My 22 year old daughter and I spent Spring Break with 6000 other passengers on an Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Allure of the Seas. The ship is beautiful. We had a Central Park balcony room, and I am glad that we chose an interior balcony. The courtyard had recorded sounds: birds, an occasional barking dog, migrating geese, and crickets at night. There was plenty of greenery and comfortable seating that was hooded to prevent wind. There was a no charge eatery that offered made to order salads, great roast beef sandwiches, tasty soups, and other offerings, with good dessert. Some evenings either bagpipes or classical music was live in the courtyard. Our room, on the 10th deck, faced Giovanis, a pay restaurant. Also in the courtyard was an art gallery, 150 Central Park pay restaurant, Coach, a bar (of course), and the Rising Tides bar ascended to this level from the Promenade. I enjoyed the peace of the balcony for our room. There were so many sights and extras that I noticed.
One of the first things we did aboard (after eating, getting into our room and starting the unpacking process) was to take a ride on the Merry Go Round in the Boardwalk area. No wait. My daughter later enjoyed free Coney Island hot dogs and tried a cupcake from the specialty shop. She was not happy that the red velvet was not chocolate dyed red.
Amazingly, although there were 6000 passengers I did not feel the ship was crowded other than at the 70 and 80s dance party.
I enjoyed my dance classes for Dance Like Lady Gaga and prep for the Flash Mob. The music in the dance club was loud with too much variety to get any serious dancing going for a long period.
We made advance reservations for each of the six shows. Chicago was excellent, of course, since it was the copyrighted Broadway show. One of the comedians in the Comedy show was super vulgar and super offensive, and I filed a written complaint. I love comedy, and there is no reason for guests to be offended and embarrassed under the guise of comedy which was not at all funny. The Ice Show was good but I've seen so many and there is but so much you can do on the ice--so I thought. The aqua show was great: balancing, high diving. Blue Planet was very different. The headliner was okay with moments of comedy.
During the welcome aboard party in the Promenade, my daughter and I were aboard Rising Tides, the bar that ascends from the 5th to 8th deck. During the presentation, with free champagne in hand, we were partially ascended and had a great view. When Rising Tides ascends, there is a variating fountain below it.
The casino is large and I enjoyed it following the general rule: enjoy the experience, and play for fun, not to win. There were enough low denomination games to keep me happy.
The hot tubs in the Solarium were clean and not crowded when I used them. The Solarium cafe offered healthier and different food than other venues, and we ate there a number of times. Water aerobics was offered each day at 9:00, but I was warned that the water was freezing and did not bother trying it out.
I took the zip line and enjoyed the experience. I could not talk my daughter into doing it. I did not use the flowrider because it would not have been worth the injury.
We enjoyed table tennis, although the location provided a strong wind that sometimes made the ball go the opposite direction than it was hit.
We sat at a dinner table for 12, and I would not do this again. Since we all didn't arrive at the same time, this may have caused the courses to be delayed in order for late comers to catch up. The large group provided good conversation, but the waiter and assistant waiter provided super slow service to the point that the Head Waiter assisted them. Next time: My time dining.
The parade was great, it made me wish I were a kid; and the 70s and 80s block party was great fun.
The fitness center was huge with a lot of variety. There were more classes for cost than previously. The track is outdoors around an entire deck--with some parts in a wind tunnel. Although the track is padded, I did a little over two miles and suffered with a swollen ankle until I got home.
There was no art auction. An art gallery for Britto is on Central Park, and I visited. it I did not enjoy the artwork in the common areas as much as on other ships.
There were a number of events for Crown and Anchor members. We had a preview of the shows one morning, at which beverages were free. We also attended a small concert with the singers from Chicago, again with free drinks. There was a waiting area for platinum members, but we got there rather late and had sort of stale pastry and coffee.
I enjoyed the week even though the ports were disappointing. Paradise Island, Nassau no longer allows visitors to visit all areas in the mezzanine area of the resort. I can't blame them since we were one of four ships in port, though we looked forward to visiting the shops. We did not disembark in St Thomas. We went to the French side of St Martin to shop, and I was very disappointed with the limited inventory in the few stores that remain in business. In the future, if we do not tour I would not bother getting off.
Noticeable improvements: dual Ipod charging stations in the stateroom, super comfortable bedding, and touch screen maps that make carrying daily events unnecessary are welcome changes.
A few disappointments. Each time we sail, something that was previously free is now offered for a fee. This time, cranberry, tomato and apple juice. Offering popcorn in the Boardwalk area for $1 is just plain nit-picky. Until travelers insist that the cruise industry make cruises all inclusive once again, this trend will continue. I also noticed a marked decline in the quality of food, which is likely to motivate passengers to pay for alternative dining in the restaurants. I did not have any meal that I considered tasty, with the exception of soup from the Central Park eatery.