This was our 13th cruise and hands down our best yet! We have cruised all the major lines, and our previous favorite was a Celebrity cruise on the Solstice. My wife and I are late 30's, no children. This was a Western Caribbean cruise from Ft. Lauderdale. Any fears we had of the ship being too big were quickly dismissed.
Embarkation was smooth. Arrived around 12. We had our sea pass card fairly quickly, but there was a staging line to actually board the ship. Maybe 45 minutes from showing up to being on the ship, so not bad at all.
The ship was phenomenal. I could not help but be impressed with the design and architectural features. Extreme WOW factors throughout . Much thought went into the layout of the ship as it truly dispersed the crowds. The only time the ship seemed really crowded was during the parades. The Central Park area ended up being our favorite area to relax and spend time. The Northern Lights Duo performed almost every night in Central Park and we so enjoyed the relaxing music. Do not miss this duo as the talent level is exceptional. Also loved the poster size touch screens throughout the ship that had all the data you needed. No more carrying around a sheet with all the happenings, just touch the "What's happening now" button. Not only would it tell you, but if you picked an activity, it would route a map on how to get to it! How cool is that!
To us what really set this ship apart from other cruises were the shows. All the shows were performed to perfectionist standards. With most cruises we can take or leave the shows, but on this ship we did not miss a single one. We actually saw a few shows twice! Our favorite was Blue Planet, but Chicago was exceptional as well. The comedy shows were also great. Hilarious! Try to arrange reserving the shows in advance before you board. If they are filled up, don't worry. For each show a non-reservation line is formed and ten minutes before show time any unfilled seats are filled with the waiting line. We waited for three shows and were able to get in all three.
The food was excellent. We dined at Chops the first night and it was the best meal we had on the ship. The hotdog stand on the boardwalk was really good; much better than expected. For lunch we preferred the Park Central Cafe. Nice hot Panini's and a hand tossed salad area. We ate at the main dining room (my time dining) every night except the first night, and all the meals were great. Our servers were Sabit and Jordan and they provided true professional service, and I would highly recommend them if you cruise on the Allure in the near future. We did not eat at the buffet a single time thanks to the abundant dining options.
There were a few disappointments. The first was the Cupcake Cupboard as the cupcakes were dry. We even tried on two days to see if we just were on a bad day. Different flavor, same dry cake. Even if they would have been free we would not have tried again. Two specialty restaurants were also disappointing, Giovanni's Table and Rita's Cantina. While both had good food, the service was unacceptably slow, so I would not recommend these options, especially considering the cover charge. Although there were plenty of activities, we did miss our cooking demonstartaions / shows. None on the Allure.
Labadee was nice and had grown quite a bit since the last time we had visited it. Our first time in Costa Maya and we enjoyed it. No excursions, just shopped at the many local booths. In my opinion the overall quality of items to buy was higher at Costa Maya than Cozumel. Also no excursion at Cozumel, just took a taxi to the downtown area to shop. Be sure to check out Los Cinco Soles, a great place to shop for locally made items.
The fitness center was wonderful and I never had to wait for a cardio machine. Perhaps the best workout option was the super nice walking track on deck 5. It had a lane for walkers and a lane for joggers. Just a little over two laps was a mile!
Throughout the cruise service was top notch. Everyone we met had wide smiles to greet us. Several crew members recognized us throughout the cruise and spoke to us just to make sure everything was meeting our expectations. This was so refreshing after past cruises where the staff acted as if they cared less whether we were on their ship or not.
We were impressed with the express departure. The captain had announced we would be able to disembark at 6:30am, but at 6:15 were at the U.S. Customs line.
All in all we went into this cruise with high expectations, and to our delight this wonderful ship and crew exceeded them! This is my first 5+ star review. This ship earned it!