This review is primarily for experienced cruisers that are retired. It will not detail the ports but mainly concentrate about the ship with some suggested do's and don'ts.
Just to set the story from the beginning, we had just come off a quiet 14 day Celebrity Constellation cruise with 2000 guests and about 8 kids. Do we sign up for a good price cruise on the Allure with only 5 days to go before sailing? We did and on that same day we made dining reservations for "any time" as the early siting was filled. We like "any time" as it gives us flexibility. Many of reservation times were filled, so we took times for each of the 7 days around 6 PM. It is good to do this, because there are two lines on Deck 5 - one for those with reservations - another for those without. We were usually a little late, but we the line basically does not exist for those with reservations. With "my time" you pay the gratuities in advance. I also made reservations for the shows. Do this as soon as you book the cruise! Even if you do not have a reservation, you usually can get in, but you have to wait in line. Get to the shows 15 minutes ahead of time as at 10 minutes to go they let those without reservations in.
The myth with this mega ship is "I don't want to go on a ship with over 6000 passengers as it will take forever to load and unload". It is a myth as it was fastest boarding and departing of any of our 26 sailings prior to this. RCCI has planned for this. We arrived about 12:30, walked into the building and the lower decks go to the right and the upper decks go to the left. First you go through security which I think has 5 stations on each side. Then you go to processing (after a potty break) and no one was in front of us. We went directly on to the ship as our photo was taken at the processing point. It was about 1 PM and we went directly to our room.
Our room was a C1 - balcony on the 12th deck over looking Central Park. The room had a 32" flat screen, a built-in digital clock, a hair dryer at the vanity - not over the toilet. It also has 3 - 110 volt outlets on top of the vanity. The stateroom door opens to the hallway - not into the room. The door seemed to be thicker and we did not notice hallway noise. It was windy on our cruise, but it was nice to sit on our balcony as it was more protected from the wind. Our stateroom attendant, I think Andrea, took care of our room right after we left as we put in " service room" tag in the outside card slot.
I went to the Windjammer (deck 16) about 7:30 in the morning for some fruit and it was not crowded. When my wife was ready, we went to the open seating at MDR on Deck 4. You have your choice of al' a carte (menu) or buffet.
For lunch we went to the Solarium Bistro or Cafe Promenade - no charge. For dinner, we sat at a table for 2 even though I had not requested. Every night, we ate in about 1 hour - we had quick service, but not rushed. We ate about 6:15 and it was not busy. The selection was not as great as on Celebrity or Princess, but satisfactory.
This was the week before Easter. We had about 6100 passenger, of which 1800 were kids (gulp). This cruise and apparently on all the cruises on this ship, 50% are from the USA. The greatest international group was from Mexico. I think more people spoke Spanish on this ship as their primary language. Yes, there were some kids that were making trouble, but probably not that bad for the quantity.
What is different on this ship is that everything is computerized. Your Sea Pass Card is your key to everything. There are no paper tickets to any show. They scan your card at the entrances. At the elevator lobbies there are large screens that give you information - how to get to your stateroom, how to get anywhere, how loaded are the dining rooms.
Crowds - yes - especially the first day when almost everyone is lost or touring the ship. We arrived at Nassau and yes everyone wants to get off at the same time. Wait at least an hour, but you have to be back on the ship at 1 PM. At ST. Thomas, it is worse as you cannot get off until about 9:30. Wait more than an hour. At St Maarten you have to be back by 4:30 and there was a long line at 4:50. I think we left a few who never made the ship.
We had a power failure when docked at St Thomas or St Maarten. We found out at the Senior Officer Q&A, that only one of the six diesel engines was on and something failed. When the lights came back on, we went back to our room. We turned on our water and it dribbled out with a yellow color. We did drink it later in the day, and it was OK.
Above the Royal Promenade is Central Park. The Rising Tide Bar goes from the RP (Deck 5) to CP (Deck 8). It goes up and down about every 15 minutes. We saw the 2 ice shows, Comedy Club, Ocean Aria, Chicago, and the blue Planet.
Should you book it? Yes - just to explore the ship and see the shows. If you are retired, look for a good price and avoid times when the kids are out!
Where can you hide? (get away from the crowds). The Solarium (no charge) is a good place to as you must be 16+. There are very few people at the Solarium on port days. It is crowded on the afternoons on sea days.
I tried the flow rider and the zip line (on port days). I made the mistake of looking down from deck 15 to deck 6. I though that I would make a big splat on the Boardwalk!