I'll try to keep this relatively simple since there are already many reviews of this incredible ship. We are mid 40's couple traveling with 20 y/o son & 16 y/o daughter. Our 10th cruise; 3rd with Royal Carribbean.
EMBARKATION: As others have said, it is amazingly simple, efficient & speedy. One oddity, our family had 2 cabins on different decks, so we were split up at check-in. Lines are arranged by deck. My husband & son were sent in one direction & myself & daughter to the other side. It was unexpected for us to split so it was a quick shuffle of documents & I was hoping hubby knew everything he needed cuz I am the planner. All worked out fine & within a few minutes, we were reunited for boarding.
BOARDING: We boarded right about 11am. Immediately went to Deck 4 Entertainment Place to try to book some shows that had been unavailable online. Lines were already long and extremely slow. We spent about an hour waiting in line; good news though, we were able to easily get into all shows. By later that 1st day, folks were grumbling that shows were sold out.
LUNCH: Had our 1st lunch at Park Cafe in an effort to avoid the Windjammer craziness. Delicious. I remember seeing Giovanni's also open but I can't remember what else was open that first day.
DINING: We ate at GIOVANNI'S, RITA'S CANTINA & 150 CENTRAL PARK & the CHEF'S TABLE for specialty restaurants.
OVERALL FOOD, including buffets: I thought it was extremely good. I know people like to complain, but I do think you have to take into consideration the # of people being fed at one time--honestly, I do not think it could be done any better. Tons of variety & very fresh.
GIOVANNI'S: This was my favorite! Everything was tasty, but we over-ordered! Atmosphere was elegant but comfortable to eat there as a family. I thought the $15 upcharge was a bargain.
RITA'S: It was okay. Nothing great really, but a decent place to sit & watch the activity on the Boardwalk. I thought the upcharge, even though it was only $7.95, was too much.
150 CENTRAL PARK: We had a 930pm res because that was all we could get for the night we wanted. Stopped in around 8:30 to confirm our time & they said they could seat us immediately. The place was less than half full & remained that way.
My husband enjoyed this place more than I did. We splurged & got 2 wine flights. So that's an extra $75/pp. I think we were menu A if I remember correctly (Monday night). The atmosphere was very elegant and the service was upscale and attentive. Portions were very gourmet & small. Long stretches of time between courses & even tho the portions were small, they were very filling. Maybe it was too "gourmet" for me; can't really put my finger on why it did not knock my socks off. Took a full 3 hours for dinner.
CHEF'S TABLE: Now, this knocked my socks off! The setting was super elegant in the concierge lounge with a spectacular view of Central Park & the ship at night. I enjoyed the chef & sommelier explaining the food prep & wines.
I liked all the food except the 1st course which was the duck salad--it was smoked duck & tasted like ham to me. I really enjoyed the veal portion of the meal which is funny because I never eat veal & don't like the "idea" of it...the dessert trio was incredible...very chocolaty, but I was so full at that point!
The only thing I really didn't like about the setting was it was difficult to talk to the group as a whole, so if you didn't hit it off with your immediate table mates, you were on your own. My husband talked alot to the guy next to him so that left him turned away & i couldn't hear what they were saying--the folks next to me didn't really want to converse, sooo, I kinda felt left out, even tho my husband didn't mean for that but he didn't want to be rude to his table neighbor either. BTW, it was "assigned" seating so if you go with friends, make sure you request sitting together otherwise it would be awkward to ask to switch at the table. Formal place cards are all set up & they even put the names & table layout on the menu.
I thought this meal was worth the $75. It was a special & unique experience, but definitely not "romantic". I think it might nice to do this on one of the 1st few nights of a cruise because you would quickly have some "friends" onboard.
MDR: We found the service to be excellent. Seems like they were desperate for us to come to dinner every night...lots of folks must use the specialty restaurants--not sure if this affects what gratuity they get or whether they are just bored if no one comes to eat...Food quality was good to very good consistently. One thing I noticed was that the MDR felt more casual than on previous ships--it was quite loud & to me the lighting was not as elegant. I remember being really impressed with the MDR atmosphere on the Explorer...but this almost reminded me of the setting in the Windjammer....maybe they are hoping you go spend more $$ in the specialties?
SHOWS-Generally speaking, there is just so much to do on this ship, it was hard to tear ourselves away for a show. We did see Chicago & the stand up comic...both of which we enjoyed very much. We had reservations for other shows but either forgot about them or didn't want to leave what we were doing!
CROWDS: The ship was sold out. 1600 pax under age 21 onboard is what I was told. Deck chair situation was at times frustrating but there was usually a chair available, just maybe not where you might want to sit. Enjoyed the solarium area to get away from the kiddies. As others have said, never really felt over crowded--there is always activity, but not a feeling of being amongst the masses...the only real line I recall is that first day signing up for shows. Windjammer got hectic at times, but it could be avoided with so many other options.
BOTTOM LINE: The Allure was an incredible experience. I love RCCL anyways but I think they really outdid themselves on this ship.
We never encountered an employee that did not greet us with a smile & a friendly greeting--never. Never once did I go into a public space restroom that was not in perfect, spotless condition--no papertowels on the counter or floor--just amazingly spotless. We commented to each other that with a sold-out ship, they must clean the bathrooms every 10 minutes, literally.
Many times, I found myself thinking how elegant and sophisticated the ship was. I can't think of anything else to say except, BOOK IT!