This was my 14th cruise, 3rd one on RCCL. My husband and I generally cruise on Disney, but decided to go on a cruise last minute and could not get on Disney. I had mixed feelings about the reviews I had read so tried to go with an open mind. My husband and I just wanted warmth and relaxation. So here are my impressions:
Getting on the ship AMAZING!!! I timed it from the time we got out of the Taxi to the time we entered the ship. 10 minutes SERIOUSLY and I even forgot what deck we were on and had to find our paper with that information. We arrived at noon, which I think was one of the busiest times.
Getting off the ship EASY! If you needed to take a 9AM flight out of Fort Lauderdale you easily could. If you carry your luggage off you can be off the ship by 7AM and the airport is less than 15 minutes away. If you want to take your time and have them take care of your luggage you can do that too and get off the ship at 9:30 and not see your luggage until you get home (this does cost $20/person).
I was somewhat concerned about the size of ship and how many people were going to be on it. Not a problem, because of the size of ship and how they have broken it down into different spaces you do not feel like you are traveling with so many people. Our ship was sold out. The Service was impeccable, everyone was friendly and helpful.
Some of the questions I had before I left, was what to wear at dinner time and how much storage room is in your cabin. My husband loves wearing shorts, but I was told that he would not be allowed to wear shorts to dinner. This is not true, even at the Specialty Restaurants we saw people wearing shorts. Even at 150 Central Park the men did not wear suits. I asked the men who were wearing shorts if they were given a bad time for wearing them and they said no. I saw women wearing short shorts in the Dining Room, so you can dress up as much as you want or as little as you want. As for storage in your room, pack light. I do pack light and found little drawer space to store my clothes, thank goodness we did not have our kids with us. You can store your luggage under the bed as long as your suitcase is not too big, I do not believe the big rolling suitcases would fit under the bed.
I have heard a lot of negative about the food in the main dining room so we booked heavily in the Specialty restaurants. I did not think the Specialty restaurants were any better than the main dining room. We had to do My Time Dining which we decided we would not do a cruise again using My Time Dining. We like getting to know our Waiter, we feel the service would be much better. The service was not bad, but do plan on taking a long time to eat, they do not rush your meal.
We booked all of the Specialty Restaurants and Shows before we left and then did what we wanted once we got on the ship. If the weather is good then you can most likely get into any Specialty Restaurant, because they seat outside too, which they do not figure into their booking. As for the shows you have to go 30 minutes early to the show to get a good seat or you can go 30 minutes early and wait in line to get into the show, which most likely you will (we did), you might not get the best seats but you still can get into the shows. Warning you will lose your reserved ticket for the show if you do not show up 15 minutes before the show.
The only thing that Disney Cruise Lines does better (that I could see) and will probably keep our business for is that they are constantly showing movies. I could not understand why they did not continually show movies all day, they have 2 areas that can show movies, but they only show about 5 movies the whole week and 2 of the movies were at night. The other issue we saw was, even though we were not traveling with our kids this time, what would we do with our kids at night? Most of the shows were not kid friendly. I did ask several people who were traveling with their kids what they thought of the cruise and they loved it and so did their kids.
I had a hard time finding information about Labadee before the cruise. This is RCCL private beach that I am assuming they lease from Haiti. It is very safe gated area, I even saw guards with guns at the gates. They have a "controlled" area where Haitians are allowed to come and sell their "goods". They are about the same "pushiness" as any other 3rd World Country. All of the excursions are "owned" by RCCL. When you get off the ship all of the beaches are to the left. The better beaches are further away from the ship. But if you are going to do the Zipline or watch someone do the Zipline you will need to stay close to the first beach you get too. Otherwise I recommend taking the shuttle they have and go as far as you can go. They provide lunch on the Island, but I would only eat it if you are going to eat it when they first put it out. I think RCCL has done a wonderful job and making this a special place.
Our cruise was the first time RCCL went into Falmouth Jamaica. You can go outside the gated area and purchase your souvenirs and excursions. The biggest problem here is that you are seriously in the middle of no where, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get back on the ship.
Overall I was very impressed with The Allure of The Seas. It is an amazing ship with a lot of things thought out, which I appreciated.