We booked the Allure Apr 21-28 because of our schedule, its itinerary and reputation. I was so excited about this trip I was scared something would happen and we wouldn't be able to go. Last year we cruised on the freedom. We loved that ship. I missed that ship. Everyone was sad when it was time to go home. The truth is, I couldn't wait to get off the Allure. Shows and Events
I'd like to say the shows were incredible, but they were overshadowed by people reserving seats and competition. Despite the constant reminder that reserving seats is prohibited, people do it anyway and the staff did little to help. When we went to see Blue Planet, there were people reserving ENTIRE ROWS for their family. We were ousted three times. They'd have a person standing on each end of the row, or run up and down the row shoo-ing people away. When the show started, we were left standing around and an usher escorted us to the back of the theater to stand. We had reserved all of our shows online the week before the sailing, so I felt pretty jaded I couldn't get a seat because of the aggressive competition and inconsiderate sail mates. The same happened for the first showing of Ocean Aria. We arrived ~40 minutes early. The first two times we sat down in very open areas, people rushed over and claimed those seats are for their kids or for their family. It was constant conflict. Note this was canceled the first two sea days due to excessive rocking, and this contributed to the seating chaos. The 70's party was awesome, except the droves of people trying to cross the ship through a crowd of a thousand people. I was shoved and pushed around for an entire hour. Do realize there's like maybe a dozen ways to cross the ship without shoving your way through a crowd of people enjoying a scheduled event. I'm a little disappointed with the turn-outs for DJ or dance events, but I think that's RC's target audience. People with toddlers and older people don't care for night club scenes. (On-Air also steals a lot of people) Bad Behavior
We tried to play family putt-putt, as this is one of our favorite moments on the ship. There were 2-3 other families playing on the course, and two teenagers who were running all over the course smacking balls across it. They were bouncing them off the glass wall on the ship, and hit a few overboard. Every time a ball would land in my course I would pick it up and retain it. I had 5 extra balls by the time we finished the course. There were TWO flow-rider attendants also watching the chaos from the stairs. They did nothing. No staff intervened.
The solarium is also 16+, which to me means "older kids still allowed". There were groups of teenagers in the hot tubs rough housing, splashing, shouting. It was very disruptive and defeats the purpose of the solarium. The pool attendant nearby said that they "Try to make all guests feel welcome, even teenagers" and that no actual rules were being broken when they checked.
Note - none of the hot tubs were actually hot.
At the ice skating rink there were two "speedsters" father and daughter who are apparently very good at skating, traveling 3 times faster than anyone else, cutting us off at the corners and whipping by BETWEEN my family members with a few inches to spare. It was rude, dangerous and annoying. Despite the rules posted about slower skaters having the right of way, the attendants said nothing. Dining
This got royally screwed up. When we booked in January, "My Time" wasn't available on the website. It only allowed us a 5:30 dinner time. We signed up with that, then called RC. They said they'd switch us to My Time free of charge. A few weeks before the cruise we wanted to reserve our times in advance, as we had all our excursions planned. The website wouldn't let us. We called RC again - when they switched us to "My Time" dining, they switched two of three people. Our son was still on 5:30 dinner. It was allegedly too late to switch him now, so we ALL had to dine at 5:30. Here's the kicker - they still put "My Time" on two of our sea passes! So when we went to dinner on day 1 at 5:30, they said we couldn't! We had to explain the entire scenario to them, and they gave us a table for 5:30 dining every day. When came to dinner on day 2 the exact same thing happened, and we had to explain it all again!
We liked our server. He was friendly, funny and did a great job. A senior citizen lady sits behind us every day, making nasty remarks to our server every time he checks on their table. "Try not to take 4 hours today" and "You screw something up every day" and "Maybe you should find a new line of work" It was so terribly awkward that on day 4 I was going to request another table. But she wasn't there that day so I dropped it. Day 5 we went with specialty dining. Then day 6 she was there, and we had to put up with it again. Shore Days
St. Maarten: Will not go back. Not much to see here; a bunch of shops downtown peddling made-in-china wares. The French side (which many consider the good side) was largely destroyed by Irma (sad). The competition for beach chairs is so heated, we had not one but three groups of locals trying to compete for our money. They argued with us and argued with each other. It was so bad we turned around and walked back up the street. (Personal note, I think three chairs and 2 frozen drinks for $20 was the best deal.)
San Juan: Fantastic visit. Cut short by Allures recent itinerary changes. 4.5 hours really isn't enough to fully enjoy this. We took the RC old / new tour and it was fantastic. This left about 40 minutes to explore Castillo de San Cristóbal. It was also fantastic. I felt very rushed though and there was no time to explore or hit the beach after. I would certainly visit again, and hopefully swim at the window to the sea.
Labadee: Professional photographers were trying to take pictures of groups at the Labadee letters with the ship behind it, but inconsiderate people kept running up and posing for their own photos. One lady stood but 10 feet in front of the photographer to get her own photo. When she was done, she lingered around "taking in the moment". When asked to move, she got nasty about it and said "You can wait two damn seconds".
Drink packages work on Labadee. However, the pineapple drink (which is a 99c upcharge on the ship) is a full $12 on Labadee ($9 N/A). It is what they called "island price" and not included with your beverage package. The advertisement didn't explain this and the bartender didn't speak enough English to explain it either. So get your pineapple on the ship. Then know that each and every standard drink we had on labadee we were charged for, and had to visit the customer service desk to have it removed. The island was beautiful. BBQ lunch was very good.
Last note although there were hammocks scattered everywhere, a group of 7 people actually picked up and relocated the hammocks over to their area so that all 7 could have a hammock. This sort of highlights my entire experience on the Allure, competing with other people at every corner. The Deathblow
No poolside movies. This is an activity my family has come to love; the 10pm poolside movie while enjoying the hot tub or laying on a beach chair. Due to this, my family spent no time in the public pool areas. The Allure only has movies in the Aquatheater (no lounge chairs, no hot tubs) and both of the screens are broken. Both screens literally have large disruptive squares of errors scattered about them. Its not even worth mentioning in the survey; its so obvious you can only assume that everyone on the ship is aware that the screens are broken. I know this is somewhat petty, but even the Majesty has pool side movies, and its something we've come to love.
Overall, I'm not sure if my issue is with RC or the Allure, but other cruisers. This boat is so massive that maybe there's just too many people for me. I found many people selfish and inconsiderate. I spent upwards of $7000 for a week of vacation and spent much of the time irritated, in conflict or competing with other people for my positive experience. I was thinking the three of us could check out Mariner next. But Right now I'm feeling done with cruises. Big fat hassle with too many logistics and too many costs if you're not going to enjoy yourself. My mind is tainted; now when I read about groups of 8 to 11 people I assume their going to do the seating thing, stand in front of professional photographers, and pull all the hammocks to themselves... doh!
Having said that, positive views or opinions on all this could help me right now. I have enough negative ones of my own... lol