Sail Date: October 2011
Foreword The Allure of the Seas is a rock star. Her arrival or departure at a port causes everyone to stop and stare. Whether they are millionaires on a yacht, dockworkers or fellow cruisers on another ship, everyone is impressed by ... Read More
Foreword The Allure of the Seas is a rock star. Her arrival or departure at a port causes everyone to stop and stare. Whether they are millionaires on a yacht, dockworkers or fellow cruisers on another ship, everyone is impressed by monumentality. The Allure is monumental to be sure. The fact that humans built something so gigantic, complex and magnificent is nothing short of amazing. If anyone would like to read this review and see my pictures, follow this link: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1513962 Pre Cruise My wife and I booked this cruise over a year ago while we were on Freedom of the Seas. At the time it was hard to fathom that any ship could be more impressive than Freedom. I could tell from pictures that Allure would be bigger. I could also tell that it had a park and a boardwalk. But the actual experience would prove to be much more impressive than viewing pictures could ever be. We drove down the day before the cruise and stayed at the Westin in North Ft. Lauderdale. The hotel was very nice and easy to find being right off I-95. We had a nice dinner at Southport Raw Bar followed by ice cream at Jaxson's. The next morning we drove to the port and parked at Park-n-Go. They have a nice lot near Port Everglades and offer shuttle service to and from the terminal. We only paid $5.99 per day, which is much lower than the $15 to park at the pier. I was surprised by how quickly embarkation went. The new terminal is huge and they have numerous security and check-in lines to handle the large crowds. Having arrived at the pier around 11 AM, we were checked in and waiting upstairs before 11:30. They began loading the ship soon thereafter and we were on board before noon. The Greatest Ship Ever Built I have written many reviews of cruise ships in the past, but this one is going to take quite a bit more effort. The only logical way to cover such a gigantic ship is break it into sections and take it piece by piece. Royal Caribbean has chosen to divide the ship into "neighborhoods", so I shall do likewise. Covering most of Deck 5 is the biggest-yet incarnation of the Royal Promenade. It is also the first neighborhood visited upon entering the ship. There are seven large anchor areas in the neighborhood along with numerous smaller shops. "Boleros", the Latin themed dance club. The "On Air", which is a mixed use sports bar and karaoke lounge. "Bow and Stern" is the ship's British pub. "Sorrento's Pizzeria" is directly across the street. Unlike its Freedom Class counterpart, most of the seating is outside in the Promenade. I think I prefer the setup on Freedom, it felt more like sitting in an authentic pizzeria. "Cafe Promenade" has a nice selection of pastries, cookies, coffees, teas and deli sandwiches. Guest Services is next door. The addition of self-serve kiosks allows guests to check their Seapass accounts and other functions without seeing a staff member. The "Champagne Bar" is across from Guest Relations, as well as the lower landing of the "Rising Tide Bar". One is immediately taken aback by the scale and openness of the space. Unlike the promenades on the Voyager and Freedom class ships, the Allure's has a second level with balconies for the Schooner Bar (above Guest Services), Focus Photo Gallery (above the Champagne Bar) and The Diamond Club (above Boleros). Aside from those balconies, the other venues have faux second levels that give an illusion of height even though Allure's Promenade is actually one deck shorter than those on the older ships. Large glass skylights let in natural light from Central Park above. Lower in the ship one will find Entertainment Place, situated mostly on Deck 4. First is the cavernous "Amber Theater", which is the ship's main show lounge. It seats well over a thousand people and is very similar to the main theater on the Freedom Class ships. The Amber Theater has been outfitted with 3D capable equipment and a great sounding audio system. The seating is comfortable, and they have added some poorly placed box seats along the back wall of the balcony. I say poorly because, while they seem enticing with their high top table and chairs, everyone seems to stroll into the theater during shows and stand right in front of them. We sat in one during Chicago (more on that later) and were constantly having to ask folks to move out of our way. Outside Amber Theater are the "Jazz on 4" club, and the "Blaze" dance club. Both feature nightly music and dancing. Next to Jazz on 4 is the ship's "Comedy Live" club. It features live stand up throughout the week, although reservations are required. "Studio B" is also on Deck 4, which is home to the ice skating rink. It's also where the ice shows take place. I like that they have hallways on either side of Studio B now, which allow transit around the rink. On earlier classes the ice rink spanned the entire deck, which means one could not traverse front to back. Allure's "Casino Royale" is a large and impressive gambling hall that spans the width of the ship. Smoking is allowed on one side of the casino. Occupying a huge piece of the ship between Deck 3 and Deck 5 is the gigantic Adagio Dining Room, Allure's main restaurant. Each level has a bar/sitting area in front of the entrance for waiting guests to congregate before meals. The restaurant is very nice, and pleasant to dine in. My only complaint is that they eliminated the staircases inside the dining room. This means that you have to walk out to the stairwells if you want to visit a different level of the dining room. I assume this was a space saving measure, but you really notice their absence each time you accidentally walk in on the wrong level. Allure has a large Vitality Spa and Fitness Center forward on decks 5 and 6. It features a full gym and spa area. The spa area has a very nice thermal suite (a surcharge applies) that my wife enjoyed thoroughly. Although the gym is no longer at the top of the ship as it was on earlier classes, it still has many extra large windows to let sunlight in. The spa area also has it's own café offering healthy alternatives to the ship's other restaurants. This is a feature I have not yet seen on a Royal Caribbean ship, although I have read that Celebrity has similar eateries in their spa areas. Deck 6 and The Boardwalk Prior to venturing outside into the Boardwalk I visited "Dazzles" dance club. It is definitely one of the nicest dance clubs I have seen on a cruise ship. The lower level has seating, a large dance floor, the bar and a small stage for live music. The balcony is all seating, but with its V-shape the dance floor is visible to most folks sitting up there. The good design and tasteful décor is certainly a plus, but the real jewel of the room is the fantastic view. The entire back wall of Dazzles is glass, and it looks out onto the Boardwalk. In the day you get a cool view all the way back to Aqua Theater and the ocean. At night, club goers are treated to the fully lit up Boardwalk area. The Boardwalk itself located on the aft area of Deck 6, and is totally open air above and to the rear. There are balcony rooms that look out onto it, giving what would otherwise be interior cabins a pleasant open verandah. As you enter The Boardwalk you get a sense of the Coney Island theme that the designers were going for. The walls of the entranceway have fun house mirrors and circus inspired panels. A Zoltar machine heckles guests to pay him for a reading of their fortunes. The centerpieces of the entrance are sculptures depicting the steps that the carousel horses go through during their creation. The real, full size carousel that calls The Boardwalk home then greets guests. You can really appreciate the detail and craftsmanship that went into it. One of the horses even sports a big Crown and Anchor logo on his saddle. The Boardwalk is home to several shops and restaurants. The first that one comes across is the Boardwalk Dog House. It has several gourmet hot dogs on the menu, and is free of charge. I ate there once but was unimpressed. It tasted fine, but the bun was stale and hard just like nearly every other cruise ship hot dog I have eaten. I don't know why they can't ever seem to stock fresh bread. Across the way is a little donut shop. They serve coffee, teas and donuts in the mornings. Other shops include an ice cream parlor, a candy shop, a build-a-bear store, a novelty photo booth and a clothing store. There are two large eateries on The Boardwalk. On the port side is "Rita's Cantina", a Mexican themed open-air restaurant serving tacos, fajitas and the like. They also have some pretty decent frozen margaritas. Across from Rita's is "Johnny Rocket's Diner". For those that aren't familiar, JR's is a 1950s themed diner serving burgers, fries and shakes. It has both indoor and outdoors seating. A surcharge applies to both Rita's and JR's. While the Boardwalk is impressive, the real stunner of the area is the "Aqua Theater". It is a huge amphitheater with permanent beach chair seating. The "stage" is actually a rigid mesh that can be lowered to reveal a large pool beneath. The theater's pool, when the stage is fully lowered, is over 14 feet deep. This allows high divers to jump safely into the pool from high up on the superstructure. Water jets that create a "dancing fountain" effect also surround the stage. Flanking the Aqua Theater are the ship's dual rock climbing walls. I did not spend a tremendous amount of time at The Boardwalk mostly due to its location on the ship. You have to mean to go there, it's not a place you walk through going from A to B. I strolled down the Promenade and through Central Park many times during the week while on my way elsewhere. Obviously there is no way to solve that issue, but it certainly seemed like the whole area was under used. Moving back inside on Deck 6 we find the nautical themed "Schooner Bar", a Royal Caribbean institution. Like its counterparts on other ships it features pleasant leather loungers and live piano music at night. A slight wood smoke aroma piped in to add to the ambiance, a feature I enjoyed on the Radiance Class thankfully carried over. Of course this is Allure, so it had to be taken a step further. This Schooner Bar also features a great view of the Royal Promenade and the Rising Tide Bar since it is open to the vast area below. Directly across from the Schooner Bar is "Focus", the ship's photo gallery. Unlike most other ships, you don't see endless displays of pre printed photos hung up for you to rifle through. Not on this ship! On allure you find large revolving drums containing hundreds of numbered folders. Everyone is assigned a folder, and this is where you will find most of your photos. This is achieved through a combination of facial recognition technology and the photographers swiping the Seapass before taking a picture. A few pictures are still printed, but they are mostly the port debarkation photos and other miscellaneous shots. Focus also has a small selection of cameras for sale, as well as camera supplies. Lastly on Deck 6, but certainly not least, is the Diamond Club. It is a private lounge for Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle members of the Crown and Anchor Society. The lounge is located directly above Boleros, and has it's own balcony overlooking the Promenade. The lounge is very nice, as is the balcony seating. It has coffee and teas available at all hours, and they also serve a continental breakfast in the mornings. The Diamond event was held in Jazz on 4 each night, which I found to be a bit odd. The actual Diamond Club seemed like it would be plenty large enough to handle the crowds we saw in the Jazz club each evening. Central Park: Nestled in the very heart of the ship is its crown jewel, Central Park. Royal Caribbean could have just built The Boardwalk and hit a home run. With Central Park, they knocked it out of the park and into the next town. The first step into Central Park is nothing short of breathtaking. Living trees, shrubs, grasses and vines growing all around greet you warmly. The sweeping glass canopies look more like sculptures than functional skylights and overhangs. There are two areas in the middle of Central Park that don't have balconies. These areas are instead covered with ferns, vines and flowers that create a living wall. Bird sounds plays softly over hidden speakers, and a few real ones have even taken up residence. There are benches and seats tucked away all over, allowing visitors to sit and relax while in the park. The planning and execution of the park are stunning, and one forgets they are even on a cruise ship while spending time there. Along with the experience of the park, visiting guests also have many dining, shopping and beverage options. There is a Coach store, along with a Britto art gallery in the park. "Vintages" is the ship's wine bar. It has great lounge and couch seating that seems more like a living room than a bar. I'm not a wine drinker, but it looked like they had a very large selection. "The Trellis Bar" is an open-air pub located close to the middle of the park. "Chops" steakhouse is located in the park, as is "150 Central Park" which is the ships high-end supper club. "Giovanni's Table" is a family style Italian restaurant. Cover charges apply to all, and all have patio seating. My favorite place in Central Park is the Park Cafe. It is a free restaurant that serves sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads. They have a very good roast beef sandwich that I had several times. In the mornings they serve great breakfast sandwiches, the ham egg and cheese English muffin was my favorite. They also have a really nice "build your own bagel" station. My only complaint about Park Cafe is that it should have been bigger. After the first day, most folks figure out how bad The Windjammer is (more on that later). Park Cafe then gets very crowded, even with its' outside seating. Some folks even had to sit at the patio tables of Giovanni's Table. Deck 14: The ship's kid's area is located forward on deck 14. It has several colorful play rooms and activity centers for the little ones. They also have a small arcade and movie theater just for children. At the very front of Deck 14 is the "Sun Deck". It occupies the entirety of the roof above the ship's Bridge. They have stacks of lounge chairs out there for sunning. Guests can also walk out onto the bridge wings that stick out past the edges of the ship. Unfortunately this is as close to the bow of the ship as most guests can get. I really wish the guest accessible bow area had been incorporated into this class. I enjoyed that area a lot on the Freedom and Radiance classes. Deck 15: Pools, Hot Tubs, And So Much More! Deck 15 is where the ship's five guest accessible pools are located. All the way forward is the adults-only Solarium. A (partially) glass enclosed area with loungers, two hot tubs and a pool. It also has it's own restaurant, the Solarium Bistro. The food in Solarium Bistro fits in between the Windjammer and Spa Cafe on the healthy scale. They have a salad bar, soups and a variety of dishes. Almost all of the walls are glass, offering great views off the front of the ship. The upper level of the Solarium has more loungers and patio seating, as well as a full service bar. Just outside the Solarium (but still posted as adults only) are the two large cantilevered whirlpools, a feature carried over from the Freedom class. On Allure they are much larger and each divided into two sections. They have flat screen TVs above, and feature an "infinity" edge. There are four large pools in the middle of deck 15, each with a different style and purpose. The "Main Pool" is just a basic pool for swimming; it also has a tiered sunning area adjacent to it that stretches up to the next deck. The "Beach Pool" is the only salt-water pool on board. It has a sloped sunning area that allows the pool water to flow around the lounge chairs as if they were sitting in actual surf. The "Sports Pool" is used mostly for pool games, as the name would imply. I saw many games of pool volleyball being played in it, which looked very fun. The last pool is located within the children's water park area. Each pool has its own hot tubs. The "Living Room" teen club is located on Deck 15 aft of the pool area. It is a large lounge area with several TVs and video game systems. It also has a music room and outdoor seating area. I was pretty jealous of the outdoor teen area; it has big beanbag chairs and comfy looking couches. The "Fuel" teen disco is next door to the Living Room. It is nicer and larger than the adult dance clubs I have seen on other ships. All the way aft on Deck 15 is the sports area. It is home to the ships dual Flowriders. One is used for body boarding, the other for surfing. "Allure Dunes" is the ship's mini golf course. There is also a full size basketball court, and two ping-pong areas that are enclosed to prevent wind interference. All of those features are impressive, but the big draw is of course the Zip Line. It stretches from behind the "Wipeout Bar" all the way across The Boardwalk to a platform on the opposite side. The ride is only about 10 seconds long, but the view can't be beat! The sports deck has it's own restaurant, "The Wipeout Cafe" It has assorted items like tacos, hamburgers, soft serve ice cream and delicious pretzel wrapped hot dogs. Deck 16: Why you shouldn't visit the Windjammer on Allure,,,ever. Aside from open decks for sunning, the only big draw on Deck 16 is the "Windjammer Marketplace". It is the ship's main buffet area, just as it is on all other Royal Caribbean ships. On Allure though, the Windjammer is almost comically under sized for the population of the ship. I don't have solid numbers to back it up, but it seems smaller than the Windjammer on the Freedom Class (which carry much less people). I never ate there, but I did walk through Allure's Windjammer once and that was enough for me. The crowding was ridiculous and it seemed like every single table was occupied. Thankfully I already knew about the Windjammer issues from reading Cruise Critic, so I was prepared to steer clear. The ship is designed so that passengers will disperse and use all of the other restaurants. Unfortunately most cruisers are still hard wired into the idea that there are two places to eat on a ship, the buffet and the main dining room. It's not until a few days into the cruise that the herd of folks migrate into the others areas and discovers that there are more and better alternatives on board. The "Izumi" Asian restaurant and sushi bar is next to the Windjammer. It looked very nice, but we never ate there due to the surcharge. Deck 17: The highest deck of the ship is home to one of my favorite features of a Royal Caribbean ship, the Viking Crown Lounge. It has huge windows that look out onto the pool deck and the ocean. The VCL is a great place to sit, relax and enjoy its awesome views. The Pinnacle Chapel and Pinnacle Lounge flank the VCL; they are used for weddings and religious gatherings. The Loft Suites are also on this deck, but it's doubtful that I will ever get to stay in one. Day 1: After the quick embarkation and exploration of the ship we found our way to the cabins. We were lucky to get one of the interior cabins where the bed is against the rear wall. The other setup has the bed in the middle, with the couch closer to the back of the room. The former feels bigger even though they have identical square footage. The cabins are very well thought out with little touches that go a long way to increase guest comfort. The room had three outlet plugs, plus a hidden one under the desk. It has a dual IPod dock with speakers and a clock, ample closet space, flat screen TV, and a hair dryer. In the bathroom there is a good-sized shower with sliding doors and small shelves for storage. They also built in a low output night-light so that the main bathroom light does not need to be turned on at night. The only weird thing in the cabin was the counterintuitive light switches. There is one large "master switch" that has to be on for anything to work. If it is not on, nothing but the bathroom will illuminate. Aside from that there are two smaller switches, one for the main overhead lights and one for the indirect lighting that shine onto the pictures on the wall. There is also a switch for the bathroom light and the vanity light. As if that were not enough, there are duplicates of the two smaller switches by the bed, which will only work if the master switch is on. Confused yet? I was for a while. I was constantly hitting the wrong one, or forgetting to turn on the master switch. After a few days I got the hang of it, but it seems overly cumbersome. Even though the ship is tremendously huge I found it very easy to navigate through. They did an excellent job signing things and keeping guests oriented. I also enjoyed being on such a new ship with everything working as designed. We had our first meal onboard in the Park Cafe, the roast beef sandwiches were excellent. The eatery reminded me of the Seaview Cafe on the Radiance which was another favorite spot of mine. I headed to the Sun Deck and watched our departure from Port Everglades. After leaving the channel we were hit by some very high winds and the open decks were closed. Our serving staff at dinner was awesome. We were scheduled to see the Aqua Theater show that first evening, but the bad weather and high winds caused it to be cancelled. So we went to the Amber Theater and watched a 3D move instead. The audio and video quality was outstanding. Day 2, Nassau: I woke up around noon, no rush really. I don't even bother getting off the ship in Nassau anymore. Enjoying the sparsely populated ship is much more desirable than dealing with the crowds and junk peddling locals. My wife and I had lunchfast at the Wipeout Cafe. I love their pretzel dogs. I spent most of the day in and around the Solarium and the cantilevered hot tubs. The other ships in port seemed almost miniscule compared to our Allure. I watched sail away from Nassau at the Sun Deck again. There was an Aida ship parked next to us. Apparently their dress code is a bit different than ours. I saw two different women sunning topless, and no one seemed to think much of it. You have to love those relaxed European sensibilities. I can't wait for our Puritanical country to catch up. We waved goodbye to the Bahamas and set sail for St. Thomas. We all spent some time in the Viking Crown before leaving for the ice show. We all watched the "Ice Games" show in Studio B. It was well done, just like the other ice shows I have seen on Freedom of the Seas. It did seem a bit like a commercial as most of the sets depicted were locations around the ship. After the show we all went back to the cabins to get into our Halloween costumes. The crew did a great job of dressing the ship up for Halloween. They changed the Promenades lighting to orange and had cobwebs, balloons and other props placed about. We had dinner in our costumes, which was a new experience for me. They also converted the Blaze disco into a walk through haunted house. We waited in line for it, and it was okay but nothing spectacular. We missed the costume parade on the Promenade, but I saw it later on TV. Some of the costumes people brought were very impressive. After the haunted house my friend and I smoked cigars up in the suite guest sunning area. It is the only place on the entire ship where cigar smoking is allowed, and only after 7 PM. The whole situation is totally unacceptable since a cold, windy deck is no place for fine cigar smoking. It makes no sense that the smaller Freedom Class has lovely cigar lounges, but the gigantic Oasis Class does not. There should be some small lounge on the ship where folks can enjoy their stogies. That open deck up top is an insult. They even have two humidors on board selling sticks just to throw some more salt into the wound. Later that night we all went to the Amber Theater again and watched Saw 3D. The movie was terrible, but it wasn't Royal Caribbean's fault. The producers should be ashamed of themselves. It was obvious that they were just wringing every last drop of profit out of the franchise with no regard for quality. Day 3, At Sea: My wife and I began our first sea day at the Crown and Anchor reception in the Aqua Theater. They had free champagne and a few mixed drinks. Captain Johnny welcomed us on board and they also had a high diving demonstration. We had lunch in the main dining room. They have an excellent "create your own salad" bar. It has just about everything you could want in a salad, and it tastes fantastic. They also have regular menu items available. In the afternoon my wife had a fun time on the Zip Line, and I had a drink while riding the Rising Tide Bar. We stopped into the Diamond Lounge early, right at 5 when it opened. It is much more crowded at 5 than it is at 7 when we usually went. One of the crew told us that we were some of the youngest Diamond members they have seen who actually "earned it" (referring to kids of Diamond members). I'm not sure if this was a jibe at the new policy (which allows children into the lounge) or not, but thankfully no one brought any kids in there during our sailing. We went to see Chicago in the Amber Theater prior to dinner. It was very well done, but not really something I enjoyed. Not because of anything with the cast or musicians, I'm just not big on musical theater. We then had a nice dinner in the main dining room, and tried again to have cigars up in the wind tunnel. It was an early night in preparation of our arrival in St. Thomas the next morning. Day 4, St. Thomas: Unfortunately Allure does not dock at the Havensight. Pier, and instead ties up at Crown Bay. The area around the Crown Bay pier is much less appealing than Havensight, which has numerous shops, bars and the tram ride up to Paradise Point. There is only a small shopping area at the Crown Bay pier, and the area seems much more industrial. We planned to get a taxi over to Magen's Bay while in St. Thomas, but the weather turned bad before we could even leave the pier complex. So instead of wasting the cab fare, we just got back on the ship and enjoyed the hot tubs in the Solarium. I tried the Boardwalk Dog House for lunch. The hot dog itself was ok, but the bun was stale so we went to the Park Cafe instead. After relaxing in the room for a while I walked to the public deck the overlooks Aqua Theater at the aft end of Deck 12. They had just started a show so I took a few pictures. I didn't stay for the whole show since we were scheduled to see it later in the evening. I then went out to the front Sun Deck to watch sail away. BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO! It blared over the PA system announcing an injury at the Aqua Theater stage. I walked back to the aft deck to see what had happened. Another passenger told me that one of the performers had been injured during the show. The ship remained in port late so that medical personnel could take the performer off the ship for treatment. We later learned that the performer was treated for a compound fracture and will make a full recovery. Unfortunately our Aqua Theater show was cancelled again. We went to Rita's Cantina for one of the special "Rita's Fiesta" they have during the week. It includes 3 margaritas, dinner, music and dancing. The whole thing is a lot of fun, and worth the $20 per person surcharge. I highly recommend it we had a great time! After Rita's we briefly went to the Headliner Show featuring Tony Tillman. He is a song and dance act, and I did not really care for it. We left shortly after it started and later went to Studio B for The Quest. The Quest on Allure was one of the best and funniest that I have yet been to. The cruise director just made each section of the audience a team and had two Team Captains out on the floor. This really got everyone involved instead of it just being a few groups taking part. If you aren't easily offended and like to have fun go to The Quest! Day 5, St. Maarten: After a nice breakfast at Park Cafe we left the ship and caught a water taxi over to the downtown area. We did a little shopping and then hit the beach for a few hours. Later in the afternoon we returned to the ship and went up to the Solarium hot tubs again. I watched our final sail away from the bridge wing, it was sad to think that our next stop would be Fort Lauderdale. It seemed like the cruise had just started. In the evening we went to the Crown and Anchor top tier event. They had the cast from Chicago perform a brief show for us. Bar staff were also serving free drinks. My wife and I each had a couple of drinks, and I felt that was sufficient. Some folks were not as restrained. I observed one couple taking several, (before they could have possibly been done with the ones they already had) stopping the waiters each time they walked by. I don't know why some folks feel the need to abuse the generosity of the cruise line, but its behavior like that that causes perks to be taken away. After a good dinner we went to Comedy Live to see the show. After many cruises I can confidently say that Dan Wilson and Ralph Harris put on the best show I have seen thus far. I think the venue should be a bit bigger to accommodate more people, but the show was hilarious. After the Comedy Show we stopped into Vintages so the ladies could enjoy the sangria special. We then finished the night at Dazzles for the Michael Jackson dance party. All in all, it was a very good day. Day 6, at sea: We began our second to last day with a visit to Studio B for the "How to Train Your Dragon" ice show. I actually thought that it was better produced than the main ice show. The sets were better looking, as were the costumes and props. After the show we had an excellent lunch in the main dining room. The salad bar they set up is top notch and delicious. Later we visited the sports and zip line. We also had some drinks in the Viking Crown lounge. My wife and I stopped by the loyalty desk and booked our cruise on Freedom of the Seas next year. They have a nice program that gives on board credit for future bookings made on board. We all went to the main dining room for the last of two formal nights. The meal wasn't very good unfortunately. The lobster was dry and flavorless. The pasta dish was okay, but the desserts were downright boring. I was pretty disappointed since formal night dinners are usually the best ones. After dinner we watched the "Blue Planet" show in the Amber Theater. The show was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I highly recommend seeing it to anyone going on Allure. The sets were very well done, as was the acrobatic work. After the show we stopped by Park Cafe for snacks. Two obnoxious children jumped in front of us in line demanding cookies from the lady behind the counter. The same two continued running about making noise with no parents to be found. So we left and walked over to Sorrento's and ran in to still more kids running about. I don't know what it is about walking onto a cruise ship that causes parent's to turn their spawn loose on the rest of society, but absentee parents are becoming an all too common problem. Day 7, one last day at sea: Our last day at sea was a fairly busy one. We first went to the backstage theater tour for Diamond guests. It was interesting to see where the cast gets ready for the shows. It's much smaller than you would assume. We then walked to Aqua Theater and watched the Dreamworks Aqua Show. It was tailored to children obviously, but I still enjoyed seeing the high divers and acrobats do their things. My friends then took a trip up the rock-climbing wall before we hit Johnny Rockets for milkshakes. My wife and I used our free slot pull tickets from our Diamond books. I actually won something finally, a free T-shirt. We visited the Solarium hot tubs one last time before getting ready for our dinner at the "Samba Grill" Brazilian steakhouse, which is set up in the Solarium Bistro at night. The meal was good, but not up to par with other Brazilian steakhouses I have been to on land. The quality of the meats and salad bar was not in the same league as places like Texas de Brazil. But the price was much lower than a land based restaurant, so I wasn't upset. It's just unlikely that I will go again. We went early to dinner so that we could attend the Oceanaria Aqua Show, which had been rescheduled twice before (once for weather and once for the inured cast member). We made our way out to the Boardwalk and got in line. After standing around for about 30 minutes we were informed that our show was again cancelled due to the winds. Everyone was understandably let down since there would be no more showings. The only thing that bothered me was that they should have made the call sooner. The weather had not changed at all between when we arrived and when they cancelled it. I understand that the weather can't be helped; but they should have been quicker to decide rather that leaving us to stand around for so long. We all went back to our rooms to pack and put our luggage out. Debarkation: We had our final breakfast at the Park Cafe and set off to debark. From the point we left the café to when we got to the curb was around 25 minutes. Not the best I have seen, but far from the worst. We had some trouble catching our shuttle back to the Park-n-Go lot. The area for guests to wait for shuttles is not very well signed. Everyone basically waits in a big group with no discernable system. Whenever a shuttle pulls up, folks just sort of mob to it. We eventually got to our car and on the road. The cruise was tremendously enjoyable, and I hope to visit Allure or her sister again one day. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
To start, I don't really want people to think that I am complaining about RCCL. They have given us many years of pleasurable vacations, and was are very first cruise. This last cruise we came off of, was really just to big! To ... Read More
To start, I don't really want people to think that I am complaining about RCCL. They have given us many years of pleasurable vacations, and was are very first cruise. This last cruise we came off of, was really just to big! To start, the Embarkation and disembarkation was really good and in check.The process went very quickly as other reviewers stated before traveling. The room was ready at 1:00PM as usual. The central park balcony was very nice and pretty quiet. It was beautiful to see the trees out there and real birds flying around between the plants and trees. Also, RCCL has bird sounds piped in as well. In the evenings they have crickets chirping.We did miss the ocean balcony though. It will remind you of a hotel lobby in some respects. Are cabin steward was fantastic! The Concierge lounge and servers/bartenders were excellent as well. The entertainment on board was superior to their other ships. We met some very nice people on-board, and usually ate specialty dining each evening, since we know how the food usually is in main dining. Just what we enjoy doing and are tastes. We enjoy the intimacy and each others company more than the horse and pony shows with the food(?) in the main dining. After meeting these fine people on-board and taking in a show (comedy)we all were talking and they mentioned how RCCL main ding and food as changed over the years. We really hadn't thought it had but gave it a shot on I believe the 5th evening ( The second formal night). We were all dressed up and were really ready for main dining( 2nd seating at 8:30 ). We got to main dining maitre d and said that we hadn't been eating in main dining the entire cruise and in specialty, but would lie to enjoy are guests company on formal night. The maitre d asked us to wait. We waited for 20-30 minutes and he came back with another member of the staff, we waited another 10 minutes until he found a table for us...It's now 9:15pm. He came back and said he found a table all the way in the back by the galley( Horrible and unacceptable ), and all the way on the other side away from our guests. To top it off there was an empty table right next to our friends and the party we were mingling with and socializing. They stated to the maitre d that no one had been at that table the entire cruise, and also the server stated the same. The maitre d stated that we couldn't sit there because there was another group already scheduled to sit there! EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVEN'T BEEN THERE THE ENTIRE CRUISE. Finally he stated that we could sit there but if they came in to eat we would have to get up! I couldn't believe what I was hearing! First of all, being Diamond Plus, and if this is the way they are treating us...how are they treating others at lower tiers?? We went to guest relations to speak to someone else about this, and now it's 9:30 ish. The man there got someone on the phone in main dining and she stated that if we came back up that we would have to start with the ENTREE being that this is where they were currently at in the meal! Again, I couldn't believe this! I asked if there was any way to get into a specialty restaurant? The man got us in to Giovanni's. At this point I really didn't care where we were going to eat, but neither of us had an appetite at this point. This really was a point in the cruise where we felt that maybe we just out grew Royal Caribbean... Who knows? The main( Adult Pool ) was horrible as well. We like the location better than on other ships, but they need to figure out how to make it a full pool like other ships, instead of a Large Whirlpool, like others have mentioned in reviews. The food in specialty restaurants( Excellent ) The Rita's Catina ( Fun and Worth the extra cost ) The show on the back of ship we never saw because it was either always raining and forever rescheduled or the divers were always getting hurt. We here it's good. Very good and pleasant. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Just recently finished our sailing with Allure of the Seas for the October 16th 2011 sailing. Here is my review being as objective as possible: - Food in main dining room was of low quality. Lackluster dish presentation, bland tasting ... Read More
Just recently finished our sailing with Allure of the Seas for the October 16th 2011 sailing. Here is my review being as objective as possible: - Food in main dining room was of low quality. Lackluster dish presentation, bland tasting food, and limited menu. We ended up tired of going there and skipped the same at the end. - Food in specialty restaurants were of great quality, great presentation, and very tasty, especially Chops Grille! Highly recommended. If you have the money I would skip the main dining all together. - Having sailed in other cruises, including other RC ships, we found most shows to be boring. Chicago though was very good. - Although the Cruise had several entertainment options and activities, we found these completely lacking, especially for a ship that spends 3 days at sea. One does really get bored. Being a couple in their 30's and early 40's, we found most activities and entertainment targeted to an older population, specifically american, for a ship carrying such a culturally diverse crowd. For a ship with so many bars were one would expect a lively nightlife, these were dead most of the time. Our sailing unfortunately was filled with rainy days and many cancelled outdoor activities. Although we understand that weather is unexpected, there should have been a plan B for indoor entertainment. - Not all was dissapointing, beautiful cruise ship, so many different places to be and see, excellent ambience, Central Park is beautiful, Promenade is awesome. In sum, beautiful ship with lots of potential to correct the flaws. But so far not worth the higher premium. Never feels cramped until you need help or get in an elevator. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2011
We loved our first cruise ever - on Allure of the Seas. Totally relaxing, every need was taken care of and we were treated like kings. Check-in was fast and efficient, as we had done all our pre-cruise check-in online. Our room was ... Read More
We loved our first cruise ever - on Allure of the Seas. Totally relaxing, every need was taken care of and we were treated like kings. Check-in was fast and efficient, as we had done all our pre-cruise check-in online. Our room was ready by 1:00. As per their suggestion, we had a bag with us with bathing suits, etc, and enjoyed a great meal and swimming while we waited for our luggage to arrive around 3:00. Our balcony stateroom was gorgeous, and very spacious and well-appointed. Just beautiful. We had pre-booked all on-board entertainment, which we highly recommend, as the shows fill up quickly. Arrive at least half hour before a show to get good seats. The quality of the entertainment was incredible. Port excursions had been pre-booked as well, and everything went very smoothly. We ate at the main dining room every night, and every single meal was fantastic. Great personalised service, wonderful menu choices, beautiful atmosphere, and fabulous food. The staff went way above and beyond the call of duty! Again, having reserved My Time dining resulted in no wait times for seating for tables for 2 or 4. We never paid for any of the premium restaurants on board. Absolutely not necessary, as there is more than ample choice among the included restaurants and cafes. Coffee was surprisingly good throughout, and there were fine beverage choices included if you don't want to purchase a beverage package. Even though this is a huge ship, right up to the last day, we were finding quiet spots to hang out. We never felt crowded or rushed. The gym is beautiful, the walking and running track amazing. There is a LOT of walking around on this ship, and if you choose to do the stairs you can minimize the inevitable tightening of the clothes from all the great food. This was the most relaxing vacation we ever had, and hopefully the first of many more cruises for us. What a beautiful ship! Wonderful holiday! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Allure of the Seas Sept 11 -18 I took my first cruise the year on the Allure Of The Seas, embarking on 0911/2011. Pro: The ship is beautiful. We ate at 150 Park Avenue and Giovanni's, both were fantastic. There were ... Read More
Allure of the Seas Sept 11 -18 I took my first cruise the year on the Allure Of The Seas, embarking on 0911/2011. Pro: The ship is beautiful. We ate at 150 Park Avenue and Giovanni's, both were fantastic. There were numerous pools and Jacuzzi's, many of which were open 24 hours a day and featured great water views. Embarkation was smooth and easy. I enjoyed all of the excursions and had no difficulty getting of the ship or meeting the representative of each excursion. The excursions were one of my favorite parts of my vacation. Unlike the ship, every excursion was well staffed with cheerful, friendly employees. Con: The Allure of the Seas has one glaring shortcoming. It is understaffed. I have never been on a vacation where there were fewer employees watching over the property. The only employees I saw were the ones tasked with taking my money. Absolutely minimalist pool service. The unsupervised nature of the ship led to some troubling incidents for the women in my party. At one point myself and fellow passengers had to basically form vigilante vigilante groups to ward off unruly passengers. In general, the last place on earth a single person should be. I was thankful I came with friends. My travelling companions and I took excursions in Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We are planning to go back to Jamaica and stay at the Iberostar Rose Hotel in Jaimaica that was the site of one of our excursions. Disembarkation was a madhouse, as you might expect with no employees. We heard some voices over the PA system, but that was as close as we got to any organization. This was my first cruise. I found the positive aspects of the journey far outweighed any negative impressions. I plan on cruising again, but I will research more carefully next time to find a cruise line that avoids the glaring shortcoming of personal service that Royal Carribean exhibited. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Hello all! Just returned from a 7-day'er on RC's Allure to Haiti, Jamaica and Cozumel. Before this one, my wife & I had only been on Carnival's Jubilee in 1997 and RC's Freedom of the Seas in 2009- so not much ... Read More
Hello all! Just returned from a 7-day'er on RC's Allure to Haiti, Jamaica and Cozumel. Before this one, my wife & I had only been on Carnival's Jubilee in 1997 and RC's Freedom of the Seas in 2009- so not much comparison to draw from, but it's a little at least. I must admit right up front, our group unilaterally felt that we enjoyed the Freedom of the Seas *more* than the Allure. To sum it up as best that I can, we all just felt that the Allure is so big that some ability has been lost in keeping the passengers actively engaged in activities while on board. Does that make sense? Obviously, with a ship that size the venues are really spread out between decks from bow to stern, and we just felt like there was a lot of *searching* for entertainment hot spots rather than being able to just kind of walk around and stumble into them. The Cruise Compass is a must in this regard or otherwise you would not even know some of the entertainment is taking place (Dazzles, the Viking Lounge, etc.). We also found that some of the karaoke & music trivia entertainment was very brief and was even cut short once due to the lack of attendance.The ship itself is absolutely stunning and the food choices are plentiful (we only ate in the dining room on 3 nights). The shops were nice to browse through, but some of the shop staff was border line pleasant and displayed a demeanor indicating that they were growing tired of their daily duties. A person in our group encountered an issue with a purchase and was treated very poorly by the shop manager (perfumery). It resulted in filing a complaint with guest services who promptly and courteously remedied the issue without delay. A picture says a thousand words, and reading the faces of some of the shop staff did exactly that- they all look very tired. I reckon I would too after serving people during a non-stop, 7 month work contract.The pool deck seemed to be THE place to be while at sea, and we took full advantage of the Flow Riders, Zip Line and Rock Climbing Walls- what a blast! Having the Park Cafe, Boardwalk Cafe, and the Solarium Bistro made for EXCELLENT alternatives for breakfast (in lieu of the always crowded Wind Jammer Cafe). RC is VERY generous with their drink alcohol content, and 2 drinks can go a long way! The Hotdog Stand serves genuine German Bratwurst to die for (among other types of dogs to your delight). And of course RC always delivers with their "Mudslide Cookies" at the Boardwalk Cafe (affectionately referred to by me as "crack" cookies).The Shows: Blue Planet- we all kind of walked away with a mixed opinion of "What on earth was that?" to complete amazement at the opening scene with the "living tree" and the ending scene with the trampoline acrobatics. It's just a very confusing story line that begins with mother earth, morphs into some weird type of love story between two singers, and then wraps up with a Cirque de Sole feel.Chicago- very entertaining and VERY good talent; but you must like the Broadway type of music & show or you may find yourself kind of floating in/out from paying attention. There is a funny surprise at the end if you didn't catch it early on.......and then you're really impressed by a particular singer's ability! (Shssssshhh.....don't want to ruin it for others).Headliner Act- An Acapella group called the "Unexpected Boys" catering to the music of the 50's & 60's. Simply outstanding and masterful at engaging their audience- enough said.Aquarius Dive Show- An AMAZING blend of talent!Outdoor Fountain Show- A nice touch and relaxing way to wind down an evening.The double outdoor screens are also used to play movies on select nights, and it was great to just plop down in a seat, grab a drink, and enjoy some mindless entertainment. They play the movie Grease with an integrated karaoke version that allows the crowd to sing a long- really fun! They also played the movie Burlesque which we would never have paid to see, but WOW!- it was unexpectedly good! The casino leaves a lot to be desired compared to the Freedom's. Pretty much 98% of all games are electronic now with only the Blackjack tables having real cards and dealers. Even Roulette and Poker is electronic with no dealers present. I overheard one of the staff telling a guest that RC simply does not have the staff to support real dealers anymore and that no one is happy about it. It certainly curtailed my desire to gamble since I tend to distrust the electronics versus a live person dealing a deck.The stateroom had plenty of room and everything we needed. Our attendant removed the couch table from the room on day 1 which was perfect for us. I don't mean to offend, but I must warn that if you're a little on the heavy side (300+) you may find the circular showers to be a little cumbersome. Without question, we observed some guests that we knew were not physically able to step into the standard stateroom showers. I have no idea what their solution was.The quality of the Wind Jammer and main dining room food was spectacular and never left anything to be desired (for us anyway). Overall, it was a very nice cruise but we will not sail on the Allure (or the Oasis) in the future. The Freedom class contains the atmosphere that appeals to us instead. Apparently though, RC is releasing another class of ship in 2014 that is going to be comparable to the Freedom class size, but they are very tight lipped about the details. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
Cruised on Allure of the Seas on the July 17, 2011 to the Western Caribbean and although the ship and its amenities are magnificent, my recommendation is to only sail when the ship is not at full capacity. Simply put, if you are a fan of ... Read More
Cruised on Allure of the Seas on the July 17, 2011 to the Western Caribbean and although the ship and its amenities are magnificent, my recommendation is to only sail when the ship is not at full capacity. Simply put, if you are a fan of shopping at the mall two days before Christmas, this is the cruise for you. If you prefer to sail on a cruise where your main memory is not waiting in one line or the other, then pick another ship or better yet, sail on the Allure when it is not so full. But first, there was much to like (or even love). The GOOD:The SHIP: Fabulous, stunning, shimmering, dazzling, tremendous, wonderful. Pick a positive adjective. The ship is truly breath taking. The neighborhood concept is very clever as each has a unique character of its own. One of the places to escape (and trust me you will need it) is Central Park. Pop a squat at Park Cafe and you will truly think you are sitting in a secluded park somewhere in a small Midwest town. We also spent a lot of time at the Boardwalk. Check out the Ice Cream shop, our boys thought it was some of the best they have had. The Pool and Sports Zone 'hood was second to none. Do the Zip Line and the Flow Rider. Tip: sign the waiver online and get your wrist band early in the cruise. Best times to Flowride and Zip are days at port and early in the day/cruise. Towards the end of the cruise, the lines get pretty long. The Solarium (adult pool area) was huge and another great place to escape. And even though the ship is huge, no worries about getting lost. They have these awesome touch screens that tell you where you are, what is going on, and how to get to where you want to go. ROOMS: Our room was very nice. Always kept clean. It seemed like some magic fairy came in and quickly cleaned it even when we had just left for an hour or so. GYM: Best of the best. Tons of nice, new equipment and extremely spacious. Could have used more free weights, but that is a nit. EMBARKATION: The Ft. Lauderdale crew was great. We arrived at 11:30 and were on the ship in less than 20 minutes.The ENTERTAINMENT: Top notch. Ocean Aria was our favorite. Like seeing a mini Vegas show. The Chicago production was fantastic and the way RCI interweaved the DreamWorks characters with shows, parades and character visits was a real treat. The Comedy show was great, but it was disappointing that there was only one set of comedians. Each show was a just a repeat. Other ships rotate comedians and I would suggest Allure do the same. The Ice Games show was pretty cheesy, so go at your own risk. Tip: Make reservations early as most shows sell out. If you forget to do it before you cruise, go to Studio B when you first get on the ship and you can make entertainment and dinner reservations. But the absolute highlight of all the entertainment was Cruise Director Allan Brooks. He is simply one of the funniest humans on the planet (Cruise Director Julie is not worthy to carry Allan's jock). Go to any show where he is emcee. A Dating Game knockoff, Love and Marriage, was milk out of the nose funny. An adult Quest Game show (Don't ask, just go, and leave the kids behind) was equally hilarious (I am still amazed at how quick some women can doff a bra. Again, don't ask). The BAD (WELL, MAYBE JUST THE NOT SO GOOD):SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS: Sure all cruise lines count on you spending some jack once on board, but Allure gives you plenty of opportunities to empty your wallet. They have a bunch of premium restaurants, but we were left less than impressed. We did Sambas Grill (Brazilian steakhouse) and Izumi (sushi). Both were O.K. Nothing special except that you could escape the crowds when you eat. But neither was really worth the nominal charge. Save some money and stick with the regular dining room as the food was just as good with a better selection. SERVICE: This was pretty surprising since this is the third RCI we have been on, but the service was...well, just alright. Some staff were great (Donna, Bernard, Sander), but most just seemed to be doing their job. I don't need everyone to have some Richard Simmons over the top positive personality, but some emotion would have been nice. They were professional, but many seemed...sterile. THE UGLY:TOO. MANY. PEOPLE. We were told our sailing was at full capacity at over 6,000 guests and quite simply, the ship and crew just were not built for this mass of humanity. You WILL wait...and wait on everything. Get ready to wait on elevators as there is just not enough. The typical scenario was to hit the up/down button and wait...and wait. When one did arrive, the scramble to get on was something to behold. I am not kidding when I saw old people knocked out of the way by guests pushing to get on as if they were cramming onto a Japanese subway. If you were lucky to get on the first elevator (which was rare, usually it took two or three tries to get on an elevator), then you will stop on every floor. Most would be empty as people abandoned their wait and just decided to take the stairs. Very poorly planned. Unbelievably disappointing. Get used to waiting on restaurants. Whether reservation or My Time, there was always a big wait to get seated. Once seated, the wait between courses was pretty substandard. The worst experience was the Windjammer buffet. No matter what time you went, there was a mass of people fighting to get a table or even to get into the restaurant. Several times, the wait was 20-30 minutes just to get into a buffet. Seriously? The Golden Corral seemed more organized. Again, poor, poor planningDuring busy times on the Promenade, it was as if you were a salmon swimming upstream. There were wall to wall people everywhere. Imagine trying to get to Sears on the other end of the mall on December 23rd during a 50% off sale with Justin Beiber performing in the Food Court and you will get the idea. Debarkation (as other have mentioned) was a joke. Kind of an "every man for himself" attitude. At one point I heard an RCI crew shouting into a 2-way that he had no control over the crowd and could not believe the line to exit the ship wrapped around the elevator. Line jumping was rampant as there seemed to be no crew (or roped off areas) to keep the impatient guest in check. It was just a massive push to the exit. I am sure the bean counters at RCI thought if big is better than even more should be fantastic. Sadly, the quality of the cruise suffered greatly because of just too many people in too tight (yes, even on this behemoth) of a space. RCI boosts that when you sail on Allure you will not feel like you are on a ship with 6,000 people. They were correct, many times it seemed like there are 7 or 8,000. 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Sail Date: July 2011
This is my 11th cruise and the Allure is by far the best ship I've ever been on. I traveled with my husband, 20 year old son and his girlfriend. We are athletic and love adventure. The Allure is huge but easy to navigate. It is high ... Read More
This is my 11th cruise and the Allure is by far the best ship I've ever been on. I traveled with my husband, 20 year old son and his girlfriend. We are athletic and love adventure. The Allure is huge but easy to navigate. It is high tech; the whirlpools go on automatically, there are touch screens in the hallways to give you directions, updates on events, etc. The Ocean Aria Aqua Show has a floor beneath the water that raises and lowers to accommodate the platform divers. There are iPod charging stations and flat screen TV's in all the staterooms. The entire ship is super clean, organized and absolutely beautiful! There is a beautiful, peaceful garden area called Central Park. There is always something to do, surfing, zip lining, dance classes, dodge ball tournaments, ping pong, mini golf, etc. We did all the latter and more. You can do as much or as little as possible. I suggest making your reservations for all the shows online before set sail or immediately after getting on the ship. Then, be sure to show up for the shows at least 15 minutes early or your seats will be given away to those who didn't make reservations. They scan your sea pass before you enter the show; it is so easy and organized. I brought a highlighter and used it on my compass (daily activity guide) every day. (I booked all my shows after walking on to the ship and I saw all the shows.) Post your reservation sheet in your room so you can see it before you go to dinner every night. I recommend scheduling the Aqua Show early in the week just in case of a "rain out", so you'll have the opportunity to see it later in the week if this happens. You do not want to miss this show, it is incredible (think Cirque de Solei on water) We ate dinner in the main dining room every day. The service and food were fantastic. We sampled almost everything on every menu: steaks, seafood, Indian food, desserts, etc. and felt there was no need to eat in the specialty restaurants. I requested a window table, but the dining room is so huge and open any table would have been great. If you plan on zip lining and surfing go early in the week and don't wait until the last day. Zip line and rock climb early in the day before you get wet and slick from sun screen and be sure to wear shorts and shoes. I read a few posts complaining about things I'd like to address. If you need to take the stairs instead of the elevator because of the wait, don't worry, it's good exercise. If the ship is "too big", why did you go on it in the first place? It is advertised as the "world's largest cruise ship". I'm not sure how you can complain about it being too big when you knew this before you left. There are plenty of quiet spaces on the ship other than your stateroom. You might have to walk around to find them on this big cruise ship but again, remember that you've eaten a lot and now you have the opportunity for some exercise. So be thankful you have had the opportunity to go on a cruise in the first place. Get yourself organized and then make memories with the ones you love. Remember life is never perfect, but you have the choice to make even an imperfect cruise a memory that will last a lifetime. Remember, you could be the one cleaning the stateroom and instead you are a guest on the newest, largest cruise ship in the world. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2011
The Bottom Line An incredible ship with just about every activity you can imagine. With the exception of Labadee, Haiti the ports of call are nothing spectacular, but you won't care as in this case the ship really is the trip. ... Read More
The Bottom Line An incredible ship with just about every activity you can imagine. With the exception of Labadee, Haiti the ports of call are nothing spectacular, but you won't care as in this case the ship really is the trip. The largest cruise ship in the world, but with so much passenger space it never feels crowded. Highly recommended for families, younger couples, and anyone who wants an incomparable experience. Not recommended for anyone who wants a small ship experience, or who wants "classic cruising" with dressed up people and big bands. Overall Let me start off this review by admitting up front that I used to work as a Social Host onboard Carnival Cruise Lines back in 2001 - 2002. I worked on two ships, one sailing out of Port Canaveral for the Bahamas (3 and 4 day cruises) and one sailing out of New Orleans to Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel (7 day cruises). I have not been on a cruise since that time and knew that if I ever went back on a cruise ship it would have to be something pretty special. When I saw Oasis of the Seas come out of the docks I realized that the time had come. But I am always a bit leery about trying the absolute newest thing, so I held back for Allure of the Seas thinking that anything that was not quite right with Oasis they would fix / improve for Allure. I cannot tell you if this really has been the case (although I will mention a few of the differences that I did hear about). And to get to the punch line now: yes, it was worth the wait. Fort Lauderdale Because of other commitments I ended up flying into Fort Lauderdale the Thursday before my Sunday departure so I booked a room at the Hilton Marina to wait for the ship. My friend Chad, who was joining me on the trip, was flying in on Friday. The Hilton is basically directly across the street from Port Everglades (and only a $15 taxi fare from the airport) so it seemed very convenient. On Friday I saw a number of folks coming in from the west coast for cruises leaving Saturday (as it is impossible to get into the east coast prior to 4 pm unless you take a red-eye flight). Two ships were leaving on Saturday: Oasis of the Seas and Carnival Freedom (doing 6 and 8 day cruises). When I worked for Carnival, Freedom was one of the new "huge" ships coming out that we all wanted to work on. How small she looked sitting next to Oasis! We spent Friday and Saturday looking around Fort Lauderdale, basically a beach town. I really can't say that it was a place I would run to for a vacation, but it was pleasant enough for a couple of days. I would highly recommend the Water Taxi which, for $20/person (off/on privileges for the whole day) you can take a trip down to Hollywood, Florida or up the coast past the mega yachts and McMansions. The captains are friendly and chatty and the rides can give you a good feel for the area. One nice thing about our hotel was that our room overlooked the port so Saturday afternoon we got to watch Oasis and Freedom pull out. I did not get up to see Allure pull in Sunday morning as she does so about 4:30 AM; by the time we woke up she was busily off-loading passengers and on-loading the next week's supplies. From the distance of our hotel room (about ½ mile away from where Allure berths) you could not tell any difference between her and Oasis (even though Allure is 5 cm longer than Oasis - more on that later). I figured that since the entrance to Port Everglades was across the street from my hotel (as well as a number of other hotels lining 17th street) we could just walk to the ship: that however is not the case: you need to take a cab ($7) as the Port Authority does not let people walk in (or so I was told). Boarding We hailed a taxi and headed over for the ship at about 1 pm (even though RC states that boarding does not begin until 2). Getting out of the cab we were quickly greeted by a row of porters who grabbed our bags out of the cab and rolled them over to the baggage carts (I tipped our porter $5 for 3 bags). I had ordered bag tags from the Royal Caribbean website which had our names and cabin number on them, so I was confident our bags would end up in the right place. I had also printed out our boarding passes (but not the entire 25 page Welcome Aboard package that I was sent a few days before the trip) and presenting them to one of the RC staff, we were pointed toward check-in. I booked a D1 cabin (Deluxe Ocean View Balcony Stateroom) which was not a suite, so I cannot tell you how that separate check-in fared. We walked into the terminal (which I was told was built specifically for Oasis and Allure) and were surprised at how clean efficient it all appeared. Everyone was smiling and enthusiastic. We got to the counter and were cheerfully welcomed. Our passports were scanned, as was my credit card, and our Sail and Sign cards were presented to us. It was then a short walk to the escalators up to the ship's entrance ramp. I would estimate the time from getting out of the cab, checking-in, to going through security, to stepping on-board the ship to be about 12 minutes. If only airports worked this efficiently! Right as you enter (prior to passing the double-doors into the Royal Promenade) if you look left and right you'll be looking down the running track (more on that later too). Then past the doors we were greeted by several crew members who asked everyone to sanitize their hands via auto-Purell dispensers. Not surprisingly there is a big fear of the Norovirus (and other illnesses) and every time you enter the ship (as well at every eating establishment on the ship) you will be sanitizing your hands. Personally I was happy to oblige as I had no desire to get sick (and I didn't). Allure of the Seas - Overall It's hard to describe this ship. Sure there are some easy adjectives I could use: huge being the first to come to mind. But she is much more than that. Walking into the Royal Promenade feels like you entered a mall, perhaps like one you find in Las Vegas (a little ritzy, with stores that are probably out of your price range but seem appropriate because, hey, you're on vacation). Just walking through the promenade makes you marvel at the detail put into this ship. The tile work on the floor is amazing, as are little touches such as a statue of the couple stealing a kiss in an alley. A plaque on the wall by the pizzeria gives a few descriptions as to the design philosophy. Guest Services are located in this area, as is the Shore Excursion desk. Naturally there are always lines at both, but what RC has done to minimize this is to move as much as they can online. For example, prior to getting to the Guest Services desk you are met with a number of kiosks that allow you to check your account balance or even check in to your flight home. Similarly all bookings (shore excursions, restaurants, etc.) can be done from the TV in your room. Just beyond each elevator lobby (there are two, each with 6 elevators - 3 glass and 3 interior) are large touch screens that allow you to see the current calendar as well as how full each restaurant is at the moment. The monitors also have interactive maps which will give you directions to any venue in the ship (including your cabin). The elevators were rarely crowded (except for shore days) and I must admit I really enjoyed going from Deck 5 to Deck 16 or 17 in a glass elevator and seeing everything from the Royal Promenade to Central Park. However unless you find it difficult to do so, I would recommend using the stairs as much as possible (located around the corners from the elevator lobbies). The staircases (there are 4 main ones) are beautiful and each landing has artwork. Even after 7 days at sea we were still finding art that we hadn't seen before. Much of the art is photographs, but there are a number of framed pieces as well. Can you feel the ship move? The short answer is "yes." Even though Allure is the biggest cruise ship in the world she is still at the mercy of the seas. Now, truthfully most of the time she felt as solid as a rock. But on occasion she would shudder going through the waves. And sailing up from Cozumel (notoriously rough as you go through the channel that separates Cozumel from the mainland) she did rock gently. I saw a number of people with sea-sickness patches, but I cannot imagine they were necessary unless you are very vulnerable to mal-de-mer. Does she feel crowded? Shockingly, no. Most of the time, in fact, she felt kind of empty and I was wondering where everyone was. I read that Allure and Oasis have more deck space per person than any other cruise ship and this makes sense. The only time it felt really busy was in the Windjammer Cafe (the main buffet) especially in the morning and on the Royal Promenade at night. But otherwise we never had difficulty finding a deck chair (even to the point of asking each other "do you want a deck chair on the left side or right side of the ship?") or a seat in a bar. The shows did seem to fill up (especially early in the week) and reservations, while not mandatory, are recommended (if you don't have reservations to a particular show you can always go "standby" and get let in 10-15 minutes prior to the show starting - we did this once, for Blue Planet, and didn't have any trouble getting a good seat - but it's dicey). On that subject, there is no assigned seating, so it's best to get to a show a bit early (they open the doors about 45 minutes prior to the start, but shows didn't seem to start filling up until about 25 minutes prior). There are no physical tickets for shows; rather your Sail and Sign card is scanned at the door to confirm your reservation - overall a nice and efficient system. I made all of our reservations on line about 6 weeks prior to sailing. There are plenty of outdoor spaces, and lots and lots of pools and whirlpools. I'll discuss some of my favorite areas below. Since we were not traveling with any children I cannot comment on the kid/teen areas except to say the H2O zone (kid pools) looked like a lot of fun. We liked our Cruise Director - Ken Rush. He was a constant presence throughout the ship, appearing at the end of many shows and MC'ing a number of deck and evening activities (like the Belly Flop Contest and '80's party). He had previously worked on Oasis, so was clearly comfortable around this size ship (which he said he liked "just a bit" better than Oasis). On that note, Allure and Oasis really are twin ships (same plans) but Allure is 5 cm longer. The difference is apparently due to inconsistencies in welding thickness (which must be minor, but over 1200 feet adds up). Mr. Rush also hosted a TV program every morning to let you know what was going on and to answer questions (the show was repeated throughout the morning) - the ship's captain had a program each evening. Shows - Ocean Aria - this is the water show held at the back of the ship. It's basically a mini Cirque du Soleil show (similar to O or Le Reve in Vegas). Having seen a number of Cirque shows (as well as Le Reve) it's hard not to think of this show as a slight step-down. However, like everything else on the ship, once you remember that it's occurring at sea, and you aren't paying anything extra for it, it's pretty impressive. There are diving acts, a trampoline act (the best part of the show) and trapeze work all over a pool which can go from 0 feet to 14 feet in depth. I can't say I loved it, but I'm very glad I saw it, and would definitely recommend it. - Chicago - even though the Cruise Director kept referring to this as "the actual Broadway show" it is really a 90-minute version. Basically they have kept all the songs and eliminated as much of the talking as possible. There is still some language and situations that make it inappropriate for younger children (under 13). On the one hand, if you really want to understand what is going on (and the motivations for the characters) see the movie first. On the other hand, if you are just looking for an evening's entertainment of good singing and dancing, don't worry about it and just see the show. No, you won't think you've just seen a real Broadway show, but everyone in the cast is good - and a few of the members are great. - Ice Games - this is one of two ice skating shows (the other is "How to Train Your Dragon" - which does not require reservations). The basic premise is that you are playing a game of Alluropoly (Monopoly on the Allure) and each roll takes you to a different part of the ship - and there is skating that reflects that area. It's a cute concept. The skating was good, but I was more impressed with the costumes (there were a ton of costume changes). Again, a fun evening's entertainment. - Blue Planet - this show is more like a traditional cruise ship show - a lot of singing and dancing with no real plot. The idea is that you are visiting areas around the globe - from the desert to under water. Some of the effects are good, some great (I loved the underwater bit). The cast is the same as Chicago - which must be nice for them to do two totally different shows. One caution about this show: if you can, try to sit in the center of the theater. One of the acts is done on trampolines and is only visible if you are sitting in the center (to compensate during that one act, two projection screens appear so you can watch the routine that way - but who wants to go to the theater to watch tv?) - Comedy Club - We went to the comedy club on the Friday of the cruise. There are two comedians. I enjoyed them both. Again, this is not for kids (these shows are really rated R). - 3D Movies - one thing that Allure has (that Oasis doesn't have - at least not yet) is the ability to show 3D movies. Every afternoon there is a single showing of a DreamWorks film in the main theater. These are digital 3D movies in 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound. The glasses appear to be active (like you have on the new 3D TVs) rather than the passive polarized types in most movie theaters (there is a warning that the glasses will not work in any other theater). The sound and 3D were both great. We saw Shrek 4 and Kung Fu Panda 2 (the latter of which was in theaters at the time). Neither of the movies we saw was crowded. In addition to the movies, there is a DreamWorks parade (the same parade is done twice during the cruise) and character meet-and-greets throughout the cruise. The characters were on the same level as Disney, and the parade was pretty impressive too. Specialty (i.e. extra cost) Restaurants - 150 Central Park - this is the top of the line restaurant. It costs an additional $40/person to dine here (although I only paid $35 - I'm not sure if this was because I booked online or because prices went up between the time I booked and the time I ate). It is a 6-course fixed menu. The restaurant itself is very elegant and seemed most suited for a dress-up evening. You can do a wine-pairing for an additional $75/person. There is also a 150-bottle wine list (thus the name of the restaurant) with wines ranging from about $50/bottle to $7800/bottle (yep, just under eight thousand dollars - almost double what I spent on the cruise). I would not recommend this restaurant to children under 13, or to teens at all (unless they are really into food). I would also not recommend it to anyone who prefers comfort cooking to more gourmet fare. But if you like well thought out, well presented dishes it's definitely worth the expense. The service here, by the way, was the best of anywhere on the ship. If you go be sure to sample all the different sea salts with the bread and butter. Some of them are amazing. As an aside, we went to this restaurant on the formal night (which were the first and second at sea days), but we saw very few people in tuxes/gowns. Many were dressed up, and just as many were wandering around the ship in evening casual (or less formal) clothes. - Chops Grille- It's the steakhouse. The interior is rich woods and big chairs. There are a number of cuts of meat on the menu, including an 18-oz t-bone. I had a NY strip steak that was fantastic. Chad had the filet mignon which was also very good. With each steak they bring out a number of sauces and you can try as many as you like. You can also order as many side dishes as you want. We had the mushrooms, onion rings and steamed asparagus. I liked them all - but 3 sides for the two of us were too much. Of course that didn't stop us from ordering dessert (how can you not when it's all included?) My friend had the crème brûlEe (served flambE style) while I had their version of a mud pie (which was really more of a chocolate mousse cake). Both were great. - Giovanni's - Not surprisingly this is the Italian restaurant on board. Even though it is the most "common" of the restaurants we ate at, I found the service and the food to be among the best. I especially enjoyed the antipasti plate which included freshly carved prosciutto (served for 2 people). For main courses we both had basic pasta dishes because, well truthfully it was near the end of the cruise and couldn't imagine eating much more. Still we managed dessert. Mine was better - a chocolate cannoli - you'll see them in a case just as you enter the restaurant. Other specialty restaurants we did not eat at included Rita's Cantina (Mexican), a Brazilian steak house, the ice cream parlor (where you can get anything from an ice cream cone to a 5-scoop sundae), the hot dog stand (serving hot dogs and sausages) and Johnny Rockets (which I've eaten at on land, so didn't feel compelled to eat at sea - it is also serves a complimentary breakfast). I guess I should include Starbucks here (the only Starbucks at sea - so they claim). I didn't go there as I'm not a big coffee drinker. That said, what little coffee I did drink on the ship I didn't like - so maybe Starbucks would have been the preferred route. Included Restaurants - Windjammer Cafe - This is the main buffet on the ship. Like many of the new buffets (such as in Vegas) it serves a variety of foods, from Asian to Italian to American. We ate there once for breakfast and once for lunch, but considering how busy it was it seemed to be the most popular place on the ship. I found all the food good and if it weren't for the crowds (and the myriad of other options) I would have gladly eaten there more often. - Main Dining Room - I'm not going to go into much detail here - it felt like a standard cruise ship dining room. The service and variety of the menus was good. There didn't seem to be anything catchy (waiters getting dressed up or special decorations). Overall it's fine, but again - there are so many other choices... - The Park Cafe - this turned out to be one of my favorite spots to grab a meal (breakfast or lunch). For breakfast they have a "make your own bagel bar" (although the servers do all the food handling) which included a variety of cream cheeses and a number of toppings (including smoked salmon!). For lunch it turned into a "make your own salad." There was also an omelet station (for breakfast) and a Panini station for lunch. On top of that you had the option of eating out in Central Park which was very pleasant. Finally, it was one of two places that you could get free drinks other than just water (they also served iced tea, lemonade and kiwi-strawberry flavored water). This was my go-to place for a drink after a run in the morning. - Promenade Cafe - located on the Royal Promenade (next to Guest Services) this 24-hour cafe offered sandwiches and snacks. There was always a quick moving line - mostly for the cookies and other desserts offered there. It was a great option for an afternoon (or late night) pick-me-up when you didn't want pizza. - Sorrento's - the pizza restaurant. Along with single slices they had a "make your own" pizza option (with about 6 choices for toppings) which I really enjoyed (basically they crust is pre-made and they reheat it with your toppings). It takes about 10 minutes for one of these mini-pizzas, but it was a nice change. - Wipe-out Cafe - A small place serving basics (hamburgers, salads, etc.) during the day. We only went there once - to get frozen yogurt (which we later found was also served on the pool deck mid-ship). Stateroom I booked a Category D1 - Deluxe Outside Stateroom with Balcony. The balcony on the D1 stateroom is 80 sq. ft, about 50% larger than most of the outside balconies (except suites). The room itself was small, but didn't feel tiny, with a couch, desk, and twin beds (convertible to a king). The bathroom was fine - you certainly weren't going to put more than one person in the shower, and a large person might feel a bit cramped, but I had no problems. The bathroom was stocked with standard travel sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion; we brought our own so I can't speak to the quality of the toiletries. My only minor complaint of the room was that the balcony had just two chairs and a small table on it - not really inviting if you want to stretch out. Sitting on the balcony you cannot see any other balcony (unless you lean over the railing) as all balconies are separated by opaque glass (maybe Plexiglas) walls. You also did not feel much of a breeze - so eating a meal out there was not a problem. There is a door in each glass wall, so you can go from one balcony to the next if you like; these doors can also be locked by the stateroom attendant (we never had ours unlocked). I had considered the inside balcony cabins (overlooking either Central Park or the Boardwalk) but I'm glad I did not go that route. While both areas are pretty (and the Boardwalk balconies can see the Ocean Aria show) you get no privacy as anyone can look up (or down) on you. I very rarely saw anyone sitting on these inside balconies, but I did see a lot of clothes drying on chairs. One thing that must be mentioned is the TV in the room - not for the TV itself (a standard 26" or so flat screen) but for the interactive features. You could make show or restaurant reservations via the TV, as well as book shore excursions (but I would still recommend doing that prior to the cruise via the RC website). You could also check the capacity at restaurants at any time. You could also see the status of your bill. On our sailing the "where is the ship now" feature was not working, but should be fixed shortly. Other favorite areas - Solarium - This is where we spent most of our time outdoors (other than on our balcony). It's on decks 15 and 16 at the front of the ship and consists of a lot of lounge chairs, two whirlpools and a pool. What made it special for us was that you must be 16 or older to be in the Solarium and thus it was a relatively quiet outdoor respite. The pool was usually busy (but not overly crowded except on a few occasions) but the two whirlpools were never packed. Like everywhere else on the ship there was a constant stream of waiters offering bar service. There is a towel service area in the Solarium (you must check out and check in beach towels with your Sail and Sign card - failure to return one will get you a $20 charge on your bill). If you have kids (or just like crowds) you are stuck in the main pool area which was generally crowded and noisy (but some people really enjoy that). There are also a couple of designated smoking areas near the main pools. - Sun Deck - This seemingly hidden area is about as far forward as you can go on the ship. You can see it if you are standing in the Solarium. To get there you need to go all the way forward on the deck 14 port corridor (the starboard corridor leads to a dead-end). It was a great place to watch the ship pull out of port, or just to get some alone time, as not many people could figure out how to get there. - Viking Crown Lounge - Our favorite bar on the ship (and a standard on all RC ships). Not only was it never crowded, most of the time it felt pretty empty. They had martini specials every night which we took advantage of, as well as live music in the evenings. I really enjoyed listening to the music, with a drink in my hand, and watching the ocean go by. It felt like old world cruising. It also had the best bar snacks we found - a type of trail mix. - Rising Tide Bar - OK, what does it say about the size of ship that it has a bar in an elevator (alright, the bar IS an elevator). It's a small bar, and occasionally crowded, but it was a fun experience, and if you go relatively early in the evening it's not hard to find a seat. - Running Track - Located on deck 5, and accessible either from the stairwells or through the Spa/Gym (which we didn't use, but looked very nice). The track is almost ½ mile long (12 laps = 5 miles). It is rubberized with clear mile and kilometer markings. There are also a number of humorous signs posted along the route, which made it fun. The track is outside (although interior to the life boats and blocked in the front by the gym) but gets very little breeze - which is a good thing as I didn't need 20 knots of wind on me while trying to run. There are two paths, one for runners and one for walkers. I normally went in the mornings and never found it crowded. Ports of Call - Labadee®, Haiti - This was by far our favorite port on the trip. Yes, you are in Haiti, but you would never know it as this is a private beach resort just for RC (note the registered name). Truthfully it feels a bit Disneyesque, complete with an alligator mascot. But the beaches and water are beautiful. There is some "local" shopping in the compound which will require cash, but otherwise everything is included or can be purchased with your Sail and Sign card. The lunch that was provided was good and plentiful, but only served for a couple of hours, so don't miss out on that. Bars, of course, are open the whole time. The specialty drink there is the Labadoosee, which is basically a fruit smoothie that can be served hard or soft. I found it very tasty (and it comes in souvenir cup). There is an amazing looking zip line (which we did not do) and a mountain coaster (not really a roller coaster, more like a bobsled, but on a track) which we did do, and was a blast. It's an extra expense (about $20 per car, which can hold one or two people - up to 360 lb total), but was a lot of fun and gave you some great views of the area. Overall, my only disappointment was that this was our first port, rather than our last, as the other two were not nearly as fun. One other note, if you are upset by the idea of having fun in Haiti, a country which continues to suffer, RC is working hard to publicize what they are bringing to that country (including building a school as well as paying docking fees). Embarking and disembarking here (and at the other two ports) was easy and fast. There was practically no wait in either direction. At each port you do have to go through metal detectors and a bag check, as well as a mandatory Purell station. - Falmouth, Jamaica - I've been to Jamaica a number of times, so I cannot say I was too excited to go back. The island is very pretty, and if you have never been there I would certainly recommend doing one of the inland tours or a water event. The port at Falmouth is currently (as of June 2011) being built by the city and RC, and I must say it is the nicest port I have ever been to in Jamaica, perhaps because it is controlled; the port has a number of buildings for shopping, tours, etc. without having to go out into the real town of Falmouth (which looked fine if unexciting - and I would not have hesitated to walk around). Falmouth is about 6 miles from Montego Bay where there are a number of resorts, restaurants and bars. We did the Mountain River Rafting tour, which was pleasant, but nothing spectacular. - Cozumel, Mexico - like Jamaica, I've been to Cozumel many, many times. We had thought about heading to the beach (a $15 taxi ride away, or $29/person if you book a tour) but decided instead to just walk from the pier (the International Pier) to downtown (about 3 miles) to do some window shopping. Avoiding the beach worked out ok as we got hit by a downpour in the middle of the afternoon. By the time we got back to the ship we were soaked through (but, naturally, it was sunny then). It was actually nice being on the ship when most people were off on land - everything (except the stores and the casino) was open, but it felt pretty empty. Return to Fort Lauderdale We got back into Fort Lauderdale about 4:30 AM. The earliest you can leave the ship is about 6:30 AM (if you want to carry you own bags). For everyone else, you are given a number (1 - 78). At about 7:30 AM they start releasing the first few numbers, and continue every 15 minutes or so. There are no loudspeaker announcements - instead screens throughout the ship show which numbers are eligible to depart. We were in no rush, so had selected a late (after 8:30 AM) departure and were given #75. We were released at about 10 AM. It took about 20 minutes to get our bags and get through customs. Out of the terminal if you want to get to the airport there appeared to be three possibilities: a RC shuttle (at $20/person), private shuttles (at $10/person) or taxies. We took a taxi which cost $15 (including a tip). Would I go again? Well, yes and no. I would absolutely go on this ship again, if she went somewhere other than the Caribbean; but I have no interest going back to these islands again. But I was impressed with Royal Caribbean overall, and would definitely return to sail on one of their ships. My desire is to do a Northern European cruise (such as one that goes to Russia). I like being at sea and would be happy to do a longer cruise. If you have any suggestions for me, please let me know. Obviously I am relatively detail oriented person. I hope you found this review helpful. If you want more information in an area that I discussed (or overlooked) please drop me a line. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
Let's start with the good: - boarding process was painless. Lots to do. Specialty restaurants are top notch. Love the touch screens next to each elevator that let you know what's happening at all times throughout the ship and ... Read More
Let's start with the good: - boarding process was painless. Lots to do. Specialty restaurants are top notch. Love the touch screens next to each elevator that let you know what's happening at all times throughout the ship and help orient you. Plenty of pools and hot tubs. Some of the entertainment is spectacular and great fun specially the musical Chicago, the comedy club, and the Aqua theatre. Now for the bad and I must preface this by saying that I prefer a more relaxed and intimate cruising experience so I have a definite bias. Service is very impersonal. Never even met my cabin steward. Because there are 5,000 other passengers on the ship you have to preplan EVERYTHING- from visits to specialty restaurants, to reservations at the shows. Even with reservations we showed up at two of the shows and there was no seating left. Food in the dining room is fine - nothing to write home about. Windjammer is same as with all other ships. Solarium has absolutely no shade which is a shame because it's the only quiet pool area reserved for adults. I love to work out and tbe gym is cramped and not as attractive as those on smaller ships where they are located on a high deck and afford a beautiful view of tbe ocean while you work out (bliss). Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
Loved the Allure, absolutely beautiful ship, almost too many things to do. I would definitely consider a two week cruise on this ship. A few things have changed. Food wasn't as good as on others ships (in my opinion). I almost felt ... Read More
Loved the Allure, absolutely beautiful ship, almost too many things to do. I would definitely consider a two week cruise on this ship. A few things have changed. Food wasn't as good as on others ships (in my opinion). I almost felt as though it was intentional to get you to to try the specialty dining (which I did and Chops was AMAZING!) Coffee was horrible, but of course if you want to buy coffee.....No more entertainment in the dining room. The waiters use to sing on Italian night and dance on Caribbean night, but no more :(They cater to smokers! Many more venues allow smoking. They try to say one side is non-smoking but c'mon, it's smoke! My friend couldn't enjoy her balcony because she was flanked by chain smokers. Boleros seemed like a nice lounge, but I couldn't stand the smoke for more than 5 minutes or smelling like smoke when I left. Same with the Solarium, one side is smoking. Get the gist? If it's going to stay this way, RCCL needs to upgrade it ventilation system, because it stunk, pun intended. If all of that isn't enough...they did away with the clothes line in the shower!!! What's up with that? :) They did add a leg shaving bar! Those are the few cons, the pros way out weigh them. Kids club or Adventure Ocean was amazing. My 4 1/2 year old son loved it. Central Park was awesome, Service was awesome, the boardwalk was awesome, the location of the venues made more sense and therefore the layout flowed a lot easier. Easier to memorize the ship and venues even considering the size. Never felt crowded. The running track runs the length of the ship and is on it's own deck so you don't have to fight the casual strollers, brilliant! You don't have to wear life jackets to the drill! Solarium is beautiful. They even used it as a back up disco one night when the teens were in the club. Photo system is a lot smoother. Embarkation and Debarkation a piece of cake. You can make free video messages in the "on air" lounge and email them to friends and family, telling them what a blast you're having.All in All, a wonderful vacation. Looking forward to the next one! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
For lack of a better way to say this, we cruised from May 1 - 8th so we just got off this ship yesterday and I wish I never had to get off this ship! It was WONDERFUL!! The service is second to none! Captain Zini is personable, young, ... Read More
For lack of a better way to say this, we cruised from May 1 - 8th so we just got off this ship yesterday and I wish I never had to get off this ship! It was WONDERFUL!! The service is second to none! Captain Zini is personable, young, intelligent, vibrant and friendly. He did yoga with us and also showed up at the fitness center often and took the classes and worked out. He was COOL! There were non-stop things to do and activities. The shows were first class. We saw Chicago and Blue Planet, which was a lot like A Cirque de Soliel show. If you were bored, you were either dead or trying to be bored! This is a FIRST CLASS operation all the way! There are clubs that offer dancing until all hours, and a HUGE casino! The food = excellent, the wine selection = excellent, the food presentation = excellent, the room attendants are hard working and EXTREMELY friendly and Royal Caribbean is probably one of the biggest supporters of clean cruising I've ever read about. They are cutting edge when it comes to preserving the environment and the oceans. I really like that about them. There are children on the cruises but there are family sections on the pool decks and the kids are kept pretty well confined. If you go to the Solarium, you can avoid the screaming and loudness of the young kids because the Solarium is a 16 and over area only. The drink prices are VERY reasonable! I was surprised at this especially. I was totally expecting to be raped for a pina colada, but a typical mixed drink or umbrella drink was about $8.00. Everyday they had a "specialty drink" which on the last day was called the "Ultimate Mai Tai." YUM! I had 4!! :) They were $6.50 each, and they were NOT stingy with the alcohol either!! You will spend very LITTLE time in your cabin as there is so much to do on this HUGE, beautiful ship!! By the time we went to breakfast each morning at the Windjammer (free), went to the fitness room (free), did the zipline (free), the rock climbing wall (free) and/or the Flow Rider (free), sat out on the pool deck or in the Solarium (get there early or you won't get a lounge chair), had a few Bloody Mary's, it's time to go get cleaned up for dinner! You can go to the main dining room (free) and have a FIRST CLASS dinner or go to one of the specialty restaurants (nominal fees apply). An example of a dinner at the main dining room: Our last night which was Saturday, May 7, 2011 was a choice of 4 appetizers which were all first class, then the main course which was lobster - YES- I said lobster, AND if you wanted prime rib you could also get that too, they all come with an assortment of side dishes, like wasabi mashed potatoes or grilled asparagus, amongst others, and for dessert there were choices like Creme Brulee, cherries jubilee and dulce le leche cheese cake. All were top of the line choices. The wine list was pretty impressive too. I would have liked to have seen more Napa reds offered but they had ample choices of wines for the experienced palate. And the main dining room is included in your cruise package!! We went to Izumi (the sushi specialty) and Samba Grill (the Brazilian specialty). Izumi was ala carte plus a $20.00 per person fee but I got some of the BEST sushi I have ever tasted. Samba Grill was also just as impressive and special! The service at both of these specialty restaurants was intimate, personal and high quality. Royal Caribbean has it down! From the first day of your cruise when you are boarding the ship to the last day of your cruise when you are disembarking the ship. Everything is smooth, friendly and stress free IF YOU FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS! I read some reviews from people moaning and complaining about how they missed their shuttle and/or their flight, or had some type of a problem, etc. and after my experience on this cruise line, I can only surmise that these people obviously were too busy partying on the last night and were too hung over the next day to bother to get the proper instruction on disembarking the ship!!! Royal Caribbean made it very clear and obvious to any half intelligent person that there are PROCEDURES in place in order to ensure a smooth transition off the ship on the last day of your cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
I may be a little biased in my review, as this was my 8th Royal Caribbean cruise. I will try make this review short and sweet. Check in, maybe 10 minutes. The ship is gorgeous inside out, you can find your way anywhere with touch ... Read More
I may be a little biased in my review, as this was my 8th Royal Caribbean cruise. I will try make this review short and sweet. Check in, maybe 10 minutes. The ship is gorgeous inside out, you can find your way anywhere with touch electronic boards, menus, where you are etc. Had to get my pic w/every Dreamworks character :) You can tell that Royal is making sure that they exceed your expectations. They are always asking, making sure things are clean, if everything is ok, the most of any ship I've been on. They are constantly working. I do have to say that although our cruise was fully booked, the only time it felt crowded was during the parades in the promenade. We had a large interior room which was fine, we were never in the room except to sleep and get ready. The ship is amazing, having sailed on the Freedom last year, there is a huge difference. The food, was exceptional. Best roast beef sandwiches and turkey paninis ever had at the Park Cafe. The dining room food was the best I've had on any ship. We did not try any restaurants, but people we spoke to said they were ok, that food in the dining room was just as good. The hot dogs, also very good. There is food everywhere, the Promenade Cafe, best sandwiches and sunflower bars! I didn't find the food in the Windjammer overly spectacular, other venues have better food I think. Made to order pizzas, yummy.The ship has so many different areas, that people are filtered everywhere so it never seemed crowded. We got a spot by the beach pool everyday, and we usually were out there by noon. My Husband & I are very into fitness, so of course the gym was important to us as we were there every day. Only day it was crowded was the first day, of course. The area for the free weights is too small. The usual panorama you get from being on the treadmills on the Freedom & Voyager class ships are replaced with big round holes, kind of makes the gym feel dark. But the track is great, since it is located on the 5th floor and not in sun on upper deck, cuts down on the heat and wind, and I'm not an outdoor runner and I ran it. Of course we did the rock wall, zip line, flow rider, putt putt, all of which are fun. Did see a couple of shows, Chicago was great if your into musicals, went to comedian show, very funny and intimate. We didn't make a couple of shows as we were in the casino usually after dinner. Did see an aqua show, just amazing what they can do. Had my time dining, never had to wait. Ports: We've done this intinerary so many times, that we didn't get off except in Cozumel to get some tequila. We were going to in Labadee, but never made it, it's actually my favorite place and did the zip line there last May. Jamaica, they are still working on that port, so unless you have an excursion, there is no use in getting off. Heard of people getting harassed etc.Overall, there is so many activities to see/do on this ship, the Compass is huge. There is something to do for everyone with every taste. We had perfect weather every day, not 1 cloud in the sky. We also rescued 9 Cubans in a boat and the Coast Guard picked them up on our last day at sea. We drove to the port so we were off the ship by 6:15 am if you carry your luggage. I can't wait to do the Oasis next year, but first we have the Navigator planned in October. Happy Sailing! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
As stated this cruise And especially The Ship far exceeded my expectations. I was very excited to be cruising on The Allure and had very high expectations of the Ship. Everything was beautiful and accommodating. Initially I was annoyed to ... Read More
As stated this cruise And especially The Ship far exceeded my expectations. I was very excited to be cruising on The Allure and had very high expectations of the Ship. Everything was beautiful and accommodating. Initially I was annoyed to have to make reservations for the shows; but I actually found this to be a very good process: decreases the possibility of crowding and usually if you forgot or did not reserve it was easy enough to go and wait for the reserved to be seated and then take any seats left. The shows also started on time because of reservations and decreased the amount of people coming in late and crawling over you:) The areas we visited were great and I enjoyed all of them! The cover charges for some dining areas were OK as well and the screens used to find things were very easy to use: you could look up complimentary venues versus those with a price associated so that you never had to guess or be surprised. The Casino was like all others in that I gave a generous donation for my entertainment:) I wish that ship Casinos would consider free drinks or at least water??This is not the fault of RCCL but unsupervised children were sometimes a problem; playing on elevators, being rude in lines etc. Where RCCL could be more helpful is with very clear guidelines and ways to enforce them re children. I love children, just don't care for them when they are rude and not properly supervised, which to me is the fault of the parents. The children could easily be injured or even lost and no one will know how it happened.I have always said that when you board for a cruise and throughout you are treated like royalty; however, on the day you have to leave the ship the quality of friendliness of the staff drastically decreases; as if they no longer have to be as nice to you. On the last night no chocolate on the pillows and no cute animals made from the towels. You are herded like cattle into the required waiting areas and herded again through the areas to vacate the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Flew from Michigan to Fort Lauderdale on the same day as our sail. No problems. Took cab from airport to port and had cab driver stop at Walgreens for sundries as we traveled with carry-ons ONLY. He charged us $30 total with the stop and ... Read More
Flew from Michigan to Fort Lauderdale on the same day as our sail. No problems. Took cab from airport to port and had cab driver stop at Walgreens for sundries as we traveled with carry-ons ONLY. He charged us $30 total with the stop and wait while my travel partner ran in. Traveling with carry-ons only was GREAT. Even with the carry on we both brought to many cloths!!! I did not want to pay $30 to check bags with Delta and risk losing them on same day as boarding. I had one Carry on with rollers and one very large beach bag from Target full. Had no issues.Our room was nice. Plenty of room for two adult women to get ready. I got ready in bathroom and friend got ready at vanity. Room had large closet and drawers and cubbies. Lots of well thought out storage. The flat screen tv was in an odd spot which inhibited viewing from your bed.It was nice to have a view of Central Park from deck 9. We just walked down the stairs to have breakfast every morning in the Central Park restaurant. If it was lunch time the custom salads were marvelous. Much better than the main dining room which was crowded and not relaxing.Spent the days at the Solarium adult only pool. Nice size pools over looking the sea just at the entrance of the Solarium. The hot tubs were very relaxing and nice as well. There were always lounge chairs available however not much shade on deck. Go up one more floor at Solarium next to bar to find shade. Gorgeous views and a very well though out design for the entire ship! I loved the newness of everything. It is very modern on board with all the best technology.Drinks are VERY EXPENSIVE!!! Expect to pay between $7-$10 PER cocktail. A 15% service charge comes on each bill. I spent $200 on cocktails over the week and my friend $300. Now I know why people smuggle liquor on board! The drinks seemed watered down and thus you order more.We had 6pm seating for dinner. It was easy to move to 8:30pm as needed if we did not make it. Be aware that if you do not have your table assignment on you Sea Pass it is a EXTREME HASSLE to get your table assignment. You must go to the dining room and wait in line with many people waiting to speak to the head waiter and take care of it. What a pain. This is not how we wanted to spend our first hour on the ship!!! The food in the main dining room was adequate/sufficient. Nothing special at all. Just mediocre. The highlight was lobster tails one night. Many people seemed to take advantage of the upcharge dining venues. I also would not recommend the wine package. It averages to $30 per bottle for the package. We purchased by the night at dinner for $23 and had great choices. The night Clubs are are AMAZING! Fantastic Salsa Dancing Club - Boloeros. I attended every night. The disco Blaze was also nice and Dazzle is beautiful. There was also a Jazz Bar - not many people there and Martini Bar. Very disappointed that there are no blue cheese stuffed olives on board for a dirty martini so we skipped it.Port Labedee was great. Try taking a nap in a hammock. Walk down further to the best part of the beach. The sand in the water is very very rocking, recommend water shoes. We did not get off in Jamaica as the Port is under construction. And been to Cozumel many times and stayed on the boat. We got massages and went shopping during the port days. Try the Happy Hour Massage $120 one hour. Included mini facial, foot massage and hot oil back massage. ALL SHOWS are a must. Dont miss them. They are both Vegas Style - Blue Planet, and Broadway Style - Chicago. Dont miss the Aqua Show or the Comedy Club. BOOK everything online if you can because shows do sell out!!!!!! We also went to the Ritas Cantina Feista the first night. $20 includes 3 margaritas and dinner. What a bargain plus lots of entertainment and dancing.The trip went by way to fast. Before we knew it we were back to Fort Lauderdale. We are going to go again next year and try the Eastern Caribbean on Allure of the Sea. This ship is one of a kind and I rate it with top marks! Read Less
Allure of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.4
Dining 5.0 4.1
Entertainment 5.0 4.5
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.3
Family 5.0 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 4.0 4.0
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 5.0 3.9

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