October 2015 - Brilliance of the Seas to Canada, New England, New York
Overall, it was an enjoyable cruise. We went as an extended family, myself, and my siblings with my elderly father. All of us had Balcony Suites, and our steward was wonderful in every capacity. The cabin was what we expected. There was a bar of soap and shampoo in the shower. The soap dried out my skin and there was no lotion available. We had my time dining. Since we had a group of 10, they set aside our table every day for our use at 5:45. Krisimir and Titania were wonderful. We ate breakfast in the main dining room almost daily as it was easier for our father to do a sit down meal and not have to balance a plate of food. The excursion list was unimpressive. A couple of weeks before leaving, I booked a couple of excursions: one in Bar Harbor and one in Halifax. In Portland, half of our group headed towards Freeport via taxi and did some shopping. First day of the cruise I ordered one of the daily specialty drinks, this was the last one I ordered. I was put off by how much more expensive they have gotten in two years. Each of us was allowed to bring a bottle of wine on the ship. We would meet to have a glass of wine prior to our dinner. Room service was able to bring glasses to the room. I was pestered repeatedly to sign up for the specialty dining in the Solarium on the first cruise day. Dad enjoys beef and we signed up for Chops and Giavanni's. I was told by the person promoting the sale that the ship was receiving a load of lobster from Bar Harbor and serving it in Chops that night. When we arrived and sat down, in Chops I was told it was an extra charge of $21. This is on top of the extra $25 pp for the dining. I could order lobster in the dining hall for $35. Why would I pay extra over and above? No matter how I argued with the server I got no where. The worse part was I was informed in the dining room that they couldn't lie about the special because they would then have to give you a free bottle of wine. Needless to say, we didn't get our lobster, we didn't get our wine, and we walked out of Chops. In addition, the main dining room had lobster tails later in the week. I tried to cancel the Giavanni reservation, and at the door I was promised we would be treated special and it would still be the $17.50 pp. We arrived early, and things started out well. But it got so loud so quickly, I couldn't have a conversation with my father. I had to get out of my seat to talk to him on the other side of the table, then the waiter came by to see what the problem was. It was the longest meal I have ever eaten. The food was good. They put us at such a small table and kept trying to give us plates but no space to place them. I spent every course trying to reduce the number of dishes. Other than the anti-pasta not being very good, the rest of the meal was tasty but way too much for two people. The tiramisu was great, the Cannoli was icky. We had a cannoli from Mike's in Boston that melted in your mouth. This one was lumpy, and tasted stale. My opinion, I tried the specialty dining a couple of times once in Alaska and this cruise and I don't see the benefit of spending extra for it. If anything, it just added stress. I have read over and over the Centrum was loud and not a very good choice of locations for music and activities. The goal according to the RCI website was to give them a central area where activities would take place. In theory that is a great idea, until you try to crowd 100's of people on several floors. You jig and jog to see. The other negative is who wants to book an excursion or ask a question about their bill, or book another cruise, or speak to the Crown and Anchor desk when you can't hear anything they are saying?? Move them to another quieter part of the ship! I swear there are places on the ship that are so hidden they are never used. We did discover the card room. And we utilized it several times. It was a quiet place to sit and play cards, until the music poured in over a speaker from the main dining room and you couldn't think. Overall, I would say the cruise was OK and done well, but there was something off at every level. The ship has seen better days but very clean. RCI is trying to cut expenses, and increase profits but in all the wrong ways.