Embarkation: Embarkation for the Allure was the smoothest and fastest we have ever experienced in over 20 cruises. They have put a lot of thought into the design of the building and to the process. Our bags were at our room by 1:30PM.
Ship Overall: The ship was very clean. It is a phenomenal design with something to do for everyone. It is generally well laid out and there are a sufficient number of elevators. Despite it being a full cruise, we never found ourselves in a crowd except around the pools on a day at sea.
There was a stench in the deck seven starboard hallway (worst between cabin 7600-7620) that smelled like rotting broccoli. When we asked our room steward about it, he said that there was a galley on the other side of the inside wall and that the smell does come out sometimes. Luckily it did not get into our room
Stateroom: We had a D1 stateroom on the seventh floor. (7598) While it is a bit smaller than D1 staterooms on some of the other class of RCI ships, it was well designed and decorated. The room could use a little more storage space, but with a little thought we were able to place everything in a convenient location. Our bed was placed near the closet, but I did not find it difficult to get into the closet. The bed was comfortable, but the couch could be a bit deeper. We did enjoy the iPod/iPhone docking station. The D1 stateroom had a larger balcony (deeper) and we found this an excellent place to eat breakfast. The bathroom was also pretty small, but again it was well designed. The shower was small, but bigger than on the Radiance class ships and used sliding doors and not the curtain that would stick to you.
Main Dining Room: We had requested a table for two, but what we got was a joke. On one side the person was right up against a large pillar and on the other side was a padded bench seat, with two large seams where you would sit. To top it off, the table was wedged between two tables for four, so it was really as if we were seated at one long table. Since there were so many other dining options, we elected not to try getting our table changed and just ate elsewhere all week. In talking with other Diamond Plus members they said that the staff had little interest in changing tables for them. I also heard many complaints on how slow the service was in the main dining room, so I feel we made the right call.
Specialty Restaurants: We enjoyed the Park Cafe very much and ate there several times during the cruise. The roast beef sandwiches were great! My wife enjoyed the egg salad sandwiches and the salads.
Samba Grill was outstanding! We ate there the first night and enjoyed it so much, we went back later in the week. The food was the best on the ship and so was the service.
We did eat at Rita's Cantina for the fiesta and I must say we were disappointed. From reading the reviews, I guess I had high expectations and they were not met. The food and drinks (margaritas) were only average at best. During the entire fiesta, they only played three song of Mexican music. This was supposed to be a Mexican fiesta and we were bombarded with Michael Jackson songs most of the time.
The hot dog stand was an excellent place to grab a quick bite. The Bratwurst and Coney Island dogs were the best.
I had a chance to speak to the manager of Sorrento's and he stated that the quality of the pizza had recently improved, so we gave it a try. It may have improved, but it still has a long way to go. The best description is that it tasted like frozen pizza.
The food in the Concierge Lounge was limited, but always very good.
Windjammer: The food selection appeared more limited than on the Mariner OTS. The food quality also did not match that on the Mariner or Radiance. To top it off, service was non-existent. We ate in the WJ 6 times and only once were we ever approached by a server to see if we wanted anything to drink (and I think that was only because the Captain was sitting nearby) We also had to flag down someone to clear away old dishes. Again they could learn a lot from the Mariner or Radiance staff.
Service & Staff: This is where the Allure could use improvement. Except for the specialty restaurants and the Coach store, the staff appeared lethargic and trying to do the minimum possible. It is not that they were bad; we were spoiled by such outstanding service on our last 4 cruises that we expected more. Not surprising, a couple of times we were speaking with crew members that did give excellent service and found that they had transferred from the Mariner. Captain Johnny is from the Mariner and I think it will just be a matter of time that overall service improves.
The Staff did a great job of ensuring that cruisers used the hand sanitizer prior to boarding the ship at each port. This contributed greatly to making a safer environment on the ship and reducing illness.
The Concierge Lounge is the nicest on any of the ships. There were often two Concierges present (Luca & Fernando) and they were always helpful and pleasant. The alcohol selection was somewhat limited, but our two bar servers (Bozidahr and Benny) did all they could to accommodate us. While the food was very good, most of the food service staff (except for two that came from the Mariner) appeared to hate life and their service was minimal.
There was a problem with children being in the Lounge between 5:00 and 8:30, when they are expressly prohibited. They were not well behaved and would touch all the food, stand on the furniture and drop food all over. The Concierge was reluctant to make them leave, even though many of the guests were complaining. On one day, it took a call to guest services to get this resolved.
Shows: Chicago was outstanding. The talent of the cast was excellent as was the choreography.
The comedy show was also very good with some excellent material about the ship.
While we did not go to the Headliner Show, we received a lot of comments from other cruisers and that was excellent.
Overall, we had a great time on the Allure and would not hesitate to sail on it again. It is a great environment for family cruising.