We have just returned (last night) from a cruise to Dubai,Oman,Fujariah,Abu Dhabi and Bahrain on the Brilliance of the Seas. This is our first cruise with RCCL and the first time we have visit the Middle East other than has a transit passenger. After reading the other reviews on this cruise we were a bit sceptical. We had relatively good flight from Manchester with Emirates and arrived in Dubai around 8am after a delay of 1 hour. The trip to the holding centre was fairly short, but being extremely tired, having been up 24hours this was the last thing we wanted. They don't tell you when you book that you don't go straight to the ship you get a letter a few weeks before departure with the option to book a city tour instead, but don't be fooled we were under the impression that you went on the city tour instead of going to the holding centre, but you don't you go to the holding centre until about 10.30 and then go on the tour.Drinks and a light continental breakfast were provided however we had to sit around a table on dinning room chairs for about 3 hrs, we really could have done without this. You are given a coloured card and when your colour is called you then have to board another coach which takes you to the ship. The cabins are not available until after 1pm so another couple of hours in the red hot sunshine in the clothes you left home in. We were quite lucky has when we went to our cabin our suitcases had already arrived but some passengers did not receive theirs until 6pm. We quickly got washed and changed and took a trip from the port on the big bus(the same open top buses you see in London and other cities)cost approx £45 each. The bus takes you around the city and beach area. You can buy a dual ticket for Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It is well worth the money as you get to see all the main sites and you can hop on and off at any of the stops along the way.
We booked a balcony cabin just for the 2 of us, the cabin was nice and the bed was very spacious which is more than can be said for the balcony, we were a little disappointed with the balcony, just enough room for 2 chairs and a little round table. The bathroom was fine but when you got in the shower you had your own little pool in the bathroom, the shower curtains are not long enough and do not sit in the tray and water goes everywhere. You cannot look in the wardrobe if someone wants to go in the bathroom because the doors have to be opened alternatively.
The ship was very nice and extremely child friendly (shame that we had packed the kids off to Cyprus with their Grandma). There was a bit of trouble trying to find a bar inside that opened during the day as most remained closed ( not that you can afford to drink onboard - pint of lager £6 small glass of house wine £6.50, cheapest bottle of wine cost around £25.00 with gratuities ,same bottles that Asda sell 3 for £10! If you ordered a short you did get a good measure though! A 750ml bottle of water cost £3.10, piece of advice whilst in Dubai go to the cafe in the cruise terminal you can buy 2 x 500ml of water and can of pop for less than £3. The drinks, even soft drinks are expensive onboard they say its because they have to have it imported from Jordan and the government charges 16% tax, but how can they justify water and soft drinks being so expensive when they are readily available. The excursions are also very expensive we only did the wild adventure in Bahrain because we wanted to go to the Formula One circuit, it was a 4 1/2hr trip and cost $125/£85 each, most trips were around the same price.The wildlife park was a waste of time but the Circuit was excellent. Dubai,Abu Dhabi and Bahrain are very much alike tall buildings,lots of building work going on but well worth the visit, Fujairah and Oman, not much to see other than forts and mosques. At all of the ports you cannot get off the ship and wander around the port (like you can in the Caribbean) has they are all ports for cargo you have to get a shuttle to the port gates and then taxi's or book excursions through explorations onboard.
We only ate once in the main Restaurant as we booked for the late sitting and it was too late most nights (8.30pm) and when you get someone on your table that takes 2 hours to eat a meal your night is almost over and done with by the time you have finished, but it was our choice to eat in the Windjammer self service, the food was very nice I can honestly say that I didn't put anything on my plate that I didn't like, however it could have done to be a bit warmer and I do wish that they could make an alternative warm dessert to Bread pudding it was the only warm dessert for 6 out of the 7 days although it is one of my favourite desserts and it was excellent there is only so much you can take.
We didn't manage to make any of the shows but I heard they were quite good. They told us that the average age onboard was 43 it's a pity that the rest of the entertainment wasn't aimed at this age. If you like piano and Violin music and a guy that can't sing then your made up.
We really did enjoy the holiday, but after all the hype we got over Royal Caribbean I still think P&O offer the better service and the little extras like information about the ship in your cabin instead of having to queue at Guest relations for an hour, being able to make your own tea and coffee at meal times, having coffee in your cabin instead of just tea and the little bathroom accessories.P & O also offer self service washing machines and tumble dryers all you pay for is the washing powder this is not an option on RCCL but they had an 'offer' on a small bag of small items such as underwear which would come back washed and folded for just $25/£17.
The mix of nationalities onboard was nice there were people from all over the world both as guests and staff.