Final Thoughts on the Allure of the Sea.
Here is where i break down my review of my cruise and my last thought.
Embarkation. Amazing. 6,000 people boarded on embarkation day. The port traffic was snarled due to that stupid train i mentioned, but that's not the cruise line's fault, its the port's fault. Who puts a railroad right in the middle of the artery that feeds all the passengers into the port. As i said, it literally crossed the road, stopped, backed up, went forward, backed up again, and then went forward before it got out of the way. But less than 15 minutes from door to ship regardless of status. There was no diamond line even though I would have qualified for it, it was never an issue.
Food. Our first night at the MDR was great. We had a high spirited lady named Dina. Her name was much much much longer. She was personable and genuine. I would have loved to have her for the entire cruise. But that didn't happen. We changed out for a different guy who turned out to be much slower. So service at the MDR is hit or miss. Like it usually is.
Food at the MDR is what is usually is. I enjoyed it for what it was. I've had it many many times, and there really isn't that much of a surprise for me. Although compared to my specialty restaurant experience, I think you're better off going to the MDR here at least on THIS ship.
This trip as some of you have read, was more of a specialty dining one than a MDR experience. So i'll break it down here.
Food. Inconsistent. 150 Central parked talked a great game, but failed to deliver. Chops has great steaks, but their appetizers were reused from the MDR which seriously gives me pause at the retail 50/person they are trying to charge. A $50.00 Steak is a Morton's Steak and although their steak is good, its not THAT good. Giovanni's Lunch was good for what it was. Though I've had better food at Giovanni's before. Pasta can be messed up. Izumi's hibachi is good, as long as you don't get seafood. The show IS different than some of the hibachi places you may have been. They especially love to sing. No fire tricks, due to being on the ship. Oh, did i mention that gratuities are now NOT included with the specialty restaurants now. When did that change? I kind of feel like Royal Caribbean shafted everyone here. They took away the worker's gratuities that were once part of the upcharge. They shafted the passengers by making them pay the gratuity if they book on board. Fortunately Chef's table still included gratuities...for now, however, I can see them pulling this as well, which means its an additional 17 bucks/person.
Service at these restaurants. They really want to give you great service for your meal and I applaud them for the attempt. However, I started to notice it is a little scripted, which isn't necessarily bad, but there is no follow up. On other ships, I felt they were more on top of allergies, where here, people didn't seem to either understand, or failed to follow up correctly. The inclusion of Chickpeas in my wife's dish after he was told she's allergic to PEAS, AND BEANS was bad. What's worse, chickpeas was NEVER mentioned as a major ingredient in this dish, because she would have passed on this dish if she had read that. Food quality was hit or miss. My duck at 150 Central Park was a hockey puck. Inedible. No attempt to rectify it these deficiencies. @death_star's wife had the same duck dish I had at a later date, and she confirmed that it was just as tough as mine was. It was not a fluke, that's just how they cook it. bleh, and they don't care.
Also, it maybe cultural, but the host should not be saying "Well, its about time you showed up" when welcoming you to your restaurant. Especially when THEY screwed up the reservation and then go "but that's okay, because we can accommodate you fortunately" It should have gone "Oh crap, we screwed up, let us make it up to you"
Chef's table. I love love love Chef's table. This one did not disappoint for the most part. But they too had deficiencies in the same vein as the other specialty restaurants. Again, allergies in this venue I feel is a bigger offense because according to the description of what they are selling you, you are getting a personal meal made specifically by an executive chef of the ship. These guys are not line chefs. These guys are professional chef's with reputations. In this venue, I see Chef's gearing up for the challenge to deliver a special quality meal in accordance to everyone's restrictions. There should be no excuse where anyone at our table had to push their food away because of obvious contamination. Her dish WAS ALREADY specially made to accommodate her shellfish allergy but you miss her other tree nut allergy by garnishing it with candied walnuts? My wife was given a dessert that had peanut butter in it. It was thankful that this time around, the waiter caught his mistake and removed it before anything bad happening. 2 near misses for allergies. And then someone's post that caught the fact that the wine they are pairing is very cheap. As I told him, I know nothing about wines, but he has a point. The wine is being cheapened AND they were stingy about filling glasses. I'm not even sure if they refilled ANYONE'S glasses. They have in the past. Despite these issues, I still enjoyed this venue and would still do it again. Someone else in our party noted that the presentation was very scripted and passionless. Previous Chef's table, you can feel the pride the Chef's creation. This time, not so much. Its supposed to be special, yet little things detracted from it.
Conclusion reached about UDP. We had difficulties getting reservations for any real time frame. We could not reserve our other 2 dinners until we boarded. It was fortunate that we got 150 at the time we wanted at the restaurant we wanted because they choose the first restaurant and we wanted to try that...to our detriment (see above). Do people with UDP get a priority status for booking restaurants. It seemed like we were relegated to either late 8:30pm or later, or really early. Can you reserve if you have the UDP, because if you can't, then this would frustrate you to no end if you paid for unlimited and can't use it because they can never fit you in.
So the bottom line with Specialty restaurants on the Allure. Serious issues with quality and service. Much different from my experience on other ships.
Entertainment and Activities. This is where this ship shines. The entertainment staff and the professional shows and headliners. They were mostly good. A couple of head scratches for some of the shows, but they were still visually stunning. Mama Mia as I said was awesome. It is my wife's favorite show. My issue with this is that there is so much to do, that you're not going to get everything. I expected that there was too much to do that 7 nights is just not quite enough. But at the same time, with such a large crowd, you HAVE to overlap to accommodate everyone, but it feels like organized chaos a little. I had to just accept that I was going to miss a lot of things and that didn't quite sit well with me. At the same time, with so much going on, I didn't really get a chance to relax, for fear of missing something. I feel that the smaller ships do better here with their shows where they structure it against the set dining periods. This made me feel that I didn't had to rush, and the design will allow me to experience all the ship has to offer over time. I did not get that. It was more like a grab bag of activities and whatever you got, you got.
Ports of calls. I haven't really run into a port that i *hated*. My least favorite port is Grand Cayman because I feel its a bit sterile on culture. But i always manage to find something to do, even in Nassau where i've been there many many times. I was a little disappointed with missing Roatan because I wanted to take my wife there.
Ship ameneties. The app....The app stinks. It can tell you one thing, the reality maybe different. I made reservations with a live person where he repeated the reservations back to me. On day 2, I was at 150 Central Park and made reservations for day 3 and day 4. Confirmed with the guy. I asked if the app would reflect that, he said yet. On day 3, I noticed that my reservation for izumis was for day 5, not 4. Can't do 5, we were busy at that time. I called and they fixed it to 9:15 for day 4. When we got there, that's when we got that snarky welcome. My app and my verbal confirmation was 9:15, they showed 5pm.
We were late to the Harry Potter trivia because the app said it was in the Schooner yet in reality, it was at the On Air club.
Another thing that goes without saying. This ship is friggin huge!!! I lucked out having a room right next to the elevator, but still I felt like we did a LOT of walking and weren't even trying. My wife's phone clocked her at a minimum of 8000 steps/day. ON THE SHIP!!! It was more in port.
Ship design. Here's where they shine. People said that they didn't feel crowded on this ship. I would have to disagree slightly with this statement. I did feel crowded. However, the ship is HUGE. Worse yet, it FELT huge. So the crowds were on par with any other cruise, which gives credence that the design of this ship was well intentioned. However, I did feel crowded. There's a lot of people here. I felt crowded in how rigid the activities and entertainment were. If you planned everything to a tee, had reservations, like I did, I got to experience a good chunk of the ship, but I was still aware that there were 5999 other people meandering around. They do a wonderful job of crowd control and no one was left out of anything only because there was too much around. The result of this, is a cruise that felt like organized chaos. There were so many things popping up here and there, on the app, on the compass. It felt like there was no rhyme or reason with their activities, whereas on the other ships, even the Anthem which is the next sized down, there was some organization between the two dining times. There were specific things you needed reservations for, but the rest, was scheduled around the dining times. I liked that. Another thing i hate, is that most of the activities, had you holed up somewhere. You're in the schooner bar, no view outside. You're in central park, no view. You're in the boardwalk, no view except if you go all the way back. If you don't have a ocean view balcony or oceanview room, you got no sea and may as well be a glorified interior room. I just did not feel like i was on a ship. I guess people like that sort of thing, but for me, it is the farthest I've ever felt detracted from a cruise. The Quantum and the Freedom class felt like this too, but not nearly to this extent. I mean, even on the top deck, you look across the deck, you see sky, no sea, because the ship is wider and you are at least 15 stories up from the waterline.
Disembarkation. Again, incredible. Is this normal for Fort Lauderdale now? You never see a port agent. They take you up to a scanner, they read your facial and then you go get your luggage and leave. Done. Ship to door, 10 minutes and 10 seconds. New record absolutely shatters all other cruises where 30 minutes is the minimum. The last time I came into Fort Lauderdale in 2015 off a Celebrity Ship 1/3 the size of this ship (Infinity) and it took over an hour and a half.
My final thoughts. I don't think I will do an Oasis class again. Its too much for me. Did i have an amazing vacation. Yes i did. I'm glad I got to experience an Oasis class. But my feelings are that if you're on a cruise, you're on a cruise first, and a resort second. The resort fits on the cruise ship. As a result, you may find some truncated resort amenities, but its made up for the fact that you're at sea. On an Oasis class, you're on a resort first, and a cruise ship second. Its big enough that there are full size resort amenities. You forget you're on a cruise until you try to do something that you could easily do at a resort and you're stymied. But at the same time, even at the size of this ship, you're still fighting for space in a very limited area, even at the size of this ship. So you have a lot of the cruise ship drawbacks, but losing the cruise ship benefits. If i do an Oasis class again, it HAS to be more than 7 nights. And there has to be more days at sea.
I hope you've enjoyed my in depth live thread of the Allure of the Seas. Another first. I have NO cruises booked at this moment in time.😚 The one that we almost book, we would have gotten no perks whatsoever. Apparently, the Bermuda cruises are exempt from their specials. Still, we WILL book that soon, probably in the next month, but it isn't until 2021. So probably no live threads from me until then.