I haven't read much of the reviews here nor have I been in the forums much lately, I'm just stopping in quick to give a few comments on our recent Allure cruise FWIW. (be ready for random memories, forgive my brain for not being very organized)
First, I hesitated booking on RC again and felt the big ship required much too high a price. My wife won that argument. Glad she did.
Stayed in a D1 (larger balcony) cabin. For just 2 people the extra balcony room actually wasn't worth the extra price. We booked on the port side, which was NEVER the actual port view, so were always with parents on a smaller D class balcony and it was just fine.
Room was nice, good storage, clean, decent bathroom.. really no complaints. Actually compared to recent cruises (Celebrity Solstice class ships and the NCL EPIC) the cabins were quiet. No slamming of wood cabinets like the EPIC has, and nice lack of deck chair noise like aqua class cabins on Celebrity have. The most quiet cuise we've ever had.
We got there around 11. As lowly Gold members, we sat in a large room and waited for all the other cruise addicts to get on first. Considering how many people were in the room it didn't take long to clear out, only like 30 minutes of waiting and we were on. I'd suggest arriving around 12:30 and avoiding that mess - our parents got on around then and walked right on. I was surprised at how quickly this ship moved passengers on and off. Getting off and on the ship at each stop was much quicker than any ship we've sailed on.
The ship did NOT feel crowded at all. Seriously. I don't know what others are saying, but this one was so relaxing - it felt like it was only 1/4 booked. Everywhere we went we could get in to eat. Only the cattle buffet areas were busy - we avoided those like the plague.
Best food I've had on a ship yet. We did the chef's table (which wasn't actually any particular star chef's table) and thought the food and wine was a bargain. The other specialty choices were great. (though the Italian place was family style.. with what really wasn't a family style menu. We were able to avoid that by just ordering what we wanted) Service in chops was really horrible, otherwise it was great for the most part. (they ruined the red velvet cake by putting chocolate in it, otherwise good eats)
Beer selection (see photos below) was best I've experienced. English pub had everything you could want - loved the Guiness and Blue Moon combo. I appreciate that cruises seem to be paying more attention to their beer selections. I like a good Blue Moon out in the heat. It seemed like they rotated the beers on tap as well. Thought beer was a bit expensive though. (paid almost as much per bottle as I could get a case at home)
Was able to bring some soda on board in our packed luggage with no issues.
The water show was excellent. Seriously.. diving from those heights on a moving ship? Almost had to close my eyes.
Wife said the spa was not very relaxing. Commented you have to wait in a room with men and women together. Felt it was less professional than the other ships we've been on.
Here is the big thing... the ship had a SERIOUS LACK OF CHAIR HOGS!!! WOW... can I say wow again? Just wow. Every other ship we've been on we battle the disgusting selfish chair hogs to get a half decent seat near a pool... not on this ship. Granted the pools were less fun (and certainly no water slide like the EPIC has) but it was nice to be able to get up after 9am and still get a decent seat. (by noon things were booking up, but by people actually using their chairs) RC had someone monitoring the beach pool - she would check in with each person and made sure they were not hogging chairs, then kept a timer and removed their stuff if they were away more than 50ish minutes. RC, I love you. All other boats need to do this. Chair hogs must be defeated... Just because of this I have never felt as relaxed on a boat as I was on the Allure... just do what you want, no fear of things being too busy.
I will say I missed the EPIC's water slides, but not the over-crowded pool areas. I think it was well worth the trade-off.
What else... oh, smoking. (the other cruise wrecker) Not too bad if you stayed away from the left side of the ship. Didn't like how easily smokers out on balconies could force us into our cabin... but I bet someday soon smoking will be banished from balconies then hopefully all areas so we can all enjoy our vacations without the smell of death in our faces. (but I digress...)
They seemed to be having technical difficulties with most the shows, we even had the blue earth show cancelled on us because they couldn't get the computers to work. Seems like they need to hire new technical staff.
In the mall area on deck 5 they were always taking photos, which blocked walking areas. They also had the excursion desk in this area - dumb.. just dumb. You couldn't hear in there and never knew where the lines were.
They cancelled our float down the river in Jamaica with no help getting an alternate. I thought that was rather poor, basically wasted that port for us. Minor issue since I prefer hanging out on the boat or just shopping around anyway.
Labadee was a nice surprise - first look at the new digs. Got off early and went right up to the roller coaster (worth the $) then a lazy walk around on some pretty cool hiking paths. Nice not to be tendered there!
We weren't able to meet the top chef participant Molly Brandt because she was off ship, but loved 150 Central Park. (we almost didn't eat there, but glad we did!)
You know this will sound crazy but I'd actually consider the Allure again. Its made me wonder how I can go back to a smaller boat and enjoy myself. Even the Celebrity Solstice class ships seem dull now after hitting the EPIC then Allure.
We also met the captain for the first time on this cruise. (our 6th) Good for my wife and mother in law since he was apparently a "hunk" and they were all over seeing him.
I loved the running track (see photos below) that went around the ship. I ran 12 laps every day (5 miles) and actually lost weight even while pigging out and drinking lots of booze. People were morons about walking into the running lane but other than that it was nice to run outside vs. be in their stuffy workout area. (which had horrible views compared to other ships)
Getting off was a bit of a cluster.. we stayed an extra day in Ft. Lauderdale so were in the last group. Apparently they had half the customs agents so as we got off we had to sit and wait in a holding area for 30 minutes or more. From now on we're always carrying our bags off early to avoid all that BS. (hard to blame the ship or RC for that, apparently its government budget cuts... or they were trying to make some kind of stupid statement by making us all suffer)