Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Allure wrap up!

So here we are, finally at the end of this marathon trip report! I wanted to just sort of wrap it up with some final thoughts on our experience overall....

If you've followed along in my past blog reviews, you can probably tell that we don't really have any particular loyalty to one particular cruise line. We tend to sail based on itinerary or go when there's a promotion that works best for our family. We ended up on the Allure because way back was "the" ship to want to be on! After we sailed on the Epic, we really wanted to try another big ship and see what we thought. And then suddenly this great deal came up and we were booked! I kept saying that we weren't sailing for the itinerary, it was all about the ship. I honestly had no interest in the ports - Jamaica, I felt we could take it or leave it. Labadee - in the past we haven't really been beach type of cruisers, so sure, maybe it would be fine, maybe...but Cozumel - I do love Cozumel! So the ship was our focus! 

Then in the meantime, the kids and I sailed on the Norwegian, Breakaway and wow, we LOVED it! We had such a great time! We loved that ship! And I started to wonder if the Allure would live up to that ship? The Breakaway had the ropes course and the slides and the entertainment was great! The dining options were fantastic! We sailed to Bermuda, which blew me away! How could the Allure compare? 

So, the time was getting near and I was scrambling to come up with things to do in each port...finally I got to surprise the kids with the big trip announcement at Christmas and they could be in on the planning and it all started to be real!

And then it was time to sail! Walking on board we were totally wowed by the size alone! Sure, you do feel like you're inside a shopping mall - but it's one pretty amazing ship! We weren't thrilled with the buffet at all though. We went there for lunch that first day and were totally underwhelmed. Same with breakfast the next morning and I think we tried the buffet maybe one more time. Of all of the food venues, this was our least favorite. And probably of all of the ships we've sailed on, the buffet here was also our least favorite. But, not to worry because we never went hungry! There were so many other places we could eat! Places to eat at no charge for breakfast or lunch. We had no problem.

The pools - with 5000+ people on board, sure, there were not many open chairs, but I honestly don't think it ever felt over crowded. I think the whole pool area with the multiple pools and the pool decks was a great layout. The size of the pools even, for a cruise ship- great! We're not big fans of sea days but on this ship, we never felt like there was a lack of things to do. Be it time at the pool or our scavenger hunts or ice skating or who knows what!

Yet, that being said, on the flip side, the nightly entertainment felt lacking to me. Sure, there was always that "one" big show - but other than that, it often felt like there wasn't always something going on. I'm used to more Comedy shows that aren't always 18+, or for example, on the Breakaway the jazz or dueling pianos, or there's almost always some type of entertainment in their atrium. Here, if you weren't at a show, or in a bar - then what? Well, we walked around aimlessly. Not always a bad thing - but we did feel something was missing a bit.

And that brings me to something else - the teen club. Alex has always loved the teen clubs since he's been old enough to be a part of them. So, at least 4, maybe 5 cruises. Megan has liked the older kid clubs at times, and even on our last cruise - on Celebrity with only 12 teens on board the cruise they enjoyed the teen club. Here on the Allure, they went to the meet & greet night, tried to fit in. Then the next day showed up for what they thought would be scheduled activities. Those activities never happened. Same thing next time they showed up. So, they eventually just stopped going. They didn't want to go to just sit around in a closed in room with a bunch of kids they didn't know "hanging" out - when they could be outside, even if it meant being with their parents. If there would have been the games, or scavenger hunts, or activities going on, they definitely would have participated. But there wasn't. That probably was the biggest disappointment for the kids. On a typical cruise, after dinner, the kids, especially Alex - would go to the teen club and come back to the cabin at curfew - he would make new friends and have a blast. Megan may or may not - she likes the shows so it depends on what would be going on on what she'd do. But this cruise - Alex often just went back to the cabin and watched tv because each time he went to the teen club at night - they were just sitting around talking. 

The ports.....this was probably the most pleasant surprise for me. Labadee - we loved. I can't express just how much we enjoyed this day! I honestly would probably take a cruise just specifically to visit Labadee again! I'm not sure that I would get another cabana, but it was as close to a perfect beach day as one could have had. If only the wave runners wouldn't have been cancelled because of high winds!

Jamaica - Keith and I have been to Jamaica a few times in the past and it's never been one of my "must go back to with the kids" vacations. It's just ok to me. Not great, not bad, just ok. But our day at the Blue Hole and river tubing was so unique! Being in such a small group made it so nice and not doing something like Dunn's River Falls, which Keith and I have done before and really found not really all that enjoyable because of the crowds....made this trip so memorable!

Cozumel - well, one word - Manatees! What an experience! I just love Mexico, especially the Riviera Maya and Cozumel areas. No complaints about our day there. Loved Chankanaab and hope to return!

We had a really great cabin steward and had no complaints about either of our cabins. The service on the Allure was very complaints there at all.

I think the Allure has such a unique feel, with the Boardwalk and Central Park - it's definitely a ship that I'm so glad to have sailed! I'm eyeing the Harmony of the Seas, taking the best of the Allure but adding slides and more!  This vacation ranks up there with the best of the best!  Thanks for reading along!

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