This was our first Mediterranean cruise, we are typically Caribbean cruisers, and pretty Loyal to Royal. I'm OCD about / addicted to cruising and love the planning process. This Brilliance of the Seas round trip from Barcelona made stops at Villefranche, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Naples, Venice (overnight), Zadar (Croatia) and Kotor (Montenegro).
With 8 ports including Barcelona this was a lot of planning. We're usually do-it-your-selfers, but decided we could pack more in with take tours. We avoid the large ship tours, and we were proven right every time we drove right up to a particular sight, and passed the groups of 50 people far back following the tour guide because the buses can't get close enough in the historic cities with narrow streets.
We had a hump balcony cabin, 9582. We chose starboard side for the sail-in to Venice; this was a perfect spot for that. We often sail on the hump, and were surprised the music seemed loud when we were trying to sleep – then realized we often stay out late, and the music is done when we return to our cabin, but with the long, full days we tried to get to bed early.
The cabin was in quite good shape, especially thinking about the age of the ship. The only thing lacking for me is USB charging ports, and electrical outlets by the nightstand.
This is a great port to DIY, although several cruisemates enjoyed private tours. It is quite easy to get the train in Villefranche to Nice, and although it was a bit tricky to find the bus stop to return (construction has moved the location listed in tour books - we walked to the Le Port stop), it's a pleasant trip back. Both good towns for walking around, exploring, sampling local cuisine.
This was an overnight visit, and a DIY port for us. We purchased a 24 hour Vaporetto pass so we could come and go as we pleased on the water buses. In actuality we didn't need it that often - we did a lot of walking. As we could see during our sail-in during the early afternoon - St Marks Square was packed! We waited until early evening and then early morning of the next day to visit. I felt that we had enough time to explore and enjoy it all - a gondola ride, viewing the city from the Campanile, wandering the back streets and canals, eating and drinking (pizza, cicchetti, pasta, gelato, spritz, wine, etc!)
We did find that getting from the ship to the people mover was less than convenient. There were shuttle buses that were marked ‘Shore Excursions’, but some people told us we could take that to get closer to the People Mover, others said we needed to be on a Shore Excursion. The shuttle actually took us far enough away from the People Mover that we may as well have walked in the first place! Maybe it’s normally better, but there was some construction in that area.
We were so sad that the Sea Organ was down for repair, because this was a highlight we were looking forward to, but Zadar is a lovely town, and a perfect spot for strolling. We’ll have to come back one day to explore further and hear the Sea Organ.
Zadar was the only place we visited not on the Euro - they use the Kuna, although they did accept Euros (change back was in Kuna though). We just assumed how much we'd spend, withdrew some money from an ATM, and it was just right.
We're not shoppers, but the prices here were excellent and we heard people talking about amazing bargains, especially in leather and clothing.
We did have to take a shuttle from the dock in Gazenica. We were not expecting this, and although only $12 round trip was not expected.