Brilliance revisited - short 5 night sailing from Tampa: Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Review by peteukmcr

Brilliance of the Seas 5
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Brilliance revisited - short 5 night sailing from Tampa

Sail Date: February 2014
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Tampa
Background – we travelled from Manchester, UK departing on Saturday, 22nd Feb flying with Virgin Atlantic direct to Orlando.

Check in & Boarding

One of the easiest and best we’ve experienced (expect for Allure which is on another level).


Brilliance is well maintained and there is plenty of space for everyone, even on sea days. OK space maybe at a premium on sea days around the main pool and especially in the Solarium, but there are plenty of empty sunbeds in other quieter areas.

A good variety of venues, with a lot of emphasis on the Centrum with the aerial shows that take place there. New venues like Vintages were fairly quiet but with great staff. Similarly the Colony Club was very quiet unless planned activities were taking place there.

The Viking Crown and the Starquest disco seem very under used unless, once again, planned activities were taking place.

The reason for a lot of the venues being More quiet may have had something to do with the demographic of this particular sailing.


Unfortunately as we didn’t attend the shows or some of the activities in the Colony Club I can’t comment on those. However, it would appear the outdoor movie screen was watched by a good crowd, but obviously depends on the movie!

The cruise director didn’t seem very dynamic nor visible to us, but to be fair we didn’t attend many of the organised events.

Guest Services

Often staffed by too few representatives resulting in long lines, although the staff were friendly, a few did seem to need some more training (one admitted as such) and they were unsure of some procedures (like making cash deposits to your SeaPass account).


Didn’t appear too smoke filled, but again could have been the demographic aboard. Some of the slots seemed quite generous though.


Standard RCI types with regular ‘one off’ sales as usual. Well stocked but seemed short staffed.

Wi-Fi – appeared to work well around the ship, albeit slow as usual but with a mid-week half price offer overnight.

Food and Beverages

MDR was great for us with MTD. Staff attentive and very charming. Food is subjective, but we found it great.

Windjammer, never seemed too crowded, especially with the outdoor seating areas. Great choice as usual, fantastic service at the omelette station.

Park Café, good selection of snacks and fresh salads in the Solarium.

Well stocked coffee and soft beverage stations just outside the Windjammer and inside the Solarium.

Speciality Restaurants

Chops Grille – good with nice staff

Giovanni’s Table – good, but not great lunch

Izumi – not sampled

Rita’s Cantina – poor location, only listed as providing al a carte snacks for a fee. Venue uninviting so didn’t use, and apparently neither did anyone else

Cabin - 9256 aft

Great aft location with fantastic wrap-around balcony with no superstructure to hinder the view.

Stateroom attendant was very friendly and did his job satisfactorily.


Very inconsistent. In the Diamond lounge – excellent. MDR – great both at breakfast and dinner. Windjammer – the service of coffee/juice is no longer offered by staff during breakfast & lunch which used to be the norm.

Bars – inconsistent. In some excellent with staff entering into conversation when quiet, in others terrible, especially when there were no customers, having to wait an age for wait staff, and bordering on downright rude in the Colony Club.


At one port following a late morning scheduled arrival – chaotic and badly managed.

At Tampa, again poorly managed resulting nearly in a lap of the ship as detailed in my review. Immigration – poor for non-US residents, but no doubt due to federal cutbacks. This also applies to customs clearance too.

Conclusion – would I sail on Brilliance again? Yes, would I sail out of Tampa again? Yes. It was a great shorter cruise, but would have liked longer in Key West, an 11:30 am arrival is too late.

Full review here:

Photo Slideshow: Less

Published 03/18/14

Cabin review: 9256

Great aft location with fantastic wrap-around balcony with no superstructure to hinder the view.Stateroom attendant was very friendly and did his job satisfactorily.Following refurbishment, flat screen TV now installed.

Port and Shore Excursions

Beach Break

Nachi Cocom. It's a beach resort that limits the number of guests to 100 per day, situated about 10 miles south of the port. Once we arrive we are greeted by a pleasant lady who provides all with Sombreros for a photo opportunity. Once done we check in and immediately find beds by the poolside. We have paid $55 each for this break and it includes all food, drink (incl. alcohol) and beach facilities such as kayaking, snorkelling.
The temperature is rising steadily but the pool is a welcome respite from the heat. There is a swim up bar so you don't even have to get out of the pool to order a drink. The staff are very attentive and there is always someone walking by asking if we need anything.
We order lunch at the resort. We have Nachos and Guacamole (which is excellent and is freshly made). The fajitas we have to follow are equally good. All washed down by ice cold beers.

Bicycle Tour

Key Lime Bike Tours - Christopher, the owner and guide is very knowledgeable about Key West. We learn a lot about the city from its geography, history, and culture to its architecture. Christopher has a passion for the latter and he talks constantly about it and the tour was excellent and highly recommended. We got to see parts of Key West we have never seen before. We visited Mallory Square, Hemingway's House, Duval Street, the Presidents Gates, Mile Marker Zero, (lighthouse), Dog Beach, Memorial Beach and Key West Cemetery. We end up at Kermit's Cafe Kitchen and enjoy a nice Key Lime Ice Cream

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