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We like to go on a "shorter" cruise in mid-December for several reasons: *The ships are usually decorated by Christmas, which makes it extra special *We own an accounting and tax firm so need some serious R&R before January *Rates for mid December cruises, especially if booked well in advance, are great This cruise, we talked my mom and dad into coming along, making it extra special. Embarkation Since we live about 50 minutes south of the port, we drove in the morning of embarkation. I love sailing out of Tampa (odd that this was then only the third time) since they are very well organized and efficient. All of the personnel are extremely helpful and friendly. We got to the port right around 10 am. DH dropped the three of us off and went to park in the long term parking across the street ($75 for five nights). In the meantime, we secured a porter who took our bags away. About 10 minutes later, DH showed back up. We were up the escalators, through security, filled out of health questionnaires, and checked in within record time. Seriously, we were on board by 10:30 am, which did set a record for us! It's no wonder, though, given how speedily they disembark people. Ship This was our fourth cruise on Radiance class, having been on Brilliance's three sister ships for each of the other three. It's been awhile since the last (Serenade in 2013) and I was eagerly anticipating being back on such a lovely and warm ship with totally fantastic ocean views almost anywhere on the ship. There is just something about this class of ship; elegant, classy, and it never feels crowded to me (unlike, say, Freedom or Anthem). The art work and decor is interesting and well done. I don't remember when she was last in dry dock, but she looked pretty good WRT cleanliness and upkeep (carpets were not worn down, overly stained, etc.) We'd taken my parents on Freedom a few years ago and they both said they preferred Brilliance. Of course, some of this was due to the fact we spent a lot of time in The Solarium, which (apart from not having the cantilevered hot tubs that Freedom and other classes have) is IMO far superior in its layout. The Centrum was gorgeously done up with a large Christmas Tree and greens and red ribbons and ornaments everywhere. We really like the layout of these ships. Oh, and lest I forget, The Schooner Bar on these ships blows the dinky ones on other classes of ships (Freedom, Voyager, Quantum) out of the water. Dining We ate in The MDR for the second seating four out of five nights. We were at a table for four in a relatively quiet area (under the Minstrel mosaic) on Deck 4. Our wait team, Sherwin and Islandro, were excellent. For the first time that I can recall, Islandro (our assistant waiter) took over the bar service as well (he was much more attentive) after the first night where we had three separate bar staff come over to our table. We even saw the head waiter more than once (a bit shocking, but true!) The food was good; not spectacular (other than the appetizers which are always excellent and varied). This was the menu that changes nightly (Basil, Saffron, Pimento, etc.) I don't really mind as there are many items on the menus that we enjoy and look forward to ordering. We ate at Giovanni's Table one night and the food was fantastic. It's served family style and you can literally order as much as you like (similar to The MDR). The portions are a bit smaller but the quality is a tick better. At $29 pp up charge, it should be. Other than DH ordering the wrong sparkling rose (we got the sweet rather than the dry), we were all pleased with our experience. For breakfasts and lunches and snacks: We went to The MDR for breakfast a few times until we discovered that The Park Cafe in The Solarium had decent breakfast options (fruit, yogurt, cereals, breakfast sandwiches and panninis). Ditto for lunch at The Park Cafe (great salad bar) plus sandwiches (including THE famous roast beef ones ;-) ) and light desserts and cookies. We went into The Windjammer twice, I think. It was ok, we just don't like buffets all that much. Bevos We usually get the Deluxe drink package, it just works out for us with the variety of things we like to try. My dad doesn't drink so he got the Royal Refresh (or is it Replenish?) and was happy with his options. People typically wonder if the alcohol package is worth it. If you don't drink much alcohol, obviously it isn't. But if on vacation you like to have a Mimosa or Bloody Mary or a glass of champagne in the morning, followed by a few drinks by the pool, maybe one before dinner, wine with dinner, and a night cap while watching a show or listening the music, we think it's well worth it. Not to mention this package also included unlimited bottled water, soda, fresh juice, and premium coffee from the coffee bar. If you are Diamond or higher, you do get your free drinks in The Diamond (or Concierge) Lounge and/or 3 drinks loaded on your Sea Pass, and that works well for a lot of people who only like to drink in the evening. Venues We didn't seem to have a particular "go to" spot this cruise for our evening entertainment. We frequented The R Bar in The Centrum as it was nice to listen to the music there and watch people. We were at The Schooner Bar a few times, as well as Vintages (which is pretty limited in what it serves, this seems to have changed from when we were on Serenade three years ago when it was The Champagne Bar and served pretty much anything). We went up to The Viking Crown Lounge/night club once; too crowded and the music not to our taste. But, it's a gorgeous place to watch the water to be sure. The Diamond Lounge was DEAD; never seen one so quiet. Still, as it's near the Viking Crown Lounge, nice views. Patricia, the Diamond Concierge, was very pleasant. Entertainment Uh....we're not show people. Plus, we've seen all the interactive shows before (Love and Marriage, The Quest, etc.) so didn't bother this time. However, I'll say that The Quest on these ships is cool because it's in a much more intimate environment. DH even participated five years ago when on Jewel. We were a bit surprised The Quest was on the final night, though, as a lot of people retire early to pack. The musicians we heard around the ship here and there were all very good. We especially liked the three ladies who played piano and violins. Stateroom One of the reasons we booked this particular cruise was we were FINALLY able to snag Junior Suite 1100, the one on the port side aft with the wrap around humongous balcony. It was well worth the wait as it was a lovely stateroom (seemed slightly wider than other junior suites (we saw my mom and dad's a few doors down in 1094)) plus that balcony! We could have held a small cocktail party out there! So nice to spend time out there in the mornings and afternoons and watching the moon over the water at night. These staterooms are spacious with plenty of storage (including a walk in closet). We only had one minor blip in that one morning the toilet wouldn't flush. No worries, our SRA got it taken care of for us and it was fixed when we returned to the room after breakfast. Crew As I mentioned in my title, this crew was fantastic. Everyone was smiling and friendly. I mean everyone. Our SRA Flatima was excellent. She did three towel animals in five nights; unheard of. She kept everything just the way we liked it and appreciated the chocolates we brought for her. I already spoke of our dining room staff and Patricia, the Diamond Concierge. All the bartenders were friendly and attentive. We didn't see a lot of pool side servers this cruise, but since we were usually camped out close to The Solarium Bar, it didn't matter. I can't forget to mention William, who worked in The Solarium mopping the deck, picking up dishes, etc. One morning he make countless towel animals and placed them all around The Solarium to everyone's delight. He was polite and courteous and was very difficult to give a tip to as he didn't wish to accept one. Ports We got off in Key West and did the Hop on Hop Off Trolley (again). We went to Hemingway's House and to Hog's Breath. A nice afternoon (despite the rain shower we got caught in getting off the ship). We didn't disembark in Cozumel this time but opted for the relative emptiness of the ship for several hours. Disembarkation One of the smoothest. We had tag #3 and were all off the ship well before 8. Getting our luggage was easy and a porter got us through the line and out to our car in very little time (note: securing a porter (even if it means a tip) is a sure fire way to get out of customs faster than those who don't, at least in Tampa). We had a wonderful cruise and are looking forward to our May cruise on Empress of the Seas out of Tampa.

Lovely Ship + Fantastic Crew + Time with Family = WONDERFUL CRUISE!

Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Review by MrsB05

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We like to go on a "shorter" cruise in mid-December for several reasons:

*The ships are usually decorated by Christmas, which makes it extra special

*We own an accounting and tax firm so need some serious R&R before January

*Rates for mid December cruises, especially if booked well in advance, are great

This cruise, we talked my mom and dad into coming along, making it extra special.

Embarkation

Since we live about 50 minutes south of the port, we drove in the morning of embarkation.

I love sailing out of Tampa (odd that this was then only the third time) since they are very well organized and efficient. All of the personnel are extremely helpful and friendly.

We got to the port right around 10 am. DH dropped the three of us off and went to park in the long term parking across the street ($75 for five nights). In the meantime, we secured a porter who took our bags away. About 10 minutes later, DH showed back up. We were up the escalators, through security, filled out of health questionnaires, and checked in within record time. Seriously, we were on board by 10:30 am, which did set a record for us! It's no wonder, though, given how speedily they disembark people.

Ship

This was our fourth cruise on Radiance class, having been on Brilliance's three sister ships for each of the other three. It's been awhile since the last (Serenade in 2013) and I was eagerly anticipating being back on such a lovely and warm ship with totally fantastic ocean views almost anywhere on the ship. There is just something about this class of ship; elegant, classy, and it never feels crowded to me (unlike, say, Freedom or Anthem).

The art work and decor is interesting and well done. I don't remember when she was last in dry dock, but she looked pretty good WRT cleanliness and upkeep (carpets were not worn down, overly stained, etc.) We'd taken my parents on Freedom a few years ago and they both said they preferred Brilliance. Of course, some of this was due to the fact we spent a lot of time in The Solarium, which (apart from not having the cantilevered hot tubs that Freedom and other classes have) is IMO far superior in its layout. The Centrum was gorgeously done up with a large Christmas Tree and greens and red ribbons and ornaments everywhere. We really like the layout of these ships. Oh, and lest I forget, The Schooner Bar on these ships blows the dinky ones on other classes of ships (Freedom, Voyager, Quantum) out of the water.

Dining

We ate in The MDR for the second seating four out of five nights. We were at a table for four in a relatively quiet area (under the Minstrel mosaic) on Deck 4. Our wait team, Sherwin and Islandro, were excellent. For the first time that I can recall, Islandro (our assistant waiter) took over the bar service as well (he was much more attentive) after the first night where we had three separate bar staff come over to our table. We even saw the head waiter more than once (a bit shocking, but true!)

The food was good; not spectacular (other than the appetizers which are always excellent and varied). This was the menu that changes nightly (Basil, Saffron, Pimento, etc.) I don't really mind as there are many items on the menus that we enjoy and look forward to ordering.

We ate at Giovanni's Table one night and the food was fantastic. It's served family style and you can literally order as much as you like (similar to The MDR). The portions are a bit smaller but the quality is a tick better. At $29 pp up charge, it should be. Other than DH ordering the wrong sparkling rose (we got the sweet rather than the dry), we were all pleased with our experience.

For breakfasts and lunches and snacks: We went to The MDR for breakfast a few times until we discovered that The Park Cafe in The Solarium had decent breakfast options (fruit, yogurt, cereals, breakfast sandwiches and panninis). Ditto for lunch at The Park Cafe (great salad bar) plus sandwiches (including THE famous roast beef ones ;-) )

and light desserts and cookies. We went into The Windjammer twice, I think. It was ok, we just don't like buffets all that much.

Bevos

We usually get the Deluxe drink package, it just works out for us with the variety of things we like to try. My dad doesn't drink so he got the Royal Refresh (or is it Replenish?) and was happy with his options. People typically wonder if the alcohol package is worth it.

If you don't drink much alcohol, obviously it isn't. But if on vacation you like to have a Mimosa or Bloody Mary or a glass of champagne in the morning, followed by a few drinks by the pool, maybe one before dinner, wine with dinner, and a night cap while watching a show or listening the music, we think it's well worth it. Not to mention this package also included unlimited bottled water, soda, fresh juice, and premium coffee from the coffee bar. If you are Diamond or higher, you do get your free drinks in The Diamond (or Concierge) Lounge and/or 3 drinks loaded on your Sea Pass, and that works well for a lot of people who only like to drink in the evening.

Venues

We didn't seem to have a particular "go to" spot this cruise for our evening entertainment.

We frequented The R Bar in The Centrum as it was nice to listen to the music there and watch people. We were at The Schooner Bar a few times, as well as Vintages (which is pretty limited in what it serves, this seems to have changed from when we were on Serenade three years ago when it was The Champagne Bar and served pretty much anything). We went up to The Viking Crown Lounge/night club once; too crowded and the music not to our taste. But, it's a gorgeous place to watch the water to be sure.

The Diamond Lounge was DEAD; never seen one so quiet. Still, as it's near the Viking Crown Lounge, nice views. Patricia, the Diamond Concierge, was very pleasant.

Entertainment

Uh....we're not show people. Plus, we've seen all the interactive shows before (Love and Marriage, The Quest, etc.) so didn't bother this time. However, I'll say that The Quest on these ships is cool because it's in a much more intimate environment. DH even participated five years ago when on Jewel. We were a bit surprised The Quest was on the final night, though, as a lot of people retire early to pack.

The musicians we heard around the ship here and there were all very good. We especially liked the three ladies who played piano and violins.

Stateroom

One of the reasons we booked this particular cruise was we were FINALLY able to snag Junior Suite 1100, the one on the port side aft with the wrap around humongous balcony.

It was well worth the wait as it was a lovely stateroom (seemed slightly wider than other junior suites (we saw my mom and dad's a few doors down in 1094)) plus that balcony!

We could have held a small cocktail party out there! So nice to spend time out there in the mornings and afternoons and watching the moon over the water at night. These staterooms are spacious with plenty of storage (including a walk in closet).

We only had one minor blip in that one morning the toilet wouldn't flush. No worries, our SRA got it taken care of for us and it was fixed when we returned to the room after breakfast.

Crew

As I mentioned in my title, this crew was fantastic. Everyone was smiling and friendly.

I mean everyone. Our SRA Flatima was excellent. She did three towel animals in five nights; unheard of. She kept everything just the way we liked it and appreciated the chocolates we brought for her. I already spoke of our dining room staff and Patricia, the Diamond Concierge. All the bartenders were friendly and attentive. We didn't see a lot of pool side servers this cruise, but since we were usually camped out close to The Solarium Bar, it didn't matter. I can't forget to mention William, who worked in The Solarium mopping the deck, picking up dishes, etc. One morning he make countless towel animals and placed them all around The Solarium to everyone's delight. He was polite and courteous and was very difficult to give a tip to as he didn't wish to accept one.

Ports

We got off in Key West and did the Hop on Hop Off Trolley (again). We went to Hemingway's House and to Hog's Breath. A nice afternoon (despite the rain shower we got caught in getting off the ship). We didn't disembark in Cozumel this time but opted for the relative emptiness of the ship for several hours.

Disembarkation

One of the smoothest. We had tag #3 and were all off the ship well before 8. Getting our luggage was easy and a porter got us through the line and out to our car in very little time (note: securing a porter (even if it means a tip) is a sure fire way to get out of customs faster than those who don't, at least in Tampa).

We had a wonderful cruise and are looking forward to our May cruise on Empress of the Seas out of Tampa.
MrsB05’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
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Cabin Review

Cabin 1100
One of the reasons we booked this particular cruise was we were FINALLY able to snag Junior Suite 1100, the one on the port side aft with the wrap around humongous balcony.
It was well worth the wait as it was a lovely stateroom (seemed slightly wider than other junior suites (we saw my mom and dad's a few doors down in 1094)) plus that balcony!
We could have held a small cocktail party out there! So nice to spend time out there in the mornings and afternoons and watching the moon over the water at night. These staterooms are spacious with plenty of storage (including a walk in closet).

As this is an older ship, the staterooms don't have as many plugs and outlets as, say, Anthem does so if you're type of person that needs a lot of electrical outlets, bring a Belkin along.

We only had one minor blip in that one morning the toilet wouldn't flush. No worries, our SRA got it taken care of for us and it was fixed when we returned to the room after breakfast.
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