Sail Date: March 2019
We chose as the dates were right, price was right and we only live 45 minutes from Tampa and so port was right. Great ship, lots to do, lots of bars, entertainment and loads of food! Only bad part was not enough for 12 and 14 year old boy ... Read More
We chose as the dates were right, price was right and we only live 45 minutes from Tampa and so port was right. Great ship, lots to do, lots of bars, entertainment and loads of food! Only bad part was not enough for 12 and 14 year old boy to do. They didn't want to go to the teen hangout and so got a bit bored at the day at sea but still had fun. Loved the food (Especially all the desserts)! Had a great day in Cozumel, we hired a private taxi as there were 6 of us, Tour Plaza. They took us all round the island and stopped at the chocolate factory (my kids favorite), tequila tasting (our favorite), mayan ruins and at a private beach club for lunch and a swim. Just wasn't enough time to enjoy the island enough. Our service on the cruise was excellent. We even coped with our cabin space (4 in a cabin was not exactly spacious but OK for 4 nights). Our waiters in the dining room were great and all went out of their way for us all. Particularly Kevin and Swapneel (I think shortened to Neil)! Would definitely go on another cruise with Royal Caribbean, just maybe with adults next time, or when my kids are a little older and will enjoy hanging out with teens more! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise as it was during spring break for our kids. The four night cruise had only one Port of call (Cozumel) and two sea days. We prepaid our parking using Park Connect and walked to the ship in less than 15 minutes. ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was during spring break for our kids. The four night cruise had only one Port of call (Cozumel) and two sea days. We prepaid our parking using Park Connect and walked to the ship in less than 15 minutes. Embarkation in Tampa was smooth, which surprised us as we were told the Coast Guard was doing an inspection and we could not board until noon. Some of the local security people must have been having a bad day cos they seemed angry and pushy. I assumed that would make it super crowded, which was not the case at all. We were told that Emerald level cabins would be ready when we boarded. This was not true, so just beware. All cabins are ready at the same time. Brilliance is a beautiful ship, the Centrum prettier than many I've seen. Dining room service was excellent; food was pretty good. Maybe I am spoiled, but it seems the food isn't as "special" as it once was (I haven't cruised in over a year) and the meals seemed a bit rushed to me (5:30 seating). Was not thrilled with our time in Cozumel as we booked a private jeep tour of the island. Very disappointed in that, but it was not the fault of RCCL. Greedy vendors at every turn took our time and frankly ruined our day. I did not expect that (should have). If I ever return to Cozumel, I will book excursion through the cruise line. (The jeep tour vendor is a TripAdvisor company so it surprised me it wasn't better!) Debarking was also smooth (we carried our luggage off ourselves) and Customs was a breeze (no more customs forms!! YEAH). All in all, a good cruise - weather was great, thank you Father God! Will I do it again? You betcha! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We choose this cruise to get together with friends from other states and to get out in the sunshine. We purposely chose a shorter, less expensive cruise. There were 12 of us all together; 4 of the couples flew from Ohio, one already in ... Read More
We choose this cruise to get together with friends from other states and to get out in the sunshine. We purposely chose a shorter, less expensive cruise. There were 12 of us all together; 4 of the couples flew from Ohio, one already in Florida, and we drove from SC. Embarkation was the easiest we have had in 17 cruises. The Port of Tampa is easy to drive to, easy to park, easy to board. We were onboard in about 30 minutes. Cabins weren't ready so we went to the Windjammer expecting a crush of people. There was no trouble getting tables for the group or food. Since we had twelve, I wasn't able to make the MTD reservation online ahead of time, so I did it for 10 and added the last couple with no problem when we got onboard. Food in the dining room and Windjammer was good to very good. Some of the standouts were the lamb chops, the short ribs, the coconut shrimp appetizer (I wish I'd ordered two as an entree.), soups, warm chocolate cake. I thought the Windjammer food was better than recent previous cruises. We were in an Oceanview on deck 3 nicely located. Bed was very comfortable. Plenty of space. It did have the dreaded shower curtain, but no big deal. Cabin attendant, Omar, was very good and filled our ice every day as we requested. The Almost Elton John show was terrific. The Royal Caribbean singers and dancers were very good, but we only made it to the final show. All the musicians on board were excellent. We hung out in the Vintages bar or R bar most afternoon/evenings and loved all the action and game shows in the Centrum including Locomotion and Jan Cruz. We did shore excursions on our own and liked that we could walk right into Key West from the ship. All in all, the cruise was exactly what we wanted, but there are a few things that could use improvement. First of all, drink prices are outrageous. Sorry, but almost $10 for a Budweiser is ridiculous. $9-12 for a glass of bad wine is highway robbery. I feel like they are doing this to push everyone to the packages and it did work for some of our group. The package added another $600 to the price of what started out to be a reasonable cruise. The Brilliance is a beautiful ship and mostly in super condition. I wish they could keep all those beautiful windows a little cleaner. It really is time to make the casinos nonsmoking. On the bright side it saved us money, because we stayed out of there. I would cruise the Brilliance again. If you don't buy a drink package, it is a great value. A beautiful ship with a wonderful staff! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise as we just wanted a shorter cruise this time, 5 days. We had not been on an older ship for sometime, but found the Brilliance to be in good shape and not tacky at all. We live just an hour away, so drove to ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we just wanted a shorter cruise this time, 5 days. We had not been on an older ship for sometime, but found the Brilliance to be in good shape and not tacky at all. We live just an hour away, so drove to the port and parked in Channelside Parking at l/2 price of Terminal 3 parking. It's just 2 short blocks away from the terminal. We arrived at the terminal about 10:15 and boarded before 11:00. Very easy and quick. We are foodies and enjoyed our 3 Specialty Dining package, 2 nights at Giovanni's and 1 at Chops. All were above average. Branzino at Giovannis was excellent, as were the filets. A couple disappointments were the grilled octopus starter, bucatini bolognose. Tuna crudo starter was excelent. Otherwise, all good. Chops I had rack of lamb, and DH the filet. Excellent Windjammer was hit or miss as usual. One standout was the Moussaka for lunch the last day. Egg station was good as usual for breakfast. Service was friendly and good. Minstrel DR was Ok if you were lucky enough to order the right entree. My pork chop was Ok, but could have done without the sauce, Cod another night, not so good. Prime Rib was good. We did My Time dining, has reservations and we had good service with no wait. Entertainment: First production show was not good IMHO, Comedian and Magician/Comedian were both good as was the Tribute to Elton John. We are Diamond and enjoyed a drink at the pool at 5 p.m. then a glass of wine at Vintages, got excellent service and conversation from Natalia and Denis, then carried our 2nd glass of wine into dinner. With the size of the Brilliance, it is an easy ship to get around and find your way. We wouldn't hesitate to take this cruise again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise for the price, and time of year. It was out 2nd cruise on this ship, and though older, she is still in fine shape. We were blessed with cabin #8104, which had a larger than normal balcony, was midship, so very smooth ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the price, and time of year. It was out 2nd cruise on this ship, and though older, she is still in fine shape. We were blessed with cabin #8104, which had a larger than normal balcony, was midship, so very smooth ride. We have cruised multiple times, ocean view, and more recently in balcony cabins, and suites here and there. Our last trip was a Celebrity suite on Celebrity, and I was concerned about our balcony suite and Main Dining service and quality on this ship. No worries, the food was amazing in both the main dining room and the Windjammer. Ship was full, and there were a few more lines than normal. Pool chairs, as always, needed to be grabbed by 9 a.m. (as soon as the cruise lines start enforcing the 30 minute rule regarding chairs, I will not chair save) Cabin was spotless, drinks were easy to get, and the weather was perfect. Embarkation was a snap, and by taking our own luggage out, we were through customs, got our car from Parking Doctors, and we’re on the road within a half hour. Loved this vacation, love the Brilliance of the Seas! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise because it fit the school vacation schedule in NY State. My wife and I are approaching 60 and our son is 25. We liked the ship size and layout. We had a Jr Suite which was plenty of space for the 3 of us. The ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it fit the school vacation schedule in NY State. My wife and I are approaching 60 and our son is 25. We liked the ship size and layout. We had a Jr Suite which was plenty of space for the 3 of us. The walk-in closet was larger than we expected. The tub drain had an issue that was addressed promptly by the maintainance folks by removing the drain plug. It did solve the no-drain shower, but made the tub pretty much non-functional. This was a 5-day cruise and we had a 3 night specialty package. We went to the dining room on day 1, and enjoyed the meals. We planned on going back on Day 5, but did not make it. We had reservations for Chops, Izumi and Giavannis for day 2,3&4. Chops was great. Izumi was fine. We ended up not visiting Giavannis due to illness/quarantine for my son and I on Day 4, Fortunately , My wife did not get the sickness, so she was able to utilize the ship, The medical folks were able to address the problem with efficiency and we became well, but we stayed in the room for the 24 hour period. We did have to cancel our excursion in Cozumel, but better safe than sorry. We did get off ship on Day 2 in Key West for a Hop-On/Hop-off and Butterfly excursion. Traffic was really bad in Key West, but we enjoyed the tour and the Butterflies. As on each of RCL cruises, the crew and staff were exceptional. Our Stateroom attendant, Roxanne, was great and went out of her way to do several complete sanitizing of our room during our illness. We spent quite a bit of time at the 3-card table in the Casino (actually saved some money due to the 24 hr quarantine), The dealers and the servers were great. We saw several of the shows in the Showroom and enjoyed the all. I did not go in to the bar with the guitarist, but was impressed each time I walked by between the casino and the Mens room. He was very good and the crowd was always plentiful. Both Embarkation and Disembarkation went quickly and smoothly. We were apprehensive about cruising out of Tampa due to some recent fog issues that have occurred. There was no sign of fog on either day, We would definitely cruise on the Brilliance again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Our nephew & his wife joined us on this cruise to celebrate my birthday. Embarkation and disembarkation in Tampa was a breeze, quick on and off the ship with hardly any waiting. Our junior suite was large & clean with plenty of ... Read More
Our nephew & his wife joined us on this cruise to celebrate my birthday. Embarkation and disembarkation in Tampa was a breeze, quick on and off the ship with hardly any waiting. Our junior suite was large & clean with plenty of storage. The Brilliance O.T.S. is in good condition, well laid out, and the ride was mostly very smooth, even with the occasional rough seas of winter. We mostly dined in the main dining room for dinner, which had good choices, and tasty food. Lunch in the main dining room, the food didn't seem as good. We didn't eat breakfast after ordering it through room service the first morning, as they didn't deliver what we ordered, and the coffee was horrible. My husband would go up to the Windjammer and get us coffee and fruit & pastries thereafter. Although I must say the coffee wasn't very good anywhere on the ship. Maybe we should have ordered a beverage package where I should think the upscale coffees were better. I wouldn't recommend the entertainment on this ship, it was blah, your typical song and dance routines, and a not very funny comedian. Entertainment on the larger ships from the Voyager class, Freedom Class, and up to the Oasis class have much better shows, more variety; the Ice Shows are not to be missed, and more sophisticated shows, such as Aerial shows, and Broadway shows are very enjoyable to watch. Of course the Oasis class also has a Aqua Show too. Service on the Brilliance was very good, all the staff were friendly, and hard working. We visited Key West first. Took a trolley hop on hop off ride. But due to some major roads being redone/worked on, the traffic was horrible, and we felt we didn't dare get off during any of it's 13 stops, because we might not find another trolley come in time for us to get back to the ship on time. We did do a little shopping in Key West at our final stop in Mallory Square before heading back to the ship. Our other stop was Cozumel. We bought a day pass at a all inclusive resort on the internet, for the Melia Club Resort, before leaving on our cruise. A taxi ride each way for $16.00 for four of us was very reasonable. We of course gave the driver a good tip each way. The resort was very nice, loved the swim up bar, where the drinks were good and plentiful. The beach is right there, and beautiful. The only complaint I had was the free buffet lunch was not very good in my opinion. Couldn't find much on it that looked very appetizing. I love Mexican food, but no taco's, burrito's, rice, beans, salsa, no fresh fruits, etc. were made available. Instead they had a gray looking pork roast, fish, and some sort of stew, plus some nacho chips and chopped onions and tomato's for choices. So lunch was a disappointment to me, and to all but one of us, out of four people. If you don't care about eating lunch there, then I would still recommend this resort for the day. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
I cruise every year and the last two cruises I have found some of the excursions to be a chaotic disaster. The cruise ships are so large and the ports of call so small that it is crazy trying to get around. We have been to key west a few ... Read More
I cruise every year and the last two cruises I have found some of the excursions to be a chaotic disaster. The cruise ships are so large and the ports of call so small that it is crazy trying to get around. We have been to key west a few times before and usually stayed in the downtown area. On this cruise I chose to do the hop on hop off tour. The tour is a nice tour if you just stay on the bus. No hopping on or off because if you do you will be stuck. The busses never have any room because there is a hour plus wait to get on the tour. Also the amount of time it takes to get off the ship and to wait in the line for the trolley is 1.5 hours. We arrived at 11 am and leave at 5 pm. At 1230 we were finally on the tour. The tour guide said to head back to the ship at 3pm. You can do the math at how much time you have. A waste of time. Do not do the hop on hop off tour!!! Overall the Brilliance is a nice ship and the overall experience was good. We were in room 1008 which is a good location although the water was a bit rough and there was a lot of movement. I am not bothered by the movement at all. I also found the bed to be the most comfortable bed on a cruise ship ever! Great dining staff and the food was good. They need to bring back the lobster, however. We snorkeled in Cozumel and had the best time. The excursion was managed well and well worth it. Also, the drinks flowed freely and were no additional charge. Considering, wine by the glass onboard was 18 dollars plus tip each. The drinks alone paid for the excursion and the snorkeling was a bonus. One last thing, the embarkation/disembarkation in TPA is absolutely the best, whereas New York City is absolutely the worst. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
First time on Royal Caribbean. Have sailed Princess, NCL, Carnival, and Celebrity before. I was on a four night out of Tampa with friends, all in our 30s. In summary, I would sail this ship again for this type of cruise. It was not fancy ... Read More
First time on Royal Caribbean. Have sailed Princess, NCL, Carnival, and Celebrity before. I was on a four night out of Tampa with friends, all in our 30s. In summary, I would sail this ship again for this type of cruise. It was not fancy or terribly impressive but it facilitated a good time with good friends. If you get a good deal and are interested in that type of trip, I would recommend. Pros: - Embarkation / debarkation - excellent. I am the idiot who unwisely scheduled a 10AM departing flight. Luckily it was no problem. I lined up at 6:30 AM and was one of the first off the ship. Still, it was stressful so I do not recommend. Both check in and check out were under 10 minutes (we arrived at noon). Staff was helpful. - MDR server - after a bad experience with our first server (My Time Dining) we found Ramesh in the MDR who was OUTSTANDING - Activity selection seemed pretty good for a ship of this size. Movies, pool activities, mini golf, etc. I had no complaints and stayed busy. Medium: - We played trivia a lot - the staff was very middling. The nicest emcee asked very easy questions but that was preferable to the staff who kept scolding people for talking. It was very off-putting. - Windjammer - unremarkable but fine - Drink service - we had the Beverage Package - wait times were medium. We found the drinks at Schooner Bar to be the best on board. - Stateroom a bit worn - I was on balcony 8534. Nothing wrong with the room but everything was just a bit... dated. Needs improvement: - MDR food. Our group described it as "aggressively mediocre." There really was nothing great about it. Very bland, very blah. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We have sailed RCI twice before, but chose this itinerary due to limitations in our schedule. Because we live in Tampa, we were able to get on the ship early and tour it in its entirety by mid-afternoon. The staff was friendly and the only ... Read More
We have sailed RCI twice before, but chose this itinerary due to limitations in our schedule. Because we live in Tampa, we were able to get on the ship early and tour it in its entirety by mid-afternoon. The staff was friendly and the only wait was a 20 minute wait in the 'corral'. I'm not sure why this mix all the high elite passengers into the numbered corrals rather than have dedicated areas for diamond, platinum, etc. Brilliance is a nicely appointed ship with some upscale touches and appears to be fairly well maintained. We got an aft cabin and really enjoyed it. The seas were very smooth and the ship was moving relatively slow, so there was virtually no motion and the vibration over the screws didn't bother us. We liked the aft balcony and the wake of the ship, although the glass on the lower half of our cabin was very dirty and clearly hadn't been cleaned in a while. Standing it isn't an issue because you're looking over it anyway, but when seated it was frustrating and clearly a detail that RCI has lost sight of. I looked at the glass on other aft cabins and they all appeared to be very dirty. Mind you I am well aware that salt air makes keeping glass clean very difficult, but when you pay for the view and the windows are filthy it's disappointing. The Minstrel reservation manager moved us from a table of 6 to a table for 2 (by the window) upon request and I'm sure it wasn't our 'Gold' status. We had the late seating (8PM) which conflicted with some shows and activities that we wanted to do, but we made it work. We asked about an earlier 'My Time', but were told we would end up eating around 8PM anyway. Our server and assistant were a highlight of the cruise - Pablo and Alejandria. Great service every night and brought us an Artisan cheese plate to start each meal as requested. By the second night, didn't have to ask for a second drink - she knew. RCI has apparently gotten aware from the drink waiter concept which is good - we hated that last time because it took forever to get a drink and you had to show your card every time. No more of that. The food was slightly above average. In my opinion, RCI's food is fairly bland and underwhelming. There is a good selection for each course. The calamari appetizer and lamb shank entree as well as the beef short ribs were our only highlights. We found it odd and irritating that on Night 1 one of the staff tried to 'up sell' us on specialty dining. I'll comment here, because this was one aspect of the entire cruise that we did not like. RCI's is always trying to sell you 'more'. Once a customer pays good money for a cruise, when staff are constantly trying to sell you a better entree, specialty dining, excursions, bingo cards, etc it makes you feel like you're simply being taken advantage of. We're upper middle class people, but have enjoyed some luxury experiences in our lives. There isn't pushy salesmanship with each experience. This approach cheapens RCI in my opinion. I find it particularly irritating that the menu for the main dining room offers 'premium' dishes each night. A reminder that you're not eating a premium entree - despite paying a lot of money to cruise. One of the reasons we probably won't sail RCI again. We bought the drink package when they put it on sale for 30% off. Otherwise, we would have passed. The staff didn't seem bothered by the lack of a tip with each serving the way they did a couple of years ago. Don't know how RCI apportions the 18% gratuity that is included, but Berchel in the Solarium bar was our favorite bartender. The guy at Vintages was not very friendly, although it could be the Eastern European bluntness. Stephen in the pub was very friendly on Day 1, but then seemed more aloof the rest of the time. We did not like the casino. The non-smoking area is very small and the slots in that area aren't the 'better' games. The table games in the non-smoking area typically didn't open until late and were higher limit. Even so, the ventilation system didn't seem to be able to handle all the smoking. I got a headache the first two nights. Most of the casino staff was friendly, but one of the dealers was an absolute jerk. Granted no one enjoys losing money, but he openly took pleasure in beating patrons. Pissed a lot of people off. After Day 2, I walked away if he relieved the previous dealer. Beware of RCI's strange Blackjack rules. I am not a high roller, but some of there rules are very odd and something I've never seem before - especially at the single deck table. We played bingo and I won the second pot (on Day 2), but was disappointed in the payout. Must have been 175 people that spent an average of $69/person, but the total payout for all 3 games was around $1,200. RCI taking WAY too much profit from the game. If you do sail RCI again, I won't be playing bingo. The shows were decent - saw the opening night show which was mainly an advertisement for future shows and the Las Vegas tenors. There were pretty good, but once again the show ended with a pitch for you to buy their CDs (more up-selling). The Pacifica Theater is a nice venue. One of the things we like to do most when cruising is to enjoy the hot tub. However, Brilliance only has three VERY small hot tubs. The capacity sign says they can fit 14, but let me assure you that you can only fit 5-6 normal adults. One of them is in the Solarium and the other 2 are at the main pool. We generally avoid the ladder, so didn't get in either one of those (they were a little larger), but the water temperature in the Solarium was warm rather than hot and the jets moved water, but not enough to create the 'hot tub' mist of massaging jets. Also, because it wasn't hot some people (including groups of 4-6) would stay in the hot tub for long periods of time (30 minutes or more). Can't do anything to fix rude or inconsiderate, but I think warmer water would ensure that people don't linger as long. Not much that RCI can do to add capacity - just poor engineering and if this is a highlight for you I'd avoid this ship. We did the dolphin swim in Cozumel. We paid $125/pp for the VIP package which offered a locker and towels included. Turns out our tickets said we needed to take towels, but we didn't since Dolphinarius provided, but that wasn't a huge deal (expect arguably we paid for it). The dolphin interaction was cool, although it's fairly short and you definitely don't get to 'swim' with them. Also, they subject you to a good bit of admonishment about ocean pollution (undoubtedly a problem so we didn't mind that, although I don't really want to pay to be told about something I'm already familiar with). The lunch we had with the package was excellent and our dining area by the pool was nice. However, the experience was once again cheapened by a big push to buy a package of pictures - which were VERY expensive by the way. It's just crazy to ask for that much for a few pictures after charging $125/pp. Also, there is no real snorkeling, kayaking, etc. The description of the excursion makes it sound like it's at a beach and has a lot of activities after you do the dolphin portion in their lagoon, but there is no beach and there isn't much to explore or see on this (western coast) of Cozumel. For my wife, this was a bucket list item so we're glad we did it, but we definitely not pay the $ to do it again. Unrelated to RCI, we went to La Casa Del Habano hoping to buy a box of Cuban cigars to take home. However, be forewarned that you'll pay an enormous premium to buy from this certified dealer in Cozumel. I am something of an Aficionado, so the sticker shock was palpable. I am an avid runner. I think this is a problem on all cruise ships, but if you don't run early be prepared to be constantly blocked by walkers or people that don't realize that the wide, painted path on the upper deck with arrows is for runners. I despise tread mills, so while I was able to get a couple of good runs in you have to be patient with couples that want to walk together and take up both lanes, all the sunbathers that partially block the running path, or the occasional drinker that staggers out into the sunlight and into the path with a precious concoction. I'm surprised there aren't more collisions. All-in-all, we had a good time on our Valentine's weekend cruise (just me and the wife), but probably won't sail Brilliance again based mainly on a smoky casino, tiny hot tubs and perpetual up-selling. However, there is a lot to like about the ship despite her age and if you smoke, don't care about hot tubs, don't mind 'average' food and aren't bothered by lots of marketing (didn't mention art work, RCI pictures, etc) then you can certainly have a good time on this ship for a reasonable price compared to the newer/larger vessels. Read Less
Brilliance of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.5 0.0
Family 3.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.5 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.5 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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