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Summary. We (my wife and I plus my father) were on the 8th February Dubai cruise, approaching it with some trepidation on account of poor reviews of the initial cruise for this itinerary. We enjoyed the cruise and thought it reasonable value for money. The food and entertainment were very good. The shore excursions were very mixed, ranging from good to poor. I suspect part of the problem is that there really isn't much to do in some of the ports of call. We liked Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Muscat. There's little in Fujairah but our excursion to the surrounding countryside was good. We did not like Bahrain. We also had some bad experiences with errors made by staff, but overall we had a good time. Arrival. We flew Emirates from London Heathrow, arranged by Royal Caribbean, overnight, arriving Dubai very early on the Monday morning. We were impressed with Emirates. Since we couldn't board the ship until around midday we were taken to a large hall near Dubai creek, given breakfast and were able to check-in and get our SeaPass cards. It is not an ideal situation but it did seem fairly well organised. We experienced little queuing and were on one of the first coaches to the ship at about 11.30. Others were less lucky and apparently didn't get to the ship until 3pm. After a buffet lunch in the Windjammer cafe we had to wait a little longer before we were able to access our cabins (at 1pm as I recall). Dubai. From a rough scan of the itinerary I had thought we would have plenty of time in Dubai but that really isn't the case. There's the rest of Monday afternoon plus Tuesday morning until you must be back on the ship by 11.30. At the end of the week you have from 2.30pm on Sunday. On the Monday afternoon we took a taxi to the Dubai museum, took the ferry across the creek (excellent value for 1 Dirham!) and explored the spice and gold souks. Taxis from the port start with 20 Dirhams on the meter, whereas taxis hailed on the street to return to the port start with only 3 Dirhams on the meter. Even so, taxi fares are very reasonable in Dubai. They always use the meter. The driving style can be rather exciting but we saw no accidents. The next morning we took a taxi to the Mall of the Emirates and took a look at the ski slope, which is quite amazing. On the Sunday at the end of the cruise we took a Dune Drive excursion and thoroughly enjoyed it. Because we had a late flight on the Monday we booked the 'Dubai City Tour with Airport Drop-off' excursion. This worked very well as otherwise we would have had most of the day waiting at the airport. You can do this tour only if your flight is at 4.30pm or later. Muscat. My wife and father took the 'Mystical Muscat' excursion. They thought it was OK but were disappointed to see little of Muscat (just the palace) and too much time left to explore the souk in Mutrah independently. Since there's a free shuttle bus provided to the souk there was no need to spend a significant portion of an expensive shore excursion there. I took the Snorkelling excursion. This is the only port where snorkelling is offered, which is unfortunate because it was also a destination I was keen to see. The snorkelling was OK, not great. There was zero guidance or information given about what we might see. There were fairly few fish but lovely corals and some turtles. The guide also showed us the palace in Muscat on our return trip, which was a bonus. Fujairah. We took the East Coast excursion and were pleased to have done so as there seemed little else to do apart from remain on the ship. The tour was pretty good for seeing some mountainous scenery and the guide was very informative. Abu Dhabi. This was our favourite port and I wish we had time to go ashore independently as well as take the City Tour excursion. The excursion was good and we saw and learned a lot - but it was frustrating to see so much from a coach window and not have the opportunity to wander along the beach with all the local families enjoying their barbeques. Bahrain. From what we had read in advance we decided to take a tour and we picked the 'Black Gold and Camels' excursion. It says much about Bahrain that the best sights they can find are the original oil well, a tree and some burial mounds. We also had the most unprofessional tour guide I have ever experienced. She complained about her driver, the tour company, the tour itinerary and customers on previous trips she had taken! The best one can say is that we saw quite a bit of Bahrain - enough to be confident we have no reason to return. Food & Drink. We chose MyTime dining and it worked very well for us. We were able to vary our dinner time each day to fit in with whatever else we wanted to do. We did find it necessary to reserve a time 24 hours in advance each day, but that was not a problem. Our waiter, Virgil, and his assistant, Raul, were excellent and we were pleased to be on one of their tables every day. We thought the food was very good in all the venues we tried. We didn't go to either of the extra cost restaurants. We had decided, as on previous cruises, to go for a wine package. This proved problematic. My wife asked four or five of the staff about what was available and how to buy the package and got contradictory stories. When we arrived at dinner on the first evening we were initially told it wasn't possible but, on persisting, we were shown a list and allowed to purchase a package - pre-buying five bottles at a very favourable rate. In the course of the week it became apparent that their wine stocks were very limited and some of the wines were well past their best. A Viura (which ought to be a fresh young white wine) was a 2005 vintage and brown in colour. When we sent it back the waiter told us the cellarmaster agreed it was past its best. Entertainment. Everyone's tastes are different but we thought the quality of the shows was pretty good. As well as the usual production shows, which were OK but not really our thing, there were acrobats, a magician and tango dancers all of whom were very good. Service. In the course of the week I had cause to queue up several times at the Guest Relations Desk and the Shore Excursions Desk. In every case it was because of mistakes made by Royal Caribbean and their handling of the problems was poor. The one that irritated me most was an exact repeat of our previous RC cruise where they insist on converting the account to GBPounds despite my clear choice on their form to let the credit card company convert from dollars to pounds. I wonder how often they make this 'mistake' in their favour? It has happened to me on our last two RC cruises despite me filling in the form clearly and expressly pointing it out to the person at check-in when they put the choice into the computer. Another irritation, not experienced on any previous cruise, was that the cabin steward expected us to put out a 'Make Up My Room' sign when we wanted the cabin serviced. Taking everything into account it was an enjoyable cruise with some interesting new ports of call. Not an itinerary we would do again but we are pleased we did it.

Dubai 8th Feb 2010

Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Review by DaveA

Trip Details
Summary. We (my wife and I plus my father) were on the 8th February Dubai cruise, approaching it with some trepidation on account of poor reviews of the initial cruise for this itinerary. We enjoyed the cruise and thought it reasonable value for money. The food and entertainment were very good. The shore excursions were very mixed, ranging from good to poor. I suspect part of the problem is that there really isn't much to do in some of the ports of call. We liked Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Muscat. There's little in Fujairah but our excursion to the surrounding countryside was good. We did not like Bahrain. We also had some bad experiences with errors made by staff, but overall we had a good time.
Arrival. We flew Emirates from London Heathrow, arranged by Royal Caribbean, overnight, arriving Dubai very early on the Monday morning. We were impressed with Emirates. Since we couldn't board the ship until around midday we were taken to a large hall near Dubai creek, given breakfast and were able to check-in and get our SeaPass cards. It is not an ideal situation but it did seem fairly well organised. We experienced little queuing and were on one of the first coaches to the ship at about 11.30. Others were less lucky and apparently didn't get to the ship until 3pm. After a buffet lunch in the Windjammer cafe we had to wait a little longer before we were able to access our cabins (at 1pm as I recall).
Dubai. From a rough scan of the itinerary I had thought we would have plenty of time in Dubai but that really isn't the case. There's the rest of Monday afternoon plus Tuesday morning until you must be back on the ship by 11.30. At the end of the week you have from 2.30pm on Sunday.
On the Monday afternoon we took a taxi to the Dubai museum, took the ferry across the creek (excellent value for 1 Dirham!) and explored the spice and gold souks. Taxis from the port start with 20 Dirhams on the meter, whereas taxis hailed on the street to return to the port start with only 3 Dirhams on the meter. Even so, taxi fares are very reasonable in Dubai. They always use the meter. The driving style can be rather exciting but we saw no accidents. The next morning we took a taxi to the Mall of the Emirates and took a look at the ski slope, which is quite amazing.
On the Sunday at the end of the cruise we took a Dune Drive excursion and thoroughly enjoyed it. Because we had a late flight on the Monday we booked the 'Dubai City Tour with Airport Drop-off' excursion. This worked very well as otherwise we would have had most of the day waiting at the airport. You can do this tour only if your flight is at 4.30pm or later.
Muscat. My wife and father took the 'Mystical Muscat' excursion. They thought it was OK but were disappointed to see little of Muscat (just the palace) and too much time left to explore the souk in Mutrah independently. Since there's a free shuttle bus provided to the souk there was no need to spend a significant portion of an expensive shore excursion there. I took the Snorkelling excursion. This is the only port where snorkelling is offered, which is unfortunate because it was also a destination I was keen to see. The snorkelling was OK, not great. There was zero guidance or information given about what we might see. There were fairly few fish but lovely corals and some turtles. The guide also showed us the palace in Muscat on our return trip, which was a bonus.
Fujairah. We took the East Coast excursion and were pleased to have done so as there seemed little else to do apart from remain on the ship. The tour was pretty good for seeing some mountainous scenery and the guide was very informative.
Abu Dhabi. This was our favourite port and I wish we had time to go ashore independently as well as take the City Tour excursion. The excursion was good and we saw and learned a lot - but it was frustrating to see so much from a coach window and not have the opportunity to wander along the beach with all the local families enjoying their barbeques.
Bahrain. From what we had read in advance we decided to take a tour and we picked the 'Black Gold and Camels' excursion. It says much about Bahrain that the best sights they can find are the original oil well, a tree and some burial mounds. We also had the most unprofessional tour guide I have ever experienced. She complained about her driver, the tour company, the tour itinerary and customers on previous trips she had taken! The best one can say is that we saw quite a bit of Bahrain - enough to be confident we have no reason to return.
Food & Drink. We chose MyTime dining and it worked very well for us. We were able to vary our dinner time each day to fit in with whatever else we wanted to do. We did find it necessary to reserve a time 24 hours in advance each day, but that was not a problem. Our waiter, Virgil, and his assistant, Raul, were excellent and we were pleased to be on one of their tables every day. We thought the food was very good in all the venues we tried. We didn't go to either of the extra cost restaurants.
We had decided, as on previous cruises, to go for a wine package. This proved problematic. My wife asked four or five of the staff about what was available and how to buy the package and got contradictory stories. When we arrived at dinner on the first evening we were initially told it wasn't possible but, on persisting, we were shown a list and allowed to purchase a package - pre-buying five bottles at a very favourable rate. In the course of the week it became apparent that their wine stocks were very limited and some of the wines were well past their best. A Viura (which ought to be a fresh young white wine) was a 2005 vintage and brown in colour. When we sent it back the waiter told us the cellarmaster agreed it was past its best.
Entertainment. Everyone's tastes are different but we thought the quality of the shows was pretty good. As well as the usual production shows, which were OK but not really our thing, there were acrobats, a magician and tango dancers all of whom were very good.
Service. In the course of the week I had cause to queue up several times at the Guest Relations Desk and the Shore Excursions Desk. In every case it was because of mistakes made by Royal Caribbean and their handling of the problems was poor. The one that irritated me most was an exact repeat of our previous RC cruise where they insist on converting the account to GBPounds despite my clear choice on their form to let the credit card company convert from dollars to pounds. I wonder how often they make this 'mistake' in their favour? It has happened to me on our last two RC cruises despite me filling in the form clearly and expressly pointing it out to the person at check-in when they put the choice into the computer.
Another irritation, not experienced on any previous cruise, was that the cabin steward expected us to put out a 'Make Up My Room' sign when we wanted the cabin serviced.
Taking everything into account it was an enjoyable cruise with some interesting new ports of call. Not an itinerary we would do again but we are pleased we did it.
DaveA’s Full Rating Summary
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