Baranclan

Baranclan
Third Mate

Joined: 10/20/2015
1
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3
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Baranclan's Past Cruises

Brilliance of the Seas

October 2015 - 7 Night Canada & New England (Boston Roundtrip) Cruise on Brilliance of the Seas

Not as good as it could be

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.

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Baranclan's Tips

George Town, Grand Cayman - It was fine. We did a bus tour. We didn't get our first, second or third choice. But, the driver was good. Missed a lot of good pictures due to being on the wrong side of the bus. On the return, still didn't get pictures since he took a short cut back to the ship. But, he did not rush us at the stops. We stopped at the Turtle Haven which was fun, then Hell (tourist thing), and got off to do a Semi Submerged Boat ride.
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica - High winds kept us from docking. Which was disappointing since this was a main stop for off ship activities. The ship staff had to scramble to entertain everyone since we were now at sea again.
Princess Cays (Cruise Line Private Island) - We didn't go on shore. It was a tender and there was only beach activities. Friends went on shore and laid in the sun. They said the shore was rocky due to low tide. My brother in law fished and quit after 45 minutes. He was soaked and not catching anything.
Panama Canal (Cruise Into Canal) - Truly wonderful. I was up early and took pictures from my balcony. We were on the port side and it was cool under the balcony. The other side complained it was hot. We then stayed on board. The stop in the lake was too uncomfortable to sit on the balcony, you could cut the air with a knife. When we returned through the locks, we walked around the promenade and took pictures which was enjoyable. People got back on after their excursions and looked wilted.
Cartagena, Colombia - We did a hop on hop off. We have done this in several locations. This did not work. We only had enough time to get on and off at one stop. We chose the Fort. Promptly mobbed by people selling cheap trinkets. The fort was OK, but again, entering the first loop we were approached by more people selling stuff. We then re-boarded the bus. Went around the loop took some pictures. Would have liked to get off for pictures, but there was not enough time left. This is a full day activity to do at your leisure, and you are given half a day.
Caribbean Princess Caribbean Princess - We went for the destination. NOT the Ship. The food it great. The service is great. The beds are great. BUT, it is a small ship. Bring a book or cards because it is difficult to do shipboard activities.
Cozumel, Mexico - We did a jeep tour. Avoid the Chocolate Factory and the Tequila Factory if you can. Or be prepared to say no. The tequila was overpriced and so was the chocolate.
Nassau, Bahamas - It is getting expensive to visit Nassau. We went to the aquarium and it ran us over $40 a person. Drinks are expensive in the Casino - a wine spritzer was $12 for a small glass.
Navigator of the Seas Navigator of the Seas - During the Muster, I was separated from the party - (90 years old). A steward found me on the 5th deck asked for my room key and walked me back to my room on the 10th deck. My son in law found me as I was entering the room. The staff was alert and helpful!
Saint John, New Brunswick - The bar near the dock had unusual appetizers. We had micro brewed beers and had a pleasant break.
Halifax, Nova Scotia - Walking food tour was great. Can't walk easily there, need to take a taxi, it is at least 45 to 1 hr to walk there.
Portland, Maine - We walked around. Don't buy at the candy store on the main drag, it was not very good. We found better candy in Bar Harbor.

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