Brilliance on the Brilliance....
Sail Date: November 16, 2013
Ship: Brilliance of the Seas
Cabin Type: Balcony
Traveled As: Couple
Reviewed: 5 years ago
This was our second cruise aboard a Royal Caribbean vessel and our 10th overall. Having sailed previously on lines such as Carnival, Princess, Norwegian and Celebrity, we were expecting a "WOW" from RCCL that we really didn't feel we had gotten from our Jewel of the Seas cruise earlier in May of this year. We did get the "WOW" this time.
PARKING: Since we are lucky enough to live within 30 minutes drive to the port, we parked our car at a lot about 1 mile from the port and saved about 50%. The problem we had was that there were only two shuttle vans running and there were two ships in port this day. A Carnival ship was late disembarking it's passengers which really slowed down the transfer process from the lot to the Port. We waited about one hour with other sailing passengers before we were able to get on a shuttle to the Port.
EMBARKATION: After so many cruises, I had always thought that the earlier you get to the port, the faster you board the ship. I am beginning to believe that everyone else has the same idea. When we arrived at the port of Tampa at about 12pm, the line was long yet moved very quickly as there were many check-in personnel so it took about 45 minutes before we actually were able to board. My point, get there when you can as long it is 90 minutes prior to sailing or you'll be waving goodbye to the rest of us. PLEASE remember to have all of your necessary documents at the ready when you arrive at the port for check-in. Most of the delays were caused by passengers that forgot to fill something out or couldn't remember which credit card they used when doing the online check-in process.
The BRILLIANCE: The ship had undergone a multi-million dollar refurbishment a few months earlier and added upgrades and enhancements to the ship which were very noticeable. I just couldn't understand why it didn't seem much emphasis was put into upgrading the cabin deco. The shower stall is very small and the curtain seemed to be as old as the ship itself. If you dropped the soap in the shower, you actually had to step out of the shower to pick it up. The shower curtain did nothing to prevent water from soaking the bathroom floor. Also, the other lines I have sailed with offer a basic amenities basket that has hand soap, lotion, shampoo etc. RCCL does not so make sure to bring your own. The cabin was always kept clean and stocked. We chose a balcony cabin as we usually do and I would recommend it. The ship sails very smooth and we didn't come across anyone that seemed to be experiencing motion (sea) sickness.
DINING: We opted for "My Time Dining" which worked for us, but really don't understand why if it's "My Time", why RCCL wants you to designate a time you plan to be wanting to eat! The good thing about MTD is that because we picked a time for each day, we never had to wait to be seated. Those that didn't pick a time prior to sailing, did have a wait if they showed up at the busy times in the diningroom. The Windjammer buffet was excellent! Food was always hot, tasty and was always being rotated with fresh items. We were told Hotel Manager that the Brilliance's Windjammer buffet was number one for the previous 3 months on that class of ship. And it showed. Cabin (room) service was always ontime and the food hot and tasty.
ENTERTAINMENT / SHOWS: Were not big show goers when cruising so I can't comment on the theater shows BUT, if you sail the Brilliance, be sure to see ALL the shows they do in the Centrum. The airel acts from 13 decks up are amazing!! Just try to get there early (at least one hour prior) if you want to view the show from the main deck or you'll have to view the show from any one of the decks above that look down into the Centrum. Shows and times are indicated in your in cabin information letter you receive daily.
ITINERARY: We visited Key West, Isla Roatan, Cozumel and Grand Cayman. All ports were good but Key West is starting to bore me. Just too "touristy" but great for bar hopping if that's your thing. Loved the other three!!
DISEMBARKATION: Disembarkation day is never a happy day on a cruise. RCCL did well in disembarking all the passengers in a timely manner. We were off the ship at 7:30am.
I would definitely sail the Brilliance again. I am also impressed with how RCCL is doing all it can and spending on maintaining it's older ships. Next cruise, The Enchantment of the Seas in December 2014.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
Make sure not to miss the aerial shows in the Centrum.