We spent 4 days in Dubai at the Traders Hotel before embarking on RCI Brilliance of the Seas. Hotel was OK for the airport and cruise port, but a bit too far away from the tourist attractions of Dubai. Embarkation was the easiest that I have experienced. No wait at all at the terminal and luggage delivered in about an hour.
The ship was only half full, having had the itinerary much modified to account for problems in Egypt. From Oman to Rome was 9 days at sea. The longest stint at sea I and the crew had experienced. However, the first few days of the holiday on land and sea was hectic and the rest was welcome.
My first experience of RCI and will probably be the last. Apart from some brilliant musicians on board who entertained several times a day, I am unable to give a 10 out of 10 for almost any other feature of the cruise.
Most notable feature of on board life was the over the top cost of extras, particularly drinks. Even the discounted wine packages were over the top. $4.50 for a bottle of water was perhaps the biggest excess. I am not a heavy drinker, just one or two alcoholic drinks per day, but my bar bill ended in being twice what I have expected ti pay compared to recent cruises with other lines.
Food in the buffet was better than the dining room. The dining room food did not have the good, strong taste that is the hallmark of American cuisine. Very bland.
Entertainment was quite varied, but about as good as you will get in a local club or pub back home. Quite a few acts were cruise regulars, with acts that have hardly changed in two or three years.
I wanted to see Dubai and the Middle East, and I have and have memories that will stay with me, especially the central mosque in Abu Dhabi, but the cruising part of the holiday did not inspire me much at all. Disappointing really, when conversations with other RCI regulars painted a much brighter picture.
One other first too. We had the SAS on board for a few days whilst sailing the Gulf of Aden and into the Red Sea just in case Somalian pirates fancied their chances. Black clad individuals casually carrying heavy shoulder bags. They were taken off by tender whist still at sea. Ship sailed blacked out at night, and a 'safe haven' drill was carried out.