Another couple joined my SO and I on this elongated weekend getaway from Tampa, FL. Living in State, we drove to the port, parked in the garage directly across the street ($60 as opposed to $80 for Valet which our friends did), and boarded around 1 p.m. As Crown and Anchor Platinum members, the waiting line was short, the staff friendly and helpful.
Day 1 consisted of lunch at the buffet, perfectly adequate when not looking to overstimulate the taste buds. One thing different about the Brilliance is that the water/lemondade/mango waters are all pre-poured for you. After lunch and the mandatory life boat drill, we explored the ship.
Having recently been on the Celebrity Reflection, it was nice to be aboard a smaller ship. We were starboard aft in a balcony cabin, deck 9 with our friends rooming beside us. The cabins are nicely sized, the balcony furniture adequate, and the showers typically small. I have found that I no longer appreciate having the shower curtain waft around my legs nor water pooling on the bathroom floor after being on the Celebrity solstice class boats. No fancy soaps here either. In fact, if you enjoy liquid shower soap, bring your own.
The Brilliance is a lovely ship with many awe inspiring points of interest. The Centrum (main elevator galley running deck 4 through 13) is an entertainment mecca. Dance lessons, aerialist entertainment, live music, speeches all eminate from this area. It is a good use of space in that many people can gather on each floor and see the activity on the deck 4 floor.
The MDR for evening dining was good to excellent each night. Except for the fact that the tables were crowded closely together in our section (some people had to stand so we could find a path to our table each night). We were in table 483 directly under the tile mural wall. The dining room is spectacular. Unlike other ships we have been on recently, the table staff takes the wine orders and a bar steward takes your alcohol drink orders. Different but effective service. Our favorite night for dining was the beef tenderloin night. You could cut the meat with your fork. Desserts were fair to average each night.
The Windjammer cafe was mostly a disappointment at breakfast. There is an omelette station and fresh fruit (excpetion bananas) was abundant. I do not like luke warm toast/bagels/english muffins/french toast/pancakes. Eating them from a pan is not as wonderful as eating them out of the toaster or off the griddle. The pastry section was good. We did eat in MDR for breakfast one morning but discovered that other than the fruit/cereal bar where you serve yourself, the food was identical to the Windjammer food just served to you on a plate. I was disappointed as breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.
Lunch was best served in the Park Cafe in the Solarium. Each day featured a different soup, a variety of pannini options and a carving station of roast beef with au jus for sandwiches. There was also a salad venue where a steward made your salad with toppings at your request.
The Brilliance offers a spa element similar to the Celebrity Persian Garden with heated marble chairs. For $199 you could have unlimited access to this area which included private specialized saunas and showers and a one-time use clay body scrub (1 hr) thermal suite use. A good value if lying in the sun is not your thing. It is a very relaxing place to read.
Nightly entertainment was good and included a comedian, an impressionist, a good ship band (Calvin the drummer showed up at other events...he must be a good sport), and a broadway type show. There were movies on deck on Thursday and Friday nights. The rock climbing wall operated under limited but accessible hours. Shopping was typical with many sale opportunities.
The staff, especially the MDR staff and cruise activities staff, were friendly and helpful. The dancers taught a couple of ball room type classes and seem genuinely interested in being there.
Cozumel is by far my favorite of the Caribbean destinations. The people are friendly, the shopping good, the weather and water beautiful. My only complaint was that with this being a one port trip, it would have been nice to stay later in the day (we departed around 5:30 after arriving at 8 a.m.).
We came back relaxed and refreshed, which is the point of a long weekend cruise. I would travel this itinerary again, as well as this boat for the price we paid to go.