Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Review by Biotcruisers
- Sail Date: March 2010
- Destination: Middle East
We had booked the cruise and flights separately. We flew overnight from Heathrow to Dubai landing at 8am. Collected our luggage and transferred to Port Rashid by taxi. The journey took no longer than 30 minutes. We hadn't been sent luggage tags from RCCL prior to the cruise, but this wasn't a problem as there was a gentleman with a supply of tags that he just wrote out and attached to the luggage. Porters are also available. We were using the new terminal at Port Rashid. Very nice with an ATM machine and a Bank where you can change money. We were on My Time Dining and were able to reserve a table for that evening at the desk in the terminal. We couldn't purchase a wine package at that time as RCCL weren't too sure what wines would be available. We did purchase the wine package that evening at dinner, and any choice of wine we picked throughout the week was never substituted Check-in was a breeze. We had to wait until 11am before boarding began. The time went very quickly. Guests either headed straight for the Windjammer or the swimming pools. Access to the staterooms was at 1pm. Our suitcase arrived at 2.10 pm - very quick. If you can manage it go out to Dubai ahead of the cruise and spend a night or two in Dubai, otherwise you will be very sleepy on your first day. At the port there are taxis lined up ready to take you anywhere you desire. Also The Big Bus Company and free shuttle buses to the nearest Malls are available.
Muscat was our first port of call. We took an independent tour with Arabesque Travel. www.Arabesque.Travel We highly recommend them. We had booked this with another couple and the cost was GBP40 per couple.
Fujairah was our second port of call. We decided we wanted to enjoy the ship that day. I took advantage of the Spa offer. We did talk to people that had taken the Desert & Wadi Safari tour and they had really enjoyed it.
Abu Dhabi was our third port of call. We were late docking due to the heavy fog. We were lucky to get in to the port. We took the free shuttle bus to the port gates and met up with a friend. We drove to the F1 circuit and had lunch at the Jaz Hotel there. Fantastic. After lunch a drive past the Mosque, which is huge. You are unable to go inside on a Friday as that is the Holy Day. The landscaping is now being done at the Mosque. We couldn't get in to the Emirates Palace Hotel for tea, as we didn't have a booking. Marina Mall is big and there is an observation tower there where you can go to the top and have a drink. The Corniche is very pretty. We would like to return to Abu Dhabi.
Final port of call - Bahrain. The ship is docked quite a way from Manama the capital. Again there are free shuttle buses to take you to the port gates. RCCL had laid on a special tour to the F1 circuit for the Qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix. We would have been interested but not at USD500 each! The taxis do not seem to be so much of a rip off as they were a few weeks ago when Brilliance first started operating out of Dubai. We again talked to a couple that had taken the Bahrain Ancient and Modern Tour and had really enjoyed it. The guide was very knowledgeable, but the coach was dirty. That is down to the tour operator and not RCCL's fault.
A few notes about the ship. We had been on Brilliance of the Seas last May. Her swimming pools are lovely. The casino is good. The Windjammer serves a wide choice of foods. Our cabin was immaculately clean. We only managed to see one show The Soul Sensation. A Tamla Motown tribute group is the best way of describing them. The whole theatre was rocking. That same evening it was the BBQ outside and everyone was dancing. We had the best cabin steward we have ever had, Svetlana. As a previous review has said, put your little cards in the key slot outside when you want your room made up or privacy. That really helps the cabin stewards, they are not mind readers. My Time Dining works very well for us and we made a reservation for the following evenings as we departed the restaurant each evening. The current Captain is Captain Henrik Loft Sorensen. He has a good sense of humour. The Cruise Director is Gordon Whatman, just love him.
The Dining attire is as follows : - Day One - Casual Day Two - Formal (after departure from Dubai) Day Three - Casual/White attire (Muscat) Day Four - Smart Casual (Fujairah) Day Five - Formal (Abu Dhabi) Day Six- Casual (Bahrain) Day Seven - Casual (Dubai)
One downside was the appalling way that many of the guests abuse the sun beds and place towels etc down to reserve them, against the policy of RCCL. We even found out that people were reserving them and then going on 4-hour tours. Disgusting and very selfish!! RCCL need to police it much better than they do. Having said that, it is now very difficult for them to just take the towels away as they swipe your key card when you are given the towels.
For those that are interested you can depart the ship after it has been cleared by the Dubai authorities at any time, so that is about 3pm onwards. However if you wish to depart the ship before 6.30am the next morning you have to carry you own bags off. RCCL have started an experiment whereby you can pay to stay on the ship up till 8pm the day you get off. You have to vacate your stateroom by 9am and you cannot use the dining room to eat. Other than that you have a free run of the ship. They charge USD50 per person or USD80 per couple or USD100 for up to 4 people in a stateroom.
This destination is not everyone's 'cup of tea'. You need to go with an open mind and enjoy it. We had a fantastic time and are looking forward to visiting The Gulf again.
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