This was the second time that I had been on the Brilliance of the seas and there was quite a reduction in service and quality since the last visit in at the end of 2009.
We arrived after almost 24 hours travel at the port at 9am tired and in need of sleep. After being 'fast tracked' to check in, we were told we had to wait in the metal shed for 2 hours before we could get on the boat as they were 'cleaning'! This in a warm shed with no water and not enough chairs.... a really dreadful way to greet customers. When asked why we could not get get on to change our clothing, we were told again it was the 'rules'. I would imagine that animals would have been treated better and at least offered water (it took over an hour before one desk was set up offering water, with a line forming almost round the shed to get a glass).
After waiting, we were finally allowed to get on the ship, but told now that no one was allowed to go to their rooms until 1pm as these were being cleaned! However when we nipped down to quickly change, all the rooms were already done! Then the bags did not arrive until almost 7 hours after we left them next to the ship in the shed. One wonders exactly how difficult it is to move cases and why if this is the case that customers are not allowed to just do it themselves if they choose.
The cabin was fine and the cabin steward both quiet and unobtrusive (instead of the sometimes over the top greetings etc you get). The cabin however was without water for 2 nights out of the 7 due to 'maintenance', no apologies given.
The ship is clearly tired and this is reflected in the decor. The staff with the exception of the waiters in the dining room, appeared largely uninterested. There was little to no entertainment, with poor to average shows by the singers and dancers for 45 minutes in the evening and no sign of the 'entertainment' crew the rest of the time.
Charges were again very misleading with $155 for a wine package then adding on 15% compulsory tip making the real price $178.25. Why not just be honest and say the real price to the customers rather than hide it in the small print. Also we were charged over $13 dollars each for the compulory visa to visit Oman, again since it is compulsory, we would have expected it to be included in the price of the holiday, after all the cruise company selected the ports to visit so would have known about the visa!
The food was average, there was plenty to go round but it was not spectacular by any means and often it was a case of selecting the best of the bunch. The old days of 7 small courses long gone to 3 courses with cheaper ingredience, for example the 'wimbledon strawberries and cream' turned out to be strawberry jelly with custard and sprinkles of lime skin on top (Yuk!).
The ports selected were industrial ports and in Oman we were given a shuttle bus to the 'mall' which was just that, a really down market supermarket, think Lidl and you would be on the mark.... honestly is this the best they can offer?
Almost every day I had issues with my room card and was unable to leave the ship or collect towels etc without having the card replaced after walking to the guest relations area and waiting in a line to be dealt with. On more than one occasion the staff member told me it was 'my fault for damaging the card' and when I explained I had only been given it an hour earlier and it was not working, I was then told that I must of put it next to my phone (I had not) or a magnet (as if I carried one round!) and then finally that I had put it too close to the fridge (since I could not get in the room it would have been difficult to do so!). Just seemed a bit curt, when a sorry and lets see if we can finally work out what the glitch in the system is.
Even as a shareholder in Royal Carribean (and therefore a vested interest in supporting the company), I cannot say that it was a positive experience and would not recommend this cruise or the ship. After the cruise we went to the Atlantis Palm in Dubai and honestly wished we had stayed there instead for the whole time...