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We chose this cruise for our 25th Anniversary trip. This is our second Royal Caribbean cruise. We sailed on Rhapsody out of Galveston once and had a great experience. (We actually saw Rhapsody at one of the ports during this cruise!). We have cruised a lot on NCL, and once on Princess and Holland America. NCL is the best so far in my opinion. We always wanted to cruise the Mediterranean. We were disappointed Turkey was replaced by Croatia on the itinerary, but understood the replacement due to the security situation near Syria at this time. We spent four great days in Barcelona before departure and LOVED it! Go to the Picasso museum, La Segrada la Familia, Guell Park, Gothic Quarter, La Rambla and the trip to the Montserrat monastery! The Hotel EuroPark is a great value, clean and has king size beds! We also loved Venice and the Amalfi coast. We will return to all those again one day. This was my second trip to Rome. I don't remember it being so crowded. The Pope was actually in St. Peter's performing a funeral service! Got to see the changing of the Swiss Guard . Everywhere on the cruise, the ports were jammed with tourists. Please don't travel in summer if you really don't have too! We liked the idea of a cruising on a smaller ship. Brilliance is around 12 years old, but well maintained and very clean. We had a nice balcony cabin on the 9th level next to the elevator near the front of the ship. Ship motion was non-existent until the final day when we neared a large, circulating low pressure system over Europe. Very windy and a bit rough that day when we crossed open water back to Barcelona. Land is almost always in sight throughout the cruise, which is nice. The shorelines are beautiful, as is sailing into the ports. The water is breathtakingly blue, especially the Adriatic. I highly recommend springing for the balconies on this cruise. Well worth it. Also a nice respite from the ship mob when you can't take it any more. The staff (customer service, excursions, dining waitstaff, cabin steward, security) were some of the best on the 8 cruises we've completed. The spa and workout facilities were beautiful, offered many services and were well staffed. The hot tubs on board are very small and there are not enough of them. Only two pools; one in a solarium with VERY limited seating. Biggest issue was the food and the fact that ship rules are never enforced. No enforcement of evening dress codes, too many kids in adult areas, kids taking over the hot tubs, allowing deck chairs to be reserved from early a.m. to late in the evening with no one there, etc. The noise from our Spanish neighbor's family in the adjacent cabin was unbearable. It took three nights until security finally got them to keep it down after midnight. They had a couple of small kids and were screaming back and forth all night long. Walls are paper thin on this ship. Mattresses are very uncomfortable. There were an inordinate number of rude passengers on this cruise. Dog eat dog environment. Pushing, shoving, "me first" kind of mentality. Maybe it's because it was our first cruise out of Europe and we are not used to their customs. My expectations will be much lower next time. The boarding process was ridiculously slow and disorganized, as was the airport departure shuttle. The Windjammer (main buffet) is like Sandra Lee's "semi-homemade" food. They use a lot of pre-prepped/frozen food and deserts, pasteurized eggs (carton eggs), old stale breads and pastries and do a lot of re-cycling of foods (hashes, bread puddings, etc.). You have to pay a high price to get fresh orange juice. The ice tea is "bag in box" concentrate, and the absolute WORST I've ever tasted. We and our dining room waiters started brewing our own with tea bags. The Dining Room waitstaff is great, but the food is very marginal there, too. We usually ended up dining alone or with one couple at a table for 10, as many opted to eat elsewhere. The food at Chops is outstanding, as is their service. Giovanni's was pretty good, too. I highly recommend buying the five night meal package at a discount before you leave while it is cheap. You should eat all your meals at the specialty restaurants if you can afford too. There are no mid-night buffets, chocolate buffets, etc. as on other ships we've sailed. You cannot simply stay in port. They are very industrial, unlike in the Caribbean. You must take excursions once you arrive in most ports. These typically involve long bus rides, tons of walking/climbing up steep steps and over cobblestones. Long hours (10-12 hours in the oppressive heat) at the destinations are required to enjoy the itinerary. There was an unseasonable heat wave going on the entire 13 days we travelled. Mid-90's and VERY high humidity everywhere! The heat onshore was oppressive, and we didn't bring enough shorts. You must take Crocs or water shoes (NOT flip-flops) if going to the beaches. They have sharp rocks/gravel/pebbles; not sand. Except for Venice, you don't have enough time to stick around and eat a nice meal anywhere in port because the pace of dining in Europe is very slow compared to the U.S. The gelato and pizza is great, of course, in Italy! There is a charge for everything on board, and excursion costs are very high. We wound up spending nearly triple what we paid for the cruise and the expensive air tickets to Barcelona. We did a ride share in an 8 passenger van to Florence for EU 40 each. Big savings over the excursions. I highly recommend doing these to save money. Or book through Viator before you leave. You can also pay a guide once you get where you're going. I couldn't understand most of the Royal Caribbean guides anyway. The Vatican guide, however, was outstanding! The entertainment offerings were very disappointing. The juggler/comedian was the best. There are really no big, flashy stage shows. The best entertainers were in the Centrum (atrium) but there's no where to sit in the evening! You have to hang over the rail on one of the upper floors to watch. The ships waste the big seating area in the Schooner lounge. They may use it for jazz or disco; not really sure. Only single game bingo a couple of times on the pool deck. No multi-game packages sold as on other ships. Not really much to do on the three "at sea" days except hang by the pool. As is typical, we won nothing on the casino slots. Bring a backpack, lots of shorts and tee shirts, sunscreen, a hat, sneakers, and pack very light. You can always get cleaning and laundry fairly reasonably on board (they have an offer where you can fill a small plastic laundry bag to the max with underwear, socks, t-shirts, shorts, pajamas, etc.) for $34.95. Or bring stuff you want to throw away anyway. The internet on board absolutely sucks. It is so slow and expensive. Almost impossible to log on at times, and you get disconnected if you stop using it. Better to pay your cell phone carrier for an international package and check email and text when in port. Best dollar to Euro exchange rate was on the ship's ATM. The Italian banks are a huge ripoff. Very few dress up on this ship. Overall sloppy dress by the masses. Very disappointing. I think the golden days of cruising may be over. It's sell the cruise cheap, fill the cabins, and charge the hell out of the passengers for every single little item at an inflated price. Lower your expectations. Enjoy the great itinerary and disconnecting from the real world for a while, and you'll have fun!

Great itinerary but marginal food and entertainment

Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Review by Richard D

10 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We chose this cruise for our 25th Anniversary trip. This is our second Royal Caribbean cruise. We sailed on Rhapsody out of Galveston once and had a great experience. (We actually saw Rhapsody at one of the ports during this cruise!). We have cruised a lot on NCL, and once on Princess and Holland America. NCL is the best so far in my opinion.

We always wanted to cruise the Mediterranean. We were disappointed Turkey was replaced by Croatia on the itinerary, but understood the replacement due to the security situation near Syria at this time. We spent four great days in Barcelona before departure and LOVED it! Go to the Picasso museum, La Segrada la Familia, Guell Park, Gothic Quarter, La Rambla and the trip to the Montserrat monastery! The Hotel EuroPark is a great value, clean and has king size beds! We also loved Venice and the Amalfi coast. We will return to all those again one day. This was my second trip to Rome. I don't remember it being so crowded. The Pope was actually in St. Peter's performing a funeral service! Got to see the changing of the Swiss Guard .

Everywhere on the cruise, the ports were jammed with tourists. Please don't travel in summer if you really don't have too!

We liked the idea of a cruising on a smaller ship. Brilliance is around 12 years old, but well maintained and very clean. We had a nice balcony cabin on the 9th level next to the elevator near the front of the ship. Ship motion was non-existent until the final day when we neared a large, circulating low pressure system over Europe. Very windy and a bit rough that day when we crossed open water back to Barcelona. Land is almost always in sight throughout the cruise, which is nice. The shorelines are beautiful, as is sailing into the ports. The water is breathtakingly blue, especially the Adriatic. I highly recommend springing for the balconies on this cruise. Well worth it. Also a nice respite from the ship mob when you can't take it any more.

The staff (customer service, excursions, dining waitstaff, cabin steward, security) were some of the best on the 8 cruises we've completed. The spa and workout facilities were beautiful, offered many services and were well staffed. The hot tubs on board are very small and there are not enough of them. Only two pools; one in a solarium with VERY limited seating.

Biggest issue was the food and the fact that ship rules are never enforced. No enforcement of evening dress codes, too many kids in adult areas, kids taking over the hot tubs, allowing deck chairs to be reserved from early a.m. to late in the evening with no one there, etc. The noise from our Spanish neighbor's family in the adjacent cabin was unbearable. It took three nights until security finally got them to keep it down after midnight. They had a couple of small kids and were screaming back and forth all night long. Walls are paper thin on this ship. Mattresses are very uncomfortable. There were an inordinate number of rude passengers on this cruise. Dog eat dog environment. Pushing, shoving, "me first" kind of mentality. Maybe it's because it was our first cruise out of Europe and we are not used to their customs. My expectations will be much lower next time.

The boarding process was ridiculously slow and disorganized, as was the airport departure shuttle.

The Windjammer (main buffet) is like Sandra Lee's "semi-homemade" food. They use a lot of pre-prepped/frozen food and deserts, pasteurized eggs (carton eggs), old stale breads and pastries and do a lot of re-cycling of foods (hashes, bread puddings, etc.). You have to pay a high price to get fresh orange juice. The ice tea is "bag in box" concentrate, and the absolute WORST I've ever tasted. We and our dining room waiters started brewing our own with tea bags.

The Dining Room waitstaff is great, but the food is very marginal there, too. We usually ended up dining alone or with one couple at a table for 10, as many opted to eat elsewhere.

The food at Chops is outstanding, as is their service. Giovanni's was pretty good, too. I highly recommend buying the five night meal package at a discount before you leave while it is cheap. You should eat all your meals at the specialty restaurants if you can afford too.

There are no mid-night buffets, chocolate buffets, etc. as on other ships we've sailed.

You cannot simply stay in port. They are very industrial, unlike in the Caribbean. You must take excursions once you arrive in most ports. These typically involve long bus rides, tons of walking/climbing up steep steps and over cobblestones. Long hours (10-12 hours in the oppressive heat) at the destinations are required to enjoy the itinerary. There was an unseasonable heat wave going on the entire 13 days we travelled. Mid-90's and VERY high humidity everywhere! The heat onshore was oppressive, and we didn't bring enough shorts. You must take Crocs or water shoes (NOT flip-flops) if going to the beaches. They have sharp rocks/gravel/pebbles; not sand. Except for Venice, you don't have enough time to stick around and eat a nice meal anywhere in port because the pace of dining in Europe is very slow compared to the U.S. The gelato and pizza is great, of course, in Italy!

There is a charge for everything on board, and excursion costs are very high. We wound up spending nearly triple what we paid for the cruise and the expensive air tickets to Barcelona. We did a ride share in an 8 passenger van to Florence for EU 40 each. Big savings over the excursions. I highly recommend doing these to save money. Or book through Viator before you leave. You can also pay a guide once you get where you're going. I couldn't understand most of the Royal Caribbean guides anyway. The Vatican guide, however, was outstanding!

The entertainment offerings were very disappointing. The juggler/comedian was the best. There are really no big, flashy stage shows. The best entertainers were in the Centrum (atrium) but there's no where to sit in the evening! You have to hang over the rail on one of the upper floors to watch. The ships waste the big seating area in the Schooner lounge. They may use it for jazz or disco; not really sure.

Only single game bingo a couple of times on the pool deck. No multi-game packages sold as on other ships. Not really much to do on the three "at sea" days except hang by the pool. As is typical, we won nothing on the casino slots.

Bring a backpack, lots of shorts and tee shirts, sunscreen, a hat, sneakers, and pack very light. You can always get cleaning and laundry fairly reasonably on board (they have an offer where you can fill a small plastic laundry bag to the max with underwear, socks, t-shirts, shorts, pajamas, etc.) for $34.95. Or bring stuff you want to throw away anyway.

The internet on board absolutely sucks. It is so slow and expensive. Almost impossible to log on at times, and you get disconnected if you stop using it. Better to pay your cell phone carrier for an international package and check email and text when in port.

Best dollar to Euro exchange rate was on the ship's ATM. The Italian banks are a huge ripoff.

Very few dress up on this ship. Overall sloppy dress by the masses. Very disappointing. I think the golden days of cruising may be over. It's sell the cruise cheap, fill the cabins, and charge the hell out of the passengers for every single little item at an inflated price. Lower your expectations. Enjoy the great itinerary and disconnecting from the real world for a while, and you'll have fun!
Richard D’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 9526
You definitely want a balcony on this cruise or you miss half what there is to see.
Most activity on this ship is in the center to rear of the ship (except for spa and fitness center).
  Brilliance of the Seas Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews