44 Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas Caribbean - Southern Cruise Reviews

We cruise once or twice a year but this was our first with RC. What we liked: - The variety of foods available in the Minstrel dining room and Windjammer Cafe (help yourself dining) was almost always tasty and pleasing to our ... Read More
We cruise once or twice a year but this was our first with RC. What we liked: - The variety of foods available in the Minstrel dining room and Windjammer Cafe (help yourself dining) was almost always tasty and pleasing to our pallet… however, see additional notes on dining below. - All staff and crew we encountered were warm, pleasant and eager to please. - The layout of the ship was pleasing; we liked the convenient location of our “larger outside cabin” in the G class, away from the nightlife. - There was a surprising amount of storage in the cabin, allowing easy access to everything we had brought on board. - The itinerary and price were competitive. What was lacking: - Orange juice -- real or fake? Want real fresh squeezed OJ? It will cost you $2.50 for 8 oz. Ask for orange juice at the beverage counter and you'll get a mystery concoction. It reminded me of "juice" found at the bottom of canned fruit cocktail after the fruit is gone, plus runoff from chopped melons. This might be appealing to some, but it is definitely not orange juice. [BTW, 6 months ago our cruise on HAL offered fresh squeezed orange juice every morning along side apple, cranberry, tomato, V8 and prune ... no extra charge.] - Where are the nachos and tacos? They are in the Cantina for an extra $2.50 charge. Other cruise lines with which we are familiar make Mexican foods a regular part of snack and mealtime fare. - The advertised "special chocolate breakfast" in the dining room was a total disappointment. The promised chocolate waffles, chocolate pancakes, chocolate pastries and delicious hot chocolate turned out to be ordinary waffles and pancakes drizzled with a little Hersey-type syrup and the hot cocoa was the same Nestles packet available at all the beverage bars ... not even a dollop of whipped cream to jazz it up. - Where to go to relax? At most times of the day, it was nearly impossible to find a deck chair either at the pool or on an outside deck. Other passengers arrived early to reserve their spot with a towel. Staff failed to enforce posted "rules" stating that chairs unoccupied for more than 30 minutes would be cleared and personal property could be claimed at the towel exchange booth. Too often, every deck chair was reserved though a high percentage were not occupied. - Except at the Solarium pool, everywhere we sat the deck/lounge chairs were old, worn, and very much in need of a good cleaning. - There were but few quiet places to eat or relax. Speakers blared loud music throughout the ship. The small Game Room (only 5 or 6 tables for four) was sometimes occupied by passengers not playing games but seeking refuge from the excessive decibel level in most public spaces. - A simple amenity conspicuously lacking on RC was ice water and cool/damp towels at the pier when guests returned from a day ashore. On Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, find your own ice water once you are on board. - TV channels were scant; 8 or so were dedicated to ship’s commerce such as the bow camera, position in the sea, advertising shore excursions, on-board and on shore shopping, etc. There was only one news channel – CNN. I am totally aware that budgets are tight and every enterprise is cutting corners. Amenities and services of all sorts are scrutinized for their degree of necessity and appeal to the customer base. But extra charges for nacho chips and cheese, failing to offer even water at the pier, and crowding so many passengers into public spaces they cannot find an empty chair or moment's solitude is not a marketing strategy that appeals to me. I lay all my complaints at the feet of Royal Caribbean's management and corporate execs, and not on the ship's staff. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This is the annual repositioning trip from Boston to Southern Florida done each October after the Fall Foliage season in N.E. is over. It is "peopled" by many New Englanders who use it as a annual vacation or even to ... Read More
This is the annual repositioning trip from Boston to Southern Florida done each October after the Fall Foliage season in N.E. is over. It is "peopled" by many New Englanders who use it as a annual vacation or even to "move" to Florida for the colder months. It features usually about seven days at sea, and the median age is "senior retirees". This year there were 27 Pinnacles and over 400 Diamond Plus members which shows that the passengers are "experienced" RCI cruisers. Embarkation in Boston fine, ship Brilliance of the Seas, one of their Radiance Class ships all fine. Three days at sea then into St Kitts, followed by St Lucia, Barbados, day at sea, Aruba, Curacao, then another three days at sea before disembarkation in Tampa. Overwhelming impression is that as usual, RCI does little to accommodate/adjust for "long" cruises. Entertainment first 4 days was especially bad, rest of days poor. Trapeze shows and pool movie screens installed on many ships recently, unused. No Production show until Day #8. So called "mid cruise" survey distributed on Day 10, to be returned on Day 11, leaving one day for possible adjustments etc. to be made. They were just going through the motions. Food on RCI, characterized by Berlitz as the worst in the cruise industry, continues to decline. Lunches (only available in Windjammer on port days) were the absolute worst that I have ever seen. Meats in DR were inedible most times, so called final Formal night Gala Fisherman's Platter, now has "lost" the small shrimp that accompanied the meal in the past. With seven sea days and beautiful weather there were NO deck Bar-B-Que's. No matter how good the service and food preparation may be, no one can "dress up" the extremely cheap foods (especially meats) that RCI is providing their ships. Attitude of crew seemed good although my Cabin Stewardess was "less than truthful" with me on several occasions. Loyalty Ambassador Mariana excellent in spite of having over 1700 Repeaters to contend with out of a total pax count of 2200+ - ship completely full. Long time Captain, Captain Steig gives good daily reports, but neither he, nor Hotel Director ever seen around the ship, nor did they host "tables" a single night for even the most senior Pinnacle members. There was however a VIP Cocktail Party for those members. Food in specialty restaurants, Chops and Giovanni's Table has declined, again mostly due to poor quality, and resultant "toughness" of meats. I did not go to Izumi or Rita's Cantina, but to this observer it seemed that few others went there either. Quite frankly after almost 100 RCI cruises, I am getting ever more "turned off" by their continuing "cuts" everywhere, and the constant drumbeat to spend more aboard. Service charge now $18% which means that a bottle of water now costs almost $6. No wines less than $30 - $40 when service charge is added, most cocktails now $10 plus 18%.This is a "pricey" trip with high per diems but NOTHING extra was done that one wouldn't have found on a 3/4 day weekend trip. Mandatory "gratuities" now $12.95 per day. Disembarkation in Tampa an awful mess. No special walk off for Pinnacle/Suite guests. I went to theatre at time indicated, was told to wait, then everyone told to start moving off. I get to Terminal and find out that luggage not ready. Customs forced us to wait outside the building for over an hour while they snarled at RCI personnel for letting people getting luggage off early, and finally after an hour wait when the ship was almost totally cleared, we were allowed back in get our bags. This was totally an RCI mix-up and almost caused many to miss flights. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
My wife and I just returned from a 13 night repositioning cruise onboard the Brilliance of the Seas. We had a nice time, as usual. This was our Third Cruise on board the Brilliance. We don't have any Major complaints. We always ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from a 13 night repositioning cruise onboard the Brilliance of the Seas. We had a nice time, as usual. This was our Third Cruise on board the Brilliance. We don't have any Major complaints. We always get good service from the crew and we enjoy Royal Caribbean. The ship is just the right size and well maintained. THE FOOD: The food in the Windjammer seemed about the same as always. They're always big on rice and pasta dishes and meals that can stretch to feed lots of people easily. The meals tend to be repetitive. The breakfasts are good, despite the fact that they are identical every single morning. There's only so much you can do with a buffet breakfast. For lunch I sometimes would just grab a Hamburger and a salad. The Dinners used a lot of rice and curry dishes that I just don't do. The fish was OK and there was normally a carving station. Phillipe and his staff do a nice job of making sure the place stays clean and the waiters fairly attentive. The Chef in charge of the Windjammer operation was very visible and he personally came around the last night and handed out Chocolate covered strawberries. The only time we experienced a line at the Windjammer was on Boarding Day in Boston when everyone was waiting for their staterooms to be ready and the whole world showed up at once. GIOVANNIS TABLE: The food and service were excellent, as always. I was a little startled to see the bill of over $100, which included 2 glasses of wine each and the tip. Chops Grill had a rough cruise, with some Diners walking out. Some received free bottles of Champagne and some recieved free Dinners later. THE DINING ROOM was nice and orderly. We used the Dining Room for Breakfast and lunch. The waiters all seemed to have several tables to take care of, and the menu is limited. The salad bar at Lunch is very good and you can make a meal out of it. The Service in the Dining Room seems to be slipping . The food is OK but nothing to write home about. THE ROOM: We were in an Oceanview room on Deck 3 forward. It was neat and clean and we enjoyed the view. Our room steward was attentive enough, making sure we had ice. He never did learn our names, even though it was a Two Week cruise. We paid our tips up front, like Royal Caribbean requires for passengers who choose the MyTime Dining option. On top of that, 15% is tacked onto every single drink they hand you. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We didn't do any shore excursions. We just walked around on our own and took city buses in Aruba. We've seen most of the Islands previously. The pools tended to be less populated on Port days, so that's when we used them. The Trivia sessions are nice diversions out at sea, even though several of them got so serious that arguments erupted. Trevor and his staff at the Schooner Bar do a very nice job and so does Mikey and his people at the Pub. The shows in the Theater were OK. All things considered, we had a nice time on the Brilliance, and we recommend this ship to other cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
My family and I went on a cruise last week on RC Brilliance of the Seas from the port of Tampa. This was not our first cruise, but it was the first cruise with RC and I have to say we were all shocked at how poorly this company was run. ... Read More
My family and I went on a cruise last week on RC Brilliance of the Seas from the port of Tampa. This was not our first cruise, but it was the first cruise with RC and I have to say we were all shocked at how poorly this company was run. The rooms were nice and clean so I can't complain about that, but they no longer give you any amenities in the room. No robes, no free shampoo, conditioner, etc. and no towel animals which I have gotten every night of every cruise I have ever been on! This was just the beginning. The service on this ship was by far the worst that I have ever encountered. No smiles or small talk from anyone, in fact, most people seemed annoyed by you. The bar staff was busy yes, but waiting 15 minutes to get a drink is crazy. They never looked up to see who just walked up vs. who had been patiently waiting to be served, even if you stayed at the bar and had drinks, you had to get their attention to get another and they had no clue what you ordered even after 3 or 4 drinks. If you had your soda cup visible, forget it, they didn't even want to bother with you. They were borderline rude and in talking to the people around us, we were not the only ones that thought so. We were also highly displeased with the food on this cruise. I have had TV dinners better than most dinners we had in the dinning room. The food tasted freeze dried and they just poured some sauce over it and served it with mashed potatoes and 2 carrot sticks and a piece of broccoli. No lobster was served on formal night like all the other cruises I have been on, nothing special at all. The buffet was the same every night, but still better than the dinning room. The dinning room service was just as poor as the rest of the ship. No smiles or small talk, they said their lines but there wasn't anything behind it. They just wanted to rush you in and out and turnover the table. The only positive thing I can say about our cruise was the Ocean Adventure kids club. My daughter had a blast and the staff there was great. They were friendly and joking around and I really appreciated that, especially after dealing with the rest of the staff. But this would not be enough to get me to go back on a RC cruise. People always put Carnival down, but I had a 100% better time on a Carnival cruise that this RC cruise. So next time I will save some money and actually have a good time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
I think this is a perfect size ship for new cruisers as the ship is large enough to not see the same people and yet they have things going on every hour. The weather was not the best. It was cold in Tampa and Key West but we made the most ... Read More
I think this is a perfect size ship for new cruisers as the ship is large enough to not see the same people and yet they have things going on every hour. The weather was not the best. It was cold in Tampa and Key West but we made the most of it and enjoyed ourselves anyway. The ship was very rocky the last day at sea. No one was allowed outside as it was too dangerous for us. The food was wonderful in the dining room along with great service. There is a Margarita Bar there called Rita's Cantina, and the bartender got us hooked on margaritas. These were my first and will not be my last margarita. They were delicious :) Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
This cruise was probably my 5th Royal Carribean cruise. Hubby and I are newly rtired, seasoned travelers and cruisers. We have not sailed Royal Carib in about 5 years, so we were a bit surprised at some of the changes that have occured ... Read More
This cruise was probably my 5th Royal Carribean cruise. Hubby and I are newly rtired, seasoned travelers and cruisers. We have not sailed Royal Carib in about 5 years, so we were a bit surprised at some of the changes that have occured with the lack of service and overall quality of the cruise. To make this revie more helpful I will try to categorize my comments. Embarkation/ Disembarkation- Both were quite efficient. Able to board easily around 11:30 am, allowed in the cabins around 2 pm. Food was available at the Windjammer. Big disappointment was the lack of WELCOME ABOARD we are accustomed to when boarding a cruise ship? Apart from the traditional lackluster boarding photo that was taken, we were not greeted by staff saying Welcome Aboard or something. Not a welcome aboard drink offered...nothing! Disembarkation was pretty easy as we chose to walk ourselves off with our bags...early departure is nice. Food- quality was ok in the Minstral Dining Room ( Your Time Dining ). The servers weee pleasant and tried to please everyone. Generally the food in the Windjammer was mediocre to low quality, boring, and very disappointing. The Park Cafe in the Solarium area is a good bet for light foods, light breakfast, yummy carved roast beef sandwiches, cookies, salads, etc. Open late evening for snacks as well. Breakfast in the mai. Dining room was usually mediocre at best. Often your eggs would be cool, overcooked, etc. Service- NEVER I repeat NEVER asked if I would like a drink by any server in 5 days! Really ridiculous. If you wanted anything to drink, Coke, beer, what have you, you would march yourself to one of their designated bars to order. Service at the bar was so slow, people got angry! Here is the worst part about service....NO ONE CLEANED THE PUBLIC areas where food was served ALL DAY long. So you have to go get your own lunch, snacks, etc from the food service areas, the. No one EVER comes to pick up the dirty dishes, until sometime during the night. Even then, you would see dirty cups, plates, etc. around the ship in the morning where they had been left from the day before! YUK! YUK! YUK! Condition of Ship- overall not well maintained. Artificual plants had faded, were broken down and desperately needed replacement. Interior wood surfaces needed some oil or polish..faded and dried out. RUST everywhere I looked! Handrails often had not been wiped since who knows when...had bits of stuff on them, not polished. Carpets were not vacuumed in the public areas. Sanitizer units often needed refilling and wer empty. Cabin- we had a balcony...it was ok but not spic and span looking! NO toiletries except shampoo dispenser in the tiny shower. No chocolates, mints or anything at turndown service on pillows. Entertainment- I hesitate to call what we saw entertainment. The ship's company performed some of the saddest dancing, singing we've seen on a cruise ship. Lack of choreography. Other entertainers were mediocre at best. All in all I would say we had a nice time....weather was warm and pleasant. Had a few friends on board with us. However, I probably will not travel an older RC ship again, if I ever cruise with Royal Carribean again. I will say I prefer Celebrity, Wind Star and Princess.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Boarding was the quickest and easiest we've ever had and we've been on many cruises. The ship is old but in excellent shape and constantly being cleaned, polished and shined by very friendly crew members. After the usual ... Read More
Boarding was the quickest and easiest we've ever had and we've been on many cruises. The ship is old but in excellent shape and constantly being cleaned, polished and shined by very friendly crew members. After the usual embarkation day lunch rodeo we were pleased to be invited into our balcony room at 1;00pm. Another pleasant surprise was our luggage was waiting for us at our door. This was a first. On the positive side; Windjammer Breakfasts were the same everyday but it covered everything anyone could ever want. A special section included fried eggs hot off the grill without a wait. Customized omelets required a short wait and were promptly picked up and delivered to your table by very friendly, efficient servers. The Windjammer lunch, contrary to some reviews, changed daily with various offerings at the carving table, the specialty table and most days on the central island stations. Desserts were excellent and different each day. Main dining room dinners arrived hot and timely. Our servers were professional, friendly and efficient. The Head Waiter was sincerely interested in seeing that everything ran smoothly and occasionally pitched in to keep things moving. This is in contrast to the usual Head Waiter who you don't see until the last couple of nights. For instance, one night I had a very tough steak and the Head Waiter offered a special replacement any future night. Several nights later I received a marvelous filet mignon way better than the one I had in Chops. The entertainment, with the exception of the ventriloquist, was very good. Production numbers were professionally done and the house band was excellent. Pedro, guitarist in the Schooner Bar, was also a real delight to listen to and graciously accepted requests. The Schooner Bar servers were superior to any we've ever encountered. We are also very pleased with the policy of embedding three free drinks daily in Diamond member's sea passes. Disembarkation was a breeze. On the negative side: The unique practice of cutting a NY strip steak into thirds and serving it to three people needs to be promptly abandoned. Everyone at our table of ten fell victim to this cost saving method at some point during our cruise. The Jumbo Shrimp cocktail served in Chops arrived raw and translucent. When I sent it back for a longer swim in boiling water the entire galley operation came to a halt. At one time this diminutive shrimp cocktail was the focal point of a circle of four waiters, three chefs and the maitre d'. After a lengthy discussion they decided to offer me something else. I declined and asked them to properly cook the shrimp. Eventually it arrived better than before. The first two nights of the Diamond cocktail function were dissappointing at best. After two nights of not getting a drink within thirty minutes we found excellent service in the Schooner Bar and continued to enjoy cocktails there for the rest of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was our fourth cruise. My husband and I were so looking forward to the same wonderful service, excitement and entertainment we were used to having sailed on the freedom of the seas. We were some of the younger passengers in our ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise. My husband and I were so looking forward to the same wonderful service, excitement and entertainment we were used to having sailed on the freedom of the seas. We were some of the younger passengers in our fifties, while the median age seemed to be 70 to 80. Apparently this cruise had over 350 diamond members which left little service or preference for non-diamond members. There seemed to be a collective sense of entitlement by this crowd that left many servers and waiters exhausted. Folks were not friendly, unless you were from the east coast or were in the "diamond club." Frustrated, we gave up our "my time: dining because we were told we could not reserve or have preference for where we wanted to sit, while all the diamond members took all window seats and had them every night. (I thought that was the purpose for my time dining) Twice we came to the dining room and the seating waiter was given a seat for us but by the time we walked to our specified table, it was already occupied by another couple, causing us to turn around and find whatever was available, each time away from where we wanted to sit. So we relegated ourselves to the windjammer where they will offer you half and half for your coffee unlike the dining room where they said they did not know what 1/2 and 1/2 was and tried to tell you that non-dairy creamer was cream. The Pool Areas: while there were signs saying no reserving chairs around the pool, by 8:00 am all chairs were reserved in both the solarium and main pool. They were reserved for hours upon hours. I saw seniors with leg sores in the hot tub, each day I saw the same people dominating the hot tubs, some sleeping with their mouths gaping open. The majority of the seniors in the Solarium would sleep under their towels around the pools with mouths gaping open. This was not the view my boyfriend and myself imagined for our vacation. When we went to the pool bar, their were passengers arguing with the bar tender who was yelling back at them. I found that very disturbing. I thought it humorous and sad to have disco music playing in the background with these views. If I ever cruise RC again, I will call ahead to find out if the cruise is dedicated to seniors, or mostly diamond or pinnacles members, so my boyfriend and I can enjoy ourselves on a more active cruise, and one that will enforce the "no pool chair reservation" rule. There was a light in all this turmoil, the two violinists were wonderful and Murial the greeter in the Windjammer was most delightful. It was her consistent cheerfulness that helped break the depressive atmosphere.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
I had a wonderful time as a solo traveler on this ship. There were plenty of activities to keep me busy when I wanted it and was very relaxing with 7 days at sea. The ship is elegant with shows going on most of the time in the centrum. The ... Read More
I had a wonderful time as a solo traveler on this ship. There were plenty of activities to keep me busy when I wanted it and was very relaxing with 7 days at sea. The ship is elegant with shows going on most of the time in the centrum. The shows in the main showroom were very good. The food was very good most nights .though not excellent. I liked that they had a "classics" section on the menu so if the main menu didn't entice you, there was always a popular choice to choose from. I chose escargot and shrimp for starters most nights. I must say though the steak was tough. The service was excellent. They offered a lunch for cruise critic members which I was allowed to attend even though I had not learned of cruise critic until this cruise as my solo lunch buddies were all going. It was lovely. They had their own menu and was served with red and white wine. I am currently booked on the Brilliance for a five night sailing in November 2015 to Grand Cayman and Cozumel as well as a seven night on the Independence of the Seas in Sept 2012.(western Caribbean)/ I wasn't crazy about St Kitts and St Lucia as ports. The shore excursing in St kitts was not good. It was a snorkeling trip on a catamaran. They took us to a area where all the reef was dead thus no fish. Just as we were being called back to the boat I discovered a patch with some life reef and a few fish. I complained to RCCL and was given a bit of a refund (not satisfactory) They said no one else complained( probably because it was a booze cruise. and they all came back drunk and happy.. I am not a drinker but am a serious snorkeler. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Since our last Caribbean cruise several years ago I had come to believe there was not much more to experience in that area, charming as it is. There were other worlds to conquer, so to speak. But last year we heard about a Royal Caribbean ... Read More
Since our last Caribbean cruise several years ago I had come to believe there was not much more to experience in that area, charming as it is. There were other worlds to conquer, so to speak. But last year we heard about a Royal Caribbean repositioning cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas out of Boston that acquaintances had enjoyed so much that they signed up for a repeat this year. When we checked the itinerary there just happened to be a very attractive sale going on. What the heck, a chance to be on the sea for thirteen nights of warm (downright HOT at times) weather, and some islands on the itinerary we hadn’t visited before, was enough of an inducement to entice us. Okay, let’s go! We even talked two of our friends into joining us! Just so happens we live a half hour’s drive away from the Black Falcon Terminal in Boston, another factor in our decision. We arrived at the pier just after 11 a.m.. We pack fairly light as a rule, so we often just carry our baggage onboard. Surprisingly there was a little confusion trying to figure out where to check our baggage in. Some folks were handing their luggage to a few teamsters with the customary carts, but the ‘official’ line was a bit of a walk from our arrival point. Wanting to be sure our bags were treated appropriately we queued in one of two receiving lines where we were being directed by Royal Caribbean personnel. In a matter of ten minutes we were waltzing around a ribboned maze to the documents counters and a string of smiling faces waiting to issue our sea passes. A couple of minutes, a brief walk to and through security, and we entered the ship. There was no mandatory picture taking session, only those desiring a picture need stop. In fact, the photographers were surprisingly considerate of guests feelings and exerted little to no pressure during the whole cruise. Riding the elevator to deck eleven we sauntered into the required and desired buffet lunch in the Windjammer Cafe. Instead of a long and crowded school cafeteria type layout of food choices, the Windjammer featured food islands (very appropriate to the itinerary). We found this an efficient and tantalizing alternative, though at times I felt like I was navigating through a bumper car ride. This feeling occurs only during particularly crowded times, usually there was plenty of personal space moving among the food islands. The food variety at the Windjammer was adequate but not long on choices. The staff made sure nothing ran out. Finding a seat was not a problem, one could head to open air areas near the main outdoor pool or, our preference, to the stern with its panoramic views. Time to explore the Brilliance of the Seas. We were impressed by the public areas. For some reason I was quicker to become acquainted with the basic layout of the ship than on most previous cruises. There are two main elevator clusters, forward and aft. The aft cluster enfolds the main Atrium and lobby (deck four). The glass enclosed elevators provide views of either the towering Atrium area or port and starboard outside views. But you have to be on your toes, push the up or down button and be prepared to listen carefully and scan for the elevator going in your direction, then its a sprint to get (read squeeze) into the cubicle. Often, elevators going in your direction just kept going (?). The Starquest lounge, on deck 13 at the ship’s center, once allowed quests a 270 degree view. Now, about half the area was converted to an exclusive function room. But the area still available provides great viewing of the pool and forward area and a lovely place to scan the waters on the starboard side of the ship. About the only forward viewing area is the exercise room and even there you need to be riding a treadmill for the view (get a chair and unplug the treadmill?). This is a general gripe about modern cruise ships, why have they decided to steal what is for me the most coveted and enjoyable area on a ship - providing a crow’s nest view! The Solarium, deck 11, was one of my favorite areas. Discounting the plastic greenery, I enjoyed the indoor pool and whirlpools, the comfortable seating, the great views port and starboard, the and the Park Cafe with its wide variety of offerings. Boo to those chair hogs who count on the courtesy of others for their own selfish requirements - Karma will get you, if someone with little patience with this insensitivity doesn’t. Another of my favorite places on the ship was the promenade on deck five. The joggers can have the track above but the romantics and leisurely set have dominion here. Walk a few stairs and you find yourself on the helipad at the very bow of the ship - in a nod to the movie Titanic there’s a sign there that warns guests not to stand on the restraining bars. Passing across the stern provides a view of the power of the ships propulsion azipods. Lounge chairs on the Promenade allowed guests yet another quiet place to peer out to sea, read their books or Kindles, or sleep. The wide space insured that there was plenty of room for loungers and walkers. When it was time to get acquainted with our stateroom we were pleased. Located on the port side with a balcony it suffered a minor obstruction caused by the roof covering the promenade deck and lifeboats below - hardly a problem. Smallish but efficiently set up. Plenty of drawers, adequate closet space, good size bathroom with shower and lots of mirrors - not necessarily a good thing. Interesting how flat screen TVs have opened up a tad more arm swinging room. Timely arrival of luggage reduced the stress level - all arrived in good order. We were content. One of the great pleasures of a cruise ship experience for me is good music. The pure tones of an appealing guitar soloist, Pedro Espedido, drew my attention very quickly. There, on deck 4 of the Centrum, the diminutive middle aged fellow sat strumming contentedly on his guitar. Watching his finger work on the six string instrument and listening to his musical interpretations of popular tunes was a pleasure indeed. We were to become part of a group of folks who would cluster wherever Pedro might be playing. We and our friends made early reservations at the main dining hall, The Minstrel. As one of the first to arrive we were rewarded with a port side table by the window from which we were able to view a week of sunsets on the southerly portion of our itinerary. Just prior to sunset we were treated to a ritual we’ve never seen before. Just outside the window, on the Promenade deck, several of the chef’s (or so I assume) entered into a Tai Chi form that, we were told, was in honor of the setting sun. We were to return to that table for all but a few of the dinners. The variety of meal choices, both nightly and over the course of this thirteen night cruise, was good; the portions adequate - anyone desiring more just had to ask. There was also a small grouping of entrees that were always available. Several times I didn’t finish the meal or passed on the desert, the wait staff seemed almost alarmed - what was wrong with the food. Nothing, of course, but I felt I had to explain why I didn’t finish everything or opt for desert! The dining room staff were some of the most pleasant and solicitous crew members. At times my water glass was refilled after I had taken but a sip. Our waiter was professional but his assistant was more friendly and very charming with the ladies, always ready with a compliment and willing to spend a few moments just talking. How he managed to balance his duties, which seemed endless and frenetic, with his conversational nature escapes me. In response to one question he said that in order to qualify for his position he had to have a business degree and have served several years at a four star hotel. He was from India and explained that there were some 59 nationalities represented in the crew. The first night’s show was a single performance by the regular ship’s entourage. For the remainder of the cruise there were two shows, one at 7 and the other at 9. The Pacifica Theater had comfortable seating and its overall floor plan was well suited for good viewing overall, with a minimum of obstructions. Most folks attending the shows seemed very satisfied with the quality and variety. My favorites included Glenn Smith, Donovan & Rebecca, and Greg London. Another activity we enjoy is trivia and there was plenty of that, in various forms, on this cruise. There were as many as four trivia sessions a day. The Progressive Trivia in particular was most entertaining. The cruise director herself, veteran Clodagh O’Connor (HelloClo) moderated, with the able assistance of Sarah. Sarah actually researched the answers to trivia questions and placed expanded answers on the large display screen in the Odyssey Lounge. Clo began each session with an effort to keep things light. Trivia can often degenerate into close to a contact sport for participants. Clo would emphasize that the prizes just weren’t worth the frustration or umbrage some people might feel. What I’m sure she understood but tried not to address was the issue of pride and status that some folks take into these ‘contests.’ One particular story she told stays with me; she mentioned that several activities personal have come to her in the past, close to tears, begging her to give them any job, “just don’t make me do any more trivia sessions!” Clodagh O’Connor has been Cruise Director for many seasons but is still sharp as a pin, full of fun, and a consummate professional. She may have a stock of well worn stories and phrases but her delivery is still fresh and sharp. Her team works hard and seem to give their best efforts. After the last island port-of-call we were still discovering new things to occupy us. Occasionally we would eye the rock wall on deck 13. As seniors over 65 was this too much of a challenge, was fear to win out over curiosity? NO! Three of us decided to throw caution to the winds. I say it was a 30 foot wall, my friend insisted 100 feet. We were indeed up to the challenge, all three of us got to ring the bell at the top of the wall! I suppose I should express my frustration at the expensive and slow Internet connect, certainly not unique to Royal Caribbean. Also, the ‘Library’ was just a couple of shelves on a wall and the Card Room came up short in the variety and number of games for guests to use - and they were not supposed to be taken out of the room. In summary, I will recall this cruise with delight and “warmth.” I’d go again but the cost seems to have almost doubled for next year - and we have some other things in mind. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
It's been almost 11 years since we last cruised RCI, using a variety of other lines in between. We were very excited for this cruise- excellent thread with lots of activities planned, ports we haven't seen but wanted to visit, ... Read More
It's been almost 11 years since we last cruised RCI, using a variety of other lines in between. We were very excited for this cruise- excellent thread with lots of activities planned, ports we haven't seen but wanted to visit, etc. Overall, what a great cruise, but as frequent cruisers there were a couple of things RCI could have done better. For an older ship the Brilliance was gorgeous, very clean, not as flashy as newer ships, but much more elegant. But not Stuffy! Cruise director, CLO, was the best we ever had. Also cabin steward, Foster, was excellent. First time with an aft balcony cabin, and loved it. However, so much going on didn't use it as much as I had hoped, even with many sea days. And we did feel more motion than with other cabins. Although we had great table mates, service in MDR was slow at best. Our waiter was new, and very good, but at the bottom of the pecking order, so ours were always the last dinners out, sometimes as others were already done eating. We said something, and got better service for a few days. However, food was very good. I love to dance, but the music was way too loud. Felt sorry for those cabins near the centrum. The parties were fun, but too crowded, and no more nice prizes like they used to do. The DJ didn't play anything that was danceable., so it was empty most nights. DH is a smoker, and saw the same Tom Cruise movie on the outdoor screen for almost 1/2 of the 13 day cruise (rest was football). Production numbers were good, but standard stuff, and 2 of the 4 singers were better than the other 2. Standard acts, some comedians were more to our liking than others. However, never missed a dance lesson with a great older couple teaching. We did all our shore excursions though CC, and were not disappointed. Getting on & off ship, whether in ports or at embarkation/disembarkation, was excellent. Our main criticism was the guest services desk. We asked many questions, got alot of different answers, and were not really that helpful or nice. They were unprepared for many things, and even when they answered wrong (laundry questions) would not back up what they told us (wrong day for laundry special). Ran out of $ for tips almost 36 hours before disembarkation, and also at the last port could not get smaller bills for change. Also, RCI has really cut back on amenities. No robes in cabins anymore (we're diamond, but not suite), no body lotion (our cabin steward found us some), and bad shampoo, no body wash, no conditioner. didn't bring any along as these have always been supplied. A few minor criticisms, but overall a great cruise with almost 250 CCers! RCI treated us Royally, with a great Meet & Mingle & a fantastic farewell luncheon. The poker-pub party was great! Cruise Critic Rocks! , Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was our 9th cruise--our 1st with RCCL. Our cruise started with the "ping" of our Sea Pass card as we entered the Brilliance. We were wowed by the beauty of this ship. The centrum is wonderful. We loved the glass elevators ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise--our 1st with RCCL. Our cruise started with the "ping" of our Sea Pass card as we entered the Brilliance. We were wowed by the beauty of this ship. The centrum is wonderful. We loved the glass elevators and all the glass to see outside. We found the Brilliance to be very easy to navigate. There are Smart Boards to help you can find your way around easily. We found these most helpful Our room was an interior on deck 4. We really liked the location--close to the elevators, the Centrum, and the MDR. It was extremely quiet. The room sized was good with enough closets space, a sofa, and desk. Our steward was hard working and took good care of us. The ship is very clean. We enjoyed going up one deck and walking around the outside promenade (it goes all the way around the ship and affords some beautiful views and fresh air). We spent a lot of time in the Solarium--the adults only pool area. We swam every single day of our cruise. The salt water pool was very warm. The hot tub was perfectly heated. Clo was our cruise director. She was fabulous--very hands on and very humorous. The entertainment was the best we have ever experienced on a cruise ship. The Pacifica theatre had great acts every night. There was also a lot of musical entertainment in the pubs, in the Centrum. Outstanding! We very seldom were confronted with long lines or waiting. Disembarkation was quite efficient and quick. We would definitely sail on the Brilliance again. In fact, we booked a cruise on the Brilliance for next year on board! Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We have previously sailed on RC - Oasis, Allure, Freedom, and Liberty and experienced fantastic trips and ports of call. The ports at Grand Cayman and Cozumel were fine and off loading and reloading were well orchestrated. Shoppping and ... Read More
We have previously sailed on RC - Oasis, Allure, Freedom, and Liberty and experienced fantastic trips and ports of call. The ports at Grand Cayman and Cozumel were fine and off loading and reloading were well orchestrated. Shoppping and day trips were planned activities and went off without a hitch. However, the Brilliance of the Seas was less than stellar. This trip was "disappointing at best." Service was limited by the wait staff until the 3rd day, food selection was often repeated, the dining area in the Windjammer was not clean (floors were greasy for 3 days), table service (providing of beverages, picking up used plates and utensils, wiping of tables) was limited at best, and there was little to no interaction with cabin attendants. Rita's Catina in no where near that of the Allure/Oasis Class. The menu is limited and there is no festive atmosphere. Our balcony room was typically furnished, but the shear curtains were covered with black soot/mold, and the deck area and widows must have been cleaned with soiled linen. We used all of the venues and were well satisfied with the nightly entertainment (floor shows, Quest, Trivia, Pub, Casino, Kareoke, etc). However, the Centrum had extremely limited seating and hanging on a balcony edge is not a way to enjoy a show............the Centrum is too small to accommodate show viewing. Our pool side wait staff was exceptional: friendly, courteous, and remembered out names throughout the cruise and greeted us at every chance meeting. Although we enjoyed traveling with our friends, meeting new ones, and relaxing - we will not sail on the Brilliance anytime in the future. DISAPPOINTED!   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
I just returned from a 13 night relocation cruise on the Brilliance from Boston to Tampa. I have sailed on this ship 3 times but this is the first in over 4 years and it has been refurbished. We selected an inside cabin this year. We have ... Read More
I just returned from a 13 night relocation cruise on the Brilliance from Boston to Tampa. I have sailed on this ship 3 times but this is the first in over 4 years and it has been refurbished. We selected an inside cabin this year. We have had balcony rooms before but we had a very pleasant time in an inside room last year on another ship and thought we would try it again. Not so good this time. Our stateroom was extremely noisy this year we could easily hear those in adjoining rooms as well as hall noise and a constant roar and creaking of the ship. The waters were calm but for some reason these noises were going all day and night!! The public rooms have been redone and in great style, the R Bar replaces the Champaign bar (I think) on 4 and they were using the Colony Club as an additional Diamond and up lounge the improvements are all positive. This cruise was generally middle-older Bostonians with a sprinkle of others. Few children. We travel with another couple and we all thought the food was above par however we heard others complaining, our previous few cruised have departed from other countries and I think its what you are used to that makes you like the food. Windjammer had the usual fare as did the main dining room but all in all very good. we did not partake in any excursions but did take cabs and walked the ports. Cabin was basic as usual, but seemed more noisy than usual. We could hear those in cabins on each side talking in regular tone. Hall noise and some kind of low roar going at all times (I think it was a dishwasher)  Convenient location however on St Kitts we went to a beach bar and had an excellent time, St Lucia we went to Sandels La Toc for a day pass, a wonderful place. We did Barbados, Curacao and Aruba on our own. Great weather and easy to get around. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Ship was beautiful! Large cruise group aboard this cruise-over 200 people! Many fun cruise critic events planned including one informal,one formal meet and greet,cabin crawl,slot pulls,and a great final luncheon. Food ranged from ok to ... Read More
Ship was beautiful! Large cruise group aboard this cruise-over 200 people! Many fun cruise critic events planned including one informal,one formal meet and greet,cabin crawl,slot pulls,and a great final luncheon. Food ranged from ok to good to once in a while pretty good. I thought the lamb and prime rib entrees were excellent. There could have been a bettter selection of dinner entrees,a few nights I did not like any of the dinner entrees offered so I had the steak which was good. Two breakfast items really good-omelets made to order in the Windjammer Buffet (especially if made by Stella-she was amazing-sometimes cooking 4 omelets at one time!)and french toast in the dining room. Snacks and pizza(later on) in the Park Cafe were good. One minor complaint was that I love cranberry juice,and this was not offered (except in bard where you had to pay for it). My inside cabin was very nice,with a sitting area of a loveseat and coffee table. Usual small bathroom. Entertainment was pretty good,including some comics,violinist,and an acapella male group Home Free that was very good. I was disappointed that for a 13 night cruise only 2 production shows were given. I really liked the broadway show,but the other production show was a musical variety show which I thought was just ok. Shows in the centrum were great-a couple of aerial shows,and 2 parties-one 70's disco and one British rock music. Those 2 parties were a lot of fun. Halloween night was great-a lot of people wore costumes! Ports were good-as I had been to 4 before I mostly walked and did some shopping in the ports. I did go on a great tour of Barbados with 18 other cruise critic people(great job Brenda and Ken). Also went on a 7 hour ship's tour of St.Lucia that was great. I had a great dinner table of all singles! Met a lot of people on this cruise! A fair amount of activities planned for sea days-I like doing trivia,so attended a lot of those events. Best thing I won was a travel mug. Overall this was a pretty good cruise,and I would highly recommend the Brillliance of the Seas! Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This was our 9th cruise with 5 different cruise lines (Carnival, Celebrity, NCL and Holland America). We had been on the Radiance of the Seas and loved it so we tried the Brilliance to visit a couple of different islands (Tortola and ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise with 5 different cruise lines (Carnival, Celebrity, NCL and Holland America). We had been on the Radiance of the Seas and loved it so we tried the Brilliance to visit a couple of different islands (Tortola and Guadeloupe). The embarkation in San Juan was fast and efficient (unlike the disembarkation -- took 2 hours to get through the terminal and customs for some reason - longest ever!) Food -- the food was great everywhere -- I even found the breakfast buffet was better than on Celebrity. I had freshly prepared omelettes most mornings with bacon, banana pancakes, yogurt, fruit, etc. and everything was delicious. For lunch, we ate sandwiches, onion rings, burgers, etc. at the Seaview Cafe or sandwiches and salads from the Solariam Cafe -- both were good. The Windjammer buffet was equally as good. We had dinner in the Dining Room 3 times and it was very good. One night we had dinner in Chops Grille and the filet mignon was excellent. The beef in the dining was just as good and you can order a filet for an extra $15 or $20 so I'm not sure if I would spend the extra $120 for the 4 of us to eat at Chops again but it was very good nonetheless. The desserts were good -- especially the flourless chocolate cake (like fudge!!!), the chocolate sensation cake (I'm a chocoholic) and the key lime pie. One thing I thought was missing were cappuccino machines. They had tea and coffee machines like usual but it's an extra touch that I think every ship should have (Carnival has them!). Ship -- The ship is a bit worn like many people say (mainly the carpets) but still very nice and clean. It's not too big so you can go from your room to the pool or dining room without leaving ½ hour early!!! It's going into dry dock next month for 3 weeks so she'll be even nicer when she's done. Entertainment -- I only saw parts of a few shows and they are on par with most ships. Summary -- Overall, I found the cruise to be very relaxing and the itinerary was great. Lots of beautiful islands and a nice relaxing sea day to end it all off. We will definitely be booking RCL again for another cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This was our second cruise to the Southern Caribbean and we really enjoyed this itinerary. Port - San Juan, Puerto Rico. This was our second cruise out of this port and we got on the boat quickly with no problems. We did not venture ... Read More
This was our second cruise to the Southern Caribbean and we really enjoyed this itinerary. Port - San Juan, Puerto Rico. This was our second cruise out of this port and we got on the boat quickly with no problems. We did not venture out into San Juan. St. Thomas - we visited with friends here, but have been here before. Megan's Bay is always a good choice on this island. If you enjoy shopping for jewelry you will be a happy camper here. St. Lucia - we opted for the Whale and Dolphin sight seeing tour. We did see whales and dolphins but my motion sickness got the better of me. It was a good tour. There were shops right at the port that had good shopping. Guadeloupe - Surprisingly this is another port where passengers are leaving and coming from the cruise. We were wondering why there were so many French speaking passengers on the ship compared to our previous cruises. This is apparently a new itinerary which began about three months ago. We took a tour to the Floral Park and Sevilla Distillery. I loved the park, could have done without the distillery. The park had beautiful tropical flowers and beautiful hummingbirds. Antigua - we took a private cab ride around the island that was not "approved" by the ship. We were very particular with who we chose. It was a nice trip. Nelson's Dockyard is the main attraction on this island. There were some amazing yachts docked there. St. Croix - we just walked around outside the port but due to my recently sprained foot (before the cruise) we did not venture to any beaches. Perhaps next time. This was our third cruise on the Radiance class ships. The Jewel is by far my favorite of the three I have been on. The Brilliance is going into dry dock soon. Food - I was very happy to find out that the menu in the dining room was revised three months before we sailed. We have been sailing with RCI for years and although the menu was good, I was tired of it. I was happy with the new menu and enjoyed my favorite escargot which was offered every night. We ate in the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch and it was fine. We did not use room service. Coffee - well the regular coffee was not so good. I didn't opt to purchase any coffee from the specialty coffee shop. Room - we had a nice room, but unfortunately poorly located across from service rooms. We have cruised many times before and never really noticed the crew when we were resting in our room, but this cruise was very different. It appeared to be more of a floor management problem and Guest Services worked very hard to try to fix it. We won't book any rooms in the future across from a service room or pantry. Other than this issue the cruise was very good. Debarkation - there were multiple areas to meet. We had an early flight and were able to exit the ship quickly and catch a cab to the airport. Wheelchair issues - If you are using a wheelchair and do not have your own be very careful if you can't walk at all to get on and off the ship. I could walk short distances. I did rent a wheelchair to use on board and the crew was great and very helpful. Getting on the ship we had to ask to get a wheelchair and leaving the ship we were told (after it was too late to change) that wheelchairs were not available on the early departures and only from 9AM departures or later. I had to walk with my crutch to the terminal. There needs to be better organization for the disabled passengers. Thursday night, the night before the cruise was over I received a card in my cabin from the disability guest relations officer stating I could let him know if I needed anything during my cruise. It would have been nice to have that card from day one. We love Royal Caribbean and will continue to cruise with them in the future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This is our 10th cruise, most of them on RCCL and we have always enjoyed our trips. This was no exception, although it is probably past time for the Brilliance to see dry dock (which is where she is going shortly). We had a JS on deck 10 ... Read More
This is our 10th cruise, most of them on RCCL and we have always enjoyed our trips. This was no exception, although it is probably past time for the Brilliance to see dry dock (which is where she is going shortly). We had a JS on deck 10 and that will be the last time we book any cabin below (or above) the windjammer (or any other venue) I know better, but it was the last aft cabin available, so we did not have any options... that said, what the heck was going on up there all morning and afternoon - drag, drag, drag, where are you taking them??? Our room attendant was great, everything we requested was there and refreshed as needed. Bed & pillows were comfortable & the room clean, but worn. I was fighting a cold and thank goodness I had brought kleenex with me, because the tissues (and TP) in the room was like sandpaper! Ouch, they have really cheaped out there. Our lovely large aft balcony was awesome, but the flooring was coming up and you couldn't walk out there without footwear, it was weird like rubbery crumbs.. don't see why that wasn't fixed a long time ago. We ate in the MDR late seating - the food and service was good although I thought it odd that we did not once have the maitre d stop at our table - guess with automatic gratuities they don't need to anymore? Also did not see any bar personnel in the dining room, guess the waiters do everything now. Maria did a nice job and we enjoyed our table mates. We also dined at Portofino twice and Chops once - both delicious and GREAT, GREAT service in both restaurants - I highly recommend both! Because we were in port everyday we did not have a sea day until the last day. Which for us was probably good since there were 500+ children on this cruise. Speaking of children - for whomever let their diaper clad child into the pool and then exited the pool without said diaper, thanks for causing them to close the pool (on the sea day), making them drain it, scrub it down and refill it - that was awesome on your part. Kudos to RCCL for their quick action to react to someones total disregard for the pool rules. Overall the crew good, although once I heard RCCL makes them buy their own pens and uniforms, I am amazed that they are as good natured as they are.. The weather was great and the seas calm - couldn't have asked for anything better. Final thoughts: Cruisers - some common courtesy goes a long way - doors & drawers SLAMMING at all hours? Why doesn't the bar have the wine they offer in the menu? Why, if you buy a wine package, is the selection different in the MDR vs Portofino or Chops? I say get your wine in the specialty dining rooms, it is a MUCH better offering. Our toilet did stop operating twice at random times - but no serious issue as it returned to operational fairly quickly (visions of Carnival??) We will cruise again, not on a 7 day and not during spring break. We love this class of ship and are anxious to see the Brilliance when she comes out of dry dock. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
My husband and I have sailed on Norwegian, Holland, Princess and (primarily)Carnival; this was our first experience with Royal Caribbean. We always end up having a wonderful time on our vacations, no matter what mishaps occur along the way ... Read More
My husband and I have sailed on Norwegian, Holland, Princess and (primarily)Carnival; this was our first experience with Royal Caribbean. We always end up having a wonderful time on our vacations, no matter what mishaps occur along the way -- we always try to go with the flow. This vacation was no different; we had a great time. However, to be subjective in this review, I will present the things we loved and didn't love about RCL , the Brilliance, and this itinerary. Our first impressions, unfortunately, were not so good. At curbside, in the middle of the afternoon, with few fellow passengers arriving, there were no porters in sight. We (and the other passengers) had to struggle with multiple bags to haul them hundreds of feet over to the area where the porters would take them 3 feet further and toss them on tall carts full of luggage. Then, they boldly reminded each passenger to tip. When we didn't immediately produce money, we were directed (3 times) to the tip case -- literally a tool box with a slit. Although we always tip porters well, this seemed akin to tipping the baggage handlers for loading your bag on the plane. We felt pressured, so we tipped $5 for 4 bags; we would gladly have tipped double for help from the curb. We kept our carry-ons, as usual -- recommended, so that we had swimsuits and changes of clothes until our bags were delivered. Our arrival time made for a very smooth and easy check-in. There were several staff members lined up outside the ship to welcome us. One stop was for our picture; all the rest were selling something (photo packages, RCL merchandise, etc.) Past that gauntlet, there was no one to show us the entry to the ship; no open entryways. We found a door which led into a hallway (no beautiful lobby entryway) and no one to welcome or direct us anywhere. We honestly first thought we'd gone in the wrong way! The ship itself is beautiful; a midsize ship that wears its age well. Our balcony stateroom was a bit smaller than other ships, but otherwise nice. Lots of nooks and cabinets for storage. We were disappointed that the "mini-bar" was not actually a refrigerator, but a cooler with no cooling ability. No ice bucket -- we had to ask, and no twice daily refills to which we are accustomed. No robes -- we had to ask. No pool/beach towels -- we had to fetch them from the one and only towel exchange ourselves. We had to exchange the towels ourselves after every use as well. Our room attendant was charming and sweet, and complied with every request, but it just seemed that the room amenities we have come to expect from Carnival and other lines were missing on RCL. I also do not like the rounded ends of the beds. While this may allow the beds to fit in a noticably smaller stateroom, it left both my husband and I (5'6 and 6'1) with feet hanging off the bed. I do prefer the sliding glass door to the balcony vs the slamming doors on Carnival's balconies that must be bungied to stay open. We slept most nights with the door open, listening to the sound of the waves. Nice. The public spaces on the ship are lovely. We found many small out-of-the way nooks with seating, tables, etc. around the ship. The solarium, especially, is gorgeous -- a glass domed adults-only retreat with a soothing atmosphere, beautiful decor, a pool, hot tub, cafe and bar. We never did actually get in the hot tub, as it was nearly always full, with groups staying in for as long as an hour at a time. A shame, since our only time in the hot tubs near the main pool were always crowded with small children splashing and playing. Hot tub rules are clearly not enforced, just as the lounge-chair saving policy is not enforced. I realize this is a problem that is not unique to RCL, but there were nowhere near enough deck loungers for the passenger load. Luckily only one day at sea. The Windjammer Cafe, the ship's buffet was nice. The food was comparable to other cruise lines, though there seemed to be a smaller selection and very little variety from day to day. There are some comfortable spaces both inside and out with terrific views. We especially loved the comfy wicker seating in a few areas. We LOVED that the cafe was open, in some capacity, all day long! In the late afternoon, as we were re-embarking after a day in port, they had scones and a delicious bread pudding, as well as snack items and desserts to hold us over until our 8:30 pm dining room seating. We thoroughly enjoyed our dining room experience. We thought the food was decent -- some dishes were outstanding and some disappointed. We happened to have a great table of dining companions and an exemplary wait team (Virgil and Douglas) who made it a fabulous dinner every evening. Virgil went above and beyond on many occasions and always kept us informed about the evening entertainment and the next day's agenda. Our maitre d' was also very attentive, helpful, and never missed a night checking in with us. The first night on board, the late seating for dinner was delayed by approx 45 minutes for reasons that were not stated, so again, a poor 1st impression, especially since 8:30 already seems late, even for a late seating. But as the week progressed, our good experiences onboard far outweighed the bad. My only real complaint with the dining service on RCL had nothing to do with the food. After a season when many ships in several fleets experienced problems with noro-virus, the powers-that-be are taking a proactive approach on the Brilliance -- there are Purell dispensers scattered throughout the ship, with a few at every dining room entrance. I can appreciate that, and I might add that no outbreaks were reported on our cruise. My problem is that I have a hand condition - an allergy of sorts that prohibits me from using alcohol based products on my hands. It would have been fine; I simply declined to used the alcohol-based sanitizers as we passed them. But the staff was militant about it -- each time I bypassed a Purell dispenser entering the Windjammer, a staff member posted there accosted me and insisted that I "sanitize" even when I told them I had washed my hands and was allergic. Once, I was told I must "sanitize" when I simply got up from my table to go get dessert. After a few days of sour looks from the staff and arguments with the staff at every single breakfast, lunch or snack, I complained to the Windjammer head waiter. He was not sympathetic and claimed that it was mandatory that we use the Purell -- direct orders from the captain, he claimed. Later, when I took my complaint to guest services, I learned that it was a *simulation* to train staff in case of an outbreak of some kind. No such order had been issued from the captain. I was given a hand-written "pass" that I had to show staff when I entered the Windjammer to avoid being harassed each time. I suppose it was a solution of sorts, even though one really shouldn't have to explain to anyone whether one chooses to use a chemical product or why. I was offered a free dinner for two in the specialty restaurant as a compensation, but I declined it because I wanted them them to know that my complaint was not registered for the purpose of getting something for free -- I just wanted them to stop harassing me. And it did stop. We had some truly enjoyable moments onboard the Brilliance. One of the best parties we've attended on a cruise ship was the "Silent Party" in the night club. Near the dance floor: two DJs ready to play different dance tunes. Each participant was given a set of wireless earphones with two channels; one for each of the two DJs. You could choose which channel to listen and dance to, and could easily switch between the two. To the rest of the nightclub patrons, no music could be heard. But those of us with headphones flocked to the dance floor! It was kind of funny to watch, since people were dancing to very different music sometimes and when you took off your headphones, you could often hear people singing along to the non-audible songs. Quite entertaining; there must have been 50 or more of us on the dance floor and in the aisles at any given time. The 70s party in the Centrum Lobby was also a blast. The entire lobby swayed to disco and funk; dancers in 70s costumes swirled and hustled and passed out blinking rings... but the highlight was the group of dancers meticulously costumed as the Village People that led hundreds of us through their dance hits, including, of course YMCA. What a hoot! The regular evening shows were often sub-par: a comedian that wasn't funny, amateur acrobats, the usual singing and dancing and that old standby that is truly getting a little old: the marriage game. The few attempts at entertainment in the dining room (trying to copy Carnival?) was lame. The deck band, playing reggae was consistently good, however, and a few of the other musicians were better than the average cruise ship musical fare. There were many things to do that I can't rate, simply because we didn't pursue them. We had a nice quiet room and took every opportunity for R & R. Unfortunately, in this day and age, sometimes down-time includes relaxing online, but on this ship, at least, the only wifi available was in the internet cafes or designated "hot spots" -- no internet in the rooms! This was a big minus in my book. We didn't buy a big internet package as we usually do and were still left with extra minutes because it was a hassle to use them. We always need internet to keep on touch with employees at our business and like to stay in touch with family, so a fast 5 minutes online is easily accomplished in your room (Carnival & Princess). Overall, we had a nice time. The weather didn't always cooperate, so we missed a couple of dives we had scheduled, but there is always something fun to do if you look around. We thought it was a good itinerary over all. Not sure if any of the things I mentioned about RCL would be a deal-breaker in the future; if the itinerary was unique, I would probably use RCL again. But I wouldn't go out of my way to cruise with them again. We had specifically chosen Royal Caribbean because we hadn't tried them and there seems to be some buzz among RCL loyalists that it is sooo much better than Carnival, which we enjoy. Now we know: most of the lines are very similar. Certainly there was nothing about RCL that justifies choosing it over others we've used, especially at a higher average cost and similar itineraries. However, the bottom line is this: we came home happy -- we would recommend this ship and this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We just returned from a seven night Southern Caribbean cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas departing from Puerto Rico. This was the second leg on the schedule after cruising the first leg in 2011 on the Serenade. We missed a year as our ... Read More
We just returned from a seven night Southern Caribbean cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas departing from Puerto Rico. This was the second leg on the schedule after cruising the first leg in 2011 on the Serenade. We missed a year as our preferred cabin 9076 was not available in 2012. We love this cabin as the balcony is a large wedged shape allowing a full frontal view of the ship. There are two lounges and a full sized table with two chairs. The only drawback is that this cabin is directly under the Concierge lounge on the 10th deck and for some reason the cleaning crew has to drag the furniture at two am waking us every night. I might suggest cabin 9576 on the starboard side of the ship. On this cruise we were pleased to find that a bottle of wine per passenger was allowed to be carried on the ship. IMPORTANT: Please note that curling irons,clothing irons and scissors are not allowed on the ship. They will remove these items from you and hold them until the end of the cruise. We are well traveled individuals in our late fifties. This was our 5th cruise, and the second on the Brilliance having sailed on a 12 day Mediterranean cruise in 2009. Other cruises have been on NCL and Carnival, all very nice trips. We arrived in San Juan a few days early ahead of the pending storm on the eastern seaboard and stayed at the Sheraton Old City. This hotel is situated right in Old San Juan across the street from the cruise ship docks and a short distance from the RCI port. This is an excellent hotel choice for both post and pre-cruise vacations. For more on the Sheraton Old City see my post on Trip Advisor. After arriving at the cruise terminal at 10:45am we were onboard by 11:20. The Windjammer buffet did not open until 12:00 so we spend time reacquainting ourselves with the ship. Our cabin was available at 1:00 pm and the luggage arrived at 3:00pm. Our cabin Steward Rajah met us and was ever present throughout the entire cruise. Does this guy ever sleep! We wonder just how many times the Stewards are in the cabin daily. Tipping has changed somewhat from our last RCI cruise. Being on the my-time diner option the pre-paid tip is allocated automatically to each wait person instead of the coupons that had to be placed in envelopes on the last day. You are still given envelopes for all involved wait staff, however, extra tipping is at your discretion. We love being on the Radiance Class ships as they feature a lot of glass and just the right amount of passengers for their size. The Brilliance still sparkles and has that wow factor, however, some areas are in need of replacement. The ship is scheduled for a dry dock re-fit in May 2013. All of the staff we encountered were friendly and greeted us with a smile. The cruise director Mercedes was energetic and not in your face as some others can be. The assistant cruise director spoke French mostly so we did not get to know him. More on that below. We choose my time dining this time in the Minstrel Dining Room. We ate at the same time each evening so we were assigned a specific table with 6 other couples. Our head waiter Ricardo and his staff were excellent greeting us all by name. Nice touch and what a great memory! The food was varied and well prepared with a different theme each evening. On the two formal nights Sunday and Thursday most guests dressed well creating a nice atmosphere throughout the ship. This was a big contrast to our Carnival cruise where dress night consisted of T-shirts, cut off jeans and flip flops the same as every other night. We are not cultural snobs by any means but people if you have a burger and fry mentality then stay with the buffet. The Windjammer buffet was consistent all week offering a varied menu. We ate both breakfast and lunch there daily and had no problem finding a table as turnover is frequent. The staff did a great job of cleaning tables. It is just such a shame seeing people leaving almost full plates on the table then walking away after taking a few bites, enough food to feed a third world country. There are several other places to eat which is covered in other reviews. Check your daily activities sheet for times as they vary daily. Entertainment was typical cruise with two full production shows for the week and fillers each evening in the Pacifica Theatre. Our favourite show was the "Original Drifters' featuring one of the many original members from 1967. It was an excellent show and brought back several memories. We do miss the dedicated Comedy Club offered on Carnival. One thing we love about RCI is that they are port intensive travelling at night and arriving at a different port daily with only one real blue day. The ports were all excellent and we had pretty well most of the day to explore the islands on scheduled tours and on our own. More on that below. One thing you should know about the RCI cruises out of San Juan is that every Wednesday the ship picks up 350 guests and drops off 350 guests from Guadeloupe. Although other than a few rude unattended children running around we had no issues but it was apparent other long time cruisers did. The Guadeloupe guests speak French so all announcements are in English, French and Spanish. This is all shipboard announcements and entertainment venues. There is a definite cultural clash evident. Disembarkation in San Juan was well organized, however being non American it took us over an hour to file through customs and retrieve our luggage. American citizens are free to pass by Immigration and leave the terminal directly. If you require a taxi be aware of the pushy locals that only drag you 50 feet or so to a waiting cab expecting a tip for doing so. This was a change from last time where you lined up and approached a cab in order. RCI offers airport transportation for $36 a couple, however your luggage is placed on a large truck and what a mess at the airport finding your luggage once again. Better to share a cab or pay $25 for the one way trip. All cabs in San Juan operate on a fixed rate which is advised up front. The other concern with the San Juan airport is that your luggage first has to go through the Food and Drug Inspection area located inside the entrance. It only takes a minute to get the green sticker after placing all items including carry on and purses on the conveyor for X-ray. Airline check-in is not possible without the green stickers. One thing that we always do is take the RCI excursions. We have tried the do it yourself tours arranged ahead of time or at the dock with independent companies, however, the RCI tours may be a bit more expensive, however they are quality tours and you are guaranteed that the ship will not sail without you. We did not select any excursion more than 4 hours in length giving us plenty of time to shop and enjoy the afternoon onboard the ship. In all this was another excellent cruise experience and we will continue to cruise RCI based on schedule availability. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Exciting new experience for me. Read on-line reviews to glean what it would be like, what to expect and what to pack for a Southern Caribbean Cruise. Talked extensively to my brother who has several cruise experiences and my travel agent. ... Read More
Exciting new experience for me. Read on-line reviews to glean what it would be like, what to expect and what to pack for a Southern Caribbean Cruise. Talked extensively to my brother who has several cruise experiences and my travel agent. Went to the doctor and received a Hepatitis shot and booster as well as a prescription. for possible stomach ailments as a preventative. Didn't need the meds. because the ship had lots of hand sanitizers and the crew kept it very clean. Frequent hand washing was recommended. My brother was on the cruise with me and was very helpful. Be sure to bring a neck chain and plastic holder for your sea pass, which is the size of a credit card. You need the pass constantly to get into your room, buy stuff on-board and get off and onto the ship. For heaven sake don't loose it, or you are sunk! The first thing that was lacking was communication between the cabin steward and me. The bathroom cabinet was a mystery until my curiosity got the best of me 3 days into the cruise and I didn't find the bar frig until 4 days into the cruise. The number of photos taken by the on-board photographers was unbelievable -- every time you turned around they were snapping a photo. Finally, had to brush them off to get a break. The photos were not very good either. The crew were really nice and they pampered the guests like royalty. A lot of the English, morning announcements were difficult to understand with the heavy accent of the announcer. The music in the Atrium was very professional and a great mix of styles. The pool deck was a constant party and very noisy, however, the Solarium pool was a wonderful retreat. There was dozens of activities available on-board and the movies were shown in several languages throughout the day. I didn't know there were pay movies on TV, but these were twice the price of a cable offering. The Internet connection was very poor and really expensive, so it's better to use a land Internet cafe. The food was unsurpassed! The menu was varied and everything was fresh. The morning buffet in the Windjammer was incredible!!! Be prepared to gain weight. I didn't get sick from the ship motion, but just couldn't get my "sea legs". The ports of call were very interesting and the shore excursions went off without a hitch. The ship was very luxurious and well appointed. A real upscale floating hotel. The only drawback was the room air-conditioning that could not be turned off in order to leave the balcony door open. Thankfully, I took a roll of packing tape with me and was able to block off the side of the vent that blew in my face when I was trying to sleep. Be prepared to have a cover-up for times when the dining room is cooler too. The library is a small oasis of quiet with books you can borrow if you have time to read. Take a napkin folding demonstration, fitness class or spa treatment. Be prepared to pay 15% on all your extra charges for gratuities. Also, expect to pay gratuities on your bill for 4 serving crew members, and they add it times each number of guests per cabin. My cabin steward was very attentive and he provided me with fresh towels twice a day and also a turn-down service. He also made up cute towel animals for my room on three nights to add a laugh. Asking for a filled ice bucket every morning was a good idea. It was an expensive holiday, but a real treat because I deserved it!   Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We have cruised with Royal Caribbean at least 10 times in the past and never in my wildest nightmares did I imagine that I would see the side of Royal Caribbean that I saw on this recent trip. I'm sure that over the past 15 years my ... Read More
We have cruised with Royal Caribbean at least 10 times in the past and never in my wildest nightmares did I imagine that I would see the side of Royal Caribbean that I saw on this recent trip. I'm sure that over the past 15 years my family has spent well over six figures on this cruise line alone; we achieved the revered status of "Diamond" members. RCI can check this in their records. Yet none of this seemed to matter last week after we boarded the ship, the Brilliance of the Seas. It was as if you've had an old loyal friend for years and you suddenly find out that he is robbing you of your life's savings along with your dignity and your humanity. Move over Bernie Madoff! My daughter and I planned a Caribbean cruise many months ago as a special mother and daughter excursion, and we were extremely excited about it. All was in order for our embarkation on January 5th. Unfortunately, my daughter contracted food poisoning the Thursday prior to the Saturday of the cruise and had some gastrointestinal problems until Friday afternoon; however, this seemed to be a minor inconvenience, as she felt better by Friday evening. We boarded the plane to San Juan Saturday morning with no qualms about the week ahead. When asked to fill out the "24 hour symptoms" form, since her illness had been more than 24 hours prior to the start of the cruise, we were able to truthfully answer "no". We boarded the ship, had lunch in the Windjammer, and attended the muster drill. After that my daughter felt a little warm, so she opted to go to the medical facility to see if she indeed had a fever and if they could give her something for it. Never in my wildest nightmares would I have anticipated the series of events that then transpired. After waiting approximately ½ hour, an employee in the facility -- not the "doctor" -- took her temperature. My daughter admitted that she had been sick the day before -- which was just outside the 24 hour clearance period requested by the cruise line -- but was now OK, just wanted to be checked. As it turned out, she had slightly over one degree fever which, quite honestly, could have been attributable to anything; the warm weather, an incorrect thermometer reading, a reaction to the previous stomach ailment, whatever. Perhaps it was even a reaction to something she ate on board. However, instead of any further check for diagnosis or symptoms or even the slightest bit of sympathy, the person who called herself a "doctor" (even though I've since discovered that many of the supposed "doctors" on the ship do not really have the credentials to practice in the U.S.) announced that we had to leave the ship. Immediately. We were stunned. We have both traveled considerably and rarely am I at a loss for words or for a "plan B"; however, I was so stunned at the turn of events that I could barely speak. This is where RCI's true colors began to show. I asked the "doctor" what we were supposed to do and where we were supposed to go. She coldly replied, "That's not my problem." I then asked, "Where are we supposed to stay"? and she responded "Not my concern. I guess you should go to guest services". At the same time, my daughter was told that she would be escorted to our cabin "for help with packing". At this point I gathered that there was not much point in arguing, so off to guest services I went while my daughter was "escorted" to our cabin. When I told guest services our situation it was obvious that not only were we completely out of options, but they had absolutely no intention of assisting passengers whom they had put in this tenuous position. I asked if they could help with a hotel reservation and the person grudgingly said he could; he then asked me what hotel I would like him to call. Do they not know any hotels in Puerto Rico? Fortunately, I knew the name of the hotel that we had been planning to stay in after the cruise; he called them and handed me the phone. Again, very fortunately, they were able to accommodate us. I wonder what would have happened if all the hotels were full. I also asked if he could call a cab, and again he said he would. Had I not asked, we'd probably still be waiting by the terminal. While I was standing at guest services another female and fairly nasty employee came by and started speaking to the first guest services employee as if I wasn't there. I asked for assurance that my daughter, who was very upset, would be kept in the cabin until I got there and she told me that she would. Since they kept talking and ignoring me, and since I was worried about my daughter, I took off to go to the cabin. I am still slightly amused when I think that the woman, who finally realized I had "escaped", started running after me yelling that she was supposed to escort me. My answer: "then you better move it"! I ran up the 6 flights of stairs to our cabin and, when I arrived, my daughter was nowhere to be found. This is when I lost it completely. The thought of my daughter alone downstairs, upset, not knowing where I was, was more than I could stand. Some other poor employee showed up to "escort me" (I guess the aforementioned woman was not up to running up 6 flights of stairs) and I started screaming, "where is my daughter"? "What have you done with her? You lied"! The poor man, who was just doing what he was told to do, didn't know how to respond. Again, I ran down the stairs to find my daughter and found her, hysterical, at the gangplank. At that point we were told to turn in our Seapass cards (as if were of any use to us anyway) and to walk the gangplank, literally. Fortunately we were not yet at sea. We were then "escorted" to the deserted terminal and left there to fend for ourselves. It took the cab more than ½ hour to arrive, and they had told him we were going to the airport! Exactly what would we have done there....waited a week for our flight to arrive? This experience caused unnecessary trauma due to the way it was mishandled by Royal Caribbean. Were they right to put us off the ship? I'm sure many people would say that they did so to protect the other passengers and, if I believed that, I would not disagree. However, they could also have protected the other passengers -- and saved us a considerable amount of grief -- by either examining my daughter more thoroughly to see that she was really was not ill, or by putting us in quarantine for a day. Due to the way they handled the event I am convinced that they acted only to cover their own **s. I'm not sure, but I believe that if we had left the port they would have to have reported to the CDC that they had a case of gastrointestinal illness on board; if they threw us off, they could report the cases as "0". Again, I'm not 100 % sure of this, but I suspect this is the case. What Royal Caribbean should do: 1. If you are so quick to throw someone off the ship due to illness, make sure you employ medical personnel who are qualified to determine whether the passenger is, in fact, ill. I'm not a "doctor," but an examination, even a cursory one, would probably have been the first step. By the time we arrived at the hotel an hour later my daughter's temperature was 98.6 and she was 100% fine all week. I'm not sure what the "doctor's" credentials were in this case, but it was obvious that she had little experience and was afraid of doing anything that might jeopardize her position with Royal Caribbean. The Hippocratic oath be damned, she was interested in saving her own skin and not that of the patient. She did nothing to examine or test my daughter for any illness; the temperature, taken by another employee (who might have been the cook for all we know) was sufficient. One degree of temperature in a 25-year-old woman who currently is exhibiting no other symptoms does not a case of Noro virus make. A more humane option that still would have protected the other passengers would have been to quarantine us for 24 hours. 2. If quarantining is not an option and you are so quick to ruin someone's vacation, a touch of kindness and some very simple procedures would go a long way toward remediating the situation and preserving RCI's reputation as a humane corporate citizen, which they obviously are not. Putting two women who are traveling alone out in a deserted terminal in a strange place with no resources and nowhere to stay may be your way of seemingly protecting your other cruisers, but by doing so you put the "sick" cruisers at considerable risk of life and limb. If my daughter had really been ill it would have put us in an even more tenuous situation, and I shudder to think what would have happened. 3. Develop a "Plan B". Something as simple as a list of hotels and phone numbers, a kind offer to call a cab and arrange for a hotel (even at our expense), and so on would have eliminated much of the trauma we experienced. Furthermore, apprise "ill" passengers of their options rather than letting them stumble upon them on their own. Could we have taken another cruise later from that port or another? Could we have met the ship somewhere? If neither option is a possibility, will we receive compensation for the danger to our lives, the trauma we experienced and our ruined vacation? Or are these, again, "not your problem"? What Passengers can do: 1. Before booking a cruise, investigate the cruise line thoroughly. I wish I had done this beforehand to bring myself up-to-date on how RCI has changed. The cruise business has become very competitive and there are many choices out there. I can't vouch for whether those cruise lines are more sympathetic toward their guests or have better medical facilities, but I can't imagine they could be any worse. And don't take my word for it; a simple Google search for "cruise line complaints" will yield results that will put you in a much better position to judge for yourself. 2. Be sure to take maximum travel insurance. Hopefully the travel insurance companies will have a little more sympathy and humanity than the cruise line does. 3. Even if you ignore #1 and #2, unless you are having a really serious medical event, such as a heart attack, or unless you are losing your cookies all over the ship, don't ever, ever put your health in the hands of the supposed medical personnel on the ships. Remember, they exist only to cover the cruise line's **s and are not there to remediate any medical condition or assist the passengers. In fact, they may be completely incapable of doing so. Epilogue: After settling in the hotel and doing some research for phone numbers, etc., I called RCI on the Sunday following our Saturday cruise to see if we could be placed on the Adventure of the Seas, which had a similar itinerary. We were told that we could not board another cruise until 48 hours had passed and we received a clean bill of health (what happened to the 24 hours RCI asks for on their form)? I then called their Emergency Travel Assistance line to ask if we could join the Brilliance at the next port; we were told that we could but that, since RCI had no contract with the airline that flies to that port, we would have to make our own arrangements. I was willing to foot the expense but I was not about to be put in a situation where RCI was again not responsible and where we could again be denied boarding on a whim, in which case we would be in an even worse predicament on a more remote island. I called RCI customer service to see if we would at least be offered a refund; after being put on hold for more than a half hour it was clear that no one could answer that question. I'm still waiting to find out. One thing I was told was that RCI had us listed as "no-shows"! As previously stated, I believe this is a way for them to avoid reporting to the CDC but it's also a gross misrepresentation as we were, in fact, on the ship for several hours. I finally called Choice Air (RCI's air travel partner) to see if we could arrange for an earlier flight home and was told that, since we booked through them, changing our flight would cost $100 more than it would if we had booked it directly with the airline! My daughter and I spent the next five days in San Juan; this would have been a very nice vacation had it been what we were anticipating in the first place. All of this was at our expense -- an estimated $3,000 over the cost of the cruise that we still don't know if we're getting back. Although we arrived home safely, we are both extremely traumatized by the event and will certainly be a lot wiser in the future. Hopefully our horrendous experience will help others make better choices as well. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We have cruised 13 other times, first time with Royal Caribbean. Expected it to be great... it was just good. The ship's public areas were beautiful and kept clean. Our stateroom was roomy ( for a stateroom ,) however during the ... Read More
We have cruised 13 other times, first time with Royal Caribbean. Expected it to be great... it was just good. The ship's public areas were beautiful and kept clean. Our stateroom was roomy ( for a stateroom ,) however during the course of the week, our toilet had to be fixed 3 times. The food in the Windjammer and Minstrel dining room was good, but not exceptional. Our waiter, Turgay, was one of best we have ever had. Three of the shows were excellent, Kelley James, the Temptations tribute, and the Jersey comedian. One was beyond excellent. "Two Funny Guys" was one of the best shows we have ever seen. Other shows were okay to weak, especially the juggler who performed two nights. Cruise director seemed good, but really never saw him, other than introducing shows, until last couple of nights. The biggest thing to us was it just felt like a generic cruise. Nothing unique or Royal Caribbean loyalty inducing. We had a great time with my siblings, cousin, and spouses, but the cruise activities all seemed routine or even canned. One activity we always enjoy is the trivia games, however, the two assistant cruise directors who led them spoke English as a second language, maybe third, and it took 2 to 6 tries of reading each question to understand the question. This also seemed to be a ship marketed to Europeans. Nothing wrong with that, but also seemed like there were less opportunities to just visit and chat up new friends around the ship because of that. We had a great time, but would look to another cruise line for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Flew in 2 days prior, got a taxi to hotel Milano, explored San Juan. Loved the hotel and location. We arrived at the port few minutes before 11, the embarkation started at exactly 11 am. Even though there was a long line, we were on ... Read More
Flew in 2 days prior, got a taxi to hotel Milano, explored San Juan. Loved the hotel and location. We arrived at the port few minutes before 11, the embarkation started at exactly 11 am. Even though there was a long line, we were on the ship in no more than 20 minutes. Brilliance of the Seas -- the best words to describe it as airy centrum with weird floor plan. Anywhere you want to go, you have to remember which corner to turn, and it takes a while to get adjusted. The glass elevators allow you to see inside and outside. Standard cabin with standard fabric curtain shower -- you have to be really, really careful not to get water on the floor, or just give up, you won't succeed anyway. Shampoo/conditioner dispenser and brick soap only. At the boarding we got a printed note about some disease outbreak on the prior run, I think it was chicken pox. I would think, the ship should be at least cleaned if not sanitized. Surprise, surprise, dust on bed stand shelves. On the first evening met a young couple with a suitcase labeled "alcohol" and a bottle of champagne in hand. They didn't know they shouldn't have checked it. I said they now have Internet bragging rights about the naughty room. There also was a couple with over 700 cruises, and one old couple with over 1,000 consecutive cruise days! Some people really don't have a life. They've sort of solved the loungers' reservation problem. There are no beach towels in the cabins (Caribbean Islands, what else is there but beaches?) -- to get a towel to use by the pool you have to leave your sailpass which means you have to lug your own towels from home to use on beaches. And you need your sailpass to get in the cabin, so fewer towels used to reserve the loungers. The new food menu is the seafood lover paradise. If you don't eat crustaceans and such, read every word of the dish description. On the formal nights the head waiter walked around helping people cut lobsters out of the shells. He ignored my request to come back to cut my dessert. The lonely vegetarian dish on the menu is usually non-appealing sounding pasta. As for desserts, I have one comment: somebody take away the starch that the chef is over-using, let us try something real! We would prefer the buffet for dinner if not for our interesting tablemates at the table of 11. We've exchanged our e-mail addresses and hope to stay in touch! We had unlimited ice-cream with a sign "low fat frozen yogurt, warning: contains diary" -- the typo is not mine! I meant to take a photo of it... As returned customers, we got a coupon booklet. The "free pull" in the casino did not surprise with wins, so off we went to the slut machines -- just penny slots, we don't play to win, only for fun. Used the 2 for 1 drink coupons of course; Italian Pinot Grigio was really good! In Tortola we got on a tour. This is where my husband had an accident in the ocean. I said this at the dinner table, 9 people froze looking at me, 9 pairs of eyes afraid to ask. I love these dramatic moments. My husband likes to get close to water; there was a band of wet sand between the beach and the ocean, small waves licking the shore. He didn't realize there are no swimmers for a reason! A large wave came over, his pants were wet almost to the knees, and half of the beach sand was in his socks, half of the ocean water in his sneakers. We felt the Caribbeans are all about beaches and water activities, for younger and healthier people. While we are not sorry for visiting the islands, most likely we won't return. Amazing were the clouds, black like bringing a storm every evening although the weather was perfect, dry, warm, and windy. Also the stars, huge and low -- the sky usually cleared after the sunset. To disembark, they give you a tag with a number on it, and call the groups by the number. Somebody on Cruise Critic said the luggage retrieval was a mess -- not so for us! Just find your number on the wall, and go along your row of suitcases. This was easy. The passport control line was probably the longest ever. The usual mess and confusion at the airport upon leaving. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We enjoyed this cruise, but we wouldn't rave about it. Embarkation: very smooth. We arrived around 1:30 so no crowds rushing on. We were allowed to purchase 2 bottles of wine and bottled water to carry on at the liquor store right ... Read More
We enjoyed this cruise, but we wouldn't rave about it. Embarkation: very smooth. We arrived around 1:30 so no crowds rushing on. We were allowed to purchase 2 bottles of wine and bottled water to carry on at the liquor store right at the port - nice touch! Room: room was fine, steward was good. You do need to request ice and robes if you want them. Entertainment : some of the music was outstanding! In particular the Spanish guitarist and the Starlight Trio. Other entertainment was so-so, though we did enjoy the Motown group. Mercedes did a good job with the activities. The larger ships do have much. Better entertainment. Dining: new menu was ok, but a bit disappointing. We found everything. To be rather bland. Indian dishes are no longer available and we missed them. My husband was delighted that crime br'lee is offered every evening as is shrimp cocktail, escargot,and their chocolate dessert. We are Diamond members and do. my Time Dining. We may rethink this as our MTD experience was terrible! Our waitstaff were pleasant and personable, but were always swamped and appeared disorganized. They were not the only ones as we often saw the red coats as busy. But many "little" things added up to making it a less than satisfying experience - things like missing salt shakers and Bo butter several nights, no refills on water and iced tea, no sour cream for baked potatoes until they were cold, clearing carts set table side several nights and, well, you get the idea....Nothing that terrible, but too many too often gets annoying! The ports were the draw for us taking this cruise and they did not disappoint. In San Juan per cruise we stayed at the Hampton. Enjoyed their Happy Hour and they even had complementary ten minute massages poolside. A very helpful desk clerk, Mia, arranged a last minute tour for us with Reuben of Pepe tours. He took us to Old Town at the start of the San Sebasti'n festival and then an informative tour of San Juan and even out to the Bacardi plant just so my husband could pick up a couple things at their gift shop. Highly recommend him! St Thomas- We went to St John, nor of our favorite islands for snorkeling at Trunk Bay and then drinks at Woody's. st Lucia- We booked a tour with Spenser Ambrose and enjoyed it. The land and sea tour which includes a great snorkel stop at Jalousie beach. Guadeloupe - Most reviews have not been kind. We took the Discover tour through the ship based on CC advice and were glad we did Asti gave us a good look at the island. The botanical gardens were lovely, the waterfall was somewhat unimpressive, and the distillery a let down. Two tour busses at a tasting bar do not make for a pleasant experience. The area around the port really isn't worth walking to see. Overall, kind of so-so. Antigua - On advice of CC, we took the See Antigua by Sea tour and thoroughly enjoyed it!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Brilliance of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 3.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.1
Family 3.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 3.5 3.4
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.0

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