A. The Good
1. Embarkation - this was the fastest and most efficient process we have encountered. There were about 30 lines arranged by deck. We arrived at about 2:30 and were finished in less than 15 minutes.
2. Disembarkation - here, too, we were pleasantly surprised. We chose the option in which our bags were taken from outside our cabin and brought directly to the airport. The bags were checked in for us and RCI delivered our boarding passes to us. All passengers choosing this option could just walk off the ship after 8 am. We did so and were in the airport by 9:15 am and didn't have to lug our heavy bags.
3. My Time Dining - this was the first time we tried this and loved it. We didn't even make reservations in the main dining room and never had to wait more than 5-10 minutes for a table. This eliminated the stress that sometimes occurs when you have to be at dinner by a specific time. It also gave us more flexibility to schedule other activities.
4. Entertainment - the entertainment on the Allure was the best we have ever seen. We saw Chicago, OceanAria, the comedian show, Blue Planet and the headliner show (Abbacadabra, an ABBA cover group). The professional quality of each was astounding.
5. Specialty restaurants - this was the first cruise on which we tried alternative dining for dinner. Here, we ate at Chops, Giovanni's Table and Rita's Cantina. The quality of the food and service easily matched that of any fine restaurant we have visited. We would eat there again in a second.
6. Cruise staff - every staff member we saw was smiling and appeared to enjoy their job. They were courteous and seemed only to want to make us happy.
1. Crowds - in spite of the fact that RCI has tried to accommodate 5,000+ passengers, there were crowds in certain areas. The ship did feel quite big to us (because it was lol). The Royal Promenade had chokepoints at certain times and the Windjammer Buffet was always mobbed.
2. Elevators - the Allure only has two banks of elevators compared to three on most smaller ships. Granted, each bank has 12 elevators (6 port and 6 starboard), but there was often a long wait. Also, it was a longer walk to the elevators, which could be a problem for folks like me with a bad back.
3. Air conditioning - on most other ships with balcony cabins, the sliding glass doors have to be closed for the a/c to work. On the Allure, however, the glass doors have to be closed and locked. That meant that if my wife wanted to sit on the balcony and I wanted to take a nap we had to lock her out so that the cabin didn't get too warm. Also, if one of us was out of the cabin, the other couldn't sit on the balcony without the a/c shutting off.
4. Water - we are used to having a pitcher of water and a bucket of ice in our cabin at all times. When asked, the steward did bring us ice. However, she said we had to call room service for water. When we did that we were told that we could not get a pitcher of water. We had to order water by the glass. Why? No explanation. They probably wanted us to buy bottled water.
The bottom line is that this is a beautiful ship and RCI should be proud of it. For us, it was a bit too large, but most people will just love it.