Just back from a back to back cruise on Brilliance covering Christmas and New Year.
The ship looked great with a Christmas tree, lots of decorations and ginger bread houses.
We've sailed on brilliance before and whilst it is an older ship the atmosphere is fantastic.
Some evidence of wear but nothing major that we saw. The ship is going into dry dock in spring but all the talk we heard was of renovations to the public areas.
Embarkation and disembarkation - we checked in quickly about 2 pm but then had to queue for 90 mins in the heat to get on board. Staff said delays were caused by immigration. Change over day was good. We attended a meeting the night before and were given out sea pass and " guest in transit passes". We left the ship about 9.30 with no delays but noticed queues at immigration. Our disembarkation day was very bad . We were due to leave the ship at 10 - 10.15 but didn't clear the port until 12.30 and there were people behind us. For quite a while only citizens of US were being allowed off the ship. We probably wouldn't sail from this port again.
Cabin - this was fine . We had cabin 9072 a family cabin with a sofa bed. Cabin is old style, air con probably not as efficient as on a new ship and shower curtain rather than door. Our cabin steward had just been promoted from the laundry and we experienced a few problems in the beginning but things improved over the 2 weeks.
Food - we had my time dining and had the same table and dining team every night. Food was fine with a special menu for Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. Christmas Day good, New Year's Eve less so although party atmosphere good with party hats , rattles etc.
We found the windjammer to be fine and never had any problems finding a table.
St Thomas. We got a taxi to Blackbeard's castle but unfortunately closed so taxi driver dropped us off in town where we did a spot of shopping. Checked out the Big Kahuna rum shop but ended up in Gladys's for coffee. Then walked back to the ship via the marina which is very stylish.
Sea day and Christmas Eve - lovely evening. Platters tribute band who were quite good then carols in the atrium followed by a balloon drop.
St Lucia and Christmas Day. We got a taxi to Reduit beach. Everyone in the taxi had to agree a return time which we managed quite easily. Later Father Christmas joined the ship n a lifeboat and distributed gifts to children in the atrium.
Guadeloupe - we were greater by a steel band. We explored point a pitre including the cathedral and then returned to the ship. We wanted to like this port as we'd read lots of criticism but it was very neglected. We didn't meet many people who had enjoyed their excursions and noted that the pool deck was busy very early.
That evening we saw the Unexpected boys a Frankie Valli tribute band who were good.
Antigua - we'd privately booked with Segways of Antigua which was excellent. Ate at Hemingway's for lunch which was mediocre.
St Croix. We bought day passes for Sandcastle on the Beach which was lovely. Very good restaurant with fantastic views attached to the hotel.
San Juan. We got a taxi to San Cristobal Fort and then travelled on the free shuttle bus for a while. We tried to have lunch at barrachino's but it was very busy.
Tortola - we used an RCI trip to the Virgin Gorda Baths. The catamaran trip was lovely. Baths were interesting but very busy .
St Maarten - New Years Eve. we used water taxi into phillipsburg. Did a spot of shopping and then spent a few hours on Great Bay beach. Lovely beach which was very quiet. Had lunch at the Blue Bitch on a veranda with lovely views of the bay and live music outside.
The ship left at 5 pm but anchored in the bay to enable us to watch the islands firework display at midnight which was fantastic. Lovely party atmosphere on the ship and fantastic way to welcome the New Year.
St Kitts and New Years Day. Husband and son went on a ships trip to zip wire which we loved. We all then went into town as there was meant to be a carnival. Lots of opportunities to buy food and drink but we didn't catch the parade.
Guadeloupe - stayed on the ship.
Barbados - we'd booked cool runnings prior to leaving home. We were met at the dock and transported to the boat. This was a fantastic day out which we could really recommend.
We had a fantastic holiday on Brilliance. It's a great ship and all the crew we met were friendly and helpful.