I have no cruise control. They just seem to book themselves!
"Country Cruise Charter Jan 14-19"
"Cruise with Friends"
Brilliance of the Seas is one of the smaller ships in the fleet, but she is very well layed out and all venues are easy to get to.
This was my second time on Brilliance of the Seas - just over a year apart. This time was a short 4 night getaway and "girls cruise" with my daughter. We booked an Inside Guarantee and were assigned a cabin in Deck 2 which is a nice quiet and quaint deck with only about a dozen cabins total. Don't hesitate to book on Deck 2 - all the cabins are mid ship and there is very little movement.
The ship itself has been revitalized with the additions of Izumi, Park Cafe, Rita's and Chef's Table. We did enjoy lunch at Izumi and the roast beef sandwiches and salads at Park Cafe were excellent. The MDR food and service was very good to excellent. Really like the leg of lamb on the last night. Our waiter and assistant waiter did an exceptional job and the service was fast and food well presented.
There were 2 production shows and 2 headliner shows and one late night comedy show. Plenty of activities to keep busy from the Quest to Trivia as well as casino and pool.
There is also an indoor Cinema and pool side screen. The Colony Club is a nice additional venue and if you like to play pool, there are pool tables on board.
Brilliance packs a lot of punch into a small package!
Love this ship!!!
Sailed on Vision to a 10 night southern itinerary to the A-B-C Islands and Key West and Grand Cayman the first week of December 2015 out of Tampa.
Vision is an older and smaller ship but has had some nice additions with the recent refurbishment. There is a Park Cafe, Izumi, Giovanni's Table and Chef's Table as well as Chops Steakhouse. We had dinner at Izumi one evening and it was very good and the lunch at Chops was good also. The food in the MDR was disappointing and not up to normal RCI standards. It was only good at best and the time to get it was painfully slow. Our servers however did an excellent job.
There were only 2 production shows, which is surprising for a 10 night cruise. The headliner shows were good, but there was no late night comedy at all and not much entertainment after 11pm. The Quest game show was fun as always.
Enjoyed the movies on the big screen. Would like to see popcorn and blankets and hot chocolate offered (like some other cruiselines).
Really enjoyed the ports of call we'd not visited before: Bonaire, Aruba and Curacao. Key West was a short stop and Grand Cayman was fun even though we'd been there several times before.
Overall Vision is a very beautiful ship with lots of nice public spaces.
The Ports of Call. I will focus on the A-B-C Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.
Aruba: "One Happy Island” We did an excursion with Trikes Aruba. We had the orange bike and after a short driving lesson, we set off on the roads of Aruba. (Que the Steppenwolf music.....) Our tour took us to about 75% of the island and 95% of the highlights. We stopped at the California Lighthouse. We then drove to the Alto Vista Chapel where there was a Pina Colada (made with fresh coconut and pineapple juice) food truck set up. On the way to the Gold Mill Ruins, we drove along the west coast and past several beaches including Eagle, Palm and Arashi (which we planned to take transport back to once the Trikes tour was over). At the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins, we saw hundreds of cairns (man-made rock formations) on the beach. There were also some very rough waves crashing onto the rocks. Not safe for swimming although our tour guide told us that some (crazy) locals do partake in the challenge. This was the only area that the Trikes were able to drive off road. Here we saw the ATV’s and jeep tours stopping as well to visit the ruins. There was also a food truck set up here selling beverages and snacks. The last stop was the Casaberi Rock Formation. From the top, there is a breathtaking view of Aruba although it is very windy. Our Trikes were the highlight of stop at the Casaberi Rock Formation. Guests on other tours were coming over and taking pictures of the Trikes. We felt like rock stars when they found out that we were riding them! It was an experience we will never forget.
Bonaire: The Woodwind crew of Dee, the captain, underwater photographer and assistant snorkler were fantastic. The provided us with caps and shirts and wetsuits to wear. They also had a full face over mask that allowed me to breath from my nose and mouth and also had an attached snorkel. We went to 2 snorkel spots in the Bonaire Marine Park and spent approximately 45 minutes “drift” snorkeling at each site. We saw turtles and some amazing schools of fish. When we were finished with snorkeling, we were served a wonderful Thai recipe lunch of noodles, chicken and vegetables along with beverages of our choice including beer and rum punch. We were even served dessert. One of the BEST excursions we have ever done. Definitely the BEST snorkeling!!!
Curacao: We reserved a private tour with Gaby of Sand & Stilettos. She sent us a brief questionnaire so that she could build a tour based on our interests. As a local she knew the best places to see which we would not have seen or been able to spend as much time as we did had we been on a cruise ship tour. We visited the northern most tip of Curacao at Shete Boka National Park. We saw amazing crashing waves and a very cool cave and there were hundreds of man-made rock formations called cairns all over the place! We stopped for a photo op at Playa Kenepa - the most photographed beaches in Curacao. Gaby then took us to the Karakter Curacao Restaurant for lunch. We had the daily special which was a whole lionfish! It was fantastic and served with seasonal veggies. The Karakter was right on the beach and there were seating areas under papalas on the beach and also in the open air restaurant. The water was a bit rough and rocky so make sure to have water shoes! On the drive back to Willemstad, we drove over the Queen Juliana Bridge (apparently the highest in the Caribbean) which divides Willemstad into the Punda and Otrobanda districts. We were dropped off in downtown Willemstad near the Riff Fort which has shops and restaurants and we had to walk through it to get back to the ship. Before heading back however, we walked across the Queen Emma pontoon bridge (which swings open sideways to let ships pass) to the Punda district. It was late in the day, so many of shops were closing. We did get to see the floating market where ships make the trip from Venezuela, bringing fresh fruit and produce to the island for locals and tourists. We ended our day in Curcao with drinks and dinner at the Gouverneur. We sat outside on the balcony and had a fantastic view of the Punda and the Queen Emma Bridge as night fell on the beautiful island of Curacao. Gaby gave us a great first impression of her beautiful and friendly island and we can't wait to come back again someday soon!
This was Cruise #20 for us and it did not dissapoint!
Embarkation was fast, efficient & very smooth. Took the 10:30am shuttle from the hotel to the cruise port. The ship was ready for passengers and we were first in line for Deck 8. Were told stateroom would be ready about 1:30. Got through embarkation process, pictures, etc and were onboard by 11:15. Were greeted with choice of mimosa or champagne. Enjoyed a coffee drink in Café El Bachio. Went down to guest services and had Xpress Pass punched and got a non-alcoholic drink from bar.
Lunch - Headed up for lunch at Oceanview Café. Already crowded with people, but found a seat near window. Good selection of foods.
Stateroom 8106 - About 1:15 it was announced that our staterooms were ready. Went to Deck 8 forward, but could not find our cabin. It was hidden behind an unmarked door and took us about 30 minutes to get assistance. Would have been nice to advise us of the hidden location.
Stateroom was at very front of the ship overlooking the heliport. It was a nice elongated room and had a full size sofa in sitting area. Closet was standard size with additional storage over the bed.
Main Dining Room - We had 6 o’clock seating in MDR at Table 149. It was a table for 4 near the window. Our Waiter, Rolando, and Assistant Waiter, Juan, were fantastic! Rolando made excellent dessert suggestions for me. The food was excellent. Some of the best MDR food I’ve ever had on a cruise. I especially enjoyed the SP (Spa) selections which were more healthy alternatives. The roast pork with red cabbage was wonderful. The roasted chicken on the last night was fabulous. The lobster on lobster night was some of the best I’ve ever had. It was prepared wonderfully and not the ordinary way with some butter to dip it it. The Beef Wellington which also was fabulous.
Murano - We ate at Murano one night and it was worth every penny. We had the chateaubriand and TWO lobster dinners. However, we did not realize that the lobster dinners in Murano were a double order of lobster. They were prepared tableside sautéed with cream and butter and spices. Just delicious. BEST lobster I ever ate. The Chataubriand was cooked perfect medium rare and sliced table side. We also had some nice but not over abundance of veggies with it. For the appetizer, I had the goat cheese suffle and it was fabulous. We were much too full for dessert, but they brought us some small just-right bites. We also had an amuse bouche before dinner. The service in Murano was also fabulous and dinner did not take overly long as it sometimes does in specialty restaurants.
What I would have like to have seen or done on the ship, but was not available:The Sea Day Brunch Buffet has been taken away Sin City Comedy Show is also no more. Really enjoyed the Navigation under the Stars Celebrity Life on Silhouette in 2013.
Ports of Call:
Grand Cayman – Did the Food and History Walking Tour with Alison – our guide. Visited 6 food stops and saw some interesting historical places. The Pepper Jelly was the most unusual tasting. The fish at Guy Harvey’s was wonderful. The last stop was an Italian restaurant and was a pasta dish.
Cartagena, Columbia - Cartagena was fabulous! I was on deck at 5:30 am and experienced the pre-dawn sailing into the city. We were at the very front of the ship, and the markers looked like runway lights!
Loved the tour with Martin Rosales, Cartagena Tour Guide. There were only four of us on the tour. We traveled the busy streets in very nice van with great air conditioning. Our driver, Jan, did an excellent job of maneuvering the city streets. Martin showed us the Manga District, the small fortress Bocachica, we climbed Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, saw the city below from La Popa, visited La Bovedas, went to the Gold Museum and the Emerald Museum. We then went inside the walled city, saw the cathedral but did not go inside. We drove back to our ship along the shore and saw the beach. It was a very informative tour and we were able to see a lot of the sights in a very small amount of time. Martin was a very good guide and shared lots of information about Cartagena and Columbia. Highly recommend taking this tour if you want to see the inside of the fort as most tours did not go inside.
Colon, Panama - was one of my favorite ports. There were so many ships when we docked in Colon, Panama - all waiting to go through the canal. We did a Panama City Tour with Almiza Tours. Our tour guide was Alex. We drove from Colon through the rainforest and over the Bridge of Americas to the Pacific side of the Panama Canal. The trip by bus took only about an hour. We went to the Miraflor Locks Visitor Center and saw ships go through from the Pacific side. We then drove to the Causeway, saw ships on the canal and Panama City in the distance. Did approximately a 40 minute walk through old Panama City which excellent views of the Centennial Bridge. Then we drove past some of the modern buildings of new Panama City before heading back to the ship. Alex also made time for a quick stop for lunch once we reached Panama City.
In Costa Rica, we did the Veragua Rainforest and Tortoguera Canals excursion through Celebrity. The bus trip was approximately 1.5 hours both ways. Our tour guide was Norman. The boat on the canals broke and we had to switch boats. When we got to the rainforest, they split us into two groups - those who wanted to hike the 300 plus steps to see the waterfall and those who didn't. It was worth the hike! Lunch was included and it was very good (rice, beans, chicken, veggies). The only disappointment was that the aerial tram ride was only about 10 minutes and canal boat ride was also very short. Not much wildlife to be seen either. This is where the zip lining is and it looked like a lot of fun! We picked up two small bags of coffee for $5 in one of the shops next to the ship.
Belize was a bust. Because of the tendering fiasco, we missed our Shark Ray Alley and Rays snorkeling excursion. We then decided to go on a cave tubing excursion and the van had a blowout halfway there! We asked the driver to take us back and we ended up doing a bit of shopping and having some drinks. Cozumel was a relaxing beach day and massage at Nachi Cocum resort. A great way to end a great cruise! Never upgraded to the Premium package. Found that most (not on the menus) drinks were included with the Classic. Even mudslides and Long Island Ice Teas! Shout out to bartenders, Captain Jack Sparrow at the Cafe al Bachio and almost every bar on the ship and Rosemary from the Casino bar who made the most amazing mudslides! As well as to Cruise Director, Patty!
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