I'd like to preference this review by saying a couple things. First, while being our first RCCL cruise, I will say that RCCL lives up to it's reputation as being the perfect cruise line for the novice cruiser. It IS what most people think of when they say "cruise". I am basing that statement on 22 previous cruises on eight lines. So please take the observations I have make with the knowledge that I am being REALLY picky.
First, food. (Cant tell where my interests lie can you?) We never ate at any of the specialty restaurants, so I cant comment on them. The main dining room was well laid out, and the food was "what was expected". (In other words absolutely "forgettable"). Never bad, never great. They did do one "sneaky" thing though that I have not seen on other lines. Their menu "combines" appetizers, soups, and salads under the "Appetizer" heading. If you are new to cruising you may not know you can enjoy one of each (Or of course, more)
One shout out here for RCCL. The two MDR servers we had were THE most efficient we have ever had on a ship. Fast, courteous, and able to handle every oddball request without blinking. (And at a table for 12 there WERE oddball requests. So it you ever should have Naomie Ningshen or Hersain Salgado, consider yourselves lucky.
The other "food" related comment is on the Windjammer buffet. IT was the best laid out buffet I have seen on a cruise ship. (If you have ever stood in line for what seems like hours at a buffet you will understand) As well, for a change it seems that the company has actually put "some" effort into the buffet food. (Still buffet food, but not bad!)
Rooms: Our room was a typical balcony room. Nothing special, nothing unusual. Our traveling companions however, paid for one of the "Two bedroom Suites". VERY Disappointing. Considering the upcharge, you would hope that the bedrooms would at least have a porthole, and that the furnishings would be a bit better than "Ikea standard". The other gripe I have with rooms was the quality of the room stewards. In contrast with the dining room staff, they came across as indifferent, surly at times, and ALWAYS more interested in their cell phones than the passenger. (First cruise I have ever been on that permitted crew to be on cell phones while working.....) And it is TOO much to ask to have food plates removed from our room? (Plates from the first night, WITH leftovers were still there when we disembarked) Dont get me wrong, with the exception of the dirty plate thing, there was nothing "wrong" with the service... It just was not up to "standard".
Entertainment: Wow. This is the first time I have ever seen a ships atrium used to it's fullest capacity. From the best Flamenco guitarist I have heard on a ship to an aerial act that was just jaw dropping... wow.
If you are going to advertise you have a "card room" then give us a card room! (It was there.... but closed the entire cruise to be used as a changing room for the performers)
Oh, yeah, speaking of "entertainment"....... I don't THINK we were on a Costa cruise... I dont think RCCL is an Italian line. I KNOW we were in the Caribbean . So whats with all the Italian singing/dancing/production numbers by the staff in the Main Dining Room THREE NIGHTS IN A ROW? I half expected to be asked to put my toga on!
Other random comments. For those of you who love a good walking deck, Yes deck five DOES go all the way around. (With the cavayt that you have to go up 16 steps at the bow.) A little over 3 laps to the mile...This ship does have on other great feature though. Unlike almost any other modern cruise ship the Brilliance has opened the bow to passengers. It is a REAL treat to be able to wander all the way up .and be able to enjoy the wind in your face and watch the approach into Key West or Cozumel. On the more "bizzare" side, make sure you take a photo of the bow staircase landing between decks 4 & 5..... I don't think you will EVER see another cruise ship with a photograph of the Titanic sinking on it.(???)
Well, like I said. random "picky" comments on what was certainly a good "baseline" cruise. I enjoyed it, the family enjoyed it, and it was worth the fare paid.