Brilliance was lacking some sparkle
This time last year I wrote a very positive review of Celebrity Equinox. This time, regretfully, it is not possible to be as positive although the cruise was far from a disaster.
Firstly, the positives. As always staff and service were excellent. RCI's efforts in sorting out the visa problems with India were first class. Be warned - get a multi entry visa if you are going to India !!!. The music was good also - The Brilliance band, the classical trio ( piano and strings) and the guest performers. Our fellow passengers from 49 countries were interesting and fun.
The solarium is also a nice place to read a book with an occasional dip.
Now the negatives. RCI should have warned everyone ( they did warn some people) about the India visa problems. Windjammer Cafe food is barely acceptable and the Main Dining Room a long way short of the standard we enjoyed last year on Celebrity. The hot weather and many sea days meant pool areas were very crowded. The fitness centre is a bit small, old fashioned and lacking in views compared to other ships ( 6) I have been on. The stateroom was a bit cramped and the very old fashioned TV and program selection would not have been out of place in 1970. The main dining room was closed for breakfast and lunch on shore days. This left just the sub standard Windjammer Cafe and the tiny but excellent Seaview cafe on deck 13.
The itinerary was good but unlucky. We were not able to go on the Dhow in Muscat due to wind and there was blockade of the Indian port of Goa by fishermen that prevented us visiting. This was probably more devastating for our cabin and dining room staff who missed out on seeing their families than it was for us.
One of the earlier reviews has called Brilliance a 3 star experience for a 5 star price. That is probably a bit harsh. However, it is true of the Windjammer cafe and partly true of the main dining room. RCI has cut costs to the extent that the experience is now compromised. We spent 4 days in Jordan after the cruise and stayed in much better accommodation - even at Petra - for less than half as much with much better food. For the first time in 6 years I find myself asking if land based resorts may not be a better way to go.
But land based resorts don't offer endless variety of people to have your meals with. Land based resorts don't move with you from port to port or provide the beauty of the sea. Land based resorts don't offer the personalized service and opportunity to get to know staff from all over the world or the continual music and entertainment.
The solution is simple. RCI should raise the catering standards to those of their own subsidiary company - Celebrity - and for the older ships improve the programs if not the actual TVs. WIFI in the cabins would help also. The long queues at check in caused by lack of staff didn't help either.
In the meantime, we will cruise with someone else next time