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191 Royal Caribbean Dubai Cruise Reviews

We had 5 days in Dubai before we sailed and this is truly an amazing city. Loved the old city and marvelled at the buildings in the new part. One day was spent in Abu Dhabi and that too is another city I will never forget. The Grand Mosque ... Read More
We had 5 days in Dubai before we sailed and this is truly an amazing city. Loved the old city and marvelled at the buildings in the new part. One day was spent in Abu Dhabi and that too is another city I will never forget. The Grand Mosque should not be missed. 1 night spent at the Burj Al Arab where we were totally spoilt and I can now say "I have stayed there" when I see it on TV. The boarding process was the only let down of the whole trip...3hours to get on the ship standing in a large tent with air conditioning that could not cope. I am lucky that we are reasonably young, fit and healthy and while I was frustrated at not moving (4 meters in an hour in a priority queue)I just had to look at those who were a deal older than us and from cooler climes who are not used to the heat and I thought..the ship can't go without us...so no big deal. Our cabin was an aft balcony cabin and our steward Agi was awesome, as was Noel who looked after the cabins along the corridor that was always saying hello to us. I love the friendly staff on RCL!! We did MTD for the first time and this worked well for us. We had dinner a few times with the same people (If Joyce and Mickey from South Carolina or their family read this, my email address is robynwau@yahoo.com. We had so many lovely evenings with you and missed seeing you the last couple of days and just want to say thank you for your company). Everyone we had dinner with was so friendly and we thoroughly enjoyed every meal we had even more due to the company.Again, the staff in the dining room are fantastic and nothing is too much trouble for them. Willemina was such a sweetie and Claudio always had a cheese plate waiting for us. We had dinner in the dining room every night bar 1 and every night it was spot on and delicious. The other night we had dinner in the Windjammer and it too was lovely. We had breakfast in either the main dining room or WJ. All OK except for one day everyone on the table who had ordered eggs benedict received cold hard eggs. These were promptly returned and replaced. Never got to the dining room for lunch unfortunately as we know they have lovely lunches there, but the BBQ's on deck on sea days smelt so good that we ate these instead. WJ seemed to be always busy but we never had to wait too long to find a table and the food was always good. We went to every show except for the first night as we were at dinner and really enjoyed the entertainment. Ok, the harmonica player was not really my type of entertainment, but he was so extremely talented.The ice show was fantastic( we have not been on a cruise with ice rink before)and we enjoyed going to the 3D movies and the Dreamworks parade was great fun for us "big kids". We were up every night until after midnight either at the parties on deck or at the Pig and Whistle pub. We loved the entertainment and sing-a-longs there. We are non smokers and this was a non smoking venue, although that being said, apart from the odd waft of smoke here and there we never really noticed any smoke. We loved the ports as well. Suzy from CC organised a fantastic tour in Goa, where we visited two old Portugese churches followed by a lovely lunch and tour at a spice plantation. Cochin was amazing. We did a ships tour here to the backwaters where we travelled on rice barges which have been turned into houseboats. Here we saw the locals going about their normal lives along the lakes and canals. Another lovely lunch at a resort. Great value for a ships tour as it was an almost private tour with only 7 of us and a guide in the mini bus and houseboat. Penang we got lucky and had the most amazing taxi driver, Jenny, that took us to all the major sights. Snake temple, reclining buddha,Penang Hill, Kek Loh Si temple, Fort Cornwallis. She bought t-shirts for our two boys when we her about our family. She bought mangoes for us to eat along the way and also some hawker food of yummy pancakes with a peanut topping. KL was fun, we caught a ships coach to the city then found a taxi to take us to the Batu caves and some photo stops including the Petronas towers. We then walked around the shops a little before catching our coach back. Finally Singapore...we were the first ship to dock at the brand new passenger terminal. We had two wonderful nights at the Marina Bay Sands, allowing us to swim in the infinity pool 57 floors up overlooking the amazing Singapore skyline Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
About us: A couple with children (that were left at home with my parents) travelling on our first trip together post being married all those years ago, and celebrating my husbands 40th Birthday. Boarding: We didn't have any issues ... Read More
About us: A couple with children (that were left at home with my parents) travelling on our first trip together post being married all those years ago, and celebrating my husbands 40th Birthday. Boarding: We didn't have any issues at all with boarding, and heard loads of horror stories about other peoples experiences. We arrived at the terminal early, as I had emailed RCI earlier as initially I had been told boarding would take place from 12 noon, and then our paperwork all stated 2pm. I wanted to be on board earlier rather than later, so with no queues to worry about, we were on board by 12:30pm, and it was completely uneventful. That being said, I really feel for those that came later and had the multi-hour wait in the terminal tent. The air conditioning couldn't match the heat, so it was more a sweat box! Disembarking: Ok, we were the first people to arrive at the new terminal in Singapore. Not having too many issues previously, I guess this was the most frustrating day for us. There were big delays getting off the ship. It was funny, as I had joked that by the time we did get off, all the entertainment and fun of being the first to arrive would have packed up, and it had. We were delayed by an hour and a half in a line that just didn't move as they were having technical issues. We received a token postcard for being the first to arrive in the terminal. It was a big building, but there was still work to be done on it to have it completed. Due to the volume of people getting off the boat at the one time, the taxi bay, was a nightmare, so they offered free buses over to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, where away from the congestion you could just jump straight into a taxi. We gladly took up this option. Cabin: Initially I had booked an inside cabin. I am so glad we upgraded to the junior suite. It was perfect. There was so much room in it. Ok, so the destinations and weather was probably too hot to actually use the balcony the majority of the time, and we did under use it, but the extra space in the room we just adored. Our Room attendant Sihal Zong, was amazing. I'm not sure that he actually had any time off during the cruise, because I can't remember not seeing him in the hallway at least twice a day during the cruise. The first day he made the effort to learn our names and pronounce them correctly, and every time he saw us after that we were greeted personally. He kept our room very clean, shoes all lined up perfectly (in the end we tried doing as much as possible to spare him these little things), and the bathroom products continually replaced as we used them. You couldn't have asked for anything better than that! Food: I think we only ate in the Main Dining Room four times during the cruise. First night I requested the Salmon, and the waiter kind of told me off, asking why I ordered that, and didn't I like the beef or the other options, and since salmon was on the menu 9 times during the cruise I should choose again ... So I guess I wasn't allowed Salmon and choose whatever else he wanted me to have. Needless to say, I never got my Salmon, which was a bit disappointing. Loved the formal night menus. In the end we ate mostly in the Windjammer, due to the fact we were able to choose what we wanted to eat without being "told off, or persuaded otherwise". We also liked the informality of the buffet, and the selection of food was really good. We never actually ordered room service, we kept meaning to, but were too much on cruise mode, and that seemed too much like planning. Range of food on board was really good, and we never went hungry. The dessert range in the Windjammer was at times a bit underwhelming, but I didn't mind that too much, as its not like I eat desserts for lunch and dinner daily back at home, so helped me not put on weight. Entertainment: I guess being a mum, its sad to admit, but I loved the 3D movies they played as part of their entertainment package. I'm not sure starting them at 10:15pm however was really a good option all the time. Luckily there weren't many children onboard, especially as they were all kids movies that they played. Was just surprised that they didn't replay these movies during the daytime giving you two chances to go and watch them. The Cruise Director Gordon, I really liked, I didn't really go to many of the Headliner shows though, as they just weren't my thing. My husband did sit through most of them though. The Ice Skating show, definitely was the best entertainment onboard. I did have the misfortune of sitting in the wrong seat, so ended up being pulled out on the ice for what seemed an eternity. They really picked the wrong girl for that because I hated being out there, and for being the best show of the cruise, it did wreck it for me, and was so disappointed that I ended up missing alot of it, because my nerves were shot to pieces when they finally let me go back to my seat. I guess it wasn't their fault, but would have loved to have been able to have sat and just enjoyed the show. Everyone said it was amazing. Staff: To the most part staff were really helpful and friendly. There were a few onboard that were either brand new to sailing or just wanted to be elsewhere, but you get that everywhere. Had a bad experience with the hairdressing service. I guess I might try it one further time, before writing off their service altogether. The girl who did my hair was just really rough, and it was hurting the way she pulled my hair about. I did have quite alot of hair come off when I washed it out the following morning. So it wasn't a good experience. I did go twice to the same girl and the second time, was also a very rough and she wanted to be elsewhere experience. I think she was being timed for how fast she could pull off a hair style because 15 minutes later I was out of there $70 something dollars poorer for the experience. Ports: I chose to do my own thing in all the ports. Goa was definitely an experience. Probably the biggest cultural shock of the lot. We hired a taxi with another couple, and I think we were all eager in the end to get back onboard sooner rather than later. Cochin, we went on a group tour organised by someone on cruise critic. It was an amazing port, and we did so much. Was so much fun and a beautiful destination. Penang was another Taxi port, where we went about with another couple. I had pre-booked with Ocean Jupiter tours, and they were amazing. We saw so much of the city in the time we were there. It was a very well rounded trip. Kuala Lumpur, I had pre-organised a tour of the city for 16 of us. It ended up being a very full day and also alot of fun. Best food of the trip was in the KL Towers on their 4th floor food court. Was amazing, and so much fun! Ship: There were renovations onboard during our cruise that we weren't informed of before boarding. We had been aware that there were to be some worked completed on the earlier legs, but we had no idea these were to continue for our leg. One of the shops was closed the majority of the trip, which wasn't too bad I guess, because when it opened, it just had all the things the other shops had. The souvenirs were all from their previous ports in the Caribbean. I dont understand why they didn't leave them there and pick up something a bit more relevant to our cruise? The main area they renovated on our leg was the children's area at the back of the ship behind Johnny Rockets. I believe they opened up the area two days before we got off. Honestly, that looked like the type of place I would have spent alot of time as it had a gorgeous view, was more sheltered from the sun and wind, and the kids pool was just too cute. Other than that, the ship looked in good condition. People complain about the hand rails not being polished and everything else, but didn't have a problem with any of it. The ship looked in really good condition. Hopefully I haven't missed anything. We did have a ball on the cruise. We met amazing people, who I'm sure we will continue to remain in touch with. For a first cruise, apart from a small bout of sea sickness, which I didn't take medications with me for (how stupid am I), it was a really smooth cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Returned today from a 12 night Dubai to India cruise. Overall a very pleasant cruise due to the fabulous ports and combination of port and sea days. Check In was efficient, extra paperwork for India was needed but lot's of helping ... Read More
Returned today from a 12 night Dubai to India cruise. Overall a very pleasant cruise due to the fabulous ports and combination of port and sea days. Check In was efficient, extra paperwork for India was needed but lot's of helping hands around handing out forms and pens. As on the previous cruise, which we learned later, around 70 passengers did not have a Visa for India and had no idea they needed one. RCL send out emails reminding people of UAE visas 3 days prior the cruise. Not only way too late but also incomplete, as no word about the needed Indian visa. Ships staff however handled all passport and visa related issues extremely well and was generally super organized, the best I experienced in all of my cruises! Kudos! Everyone incl crew had to go through 2 face to face immigration procedures from the Indian authorities. Passports thus needed to be handed out prior each inspection ( they were earlier collected in Dubai at check in ), a lot of queuing and many arguments/comments from a few disgruntled passengers, but as mentioned before the execution of all this was handled extremely well by the RCL staff. The ship is now about 12 years old and I must say it is in urgent need of a complete makeover. It looks quite worn in many areas and did not make the best impression. Hard to believe it still has to wait one more year before it's "face lift". My cabin, a JS #1602, aft of the ship with a nice big balcony was in ok shape, the state of the balcony however quite shocking (as were the loungers on it). Rust everywhere, the floor worn, rusty and in urgent need of a whole new floor!! I can imagine, there will be a lot of complaints when the ship arrives at the Caribbean later this year. Estrellita, my cabin attendant was lovely and took good care of me and the cabin. Most of the crew seemed happy and did a good job. Entertainment overall was good, whereas the nightly shows definitely lacked. Did not really enjoy one of them! The food: Whereas windjammer was quite good, in service, hygiene as well as variety, this cannot be said about the dining room. I really don't know why RCL does not listen to all the complaints. The food is boring, repetitive and often of shockingly bad quality. I cannot believe they sell any of their cookbooks, because there is not a single item on the menu, worth cooking after. One very annoying thing almost every night is, that the description of the dishes on the menu very often do not match to what you find on your plate in the end. RCL, don't offer carpaccio if you don't know what that is or how it should look like. Salmon carpaccio must not look like those thick layers of salmon at the lox station at windjammer for breakfast ! Who in Miami thought of "Coq au vin" should be served with bacon on top ? It not only looks terrible , it also tastes as bad as it looks. Just some examples. Overall a pretty boring and untasty dining experience, with the exception of the Indian dish, which is always lovely. Another thing is the wine service. With the premium prices for a bottle one has to pay these days, one can expect a minimum of service for this. Stop putting even more work on the poor waiters. I learned they all have to queue up at a single sommelier in order to get the bottles they need. That is unbelievably bad service on the guests that pay so much money for their wines. Just because they don't see this internal process, doesnt'mean it is acceptable! Portofino Wine Pairing Dinner was OK, but I would not do it again. Only 1 rather cheap white wine , followed by three red's. The second appetizer, fish, believe it or not, was accompanied by a red wine... That says a lot! None of the wines was really good and justified the price paid. The dishes were OK, again not necessarily worth the amount I paid. Speaking of high prices, the drink and wine prices are through the roof on this ship! Don't know why, but they were the highest I have experienced so far. Needless to say I drank less. Do the math RCL! Chops was very good, as was seaview cafe with it's Italian pasta and panini dishes! Food in the concierge lounge was the best I experienced so far! Well done. The ports were Cochin ( beautiful ), New Mangalore ( no one could explain why on earth we had to stop there as there was not much to see and to do ), Goa which I personally was very disappointed from ( quite a long drive from the pier to pretty much everywhere and quite dirty ) and fabulous Mumbai. Luckily enough we were in Mumbai on a Saturday, so traffic was not bad which made it very easy to like the city which was surprisingly green. All RCL tours were very good, I heard of no complaints and would definitely recommend them in India. Last stop was Muscat which was a great contrast to the previous destinations. The weather was good throughout, the seas calm. Everyone seemed to have a good time, despite the facts I mentioned above ( and which of course are very subjective ). However I must say that I am losing more and more interest in RCL, because of the food which hasn't changed much over the past 10 years and which simply is not up to date. It is time for lighter and tastier food ( no, I do not mean "sugar/fat free" desserts!!! ), inspired by all the destinations RCL sails to. But in an authentic way. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
My boyfriend and I booked the 14 night holiday. The first two nights in a 4* hotel in Dubai and then the 12 night cruise from Dubai to India and Oman. We embarked the ship around 1.00 pm from the port in Dubai without any problems. ... Read More
My boyfriend and I booked the 14 night holiday. The first two nights in a 4* hotel in Dubai and then the 12 night cruise from Dubai to India and Oman. We embarked the ship around 1.00 pm from the port in Dubai without any problems. There were a few forms to fill in but there were staff on hand to help with these and it only took about 30 mins for us to go through and get on the ship. We then explored the ship to acquaint ourselves with the facilities. The ship was really lovely. Compared to the Oasis, where the ambiance seemed noisier and busier, in comparison, the atmosphere on this ship seemed calmer and indeed the passengers seemed more subdued and introverted. This was also apparent on the first evening when we did the emergency drill and lined up at our stations on the decks, everyone was quiet and did as they were told. The food was excellent, though we preferred eating in the Windjammer, even in the evenings, as the choice was great and we enjoyed sampling the various international cuisines (buffet style). On a few occasions, breakfast time and some lunchtimes, the Windjammer got very crowded but after a few days you get to known when to avoid the rush (ie late breakfast or after passengers have left the ship to go on tours). Our stateroom, 3542, was lovely and very clean. All of the staff on the ship we found to be superb, all very good at their respective roles, very discreet, very polite and made us feel special. This was better than our experience on the Oasis of the Seas where some of the staff had been brusque and less helpful. We were at sea for 3 days which was great for relaxing and using the facilities. We regularly used the gym, sauna and steam rooms. We played golf and had a go at basketball. We went into the casino a couple of time but found the cheaper slot machines did not pay out much so we lost our money and decided not to go anymore. (Those on the Oasis of the Seas were much better in terms of types of machines and they seemed to pay out more frequently.) We went to several shows in the Pacifica Theatre and enjoyed them. A couple were a bit amateurish but had a charm of their own and proved to be great entertainment. I participated in the Bollywood dance classes over several days (half hour lessons) and then we performed the dance we had learnt one evening the Centrum which was great fun. The Bollywood party that was held on Deck 6 was a bit of a disappointment though as it was so crowded that a lot of guests couldn't get in and turned around and left to do something else. Our ports of call were, Cochin, India. We walked to the port gate and hired a tuk-tuk. We had a great tour of Cochin with our local driver who took us to the church, some Hindu temples, the laundry and several shops (which are designed for tourists). It was great fun overall. The second port, New Mangalore, was mostly an industrial type port so we didn't bother getting of the ship and we enjoyed using the gym and facilities with less people around. We are not anti-social but at times found other passengers to be quite rude when pushing their way into lifts, at the buffet, and grabbing sun loungers but you have to try and ignore them. There were polite and friendly people around too of course. The third port of call was Goa. We hired a local taxi for a tour. The driver took us to a nearby beach. We didn't really like the look of Goa, it was not as we had expected, lots of litter around and unkempt buildings, so we were glad to return to the ship. We think the better sights were further away than we ventured. The fourth post of call was Mumbai. We walked from the ship into Mumbai and looked as some of the colonial style buildings. After about 1 hour we had seen enough for our liking so returned to the ship. We enjoyed our glimpse of India and our favourite place was Cochin as we saw more - goats and cows wandering all over the place freely, saw how people lived and the locals we met were very relaxed and friendly. Our next port was Muscat, Oman. On arrival the scenery was very different to India and quite spectacular. It was great to be able to walk of the ship and along the corniche and look at the lovely sights. It felt very safe. Back on the ship, we continued to enjoy the holiday. It always amazed us how much people eat on board and everyone is ready to start again at each mealtime (is everyone really that hungry)? In the Windjammer the food is so well presented and the variety so good that it is so tempting. After Oman we sailed back to Dubai and enjoyed a relaxing last night on board. We had to have breakfast at 5.00 am the next morning as we had a taxi coming for us at 6.30 am for our flight to the UK at 9.30 am. Disembarkation and the transfer to the airport went like clockwork, no problems whatsoever. Overall we had a fantastic holiday, superb cruise, a trip to remember and lots of lovely photos to look back on. Just hope we can afford another cruise to the Caribbean later on....... Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Having always wanted to pass through the Suez Canal, and with my wife wanting to visit Petra this cruise to Civitaveccia seemed ideal, tagging on the next part back to Dover meant the added bonus of no flying home - great. Our holiday ... Read More
Having always wanted to pass through the Suez Canal, and with my wife wanting to visit Petra this cruise to Civitaveccia seemed ideal, tagging on the next part back to Dover meant the added bonus of no flying home - great. Our holiday started with a couple of nights in Dubai at the Ibis, Deira City Centre which is well situated for both Airport and Cruise Port being between the two. Also has a shopping mall opposite the hotel, a direct bus service (No 27) to the Gold Souk Bus Station from the nearby Metro Station (the Metro entrance across the road from the main Mall entrance); the Metro has a closer entrance to the hotel just on the corner of the main road junction 300 metres away, and is handy for reaching the Dubai and Emirates malls. As a bonus we had saved enough by booking our air fare direct with Emirates, rather than the cruise line, to pay for our complete stay in Dubai. On embarkation day we arrived at the port at around 1230, platinum check in was a breeze and inside 20 minutes later we were eating our first cakes of the trip! Cabin wise, as usual the requested separate beds had not been done, but was fixed later. A request for an egg crate topper for the pretty firm mattress could not be done, but our steward arranged an extra duvet under the sheet which worked pretty well instead. The cabin was clean enough, roomy enough and with the exception of the air con which struggled until the ship reached cooler climes was perfectly adequate. Our steward maybe could have had a better eye for detail, with us having to always ask for things like laundry bags, breakfast order forms etc. but we forgave him as he was always a cheerful happy soul! MDR dining was where the ship as a whole gave such a varied experience, that on the one hand it could be 4 star and at other times struggled to be 2 star. We try and avoid buffets, preferring instead to be served our meals at cloth covered tables in a civilised way. The dinner service we received in my time on deck 5 of the MDR was spot on, the food mostly very good for mass catering except the duck, which as usual was tough. Open seating Breakfast and Lunch fell down considerably with some very long waits and mixed up orders, to the point where one of the head waiters ended up apologising to us twice in the same day for the same problems. Following that we started to receive what I can only describe as preferential treatment - very nice if you can get it, but not the norm - with one of the head waiters taking a personal interest in our meals wherever and whenever we ate in the MDR. The buffet was used for just drinks and cakes; many times we saw serving utensils that were in clear need of changing left out and becoming clogged with different cake, often there were no plates to put the servers on so they got dumped back amongst the remaining cakes, and rarely if ever was there a member of staff at the cake/dessert servery. Coffee was hit and miss between weak and strong, cold and hot. Hot milk from the flasks was often curdled with unpleasant bits floating in the cup. The cloudy lemonade was nice, but is full of additives and having got to read the container it comes in, not the old fashioned lemonade it seems to be. Room service was a bit hit and miss; our breakfast coffee showed up at all sorts of times and one day not at all. The nightime snacks on offer came only with fries - no wedges despite being on the menu, and the one time I ordered a well done steak sandwich it turned up an hour later cooked on one side only. The Seaview cafe up on deck 12 was a real gem though. The best pizzas and paninis on ship, all freshly made to your order. So we gave up on room service and trekked up there most nights after the shows. Fortunately, not many others seemed to be either aware of it or able to find it, so we often shared the room with only another 8-10 people. Entertainment varied from guest artistes who sang/told jokes/juggled/acrobatics to production shows. The production shows were the really weak part with some of the cast obviously much better than others, and like many of these efforts at sea, a musical director who seemed to think that drowning out vocalists with a wall of noise was what everyone wanted. Most ships we have been on, we go to all the main theatre shows, even repeats - not this cruise. Ports of call - MUSCAT, we called on a Friday so very little doing until late pm with most of the Souk closed. AQABA - everyone including us went to Petra, which although expensive with the ship was a really good excursion, probably the best ships tour we have ever done. Ignore the walking distances in the ships tour brochure they are at least 100% more, and you need to be fit enough to walk as the alternative horse carts could leave you with serious back problems on the bumpy ground. SAFAGA is an industrial port some way from the small town, again we were there on a Friday so not much doing. SHARM on a Saturday was also quiet, but within 15 minutes walk of the ship, and had private beach areas where you could rent a lounger etc. ALEXANDRIA is filthy, dirty and the people very poor. If you are not going to Cairo, the Corniche area is probably the best to visit and is walkable for the independent traveller but you will get hassled by taxi and horse carriage drivers. CIVITAVECCIA to Rome by train is both easy and cheap; the bus shuttle drops you at the fort like building at the port entrance, on getting off turn right and up onto the parade and the first kiosk will sell you train tickets and for 1 Euro extra a very useful Rome map with train times and all the main tourist spots clearly marked. GIBRALTAR another day of rest, Sunday this time as we were in the UK! Most shops were open and in walkable distance, loads of taxi vans offering Rock tours and the like at the port. LA CORUNA is a gem, free of the normal tourist tat with loads of Tapas bars etc.; tourism here is mostly fellow Spaniards on holiday. Having said that some English is spoken. The castle and lighthouse, churches, shops and squares are all walkable from the ship, or there are cheap and efficent bus services around the city. LE HAVRE was our last call before jumping ship, of course many people will do a long organised trip to Paris. If not, be warned that the walk from ship to city centre is long and pedestrians not very well provided for until you reach the Fish Market area. Although there is a city walking tour, most of the sites are post war and made from concrete, so not much history. We disembarked one day early at Dover (ship went on to Amsterdam) along with several other passengers. We had to attend a special immigration desk set up in one of the meeting rooms at 0730, duly got our exit passes from the ship and after that it was our last MDR breakfast, collect cases and out to a taxi for the train station and our journey back to Scotland. In summary we enjoyed the cruise as it enabled us to tick off two of the things on our "wants" lists,took us to three more ports we hadn't been in before, Muscat/Sharm and La Coruna, and was a welcome change from the awful UK spring weather. Had Brilliance been able to deliver consistently on all fronts it would have been a 3 star cruise, but the mixed performance in the catering and entertainment functions sadly lowered it to 2 stars for us. Would we sail on her again - yes, but only if the itinerary was the deal breaker. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Our last cruise with RC was about 11 years ago on the Splendour of the Seas- then a new ship. We enjoyed the cruise, but felt a bit disappointed overall. Mainly, I suppose, because standards were lower than the last time. We had no ... Read More
Our last cruise with RC was about 11 years ago on the Splendour of the Seas- then a new ship. We enjoyed the cruise, but felt a bit disappointed overall. Mainly, I suppose, because standards were lower than the last time. We had no real interest in the ports other than getting to see Petra. Our main reason for the cruise was the two day stop in Alexandria, where we have a relative staying at the moment. So, good points:- Nice cabin with a small but adequate balcony. (Knowing we were in hot countries made a balcony seem a good idea.)Very good cabin attendant. Lots of free tea/coffee/squash available. Public areas good and not too crowded considering the ship was full; mind you, it was good weather, so lots of people spent time outside. All staff seemed helpful and efficient. Excellent transfers to and from the ship- "seamless" would be an appropriate term. Windjammer food fine; cafeteria type basis but works well. Pretty good selection though both wife and I felt many sweets were a bit insipid. Cruise Director's camp humour was charming. Entertainment good. Modern engineering means a very quiet ship, with only very mild vibration- more towards the stern. Not so good points:- Cabin Air Con- seemed barely able to keep up with daytime temperatures of 30 degrees. Restaurant food, to be honest, pretty poor. Never really more than warm, and not exciting presentation. Nowhere near as good as last time. Restaurant service haphazard at times and our waiters seemed a bit rushed: odd as 8 guests on our table never once appeared for a meal- must have used the Windjammer all the time. I don't blame them!Our assistant waiter seemed unable to tell the difference between requests for red and white wine! Daytime activities a bit limited; plenty of things to do, it seemed at first sight, but when one looked closely, not quite as much as one might think. In my view, the bar/wine prices are extortionate; maybe this is how RC really make their money? i.e. Offering a good base-price then shoving on lots of extras. Remember all bar prices have a 15% gratuity added too. So, about US$ 7 for less than a pint of beer, and remember they buy liquor in bulk and, I believe, at duty free prices! Usual expensive excursions. (But we only did one, so that is voluntary.) Expecting you to pay $125 for a tour of the bridge, the galley and engine room!!!! Why the need for salt-water pools? The Chief Engineer said that they can make 1,700 TONS of fresh water a day! (Though they don't need to.) I really don't like the way RC make their passengers responsible for their staff's salaries: we paid our waiters' gratuities in full, despite having given up on dining in the main dining room. The risible "art" on sale. Sad that staff members ask, to your face, for an "excellent" rating when one sends in feedback. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
April 2012 we went on an epic journey around the Middle East. And I must say it was fantastic.The transfers werefantastic all the way through. The Hotel we stayed in, The Sofitel on "The Walk" in Dubai, was absolutely wonderful. ... Read More
April 2012 we went on an epic journey around the Middle East. And I must say it was fantastic.The transfers werefantastic all the way through. The Hotel we stayed in, The Sofitel on "The Walk" in Dubai, was absolutely wonderful. With a good helping of pampering for the guests, included. The hotel staff really looked after you; from when we arrived very early in the morning, the check-in was meant to be after 3 pm, but the room was ready within an hour of us sitting down with a drink in the hotel lobby, to receiving lovely chocolates on your pillow, the bed was turned back and slippers left by your bed every evening.Wow pampering at its best. We stayed there for 3 days and had a good look round Dubaifor the second time. The weather hot and of course the sun is nearly always shining. Day four we boarded a very tired looking ship, Brilliance of the Seas. Check-in was very efficient and our cabin and Steward great. The only down side was the horrific smell from the toilet area was worse than rotten eggs. Plus a toilet that wouldn't flush!!! As it turned out there was a major problem with the pipework on Deck 8 Fwd. that has to be repaired when the ship gets its timely refurb. soon I hope!! However, the cabin steward worked his little heart out to resolve and clean up the odour which he did in a matter of a few days. It didn't spoil our holiday we just had a good laugh about it. Entertainment was good. Special guests were great. But still had the same Broadway type shows as last time. Food good. Service good also. The trips round the middle east were long and tiring but worth doing especially the Rose Red City of Petra, Jordan. A 10 hour trip but Wow a fantastic place well worth the very long trek down through the narrow Siq (opening) to where the Treasury facade appeared like a giant standing right in front of you. And so many people walking up and down the Siq plus the pony and traps that didn't stop for anyone were busy taking people who didn't or couldn't walk down to the entrance!!! It was very rough surfaceto wlak over. However, Petra really is a special place and so glad we went to see it. Muscat was nice but not that much to see. Sharm El Sheik, was lovely mainly a hotel resort for sunseekers. Again not that much to see unless you want to do a back breaking sand dunes ride in a Jeep or a ride under water in a semi submersible. Fun nontheless. Safaga was more of an industrial port, a place to go if you want to visit King Tutankhamen's tomb and artefacts etc. Again a very long day trip but worth it. The Port of Alexandria, was next, (for 2 days) and is a must if you want to see the Pyramids but is a very very long day with the trips being well over 14 hours with lunch at a nice hotel, then a visit to the catacombs down many crooked steps and which are very claustrophobic. A trip to the Pyramids is one to do in your own time and with your own guide/driver and car. However, Alexandria isn't the cleanest and nicest of places. We were confronted with road works at the entrance of the Dock area with big holes in the middle of the road and scaffolding outside. The taxi drivers are rude and the vehicles they called taxis we would call old pick up trucks, that have seen better days. Air Con meant you had to wind down the window if the window winder still worked. Grest Fun!! Unleavened bread stacked at the road side next to bins full of rotting rubbish. Not good, but an experience all the same. The weather was good not too hot at this time of year. The transit through the Suez Canal was absolutely fabulous, another definite must see, especially during the daytime you saw so much more along the embankments. Finally disembarking in Rome. All in all a good Repo cruise and well worth doing. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Just returned from the 12-night Dubai/India/Muscat/Dubai cruise on Brilliance of the Seas and thought we would share our experience. *THE CRUISE* We thoroughly enjoyed the ship and the itinerary. Nice mix of sea days and ports. India ... Read More
Just returned from the 12-night Dubai/India/Muscat/Dubai cruise on Brilliance of the Seas and thought we would share our experience. *THE CRUISE* We thoroughly enjoyed the ship and the itinerary. Nice mix of sea days and ports. India was dirty and polluted as expected but we had a great time at every stop. Plenty to see and do. The ports are not the prettiest by any means and can be a little inconvenient getting in and out, but maybe that will get better if they start getting more cruise traffic. Oman was beautiful - clean, easy to get around and the friendliest people we have come across in a long time. The Grand Mosque is a must see! Dubai has become our favorite city abroad - can't say enough good things about it. Pricey to be sure, but you have to pay to play... *THE SHIP* We have been on every Radiance class ship and Brilliance was very nice. With one notable exception the staff was outstanding. One RCCL staffer thought it appropriate to belittle and insult us (and many others) for showing up at the wrong place to collect our passport/visa info, even though the letter from RCCL(that we ALL had in hand) had directed us there. Anyway, no complaints overall. The captain was quite amusing. *THE FOOD* Two thumbs up for the SeaView Cafe - the Italian fare was outstanding. We went there almost every day. The dining room food was pretty much the same old thing. A fairly boring menu with average food. Would those of us that have cruised on RCCL all agree that the food quality has declined significantly over the past 10 years?? We tried Chops for the first time on this cruise and liked it so much we went back a second time. A little confusion as to who was supposed to be our waiter with a subsequent delay in service, but it was quickly sorted out and made right. The fillet was one of the best either of us has ever had. I was very disappointed that there was no caviar to be had at the champagne bar this cruise. Apparently this ship had a small outbreak of the n-virus on the previous trip (according to comments from 3 different staffers) and they were being exceptionally cautious and clean. We were jokingly calling it the Disease of the Seas, but only because there were so many sick, coughing, sneezing people on this cruise. No fault of RCCL of course, as that is an airborne issue. We were very impressed with the level of effort they put forth to keep the ship clean. *AFT CABIN* This was our first-ever aft cabin. We have mixed opinions on it. The more-than-180-degree view IS awesome, as is the hypnotic view of the wake. Also very nice to be able to look UP and see the sky at night, as well as the vastly increased quantity of sunshine during the day. The larger balcony and lounge chairs are an added bonus. The downside? Noise - the prop wash/wake are loud and you can hear the clattering of dishes coming from the SeaView Cafe right above. You will also smell the SeaView (not so bad really) and the distinct odor of fried foods that wafts up from below as the exhaust from the kitchen comes up from deck 5 below. Take a stroll around to the rear of the ship on deck 5 and you can 'smell' and hear it for yourself. The sound is actually louder on your balcony because it reverberates off of the roof and wall behind. I missed being able to look straight down at the water gliding by and the calm and quite of a regular side cabin. The ship overall and our cabin were very clean, again with one notable exception. Our carpet had food and gum smashed into it all over the place. Either replace the carpet or dig out a cleaner. It was disgusting. Also, why doesn't RCCL clean the gum off of the decks or paint over it? Are we the only ones sickened by it? And being avid non-smokers we sure wish RCCL would prohibit smoking on balconies. If you get stuck with smokers right below and beside you as we did it is very annoying. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Before the cruise we stayed five nights in Dubai on our own, so we had all the sightseeing there done in advance. Taxi from hotel to cruise terminal around 12.00 and embarkation procedure finished before 13.00. Cabin 1104, deck 10 aft, was ... Read More
Before the cruise we stayed five nights in Dubai on our own, so we had all the sightseeing there done in advance. Taxi from hotel to cruise terminal around 12.00 and embarkation procedure finished before 13.00. Cabin 1104, deck 10 aft, was waiting for us and we found a very nice-looking cabin with a really deep balcony with sunbeds and chairs. Our luggage arrived at 15.00. Lots of place for storage so our bags were soon empty. We could not get rid of them anywhere so they were with us in the cabin during the whole cruise. Our cabin attendant Esther gave us in a nice way the best service we could ask for. We had chosen My time dining and table for two in our Pre-Cruise planning and there was hardly no waiting time any night. Our pre-ordered wine package worked well and we could always find wine to match what we choose to have for dinner. All meals were very well prepared, specially the sea-food. Waiter Christian and assistant waiter Ashok gave us all possible attention and the best service you could ask for. Windjammer for breakfast and lunch every day. Enough to choose from but the bread was the weak spot. Same roll every morning and only one kind of darker bread. Two dinners in Portofino, first a Wine and dine experience, with a little argument with the waiter about possible smell of cork from the red wine. Eight people at the table were not convinced that it was the mix of grapes that caused the "corky" smell, but the waiter was. Second dinner in Portofino was for birthday celebration, extra cake with one candle and singing from the staff. The ports of call and the excursions were very positive experiences. Both Goa and New Mangalore showed a different India than the chaotic city of Mumbai. Highly qualified guides, in New Mangalore a voluntary student with lots of examples from his own life. The tour to the Backwaters of Alappuzha by Houseboat was the top of the cruise. Muscat in Oman as the last stop before returning to Dubai showed how fast the development is in the Middle East. Norwegian architect company Snohetta are involved in building the new fish market.This was really the most memorable cruise we have been on and compared to all Caribbean or Mediterranean cruises on the market it really gave new insights and memories. Therefore it is a pity if it is true that there will be no Dubai-India cruises next year. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
just back from the brilliance of the seas. it was for us the first time in the middle east and had a different idea about the ports and rules. our suite was well but not so big as we had on other cruises and a little far from the ... Read More
just back from the brilliance of the seas. it was for us the first time in the middle east and had a different idea about the ports and rules. our suite was well but not so big as we had on other cruises and a little far from the action. But we choose him its our fold. the room was proper and clean. the food was good and the waiters also, but the place where we had the dinner was not what we had in our mind it was a room far from the action ( if there was we had the meaning there was not singing or dancing accept one evening) the choice was good but royal Caribbean style not too much choice. we went too one show and this was good. the white party was great it must be every night. the ports where good but for one too short and for others too long. the prizes for drinks was normal' three port more but not on the list fujeira its not what it must bring and the shore hotel is it not worth too do. muscat we had our own driver from Marc tours he was great and had a lot of information. abu dhabi we had high tea and that was all most missed by the weather. but finally we were on time instead of twoo o clock it was 4.30 pm but we get the time from emirates palace. we had caviar and every thing with gold also the cappuccino. it was very very good Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Hi everyone, first time critic here so apologies if I miss anything out! We just returned last night from our cruise on Brilliance of the Seas, which left from Dubai on March 25 and sailed to India (Mumbai, Goa, New Mangalore, Cochin) and ... Read More
Hi everyone, first time critic here so apologies if I miss anything out! We just returned last night from our cruise on Brilliance of the Seas, which left from Dubai on March 25 and sailed to India (Mumbai, Goa, New Mangalore, Cochin) and Muscat before returning to Dubai. This was our first cruise on Royal Caribbean, but it definitely wont be the last. Most of our cruising has been with NCL. We initially booked with NCL because we like to be casual and Freestyle seemed to fit our needs, and then we didnt want to stray from NCL because we didnt want to be disappointed...however we then tried P&O which we liked very much, and now Royal Caribbean, which we absolutely adored. Embarkation was super fast and super easy. The only hold up was the endless red tape and forms we had to fill out to get into India, but thats down to the Indian government rather than Royal Caribbean. Brilliance of the Seas was a great ship. It could probably use a little refurbishment in certain areas, plus I tend to prefer a larger ship (my favourite until now being Norwegian Jade), but overall it was great. The food was the best we've had on any ship (we've sailed on NCL Jade, Gem, Jewel, Dawn, Epic and Sun, P&O Ventura and Carnival somethingorother - we hated it so I've mentally blocked the name of the ship out). The cabin on Brilliance (8172) was at the extreme rear of the ship with a massive balcony. The cabin itself was great - extremely clean and well kept, although the furniture on the balcony had definitely seen better days and probably could do with being replaced. Im the worlds most fussy eater ever, plus I'm a little on the shy side, so the thought of sharing a table with total strangers really isnt up my alley (hence always having gone for the NCL freestyle option), so most of our meals were taken in the Windjammer Cafe, however the food was definitely top notch, always hot, always fresh, the selection of different foods was immense and I found nothing to complain about. Even though we had to get our own food, it didnt feel like a buffet somehow. Service by all the staff we encountered was fabulous. Marcelo, our cabin steward, couldnt do enough for us, and Paul and Cuddy (cruise director and activities manager) were extremely entertaining. The only problem we encountered (and it wasnt a massive problem) was that one day during the cruise, there was a very nasty looking brown liquid floating on the top of the pool. It actually turned my swimming trunks brown. I mentioned this to guest services who said it was probably suntan lotion (although for there to be THAT much brown liquid in the pool, someone would have had to have used gallons of suntan lotion...), however that night they completely drained the pool and washed it out, and we didnt have a problem after that. Entertainment (shows, etc) on the ship was ok but nothing to really write home about. It was quite amateurish but watchable. Most of it was geared to the English guests, which was fine because the majority of guests were from the UK, but there wasnt much for other Europeans or Americans (etc) onboard. I'm British so I enjoyed the stand-up late night adult comedy but it wasnt to everyones taste. The casino is very small with (in my opinion) a poor selection of slot machines, but there were quite a few gaming tables which seemed popular. The ports of call I visited were amazing - Mumbai was completely mind-blowing, as was Cochin. I didnt get off in Goa or New Mangalore. Muscat was great (I'd been there several times before), and the ship overnighted in Dubai at the end of the cruise and Dubai was as great and as glitzy as ever (I used to work there so I know Dubai very well). Disembarkation was very simple. We waited in the Colony Club until our luggage tag number was called at 8.30am, and by 9.00am we were in our hotel in Dubai, near Mall of the Emirates, wishing we were still on the ship. It really was a fantastically memorable cruise and I'd have no hesitation recommending either Royal Caribbean or Brilliance of the Seas. Ideally I do prefer a larger ship, but the effort RC staff put into their work was immense and all in all we had an absolutely fantastic holiday. While on the ship, we also booked a back to back cruise on Independence of the Seas for next year (Caribbean and then Transatlantic), and I think our NCL days are behind us. There's only so much cheap pizza and frozen chips a man can eat just for the sake of eating 'casually'... Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
we have just returned from a seven night cruise on brilliance of the seas visiting four ports in the united arab emirates and dubai. the ship was the usual standard we have experienced before on a royal caribbean ship, although we have ... Read More
we have just returned from a seven night cruise on brilliance of the seas visiting four ports in the united arab emirates and dubai. the ship was the usual standard we have experienced before on a royal caribbean ship, although we have previously been on mariner of the seas when it was newly commissioned so obviously it didnt have the luxurious royal promenade, etc. and is looking a little tired but very clean and comfortable with good sized rooms and excellent maid service. the food and service was of a very good standard and chops grille superb. anyone who complains of rubbish food must eat in very high standard restaurants in their normal lives as there was something for everyone, nationalities, etc and always plentiful and fresh. there is no laundry room for general use and i found this annoying as i usually carry a small travel iron but due to other ships i have been on having this facility on this occasion did not feel the need to take one. i had already ironed my clothes before leaving home but had four items which needed to be run over before wearing. this cost me eleven dollars which is excessive and there should be a facility. my main issue with this cruise is the extortionate price of drinks on board. not only were they vastly overcharged they all had a gratuity on top which made a pint of lager and a small mango martini 18 dollars every time. our overall bill was in the region of £600 for drinks alone and this did not include any wine as we had a 100 dollar voucher which paid for the only two bottles we had plus two drinks. we only had on average three drinks each per night so be warned, this is a major rip off!! i do not think i will travel on royal caribbean again due to this as everything was with additional charge and gratuties and having sailed on other big ships dont feel the need to to go back to a company who does this to customers. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
My husband and I booked this cruise with Virgin Cruises . We had 6 nights in Ras Al Khaimah before joining the cruise in Dubai . We had no difficulty arriving in Dubai airport . I had brought copies of my husbands prescription medicines ... Read More
My husband and I booked this cruise with Virgin Cruises . We had 6 nights in Ras Al Khaimah before joining the cruise in Dubai . We had no difficulty arriving in Dubai airport . I had brought copies of my husbands prescription medicines but no-one was interested. ,and we were soon on our way to Ras Al Khaimah . After 6 enjoyable relaxing days we were transferred to the cruise terminal in Dubai arriving around 11.30 Am . I had printed off the Rccl health questionnaire kindly posted on the forum and had completed it that morning before checking in which speeded things up . We checked in at the Crown and Anchor desk and were soon on board . We made our made to the windjammer on desk 11 and had an enjoyable lunch there when it opened at 12 Pm . We were pleased to see that free soft drinks and water were available with lunch . Our stateroom was available at 1Pm . We had opted for an inside stateroom as I had read that the ports of call were all container ports . Our cabin on deck 9 was quite adequate . Our luggage arrived around 2.30 Pm . Virgin had laid on a champagne reception in the Starqest Loungue and we attended that and watched in comfort as the ship departed Dubai . We had 2nd sitting dinner i.e 9pm and were at a table of 6 . we hadn't bothered with the wine package as my husband doesn't drink wine . I just ordered a bottle for around $38 including tip and this did me for a couple of dinners . My husband had beer $8 with tip Cider was also available .Iced water was served with the meal free of charge .Day 2 Fujairah We decided to stay on board as we had read that their wasn't much to see . A free shuttle bus was provided to take you to a supermarket . The dress code to-night was formal and the Captain also hosted his Welcome Aboard reception with free drinks . Day 3 Muscat Oman We got up early to watch the ships arrival in port at 8 Am After a lovely breakfast in the windjammer we joined our ships tour. Nouvelle Nakhl Fort and Resort $89 . We booked all our trips on the TV in the stateroom and found it very convenient . We travelled up the coast to a fishing village where the local fishermen were seated on the beach selling their fish which were displayed on pieces of carpet . Certainly different . We then had a somewhat tedious journey to Nakhl Fort which was quite interesting with some great views . Then on to Nakhl Springs which were not to exciting followed by a not very good lunch in Al Nahda Spa, the grounds of which were lovely . Given that the price of petrol is 20pence a litre I felt this tour was a little overpriced . To-night the dress code was White or Arabian dress . Day 4 Muscat Oman To-day we had a leisurely breakfast in the dinning room the service and the food was very good and I particularly enjoyed my smoked salmon omelette. We then took the free shuttle bus to the port gates (as these are working ports you can't walk around ) where a host of robed taxi drivers were waiting to pounce . As the taxis are not metered you have to negotiate a price beforehand . The currency here is the Oman rial but they will accept dirhams dollars or euros . It would be helpful if the ships TV chat show could give an idea of reasonable fares . After escaping the taxi drivers we had a look round the fish market (Spot the fisherman's wife ) and then had a pleasant walk along the corniche . There is a souk on the opposite side of the road . To-night we had to miss the Crown and Anchor drinks reception as we had a dinner reservation for Chops . There is a $30 cover charge but this includes your Tip . I had the fillet Mignon and my husband had the T bone steak(porterhouse ) and both were excellent I also had the red velvet cake which was a masterpiece . You can order a glass of wine with your meal for between $11 -$20 plus tip ., But if you have wine in the dinning room it can be sent up . After dinner we went to the Abba show which we both enjoyed . There was also a guest appearance of "Village People "look alikes in the Centium which was hilarious . Day 5At sea This morning we had an invite to a special breakfast in the colony club for Crown and Anchor guests which was excellent . We then spend a leisurely day on deck soaking up the sun . We were pleased to see that people who had reserved sun beds but left them un occupied for a long time had their towels removed by the crew . To-night was the second formal night .Day 6 Abu Dhabi This morning we went on The Grand Mosque Visit tour which was truly amazing Ladies had to wear Abayas which were provided but you could wear your own head scarves . You were also given a bag to carry your shoes around in . We returned to the ship for lunch and then joined the Yas Marina Circuit tour which my husband greatly enjoyed particularly as there were some cars using the track . We went to the Mo-town show this evening which was very good . Day 7 Dubai This morning we took the Dubai City tour. When we left the ship there was a sand storm so we didn't have a very good view of Burj Al Arab but this soon settled down and we enjoyed the rest of the tour which included the Bastakia area, the museum and the gold and spice souks . After returning to the ship for lunch we took a taxi to the Dubai Mall 65 dirhams . You have to pay a port tax of 20 dirhams included in the fare when leaving the port but not on the return which was 40 dirhams . We had a look at the aquarium and the waterfall before visiting At the Top which I had booked online before leaving home 110 dirhams . If you don't book in advance you can pay 400 dirhams and have instant access . This was another unmissable experience . We had booked for 5.30pm and had a view of daylight and sunset . We then went to Joe's cafe on the first floor where we had a great view of the fountain show from the outside terrace before taking a taxi back to the ship . If you use the taxi stand at the exit near the waterfalls you avoid the long queues. We had just time to finish packing as your suitcases need to be outside your cabin by 10 pm and sort out our tips before dinner . We had opted now to prepay our tips in advance as I prefer to experience the service first . Although you still had the option of adding them to your sea pass account up until the day before disembarking . We just tipped in cash using dollars and the last of our dirhams . We found both the service in the dinning room and the stateroom to be very good . Day 8 Home We had an early start this morning as we were due to leave at 6.30 am The windjammer was open from 4 am for a restricted breakfast with full service available from 7am . Our disembarkation went smoothly . Our only gripe was the bus driver left us to unload our own cases at the airport , and there were no porters available . We also had to lift our heavy suitcases onto the belt for security screening . All in all we had an enjoyable cruise . The food was very good with the exception of the bay scallops which were the size of garden peas. The service everywhere was good . The price of drinks was a little steep $15 for a gin and tonic and rum and coke . The staff were very friendly and we particularly enjoyed our chats with Neill the Irish chef at Chops who gave us a great insight on RCCl's food policies . We also liked being able to book trips and view our bill on the TV in the stateroom I hope this will be of help to anyone who like us is on their first visit to this region and you haven't been too bored . Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Many thanks to all the info on this site. We returned on Monday from a great cruise on the Brilliance of the Sea out of Dubai. We loved the cruise. The food was better than expected- especially liked the large shrimp cocktail, lobster ... Read More
Many thanks to all the info on this site. We returned on Monday from a great cruise on the Brilliance of the Sea out of Dubai. We loved the cruise. The food was better than expected- especially liked the large shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque and goat cheese tarts at dinner. We followed a tip and went to the helipad for each sail away- great views and not many people there.Our ship steward, waiters and everyone on the ship were very friendly and did a great job. We never felt unsafe in the ports or during passage in the Straits of Hormuz.We did not see any military action in the Straits- the only unusual site was seeing small speed boats flying flags from Iran cruising up to the ship and waving. The spa had told another passenger to expect the boats- she said they often race each other and like to go close to the ship. We saw live goats in one boat- they were headed over to Oman to sell their goods. Here is a summary of what we did in each port: Dubai- we arrived 3 nights early- had a great apt hotel at Oasis Beach towers. Went to Burj Khalifa at 5:30 one evening to see day and night views from the Burj.Had dinner at Mango Tree at the base of the Burj and were able to see 5 fountain shows from our outdoor table (The shows are every 1/2 hour). We hired a car and driver and went to watch camel race practice, hired an abra boat for an hour to cruise the Dubai creek, went to Gold, Spice and Textile Souks, marina area, did a desert Safari with Arabian Adventures, skied at the Mall of the Emirates, shopped Madinat Jumeriah & spent time at Jumeriah Beach Park. Fujairah: this port was a pleasant surprise.We took ship shuttle to Lulu market where there were dozens of taxis. We hired 2 taxis and first went to the Fujairah fish market (very fun to see) and shopped in the souk portion of the market- bought abayas (burquas). We then stopped at Fujairah fort for photos and then climbed the Bitnah Fort.We stopped at the Friday market but found the shop owners very aggressive. We had hoped to go to Dibba but ran out of time. Muscat, Oman: (first day) did a private day tour with Mark tours. Started at Grand Mosque then went to Wadi Shab (About a 1.5 hour drive)- The Wadi was very pretty but a long 45 min hike along rocks and cliffs to get there. Stopped at Fins beach then the Sink hole. We had hoped to stop at Quiryat but ran out of time again... When we got back to the ship we went to the Marina hotel and had drinks at the roof lounge which gave a great view of the ship and the city. We shopped at the Souk at night- it was very lively with lots of locals shopping Muscat, Oman- Day 2: we walked to the Fish market then along the Cornish and climbed several forts. We then hopped in a taxi to go past the royal palace in Muscat and then back to the souk for more shopping. Abu Dhabi: we had a private tour in a 12 passenger van with a tax driver that we had met in Dubai. Went to the mosque then a city tour and a stop at Emirates Palace for gold specked camelcinno (capuccino with camel's milk and real gold parcels). Reservations are needed even for a coffee stop & there is a 100 diriham minimum per person. We then went to the Heritage village (great prices on crafts at the souk) then drove over to Yas Island. Stopped at the Yas hotel and watched a motor cycle race. Ended the tour with a quick stop at the Iranian souk which is near the ship terminal. Abu Dhabi is a very pretty city and we wish we had more time there. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We have just recently returned from our second Cruise,a 7 night Emirates itinerary taking in Oman and the two jewels of the U.A.E Dubai and it's bigger sister Abu Dhabi. I would like to say that contra to the impressions i have made ... Read More
We have just recently returned from our second Cruise,a 7 night Emirates itinerary taking in Oman and the two jewels of the U.A.E Dubai and it's bigger sister Abu Dhabi. I would like to say that contra to the impressions i have made from similar reviews we found the ship both clean and well maintained.Indeed the ship was gleaming,with a happy crew who seemed to take time to enjoy themselves as they worked and spread the happy vibe around the guests who consisted of a bunch of nationalities and age-groups. We were pleased to enjoy an Emirates night-flight from Birmingham to Dubai and albeit a delayed arrival we were soon on a coach,heading for a holding hotel for a quick breakfast stop and check-in.This worked very well and we were able to board Brilliance soon after without any delays.The night flight was tiring however. The cabin was lovely,much better than i feared and was very well decorated with a good size bed(2 singles together),nice balcony with a great view so a result for us here 'My- Time Dining' again for us proved a success and we dined in the main dining room most nights.We took the Grand Romance package,with robes,slippers and a Bon Voyage chocolate cake-all superb.We had flowers delivered late on day 3 but we were spoilt with a free plate of chocolate covered strawberries in recompense after i complained,a nice gesture and very nice to nibble too.We enjoyed a galley tour one afternoon by the head of Catering a charming Swiss chap,now living in Australia.We met many charming couples and found most people friendly.Our Room service by Aris,a Philipino was superb and we were blessed in the week by three towel animals along the way,to make our cabin memorable.This was our first balcony upgrade and we wern't dissapointed it really made a difference to our perception of the ship.On our last cruise we saw very little of the sea at all! The first destination was rather unattractive-Fujairah a container port and we chose to stay onboard and swim.Two nights in Muscat,Oman were next and i went on an organised official coach tour whilst my wife stayed on board topping up her tan.I enjoyed the Grand Mosque immensly whilst in the souk i managed to buy an Indian dazzling outfit which my wife wore later on the 2nd formal night.Muscat was lovely and Oman is beautiful. Next came our feared crossing of the Straight's of Hormuz in the Iran dominated shipping lanes that criss-cross the Arabian Gulf.Despite being buzzed at low altitude by an Iraninan war plane we soon bypassed some oilrigs and were through and off to Abu Dhabi for our next adventure.However our night at Sea was hampered by winds and high waves,enough to make us take sea-sick tablets offered free of charge after i went to the medical deck suffering from the crossing and a little over-indulgence at dinner time,rich food hampering a good night's sleep. The next morning i woke with a terrible headache and without my usual supply of medication which i had left at home fearing airport horror stories pre-cruise about U.A.E drug enforcement policies and jail sentencing for prescription drugs.A trip to a pharmacy soon bagged some tablets as I embarked on the 'Big Bus' tour,wife in tow but suffering and trying to put a brave face on it.Even a trip up the fabled Skytower at Marina mall was enduredin silence as i took photos and tried to enjoy the location,somewhat different to how i had imagined it,months before in anticipation.That afternoon i managed to grab some Iboprufen on-board and soon was sleeping it off whilst my understanding wife went to lunch alone,poor thing.That evening we chose to eat casually and recovery was spent walking the decks and recording on camera the ships many sights.We didn't spend much time in the evening's on-board as we were tired out during the day.Dubai the next morning and all was well again as we headed off for the city on our second organised coach trip to the Wonders of Dubai.This excellent tour was conducted by an Eastern European lady who lived in the Marina Area and who took us all over to see Palm Island,Mall of the Emirates and finally a trip up the fabled Burj Khalifa-not to be missed this is superb!a short tour is conducted by electronic media,interactive display and finally the world's fattest lift(i kid you not!)where you emerge onto the world's highest viewing platform. Soon we returned to the ship and enjoyed our final night on-board,Sales time in the shops and show time finale we were sad to be departing and we shall miss Brilliance and her jolly crew.The region is most interesting,weather mainly sunny all year round and i would recommend this Cruise for the ship and the cultural highlights that we enjoyed immensly.She may not be the biggest ship in the fleet but she holds her own when it comes to service and cleanliness.Well done Brilliance! Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
This was the second time that I had been on the Brilliance of the seas and there was quite a reduction in service and quality since the last visit in at the end of 2009. We arrived after almost 24 hours travel at the port at 9am tired ... Read More
This was the second time that I had been on the Brilliance of the seas and there was quite a reduction in service and quality since the last visit in at the end of 2009. We arrived after almost 24 hours travel at the port at 9am tired and in need of sleep. After being 'fast tracked' to check in, we were told we had to wait in the metal shed for 2 hours before we could get on the boat as they were 'cleaning'! This in a warm shed with no water and not enough chairs.... a really dreadful way to greet customers. When asked why we could not get get on to change our clothing, we were told again it was the 'rules'. I would imagine that animals would have been treated better and at least offered water (it took over an hour before one desk was set up offering water, with a line forming almost round the shed to get a glass). After waiting, we were finally allowed to get on the ship, but told now that no one was allowed to go to their rooms until 1pm as these were being cleaned! However when we nipped down to quickly change, all the rooms were already done! Then the bags did not arrive until almost 7 hours after we left them next to the ship in the shed. One wonders exactly how difficult it is to move cases and why if this is the case that customers are not allowed to just do it themselves if they choose. The cabin was fine and the cabin steward both quiet and unobtrusive (instead of the sometimes over the top greetings etc you get). The cabin however was without water for 2 nights out of the 7 due to 'maintenance', no apologies given. The ship is clearly tired and this is reflected in the decor. The staff with the exception of the waiters in the dining room, appeared largely uninterested. There was little to no entertainment, with poor to average shows by the singers and dancers for 45 minutes in the evening and no sign of the 'entertainment' crew the rest of the time. Charges were again very misleading with $155 for a wine package then adding on 15% compulsory tip making the real price $178.25. Why not just be honest and say the real price to the customers rather than hide it in the small print. Also we were charged over $13 dollars each for the compulory visa to visit Oman, again since it is compulsory, we would have expected it to be included in the price of the holiday, after all the cruise company selected the ports to visit so would have known about the visa! The food was average, there was plenty to go round but it was not spectacular by any means and often it was a case of selecting the best of the bunch. The old days of 7 small courses long gone to 3 courses with cheaper ingredience, for example the 'wimbledon strawberries and cream' turned out to be strawberry jelly with custard and sprinkles of lime skin on top (Yuk!). The ports selected were industrial ports and in Oman we were given a shuttle bus to the 'mall' which was just that, a really down market supermarket, think Lidl and you would be on the mark.... honestly is this the best they can offer? Almost every day I had issues with my room card and was unable to leave the ship or collect towels etc without having the card replaced after walking to the guest relations area and waiting in a line to be dealt with. On more than one occasion the staff member told me it was 'my fault for damaging the card' and when I explained I had only been given it an hour earlier and it was not working, I was then told that I must of put it next to my phone (I had not) or a magnet (as if I carried one round!) and then finally that I had put it too close to the fridge (since I could not get in the room it would have been difficult to do so!). Just seemed a bit curt, when a sorry and lets see if we can finally work out what the glitch in the system is. Even as a shareholder in Royal Carribean (and therefore a vested interest in supporting the company), I cannot say that it was a positive experience and would not recommend this cruise or the ship. After the cruise we went to the Atlantis Palm in Dubai and honestly wished we had stayed there instead for the whole time... Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Flew overnight from Manchester arriving in Dubai at 7am. Had breakfast, spent time in duty free in airport then got taxi to port at 11am. Watched our cases and hand luggage go through security check and walked straight on ship at 11.20am ... Read More
Flew overnight from Manchester arriving in Dubai at 7am. Had breakfast, spent time in duty free in airport then got taxi to port at 11am. Watched our cases and hand luggage go through security check and walked straight on ship at 11.20am Are Diamond Members in loyalty Crown and Anchor . Been on sister ship Jewel of Seas so knew layout. At noon went to Windjammer for lunch and then to cabin at 1pm. Knowing the ship I had chosen cabin 9256. Aft [rear] corner with extremely large balcony with 2 sunbeds, 2 chairs and table...tremendous! One or two signs that ship is ageing but nothing serious. Had chosen 2nd seating for dinner and found that on this cruise that meant 9pm. For first night we were too tired due to flight and had early meal in Windjammer. Night 2 went to dining room and met our table companions. They mentioned that it finished quite late previous night. Waiter took our order , and we waited. I had ordered 2 bottles of wine but waiters could not find order. Serving was pretty chaotic eg I asked for a roll 3 times before I got one. This was first formal night, with fillet steak[small] with 3 mushrooms, 2 asparagus tips, small quantity mash. Deserts were terrible. I left dining room at 11.15 pm before coffee was served, and could have eaten more. Our first RCI cruise was on Enchantment of the Seas in 1996 with silver service in dining room with plentiful wonderful food. How things have changed! Due to chaos and quantity of food we decided to book Portofino for 2 nights, and went to other casual eating venues on others. Just done our own thing and enjoyed. The staff throughout ship were pleasant and helpful. In Oman,due to the way ship docked, for 2 full days we had sunshine on balcony. Went a walk into town. In Abu Dhabi got free shuttlebus to Marina Mall.In Dubai went to Burj al Arab [booked ourselves] for afternoon tea..all 8 courses. What an event. You have to book in advance and there is a minimum spend. Entertainment on ship was magic act, latin dancers, female singer and groups throughout lounges to acceptable level. English, blonde female Cruise Director who asked passenger's to say to her when they seen her 'Hello my lovely'....right. At end of cruise we were heading to Abu Dhabi so took our time getting off ship without a problem. Overall we had a pleasant cruise but each year the standards are falling and are now asking ourselves if the benefits of the loyalty programme with RCI are worth staying with them. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Emirates Flights We chose the 20.25 flight from Birmingham. I was expecting attentive service from Emirates and we had been told how good they were. Whether it was because we were 2 hours late departing and the cabin crew was tired I ... Read More
Emirates Flights We chose the 20.25 flight from Birmingham. I was expecting attentive service from Emirates and we had been told how good they were. Whether it was because we were 2 hours late departing and the cabin crew was tired I dont know but the service from them was awful. They were curt and unhelpful. We had one alcholic drink on the flight and missed the tea/coffee as we were queing for the toilet. They didnt come back to us. Couldnt wait to get off. Coming back was much better. However as we had paid £550 for the flight alone, (according to travel agent invoice) I did expect same service no matter which flight you are on. We used our Airport Angel cards for the Exec Lounge at Birmingham and again at Dubai which was good as we were at Dubai airport quite early. Much nicer than Birmingham with hot food etc so well worth a trip to that. Never before though have we had to collect our own bags from the conveyor and transport to the coach. This was a real pain. Before, with cheaper cruise liners our bags have never been seen by us again until outside our cabin so this was a surprise. Breakfast at the Hyatt Very good and very welcome after the rubbish flight service. We almost drank a litre of orange juice each as we were so thirsty from the flight. The breakfast was nice and a smooth, 15 minute transfer to Port Rashid. Embarking Very organised. Allowed on ship at 12.30 and we had the fountain soda package so was able to have drinks immediately. Although we didnt use this much and thought x 1 for both of us would have sufficed. We also took a t shirt each in our hand luggage so we could sit around rather than feel uncomfortable with UK clothes on. Good idea as cases did not arrive till 7pm. Windjammer Restaurant Didnt really jel with this. Food was mostly luke warm, although plenty of choice. Plastic plates, bowls and mugs not a good move for whatever reason RCI have chosen this. Minstrel We had second sitting, which we think is the best as the 6.30 pm sitting would have interferred with our days out and also having to rush to change for dinner not my idea of holidaying. The staff here were great. I loved Agus our assistant waiter. So attentive and pleasant. Our Waiter was also great - from Mumbai and a very nice chap. His nightly recommendations were spot on for the food. The food was lovely, plenty of choice. We did not have the wine package and wasnt sure if we wanted a whole bottle every night. It is 10 dollars a glass all over the ship so quite expensive. Head Waiter abit of a joke. Pleasant enough but just came and chatted to you with a hidden agenda - his tip. We had pre paid ours so the vouchers were delivered to the cabin the night before last one of the trip for you to give out on your last night. He clearly came around on the last night for these and we thought a bit of a cheek, very Americanised and not English protocol. We had x 2 formal nights and they were really nice. Photographers a bit of a pain though. Colony Club This is where we spent most of our nights, mainly due to the lovely Phillipino bar tender called Sharron. She was so pleasant, so attentive and remembered our names from the first night. We really enjoyed being in here, lovely atmosphere around the bar and made a few nice friends. Smoking at the one end allowed. Be wary drinks are very expensive but we just thought hey ho we are on holiday so didnt linger on this issue. Theatre Didnt go but plenty of shows on if thats what you wanted. Didnt really want to be rushed around on this holiday. Cabin Double bed, very comfy, good pillows. Sofa, good tv on a swivel to watch in bed. Shower hot and good water pressure. Plenty of storage. Negatives - ugh paper cups - bad move. No nice little packets of biscuits like we have had before. Hairdryer rubbish - take your own. We didnt take shower gel as previous cruises have had complimentary Molton Brown hanging in shower - nothing here so we used soap. No shower cap but I took a disposable one I had from a hotel room. No little nice things like you get in a hotel room. They are obviously cutting back. Again no big deal real, just the little finishing touches that you expect that werent really there. Sunbeds abit of an issue on sea day unless you are up mega early - we were - unusual for us but nothing worse than a sea day and you cant relax on a bed so we put the alarm on!!! Played crazy golf. Used the Casino once - very good. Ports of call ok. Weather turned bad for us around midday Friday on way to Abu Dhabi and never got better. We brought big bus tour in Abu for 2 days to use in Dubai as well. Well it was a good tour but weather was awful on top of open topped bus and we had a sand storm. Made me laugh though but I was froze. It was like a winter walk along Blackpool front. Used the big bus ticket again in Dubai and did the blue route to see Burj Al Arab and palm island. Again marred by the weather and surprisingly the bad bad traffic jams in Dubai. We were on this for over 3 hours. When they dropped us back at the Mall (they seem to think everyone wants to shop and to be honest enough of this leading up to Xmas) we paid for a taxi to get back to the ship as we couldnt wait for another courtesy bus. The traffic is very very bad and you cant get anywhere fast. The night you leave, cases have to be outside cabin between 7pm and 10pm and this is what we have done on other ships. Negative point everyone off the ship by 9am. Not too bad for us as our flight was at 14.55 and we used the Emirates Exec lounge where we had free drinks and hot food and was able to relax prior to flight. Just finished the holiday off and had smoking lounge in there in separate area so hubby was happy. Other people must have been fed up waiting at the sirport for so long but this lounge really finished it off and again free with Barclays Additions bank account - Airport Angel - well worth it. Birmingham Airport Never get your bags to you quickly. The conveyor kept stalling and we waited ages. Abit of a joke when you see how efficient Dubai airport is. All in all we thoroughly enjoyed this holiday. We will do RCI again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Just returned from a cruise on the BOS which we really enjoyed. We arrived at the port just before 9am and on the ship before 11am. Cabins were available at 1pm so we had lunch in the Windjammer when it opened. We were on Main seating ... Read More
Just returned from a cruise on the BOS which we really enjoyed. We arrived at the port just before 9am and on the ship before 11am. Cabins were available at 1pm so we had lunch in the Windjammer when it opened. We were on Main seating for dinner and our waiter was Jing who was lovely so friendly and efficient. The food was on the usual standard we had experience before and we had no complaints about the food. The only downside was that 2 American ladies who were at our table always arrived very late despite getting gentle reminders from the waiter which is all they can do. We ate sometimes at breakfast in the MDR due to being Diamond members but lunch we had in the Windjammer which was alright. We enjoyed the nightly entertainment shows. Captains welcome on Board and Welcome back parties were a disappointment as they were held for all passengers at the same time and was so crowded. Didn't do any ship excursions but used the shuttles at the ports as you couldn't just walk off the ship. Fujairah was just to the Lulu supermarket which was just like a Tesco Extra and wasn't worth doing. Oman the shuttle took us to the port gates where taxi drivers mobbed you to hire them and couldn't understand we just wanted to walk. You could easily walk to the souk along the corniche which was nice to do. Abu Dhabi the shuttle took you to Marina Mall which was worth doing and a nice ride along the seafront but it was too windy to do any walking. Dubai port shuttles were a disappointed as it was confusing as conflicting info was given as to what ones were turning up. After waiting 30mins or so a lot of passengers got taxis but as we were staying in Dubai after the cruise we decided not to bother and just go back on board. Passengers who did the excursions seem to enjoy them and we never heard any negative feedback. Disembarkation went smoothly and we left the ship at 9am our alloted time. All in all a great cruise Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause if you believe or perhaps you are a newbie to RCI! With a fare too good to be true and not having to fly, we booked a last minute inside guarantee on Brilliance of the Seas out of Dubai during the ... Read More
Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause if you believe or perhaps you are a newbie to RCI! With a fare too good to be true and not having to fly, we booked a last minute inside guarantee on Brilliance of the Seas out of Dubai during the holidays. We will be three star Mariners on our next HAL cruise and have also sailed Celebrity but we're looking forward to an RCI experience...... especially having had the sea call me on the new shell phone......I love that ad! We used our usual online agent and to my surprise within the week our RCI reservation was assigned a Superior Ocean View Balcony Cabin on deck nine, mid-ship! I kept checking every day waiting for it to be a mistake. We have never booked a guarantee before in any category and this good fortune probably doesn't happen often. For those of you contemplating a cruise on Brilliance but concerned about it being an older ship lacking the bells and whistles of the bigger classes, don't delay. The ship was in great shape and looked festive with all of the holiday decorations. There were no plumbing issues, the carpets and furnishings looked fine, and all of the surrounding glass sparkled from the continuous cleaning. Liked a Lot: being able to see the pre-booked reservations that you make on the RCI web site for your specific cruise; being able to view your account from the cabin TV quick response from the RCI dining team regarding my wait-listed MTD status (thanks for the tip CC) the planner on Day One that lets you know in advance the formal nights, drink of the day, activity times for the week, special sales each day; the inclusion of all of the port information in the first daily compass, providing information even if you were doing a port on your own instead of a ship tour The Captain's sense of humor and friendliness of the crew. Always being greeted with smiles and doing everything they could to make you comfortable The outdoor seating area by the Seaview Cafe deck 12 that seems luckily undiscovered Seaview Cafe panini sandwiches-wish it was open earlier than three pm The layout of lounges in the Colony Club; being able to go from the Champagne bar to the piano bar, and dance floor without the music overlapping Solarium was a peaceful pool retreat with an exotic Indian theme, wooden loungers with thick pads to relax on, the convenience of both a bar and cafe Room Service-arrived on time and with everything you ordered! Entertainment -a wide variety through out the day and into the night; classical music, Latin music, big band orchestra or R&R to dance to, piano music to sing along with, classical guitar, disco and karaoke; theater shows included guest singer Tracey Shield performing like Celine Dion, Rat Pack tribute, and Tango Buenos Aires Dining & Drinks Chops Grill-Great and worth the money; excellent service and they even decanter your wine by the glass; the steak melted in your mouth and was cooked as ordered; sides were good also-mushroom and leek combo, potatoes with prosciutto & cheese, onion rings, green beans or buttered asparagus; desserts included mud pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for us chocolate lovers; Portofino-originally reserved the Wine & Dinner series but unfortunately not enough people so it got canceled. We substituted a regular dinner reservation and enjoyed it very much; really liked the variety of breads to get you started; we ordered veal saltimbocca which was good though a little salty; desserts were very rich-I had a double dark and white chocolate dessert which was heavenly but best shared MDR-we were able to switch from the early seating to MTD and liked being able to reserve ahead of time; The staff did a superb job of handling this style dining and we always got a table for two without waiting and in the same section though didn't have to request it. They easily accommodated guests configuring the table sizes from 2-6. Even the larger oval tables for eight appeared more conducive to conversation than the huge round tables you so often see in banquet settings; our waiters Alex and Alok were a great combination and it helped that they were also able to serve you the wine as you didn't have to wait for a wine steward; the special holiday dinner offered traditional turkey which was very good; nice assortment of breads each night, delicious lentil and sun-dried tomato soup, excellent presentation; food was hot; stayed away from the steak(Chops reservation anyway) but have to say I ordered sea food three times and twice it was overcooked and once it was cooked to perfection but full of bones! As was my husband's and the gentleman at the table next to ours. Need to schedule more filet lessons Windjammer-typical cruise buffet; no problem finding a table, friendly service and hot food, some items really good (danish pastry, sweet & sour Indian dish, cooked to order omelets) others take or leave but you won't go hungry Drinks-Drink of the Day was $6.95; Bottle of Heineken was about $5; we thought bottles of wine outside of the wine package were slightly higher or what you might pay in a larger city in the US (but less than a hotel in Dubai!) Most cocktails were in the $7-$8 range but Margaritas and the like were a sobering $10-$11. The drinks were all good---not watered down; enjoyed the revolving bar at Starquest and the live entertainment every night at the Lobby Bar; medium size bottled water in your room was $4----yikes! Liked a Lot Less: Sun lounge chairs crammed together-we didn't like the design of the pool area and placement of the chairs on the outside decks at all. An average amount of towels covered vacant chairs but not excessive however the chairs were so close together they took economy class to a new level. Many of the chairs were also lined up on the upper decks against the wall and often had a ceiling overhang that blocked the sun or ventilation fans blowing. There was a special area designated for either suite or diamond guests but the area wasn't utilized much whenever I walked by. There is also a lot of deck space allocated to the water slide and sports activities which I guess that "prime real estate" aspect depends on your interests......but you do have the solarium alternative to escape to. Cabin- Showers-sure are tiny! Spoiled by the HAL shower/tub combo in all of their balcony cabins so no thumbs up here; plenty of storage space and hangers, comfortable beds (liked the curved edges) and the sconce lighting with a reading light; needs flat screen TV, built in international plug adapters, and some new balcony furniture but I'm sure these will be taken care of in a future dry-dock and not a major concern Odds and Ends: A good balance of service throughout the ship. Waiters were available when you wanted a drink but didn't pounce on you as soon as you finished one or before getting settled in a new venue. Photographers unobtrusively captured candid shots or were scattered at various places in the ship to take your photo without having to be scheduled in advance. With the beautiful decorations even we couldn't resist buying an 8x10 for $19.95. The in-house news show hosted by Paul the Cruise Director was a clever way to inform you about what was going on and what you needed to know. There were two formal nights and one theme night. The White Night had many crew and guests donning Middle Eastern dress and posing in the Arabian tent and around the camels. The obvious good time being had relinquished my impulse to call the Cultural Wizard when I spotted them with a drink in hand! Port Tips-This Middle East itinerary is a great way to explore a part of the Gulf region. They are all industrial ports so factor that into your "view expectations" while sitting on your balcony in port. Friday is the holy day and except for the malls most things will open later in the day. Visiting the mosques-in Abu Dhabi all women will be given an abaya to put on and a shayla for your head if you don't have a scarf. Men will be provided a khandora if wearing shorts; in Muscat women must have long sleeves to your wrists and a head covering. Men need long pants. You will remove your shoes before entering the mosque. I didn't wear socks in Muscat, it was not a problem (though I would have felt better if my toenails weren't painted red.) In the shopping areas it is respectful for women to cover shoulders and knees---think short sleeves and capri pants, though in Dubai people digress! Dubai-add a day or two pre or post cruise if this is your first visit. There is so much to see and do here even after you shop! The cream colored taxis with different colored roofs are plentiful, metered, and inexpensive. You will see many lined up at the port entrance; HOHO busses were also at the cruise terminal as were free shuttles to a couple of the malls....I believe one was Dubai Mall but not positive; there were also many 4x4's waiting to take people on their scheduled desert dune bashing experience (if you are prone to motion sickness you may want to take some medication before hand) Abu Dhabi-Free shuttle to the Marina Mall where you can get a taxi if not on a scheduled tour; Sheik Zayed Mosque is beautiful and free tours are given in the morning; Falcon Hospital is an interesting alternative if you have been to Abu Dhabi before. The staff is welcoming and provides a lot of information, you get to see falcons being treated in the "spa" and even have one perched on your arm for photos Muscat-Free shuttles to the port gate in Muscat were provided. There is a large sign outside with posted fares to different places. Gives you an idea for your taxi negotiations; Some drivers will interpret the rate to be pp. We agreed to pay 15 OR for both of us for a roundtrip to the Grand Mosque and have the driver wait for us. He had wanted 20 rials for the 30 minute ride each way. He explained areas as we drove through the city, after our visit he brought us to a reception area in the mosque for tea and dates, took some pictures for us etc and in the end we felt he earned the extra amount and tipped him the difference You can walk to the Mutrah Souk in about 10 minutes from the port gate; Bait al Zubair and Palace area are about 3km from the souq. If you are energetic you can walk to it in about 50 minutes along the beautiful sea promenade or corniche. The four buildings offer a wealth of information about Oman, there's a beautiful jewelry exhibit for the women and handsomely crafted swords and kanjars for the men, a cafe to order coffee or tea and try the Halwa sweet treat of Oman, stop in the gift shop where you can also spritz yourself and make a splurge purchase of Amouage, the Rolls Royce of perfumes of the world made in Oman. If your ship is docked overnight, check to see if there is a performance at the new Royal Opera House http://www.rohmuscat.org.om/ It is a beautiful building and offers not only opera but ballet, symphony, jazz and other performances. The new season begins mid January through March and tickets sell out quickly so if you are interested, don't hesitate. Fujairah-plan a tour, dhow cruise or stay onboard and enjoy the ship; the shuttle to LuLu's is like a trip to Carrefour or Walmart SuperCenter Passenger mix was at least 75% Europeans from all over the continent, some North Americans and everyone in between. Daily program guides were offered in a variety of languages. A number of children and teens on board and an equal number of activities to keep them busy; yes, even Santa came aboard Christmas Eve Embarkation-moved along quickly Passport Retrieval-effortless; also US citizens- ship arranges Oman visa/ charges $13 to your sea account-probably others too but not sure which countries so won't comment Disembarkation-Our tag number gathered in the Schooner Bar at 8 am and I was home making coffee at 8:30 am after a 10 minute taxi ride-as close to a Florida perk as you can get! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We embarked on the beautiful Brilliance of the seas at Dubai for a one week cruise and had a great experience from start to finish. Our check in was brilliant - we were in our stateroom barely half an hour after arriving at the terminal, ... Read More
We embarked on the beautiful Brilliance of the seas at Dubai for a one week cruise and had a great experience from start to finish. Our check in was brilliant - we were in our stateroom barely half an hour after arriving at the terminal, everyone seemed courteous and helpful, and soon the children were enjoying their lunch in Windjammers, the casual buffet restaurant. On a previous cruise, this process took over two hours and when we did get to go on board our stateroom was not yet ready. The only thing that did not seem right on embarkation day was the lacklustre emergency drill. No life jackets were used and I doubt the information given would have been useful in a real emergency. The Brilliance of the seas is indeed a beautiful ship with lots of space and activities, and although we liked the kids' programmes on offer, we found there were enough activities to enable us stay and play together. We enjoyed table tennis especially and our adolescent played this as well as football with the other children. The mini golf was another option our younger son particularly liked. There were many areas to sit or lie to relax and several nice places to take family photos. Sometimes we simply went for a walk around the ship and enjoyed the views. There were other activities going on such as swimming, rock climbing, jogging and basketball in a relaxed atmosphere. Despite the holiday season and many people on board, it did not feel crowded, even on the sea day. There was always somewhere to sit on deck and in the restaurants. We loved the international ambience and hearing many languages being spoken apart from English. Our accommodation was slightly smaller than on a previous cruise, but it was faultlessly clean and our stateroom attendant Nikki gave us a really personal service, by the time we were leaving we felt we had known her for ages. She was very helpful and friendly and could do any thing with her amazing towel animal displays. The most touching display was her heart shaped towels and pillows display with real red rose petals on our wedding anniversary. We had decided to keep this quiet but she saw a card in the room and decided to give us a truly lovely surprise, which we appreciated very much. She also brought in a vase of red roses. Now food. We had my time dining at the minstrel restaurant. The food was very good and there variety was impressive. Ferdi and Rigo, our waiters, were excellent and polite and anticipated our every need, making suggestions without any pressure. Windjammers gave us the casual option for breakfast, lunch and snacks, offering a wide variety of choices. Even though it is a buffet restaurant, the waiters were very friendly and would stop for a chat and offer to bring drinks. This friendliness seemed to the norm with all the staff we came into contact with. Even those who simply passed by us would smile and greet us. We could not help but feel special. The only thing I would wish for in addition to all this would be a dedicated 24/7 pizzeria. My children would have loved this. Back to food, room service is of an excellent quality and can be conveniently ordered on the interactive TV in the stateroom. Ports of call were interesting. This was our first visit to the Middle East and I was a bit concerned to read the ports were all cargo ports, but I was pleasantly surprised. Cargo ports indeed they were, but they were so beautiful. With the other ships and dhows and cranes and absolutely gorgeous mountainous backdrop in Muscat, for example, the views in the setting sun were stunning. Also, the port views from the balcony as we arrived at Abu Dhabi in the morning were beautiful. And Dubai...what can I say? We liked the free shuttle services provided out of the ports and sometimes into the cities and the malls. This was very welcome in Fujeirah especially where we were not exactly sure what to do, being the first port of call. We also used the taxis and the big red sightseeing buses. We did not do any of the suggested excursions but we enjoyed going about on our own. Back on board, the entertainment was very good, especially the evening shows and poolside parties. I think the timing of the first show at 7:30pm was not quite suitable for families with children who did not take part in the kids' clubs. The earliest we could get my time dining was 6:30pm and we had to rush on a couple of evenings to take them to the show they wanted to see at 7:30pm. The shopping seemed a little bit limited, in our opinion, and the photographers were very enthusiastic. We did find, though, that a few of the photos showed subjects out of proportion to the beautiful backgrounds, but we still managed to get some good ones to bring home, although those had all been taken by one photographer. Perhaps he could help the others... All in all, it was a delightful cruise. I nearly forgot to mention the library where I could get away now and then, and the well organised disembarkation process. We are very eager to cruise with Royal Caribbean again and are already making plans for our next experience with them.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
First time with Royal Carribbean. Ship a little smaller than our cruises on Princess and Cunard QM2. staff very friendly and helpful. Easy embarkation. Room spacious. A little tired in places,considering it was a top suite. Balcony ... Read More
First time with Royal Carribbean. Ship a little smaller than our cruises on Princess and Cunard QM2. staff very friendly and helpful. Easy embarkation. Room spacious. A little tired in places,considering it was a top suite. Balcony very small and cramped,but as this was a winter sailing did not matter too much. We pre ordered a wine package. Not successful with ensuring a bottle went from dining room to dining room. Concierge room good for snacks and evening free drinks, but during the day they allowed unsupervised children in ,no-one checked them ,they were lucky there was not an accident with coffee machine etc.We only had room service once for breakfast and that was awful. It came on a grubby tray the cooked breakfast was delivered later than the rest and was dried up and overcooked and nearly cold. The toast was burnt and cold. In fact all we had was a drink and we left the rest. We did not risk it again. The main disappointment for us was the itiniery. We were moored in Muscat for 2 days ( only a 7 day cruise) and we were in a working container port. Our cabin overlooked the workings of lorries loading up with containers and there was a lot of noise into and through the night. No point in sitting on the balcony .They would have been better to have been in Abu Dhabi for 2 days but I suspect it was to do with costings and port fees . Overall, though not a bad cruise.Dubai was good . Plenty to see .felt safe and can easily get about on your own. Very expensive ( wine about £45 a bottle in the hotels and restaurants) But some beautiful hotels. We stayed in the One and Only Royal Mirage for 2 nights pre cruise. Nothing to see really in Fujaraih. Muscat was clean and nice.In Abu Dhabi we visited the Formula One track (good trip,if you like that sort of thing).The cruise did not take you very far afield but it was interesting. Entertainment on ship was ok.Evening bar staff very friendly. Quickly knew and remembered your names.Th ship returned close to Dubai for the midnight fireworks in Dubai on New Years Eve which was a good experience to watch from the ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
After having cruised a number of times on board MSC Cruises, I was really looking forward to my first cruise ever on board RCI. It happened to be on board the Brilliance of the Seas, at a 7-nights cruise departing the 5th of Dec 2011 from ... Read More
After having cruised a number of times on board MSC Cruises, I was really looking forward to my first cruise ever on board RCI. It happened to be on board the Brilliance of the Seas, at a 7-nights cruise departing the 5th of Dec 2011 from Dubai, visiting Fujairah (very boring), Muscat in Oman and Abu Dhabi. I have decided to make this review short, and I have to say that we (my wife and I) were very pleased with the RCI product. All (at least almost all) of our expectations were exceeded. And we will certainly return to this professional company! * All of the staff on board were very professional and friendly. * The ship itself was very nice in most aspects (and the size of it was perfect...as we try to avoid really big ships). OK, the sun deck was really too crowded the whole day we spent at sea, that day was not very enjoyable. * The food presented to the passengers during breakfasts/lunches/dinners a.s.o., in the Windjammer buffet restaurant as well as in the main dining room, was nicely presented and tasted mostly very good. * Most of the evening shows were very elaborated, with a large number (approx 20) of powerful musicians and dancers. Most of the soloists were great - especially the look-a-like Elton John singer/piano player!! However, the Supremes show we found too lame. Finally, I have to mention that I got ill the first day on board (diarrhea & vomiting), however - this was NOT at all caused by anything at the ship! Unfortunately, when we arrived to our hotel the night before the ships departure, at 3:00 AM (in the middle of the night), I - without using my tired brain at all - drunk one glass of tap water (i the room of our 5-star hotel in Dubai). Crazy! Why did I do that?! Well, as a result of this I was isolated in our cabin (a nice Superior Oceanview Stateroom with balcony on deck no. 9) for 2 whole days and nights. However, even if this was very sad, I was very impressed by the help and assistance I was given by the staff at the hospital on board. They, together with the guys working centrally in the room service department, really followed me up in a mostly professional way! The last day of the cruise, I even received a "personal" letter from the Guest Relation Manager on board who said how sorry they were that I hadn't been able to enjoy the cruise, and that the RCI will contact me within the period of some weeks with some kind of a compensation (i.e. if I understood it right, some discount when booking a new RCI cruise in the future). Very professional, I must say! Both my wife and I love good food (and everything belonging to it :-), as much as we also love exercising in the gym.... Regrettably, I only had two real dinners in the main restaurant on board during this week. And I lost a total of 3 kilo's during the cruise... (ha, ha). And I did not get the chance to leave the ship at all during our two days stay in Muscat (Oman). Anyway, as I said already: I was really impressed by the RCI cruise product, as well as the Brilliance of the Seas itself and the sympathetic crew on board. We will certainly return to Royal Caribbean International :-) Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My very first cruise experience; so didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. Very diverse crew; very few Americans as it is Middle East and they don't go to that part of the world. Lots of fun Brits, South ... Read More
My very first cruise experience; so didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. Very diverse crew; very few Americans as it is Middle East and they don't go to that part of the world. Lots of fun Brits, South Americans and other Europeans. People very friendly and chatty and willing to go all out and join in the events to have fun. Children were well behaved and had their own areas. The entertainment staff were wonderful; Paul Lancaster, Jerome and Lisa were flawless in their quest to make sure everybody had a good time and we loved the Morning Shows they produced on TV. The on board experience was great; definitely worth getting a room with a Balcony. The rooms are serviced regularly. That was one thing that annoyed me. We had rooms on two floors, on one floor the laundry carts; rubbish bags, hoovers and general crap were always littering the place. On the other floor the corridor was usually left very tidy. Quite a few people commented about how much crap got left everywhere for long periods. The ship was clean, however they did have a problem with passengers getting sick (Vomiting and Gastroenteritis) and all passengers were evacuated in Dubai so the ship could be fumigated. It's not surprising as there is a lot of food left out in Windjammer Cafe in buffet style and tons of people round, so germ heaven. Formal Dining room (Minstrel) was very good and my advice would be to avoid to eat well at Breakfast and dinner, where it's Al La Carte and civilized, and avoid the lunch where everybody is shoveling in their piles of food and fighting for tables. I eat there once and got food poisoning from the Paella. Chops bar was very good if you are a big meat eater; Portofino was poor and not worth the supplement charged. Overall you won't go wrong staying in the main restaurant. They do small tables - 2 & 4 which you can order. Sitting with a load of strangers at dinner is not my idea of fun. For you Brits - Tea on Board is just AWFUL. Take some PG Tips and some of those "taste like Real Milk" sachets. The milk on the ship is UHT and tastes foul, nothing fresh. As the ship is American they use hot water and have no idea how to make tea or how to boil water. Spa and Gym area were well managed and well worth visiting, not over priced and good quality for massage and other treatments. Christy and Joseph from the Gym will do a customised Fitness Programme for you. We did Boot Camp which was fun and nearly killed me, but I look great now :) You will get yelled at if they ever see you drinking diet coke. Bars and drinks generally were a little pricey; Pre-purchased Wine Packages are a good deal - I got the Platinum one - all the wines were very drinkable. Disco was fun but a bit dated. Think revolving bar and Spectrum in Saturday Night Fever. Also very smokey. The excursions and Ports of Call are not up to much. I did the Wonders of Dubai; where you get dragged from one Hotel to another to take pictures of the outside (yawn) and then chucked in a few Malls for an hour with a million people and then see the Fountain display which lasts exactly 3 minutes, get crushed in the crowd on the way back, lose a load of punters who had to take a taxi back to the ship. RUBBISH! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We cruised 19-26th December 2011 and I can tell you, we will not be staying home for Christmas any more. For the first time we paid for embarkation and city tour (we usually do this on our own) and it showed up to be a great idea. After ... Read More
We cruised 19-26th December 2011 and I can tell you, we will not be staying home for Christmas any more. For the first time we paid for embarkation and city tour (we usually do this on our own) and it showed up to be a great idea. After breakfast and check in in Hyatt we were taken to city tour, which gave us basic orientation of Dubai, UAE and the culture. This helped us to plan our two Dubai days at the end of our cruise. In Fujairah we did the East Coast tour which was great value for money (30 Eur for 4 hour trip). The city itself is boring and this was a great choice. We did Muttrah/Muscat on our own, the ship organised free shuttle (in every port but Dubai) and we walked pretty much all day and evening all over the interesting sites. In Abu Dhabi after "must see" mosque we went by taxi to Yas island and stayed whole day in Ferarri World (awesome), the taxi was 25 USD each way (considering this was about 60 km this was great). And finally in Dubai we did Hop on bus day and night, which was good value for money since they took us straight from and to the ship. Burj Khalifa experience, Aquaventure, Souqs, Wafi light show.. just name it, we did it :o) So I must say the ports of call were great. The ship was ok, not stunning but clean with great Solarium, billiard tables, cinema and standard RCI features. I can not say one bad word about the ship. We ate 3 night in Dinning room (including great Christmas Dinner) which served good meals and we were glad to have Robert from Hungary as a waiter since he was polite and quick and not too familiar ( I really hate this in a waiter). Other meals we ate at Solarium, Seaview Cafe and Windjammer, food and service was great as usually, I was thrilled to eat Duck-dumplings which is traditional for my country in a great quality. Our room was standard interior room on 10th floor (great location). Room attendant was awesome, helpful and polite. One incident was disturbing.. in next room an old couple would bang on wall ( and I mean really loudly) if we made a beep after 8.00 pm. Come on people, we were just talking not having a party, if you want to sleep 8.00pm-6.00am stay at home or pay for extra large room, you will reduce the noise. In the morning the old lady would give us an ugly stare and complain but since we really did not do anything unusual(in fact we are quite boring, we usually go to bed before midnight, we do not drink at all and when coming back to room in the evening we try to be quiet) and no one else has ever had problem with us, this did not ruin our day. I just feel sorry for people who destroy holidays not only for themselfs but also for others just because they expect that by paying for the cheapest cabin they can act as they own the ship. I loved the atmosphere on the cruise, Santa showed up (yeah, he was skinny and he used our safety boats to come but it was nice anyways). I also liked the carolling (did I spell it right?), Christmas dinner decoration, the "pull and it will pop" toy we all got and so on. The decorations on the ship were nice but not too much, just the way I like it :o) So, to sum up the cruise was great and the timing made it awesome, so I can only recommend. Just wondering where we will go next Christmas :o)) Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
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