was no name on the card and the stateroom attendant had no clue either who it was for. A few hours later we got the answer. Congratulations Marilyn.
I was excited to go and see Blue Planet, as I had heard it was a fantastic show. I would go as far as saying it it the best show I have ever seen on a Royal Caribbean ship, truly amazing. I can't say the same about Chicago,yes the singing and dancing was good but it just did not appeal to me as the sort of show I want to see while cruising. Quite a few people walked out, I would have done so also but was in the middle of a row so just stayed and watched it. I didn't get the chance to see the Ice shows but did enjoy Ocean Aria at the Aqua theatre, amazing how this sort of show can take place on a moving ship.
We had an unofficial Meet & Mingle on this sailing where everyone introduced themselves and said what was their favourite thing so far on the Allure. We had a raffle and a CC gift for everyone also.
The Headliner on 12/1 sailing was a Temptations Tribute group. We didn't bother going to that, it just didn't appeal to us.
At nights on this sailing I spent most of the late evening with some of the Critters, oh boy did we have some fun in Dazzles and Blaze, dancing the night away and having a ball.
I remember though the first night we went to Blaze and we told the waitress we needed a table I could smoke at..no worries she put some tables all together and gave me an ashtray. Well, 2 hours later she came up to me and said I was in a no smoking area and either I had to move or stop smoking there!!! I was not amused but hey we carried on having fun and having pizza in the very early hours of the next morning.
It was suddenly 12/5 and time for my roomies and some of the Critters to leave the Allure. Many tears were shed and there was a lot of hugging going on.
I had not received the letter in the stateroom as a Consecutive Cruiser so headed off to Guest Services to get the details of where I was to go later.
Time now to move all my clothes etc to my new stateroom. My stateroom attendant loaded up the trolley with my suitcases..oh and all the school supplies which the Critters had donated earlier that week after boarding. So with a very full trolley off we went to my new abode for the week. My new room wasn't ready, naughty attendant had forgotten he was meant to call ahead to new attendant to ensure room was ready for me but hey no worries I was allowed to unload everything into the room and head out to meet up with others who were doing the B2B.
There had been a meeting held for those doing B2B (Consecutive Cruise) the previous day in Studio B, where we were told of a special benefit for those doing B2B...free laundry on day 3 of the 12/5 sailing. Nice one RCCL, thank you. We were also informed of the B2B lunch that would be held in the dining room for us also on turnaround day. If I remember correctly there was around 350 B2B's which apparently was a record amount. Perhaps this is why there was a mess when it came to our new Sea Passes on 12/5.
No problems getting off the ship and back through to get our new Sea Passes but here is where there was a problem....there weren't new Sea Passes for some of us. So we sat there and waited and waited...oh here comes someone with Sea Passes...nope not all of them. There was in the end about 20 of us who didn't get a new Sea Pass.
Finally we were led onto the ship and told to go to Guest Services and tell them we didn't have Sea Passes..umm hello why leave that up to us to do..grrrr. Eventually we got our new Sea Passes but then we were told we had to go back out to get our photos taken again. At this time the new guests were getting on the ship and we were trying to get off....sigh.
At last we were sorted and my cell phone started to ring, it was Critters First Officer Donna calling me asking where the heck was I as she thought she would see me in the Terminal and was worried what might have happened. We ran towards each other and many tears and much hugging went on. This continued for some time as more and more of the Critters spotted us with our Critters Flags. Very emotional.
So began a busy, fun filled week.
The MDR though continued to disappoint, never again will I eat in there. Not worth the stress or embarrassment when sending back food which isn't hot or cooked properly. Heck one night the Head Waiter suggested that some of my table-mates choose their dinner the night before so he could ensure it would be hot and cooked properly for them...how nuts is that. So for the last few nights it was Windjammer or Sorrentos for me..much more relaxing and less stressful.
For those who worry their cruise will be taken over by the Dreamworks characters I have to say this is NOT the case. The only time I saw the characters was during the Dreamworks parade and at the designated place for taking photos with the Characters, which was in Blaze, usually this was done for an hour each day around 11am.
I enjoyed my D4, I loved sitting out on the balcony late at night just before bed, going over the day in my head. With a chocolate brownie and cup of coffee I would then sit in bed reading the next day's Compass and planning what to do and see.
Usually I would have breakfast in Johnny Rockets or on a couple of mornings in the Windjammer.
Lunch was sometimes at Park Cafe or Windjammer although one day we did have a "Ladies Do Lunch" in the MDR, it was good, so good Donna & I both had an extra serving of the pasta dish...yummy.
The gifts I received on this sailing were, RCCL Tote Bag, Diamond celebration water bottle, Britto water bottle, Bottle of Allure champagne, Photo frame with ship photo and Maiden voyage certificate, small box of chocolates, commemorative coin voucher, bingo card, oh and a $10 "use at home" Starbucks card...ummm only problem with that is we don't use dollars in the UK.
Apparently those of us who had been on the 12/1 sailing were not allowed to get the hat and lanyard that those who were doing 12/5 sailing received as we had been given it on the first sailing...ummm yea ok RCCL/C&A whatever.
I did hear from Critters who were Platinum and Diamond that they did not receive some of the gifts that those of us who were Dplus were given. Last year on Oasis Inaugural 12/5 sailing the Diamond members received more gifts than on Allure.
I loved walking around the Britto Store on Central Park. I adore the C&A painting that Romero Britto did but alas it was way out of my price range and so I only bought the Royal Britto Bear,which Romero Britto signed for me..oh and he signed my rhinestone boarding shirt. He had heard about the fact I had his C&A design on the shirt and wanted to see it. So I took it along to him and he added some pen marks to it and then autographed the shirt. I had to make sure when I got home this shirt didn't go into the laundry.
One of the Dplus events was an Art Class with Britto. This was held in Studio B. The rink was covered in plastic and there were tables set up with bootees and gloves for us to wear. We were given a copy of a Britto painting for us to paint. Romero was there and came along and painted a little bit on everyone's painting and then signed it. A nice momento to take home.
The Headliner on this sailing was Mosaic, an a-cappella group who I had never heard of before but I loved their show.
Most of my late evenings were spent on this sailing at the Bow & Stern with some of the Critters including 70's party night, which was a whole load of fun, complete with our blinkie glasses.
I didn't go off the ship for long at any of the ports except for Labadee as Donna & I had a special event planned that day. This was the day we would visit the new Labadee school and hand over all the school supplies that the Critters had very kindly donated on both sailings. It was a very emotional day and I would like to say thank you very much to all the Critters who donated and supported this special event. Also thanks to Labadee site manager David Southby and our translator Harry, for taking time out of their busy schedules to take us to the school. A day Donna and I will never forget.
I did enjoy a quiet time in one of the Cantilever hot tubs one day and afterwards I went back to my stateroom and slept for over 2 hours. Got the fright of my life though when I opened my eyes to see a man at my door!! Darn I had forgotten to lock it this time and room service was delivering a plate of chocolates...good job for both of us that I had my robe on !!
On day 3 which was the free laundry day for the Consecutive Cruisers, I had to go ask my stateroom attendant about it as I had not received the bag for the laundry. The attendant forgot I had been on the 12/1 sailing but quickly sorted me out a bag and I filled it and sent off my dirty laundry which I got back all nice and clean and folded the next day.
I did try a Coney Island Hot Dog, I don't usually like Hot Dogs but it wasn't too bad. I was disappointed the Donut Shop was closed though, apparently they were waiting for a part to arrive so it had only been open a very short time on day one of the 12/1 sailing.
Didn't try any of the Speciality restaurants so I can't comment on them.
There was a Dplus event in the Viking Crown Lounge one morning where Mimosas etc were served.
The Meet & Mingle for this sailing was scheduled to be held in Dazzles but as there were so many (325) registered for the event it was held instead in the Viking Crown Lounge on deck 17.
The Cruise Director Ken Rush was busy elsewhere but Captain Hollywood...sorry Captain Zini, was there and chatted with everyone. He thanked the Critters for their special project this year for the Labadee school and was upset when Donna didn't have an International Critters name tag for him. Donna did say surely he had the best tag already with RCCL Captain on it but alas Capt Zini still wanted a Critters name tag and so we had to give him a Critters one without his name on it.
We had on display at the M&M the beautiful Welcome Mats for the school for everyone to see.
It was so nice to see some familiar faces within the staff, including Julie & Adrian at Guest Services who were a great help onboard with the Labadee school supplies project, also I must say thanks to Merina for her assistance also with this project.
To Stacey in the Finance Dept. I would say keep smiling and I hope to see you again next year on Allure and we can catch up some more.
Thanks also to Ricardo in the Cafe Promenade for getting me a brownie whenever he saw me sitting down and ensuring I didn't need anything else. Very polite and helpful young man.
It was lovely to see Cindy Dangel the LA again and huge thanks must go to her and her team for all they did for C&A members onboard.
On the day before we arrived back in Fort Lauderdale I was surprised(shocked) to find a letter on my door informing me that RCCL had looked at my past sailings record and noticed I settled my onboard account in cash....ummm wrong, so I was to call at Guest Services to pay my account.
Actually I have used my Amex card every single cruise I have been on. Ok no worries off to Guest Services to sort it out. The queues at GS were enormous so off I went up to deck 11 to the CL.
I was told my Amex card details were needed to sort this out and the fact that my account on the 12/1 sailing had been paid with the card didn't come into it, so off I went back down to Deck 6 to get my card from the safe and then back up to deck 11. My card was then added to my account and that was that, yea right.
Now to the disembarkation mess grrrrrrr.
I left my stateroom early to go look for breakfast taking my two carry on bags with me so this would let the stateroom attendant get into the room to prepare it for the next guests. I stopped a member of staff and asked where I could get breakfast and was told the Windjammer but I didn't feel like traipsing all the way up there with my bags and so asked where do the Dplus go and I was directed to go to Deck 3 MDR. So I went there and had coffee and orange juice and a wee pastry as there was no other food being served there and waited and waited.
I did not have a flight to catch, thankfully, but was booked on the last transfer shuttle to the airport where I was staying in hotel overnight before my journey back over the pond.
A while later the announcements began about the delay in getting off the ship so I waited and waited some more. Finally RCCL brought out coffee again as the guests were getting restless,especially when the person doing the announcements kept saying, "sit back, relax and enjoy your coffee while you wait", only problem being at that time there wasn't any coffee, it had all been taken away. Eventually though coffee did re-appear after many mutterings were heard of "what coffee?"
So at last we were told all those remaining numbers, as in about 40 numbers of them, were told to all leave the ship, hurray..ummm. Getting off the ship as you know you have to hand over your sea pass well mine didn't do the normal sound it did the oh heck embarrassing "not getting off ship haven't paid bill sound" I was told to go to Guest Services and sort the matter out. Geez enough already,by this time I was like..let me off the ship please, I want to go home.
Anyway off I go to Guest Services, again, and the matter was sorted out. This problem was linked to the problem of no new seapass on turnaround day and although the Concierge thought he had sorted it, he hadn't. My credit card hadn't actually been linked to the 12/5 sailing.
At last I got the right sound when sea pass checked and into the terminal I went, found my suitcases easily and joined the enormous queue for Non-US to go through. Now there were lots and lots of people behind me but somehow I ended up being the very last person to go through customs..how the heck did that happen I wonder, perhaps it was the fact I was too tired to argue when folks jumped (pushed) in front of me in the queue, I don't know but at last after nearly an hour standing in that darn queue I was free to leave.
Thankfully the last shuttle had to wait till all the guests had gone through customs before leaving for the airport, so with a last look back at the Allure, I left to start my journey home with tears in my eyes and many wonderful memories in my head and heart and a special message in my mind..."See you again next year Allure".
There is probably a lot I have left out of this review but heck if I don't post it soon it will be time for our next Allure cruise, Dec 4th 2011, which will be the, Critters reunion/Allure 1st Birthday cruise/next project for Labadee school cruise. Maybe I will see you on it.
p.s. Hopefully RCCL will have changed their toilet paper by our next cruise, 1-ply toilet roll just doesn't work well at all !!