Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Review by LoveTravelKirei
- Sail Date: July 2019
- Destination: Baltic Sea
- Cabin Type: Ocean View
I booked this cruise to see bits of Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea area in a convenient way (just the highlights). Like all cruises, you only see so much in a port day (or two in the case of St Petersburg, Russia) but we felt like we saw and did many things even given the nature of cruises, and we were satisfied that we had a good sampling of Denmark, Estonia, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm and, including the extra 4 days we did separately, Amsterdam (all travelers should definitely spend extra time in Amsterdam before, after, or both if they take this cruise). All in all the itinerary was very good, and we actually enjoyed having the 4 sea days to relax, especially at the beginning and end of the cruise.
I've cruised before, and have sometimes booked excursions in advance, before sailing, but this time I actually research everything and booked ALL the excursions in advance. I was very glad I did, and we ended up paying much less that way (and we didn't spend any time in lines at the excursion desk). I will probably do that at all times in the future (they can always be cancelled onboard as long as the cancellation period is met). We were satisfied with all the excursions and felt that we maximized our time in each port. They do seem expensive, but for the entire trip, for two people, with all the excursions we wanted, we spent about an extra $1000. Since the cruise itself was quite cheap (I booked early on a different site and got a good deal) it all worked out well.
The biggest kudos to Royal Caribbean was the customer service. I have to say that EVERYONE was very helpful and friendly. We didn't ask for a lot, but when we did, everything we needed was taken care of quickly and well. The excellent customer service made up for a few things that were a little less than great.
The food was good, overall, although I wouldn't say fabulous, and the choices were very helpful. We enjoy the late dining period (8:30) because we spend a lot of time at the gym and in the spa and don't like to rush for dinner. The show times forced us to see the show at 7 pm most of the time, but it still worked out. The food choices were better at the buffet a Windjammer but we don't like the crowds so we usually dined at the main dining or a specialty restaurant (we booked the 3-dinner package in advance). We personally choose room service for breakfast most days (the continental is free) but did enjoy the buffet for that on sea days. Our waters (Juwan and Anniket) were outstanding and we enjoyed our dinner partners we met and ate with on some nights.
We thought the shows were terrific and offered talent and variety. We saw all but one of them and enjoyed them all. Keeping them less than an hour is perfect so we can see the show, eat dinner, and not have to rush or stay up too late.
I love the gym and spent a lot of time on the treadmill (or walking the promenade decks) watching us sail. The main thing we spent money on (beyond the excursions) was the spa (3 massages each) and although the massages aren't "great" they were adequate. They are expensive but if you book in advance and/or book carefully to take care of "specials" for multiple massages the helps (and my medical insurance pays back $60 for each massage, so that helped too). We also buy the thermal suite all-cruise pass and we spent lots of time in the heated marble chairs, steam rooms and saunas. Very relaxing, if expensive. It also kept us away from the crowds.
We were in a ocean view cabin just below the promenade deck (it was on deck 4) and it was perfect for us. Would love to have had a balcony but it wasn't worth the extra cost (especially in the Baltic Sea). The porthole window was quite large and I spent lots of time looking out (and didn't have to worry about closing curtains except in port). We found it to have adequate room and we were comfortable (we prefer the beds split to give more room). The bathroom was outdated and sometimes smelled bad, and this is clearly an older ship that is getting a bit worn, so that was a negative, but other than that all was fine. Our cabin steward (Nick) was great :) More on that in the cabin part.
Overall we thought this cruise was a very good value for the money, but we do warn cruisers to research and plan carefully, and be judicious with your money while onboard. Unless you plan to drink or use the Internet all the time, avoid the all-cruise packages (they are very expensive). We drank some, but avoided most of the extra costs onboard (except the spa, which we admit we probably spent too much money on). If you're not careful you'll owe a fortune after 12 days on the ship. Just make sure you read and research, and think about what you really want and need.
We would recommend this cruise to others, but book ahead for excursions and other extras if possible (but don't buy the expensive beverage and internet packages unless you really need them).
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