Background – we travelled from Manchester, UK departing on Saturday, 22nd Feb flying with Virgin Atlantic direct to Orlando.
Check in & Boarding
One of the easiest and best we’ve experienced (expect for Allure which is on another level).
Brilliance is well maintained and there is plenty of space for everyone, even on sea days. OK space maybe at a premium on sea days around the main pool and especially in the Solarium, but there are plenty of empty sunbeds in other quieter areas.
A good variety of venues, with a lot of emphasis on the Centrum with the aerial shows that take place there. New venues like Vintages were fairly quiet but with great staff. Similarly the Colony Club was very quiet unless planned activities were taking place there.
The Viking Crown and the Starquest disco seem very under used unless, once again, planned activities were taking place.
The reason for a lot of the venues being quiet may have had something to do with the demographic of this particular sailing.
Unfortunately as we didn’t attend the shows or some of the activities in the Colony Club I can’t comment on those. However, it would appear the outdoor movie screen was watched by a good crowd, but obviously depends on the movie!
The cruise director didn’t seem very dynamic nor visible to us, but to be fair we didn’t attend many of the organised events.
Often staffed by too few representatives resulting in long lines, although the staff were friendly, a few did seem to need some more training (one admitted as such) and they were unsure of some procedures (like making cash deposits to your SeaPass account).
Didn’t appear too smoke filled, but again could have been the demographic aboard. Some of the slots seemed quite generous though.
Standard RCI types with regular ‘one off’ sales as usual. Well stocked but seemed short staffed.
Wi-Fi – appeared to work well around the ship, albeit slow as usual but with a mid-week half price offer overnight.
Food and Beverages
MDR was great for us with MTD. Staff attentive and very charming. Food is subjective, but we found it great.
Windjammer, never seemed too crowded, especially with the outdoor seating areas. Great choice as usual, fantastic service at the omelette station.
Park Café, good selection of snacks and fresh salads in the Solarium.
Well stocked coffee and soft beverage stations just outside the Windjammer and inside the Solarium.
Chops Grille – good with nice staff
Giovanni’s Table – good, but not great lunch
Izumi – not sampled
Rita’s Cantina – poor location, only listed as providing al a carte snacks for a fee. Venue uninviting so didn’t use, and apparently neither did anyone else
Cabin - 9256 aft
Great aft location with fantastic wrap-around balcony with no superstructure to hinder the view.
Stateroom attendant was very friendly and did his job satisfactorily.
Very inconsistent. In the Diamond lounge – excellent. MDR – great both at breakfast and dinner. Windjammer – the service of coffee/juice is no longer offered by staff during breakfast & lunch which used to be the norm.
Bars – inconsistent. In some excellent with staff entering into conversation when quiet, in others terrible, especially when there were no customers, having to wait an age for wait staff, and bordering on downright rude in the Colony Club.
At one port following a late morning scheduled arrival – chaotic and badly managed.
At Tampa, again poorly managed resulting nearly in a lap of the ship as detailed in my review. Immigration – poor for non-US residents, but no doubt due to federal cutbacks. This also applies to customs clearance too.
Conclusion – would I sail on Brilliance again? Yes, would I sail out of Tampa again? Yes. It was a great shorter cruise, but would have liked longer in Key West, an 11:30 am arrival is too late.
Full review here: http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2005180
Photo Slideshow: https://www.flickr.com//photos/peteukmcr/sets/72157641398087543/show/with/12716777135/