Allure of the Seas - March 27th - April 3rd, 2011
We booked this cruise last Fall, not knowing if this ship would be the ship for us, as Liberty of the Seas is by far, our favorite ship. I will highlight the cruise in chronological order as best as memory serves my 43 year old mind. This was our 8th cruise. We took this cruise with our 9 y.o. daughter and another couple.
Embarkation - I had read many reviews and was expecting it to be smooth, but kudos to RCI for the outstanding job they have done in streamlining this process!! We flew in the night before, and caught a shuttle to the port at 11 a.m., and within 15 minutes of our feet hitting the pavement in front of the terminal, we took our first steps onto the ship. They have the check-in process separated by deck numbers and this could not possibly get any easier. Within 40 minutes of arrival, we had checked in, explored a little, and had our lunch in the Windjammer.
Stateroom - we had a balcony room on deck 10 which adjoined to our friend's room next door. The rooms are pretty standard, although there is not as much storage as on the Freedom class ships. This will be painfully apparent as you unload your suitcases. The closet is "in the corner" so to speak, and is hard to access, and is not quite as large as we were used to. The bed is nice and quite comfy, but the sofa bed is not so comfy, and takes up all the floor space when folded out into a bed, almost no space between the edge and the dresser. This was our first booking in an adjoining room, and just for reference, the joining door must be unlocked by security upon your arrival, and it cannot be locked without a key, so if you may want to lock it in the future, you cannot without assistance.
The Ship - This ship is absolutely amazing! Although we were sailing with 6100 guests, you rarely felt like it, as there are so many areas for people to explore. The ship is well laid out, and is decorated tastefully, without being over done. We feel like there were many parts of the ship we did not get to explore, mostly because it is so big. The public area restrooms were always very, very clean and smelled like they had just been cleaned every time you went in.
Dining- It did get crowded in the dining areas on port days, when everyone was trying to eat breakfast at once, but that is the same on any ship. We did learn by Day 5, that room service for breakfast is a great option if you would like to eat on your balcony, in peace and quiet. We ordered with the door hangers the night before with delivery between 8:30 and 9:00, and sure enough, at 8:45, we received a call saying it was on its way. The food was fresh and hot, and just as we had ordered. This was a pleasant surprise for us, as we had never taken advantage of this service before. The dining room food was good, but not excellent. All of our meals were hot and fresh, but nothing spectacular. Our waiter (Telly) and assistant waiter (Mahmoud?) were excellent and made sure we had what we needed. The head waiter made his way to most tables each night to make sure all was OK. We went to Chops on night which happened to be our anniversary, and as always the steaks were excellent, and the service was good. At the end of the meal, the chef prepared a dessert with a candle and the words happy anniversary on it. A nice touch I thought. We also went to Samba, which was good, especially if you like a lot of meat. There were 9 different meats, and as long as the lighted table marker was green, they would bring more. It was all good, but again I would not rate it excellent. Some of the meat was not as tender as I would expect, and some was pretty fatty. We ate Rita's Cantina one day for lunch, and again the food was good, but not excellent. We had trouble deciding on desserts, so the waitress brought one of each for the table to share, another nice touch. We also ate at Johnny Rockets, and as usual, it was good. The hot dog stand is also on the Boardwalk, and has some great dogs, and an excellent selection. We ate at Park Cafe in Central Park several times, and it is excellent. They have a great build your own salad bar, where you pick the ingredients and the dressing, and they make it and toss it for you. They have many Panini's and fresh carved roast beef sandwiches. They also have bags of chips, which we loved, as you usually do not find chips on a cruise ship unless you pay for them. We also ate several cupcakes from the Cupcake Cupboard during the week, all of which were excellent, and Amy the Manager, is very friendly and always helpful. Sorrento's pizza was good as usual, although the make-your-own ingredient selection did not impress me very much, and it varied daily. Cafe Promenade had the usual croissants and small snacks that are always available. If you go hungry on this ship, you have only yourself to blame.
Ports - I will comment only on one port because all of the other ports have been reviewed many times already. Day 4 took us to Falmouth, Jamaica, which is a new port developed by RCI. The port is not finished, and it is too far from most excursions that people are used to in Jamaica. Our excursion took us to Ocho Rios for Dolphin Cove, and Dunn's River Falls. The bus ride is 45-min to an hour, and traffic is horrible!! Drivers are really very dangerous. We witnessed drivers passing when they should not, and nearly saw a car hit head on with a tractor-trailer!! It was not good, and I hope there are not accidents involving the buses. Our "tour guide" was not very engaging and other that some very cheesy jokes, we rode back almost the entire way in silence. It seems they are not at all prepared for the visitors upon arrival. The tours seemed very much disorganized, and no one seemed to know where they (or we) should be.
Summary - As most other reviews state, make sure you book your shows and specialty restaurants before you get on board, or you may be disappointed. Also, if you do have reservations, get there early, because approx. 15 minutes prior to show time, they will start letting in the people who show up hoping to get in. One thing we seemed to miss on this ship compared to freedom class, were the poolside activities. On Freedom class ships, most all of the action is pool deck or poolside, on the Oasis class ships; there are so many venues it is very hard to keep up with the activities. All in all, Allure is a very beautiful and amazing ship which we loved. It may not be for everyone, and I believe our favorite will still be the Freedom class ships.
This ship is definitely worth a try, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves cruising.