My fiance and I took a cruise on the Allure this July after having a "taste" of the Oasis class after our December 2010 5-night trip. The Oasis was a very special cruise for us (we got engaged) so we were definitely looking forward to the features of the Oasis plus some new stuff on the Allure.
-The specialty restaurants are all fantastic. We ate at the Samba Room, Chops, Giovanni's Table, 150 Central Park, Rita's, and Johnny Rockets and they were all amazing. Definitely extra points go to 150 Central Park with the most delicious tasting menu we've ever had (every plate they brought out was better than the last) and these fantastic melon martinis... omg, still think about them.
-Our dining room waiter, Harvy, was the best we've had on a cruise.
-I thought the Dreamworks stuff was adorable... loved bumping into "Puss in Boots" and the Kung Fu Panda and whatever other critters were wandering the ship.
-Loved the 3-D movies... nice way to break up the day when you're tired of toasting in the sun.. we saw Kung Fu Panda 2, Shrek 4, and Mega-Mind... and every film had a big audience
-The surfing... this is on behalf of my fiance, who spent the entire week on the Flow-rider. For better or worse, the Allure has 2 flow-riders so if you prefer boogie boarding or stand-up surfing, you can spend the entire day uninterrupted
- The pool decks are outstanding. Plenty of pools with tons of chairs. It was not difficult to find a chair at any time of the day, even in the shade.
-The shows were terrific. I thought Chicago was great... the singing and dancing were awesome. The diving show was impressive and the ice-skating shows are always amazing.
- The neighborhoods are stunning... everything was crafted and designed so well, there's NOTHING like it at sea or on land!
- The size of the ship has its advantages because there are plenty of places for people to spread out... therefore, not every inch of the ship is PACKED like on smaller ships
- Ipod docks. We didn't use it as much as we should, but it was great having the Ipod dock to listen to our music while we were getting ready for dinner or sitting on the balcony relaxing.
- All the other food. Breakfast just wasn't good... the Windjammer food was poor and the Park Cafe's breakfast wasn't impressive either. I kept missing NCL and Carnival's made to order omelets. Lunch wasn't great either. I don't eat hamburgers or hot dogs and there was not a grilled chicken breast in sight... once again I had flashbacks to other cruise lines and grilled chicken sandwiches/pasta bars. For no-fee lunch, the best alternative we found was the Park Cafe for the deli sandwiches/make-your-own salad (great idea) and my fiance loved the hot dogs on the boardwalk.
- The gym was small... I went to the gym 5/7 days and always found a machine, but still, compared to the Freedom class ships, this gym was small without a ton of variety and no big windows.
- Slow elevators. This ship was too big to climb stairs all the time and the elevators were not fast enough. And there weren't enough of them...
- Everything was so expensive! We had $330 worth of OBC and coupons for free specialty restaurants so we ate what we wanted, but if we didn't, cupcakes for $2.50, and rita's for $3 just to sit there, and $6.75 for Johnny Rockets, and $40 pp at Park 32... and then drinks. Adds up! When we have kids and take this cruise, I'm going to have to tell them no a lot.
- The ship is so big. Yes, this works for it and against it. I guess the negative part of it being so big is that, you can't forget anything in your cabin or if you want park cafe and your friend wants boardwalk dogs its hard to eat together. You can be on this ship for 7 days and forget who you came with..
So overall, this is a beautiful, fantastic, unique ship with lots of positives. It's definitely a FUN ship with something for EVERYONE. Kids were in heaven with pets at sea, and face painting, and a carousel, and 3-D movies, and Shrek and Fiona wandering around... and there was always a quiet spot to sit in Central Park to get away from the madness. Parades, street parties, etc. etc. We will definitely be back on the Allure/Oasis... but I'm glad smaller ships are out there in the meantime!