Embarkation in Barcelona Having stayed in a hotel (by Las Ramblas - close to the port) the night before, we took a taxi to the port - arriving at 12:00 noon. 6 hours prior to departure. Already some people were aboard. Arriving at this time made sure of easy check-in process - only one family in front of us - although we had completed the pre-check in info prior to arrival. Talking to others on the cruise, it would seem to have been an easy check-in process for many of the passengers. Getting on ship so early allowed us a chance to get to know the ship - as we would be in a port for each of the first 4 days. A tour of the Spa/Gym was useful - as we made us of the gym on many of the quieter days of the cruise - need to work off some the food consumed.
Stateroom Stateroom on 3rd floor - Large Oceanview Stateroom was as expected, but I was pleasantly surprised how much storage space was available for the 2 of us.
Ship Info Brilliance of the Seas is on of RCIs Radiance Class ships - 90,090 tonnes over 13 decks. It has a climbing wall and mini golf experience. I found the layout of the ship to be pretty easy to get used to. Gym was well equipped - however we seemed to go at same time as most meaning it was always busy when we were there. Solarium was a nice place to relax, especially after getting too much sun. The Schooner Bar was nicely decorated in a nautical theme. Just outside this was the Champagne Bar - which we frequented most nights as Rusti and Susie made it a place where you always felt welcome. On days at sea we tended to get up late and get breakfast in the main dining room - this made it difficult to find sun loungers, despite info saying that towels would be removed if left for more than 30 mins - lesson get on deck early to secure sun lounger.
Dining Minstal restaurant served lovely meals, with a quite varied menu. I do not usually take vegetarian options, but some on offer sounded so nice that I tried this a few times. The menu always offered a potentially lower calorie version, but with so much variety on offer, I could never stick to this option. Our waiter, Hari, was always helpful, along with assistance waiter Alberto. One grip would be the lack of Filet Mignon, on the main menu - unless you were willing to pay the supplement to get it from the Chops Menu - Chops was one of the speciality restaurants. I suppose you have to keep the menu different, or no-one would go to the speciality restaurants. One particularly good point was when we were overnighting in Venice - our excursion was due to leave at 7:15pm. The restaurant only opened at 6:30pm. The waiter staff were excellent in ensuring we received our meal in time to allow us to join our excursion
Entertainment Entertainment would be one of the more professional that I have experienced on our limited cruise past. Both the ships own shows and guest appearances- one of which was a Beatles tribute band - were well received
Port & Shore Excursions Before the cruise I was concerned at the itinery - stopping at ports each of the 1st four days. With many of them being quite a distance from the final destination (Livorno for Florence and Pisa, Civitevechia for Rome, and Naples for Salerno and Pompeii) I along with many on the cruise were extremely tired by the end of the 5th day. However these ports did have many wonderful placed to visit and the more relaxing second have of the cruise allowed the body to recover and end the cruise well rested. Highlight of the cruise was the sail into Venice - the ability to past St Marks Square at 13 floors up was truly amazing. What a unique city!
Disembarkation As we were staying an extra night in Barcelona, we took advantage of the late departure program - allowing us to stay on board to 4:00pm. This was a great idea to allow us to enjoy extra time on our new favourite ship. This also meant that when we were ready to get off, there were no queues and our luggage was sitting waiting for us in the baggage reclaim area. This is an excellent way to end the cruise if you do not need to hurry off to the airport.
Summary We had a great time on Brilliance of the Sea. We are already missing life on the ship and looking for new cruises for next year.