Allure of the Seas
September 23rd 2012
Us:
DH and I are in our 50’s and this was our 29th cruise. My sister (DS) traveled with us and this was her fifth cruise. We live in upstate NY and flew to Fort Lauderdale the day before. We stayed at the Westin Beach Resort, which was fabulous, although the weather was less than perfect. They include towels for the beach or pool as well as nicely padded beach lounges. Our room had an ocean view.

Embarkation:
We took a taxi to the port and arrived about 10:30. We are Diamond and sister is not, but she was allowed to wait in the Diamond waiting area with us. Our ID picture was taken at check-in which made the process much more streamlined than those ships that require a whole other lineup for this.  We were on our way to the ship after a fast and painless short wait at 11:30. Nice!

General info:
This cruise was terrific. Staff was great and that includes Captain Johnny who we love. All entertainment was above average and has spoiled us for all other cruises to come. We thought Allure trumps Oasis.

Cabin:
We had a category D8 balcony and the location could not have been better. Room 8664, which is close to stairs and elevators, and Central Park and Dazzles are right around the corner. The dining room and Boardwalk were just down a few flights. The only time we had far to walk was to go to the showroom. This cabin has the bed by the balcony door, instead of by the closet. On Oasis we had the bed next to the closet and found it difficult to get into the closet at times. The only down side to this cabin was the air conditioning turning off when the balcony door is open, as others have also noted. It was unbelievable how fast the cabin heated up. This was one reason we did not use the balcony much. The other is that we were too busy. The cabin was very quiet. We never heard any noise at all, and I am a light sleeper.

Staff:
Great ! Steward Janice was the best we’ve had in some cruises and earned a WOW card. MDR waiter and assistant (Robin and Seon) were also very good, although it was obvious Robin was not familiar with the details of the new menu yet. Captain Johnny is a hoot and more visible than most captains. CD Allan Brooks was good. The Diamond Lounge staff were all very hardworking and never seemed to stop. The fact that they refilled glasses 5-10 min before dinner and allowed drinks to be taken out of the lounge was something we really appreciated. DH thought the whiskey sours were the best he’s had on a cruise.

Food:
Breakfast we ate in Johnny Rockets or the Windjammer most days. J Rockets was never busy when we got there about 8 am and we were seated right away. There aren’t too many selections but what we got was hot, fast, and tasty. The French toast was very yummy. The coffee here was too strong though and we left looking for another cup someplace else. The Windjammer food was the same as previous cruises. We were always able to find a seat, but it was harder than smaller ships. Food at the Promenade Café is good (no hot entrees) as was the Diamond lounge. We never ate breakfast in the MDR.

Lunch:
This was more of a challenge. We like to eat fast so skip the MDR. The Windjammer on all the ships, in our opinion, is getting worse all the time. There are lots of choices but the quality is sinking. Many items not hot, dry fish, more diner like food than it used to be. The Park Café food was good. I like the make your own salads and DH enjoys the roast beef sandwiches. We also had Sorrento’s pizza one day. It was ok, but nothing terrific.

Snacks:
Oasis and Allure make it easy to find snacks. You would really have to work at it to go hungry. We usually hit the Promenade Café before bed for sweets.

Dinner:
We ate all meals in the MDR. This was the second week of the new menus. Our personal verdict is it is a bit of a mixed bag. Just the fact that there are new and different entrees makes it more enjoyable. The rack of lamb was the biggest hit at our table of 8. The lobster is not Maine lobster, it is poor quality Rock Lobster, ugh. Shrimp was good. It was nice to be able to get escargot or shrimp cocktail any night, but will this make them less special in the long run? Deserts were meh. Soufflés were good, but we left several deserts on the table. Honestly, DS and I could do better.

Entertainment:
Wow!  We loved both Chicago and Blue Planet. The aqua show was great, although much the same tricks as on Oasis. The headliner was an Elvis impersonator, Travis Ledoyt. If you like Elvis at all, I think you would enjoy this guy. We did. The comedians were both better than the ones we saw on Oasis. The pool band was good and the Dazzles band Muzik Express could sing anything and were excellent at it. DS and I attended the Central Park tour by Tom Brownlee, the horticulture specialist, and enjoyed every minute of the hour presentation. There are lots of choices for evening fun and not enough time to hit them all.

Chair hogs/pool:
We did see some saved chairs, but not a lot, even though DS and I were up and in the hot tub between 6 and 7am every day. It was not hard to find a lounge on a sea day, but it IS hard to find shady spots. And shady spots with a breeze and an ocean view were really at a premium. Sunny lounges were open all over. In fact on the first sea day we wondered where everyone was.

Ports:
Unlike some, we DO like to get off the ship at the ports. We are beach people and this cruise did not disappoint. Each day was sunny and almost borderline too hot. Shade was essential. On Labadee we found a spot under a tree on Adrenaline Beach and enjoyed a lovely breeze. DS and I did the rollercoaster ride, despite my fear of heights. Since you can control the speed really well it wasn’t half as bad as I was afraid it would be. It was still white knuckles all the way though. What a view up there!

At Jamaica we took the ship’s Chukka Beach excursion and were very glad we did. It included transportation, only a 5 min ride in a very hot small van and lounges. We did not want the lunch available at additional charge. Umbrellas and floats are there, for $5 each. The beach was beautiful with a nice view, very soft sand, and clear water with waves for playing. The water was the perfect temp. Yes, the vendors were pretty numerous, but with a simple no thanks they left. It never got crowded and we stayed from 11 to 3 with the time flying by. Back at the port we shopped the area at the port but did not buy anything. There are the usual jewelry stores and crap souvenirs, as well as a craft tent with mostly wood items, most from Indonesia, if you turned them over to look. It was still fun to look.

Cozumel we returned to Mr.Sanchos where we have been a number of times. Hot hot hot. But the water was just right and clear enough to see the 8 or so varieties of tropical fish without snorkel gear. We stayed on the non-inclusive side and found it more crowded with chairs than before. The beach has eroded also, making it seem more crowded than it probably was. It rained around 3 pm and we left to shop at the port.

We enjoyed all three ports, but Falmouth was my favorite. Captain Johnny reminds you not to buy anything in Jamaica you don’t need.

Debark:
Our luck ran out. We ate a leisurely breakfast at the Jammer and waited in the Diamond area of Dazzles. They called our number 42 late at about 9:10, but we then waited in a cattle line for another hour. Moo. Then to the luggage area where it was “hurry up, move along” like there was a hurricane evacuation. We were out of the building at 10:15. We watched the express walk offs leaving at about 6:30 …

Summary:
An excellent cruise and we would go back in a minute. If yours is coming up, we envy you. Feel free to ask any questions. Dazzles. They called our number 42 late at about 9:10, but we then waited in a cattle line for another hour. Moo. Then to the luggage area where it was “hurry up, move along” like there was a hurricane evacuation. We were out of the building at 10:15. We watched the express walk offs leaving at about 6:30 …

Summary:
An excellent cruise and we would go back in a minute. If yours is coming up, we envy you. Feel free to ask any questions.     Joslinm1 at hotmail.com
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