We chose the Brilliance of the Seas for the itinerary: Villefranche, Florence, Rome, Solerno, Venice, Ravenna, Dubrovnik. But loved our time on the ship almost as much as the ports.
Dining: We chose the early seating and sat with the most delightful 3 couples we have ever met on a cruise. One was from Northern California, one from Florida and one from Texas. We had a delightful server and assistant who brought each couple an extra appetizer to share of his favorite (if we didn't order it) or another he thought we "just HAD to try". We purchased the wine package in advance and they save your unfinished bottle (if you happen to leave some) and bring it to the table before your seating at the next dinner. We had 3 sea days so 3 "formal nights". My husband wore a jacket and tie and that was dressy enough--no hassles. The food was good; no complaints except my husband should have known better...you don't go to Italy and order pizza in the ship's dining room--it was awful. We just came back (October) from a Caribbean cruise on NCL's "your way" cruising and missed having familiar faces at our dining table. I also think because you don't get to "know" your server and they you that you get sub par service. Dining service was my gripe on the NCL cruise and an occasion I looked forward to on this one.
Our cabin: was a simple balcony which was perfect for us. It was forward and starboard so cruising into Venice that afternoon was awesome. Our cabin steward was terrific. I don't think we asked for anything special but he slipped in and out without our noticing and left cute towel animals in the evening. We signed up for the auto-tip feature but left extra for both our room steward and our dining room servers.
Favorite spot on the ship: the Solarium. It is beautiful. I read 4 books on the cruise from the library and the Solarium was my favorite spot to relax, snooze or read.
Embarkation: We did what could have been a foolish thing. We flew from LA>NY>Barcelona the day we were to sail. According to our flight reservation we would arrive at 10 am and didn't have to be on the ship by until 4 pm. It seemed at the time like a good move as we had only one stop and 6 hours after arrival. It worked out perfectly but our return wasn't as lucky and I thanked my stars that we didn't have the return flight nightmare on the way to Barcelona. You really should arrive at least one day ahead. But after arriving at Barcelona airport which was very nice, quick immigration and a 30-minute taxi drive right to the ship.
Disembark and Returning Home: We easily got a taxi but after 25 euros + tip discovered were actually walking distance from the pier. Not knowing where we were going, it is just as well we let him take us. Another reason to go at least one day ahead--to get the lay of the land. Our flight home was a nightmare as we took off on schedule but had a bird strike causing the whole plane to shake and vibrate. The pilot turned around over the Mediterranean and we landed again in Barcelona. We were on the plane about 45 minutes until they decided they couldn't fly and we would have to rebook. We got our luggage and there was only 1 AA customer service agent to rebook 300+ passengers. We were in line 4 hours. Luckily someone in line let me rebook using their iPhone and we were to leave early the next day Barcelona>Paris>Fort Worth>LAX. American put us up and fed us and brought about 30 of us back before 5am. Air France doesn't know how to organize crowds. Our luggage was lost so we spent more time in line in Fort Worth to get a paper for customs. Three international flights came in at the same time so we missed our flight and ended up getting home about 10 pm Pacific time. Our luggage got a vacation to Chicago. If this circus happened in reverse it would have been sooooo costly and I would have been a wreck on vacation.