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This was our 3rd RCI cruise and our first since 2011. Sadly there were quite a few things that have changed since then. We booked this cruise through our TA in June 2015 with a UK All Inclusive Drinks & Gratuities Offer. Embarkation We arrived at the port in Barcelona just before 11am and were checked in and on board the ship within about 15 minutes! Everyone involved during this process was friendly and very efficient. This had to be one of the best embarkation processes we have encountered to date. Meet & Mingle We were very disappointed not to have a Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle, especially as this had been confirmed to all the Roll Call members by RCI, prior to departure. We believe nearly 70 people had signed up for this but Roxana told people that we had not reached the 25 people required! This was very disappointing as many Cruise Critic members spend time on the Roll Call boards, getting to know each other prior to the cruise. Once on board it is very difficult to meet up individually as we don’t tend to publish cabin numbers. State of Ship Brilliance of the Seas is an older ship and does show signs of wear and tear. However, it wasn’t as bad a some people made out. We liked the style of the ship a lot, as it has character and reminded us of how cruising must have been in years gone by. Casino Not that busy during the cruise but being such a port intensive itinerary it was understandable. Wish they could make it no smoking. Seemed that many people just went there to smoke rather than play! Shopping Average ship shopping area with all the usual sales, etc. Did find it amusing that the pharmacy goods were hidden away in a corner where they sold alcohol and tobacco!! Cabin Mid ship balcony – deck 9. Comfortable bed, spacious and kept really clean and well serviced by our cabin attendant Camilla. Never had to ask for anything more than the first time and the cabin was always ready by the time we went back to it. She got to know our routine very quickly! Plenty of storage space and even the bathroom was a bit more spacious than other ships we’ve been on. Also there should be a TV channel that picks up announcements made over the loudspeaker system You need to know about tenders, port disembarkation, activities, etc. without having to go and open your cabin door to hear them!!. Crew Members The majority of crew members were happy, smiling and very friendly.(Always the odd exception!) This applied especially to the staff in the Buffet, who couldn’t do enough for you. Always asking if you needed drinks. Offering assistance to families and people not able to carry plates, etc. At breakfast and lunch they would go round with trolleys with cold drinks, coffee, cookies and so on. Can’t comment for the evening as we never ate there. In the main dining room, (My Time Dining) again the waiters were very good but we sometimes felt they were under pressure. This could be a fault from the kitchen or maybe they just need some more waiters! They also had to deal with the drinks orders and we personally didn’t see any wine/drinks waiters walking round the dining room. We were very fortunate to have Rozario and Tunscer who looked after us extremely well for the entire cruise. Shortage of staff was also evident in most of the lounges and bars, where if you didn’t go get your own drinks from the bar, you could wait a very long time! If you are putting a service charge on every drink item, it’s quite important that people get that service value. Notable absence too of senior crew members walking round the ship. Drinks Package & Food We had the premium beverage package which worked very well, eventually!! It’s really important to make sure that you have in writing exactly as to what drinks packages has been agreed in the booking reservation. We had a problem where we were told that our drinks package was not the one that was on our reservation but a Select one. Luckily I had a copy of an email from RCI confirming the Premium package. Without that there would have been a definite problem to prove otherwise. This also involved me wasting an hour at the Guest Services desk while they tried to sort it out. We did hear that other passengers on board had a similar situation. (‘All Inclusive Drinks and Gratuities Offer’ is not specific enough!) Overall there was plenty of food available on the ship at all times. Food in the Main Dining Room was more than adequate and once we requested that we wanted our food to be hot (unless it was meant to be cold!) that’s what we received. The portions were generous and nicely presented and you could always have more if you wanted it. Food in the buffet was varied and we always found something to eat the times we were there. We also like the layout of the buffet which was airy and the tables were nice spaced. Park Café in the Solarium was also a good spot for a snack. We didn’t eat in any of the speciality restaurants. What we did find sad was that in Lattetudes coffee bar you paid $4+ for a cappuccino which was served in a polystyrene cup!! Entertainment/Activities Some shows were better than others but again that’s down to personal taste. The Soul Inspiration group was very good but we didn’t like the disco at all. We felt that there was a lack of ‘live dance music’ round the ship, especially in the evenings. The White Party on the pool deck (much anticipated by many people) took place on an evening when it was very windy and cold. So most people went there for 10 minutes and then gave up and went back inside. The Colony Club was not being used that night and we cannot understand why the venue for this event was not transferred to there. Cruise Director and his team worked hard to keep everyone entertained. Dance classes, lessons, trivia, bingo, exhibitions, movies, etc. so there was always something you could do. Ports of Call This cruise had a really good itinerary and we had a great time in all the ports. Only disappointment was In Zadar where we expected to be ported in town. We were in fact ported 7kms away (no prior notification) and then, apart from losing time waiting for shuttle buses etc. we were charged 12US$ per person for the privilege!! Disembarkation Disembarkation was really easy. We asked for the latest time and although the taxi line was rather long, it was handled very efficiently. Post Cruise We stayed 2 days in Barcelona before heading home. Lovely city and more than worth spending some time there.. Overall we had a really nice vacation but we did find RCI lacking in some of those little ‘personal touches’ that other shipping lines are still offering.

Some Disappointing Aspects

Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Review by Esperanza7

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our 3rd RCI cruise and our first since 2011. Sadly there were quite a few things that have changed since then.

We booked this cruise through our TA in June 2015 with a UK All Inclusive Drinks & Gratuities Offer.

Embarkation

We arrived at the port in Barcelona just before 11am and were checked in and on board the ship within about 15 minutes! Everyone involved during this process was friendly and very efficient. This had to be one of the best embarkation processes we have encountered to date.

Meet & Mingle

We were very disappointed not to have a Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle, especially as this had been confirmed to all the Roll Call members by RCI, prior to departure. We believe nearly 70 people had signed up for this but Roxana told people that we had not reached the 25 people required! This was very disappointing as many Cruise Critic members spend time on the Roll Call boards, getting to know each other prior to the cruise. Once on board it is very difficult to meet up individually as we don’t tend to publish cabin numbers.

State of Ship

Brilliance of the Seas is an older ship and does show signs of wear and tear. However, it wasn’t as bad a some people made out. We liked the style of the ship a lot, as it has character and reminded us of how cruising must have been in years gone by.

Casino

Not that busy during the cruise but being such a port intensive itinerary it was understandable. Wish they could make it no smoking. Seemed that many people just went there to smoke rather than play!

Shopping

Average ship shopping area with all the usual sales, etc. Did find it amusing that the pharmacy goods were hidden away in a corner where they sold alcohol and tobacco!!

Cabin

Mid ship balcony – deck 9. Comfortable bed, spacious and kept really clean and well serviced by our cabin attendant Camilla. Never had to ask for anything more than the first time and the cabin was always ready by the time we went back to it. She got to know our routine very quickly! Plenty of storage space and even the bathroom was a bit more spacious than other ships we’ve been on. Also there should be a TV channel that picks up announcements made over the loudspeaker system You need to know about tenders, port disembarkation, activities, etc. without having to go and open your cabin door to hear them!!.

Crew Members

The majority of crew members were happy, smiling and very friendly.(Always the odd exception!) This applied especially to the staff in the Buffet, who couldn’t do enough for you. Always asking if you needed drinks. Offering assistance to families and people not able to carry plates, etc. At breakfast and lunch they would go round with trolleys with cold drinks, coffee, cookies and so on. Can’t comment for the evening as we never ate there.

In the main dining room, (My Time Dining) again the waiters were very good but we sometimes felt they were under pressure. This could be a fault from the kitchen or maybe they just need some more waiters! They also had to deal with the drinks orders and we personally didn’t see any wine/drinks waiters walking round the dining room. We were very fortunate to have Rozario and Tunscer who looked after us extremely well for the entire cruise.

Shortage of staff was also evident in most of the lounges and bars, where if you didn’t go get your own drinks from the bar, you could wait a very long time! If you are putting a service charge on every drink item, it’s quite important that people get that service value.

Notable absence too of senior crew members walking round the ship.

Drinks Package & Food

We had the premium beverage package which worked very well, eventually!!

It’s really important to make sure that you have in writing exactly as to what drinks packages has been agreed in the booking reservation. We had a problem where we were told that our drinks package was not the one that was on our reservation but a Select one. Luckily I had a copy of an email from RCI confirming the Premium package. Without that there would have been a definite problem to prove otherwise. This also involved me wasting an hour at the Guest Services desk while they tried to sort it out. We did hear that other passengers on board had a similar situation. (‘All Inclusive Drinks and Gratuities Offer’ is not specific enough!)

Overall there was plenty of food available on the ship at all times. Food in the Main Dining Room was more than adequate and once we requested that we wanted our food to be hot (unless it was meant to be cold!) that’s what we received. The portions were generous and nicely presented and you could always have more if you wanted it. Food in the buffet was varied and we always found something to eat the times we were there. We also like the layout of the buffet which was airy and the tables were nice spaced. Park Café in the Solarium was also a good spot for a snack. We didn’t eat in any of the speciality restaurants. What we did find sad was that in Lattetudes coffee bar you paid $4+ for a cappuccino which was served in a polystyrene cup!!

Entertainment/Activities

Some shows were better than others but again that’s down to personal taste. The Soul Inspiration group was very good but we didn’t like the disco at all. We felt that there was a lack of ‘live dance music’ round the ship, especially in the evenings. The White Party on the pool deck (much anticipated by many people) took place on an evening when it was very windy and cold. So most people went there for 10 minutes and then gave up and went back inside. The Colony Club was not being used that night and we cannot understand why the venue for this event was not transferred to there.

Cruise Director and his team worked hard to keep everyone entertained. Dance classes, lessons, trivia, bingo, exhibitions, movies, etc. so there was always something you could do.

Ports of Call

This cruise had a really good itinerary and we had a great time in all the ports.

Only disappointment was In Zadar where we expected to be ported in town. We were in fact ported 7kms away (no prior notification) and then, apart from losing time waiting for shuttle buses etc. we were charged 12US$ per person for the privilege!!

Disembarkation

Disembarkation was really easy. We asked for the latest time and although the taxi line was rather long, it was handled very efficiently.

Post Cruise

We stayed 2 days in Barcelona before heading home. Lovely city and more than worth spending some time there..

Overall we had a really nice vacation but we did find RCI lacking in some of those little ‘personal touches’ that other shipping lines are still offering.
Esperanza7’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 9220
Mid ship balcony – deck 9. Comfortable bed, spacious and kept really clean and well serviced by our cabin attendant Camilla. Never had to ask for anything more than the first time and the cabin was always ready by the time we went back to it. She got to know our routine very quickly! Plenty of storage space and even the bathroom was a bit more spacious than other ships we’ve been on.
  Brilliance of the Seas Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Boat tour
    Afternoon Panoramic Venice boat tour. Enjoyed this very much. Two very knowledgeable young ladies informing us of all the places we passed by.
    View All 41 Boat tour Reviews