OK, finally getting around to writing my review of Allure. Not a true TR, as I’m not as dedicated and awesome as you TR people! Heck, my phone was powered off and in the safe the first two and half days, so I don’t even have many photos! This is somewhat disorganized and doesn’t hit on everything, but here we go. DH, DS12, and myself in a balcony cabin on Deck 10 forward. I believe our guarantee ended up being assigned as a 5D. Past cruising experience is Carnival once 20 years ago before kids, DCL in 2006 with one kid, and DCL in 2012 with two kids. DS16 is doing a year abroad so was not with us on this one. I knew we could get away with just DS12 on the fold out sofa; no way would we have been able to also fit 6’1” son in this cabin comfortably as well! I got the kids 12 and under sail free promo back in March, so bonus for us for a fun fall break trip! I feel that it would be unfair to directly compare RCL to DCL, as we haven’t been on DCL in six years. That said, I spent the first day and a half walking around disappointed that Allure wasn’t the Mickey Boat. As we all know, Disney’s theming is quite thorough and nothing was ‘themed’ on Allure. I was disappointed that nothing felt ‘nautical’. Finishes all around the ship were mid-grade at best and it often felt like one could be in any Hilton or Sheraton, for example, while waiting for an elevator. Of course I realize that this sailing was at an entirely different price point than a DCL, so you do get what you pay for! We flew into Miami and rented a car to get to Fort Lauderdale. Two night pre-cruise stay at the Bahia Mar Hilton in Fort Lauderdale. You could not beat the location, with the beach literally across the street. DH and DS went on a SCUBA trip with Sea Experience which is located at the hotel, so we were able to book their fantastic room rate for divers. The hotel stay was lovely, as was their SCUBA experience. It was DS’s first real dive after becoming certified, and he saw a shark! That was good enough for him! We saw a Carnival ship and then RCL Harmony put out to sea while playing in the ocean that afternoon and that amped up the excitement to 10 for boarding Allure the next day! Boarding day we made a quick stop at Einstein’s for breakfast and we were off to the port! Embarkation and debarkation were smoothing sailing. The port staff was so warm and welcoming, you’d have thought that they were about to leave on vacation too! Direct quote from DS while zig zagging up the long gangway, “Wow, that’s a lot of ship.” We were looking forward to our first experience on a megaship, unsure if we’d be overwhelmed. Not to worry, as we learned our way around the ship within a day’s time and it never seemed overwhelming. Pro tip: use Central Park to traverse forward/aft or the reverse; if you walk through the cabin hallways it will seem to take forever! A major highlight for us was the My Time Dining. We do not like having an assigned dining time so we were excited to just drop in whenever it was convenient for us. Although reservations for MTD are possible, we did not make any, and the max we ever waited to be seated was 12 minutes. The My Timers eat in the Silk dining area, but one day there was better availability upstairs, so we were sent up there. The food was mediocre, as how can food that is prepared for thousands at once be very good? We have just come to expect that while cruising. Even our upcharge lunch at Chop’s Grille was disappointing. The timing of service at dinner was sometimes very strange, with long waits for food, no drink refills provided, and sometimes no coffee offered at the end of the meal. They would ask if we had a show time, but certainly did not time their service to meet that time. Overall, MDR service was just hit or miss. The first four mornings we ordered from the complimentary continental breakfast menu and really enjoyed having breakfast on our balcony. We dragged the desk chair out there for the kid and left it there all week. The order was almost always perfect and was certainly on time. They call just before delivery and were always very prompt. The last three mornings we went to the buffet and really liked the breakfast variety. We really enjoyed the entertainment! Mama Mia was so great – loved the sing a long at the end! Blue Planet was a bit weird, but interesting. OceanAria, at the AquaTheater, had to be the most unique production I’ve ever seen. I read too late to not book it on the first night, as it is often cancelled due to choppy seas and winds. It was cancelled, but our reservation was automatically moved to another night and it all worked out. Don’t miss OceanAria! We didn’t even attend the ice show, as we had read poor reviews, and even overheard around the ship that it wasn’t worth your time. As a note, the ice rink is open for very limited hours and requires long pants. The family comedy show on the last night was pretty weak. We loved the number of pools, hot tubs, and deck chairs! There always seemed to be space, whether you wanted to be in the sun or shade. One pool is open until 11pm and DH and DS almost had it to themselves one evening. Bars and drinks are plentiful by the pool, even starting very early in the AM! We played ping pong and mini golf, but did not do the Flow Rider, climbing wall, or zipline. Once I attempted to get a wristband for the zipline, but their computer system was down. Pretty funny to me that we booked this ship for all those neat things, and DS12 really did not have any interest. If DS16 had been with us, he would have been all over that! But we had a great time regardless! St Maarten: Gorgeous. Loved it. Loved not having to tender into any of the ports. We booked SCUBA for the guys and snorkeling for me in advance directly through Aqua Mania. All the other divers were from our ship and booked through RCL, of course paying more than we did for direct. Though we started walking to the location and it wasn’t far from the port, DH was carrying over 40 pounds of SCUBA gear so when we were offered a $2 per head shared van ride toward town, we took it. (Rides back to the ship closer to All Aboard time were offered at $3 a head.) Both excursions were great with great boat captains! We then ate lunch right next door at Chesterfield’s and shopped at the Amsterdam Cheese shop. The dive shop let us store our gear there and we walked into town. Picked up some tchotchkes from one of the numerous souvenir shops but our main mission was to get to the pharmacy, where DH had arranged in advance to purchase his diabetes meds with his U.S. prescription. Now that he has been there in person and presented an original Rx, he is able to set up monthly mail order. $90 a month vs. $460 a month for the same exact meds. Don’t even get me started. So happy that we were able to do this while on the island. More $$$ for future vacations! Just putting it out there for those who have heard of doing this and are maybe nervous about it. We picked up our gear from the dive shop and DH hopped a cab back to the ship with the gear. DS and I walked back and it started pouring rain. We were just laughing about it because we had such a great day in port. Yea St Maarten! San Juan: The port visit was just for the morning. We walked up the hill along with everyone else to the fort, paid the small fee for entry, and had a blast exploring! We could have spent more time there, but we were getting hungry so we walked into town and picked a cheesy tourist place for lunch. True story: we know one person who lives in Puerto Rico, a college roommate of DH’s. We tried to get in touch with him before we left to let him know we would be in San Juan for a day, to no avail. We’re sitting there in the restaurant window seat, windows open, and roommate pops his head in and yells out our last name! He just happened to be walking down the street to run a work errand. We hadn’t seen him since our wedding 22 years ago. Absolute divine intervention! He joined us for lunch, then bought us coffee at a café, and walked us back to the ship. People, you just can’t make this stuff up! So obviously, we’ll always remember our half a day in San Juan! Labadee: Fantastic private beach experience! DS and I booked in advance for a combo Arawak Aqua Park and Dragon Tail coaster ticket. No plans beyond that other than to enjoy the beach and the lunch. Based on research before we left, we boarded a tram to Columbus Cove because we heard it was not too crowded. When we arrived only about half the seats were occupied. We tipped the nice staff person who guided us to our chairs and set up shop. Snorkeling commenced and I did not think I would get my son out of the water for lunch or our 2:00 water park time. The lunch was better than the food on the ship because the hamburgers were grilled over flame. During our time on the water park inflatables it poured rain on and off. We didn’t much care because we were already wet and DH was back at the lounges to throw towels over our stuff. We chuckled as people packed up and ran to the tram stop. They shouldn’t have left, as the sun appeared again. About an hour before All Aboard we packed up so that DS and I could use our coaster tickets. When I asked a staff person which tram to take to get to Adrenaline Beach he radioed someone and they said that the coaster was closed due to a malfunction. A little bummer, but we still had a great day on Labadee! That evening I went to Guest Services and politely asked if we could have a refund on our unused coaster tickets. She issued a refund to our account right away. Point: RCL. This is so silly, but one thing we did not like was having the day of the week on the floor of each elevator, changing daily. I cruise specifically so that I can lose track of time and everything else. But on the last night DS stayed up until midnight thinking that they automatically change right at 12:00. He went onto an elevator in his PJ’s, spa slippers, and lanyard and was very disappointed to not see the day flip over right at that moment. In the end, it was a pretty funny memory from the trip! The crew, as always, works their tails off to give us passengers a wonderful vacation experience. RCL was no different. Tip often and tip generously. Seriously. We always enjoy speaking to crew members and finding out where they are from and a little bit about them. DH always asks when their contract is up and invariably a huge smile crosses their face. Answers like “In four weeks I go home for three months.” We celebrate with them. And tip them. Generously. Soon after returning, we booked the newer MSC Seaside for next fall break for an almost identical Eastern itinerary. We were able to get a ‘Super Family’ which is two connecting balcony staterooms. DS16 will be back from his year abroad and having two cabins will be a luxury for us, though the price was exactly right for that sailing! Would I recommend RCL to others? Yes I would. Every line has its plusses and minuses; there is no perfect cruise. We always enjoy the people we meet, the plentiful food, and the great ports we get to visit. A day cruisin’ sure beats a day workin’!