We always arrive for our cruise a few days ahead of time and stay a few days after so we aren't rushed. We stayed at the Sleep Inn & Suites in Dania as we did last year on the Oasis. The staff are pleasant, the rooms okay and they have shuttle back and forth to the airport and port.
Embarkation - A breeze just like it was on the Oasis. RCI seems to put their best customer relations and friendliest staff in the boarding area which really helps with first impressions. We didn't need to acquaint ourselves with the ship so we headed directly to the Solarium for a quiet lunch. Next we were off to the Flow-rider and were the first ones on it as soon as it opened. I had been on it back in 2006 on the Freedom and last year on the Oasis so I knew it filled up fast. The staff there were fantastic and gave my friend and I one on one attention.
Orientation - We always visit the Dining Room to check our table assignment. It was next to the Captains table like last year so there are benefits to being repeat cruisers. There was one lady though who was upset with her seating and she really let them know it. She had no patience and staff did not deserve to be chastised the way she did (there are some people who should not cruise or even leave the house). Our luggage arrived shortly after we got back from a quick tour of the ship. The amenities on most RCI ships are located in much the same areas on the ship so navigating around for us is a breeze. They also have information screens on each floor for the uninitiated so nobody should have an excuse for getting lost.
Sea days/shows- our itinerary had 3 seas days which is a must for this ship and even then you might not get to enjoy everything it has to offer. Having to schedule the shows in advance is a bit of nuisance. It also created problem when shows were cancelled or re-scheduled. There was an incident on our cruise in the dive pool which also created havoc in scheduling. There was often conflicts with show-times and they had to change venue locations a few times at the last minute due to private functions. The ship never seemed full although we spent most of the time in the solarium during sea days. We also ate in the solarium as the open hours for some of the other food venues was sporadic. RCI could do a better job of posting open hours for the venues.
Dining - we pretty much kept to our late seating in the dining room. The staff there were not as attentive as we have had on other RCI ships and they seemed to be in a bit of a daze most of the time. They kept asking us to give them rave reviews which I suspect had something to do with the stress they were under to perform. We even tried Johnny Rockets one morning and it was very disorganized. We tend to avoid the Windjammer as it is a bit hectic in there. When we did venture in the selection seemed to be limited. I am sure the company is feeling the downturn in the economy and probably trying to do more with less like everyone else. As a repeat customer we do comparisons and the customer service on Allure was definitely not up to our expectations.
Ports - Nassau looks a little tired and needs some attention. Even the walkway to the reception area is in need of repair. We were going to have a beer at Senor Frogs however the prices were crazy...we settled for a quieter place with reasonable prices. RCI could strike this port off their itinerary. St. Thomas was okay but is always a bit of a free-for-all to get a ride anywhere. We normally head off to St. John's for snorkeling but decided to do a beach on the island this time. It rained off and on all day so we were glad we stayed close-by. St. Maarten is one of our favourite ports. We for the afternoon. The ship could stand to stay in this port a little longer.
All in the all the ship looks great. The entertainment staff were fantastic and the shows were awesome. We had Captain Johnny on the Mariner and once again he put on a show himself...RCI needs to scout out more captains like him. The only real negative we had on Allure was the service. I think the shear size of the ship has created an environment not unlike that of a huge all-inclusive resort where staff can get by on mediocrity. In future I think we will stick with the Freedom and Voyager class ships where the staff seem to be more attentive.