We sailed July 9-16 on Royal Caribbean's(RCCL) Allure of the Seas. Having read other reviews, I know that low ratings are often due to individual circumstances, so my "Poor" rating might not be considered poor by others. My primary complaints are based on two issues: reduced options for travelers embarking in Rome and what I consider unfair treatment by the excursions staff.
Several other reviewers have mentioned that Rome, being a "secondary" embarkation point, had fewer options than were available to passengers who begin the cruise in Barcelona. Of course, they don't mention this when selling the cruise. After purchasing the cruise, I found that RCCL does not help with pre or post hotel arrangements if you start in Rome. Additionally, there are fewer excursions offered on the Barcelona day (in fact, for a long time, they had none listed- the phone support person told me we could always do a Hop-on, Hop-off) because only about 25% of passengers start in Rome. Our final day was hard to plan because they didn't support post-cruise arrangements (other than airport shuttle). We did, however, find an excursion with a City Center transfer. Great! More than acceptable! Canceled several months before the cruise. Bad luck, but OK. Then we signed up for a different excursion with a City Center transfer. Great! Canceled TWO DAYS prior, WHILE WE ARE AT SEA!!!!!! I take a cruise to avoid stress, and RCCL proved a stressor for me. We finally took a shuttle they offered to continuing passengers and then a taxi to the hotel. I know excursions have to make money, but I find it disturbing they would cancel someone's plans while at sea.
So, those are my two primary reasons for a low rating. The ship itself is amazing offering plentiful pools and activities for 6000 people. You never feel crowded. Individual items:
Boarding/Leaving: EXTREMELY easy. RCCL does a great job here.
Wifi: I can't live without it and they excel. Cost, tax included, was about $200 for two devices. Speed was over 20mbs all over the ship.
Fitness: Very nice .4 mile track on deck 5. More than adequate fitness center with many weight and aerobic machines. Alas, no free sauna/steam.
Food: a junk food addict like me will love the donuts, hot dogs, and ice cream. I found the pizza, however, no better than average store brand frozen. We enjoyed the main dining room and had excellent service from Caesar and Marylene. We did the Windjammer for breakfast and the choices were quite good. The Park Cafe is an excellent lunch spot. We did not eat at any of the extra charge restaurants.
Entertainment: Two of the best shows, Mamma Mia and OceanAria were canceled the days we had tickets. OceanAria had multiple performances canceled due to the ever popular "technical difficulties." I would normally say this is completely unacceptable, but maybe we just had bad luck. The Comedy Show was worthwhile. Ice Games was excellent. Blue Planet very missable. Outdoor movie night was fun.
Excursions: Aside from the last day debacle mentioned above, the excursions varied - as I would expect. Our trip to Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii was one of the most amazing experiences ever! Florence and Pisa were very good, but there was no time to go up the tower. In Barcelona, our 4 hour tour was good, but, again, needed time to go inside La Sagrada Familia. My wife and daughter LOVED biking on Palma de Mallorca. Marseille?? There is not much to do.
Stateroom: We liked our room and the service. No complaints there.
Children's groups: Our daughter spent hours with the teen group and thoroughly enjoyed herself.
Overall: As I mentioned above, the stress and inconvenience RCCL caused lowered my rating. Otherwise, the cruise was probably 3.9 stars instead of 2.
Would have been perfect if 20 min longer.View All 60 Mt. Vesuvius Reviews
Amazing! A must see!View All 505 Pompeii Walking Tour Reviews
Good tour. Good guide. But....know that there are no visits inside anything.View All 136 Florence Walking Tour Reviews
A long day because the cities are so far from the port, but a great experience.View All 88 Pisa Walking Tour Reviews
Disappointing. Notre Dame de la Garde was a good sight, but that was about it. Free time downtown could have included a walking tour.View All 65 City Tour Reviews
A great way to experience the area.View All 24 Bicycle Tour Reviews
Needed more time to see things. The Cathedral area walking tour part was the best part and our guide was very knowledgeable.View All 284 City Tour Reviews