My 23 year old and daughter and I enjoyed our cruise on the Brilliance. Embarking in Civitavecchia was easy. We took the train from Rome and upon arriving walked the very short distance to the port entry where the free shuttle bus (marked Brilliance of the Seas) picked us up and dropped us off at the terminal. We got through the line in about 5 minutes as it was already 2:30 pm and most people had long since boarded. There were cool drinks and cookies at the terminal for us, nice touch.
The Brilliance is a lovely ship. Having only sailed Freedom and Voyager class ships (and loved them both), I was wondering if I'd like the smaller Brilliance. No worries! I thought I'd miss the grand promenade but I didn't. The parties held in the Centrum were every bit as much fun and as lively as what we enjoyed on our other RCI cruises. The Quest was just as hilarious in the smaller Colony Club.
We liked our cabin. If you look up our cabin, you will see that it does indeed have an obstruction from the window washing equipment. However, you don't even notice it after a day or two. We certainly appreciated the oversize balcony! Our cabin was in fine shape and our steward, Reynaldo, took excellent care of us. This was our first experience with a cloth shower curtain but it turned out not to be an issue. I prefer a glass enclosure but I can't say that I was ever "attacked" by the curtain... Our closet and drawer storage was more than adequate and there were plenty of hangers.
We had late dining at a table for 10. We hit a home run in that we ended up with the most fabulous dining companions ever! I usually cruise with my husband and in-laws so this was the first time I'd ever been on a table with people I hadn't met before. It turned out to be a joy. All of us became fast friends and I don't think I will ever go back to my previous dining arrangement. We had so much fun at dinner comparing notes on what we'd all done during the day, talking about the next day's excursions, etc. We were very fortunate with our waiters, too. Anthony and Rustam were personable and competent. By day 3 I took to asking Anthony what his recommendation was for the best choice of entree and he never failed me. We all ate well during our cruise. Was it 4 star dining? No, it was not, but it was very good and nicely presented and delivered. I thought all the beef entrees were particularly notable--cooked exactly to my specifications (rare, which is hard to do as chefs always assume that you really don't mean it, and overcook the meat).
The ship facilities were wonderful. We loved the salt water heated pool in the Solarium and the poolside bar was pretty good, too. Nice atmosphere there. Loved the spa (book yourself a relaxing facial; you won't regret it~). Loved the Seaview Cafe and wished it were open more hours. The staff is really nice and the outdoor dining is a real treat. We appreciated the pool tables and chess tables we found in the Colony Club. The piano player in the Schooner Bar did a great job and worked well with her audience. We danced the night away in the disco up on the top deck. The DJ will take your requests and the dance floor was almost always full of people having a good time.
Now to one area where the Brilliance fell short. When we were on the Independence, we went to some really interesting lecture series on the sea days. No such offerings on this cruise, which disappointed us. Why no enrichment lectures?? On the Indy these lectures were packed so there is definitely an appreciation for them! Also, the production shows were miserable. The Royal Caribbean dancers and singers on the Brilliance operate at a amateurish high school level. I had given my daughter a glowing report of all the great shows we'd seen on our previous RCI cruises and she was looking forward to seeing some fabulous entertainment on her first cruise. I was embarrassed by the pitiful efforts we were subjected to. The Brilliance needs to step it up a notch. Make that many notches...
I have mentioned that I took my 23 year old daughter on this cruise. She was worried that she would not meet any people her age and that she wouldn't have as much fun on a cruise as her father and I do. Not true! On the 3rd night she met a bunch of young adults during the open air pool deck dance party and after that she was all set. She made plenty of friends and now she, like her father and me, is hooked on cruising! She finally "gets it."
So in summary, we had a great time. The staff on the Brilliance is friendly, professional, and competent. They made sure that we had a relaxing cruise. High marks there. We ate in the MDR, Windjammer, and SeaView Cafe and were pleased with it all. We liked the amenities and found that smaller ships are every bit as nice as bigger ships. If it weren't for the entertainment offerings which we found lacking, we'd give our cruise top stars all around.