We have now finished our first cruise. It was with the Allure, 7 nights going to St. Thomas, San Juan and Coco Cay. We were a family of four (kids 6 and 4), travelling in a JS. We had the drink package, Chops+1 and the Voom Surf+Stream for 4 devices. We are from Europe, Finland to be more precise. That was a bit of background to the following 3 positives, 3 neutrals and 3 negatives that I want to list below.
The quality of the entertainment was high. Mamma Mia and the aquashow were fantastic, and I also listened to the guitar player in the pub, as well as the jazz and guitar in Central Park. The only negative was the piano player in Schooner. He was probably very good, but since he insisted on letting drunk passengers singing (mostly poorly) instead of him, the end result was bad. Overall, entertainment was a clear positive.
2. The cabin
The Junior Suite was definitely the right choice for us. Spacious cabin and nice balcony. Maybe a large balcony room would be the same, but for us the JS was good.
3. The gym
The gym was very good! A few laps around the track in the morning, followed by a 45 minute session in the gym, finished with a great juice was the perfect start to the morning. Free classes were also arranged. I didn’t participate, but following from the side, they seemed of high quality. I was surprised of this, it hasn’t been mentioned much on this forum.
The neutrals are things that are not good nor bad, but general observations I want to raise.
We had the drink package. I like to drink, so for us it was good value, especially when counting in the juices in the spa, or the freshly squeezed orange juice in the central park cafe. The cocktails were nice, but I would never pay the regular price for them. They weren’t very genearous with the alcohol. Beer selection is bad. Leffe is probably the highlight.
This is very mixed. Chops was by far the best experience. The MDR (my time dining) was a disappointment. The food was of fairly low quality but the most annoying part was the ”entertainment”. Loud parades that really ruined the evenings for us. 150 central park was too upscale for us in terms of ambiance, and food was not good. My lamb and my wife’s duck was very overcooked, despite asking for medium rare. On the other hand, windjammer was surprisingly good during lunch and dinner (breakfast not so good). So all in all I have to consider the food being neutral.
Overall service was ”ok”. There were some stars (Jorge in Chops) but some really poor experiences (one of the bartenders in Schooner, the maitre d at Sabor) as well. Any special requests (e.g. ordering wine in MDR) seemed to cause a lot of problems. I also didn’t appreciate the ”begging of tips” and the requests to give high ratings in the feedback questionnaire. Both are given based on high standard of service, not based on requests. On average the service was adequate.
The negatives are things that I know will cause controversy, or be temporary problems that others may or may not face.
1. Royal Suite Class
In a junior suite, we had something called royal suite class. I also know the JS was ”Sea Level” so the lowest level. To me, that meant no perks whatsoever. We were turned away from the suites security line during embarkation, we were given 8.30pm times for coastal kitchen (too late for our kids), and I did not experience any special service at any time from anyone on board although having the sea pass with a different colour. A bit of misleading advertisement, but I didn’t expect much either. But this shouldn’t be the reason to choose a junior suite.
2. Coco Cay
Please note that South Beach and also the beach next to it, on the north side were closed. This meant there was one beach available (plus the lagoon) for all passengers of this ship. It was super crowded and not a nice, relaxing experience at all. Stupid passengers leaving their food on the beach meant that seagulls were everywhere. The lunch experience at the chill grill was disgusting. Nobody seemed to wash their hands before taking food, seagull s*** on the tables. The pool was cold, and the bar had some quite drunk people. If I wanted something like this, I could go to Tenerife for a third of the price! Splashaway bay was the only positive that I saw with Coco Cay, the kids loved it. The situation probably becomes better when the construction is finished and people can spread over a larger area.
3. Crowds and noice
The Allure is a big ship, which means there are a lot of passengers. This also means that pool areas get very crowded, so much that even our kids didn’t want to swim there very much. I didn’t enter the pool once, as the majority again ignored the request to shower before you enter. In addition, there was too much ”spirit-lifting” in terms of loud music etc. The Solarium, where I went two times in the hope for peace and quiet, was packed with adults who clearly over-enjoyed their drink package. Lesson learned, if we ever go on a cruise again, we should choose a smaller ship and perhaps a cruise line with a different clientele.
So those were our observations. Will we cruise again on Royal Caribbean? Never say never, but I doubt it. If we ever cruise again, we will probably save money for longer and choose something smaller, more exclusive, fitting better our European taste.