This is our first review for cruisecritic and we felt compelled to share our thoughts as we benefitted from other readers' experience in the past. We recently returned from a 7 day eastern Caribbean cruise on the Allure of the Seas. We were concerned like other reviewers about crowds and long lines but this is not your typical amusement park crush. Embarkation was swifter than Mario Andretti requiring only about 15 minutes from terminal to ship. Even faster than all other cruise lines. Cabs are relatively cheap and available from Ft. Lauderdale Airport and if you rent a car, they have free shuttle terminal to the ship.
We headed immediately for the Park Cafe as other readers recommended and encountered the second love of my life (after my wife of course!) which was the heavenly moist tender roast beef sandwiches which were as good as any I have tasted in fine hotels and enough to make me double up on cholesterol meds and eat daily. They also have great made to order salads. Gets crowded here and may have trouble finding a seat but well worth it.
Our cabin was 11th floor balcony and small but well laid out with plenty of room for storage for 2 people. Bathrooms and shower a little tight but really fairly comfortable. Balcony is larger than most other ships and a nice lounging spot. My wife is sensitive to the sea but we rarely felt any movement due to the size of the boat. Cabin steward was pleasant as was almost everyone of the staff we encountered on the ship.
The food? Everyone wants to know about the food despite our desire not to put on too many pounds as we might not fit into the shower! But the food was very good. We ate in the MDR most of the time at most of the chef's selections turned out to be the better choices. We had My Time Dining and only had to wait 10-15 min on 2 nights to be seated. Formal nights are usually the busiest. Do you think that might be because of the lobster? We ate at Giovanni's one night which was pretty good but did not really taste like Mamma Mia's cooking. Maybe we got there on a bad night. We also ate at Chops, the steakhouse, which was also good but I wouldn't say it was the best steak ever. It was enjoyable and most other passengers enjoyed these restaurants. Beware of Izumi which probably has good food but is a la carte pricing and can cost $20-30 per person. We elected not to eat there as we are not big sushi eaters. As others have noted you must pre-book reservations on line particularly if you have a party of 16 family members who actually enjoy dining together.
The shows were good enough that we attended most of them and we generally do not go to cruise ship shows. Chicago was excellent and Ocean Aria was very enjoyable particularly if you like watching high divers and a Cirque type performance. Hint that was mentioned was the 7th floor balcony at the side of the stage was a good place to watch the show. Blue Planet was so-so as we are not into interpretive dance and backyard trapeze artists. Headline entertainment was Texas Tenors from America's Got Talent and they were surprisingly good even though we like opera similar to root canal work. The comedy club was great and the intimate venue works really well with the talented performers we saw. Once again you need to pre-book your show times online well in advance to plan your schedule but most people can get into shows as standbys.
The ship itself is a work of art and the neighborhoods concept really rocks. Central Park is a peaceful and beautiful setting with many of the specialty restaurants and you really can dine al fresco. The Boardwalk has a more kid friendly vibe with hot dogs and a full carousel as well as Johnny Rockets and Rita's Cantina with a surcharge. We ate at the hot dog stand which was good and enjoyed people relaxing near the Aqua Theater. The Central Promenade is the most crowded place on the ship out side of the pool on sea days. Decent pizza and late night snacks available in addition to the best people watching on the boat.
The biggest complaint is the crowded pools on sea days when many people rudely reserve chairs with towels in the early am and don't return for hours. Deck patrol is ineffectual. RCL should do something about this. To all cruisers out there we should respect each other. There is an adult area but it is glass enclosed and is better for sun basting as opposed to bathing on sunny days. Good thing is the soft serve ice cream available all over the boat. Nevertheless, pools are nice and well separated for kids and adults.
The ports days are only 3 with a half-day in Nassau, with not much to do. Been to St. Thomas several times and strongly suggest you take an excursion to St. Johns which is tranquil and beautiful. We took the champagne cat and enjoyed the beautiful beach and snorkeling. St. Martin is very nice but we preferred the French side with shopping at Marigot where you can get great pastry at Serafina. Unfortunately, our bus broke down and didn't make it to Orient Beach but the beach in Phillipsburg near the port is very pretty too but somewhat crowded.
Cruise days on the Allure are great with so much to do with flowriders, zip lines, rock climbing, pools, shopping, and of course a very nice casino with a non-smoking area. It's ok to lose money in casinos, I just don't like losing lung function. They also have a great exercise area and we enjoyed the jogging track around the ship to melt away the pounds from overeating at the trough.
In summary, the Allure is a great ship and I highly recommend it to all groups. We have cruised on many lines now and we think RCL really brings it all together. Not everything is perfect but previous reviews have complained about thin toilet paper! I imagine that is because they can't afford to have a clogged sewage system with 6400 passengers aboard. We shouldn't be complaining about splitting hairs or sheets for that matter. Thank you RCL and Cruisecritic for making our vacation a memorable one.