11 Night Panama Canal Holiday (Miami Roundtrip) Sail Date: December 22, 2006 Ship: Brilliance of the Seas Cabin Type: Oceanview Traveled As: Couple Reviewed: 10 years ago
This was our second Royal Caribbean Cruise, but our 5th cruise this year. We have previously sailed 7 times on Carnival and once on NCL. We really enjoyed the Royal Caribbean experience and the ship in general. Everything was slightly better than Carnival from the appearance of the ship to the decorations to the activities to the shows. We chose this voyage because it was a departure from the standard 7 day Eastern Caribbean. The experience of navigating the Panama Canal was well worth the trip.
Food and Dining
3 out of 5
This is hard because the food itself was actually very good. It was the selection that caused me to rate this as good instead of excellent. Carnival has an executive chef that made the menu and it shows. On RCL, we never really craved any menu items. I felt that on Carnival, we looked forward to reading the menu every day because there was so much to offer. On RCL, we decided not to look because we actually found ourselves going to the buffet on certain occasions instead of the dining room because we found nothing that interested us. We did also visit the two specialty restaurants on board which were very good.
5 out of 5
The quality of the shows and performers were much better than what we had seen in the past on Carnival. Instead of two singers, there were 4. They had some great headliners. What really impressed us was the way that RCL celebrated Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years. They did well to theme the public areas, theme the food choices, provide themed shows, and even religious services. New Year's Eve was a blast with music, confetti, balloons, and free champagne. In terms of activities, there was plenty to do, but we couldn't do it all because it seemed there were always schedule conflicts. We spent a lot of time at the Art Auctions and shopping talks. We loved the mystery dinner theater. I would have liked to go to some of the instructional activities like folding napkins, making towel animals, wine tasting, dancing, playing piano, etc.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
The ship's staff were very nice and helpful. Our only complaint is that they didn't enforce the rules. We saw children with diapers in the adult pool and saw people saving seats but the staff didn't seem to do anything about it.
5 out of 5
We really liked the ship. It was easy to get around. You never had to go upstairs to get around an area of the ship. It was smaller than other ships we had cruised before, but not too small. We thought the layout of the Windjammer (Buffet) was excellent. In Carnival we never went to the buffet because there were always lines just to get one item. At RCL, they organized it better. The ship was always clean and had beautiful decor of rich woods and nice art. The one complaint is that the jogging trail was shared with the upper pool deck sitting area and was hard to really run laps. Our favorite spot on the ship was the Adult Solarium which was an indoor pool area with nice cushioned seats.
Cabin / Stateroom
3 out of 5
We had a large ocean view state room on the 4th floor. We liked the size of the room, the decor, and the condition. The bed was not very comfortable, but our state room attendant brought us an egg crate cushion which made it more comfortable. RCL will be replacing beds and bedding to be more in line with Carnival's dream bed this year. We also didn't get the bathroom toiletry trials like we got in Carnival. We are used to little toothpastes, trial size aspirin, etc.
We had been to the Grand Cayman before on another RCL ship so we didn't spend that much time doing tourist activities. Because we arrived on a Sunday, many of the shops were closed. This is a good shopping or beach port.
Don't Miss: Shopping. Several large name brand duty free opportunities.
This was a very dirty part of Costa Rica and there is nothing to see in Puerto Limon. Book a tour if you have a chance. We were booked on a tour that was cancelled for lack of interest. The problem is that the good parts are hours away so every tour was about 9 hours with 6 hours of roundtrip travel.
Don't Miss: Take a tour. You can miss the port city if you want.
Again, this is a mixed rating because the navigation of the Panama Canal was the highlight of our trip, yet the port itself is a waste of time. We were told before hand that it was just a warehouse with an indoor flea market of products from China. We wanted to get off anyway because we had been on the ship for several days without being on land. If you need some souveniers, it might be a good place to pick up some cheap gifts. This could be anywhere in the world since you never step outside so don't feel you are missing anything if you don't make it off the ship.
Don't Miss: Cheap souveniers.
We absolutely love Aruba. It is our favorite Caribbean Island. It is clean, has great beaches, great restaurants, great shopping. Everything is just great. You'll want to do some research on Aruba before you go because it is safe and easy to tour on your own without paying for a tour guide. There is the Aruba Aloe Factory, Palm Beach, Eagle Beach, the natural bridge. There are also some really nice restaurants like Flying Fish, Lighthouse, and El Goucho.
Don't Miss: Sunset Cruise, Palm Beach High Rise Hotels, Shopping, Aloe Factory
Pros: Panama Canal, Aruba, Casino, Art Auction, Mystery Dinner Theater, Shows, Holiday, Solarium
Cons: Selection of dining room food, Costa Rica, Rough Waters, Jogging trail
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