The Best of Everything from Start to Finish!: Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Review by clearskies

Brilliance of the Seas 5
Member Since 2009

Overall Member Rating

The Best of Everything from Start to Finish!

Sail Date: September 2009
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Barcelona
My husband and I, together with our friends, just returned from the 12 night Mediterranean Venice Cruise on the wonderful Brilliance of the Seas. The trip was to celebrate our 25th anniversary and we were not disappointed. This was our 5th cruise, but the first one to Europe.

We began our trip by flying into Barcelona the day before sailing and we stayed at the Hesperia Del Port Hotel close to the pier. Not first class accommodations, but clean and it was adequate for one night.

We took a van taxi from the hotel to the pier and the cost was approx. 35 Euros for the four of us and all of our luggage. When we arrived at the pier, check-in was fast and easy. We did on-line check in prior to leaving home to save time. Our cabins were ready as we came aboard and luggage was delivered quickly. We had a junior suite that was clean and spacious. Jose, our cabin stewart, was friendly and prompt when we called him. We had a problem with the safe in the cabin and More Jose called and had the service man there within minutes. The battery was replaced on the safe and things were good to go.

The food was excellent in the Windjammer and in the dining room. I read previous reviews saying the food was not the best; however, rest assured, this is not the case. The Windjammer food was consistent in quality from day one to day 12. We never ate anything there that wasn't fresh. We were told that the food can only remain out a maximum of four hours before being thrown out, and I believe it.

The food and service in the dining room was the best. Only complaint (if you can call it that) was the steak from the alternate menu; it was a little dry and tough. Other than that, all the food was fantastic. Our waiter, Francisco and his assistant, Dejan looked after our every need - sometimes even giving us extra desserts!!! These guys bent over backwards to make sure we were happy and satisfied. We were even impressed that the headwaiter made a point to stop by our table every evening to ask us how our dinner was. This is something new to us; this being our 5th cruise, it's the first time a headwaiter has taken the time to do this.

We didn't see all of the shows, but the ones we did were entertaining, but not always great. We enjoyed the acrobats, the Beatles, Crystal Craig Halliday the electric violinist, and the Eastcoast Boys (tribute to Frankie Vallie). The comedy juggler was mediocre, and the Voice was good, but way too loud. The Caribbean Singers and Dancers were okay. The cruise director, Gordon, is a fantastic guy with a great sense of humour and singing voice to boot! You could tell he really enjoys his job. The Love & Marriage Show was the best, we laughed until we cried!

We were very impressed with the size and layout of the Brilliance. We have sailed on the Voyager and Navigator of the Seas and prefer the Brilliance due to its smaller size and friendly atmosphere.

Excursions: We pre-arranged our excursions through Royal Caribbean rather than planning our own this time as we wanted to be sure we would not have a problem with communication or with getting back to the ship on time since this was our first time to Europe. Typically we do our own excursions when we go to the Caribbean and would probably arrange to do this next time we cruise to the Mediterranean. Less

Published 10/07/09
1 Helpful Vote

Cabin review: JS Junior Suite

Large cabin, large walk-in closet, good sized balcony.

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Port and Shore Excursions

We did the Florence & Pisa excursion. This was a whole day excursion that was well worth the time and money. Our guide, Jon, was great. He told us stories and gave us some background info as we drove in the bus. We made a "concentration" stop on the was to Florence at a small coffee shop. Once in Florence we were met by our second guide, Francesca. We were using those radio headsets to listen to her commentary as we walked through the streets and observed the many wonderful sights. Unfortunately, the radios did not have the best reception and Francesca had a bit of trouble speaking English. We found that once we got close enough to her we could understand her a bit better. We were in awe of the magnificent cathedrals, the Duomo, statues, etc. In our spare time we entered the Church of Santa Croce and saw the tribute to Michelango and tomb of Galileo.

Then we went for lunch at Palazzo Borgese. We ate in the bedroom of Paolina Bonaparte. What an awesome place! The food was amazing and service wonderful.

Later, we departed for Pisa and had spare time to wander around at our leisure. The buildings and the leaning tower were definitely worth seeing. I would have liked to have had more time to explore, but I guess that can wait for next time!

We took the Herculaneum excursion. It was only a short 3 hours, which was more than enough. Naples itself was a very dirty city with many vagrants (gypsies) living in any hollow they can find. Our first stop was to a Cameo Factory. It was interesting to witness the artist at work. Afterwards you could purchase cameos if you wanted.

The ruins at Herculaneum were interesting to see. Our guide, Maria, was very knowledgeable and told us about the history of the ancient city and was able to answer any questions that were asked. We were happy to get back to the ship as it was quite warm and the traffic was a nightmare.

Read 1161 Naples Reviews

All I can say is "Wow". Rome is amazing. The history, the ruins, the architecture, the culture, it almost defies description. We met our guide, Rosa, who has a degree in history and archaeology from the Vatican University, and she took us to the Colosseum first. Her account of the history of the place made us feel like we could almost imagine what life was like back then.

Then we had lunch at a hotel not far from Vatican City. It was delicious and the service was good. Afterwards, it was off to Vatican City. We went through the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Square. The frescoes, statues and tapestries in the museum were wonderful to see. The Sistine Chapel was much smaller than I anticipated, but amazing none the less. I would advise people going through the chapel to respect the notices and refrain from talking and DO NOT TAKE PICTURES. The guards there were getting very upset at people who did not listen to the notices - let's not ruin this beautiful sight for others in the future. St. Peter's Basilica was my favourite place; it was almost a humbling experience. The beauty and detail was awesome. We got to witness a mass being held there, and I got to rub the feet of St. Peter's statue that is said to forgive your sins. Photos just do not do this place justice. You have to see it first hand to appreciate it. This excursion was by far the one of the best we've been on.

We did the Split Walking Tour. It was very interesting and informative. We saw Diocletian's Palace (or what was left of it) and learned about the history of the city. Walked up the bell tower at the church and had a spectacular view of the city and surrounding areas. Split is very clean and beautiful to walk around. I would like to go back again and explore and maybe even find the beach.

Corfu, Greece was our last port. We did the Paleokastritsa, Lakones, etc. tour and found it to be a very beautiful island. We visited a monestary and had an authenic Greek lunch. Later we walked around Corfu and had time to shop and take lots of photos of the magnificent views. It was a long day of driving around and would probably do a different tour if we would have known how much time we were to spend in the bus. It was definitely a beautiful place.

Read 291 Split Reviews

We did the Monte Carlo & Grand Casino excursion. It was a quick 4 hour tour of Monaco, seeing the Cathedral where Princess Grace was married & buried,the royal palace to watch the changing of the guard, the Grand Casino and driving a portion of the Grand Prix circuit. My husband enjoyed watching the Ferraris driving around the casino, and I enjoyed window shopping the boutiques. This excursion did have many steep hills and stairs and I wouldn't recommend this for anyone who has trouble walking. Our guide, Daniella, was very informative and answered our questions. Monaco is clean and the marina was a view to behold. Everywhere you go they have photos of Princess Grace; you can definitely see that they very much admired and respected her. The Grand Casino reminded me of those James Bond movies, I almost expected him to appear around the next corner!

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