Allure of the Seas
My wife and I celebrated our 35th anniversary on Allure. This was our 6th Royal Caribbean cruise. Overall, a great experience. Only disappointment was, of all things, the food. Highlights/lowlights IMHO:
--Though there were 6,000 passengers (and 2400 crew members), the ship never felt crowded. Rapid check in at the port in Ft. Lauderdale. On Sunday, it took all of ten minutes to get off the ship and go through customs after our number was called. Our bill was accurate.
--Cigarette smoke wafted into our cabin from other balconies. There were a lot of unsupervised kids and pre-teens running around the ship and playing in the elevators. Was surprised at how many really young children were in the bars late at night while their parents were dancing to music.
--Crew members were generally bright, cheerful and helpful. Ken Rush did a great job as cruise director. 28 years with the company hasn't diminished his energy or enthusiasm levels. He kept things hopping with a lot of fun activities for passengers of all ages.
--It appeared they poured a lot of money into the entertainment productions. Chicago and OceanAria were terrific. Blue Planet was mind-blowingly good. Lots of laughs were provided by comedian Kevin Meaney. The music was also top notch (a Latin band played in Bolero's, the disco band in Dazzles was top notch, and a jazz quartet smoked).
--Our first excursion, to Blue Lagoon in Nassau, was disorganized at the start, which caused us to leave about 20 minutes later than scheduled. Orient Beach was beautiful, but the lunch part of the excursion sucked (cheap chicken parts and ribs). Smartest move we made was eschewing excursions in St. Thomas and sharing a taxi ride to Magan's Bay with another couple and their two kids. We had the beach to ourselves for nearly a half hour. It was amazing.
--For the first time in six cruises with Royal Caribbean, the food was mediocre in both the dining room and the Windjammer Cafe. (Exception: lobster night in the dining room on Fri night). Service in the dining room was spotty; the waiter and head waiter would nervously question my wife and I if we didn't clean our plates. Service in the Windjammer was non-existant; we had to fetch our own coffee, water and juice for breakfast and lunch. There was no omelette bar in the Windjammer, which bummed me out. Also absent from this cruise: the ice sculptures in the Windjammer with their endless peel-and-eat shrimp. My theory about the lousy food is that they're trying to drive passengers to the specialty restaurants, which charge. (It could also be that because of so many passengers, the kitchen has to prepare everything in bulk, which detracts from anything coming out really tasty). My wife and I did have a terrific dinner at Giovanni's Table (very reasonable too at $15 per person). We also enjoyed the salads and roast beef sandwiches at the Park Cafe in Central Park. Otherwise, this was the first cruise where we didn't have to worry about gaining weight.
--Lots for kids to do and see (Allure has partnered with DreamWorks, so there are various Disney characters for the kids to see and/or interact with. I was surprised by the number of big families on the cruise. The flow rider is great for kids of all ages. There's rock climbing. A zipline. Basketball court. Ping pong. And a miniature golf course.
--Thought it was interesting that every channel on the TV in our cabin worked, except for Fox News.
The Allure is a magnificent ship. We never felt any motion. It was like being in a giant shopping mall and/or hotel. Then again, there was a lot of openness on the decks outside. The pools and jaccuzis were well maintained. Our favorite was the jacuzzi in the Solarium, which juts out to the side of the ship. When you look out its windows, you get the feeling you're flying over the ocean. Really, really cool.