My wife and I are in our mid-60's and are Diamond Members with RCCL. After our next cruise, we will be Diamond Plus. We have been on about every size ship in the RCCL fleet and this was our second cruise on the Allure. We have been ... Read More
My wife and I are in our mid-60's and are Diamond Members with RCCL. After our next cruise, we will be Diamond Plus. We have been on about every size ship in the RCCL fleet and this was our second cruise on the Allure. We have been planning for a transatlantic cruise for some time, and this cruise fit in perfectly with our time frame and resources. We consider ourselves experienced travelers and we know how to cope with all of the ups and downs of extended travel. Cruising is what you make of it and even the worst cruise can be a positive experience if approached properly. Having said that, here's my review of the Allure of the Seas 12 night Transatlantic cruise on October 25, 2015:
PRE-CRUISE: We flew from Miami to Barcelona on October 24/25, 2015. The flight over was full, so it was a very tight 9 hour plane ride. Smooth, but tight. Upon landing in Barcelona, we zipped through customs, picked up our bags in baggage claim and quickly found the RCCL reps outside the terminal. We had booked the RCCL pre-cruise transportation and it proved to be very smooth and easy. The RCCL rep took our bags and we headed to the buses. We went directly to the cruise terminal and the RCCL boarding check-in was fast and efficient. We had landed about 9:00 AM local time and we were on the ship by 11:30 AM. You do pass through an array of duty free shops prior to boarding, so you can pick up your allotted two bottles of wine there. You can also board and then go back out to the duty free. After boarding onto deck 5, we went to the Park Café on deck 8 (Central Park) and got some roast beef sandwiches (the best on the ship) and then strolled around on the upper decks for a bit. We were in our room by 1:00 PM and our bags showed up before 4:00 PM. After the safety drill, we were out and about by 5:00 PM.
CRUISE NOTES: This transatlantic cruise was a little different, in that there were not a lot of ports-of-call during the cruise. We only had Barcelona and Malaga, Spain and Ft. Lauderdale. We didn't have time for sightseeing in Barcelona but we did take in the Caves at Nerja at Malaga and they were pretty interesting. It's a 4 hour tour, but it takes an hour to get to the caves and an hour back. They also stop along the coast for a little sightseeing in the town of Nerja. NOTE: There were some folks who didn't pay attention to the difficulty factor for this tour. You go deep underground, so there are a lot of steps......476 total according to the tour guide, Pepe. A lot of vertical ups and downs, so if you ever plan on this tour, be aware and be prepared for a lot of strenuous walking. The folks who ignored the warnings and were unable to climb or walk easily, had to stay topside and missed the cave tour.
As for the cruise itself, it was pretty much as expected. The food was okay (again, it's about managing your expectations) in the American Icon dining room and My Time dining worked very well. The most we waited was 10 minutes and that was without any reservations. NOTE: We heard the usual complaints, some pretty loud, about seating in the dining room.......we're not near a window; we're not near the RIGHT window; we're near a window, but it's dark outside and we can't see anything; etc., etc., etc.,......but those are to be expected. The dining room staff does what they can, but it's not an easy thing to reseat 10 people right in the middle of a service so they can be near a window. Roll with it for that night, people! Have a drink, enjoy the food, enjoy each other and get over it. The staff will do everything to make you happy but you may have to give just a little bit to make it work. You'll have a much calmer and enjoyable cruise.
We were never anywhere on the ship where we felt crowded or overwhelmed. But again, you have to be a smart cruiser. There's only so many places you can go when the ship is at sea. If you see a "HUGE SALE" advertised in the Daily Compass for the Royal Promenade , and you're on the Allure or the Oasis, then avoid the Promenade and go to Central Park or the Boardwalk at that time. The stern of the ship, any ship, will always be crowded before 6:30 and 8:30 when the dinner crowds gather in front of the Main Dining Room. Unless you're eating there, too, don't go near the stern at those times. We always found a good place to eat, especially on the Boardwalk.
NOTE: Our favorite place on the ship was Sabor. The food was always fresh and prepared right before your eyes and the staff was friendly and attentive. We were always able to walk up and get seated right away with no reservations. There is an upcharge, but it's a la carte and we found that an order of the tacos and a quesadilla was more than enough food for two of us. We had evening drinks every night around 7:00 PM at the Bow & Stern and there was always a table available right on the Promenade. After two nights, when the Bow & Stern servers saw us coming, our regular drinks were on the table just as we sat down. These folks are GOOD!
NOTE: The "3 Complimentary Drinks Between 5:00 PM and 8:30 PM" benefit for Diamond and above CAS members is one of the best things RCCL has done for frequent cruisers. You can get those at any bar on the ship and included wine and mixed drinks. My wife enjoys a little wine during dinner and I had vodka gimlets. We each had a drink or two between 7:00 and 8:00 at the Bow & Stern and took one with us to wherever we ate. Fantastic benefit!
The only show we saw was The Beatles Celebration at the end of the cruise. It's a Beatles tribute band from Liverpool, no less, and they were really good. The show, however, was much too abbreviated. I will say it's the first time on any cruise that I saw the entire audience, young and old, on their feet and singing the songs as loud as they could. I hope RCCL took note! If you give folks the right entertainment, they will respond.....LOUDLY!
PET PEEVE: TV during the cruise!!!! We write about this every time, but on this cruise it was more peevish. It was a long cruise and we were on the ship for 9 straight days. We always get a cabin with a balcony so we can sit outside and read and relax. That means we spent a lot of time in our cabin. That also means we watched TV more than usual. For English speaking passengers, and we were told that Americans were the majority on this cruise, there was very little worth watching. And the shows that were worth watching one time were rerun over and over again! I know the internet and cable access was limited while sailing across the Atlantic, but there should be SOMETHING to broadcast besides RCCL commercials over and over again. The Big Bang Theory in German is novelty entertainment good for only about 5 minutes. And virtually no news, even though they did have CNN International Business News on quite a bit. Watching a talking head recite stock prices over and over is a sure cure for insomnia, but hardly entertainment. What about Fox News? Something "fair and balanced"? And no American sports at all. All of the sports news was European and in Spanish or Italian. When they finally did broadcast Thursday Night NFL Football on the last night of the cruise, it was in SPANISH......with English sub-titles! AY CARAMBA! I know RCCL can do better.....and, yes, I do feel better getting that off my chest.
CONCLUSION: This was a great cruise and we had a super time. We found the Allure to be a very stout ship out on the open Atlantic and we always felt safe and secure. The crew members we came in contact with were outstanding. Captain Johnny runs a very tight ship, but there was always time for a little fun and games. We enjoyed the transatlantic cruise so much, we booked one for next November on the Navigator of the Seas sailing out of Southampton, England. We got such a great deal by booking on board that we upgraded to a suite, something we are really looking forward to. I just hope they get the TV situation squared away before then. I'm not looking forward to "ALF" or "TOOL TIME" in Polish. Read Less