Delightful Mediterranean: Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Review by YVR2dreams

Brilliance of the Seas 5
Member Since 2011
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Delightful Mediterranean

Sail Date: May 2011
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Barcelona
PRE-CRUISE: We spent 2 nights in Barcelona at the Hotel Denit Barcelona which was a very comfortable, quiet hotel a block from La Rambla and Placa Catalunya and priced very reasonably. We purchased the Barca-Card and saw all the highlights on our list very easily. I recommend the Barca-Card over the hop on/off bus since the bus goes in a loop taking you to a lot of places you don't necessarily want to waste your precious time on.

SHIP: We were very pleased with the ship and it's amenities. We used the mini-golf, pool tables, two swimming pools, hot tub, casino & lounges, shopped in the stores and used the internet stations. I'm a 49 yr old woman who was traveling with my 21 yr old son and we both managed to find lots to do to keep ourselves amused. The ship was extremely clean. Yes after 10 yrs the carpets & upholstery are beginning to look a bit faded, but it certainly is still a fine looking ship.

ACTIVITIES: My son played in (and won) a couple of poker More tournaments in the casino, partook in soccer games, I took a "Learn to speak Italian" class, we went in a trivia contest and came out with a bottle of champagne, so there was always something to do. The bingo was a bit pricey - but I guess they wanted the payouts to be good.

SERVICE: The service was impeccable. The staff always greeted you with a huge smile and couldn't do enough for you. Our cabin steward Rudy seemed to magically know our schedule and our cabin was always cleaned by the time we came back to it in the morning and evening. Also loved the creative towel animals left on our beds. STATE ROOM: We were really happy with our category H, oceanview cabin #3554 which was on deck 3, almost mid ship. The window was large and the views were wonderful some days. We found it to be spacious enough. The closet was quite large so we could hang our clothes up and keep our suitcases in it. The shower is a bit compact, but worked well, always enough hot water & good pressure.

DINING: We pretty much ate all breakfast and lunches in the Seaview Cafe which was buffet. The food was good and lots of selection. We ate most of our dinners in the Zephyr part of the dining room at an 8 person table by the window, though we were only six people which gave us lots of elbow room. We also really lucked out with our assigned table mates, the two Canadian couples were super nice people with great personalities, so lots of laughing at dinner. Our cutie waiter Fatin fussed over us and made sure we had more than everything we needed. We were glad we chose the early 6:30 set dining time since 9:00 would have been too late. Since we had a couple of excursions where we would be coming back late, I booked one night in Chops Grille and had a really good steak dinner and another night in the Portifino Restaurant for a wine pairing, Italian dinner. Both were very good.

EMBARKATION: Getting off the ship was certainly much quicker than getting on it. We were called to the lounge and about 20 minutes later we were off the ship, collecting our luggage and in line for a taxi to the airport in Barcelona. We shared a cab with the couple standing in front of us and it cost me $20 euro instead of $40 euro. Getting on the ship seemed to take forever. I would say it probably took close to two hours from the time we arrived at the cruise ship terminal to the time we opened our cabin door. Less

Published 06/14/11

Cabin review: H3554 Large Outside View Stateroom

Very quiet location, nice big window. Did not feel any ship movement. Everything worked well, t.v., shower, toilet, etc. Nice view in some of the ports. We were very happy with this cabin.

Read All Large Outside View Stateroom (H) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

We went on a half day ship excursion called "Athens Sightseeing & Acropolis". The sightseeing part was all by coach, except for a short stop at the Olympic sight where we got off the coach for 15 minutes. We then trekked up to the acropolis and stood in the sun for 45 minutes while our guide droned on in a monotone voice on the historical facts of the Parthenon and Temple of Wingless Victory. I finally had to wander off on my own, get some shade, turn off the headset. All our other guides were from good to excellent, unfortunately this was our one disappointment which affected how we felt about this port and the excursion.

It may just have been coincidental but we found that every ship excursion had about 4 coaches and they best guides seemed to be with the first coaches out, so just saying, you might want to get to the meeting place early to get assigned to the first coach out. In Athens, we were late and got assigned to the last coach out. The other thing that turned me off about Athens was that everything is covered in graffiti, it's very sad that the city looks a bit like a ghetto because of it. On a positive note there are some lovely buildings, houses, lemon trees and churches.

On my list of don't miss while in Barcelona would include: 1) La Sagrada Familia - pay the extra to go up to the top. It's open until 8pm, crowds are much less in the evening. 2) La Pedrera - if the line up is really long, just take exterior pictures, the interior apartment is interesting but not worth waiting for. 3) The block of discord (Casa Battlo)- again take exterior pictures if time is limited. 4. La Rambla - We walked from Placa Catalunya right down to the waterfront in the morning before all the crowds & it was very enjoyable. 5) Parc Guell - wonderful park to wander around and take pictures of Gaudi's whimsical architecture seen everywhere. This is a beautiful city & we really enjoyed our stay there.

Read 1752 Barcelona Reviews

We went on the ship Excursion "Pisa & Florence on your own". This included guided coach to Pisa, where we walked to the Field of Miracles with Daniel, who was an excellent guide. We were on our own for about 30 minutes then met up, got back on the coach and headed for Florence. During our ride to Florence, Daniel gave us an interesting and humorous commentary on the region. We were then dropped in Florence with a map and were on our own for 3.5 hours. We had the best pizza I've ever tasted in Florence. We saw the Ponte Vecchio, the Santa Croce, Piazza della Signoria, all the little side streets.

This was a Monday when the Uffizi gallery was closed so maybe next trip. Note: The vendors in Pisa are very aggressive, as soon as you are getting off the coach they swarm you trying to sell their little trinkets which I wouldn't suggest buying anything from them no matter how cheap. To be safe, only buy from stores or permanent kiosks that give you a receipt. I bought a lovely leather purse in Florence from a store off the beaten path for less than $50 euro.

We LOVED Ephesus. We took a half day ship excursion "Highlights of Ephesus". We had a fantastic guide, Murat who added humour and anecdotes to his commentary. We were just so amazed at the condition the ruins were still in and abundance of them. It really felt like you were walking down the street that looked the same as it did 2,000 years ago. Visiting the house of the virgin Mary and filling our vessel with holy water was quite an experience even for someone that is not very religious.

The vendors are quite aggressive here as well, even the ones with legitimate stores. They come right out and try to hustle you in. They also take any currency, euro's, U.S. dollars etc., so don't worry about not having any Turkish Lira on you. They will even give you change back in the currency you use.

Read 614 Kusadasi Reviews

We took a full day ship excursion "Amalfi Coast by Motor Launch & Pompei". The day was a little gray and windy, so not the best for a small boat. It was too cold to sit outside on the boat but the inside had surround windows. The amalfi coast is quite scenic and we docked at the town of Amalfi and wandered around the town for awhile, got back on the boat, went back to Salerno and took the coach to Pompeii. We had lunch in Pompeii then walked through the ruins. I wasn't as awed by the part of the Amalfi Coast we saw as people who went to Positano or Sorrento, something to consider. I bought a nice handmade cameo in Pompeii at a very reasonable price. I hear they are making a come back (we'll see)
Read 1173 Naples Reviews

We went on a full day ship excursion "Imperial Rome". This was the only day where it was quite hot at almost 90 degrees, all our other days were dry and temperatures ran around the high 70's which was perfect sightseeing weather. We did quite a bit of walking on this tour since the coaches have to park on the outskirts. We started at the Trevi fountain, threw in a "loonie" and then we walked through many ruins until we finally came to the colosseum.

Our guide Sabrina was really good and was very talented at getting us around the crowds and from point A to point B quickly and finding limited shade when she gave her commentaries. Rome was very crowded and the way they drive their little cars and vespa's through such narrow streets is mind boggling. They also park on sidewalks or anywhere that a little car can fit. The tour included a set lunch of veal medallions. I have to say I did wish that the lunches included with the excursions served more authentic local dishes rather than "hotel banquet type food" that is obviously catering to what they think (North)Americans want to eat. Though the food was fine, I was disappointed that I didn't get to taste the regional cooking.

We took a half day ship excursion "Village of Oia & Santorini Island". The island is beautiful and it's fun to just wander around and visit the little shops. We went to Oia & Fira on the island, stopped at a winery and mostly had free time to explore on our own which was a nice break from headsets and walking in a pack. When we were ready, we had tickets to take the cable car down to the tender that took us back to the ship. I bought a couple of "white" flowy cotton blouses, is there any other colour in Santorini?

The French Riviera (Cote azure) is very beautiful. We went on a full day ship excursion that took us to Nice, Eze & Monaco. It was a long tiring day with a lot of strenuous walking, so not for the weak bodied. We walked around the market in Nice, got back on the coach and went to Eze which is a medieval town build on a mountain cliff (lots of uphill climbing). We had a chicken breast lunch in Eze at a local restaurant. We then hopped back on the coach and went to Monaco where we walked around by the Royal Palace then went to Monte Carlo & walked up a lot of stairs to get to the casino. If you want to go in the casino you will be asked for your passport which the ship has, although I heard they would take other government picture id.

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Member Since 2011
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