Since the Allure of the Seas will not be cruising the Mediterranean next year, I will focus my review on the ship. If you want to know more about the ports in the Mediterranean, I will try to review these ports later.
So a little background, this was my 15th cruise, 5th cruise on Royal Caribbean, 2nd time on Allure, 1st time Mediteranean Cruise. We are from the United States, we are not drinkers and we are in our late 40's. We did not travel with kids, although we do have young kids.
Embarkment: Royal Caribbean corners the market on getting you on the ship. They really push you through the terminal. Some pointers, make sure you register online before you arrive. I laminated my luggage tags to make sure the tags would not tear off the luggage. Either wear your swimsuit or bring your swimsuit with you, most likely you will not get your luggage until 5PM or later. You generally can get on the ship as early as 11AM, so get on as early as you can, since you are paying for that day. Be prepared that when you enter the ship you will be "offered" multiple "opportunities" for things, so not get too overwhelmed. Another tip, do NOT reserve your speciality dining or spa services until you get on the ship, they have deals that you will not receive if you book online and these generally do not book up.
Rooms: If you never have been on a cruise, be prepared the rooms are small, but no smaller than most cruise lines. Generally the room will consist of 2 twin beds that they will move together to make a king size bed, a sofa and a desk. The bed was very comfortable (and I am picky about my beds), you can ask for more pillows. The desk will have drawers to put some items in, but they are not very deep, so do not plan to bring a lot of clothes. The closet is a nice size closet, but again if you get bogged down with a lot of clothes you will run out of space quickly. You will be able to store a roll on suitcase under the bed, but the larger suitcases may not fit. The room has a nice flat panel TV that has several channels on it, especially great for kids (if traveling with them), you can also purchase movies to watch in your room. The bathrooms are SUPER small...the joke is that you can lather up the shower and spin around it is that small. Also they only have 1 plug in at the desk in the room, so be prepared for that. They do have a clock, which is a added benefit. We originally stayed in room 7100, which is oceanview, but in the front of the ship, I do not recommend this ship, it is very loud and the room shakes when you are docking. We ended up moving, which was very generous of the ship to do this for us.
Dining: The first time we cruised on the Allure we did all of the Specialty Dining and they are all good. This time we only did Central Park 150. If you are going to dine here, again wait until you get on the ship and look at the menu before you decide on what day you want to dine here. It is a set menu and they switch it mid week. We love Central Park 150, the food is amazing and the service excellent. We loved the other Specialty restaurants too, but you have to pay for the service in the dining room whether you use it or not, so basically you are paying twice tip wise and the food in the dining room is just as good. Royal Caribbean allows you to have a set time dining which is great if you want to dine with other passengers. If you want to be more spontaneous with your dining you can also do My Time Dining, where they have reserved one floor (American Icon) for this type of dining. You can reserve a time for this, which if you are going to eat at a later time, I would recommend you do this. When you do My Time dining you can get the same server every night, so they know what kind of drink you like and will most likely have it quickly ready for you. The food is fairly good for cruise food. Remember they are feeding 6000 people, so you are not going to get top quality food. If you want that then go to the Specialty dining and pay the extra.
Entertainment: You must go to Mama Mia, it was excellent, even my husband who does not like Broadway shows enjoyed it. Also Ocean Aria was excellent. You do need to book these 2 shows as early as possible before the cruise otherwise you will not get your first choice. Also book Ocean Aria as early in the cruise as you can because the show could be cancelled due to weather. The other shows were okay but if you do not see them, you will not be missing much. If you are bringing kids then Ocean Aria is a great show for kids, plus the Ice Skating shows, but the other shows are not kid friendly and I would not take them. They have other shows, such as "minute to win it" shows, which are hilarious and fun to either participate or observe, but again not kid friendly. Allure has beefed up the movies they are showing, so they seemed to have a movie every day showing in the theater of first run movies. To say the least they seemed to have plenty to do. I have not even mentioned the casino and all of the places where they are just playing music to can go listen to.
Allure is an AMAZING ship, they really figured out how to lay this ship out so you do not feel that 6000 people are on this ship. The main area's where people "hang out" are:
The Promenade: Most likely this will be the first place you will see when you board the ship. This area has several places you can eat (for free), shops and a couple "bars". This is where they do the big parties and parades. The theater and the dining rooms are located off of the Promenade.
The Boardwalk: This is a great outdoor area, where the Aqua theater is located, plus 2 of the $ restaurants. They do have a couple shops located in this area, plus the carousel which is free to ride. The rock climbing wall is also located in this area.
Central Park: I love this area. This area is in the middle of the ship, but open air. You truly feel like you are strolling through a park. In this area they do have one of the free cafe's which I love, plus several of the $ dining area's.
Pool Deck: Okay no other way to put this, but it is an AWESOME layout. In the front of the ship is the Solarium, which is Adult only area. This is a great place to hang out, but on days at sea it will get crowded so arrive early. Then you have the family area with 2 pools in the middle of the ship, then not much further is the kids area, with a pool and a splash zone. Then you have the Windjammer cafe next to this area. On the backside of the ship is where they have 2 flowriders, the zipline (remember closed toe shoes for this), sports court and minature golf area. You really start to understand how big this ship is in this area...you will walk and walk to get to the other end. The pools do not have any slides, which is a disappointment for thrill seekers, but then you could just go do the flowrider or the zipline to get the thrill.
Other Area's: On the 3rd deck they have the Casino, several "studio's" for entertainment and the Ice Skating rink, you do need long pants to do the ice skating. The Spa is located on the 5th & 6th deck, along with the walking track and exercise room. They seem to have alcove's of some "bar" or library on every floor.
With all of these area's it is hard to feel that you have 6000 passengers.
The night before you arrive back at the terminal, you will be given luggage tags to put on your luggage that needs to be outside your door by 11PM. If you do not get your luggage out by 11PM then you have to carry it off yourself. The easiest & best way to get off the ship is for you to carry your luggage off yourself, then basically you can leave anytime after they give the "all clear" and it is seemless and very fast. If you have them take your luggage then you meet at a certain time and disembark with that group & locate your luggage with that group #. If you have to make connections and your time is tight you could get a little frustrated. Again I think Royal Caribbean does a great job trying to make this as simple and easy as possible for the passengers.
Summary: The Allure is a great ship, is it perfect...only if you choose to make it that way...people can always find fault in something. Royal Caribbean is doing this to make money, so they do things to get as much money from you as possible. If you realize this and do not let it bother you, you will be fine. I would like to give a few shout outs just in case Royal Caribbean reads this. We were very pleased with the service that we got with Guest Services, I did not yell, so I am sure that helped, they were great to work with and they switched our room. Nina our room attendant was so friendly and helpful. The dining room staff were wonderful, we had a glitch the first night and I brought that up with the head waiter and after that we were treated with the best treatment. Again I did not yell, which I think helped a lot. I would stay away from the Spa, they will try to sell you every product under the sun. The treatments are great, but the upsell gets very tiring, just wait until you get home and do the treatment for less.
Great cabin, although it is at the very back of the ship, but this is a large ship so you are not going to feel it move that much. We seemed to always be on the outside of the port, so you are looking out at ports instead of looking at the dock.
We were in cabin 7100, do not reserve this cabin, it is better to get an inside cabin then this cabin.
We spent several days in Rome before the cruise. You can easily spend a week in Rome & not see everything. To get to the port from Rome is an easy train ride, but you will need to take a taxi from the train station. You can also get a car service to bring you from your hotel to the port for about 160 Euro's which you can arrange with your hotel.
We booked through italydriver.com and asked for Umberto. He speaks perfect english, charged us 350 Euro for the day. He was great, I would highly recommend Umberto to you. He took us to Pompeii and arranged for us to have a guide that cost us 100 Euro's + the ticket's into Pompeii, which I would highly recommend. If you try to do Pompeii on your own you will spend at least 30 minutes in line for a ticket, then you will be lost once you get into the city. Umberto drove us through the Amalfi Coastline, which was beautiful, but I definitely would not want to drive. He took us to Fattoria la Tagliata, which I have to say is the best restaurant I have ever been to in my life. The view and food were to die for. The meal cost us 25 Euro's & I would have paid twice that much to eat there again. The day with Umberto was probably the most memorable day of our whole trip.View All 96 Private Tour Reviews
We did Hop on - Hop off bus, which is great. You need to take a taxi from the cruise terminal to La Sagrada Familia (the big Gaudi Cathedral), which will cost about 10 Euro. If you want to tour La Sagrada Familia you will need to purchase your tickets before you arrive, it sells out fairly early on in the day. If you want to do some great souvenier shopping then you need to go to the Christopher Columbus monument and they will have all the shopping you will like.View All 284 City Tour Reviews
The cruise provided a complimentary shuttle to downtown. The Cathedral is amazing I would highly recommend visiting it and taking the tour.View All 77 City Tour Reviews