Except for a Carnival cruise as a high school trip in 1978, this was our first cruise. Overall, we were very impressed with the ship & crew. With the exception of RCCL allowing smoking in the casino, we would recommend Brilliance of the Seas without reservation. Our dining room server - Elizabeth, and her assistant - were both excellent. Our stateroom attendant - Janelly Peralta - did a fantastic job. They were always cheerful and accommodating. They are assets to RCCL.
That said, we do have two criticisms. #1: We enjoy foolishly spending money in casinos at the slot machines. We could smell the cigarette smoke emanating from the ship's casino before we even entered it. We made a quick walk through the casino and immediately departed due to the cigarette smoke that irritated our eyes and throat. We found that we could often smell the smoke around the different floors surrounding the centrum. We have lost several family members to smoking-related illnesses and we do not want to be the next. We were told that there are non-smoking areas in the casino. I apologize for being crude, but that is liking having a no urinating section in the pool. There were 42 members in our cruise group - all non-smokers who felt the same as we do. It is regrettable that RCCL caters to the small percentage of people that smoke and disregards the health and comfort of the vast majority of people who are non-smokers.
#2: We are new to cruising and normally vacation at all-inclusive resorts such as Sandals & Riu. We found it very annoying having to sign receipts and have a "pay-as-you-go" beverage policy - even for soft drinks - especially at dinner. The cost to RCCL for a couple of fast food style soft drink soda fountains near the coffee machines would be negligible. We will do another RCCL cruise later this year on the "Vision of the Seas" and are hoping that there will be a stricter non-smoking policy. If not then this will be our last RCCL cruise.
We will be going on the Celebrity Equinox in January 2015 which has a very restrictive smoking policy including a smoke-free casino.