Brilliance of the Seas 12-7-14-2019
I will try to make this review as short as possible while covering a variety of relevant points most cruisers are concerned with. After 29 cruises and years of sailing the “Mega Liners”, the ... Read More
Brilliance of the Seas 12-7-14-2019
I will try to make this review as short as possible while covering a variety of relevant points most cruisers are concerned with. After 29 cruises and years of sailing the “Mega Liners”, the wife and I decided to switch things up and take a journey back to where our cruising adventure began years ago, a smaller ship. After reading a variety of reviews we took the plunge and booked RCCL’s “Brilliance of the Sea” out of Tampa from 12-7-14 2019. In short, overall the Brilliance of the Seas met and at times exceeded our cruising expectations.
Port of Tampa: Traveling to the port was easy; however, there is a significant amount of road construction so make sure you plan accordingly if driving to and from your cruise. While traveling was relatively easy, once at the port we were very disappointed with the lack of organization concerning baggage drop off prior to RCCL’s main terminal for passenger check in. Port agents would not allow anyone into the terminal until bags were checked with porters; however, the porters were few and far between. After 20 minutes of “Porter Searching” with many frustrated and unhappy people, we finally found a porter willing to take our bags. Once our bags were taken, check in at the RCCL desk was flawless, putting us on the ship within 15 minutes. Once on the ship we were quickly greeted by RCCL staff and were encouraged to explore the ship until our room was ready at 1:30. Although cruise critics highly discourage passengers getting on the ship from immediately going to the buffet (WindJammer Cafe) we have always found this information wrong, so, rather than exploring the ship we headed to the buffet where the Brilliance exceeded our expectation. The large dining area is very clean, well maintained and provided ample amount of seating with the buffet offering a wide verity of salads, carved meats and a verity of ethnic and American offerings. During the cruise, breakfast stations included everything from cereals, fruits, lox and cooked to order eggs and omelets. Lunch on the other hand offered a different verity of foods each day to include burgers, pizza, steaks, pasta fish and great ethnic dishes. The WindJammer continued to impress offering a different food theme night for each night of the cruise including; Mexican, Seafood (outstanding) Asian and Chinese. Several important notes about the WindJammer café; hand carved meats were offered during all serving times which we found quite impressive. Next service was outstanding, seldom did we ever have to get our own drinks and used plates were quickly removed by respectful attendants as soon as you finished your meal. While buffets are not for everyone, RCCL exceeded our expectations with the WindJammer Café’. During our cruise we also used the “My-Time Dinning” program in the main-dining room. Here we found the menu to be limited. The food was cooked to order and overall “good;” however, service seemed to be slow. The Brilliance of the Seas offers the typical pay restaurants (Chops, Geovanni’s and Asian) however having taken many cruses over the years, we have found these specialty restaurants to provide excellent service and specialty menu items; however, overpriced therefore we choose not to participate so we can’t adequately provide an evaluation of these services.
The Ship: Brilliance of the Seas is and extremely beautiful and well-maintained ship for her age. After cruising new “Mega Ships” for years, you can understand our hesitancy to book such an old ship; however, we were not disappointed. Entering the Brilliance, one immediately encounters a magnificent 12 story atrium complete with stage, grand piano and six glass elevators. In our case the atrium was decorated with a beautiful Christmas theme including a two-story Christmas tree. Touring the ship found some typical RCCL lounges including the Schooner Bar, Crown and Anchor, Sky Lounge and the Colney Club. Although these are typical lounges offered by RCCL each was very well furnished, maintained and clean that provided relatively quick bar and table service by friendly staff members. There are additional bars and lounges found on the Brilliance; however, although we found them to provide excellent service, they lacked modern amenities such as large screen TV’s. The pool area does have a large outdoor TV screen where sports and movies are shown each night. Brilliance does have three pools with hot tubs, one for adults, one for all cruisers and another children’s pool with slides. Several things need to be pointed out here. The Brilliance of the Seas is a smaller ship so understandably pools are smaller. Also, interestingly the hot tubs although the water is hot, they do not have any bubbles, essentially making you feel like you are sitting in a hot bathtub. (Not sure if this was intentional or maintenance issue, but every tub removed the button that activates the bubbles) Other typical attractions offered by the Brilliance of the Sea included; Putt, Putt Golf, Basketball Volley-Ball courts, and Shuffleboard.
Room: 8540 (Balcony) Here we must say we were very impressed on server levels. Understanding this ship is aged, it offered more storage than any other ship we have been on including the “Mega Ships.” The Brilliance offers plenty of storage space for cruisers should it ever embark on a 14-21-day cruise. Room amenities were updated, clean with standard flat screen TV. The standard balcony had plenty of room with two chairs and a coffee table which we used quite often. Simply stated, overall, we found the Brilliance of the Seas to be a beautiful, modern, well maintained ship offering most things cruisers are seeking.
Entertainment: Here the Brilliance of the Sea did not exceed our expectations. The Brilliance of the Seas offered six nights of main theater shows with only four nights of only “Good” entertainment which included a Comedian, Broadway Show, musical impressionist and the Farwell show. The other two nights were just sad! Instead of an “Welcome Aboard Show” on the first night of the cruise Brilliance of the Seas had a comedian who sorely disappointed everyone. The next night was a “Tribute to the band Journey.” To say this show was sad would be an understanding, in-fact by the end of the show, 70% or the audience walked out making us almost feel sorry for the performers. Other entertainment offered on the Brilliance was very substandard included Aunt Betty’s 80’s Rock Band and solo Guitar hits. As far as entertainment, Brilliance of the Seas and RCCL really missed the mark and must step up and provide better quality entertainment.
Itinerary: The Brilliance of the Seas included four islands on the cruise; Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya and Belize. It is interesting to point out, the only island the Brilliance of the Seas docked was Costa Maya. All other islands required guest tendering with Belize requiring a 45-minute tender ride to and from the ship. Several significant passenger complaints were issued concerning fees associated with port charges and reimbursement and safety issues getting on and off tenders due to rough waters. Typical tours are offered by Brilliance of the Seas consisted of RCCL to and from the ship transportation with guarantee the ship won’t leave without you should your tour be delayed for any reason. On our cruise this guarantee was enforced as a tour was significantly delayed and the Brilliance of the Seas waited for their return before setting sail.
De-embarkation: The average passenger age for our cruise had to be approximately 68-70 years old. Much to our surprise, 60-70% of the passengers chose to walk off the ship during disembarkation. As you can imagine, lines were long and due to the early hour passenger attitudes were poor; however, Brilliance of the Sea staff did a great job of maintaining order and directing the crowds. When it was all said and done all walking passengers were off the ship within 40 minutes.
Final thoughts: Brilliance of the Seas is a wonderful ship that provided a great value and a vacation experience. The cruise Director and staff went out of their way to make sure each cruiser had a wonderful time. On the other hand, while most people take the opportunity to review the ship, I think it is only fair to also note and review some passenger’s behaviors. Here I must say we were often disappointed by fellow passengers’ grumblings, trivial complaints and sometimes disrespect for cruise staff. Sadly, at one point when a cruise staff waiter inquired if they could get anything else for passenger, the passenger is over-heard saying “yes, you can get away from me.” Simply put; unacceptable! I would submit to each cruiser, just because ones on vacation doesn’t give them the right to treat staff members disrespectfully. Put yet another way; act like adults and treat others the same way you would want to be treated. As for the complainers, as with anything, if you’re looking for something to complain about, it won’t take you long before you find it. Just a small point for all to ponder, I am reasonably certain most of us can remember how you felt when our employer/boss treated us disrespectfully, was over critical or complained about how you did your job.
Again, Brilliance of the Seas is great vacation option for all. While its size keeps it from competing with the amenities offered by Mega ships, it clearly offers great vacation, value, service while providing a wonderful experience for all ages.
Happy Cruising! Read Less