I had been reading reviews about the Allure for months, and just got back from our cruise to the Eastern Caribbean over Memorial Day. I am trying to write this review to give the details that I wanted when I was reading them, especially the details that I wanted as a first-time cruiser with two children (ages 3 & 5). Be forewarned, there are a lot of details- and I would think this review is mainly for cruisers with younger children. I hope it is helpful!!!
Day 1- Arrived to FLL around 10:30am, arrived to ship by 11:30am, was on board by noon. The check-in process was amazingly quick and simple. We went right to Johnny Rockets for lunch and had no trouble sitting down- food was good, burgers had a really nice seasoning. We felt right at home on the boardwalk, and it became our go-to place most days since it is so kid friendly in the afternoons. Got to the room a little after 1pm, all of our bags were there. We unpacked, which made life a lot easier during the week. They provide a lot of hangars and nice storage space. We did move some furniture out of the way, desk chair went on balcony and side tables were moved out of the way. Our family of 4 had adjoining cabins on the 10th floor, overlooking the Central Park. The balcony was key- we really needed it to air out our wet clothes after a day at the pool/beach. The kids also would sit out there while my husband and I got ready for the day- it was very nice to have and I am not sure I would ever want to cruise again without a balcony. I did wonder if I would prefer a balcony overlooking the boardwalk- but with the young ones, I think it may have been a little too loud. We did bring a white noise machine though, which drowns out most noises, so it wouldn't have mattered.
Day 2- Nassau. I labored over the Aquaventure excursion since it's so pricey and you aren't there that long. Well, here is the deal. Was it expensive? Yes (though 3 year old was free). Was it short? Well, with 2 little ones, it wasn't that bad. We were kind of ready to go after lunch. We could have spent an entire day there though, of course. Overall, it was totally worth the money, since I am not sure when/if we will ever get back there. The tour moved too quickly for my kids, who wanted to stop and look at the nature and stuff- and I did not push them to keep up. Since you will have access to the entire place, I would not worry about keeping up so much if your kids want to stop and look at the fish- you can catch up eventually! There is a place to get food inside- very pricey though. The pools were perfect for the kids- we stuck to the first pool, which is 3 feet deep the entire pool, and it was perfect, and enormous. Behind that pool, there is this lagoon/beach type area, the kids loved it. We could have spent longer here. They had some good food to get outside, but it's very expensive, so bring your cash!! My husband enjoyed the slides a lot- he probably got the most bang for the buck out of all of us. We did not get to see the entire resprt, and hope to go back when the kids are much older so they can enjoy the slides.
Day 3- At Sea. We signed the kids up for Adventure Ocean for a couple hours in the morning. They had a blast. We got to go to the gym. Gym is huge and very nice. Then we spent time at the pool- I was not sure what to expect with the pools- they are small, but the set up is so well thought out, you really don't feel too squashed. We NEVER had a problem finding chairs, ever- and the boat was sold out. I really don't know what people are complaining about here....but maybe this is very common on other ships. I have a feeling we are very spoiled by the Allure being our first cruise.
Day 4- St Thomas. We took a shuttle to Magen's Bay (not an organized excursion)- we had been told that this is the thing to do in St Thomas (other than shopping). Well, they weren't wrong! The shuttle took about 20 of us (open air shuttle) up the mountain (gorgeous views!!!) and back down around to Magen's Bay. I think the trip was about $8 per person, and then $4 to get into Magen's Bay. Kids under 12 were free. It's really a great place- the water has a decent entry for little ones (not a big drop from beach to water like we found the next day in St Maarten). Lots of shade if you need/want it, showers to clean off, water activities, and decent food (very pricey). It was a really nice day.
Day 5- St Maarten. Again, we did not do an organized excursion. We were not hounded at all by locals in St Thomas. St Maarten was just annoying. Sorry- I am being blunt here. I will be totally fine if I never go back. The beach was rocky with a drastic dip in water from the beach. The day was blistering hot, so perhaps that is jading my perspective. We headed back after a couple hours at the beach (water taxi, $4 per passenger- 2 beach chairs/umbrella/bucket o beer for $20). You can take a free golf cart shuttle off the Allure (tip your driver!) to the water taxi, since it's a fairly decent walk for little kids.
Day 6- At sea- it was very windy and definitely a rockier day at sea- but no sickness. The kids spent time in the hot tub rather than the pools, since it was chilly with the wind. I have to say, the kids pool area is really great. I felt pretty safe with my two not-so-good at swimming kids- though my husband and I did have to make sure we each had an eye on one at all times. For those adults without kids who are reading this....there is a wonderful, serene, quiet part of the pool deck that is adults only, and honestly- I did not see one kid in there. We sort of accidentally walked through with the kids.....and while they were quiet, there was no way I would sit in there with my kids. I did want to go there without my kids, but that never happened unfortunately!!
Day 7- we did express walkoff. The buffet opens at 5:30am, though we decided to skip that and were off the boat by 6:30am (EASILY I have to add, for those wondering about return flights) we had a 10:20am flight and we were way early at the airport. If you are worried about morning flights- don't be. I am SO thankful we changed our flights from 3:30pm to 10am......that would have been miserable! What I didn't know before though- they do have excursions in Ft Lauderdale for this day, which would help kill some time if you have to. I had looked into this and did not find any information on this. They had a handful to choose from, depending on your flight time.
Some general observations- the ship is beautiful and so clean. They do enforce cleanliness, with large purell dispensers everywhere you look.
Adventure Ocean (Kids Club for 3-5 year olds)- they do an AMAZING job. We went to orientation on the first day and it was just too crowded, so we registered the kids on Tuesday. They went reluctantly, but asked to go back every day after that! The staff is very engaging and really helped my ULTRA shy 5 year old to come out of her shell. So much so, that she joined the kids parade on the last night and was yelling at the top of her lungs. So, if you have a shy kid, don't worry- they will LOVE it. It was nice that my kids were 3 & 5 and could be together. I don't know if they would have wanted to be separated , so that may be something for you to consider. They did not seem to have a problem with moving a child UP to an age group after a brief evaluation, so if you are concerned about that- do not let that worry you. They seemed very reasonable about that (I overheard them talking to another parent). They do have babysitters for a fee, though they sit in the room with the kids (there has to be 2 of them at a time, and you can only book when you get on the ship) but we thought it would be odd for us to have 2 strangers watching our kids in the same room as they slept. I don't know. We decided against it and had a couple we were traveling with watch them one night when we did the comedy show and Vintages.
Shows- We did not see Chicago. I heard it was very good. We saw all of the other shows, which I thought were just fantastic. Reserve them before you get on the ship if you can!! My kids loved the shows and parades too. I was VERY pleased with the comedians- I am a huge Brian Regan fan and no one compares to him in my eyes, but these guys were really funny (and I wasn't even drunk!).
Cupcake Store- It's adorable, delicious.....since it's front and center when you enter the boat, I signed my kids up for the Kids Cupcake class on Day 6 at 3:45pm. It ended up being cancelled, but we watched the adult class while watching the lady Gaga dance lesson on the Promenade. The cupcakes are delicious and worth $2.50 if you ask me! They do have mini ones for less than that.
Food- To my surprise, I really did not like the Main Dining Room (not necessarily the food, but the atmosphere, it was just too stuffy for a couple with two little onse). We went the first night, and I ended up leaving with my daughter who wasn't feeling great. I wasn't unhappy to leave. I don't know- I just didn't like the set up. They did send our food to the room, which was nice of them. We ended up in the Windjammer Buffet mostly. We had dinner at Giovanni's table and Chops- both really wonderful experiences. Though Chops is higher end, I preferred Giovanni's look/feel. The food was outstanding. The red velvet cake at Chops was off the charts ridiculously good. We also went to Vintages, which was a really nice little place with a great wine selection. I was able to have a few 2 oz. glasses and try some wines I had been wanting to try. Great selection of tapas- it was a really nice night for my husband and me.
Room service- purposely I am sure, the room service menu is VERY limited (annoyingly so) and we ordered once and never even received our food in the morning (they did put an apology on our door the next day). The pizza was good- but we never ordered anything else all week.
Motion Sickness- I am prone to motion sickness- not overly prone, but it was a concern. Unlike my husband, I could feel the ship moving/rocking ALL the time. I never felt sick though, thankfully. My 5 year old mentioned not feeling great, so I gave her a little Benadryl at night- my research shows that this is the best thing for a child. Not sure what I would have done during the day for her if she was really sick- but it did not come up often as a problem for her.
Medical- Unfortunately, my 3 year old had to go to medical at 2am on our first night. He was treated a total of 6 times for asthma, every night after that- so I am very familiar with Medical/Deck 2. The staff was wonderful. We took him every night before they closed (6:45pm) for his treatment so he could sleep through the night. It was pricey ($550 total) but not compared to what the hubby lost in the casino! It was something we had to do despite the cost- and will just submit a claim to insurance to get some reimbursement. Next time we will bring a travel nebulizer!!
Random note- We like our room temp very cold, and had no problem with the temperature. We did travel with some other people- who had to make a HUGE stink about the room temperature since it was very hot. (It was, sweating in their room)- they did fix the problem by getting the frion out. My point is, if your room is hot, make sure you tell them and you may have to be really adamant about it! You don't need an alarm clock, as the phones have a great automated wake up system, and the hair dryer really is fine unless you are really, really particular about your hair dryer.
Another random note- I was told not to bring a sweatshirt/yoga pants, wraps, etc. Well, I wore my sweatshirt every night (maybe because our room really did get cold!) and the dining rooms were really chilly. I guess you know yourself best- but I definitely was thankful for my comfy sweatshirt and yoga pants I packed!!
I hope this review is helpful. I would definitely cruise again, on this ship- The Allure is an amazing ship. I can't compare it to anything else since it was our first, it's like playing the best golf course in the world the first time you ever play.....nothing else will hold a candle for you!!