We had a wonderful time on our July 13, 2012 cruise. Previous reviews have covered many aspects of the Brilliance of the Seas. I found those reviews so helpful I would like to add additional information.
The ship was in fine shape. Sure its 10 years old but still is wonderful. It is scheduled for refurbishment next year. Our two previous cruises within the last year have been on Oceania (Marina) and we knew we are somewhat spoiled, but we felt for the money spent on this cruise and what we saw that it was a wonderful decision to sail Brilliance of the Seas.
We began by spending 2 nights in Amsterdam taking a train from the airport to Central Station which was very easy. Then we walked only a few blocks to our fabulous Marriott Renaissance Hotel. Excellent service at the hotel, and fabulous, not overpriced restaurants just 1 block away for dinner. Van Speyk for Dutch and French flavors and Ritorante Savini for Italian food. We enjoyed exploring the city, visiting the newly renovated Maritime museum (Scheepvaart Museum), canal ride, and to top it off a visit to Ann Frank's house. If going to Ann Frank purchase tickets over the internet early on so you don't have to wait in line.
It cost us 15 euros for a taxi to the port. It is very close but a lot of traffic and would have been a difficult walk. Priority boarding around 12:30 due to Platinum status. People we met on the ship told as they waited 1 Â½ hours to board without priority.
Pros for Brilliance
- Activities and excursion were very punctual. No waiting.
- Service was excellent.
- Specialty restaurants were wonderful.
- Cabin was fine.
- Casino had a very good payout ratio on the slots.
- Breakfast and Lunch (only open 2 days) had a buffet in the center for a quick meal that was good or you could order from the menu and also access the buffet.
- Entertainment on the ship was good.
- Dining room breakfast hours adjusted for early excursion departures.
Cons for Brilliance
- Charges for many things that used to be included like fresh squeezed orange juice.
- Buffet had plenty of fresh food but very crowded for tables and no really good sliced meats, hamburgers etc.
- Dining room only open 2 days for lunch.
- Do not publish a daily sheet with the latest news.
- Cabin in TV was not flat screen and very tiny.
- The interactive room service menu did not work.
- Servers in dining room were waiting on too many people.
We did four excursions and I was satisfied with them even though they were expensive. Royal Caribbean had their act together with very little waiting in the lounge at the designated time to meet for the tour, buses were new and very comfortable, guides were excellent.
Bruge Sightseeing full day with canal ride and lunch. Lunch was served with 3 drinks which could consist of 2 glasses of wine or soda and coffee. Food was at a local restaurant right in the heart of town, turkey with an apricot sauce for the main dish. It did rain off and on and part of the canal ride so had to hold an umbrella to stay dry. The plus was if we hadn't booked an excursion we may have stayed on the ship due to the weather and we would have really missed seeing a wonderful place. We had 2 hours on our own to explore the town after lunch and 1 hour before lunch.
Beaches of Normandy. We might the right choice doing this through the ship. We met another couple that rented a car and never did find their way to the battlefields or cemetery. The tour was excellent. The museum was fascinating. The only negative was the lunch in the museum. Too many people in a banquet room and duck was served that was very small portion and a big line at a too tiny salad bar. It would have been better not to have included lunch and we could have bought our own lunch at the museum in one of the two restaurants.
Flam Railway - Beautiful ride on a nice train. Waffles and strawberrys stop not needed. Too crowded and not good. I didn't like the way we had to line up to catch the train . The day we were there we could have done on our own. If another ship had been in town it would not have worked .
Geiranger Fjord Panorama. One of the best excursions we've ever done. The scenery was beautiful. Tour very well organized and they really covered the area. People from our ship that thought they could book a tour when they got off the ship discovered that they were sold out and missed out on a highlight of the cruise.
They other stops we did on our own and this worked out well. There was a free shuttle in Bergen to the city center which was close to the library which had free internet. We loved exploring the market area and eating in a local restaurant. Paid $52 for two bowls of fish soup for lunch at a local classy restaurant but we wanted to have one meal in a restaurant in Norway and felt it was worth it. Still cheaper than a tour.
We had a plane to catch at 10:50 when we arrived back in Amsterdam so we did the ship transfers which were not expensive ($32 each) and they even delivered our luggage directly to the airport.
This was an experience that we will never forget. The best part was interacting with local people who discussed their grandparents experiences during WWII, and the amazing scenery in Norway. It rained off and on, common for the area creating beautiful waterfalls. Even nicer than what we saw in New Zealand.