We have just returned from a wonderful week on the Allure. It was a very different cruise experience from our previous ones, but I am very happy to have had the chance to sail this giant ship. Embarkation was seamless, and our first impression when we entered the Royal Promenade, was one of awe. Never before have we seen such detail on any other ship. We were soon to discover that each ' neighbourhood' truly has its own charm.
Our luggage was delivered to our stateroom, 11652, at the same time as we arrived there, which was a nice touch. We were able to unpack and settle in well before the mustering. The cabin was spotless and cosy, and although we never had a sofa, but only a chair, we did not mind, as it made our space more roomy. There was an interleading ( locked) door between our stateroom and next door suite, and we did hear the little kids in the mornings, but they never really disturbed us. The balcony has a small table and two chairs, but nowhere to put your feet up. Still, it was lovely ordering breakfast in and enjoying it el fresco a few times. The bathroom is small, but adequate and not as upmarket in its fixtures as we have enjoyed on Celebrity's Solstice class ships. We missed the cotton balls and ear tips and the better toiletries, but this was a minor gripe, as the bed was the most comfortable and best we have ever slept in anywhere. Our attendant was professional and friendly and kept everything in great order, and we enjoyed her towel animals every second night. All in all, we were really happy and most comfortable in our stateroom. The 11th floor is quiet, and I enjoyed using the library, which has a good reading selection. The concierge lounge is also on this floor. We found the colour scheme of the carpeting to be restful, and the closet had more than enough space for our clothing for the week. Just a pity that the space above the bed has not been utilised for storage, though. We were a bit disappointed that there were no free in- room movies, and that the selection was rather small. Usually, we enjoy movies on a ship, but this time, we elected to watch them on the plane home. Once on the balcony, I smelled cigar smoke coming from below. I asked housekeeping if this was permitted, and they said it was, but I never noticed any ashtrays anywhere, so not sure about that, and I hope it isn't. Smelling the smoke as you walked past the casino was enough for me to avoid that venue the entire cruise.
We opted for MTD, a good decision, given the juggling we had to do to ensure we got show bookings. The MTD staff are incredible, and we could not fault one of them. They ensured that our meals were served efficiently and that we had time to make our shows, without rushing us. We also enjoyed our table for two most nights, and the gluten - free meals I pre- ordered were the best I have had on a ship - tasty, with good variety and well presented. Kudos to the head waiter, Anna, especially, who really knows her stuff. We did not eat in any of the speciality restaurants, given my dietary needs, and also the fact that we paid good sum for the cruise and did not see the need to do so. However, those we met who did, had nothing but praise for those venues. I was not overly impressed with the Windjammer buffet. It is too small for such a large ship, and the food selection seemed to be less than on other ships we have cruised. It's adequate at best, but is not going to win any ship buffet awards. There were times when the line- ups to get in were long and the place was very crowded, despite all the other venues one could choose on the ship.
We booked online for all our shows, bar Oceanaria, which was full for all the times we could see it. We thought 'Chicago" was a great production, full of energy, we loved "Ice Games" and we could have given given the late night comedy show a miss. It was not bad, but nothing brilliant either. We did manage to get into Oceanaria, but unfortunately, the show was cancelled half way through, due to inclement weather. Pity, as it was a great show with a very talented cast. I thought the best show was " Blue Planet", and I had pre - booked it, so I was very disappointed that when we entered the Amber Theater a good 20 minutes before showtime, all the seats were filled, and we landed up standing at the back through the entire excellent production. This was partly due to the computers on the ship being down the night before, and everyone from that show having to be accommodated, but also because folk were keeping so many seats. This is one area which needs to be refined still. We had great fun at the " love and Marriage' show, which was wonderfully hosted by the affable cruise director. Unfortunately, we were too tired to go to " Quest", which was late.
We did not use the gym or the spa or any of the water sport facilities, which we believe are wonderful, but we thoroughly enjoyed the walking track daily, and loved the encouragement from the zany overhead signage .
We did a ship excursion to Altantis in Nassau. It was rather pricey for what we got, but the aquarium there was fantastic. It was a great pity not to have more time in port, though, as everything had to be rushed. In St Thomas, we took the shuttle into Charlotte Amalie and walked up the hill to visit the old sand- floored synagogue, which is a national heritage site.We spent about two very informative hours there, and would recommend this to anyone, regardless of your religious beliefs. We then did a tour of he island on a local bus, and could not believe the wonderful vistas. In St Maarten, a port we have visited before, we did the beach, the shops and then back to the ship.
The neighbourhood concept of the ship means you never feel that you are on board with such a large number of people, and we enjoyed each distinct area. Central Park is very calming and relaxing, but the buzzing Royal Promenade and the Boardwalk, are both utterly charming, too, with enough to keep anyone entertained.
At the touch of screen, you can find out which restaurants are full , what the menus are, and where you are on the ship in relation to where you are heading. The screens are on every floor around the ship.
Disembarkation for us, was quick and easy. We opted for late leaving, and were off the ship and out of the terminal in record time.
The Allure is a a wonderful experience for any age or stage of cruiser. You can be as busy or as quiet as you wish, you have umpteen choices of so much and you will be amazed at the size and the beauty of this floating giant of the seas. I never thought I would say this, but I hope to someday be able to once again sail on her.