Brilliance of the Seas 12-7-14-2019
I will try to make this review as short as possible while covering a variety of relevant points most cruisers are concerned with. After 29 cruises and years of sailing the “Mega Liners”, the wife and I decided to switch things up and take a journey back to where our cruising adventure began years ago, a smaller ship. After reading a variety of reviews we took the plunge and booked RCCL’s “Brilliance of the Sea” out of Tampa from 12-7-14 2019. In short, overall the Brilliance of the Seas met and at times exceeded our cruising expectations.
Port of Tampa: Traveling to the port was easy; however, there is a significant amount of road construction so make sure you plan accordingly if driving to and from your cruise. While traveling was relatively easy, once at the port we were very disappointed with the lack of organization concerning baggage drop off prior to RCCL’s main terminal for passenger check in. Port agents would not allow anyone into the terminal until bags were checked with porters; however, the porters were few and far between. After 20 minutes of “Porter Searching” with many frustrated and unhappy people, we finally found a porter willing to take our bags. Once our bags were taken, check in at the RCCL desk was flawless, putting us on the ship within 15 minutes. Once on the ship we were quickly greeted by RCCL staff and were encouraged to explore the ship until our room was ready at 1:30. Although cruise critics highly discourage passengers getting on the ship from immediately going to the buffet (WindJammer Cafe) we have always found this information wrong, so, rather than exploring the ship we headed to the buffet where the Brilliance exceeded our expectation. The large dining area is very clean, well maintained and provided ample amount of seating with the buffet offering a wide verity of salads, carved meats and a verity of ethnic and American offerings. During the cruise, breakfast stations included everything from cereals, fruits, lox and cooked to order eggs and omelets. Lunch on the other hand offered a different verity of foods each day to include burgers, pizza, steaks, pasta fish and great ethnic dishes. The WindJammer continued to impress offering a different food theme night for each night of the cruise including; Mexican, Seafood (outstanding) Asian and Chinese. Several important notes about the WindJammer café; hand carved meats were offered during all serving times which we found quite impressive. Next service was outstanding, seldom did we ever have to get our own drinks and used plates were quickly removed by respectful attendants as soon as you finished your meal. While buffets are not for everyone, RCCL exceeded our expectations with the WindJammer Café’. During our cruise we also used the “My-Time Dinning” program in the main-dining room. Here we found the menu to be limited. The food was cooked to order and overall “good;” however, service seemed to be slow. The Brilliance of the Seas offers the typical pay restaurants (Chops, Geovanni’s and Asian) however having taken many cruses over the years, we have found these specialty restaurants to provide excellent service and specialty menu items; however, overpriced therefore we choose not to participate so we can’t adequately provide an evaluation of these services.