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47 Royal Caribbean Dubai Cruise Reviews

11 night cruise Dubai to Singapore. Stayed 3 nights in Dubai at the Intercontinental Festival city pre cruise which I would highly recommend. Embarkation at the Dubai terminal seemed a crazy mixup of disorganised chaos, however I can ... Read More
11 night cruise Dubai to Singapore. Stayed 3 nights in Dubai at the Intercontinental Festival city pre cruise which I would highly recommend. Embarkation at the Dubai terminal seemed a crazy mixup of disorganised chaos, however I can honestly say that it all worked fine for us. I have a mobility issue & the staff checked me in quickly & I was on board the ship within about a half hour. I did hear later than some people waited for hours to check-in. The Explorer is a very nice ship & looks great thanks to a recent makeover. It is very easy to get around, plenty of sun beds (even though there were plenty of chair hogs) & great amenities. I love the big ships for all the little extras. We had one of the brand new Balcony cabins up on Deck 12 that were added earlier this year. It had a very similar look & feel of the new quantum class cabins. It was a great location just round the corner from the lifts/stairs & near the spa entrance. It was a very quiet location & the room steward did a great job. These new rooms are about a couple of feet longer than the older cabins, have a large flat screen Tv opposite the bed, heaps of wardrobe space, a nice sized balcony ( 2chairs + table) & it overhangs the sides more than the older ones & being up high has fabulous views. In the past I have not cruised Royal for it’s food, in fact I have been a little disappointed. However this cruise was the opposite. The food overall was great & the best I have come across on Royal. We had anytime dining & the Dining room food & service was great most of the time. The windjammer also had great offerings but it was chaotic at peak times. The food & service of Chops, Johnny Rockets & Giovanni’s was excellent! The cafe was ok but I think a ship of this size could do with another cafe elsewhere or at least a separate pizza station. The pizzas were pretty average. I can’t drink much alcohol so I can’t really comment too much on the bar service but it seemed ok overall, although I did notice a lack of drink waiters on the open decks. Entertainment I thought was average. I have been spoiled by the Oasis & Quantum class. If you are a fairly new cruiser you would love what was on offer. For me I wasn’t wowed other than the Ice shows which I love every time. The main production shows I found a bit boring & I didn’t catch all the Headliner shows but the ones I did see were just ok. Other entertainment around the ship was ok at best. Other than the staff at the entrance to the Dining room on deck 5, the service I personally encountered throughout the ship was great & I couldn’t have asked for anything more. For some reason there seemed to be a lot of whingy, angry, arrogant people on board this cruise (more than usual) who seemed to complain at the tiniest of things & even argue with other passengers in the process. There was a constant line at guest services as a result. I ignored the majority of it, & I’m glad I didn’t have to line up there at all. Ports of call included Goa & Cochin In India, Penang & K.L in Malaysia. For Goa we just jumped in a taxi which gave us a quick drive by the old town & dropped us off at Bogmalo beach for a while. In Cochin we hired a Tuktuk for a about a 3 hour tour & this was a great authentic experience & a quick way to see the main sights. In Penang we hired a taxi again & did a quick tour up the Peak & to some great Temples. For K.L. we did a ships shore excursion which was really just a transfer to/from the Sunway shopping centre. The organisation for the excursions that day was terrible as all groups had to meet in the Theatre at about the same time which meant there were a lot of angry passengers in long queues. We just avoided these & entered once most of the confusion died off. This whole process could have been handled better by the shore exc staff. Once we disembarked in Singapore, we stayed for 2 nights at the fabulous Hotel Fort Canning, right in the middle of a nice park in the middle of the city. All in all, we had a great time, & would not hesitate to do a similar sailing again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Here's some info about Serenade and cruising her with children. I couldn't find much before I went. We are 2 adults and one 9 year old boy. So, in no particular order: I bought the soda cup and bottled water package. Total ... Read More
Here's some info about Serenade and cruising her with children. I couldn't find much before I went. We are 2 adults and one 9 year old boy. So, in no particular order: I bought the soda cup and bottled water package. Total waste of money, iced water is available in the windjammer all day. Also, hidden away in the park cafe is a drinks dispenser with sugar free lemonade, mango water, strawberry water, all served free and chilled all day. Children aren't allowed to take their soda cup to the kids club so it's a waste of money. Ice cream is free in the windjammer all day too. The kids club is fantastic, best yet. It closes an hour for lunch and dinner but on port days it's open all day and you can go ashore and leave your child onboard and they will be entertained and fed. If you don't fancy a cultural tour with overheating toddler this could be the answer. The staff are really enthusiastic, the range of activities will keep any child happy, and they give out loads of medals, certificates etc which kids love. My son usually hates kids clubs, but he loved this one. Make sure to go on the last night, they make pillowcases which make a fab memento. Every day there is a family activity like scrapbooking, penalty shoot out, basketball, bingo. We took our son to a lot of activities outside the club - quizzes, mini golf tournament, killer pool, table tennis tournament, card making etc. All the materials you need are free of charge. Nobody bothers that they are at an 'adults' activity. The Wii is available all day in the crown and castle pub if your child is missing gaming, although they do have these in the kids club but don't let the kids spend too long on them. There is a games arcade which we managed to avoid until the end as its overpriced. The rock climbing is fun and they provide shoes so don't pack those heavy trainers! My only gripes with the ship are the same as with other cruise lines. Forget about getting near the pool, which is tiny and cold, you need a balcony stateroom if you want anywhere to sit outside. The theatre is always full and sometimes the first show doesn't start until 9pm. The centrum is way too small a place for a dance party, the outdoor 'Arabian white night' was much better. Finally, being British and accustomed to our non smoking policy I found the smoking really invasive. Some of the lounges stank of smoke, the casino was a no go area for me because of this. The policy is that guests may smoke outside on one side of the ship only, but in reality people were smoking everywhere on deck which I found horrible and certainly didn't want my son to be near. Overall a fantastic cruise, I wouldn't cruise RCI again because of there smoking policy but I didn't let it ruin our trip. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Our first cruise and we were determined to enjoy it! Cabin was well positioned on Deck 10, just below the Solarium Deck 11, so convenient for popping up for a drink(Alcoholic or non) and food. The itinerary was not that exciting as most of ... Read More
Our first cruise and we were determined to enjoy it! Cabin was well positioned on Deck 10, just below the Solarium Deck 11, so convenient for popping up for a drink(Alcoholic or non) and food. The itinerary was not that exciting as most of the ports were working ports so not too much glamour there, but, the ship was what we went on holiday for and we made the most of what was it had to offer. We payed for the Premier Drinks package, which at the time we booked seemed over-priced, but we are really glad we took it out! I think if you go as a couple then perhaps you will not drink enough to make it pay, but there were six in our party so, boy, we were pounds in. A beer costs around $7 plus gratuity and wine around the same, but we could enjoy so many varieties of beer and spirit that the Package included that it made the holiday. Food was plentiful and varied. You would be very hard pushed to find something you did not like! We hate at Chops Grille one night as part of our package, and that was a lovely experience. We did not do any of the shows so cannot comment on those. We spent most of our time in the Schooner Bar with pianist Simon John who made our time on board very special. The staff on board were first class! I can honestly say they made our holiday complete. Two gripes though. The Photo prices were far too high, $20. They must throw 90% away, plus I could never find the spoons in the Windjammer! lol. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
just off Serenade of the Seas after 7 nights in the Middle East. Overall a very enjoyable experience. Spent 2 nights pre cruise in Dubai, and wished we had longer as so much to see and do. stayed in Traders Hotel which was okay for 2 ... Read More
just off Serenade of the Seas after 7 nights in the Middle East. Overall a very enjoyable experience. Spent 2 nights pre cruise in Dubai, and wished we had longer as so much to see and do. stayed in Traders Hotel which was okay for 2 nights but a bit out of town.Had booked a wonderful desert safari on line before we left with Platinum Heritage tours which was excellent. serenade has recently undergone a refurb and was spotless. stateroom was fine, good shower but would have preferred a higher deck. only ate in Windjammer on the first day for lunch and was disappointed. food lukewarm and so busy.Had breakfast and lunch in Park cafe which was much quieter, great breakfast muffins and nice lunchtime sandwiches and salads. we had dinner second sitting in main dining room, very good service and reasonable choice of food.I agree with a previous reviewer who commented on dress code, on formal nights we saw people casually dressed in main dining room. Chefs Table was an amazing experience. we also ate in Chops, fantastic food and service. The Japanese inspired restaurant was also very good. hated the large screen by the pool, who wants to watch BBC news as you try and relax, also felt the feature films on it were distracting. we pre paid tips but were also left envelopes in our stateroom for extra tips and felt that waiters etc were looking for these on the last night which is a bit off when we have already paid in advance. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
The ship was on it's way to Singapore and then to be a gambling ship traveling around the Asia Pacific region from what we heard. Crew had a lot of Chinese staff who were in general well trained and friendly. In my opinion the Cruise ... Read More
The ship was on it's way to Singapore and then to be a gambling ship traveling around the Asia Pacific region from what we heard. Crew had a lot of Chinese staff who were in general well trained and friendly. In my opinion the Cruise Director Gordon was annoying, and we went to few events where he was. The cabin was a nice suite but underneath the pool deck, so you would hear chairs and tables being dragged across the above deck which was surprisingly loud. the air conditioner worked very well, which was important on this voyage. Boarding was far and away the worst we've ever been on. Even with a Diamond membership number and in a suite, it took over an hour in a very hot, humid tent; I'm sure much longer for other guests. Disembarkation was okay, but we had signed up for a city tour before going to the hotel, and they were totally unprepared for this; apparently no communication between the ship and tour staffs. Food was just okay, not anywhere near as good as Celebrity or Holland America, and portions were small. Wait staff were very friendly. The concierge service is totally different from Celebrity, and we never really did see him. No mid afternoon hor's d'oervres.Two of our suitcases were broken when delivered to the suite. One they were able to repair. We had signed up for a tour with RC in Kuala Lumpur. The ticket said to be at the theater at 8:15 a.m. It was mass confusion, with many folks waiting on stairwells, and few staff. We finally left for the tour at 9:15 a.m. When I complained to one staff member John, he laughed. Other tours we booked on our own and had no problems - less expensive and you see what you want, and don't have 3 buses of 30 each at a stop. The fitness center was good, although the audio systems on the machines do not work. Staff was friendly. Internet service still drives me nuts, and they have no dedicated staff at the computer room. you have to go to the Guest Service desk and hope the person is technical. One half the people in line had internet issues. I know I listed many negative things, but everything else was okay; it is Royal Caribbean and not Celebrity or Holland America. Dubai and Singapore were amazing cities. 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
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
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
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
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
Just came home following a week's cruise of the Middle East with Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas. This is my 4th cruise with them but sadly it may be my last. The ship is lovely not as modern as some of the newer ships ... Read More
Just came home following a week's cruise of the Middle East with Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas. This is my 4th cruise with them but sadly it may be my last. The ship is lovely not as modern as some of the newer ships but this is to be expected. Our inside cabin was lovely no complaints, more room than some other cruise lines and we loved our large kingsize bed, very comfortable. Three ports of call were very interesting,Muscat, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We did not do a trip on our first port of call Fujairah because I had read reviews before going on trip which advised there was not much to see, instead we took the free shuttle bus into the local town to visit an indoor shopping centre to but a scarf to cover my head for my visit to Muscat mosque - TIP * the scarf was not expensive but women bring something with you from home to do this then you do not have to get off the ship. The other 3 ports of call were great especially the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi it was fantastic, to visit this women are given a long black dress to go over their clothes and a larger black scarf to cover their heads - this is mandatory not matter how covered up you are - the over dress is very long so if you are short you could take a black belt to stop you tripping up. When we were in Dubai we visited the Burg Kalifa great fun and recommended. The only problem the 4 of us had with the ship is their drink prices I will list a few for you to compare and have used a currency converter to show them in GB pounds - bottle of budweiser $6.00 or £3.85, bottle of strongbow $6.50 or £4.17, a cocktail I enjoyed Lava Flow $8.00 or £5.13 and a small glass of sparkling wine cost $7.00 or £4.50. My friend bought a glass of house wine with her evening meal in the restaurant and it cost over £10 a glass! The only other gripe we had was the lack of atmosphere around the pool, background music was too quiet to hear unless you had a sunbed around the pool, very difficult to get - and not much fun and games happening which we usually enjoy. The evening entertainment was ok not brilliant, a man who impersonated Elton John was great and we enjoyed the magician and 2 acrobats, but the main show Tango In Buenos Aires was not our cup of tea and we did not go to the last show BUT this is a personal opinion other people raved about the Tango show. We all loved the holiday, the ship, the staff are brilliant, but spent a fortune on drinks and felt ripped off. One last thing I had my teeth whitened on board, happy with result but my bottom gums got burnt and hurt for most of the rest of the cruise. They say it is 100% safe but it is not, when I went back the Manager was lovely and gave me a 50% discount on my treatment, I could not buy any gum numbing gel on board and just had to put up with the discomfort, I also could not brush my bottom teeth because it made my gums bleed. I have enjoyed my 4 cruises with Royal Caribbean but will probable look for future cruises with ships who offer all inclusive or lower alcohol prices. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
From the beginning, I had a feeling that our February 14 sailing on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas was going to be different from any of our previous cruises. It was, and all-in-all it really was a brilliant week. ... Read More
From the beginning, I had a feeling that our February 14 sailing on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas was going to be different from any of our previous cruises. It was, and all-in-all it really was a brilliant week. VISAS: A diplomatic row caused the Emirates to require Canadian tourists to obtain expensive visas (which initially at least the UAE embassy was ill-equipped to issue. That resulted in dozens of broken plans and cancellations. Even for non-Canadians, getting a UAE visa isn't easy: As an American, I didn't need one, but my Ukrainian wife had to wait weeks and pay $160 to get a double-entry visa from the UAE's Moscow embassy through a travel agent. Then, while I sailed through passport control at DXB, she was queued up for more than an hour to get her e-visa stamped and her retinas scanned. The Sultanate of Oman handle visas more reasonably: The cruise line hands over the passengers' passports, which are duly stamped in return for a $13 per person fee added to your shipboard charge account. RIOTS: As our departure date loomed, a wave of civil unrest swept across the Middle East from Tunisia to Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen. During the weeks following our visit, violent demonstrations reached Muscat, Oman - one of the ports we visited. Though our trip was not materially impacted, it was an interesting time to be in the region! WEATHER: We need to break up Ukraine's long, cold, icy winters with a little warmth, and the seven-night cruise on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas seemed to fill the bill perfectly. Dubai is a relatively inexpensive five-hour flight from our home in Kyiv, and though we have spent time in Egypt and Jordan in the past, we'd not yet ventured into the Gulf. The weather in February was between 22 degrees and 27 degrees Celsius, with cool, shirtsleeve evening. Not a spot of bad weather to complain about until we returned to Kyiv. Stepping off the plane into -12 degree air and descending icy airstairs to an unheated bus brought us back to frigid, slushy reality the hard way! DUBAI: The Emirates are thoroughly unlike Egypt and Jordan. The city is new, clean, and modern. The souks are civilized, without the obnoxious, pushy vendors found elsewhere. And though the hotels can be expensive, it really is an otherwise affordable city. A good 4-star hotel costs around EUR 125 per night. We window-shopped a mall or two - there are dozens - and didn't see any real bargains. The souks would have been great places to have suits, dresses or shirts hand-tailored, or to buy beautiful fabric, had we the time or inclination. My wife did buy a comfortable three-piece Indian 'punjabi' outfit that looked wonderful for about $10 from a shop advertising "Throw-Away Prices!" It's interesting to note that you won't see many natives in Dubai. They are greatly outnumbered by East Indians and other immigrants. That posed an opportunity for my wife and I, as we love Indian food. We had some incredible curries with water and bread for less than $10. Heaven, if you love spicy food! OTHER PORTS: We called at Abu Dhabi and Fujairah in the UAE and remained overnight in Muscat, Oman and Dubai. From my perspective, there isn't a lot to see in the region other than mosques and malls, so I stay aboard, read, and relax. My wife, properly attired, ventured ashore and had a good time exploring. In Fujairah and Muscat, the ship docks in a working port, and free shuttles take you to the gate or a mall. Abu Dhabi's cruise port is nicer, but still isn't walking distance to anywhere. Plan to use shuttle busses and taxis. EMBARKATION: We took a taxi to the pier at noon and were aboard the ship in no time. All the lines were short, but the line for Crown & Anchor members was non-existent - we just stepped up, presented our paperwork and we were on our way. We carried our own luggage aboard because we don't want to wait for delivery, and hanging on to it until rooms opened at 1:30 p.m. was not a problem. We headed to the Windjammer for lemonade. BRILLIANCE: We had been aboard Brilliance in 2009 for an 11-night Eastern Med cruise. We like this ship almost as much as we like the Voyager-class vessels. It's roomy, beautiful, and has plenty of options. I especially like the Seaview Cafe, a pizza, pasta and Panini place just above the Windjammer buffet on the starboard side. It's not open often or long enough, and offer really nice quality food, prepared to order. If you dislike the crowds, noise and confusion of buffets, don't overlook the Seaview Cafe. That said, the Brilliance is scheduled for overhaul in two years. It's ready now: The wear and tear is evident, and although she's kept sparkling clean and painted, the furniture needs reupholstering and the dents and scrapes need to be massaged. Even so, the damage done by the incident last November wasn't readily evident. DINING: As mentioned earlier, I shy from buffets. I prefer a leisurely sit-down, menu-ordered meal in the formal dining room - or even room service - to a buffet line. The dining room and service on Brilliance was fine, but we were disappointed in the menu. We've travelled Royal Caribbean often enough to have become Diamond members of the Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program, and have noticed that ships change, crews change, ports and passengers change - everything seems to change except the menu. The choices have become boring and the quality has slipped. Frankly, the Windjammer had more interesting choices, and seems to try to vary offerings based on the itinerary and the ethnic composition of the passenger list. Why can't the main dining room do the same? It's time for a menu makeover, RCI! CROWN & ANCHOR: We felt that Royal Caribbean's loyalty program had become less interesting since they began to scale back, having dropped events like the free wine tasting and the gifts. We are pleased to see the improvements that have been made to C&A, and were really happy to take part in the complimentary wine and champagne for Diamond members daily from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. We also received complimentary chocolate-dipped strawberries, juices, and nuts delivered to our room during the week, and a couple of events. We enjoyed it all. In fact, the changes to Crown & Anchor may have restored our loyalty to Royal Caribbean. About the same time that we attained C&A Diamond status, we sampled RCI's sister line, Celebrity, and loved the elegant atmosphere we felt aboard the Celebrity Constellation. We were delighted to find that C&A members were afforded reciprocal recognition by Celebrity's Captain's Club program, which meant we had top-tier Elite status on our first cruise. Now, we'll probably divide our cruises between the two lines, depending on itinerary, price and season. DISEMBARKATION: Because we had arrived in Dubai the day prior to disembarkation, we took a chance that we could get off the ship at 5 a.m. rather than the usual 7:30 to 9 a.m. because all customs and immigration issues had been pre-cleared. We walked off the ship without a problem, and were on a 7:30 flight home while most of our fellow cruisers were having that last cup of coffee and waiting for their turn to leave. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
After an overnight flight from Heathrow, immigration at Dubai was swift and organised. Lots of cruise staff to guide you through the airport and onto awaiting coaches. Travelled short journey to the Hyatt near the port for breakfast ... Read More
After an overnight flight from Heathrow, immigration at Dubai was swift and organised. Lots of cruise staff to guide you through the airport and onto awaiting coaches. Travelled short journey to the Hyatt near the port for breakfast refreshments, arriving shortly before 9. 30. Hotel very organised and check in staff available to issue cruise documents. Red carpet treatment for us Emeralds. Departed hotel just prior to 11 with priority passes and walked straight through pier terminal and onto ship. Cabins are not available till 1pm so passed out time in the Centrum. After checking out room we confirmed our dining table and then had lunch in Windjammer , followed by a quick nap to recover from flight. Muster drill at 4.45, although this did not start until 5 due to late-comers, but was brief . Sail-away at 6pm. Main seating at 6pm and 2nd at 8.45pm. One showtime at 7.45pm till 8.30pm. Port side berth. Day 2 at Fujairah. This is an industrial dock and to enjoy this as a port of call then you would have to take a trip. There is an Ali Baba flying carpet stall on the dock but no-one seemed to be buying much. Next to us was an oil tanker with 25 tanker lorries on standby waiting to fill up, quite a sight. It is also a navy port. We stayed on the ship and the view was of one of the most unattractive ports we have been to. Formal night. Tango Buenos Aires showtime for each sitting, Karaoke very popular in Colony Club. Starboard berth. Day 3 at Muscat. This is a very attractive port and very reminiscent of one in the Med or Caribbean. Free shuttle buses take you from the berth to the pier gates, ¼ mile, 5 mins. From there it is an easy stroll along the waterfront past the fountains and gold domed seating areas. The Soukh is right on the front and is pleasant, without too much hassle from the merchants. Overwhelming smell of frankincense. The soukh is used by the locals but most stores are stocked with tacky souvenirs for the cruise ships. Pashminas are an excellent buy, and were being offered at 2 euros each, with many deals to be made. The soukh accepts euros, us dollars, dirhams and rials. One show time at 7.45pm, Now & Forever which was billed as Cole Porter, The Full Monty and Mamma Mia, but had more emphasis on the former. White Pool Party and Buffet on pool deck at 11.15pm. Port side berth. Day 4 again Muscat. Show was performed by West Coast, a Beach Boys tribute, we had seen them before on the Jewel and made appoint of going as they are very professional. Motown hour in the disco very popular as was ABBA quiz pre dinner. Quest night. As the ship is catering mainly to the British and German market it would benefit from having more entertainment geared towards this. The nights that did feature either the 70s or Motown or ABBA and such like were the most popular with those bars filled to capacity, you would think that the ship would build on this rather than have entertainment decided upon by HQ in Miami ! Day 5 at sea. 2nd formal night, whilst there were many men in dinner suits or lounge suits there were just as many without, wearing either wearing a long sleeve shirt with or without a tie or something else. The ladies all made an effort though and every night were dressed up. We Brits do like to dress up on holiday though ! Windjammer does struggle on sea days to accommodate everyone, although the staff did do an excellent job of clearing tables, more so than on the Jewel last summer where tables were piled high at times with dishes. There are less opportunities now to dine in the main dining room at breakfast or lunchtime than there used to be. The food is nowhere near as good these days as a few years ago and sometimes it is hard to put together an inspiring lunch. We have been on HAL ships where they made sandwiches to order or RCCL ships that had pasta or burger stations. Eating habits at lunchtime are changing and some more healthy options would be good. C&A Champagne Breakfast today with C&A Welcome Back (all 536 of us) at 7.45pm. Afternoon sunbathing was difficult as it becomes very windy when travelling through the Straights of Hormuz between Iran and the Oman peninsular. 50 mph gusts. Centre Stage show for each sitting. Day 6 in Abu Dhabi. Shuttle is available free of charge from pier to Marina Mall, this is provided by the Hop on Hop off Big Bus Company. Mall passengers travel free and anyone wishing to continue on the Big Bus Tour can buy tickets at this point. Journey takes about 20 mins along the Corniche and beachfront. Abu Dhabi is a very attractive city and very clean. There is not the amount of ongoing development at the waterfront that Dubai has, therefore is it a much more attractive tourist stop. The shops at the Mall are very good, with a mix of high end and chain store. Lots of food options and there is a Carrefour in the basement. All visitors ashore are advised to dress respectfully, ladies to cover up shoulder and dress modestly, not that some of the passenger of this ship bothered and there were a few sights for sore eyes, however the majority did respect that they should dress with decorum. Locals use this mall as well as lots of cruise passengers. I would do most of my shopping here if I came back as it is compact and easier to shop in than the ones in Dubai which are more than enormous. Sand haze all day, with temperature feeling chilly in afternoon. Magician and Illusionist show for each sitting. 70s night in Centrum at 10.30pm. 70s night very popular and well presented and continued on until 11.30pm when it transferred up to the disco. Starboard berth. Day 7 - Dubai overnight. Sand haze again today with a high of 72. Big Bus hop on Hop off at pier where you can buy tickets. Takes you to first stop of tour where you choose red or blue route. Sitting up on the top deck of the bus was unpleasant at times due to the wind with the sand in the atmosphere. It was chilly and a hazard to hairstyles. We did blue route and stopped off at Soukh at Jumeriah. It is a well presented shopping venue with cafes and part of Jumeriah resorts. Excellent place to photograph the Burj. Then the route continues onto the Palm, transiting the whole of the core of the palm to the Atlantis resort. We spent time next at the Dubai Mall. The worlds largest shopping mall with 1200 shops and next to the worlds tallest building. Very high end shopping with all the usual uk stores thrown in too, including an ice rink and aquarium. We did the aquarium, an extra 50 dirham onto the 220 dirham tour, personally I would give it a miss. You can see as much of the aquarium as you need to from within the mall. The tour only adds the walk through the glass tunnel with the fish above, a bit of a let down. Quiet evening aboard the ship as everyone doing Dubai at some point or other with many early flights back to Europe departing early next morning, some passenger even disembarked that evening. Berthed next to the sorry looking QE2. Overall it was a very good cruise and well worth doing to experience the Middle East, even if it was not the best time to travel to the region with the political unrest. We saw no evidence of any troubles and the captain assured us the situation was being monitored very closely. The ship is in good overall condition and has worn better over time than the Jewel. It was clean and well maintained. Some of the soft furnishing need freshened up. The 2nd sitting in the main dining room could be slow in some areas. We had a table for 2 and were served promptly, having the customary two American style starters and a main, often skipping dessert however in favour of pots of tea. I had one or two, ok maybe more ..., fillet steaks in the main dining room. All well cooked and well worth the extra in my opinion, they should be free of charge of course but that a separate discussion. The menus are stale to us frequent cruises, with no dishes available that relate to the region you are travelling in. You don't look at the menu and feel excited about trying new dishes and flavours. They used to give Conche Fritters for example in the Caribbean. Fish is served without a fish knife and butter is in foil packets. Our asst waiter took an unused wine glass from our table and took it immediately to another table with a bottle of wine, that to me is a bit out of order, and wouldn't happen in a top restaurant. The main dining room is becoming more like a banqueting hall, with cutlery proved to match your course , rather than a full set laid out. I wouldn't set a table like that at home for a special occasion so why would it be acceptable on a cruise ship. Personal preferences of course. The drinks are becoming very expensive, especially wines. Spirits seem to be watered down, my G &T and Campari Soda certainly were compared to last summer. The cans of Diet Coke served were flat and also out of date. Crown and Anchor changes I noticed are no invite to a Welcome Back Party for the upper tier levels. We were the old Platinum level last summer and they held a separate party as well as the general one for all C &As. As an Emerald we did get our Welcome Aboard gift of dried nuts, dried fruit and cookies with soft drinks. No gifts anymore such as baseball huts or beach bags. The only real benefit is the dedicated separate check in and internet vouchers, also the BOGOF coffee and wine ones. Gold card passengers have access to a private sun deck and the front of the ship, one deck down from the gym. Also a small area in the windjammer to dine in. All costs nothing of course. Those of us who started cruising over ten years ago comment on the slipping standards. It's the small things we miss : the daily newspaper, the afternoon tea, lobster, tournedos. We do like My Time Dining though and missed not being able to use it this time having booked late. The onboard shops are becoming tacky. It is the same products trotted out year after year. The $10 sale. No high end brands that other cruise lines offer. At least Oasis seems to be getting it right with a Coach outlet amongst other. Princess used to have Ralph Lauren and Longchamp products. Disembarkation was very straightforward and smooth. Our 6.45 am colour was called on time, luggage was easily found and the coaches were waiting for the short transfer to the airport. Perhaps it's time for a break from RCCL, will be interesting to compare how Celebrity is these days having not travelled with them for 5 years. It is no longer a 5 star experience, more like a 4 in Tenerife or somewhere, if it was your first cruise though you would have different opinions. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We've tried to review this cruise while noting comments that reflect general information and separate those conditions that were solely due to the ship being at 40 percent capacity due to flights grounded by the volcanic ash cloud. We ... Read More
We've tried to review this cruise while noting comments that reflect general information and separate those conditions that were solely due to the ship being at 40 percent capacity due to flights grounded by the volcanic ash cloud. We are a married couple, ages 64 and 69, who are reasonably fit, not gourmet dinners, not sun worshipers, who enjoy a variety of activities and who choose a cruise for its destinations. This is only our third cruise, so we have limited previous experience to draw on. Our major goal on this trip was to see Dubai and the Pyramids, and that was accomplished. We enjoyed the cruise, found the ship met our needs, and the staff for the most part to be helpful, and all were friendly and cheerful. We feel they took adequate precautions as we traversed the "sensitive area" where the Somalia pirates are active, and were kept well-informed by the Captain. Plus he has a delightful sense of humor, giving daily briefings, and was often seen about the ship, even eating in the Windjammer! Ship info: Not new or state of the art, but nicely designed and decorated. Layout was convenient, except the elevators in the Centrum. There were 5 elevators in the area but it was difficult to see them all at once. If you were waiting by one, another could arrive to pick you up at the other end, and could depart before you got aboard. Not bad as we were less than half full, but it could be a problem when the ship was full. WiFi Services: Only a few of the Wifi "hot spots" were actually functioning, and capacity there was limited to use by less than 20 cruisers. Also no staff member monitored those areas, so problems meant joining the line at Guest Services. Fitness Center: Nicely designed, with lots of equipment, but I'm not sure that would hold true when the ship is full. Nice and cool for workouts, and they do have a water fountain. Excellent view from the treadmills! Jogging Track: Fairly narrow, with deck chairs encroaching on the path at several points. Lots of guests use this - they should have more space! Deck Chairs: They're everywhere yet those in prime locations are "reserved" in spite of RC policy. And so close together you needed to back into them. Could be a problem with a ship full of sun-worshipers....... Shuffleboard court: Same problem as jogging trail. Cinema: Adequate capacity, quiet setting, but railings blocked some of the screen in the upper seats. Nice selection of recent, general interest movies. Miniature golf, rock climbing wall both were enjoyable, well located. Shopping Area: Like on any other cruise ship - with mix of inexpensive promotional items and high end goods. I wish they had carried some souvenirs of the various ports for those of us so busy seeing the sites there was no time to shop in port. Pacifica Theater: Nicely designed and comfortable, not too crowded with our reduced load, but who knows when the ship is full. Casino, Bars: We didn't spend much time in either but the Casino was large, and there were lots of bars, but sadly a lot of lonely bar-tenders on this trip. Other activities: We took advantage of dance lessons, enrichment lectures, trivia games, demonstrations, and the like. They had numerous activities with a good mix to appeal to many interests, but it could easily get crowded if the ship was full! Entertainment: We saw most of the shows, and enjoyed each one. There was an effort to vary the entertainers but maintain broad appeal. Some were sensational, but you can't hit a home run every night! Embarkation / Disembarkation: Smooth on both ends for us. Stateroom: We initially had one of those stinky bathrooms - smelled like urine although it was clean. We complained, they cleaned it again, but once the bleach smell wore off, the odor was back. We complained again. They sent the maintenance worker who acknowledged he smelled it too, but couldn't find the source. He replaced the shower curtain, which of course didn't help, then suggested shampooing the carpets.... Since the ship wasn't full, we were permitted to move down the hall. One thing we did notice in the new room was a working vent fan which we don't remember from the first room. Could it be that simple? This is a complaint that has been noted before on this ship, and could ruin an entire trip if you couldn't relocate. This needs to be addressed by RC, pronto. The good news it that the room had a real KING size bed, or 2 full size twins. The cabin was small but adequate. The bathroom however is the smallest of the 3 ships we've used, with a flimsy shower curtain "enclosing" a 2 foot circle. And forget amenities - there's only a bar of soap and a shampoo dispenser. Excursions: We booked one with RC online months before sailing, and one while onboard. Both met our expectations, and staff was helpful. They are pricier than most so we did book a couple of successful tours with a private operator. This is one place were you need to be careful - these are not locations were you would want to be stranded - especially in Egypt. Dining: We found the Minstrel Dining Room nicely appointed and the staff very helpful and accommodating. The menu however seemed to cater to vegetarians and featured at lot of Asian and curried selections. Not appealing to us, but the food we did order was very good. The Windjammer menu didn't vary much but was adequate though basic. Toast was hard, some hot foods weren't, but when you cook for a crowd, these things happen. I loved the made to order omelets! We gained enough weight to attest to the available quantity / quality of the food. We did not try either of the 2 "specialty" restaurants. Oman: This port was a surprise! We took a private tour of old forts but had not realized it involved a drive to the interior (Nizwi) of more than 2 hours. The forts weren't worth the long trip, but our guide filled the trip with interesting info about this country. Like prior to 1970 there were no paved roads and they all rode camels. Muscat is now a new, modern city with a liberal Moslem population where I wish we had been able to spend more time. Those that did seemed to enjoy the stop. Safaga: It's the gate-way to any trip to Luxor. The city itself is a dump, there's nothing to see there I wouldn't recommend getting off the ship without an organized tour!!! It's a 3.5 hour trip to Luxor but worth the long drive to see the Valley of the Kings, etc. It was HOT - bring a umbrella for shade - but fascinating for its historical significance. Guards armed with machine guns are everywhere - barricades, check-points abound, there's even a guard on the coach. We did feel safe but the poverty in Egypt was difficult to witness. Sharm el Sheikh: A very nice resort, not typical of Egypt. We enjoyed a Jeep Safari and a camel ride of about 20 minutes to a Bedouin camp arranged by RC. Pricey but fun. Other guests had good experiences on other tours. Worth getting off the ship for any reason. Alexandria: Another very long day on the guarded bus, but worth it to see the pyramids!!!! Distance wasn't as long, but they put speed bumps every 5 to 10 miles which makes the traffic all but stop - and a top speed of about 60 km/hr on this main thoroughfare from Alexandria to Cairo! The vendors are like mosquitoes - they're everywhere, and they are insistent! Sometimes no isn't enough but when you see where and how they live, you understand their desperation to make a sale! We encountered a friend on a different coach who was robbed at the pyramids that day. Be very careful there but go - it's worth all the aggravation! Barcelona: It rained all day so our sightseeing was greatly curtailed. We'll have to come back to have a better look. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Due to this being our first cruise and one of us having additional needs - using a manual wheelchair. We had checked out as much information as was possible. We were visiting Dubai anyway so we booked this cruise. We were also aware that ... Read More
Due to this being our first cruise and one of us having additional needs - using a manual wheelchair. We had checked out as much information as was possible. We were visiting Dubai anyway so we booked this cruise. We were also aware that we would be unable to load on an electric wheelchair. Apparently, after much research we discovered that there are no ground agents in Dubai to supply such equipment. All the accessible cabin's had gone(booked October.So we opted for a standard cabin as the wheelchair wasn't needed to get around the cabin. We landed cleared the airport by 8.30am and ushered to a coach. We would recommended insisting on private transfer to the hospitality venue as the coach steps are very high. There was another family with an electric wheelchair who had separate transport. Once at the hospitality venue(described by others as a holding area)which was at the Tourist Village. We were processed and offer light refreshments fruit and cakes. You are given coloured cards which translate into what time you will be transfer to the ship. We were allocated 11.00am due to the wheelchair and went on board with the Crown and Anchor passengers. A lot of passengers had been there since 6.30am and were boarding at 13.00 and were very unhappy! Once on board we took a look around the ship and located our cabin. We entered our cabin at 13.00. To out dismay we found that the cabin bathroom was raised. This had not been explained to us on booking. Unfortunately, this was most unsuitable as my husband should not walk up/down steps continually due to his disability several times a day over a week (we live in a bungalow). We explained this to guest services and it took five hours an email to Thomas Cook. Including, us saying we would talk to the ship's doctor who would explain the situation. Finally, we were moved to deck 10 cabin 1528 which was an accessible cabin(result). This cabin was perfect with electric doors, huge balcony. We didn't visit any port of call as we just wanted to try out the cruise. The food was more than adequate and fairly good standard. The service from all the staff too us was outstanding. We would only recommended this cruise to additional needs guest's using an electric chair. Obviously, there are long corridor's - lots of lifts. It is quite tiring though to push a wheelchair on carpets every day up/down - in/out lift's. We think RC should look at ground agents in Dubai for electric chair hire. There were a few other manual wheelchair guests and one in an electic chair. I think has I been informed much lower than on other cruise destination. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We were on the 8th Feb cruise out of Dubai, and having read the previous reviews thought we'd offer our view and maybe a few tips. We booked our cruise and flights independently as I think you get a better deal overall. Anyway we ... Read More
We were on the 8th Feb cruise out of Dubai, and having read the previous reviews thought we'd offer our view and maybe a few tips. We booked our cruise and flights independently as I think you get a better deal overall. Anyway we arrived in Dubai with Virgin at a little after 8.00 am and after getting off the plane made our way through immigration and customs to meet our driver. Tip 1 - We booked a city tour through Prime Limousine which picked us up from the airport and dropped us at the seaport. 3 hours was 600Dhs which I think works out at less that £120. Compare that to the coach offering from RCI, well you do the maths. Either way we were driven around in an Escalade, shown all of the key sights and thoroughly enjoyed our introduction to Dubai. We arrived at the ship at a little after 12.00 and were checked in and on board in about 15 minutes. They keep your passports for the duration of the cruise and give them back on the last night. The whole process is pretty painless but please keep hold of the receipt they give you. Ports of call. Dubai - To be honest overall we felt Dubai was a bit of a disappointment. You could have been anywhere in the States, there are a lot of building sites around the city, the traffic was appalling, the prices for everything were at least a third more than the UK and therefore twice as expensive as the States, the taxi drivers are mad (we had an accident on our way back to the ship on our first night) and the port was miles from anywhere. There were free shuttle buses to the Dubai Mall but we never used them. We did go to Deira and the Dubai Creek on our last day and really enjoyed that, especially when we used the boats to get across to the Gold Souk. Tip 2 - If you get a taxi from the port they start pricing off at 20Dhs, not 3Dhs. Muscat - Oman - We spent the morning walking around the Souq which was good fun. There wasn't much else here so if you want to see more go into the main city. You have to use a free shuttle to get to the port gates unless you are on a paid tour. Fujairah - We did the desert drive here and while expensive was thoroughly worth the money, our driver was superb and gave us a fantastic trip. We chose this day to do the trip as we were told that there wasn't much else to do here and we're glad we did. Abu Dhabi - You arrive here on Friday which is the muslim holy day and this means most things are closed. We went to the Marina Mall and this was a bit of a waste of time. You have to use a free shuttle to get to the port gates unless you are on a paid tour. Tip 3 - Marina Mall is some distance from the city so unless you want to get stuck here don't bother, the nearby Heritage Village was closed too so don't bother walking there either. After 3 hours we got bored and went back to the ship. Tip 4 - The palace hotel will not let you in if you are wearing shorts or open toed shoes. Bahrain - This was a bit of a disappointment as there isn't a lot going on here either. We ended up walking around the souk, eating lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and then going back to the ship. We heard that the trip to BIC was good but that was it. You have to use a free shuttle to get to the port gates unless you are on a paid tour. Tip 5 - Beware, taxi drivers will rip you off - They don't like using the meters but are required to do so by law. If they don't turn it on get out and use another one. Tip 6 - RCI trips were expensive but to be honest there isn't much you can do on your own of any real interest at any of the ports we went to without using taxis or getting on a bus tour. Food - Never used main dining as we think this is a bit of a waste of time and we both hate dressing up, you get the same food in Windjammer and can have what you want when you want. Food here was generally pretty good and always plenty of it. Tip 7 - If you're a Brit look for the "British Section" at breakfast where they serve proper back bacon, not the greasy streaky American version. Entertainment - Didn't see any shows as we were always busy doing other things. The Gym was good and the solarium pool was a great place to relax at the end of the day. The Blue Note jazz band were very good. Tip 8 - On the last day we took our own bags of the ship as we had to leave at 6.45am, the earliest tags were 6.40am. The WJ wasn't due to open until 6.30 but the opened it at 6.00 because of the number of people trying to get in. Overall Impressions Dubai was a place we wanted to go to and we're glad we did but now we've been I can't see us going back. The other places we went to were less impressive than Dubai. RCI hasn't really done it's home work on this cruise. There were a lot of unpolished edges in terms of local knowledge and the trips on offer which if you've been with them to the Caribbean will be a bit of a surprise. In the end if you want a bit of sun and the option of visiting several middle east location in one trip then it's not a bad option. I would imagine that at the number of cruises increases they'll get better at what they're doing. Just don't set your expectations too high. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
I had read several reviews of this ship prior to my own sailing on the 8th Feb, and I must admit I thus went on this cruise thinking the worst. Everyone has their own opinion and expectations and this is clearly obvious by the different ... Read More
I had read several reviews of this ship prior to my own sailing on the 8th Feb, and I must admit I thus went on this cruise thinking the worst. Everyone has their own opinion and expectations and this is clearly obvious by the different reviews I have read. I would describe myself as demanding, I have never stayed in a hotel under 4 stars and I expect excellent customer service and love to have the best I can afford, if I don't get it I will be the first to complain. My synopsis of this cruise is that I found the ship spotlessly clean, food was generally excellent in all eating establishments, cabin was well maintained, there was no evidence of flaky paint, stained bedclothes or rudeness from staff at any stage - and yes, looks like RCL are getting it right from Dubai after 3 sailings so far. We went cruise only, so upon arrival (at 8.30am) we took a taxi to the port - this was metered and cost approx 47AED, the traffic was busy and the journey to the port took approx 30 min. At the port there is a big white fully enclosed 'marquee type structure' about the size of a football pitch, but before you enter this your luggage goes through security and you leave your case outside. Checkin for the cruise is colour coded so you take a seat until your colour is called. All pretty normal and civilised. RCL keep your passport for the duration of the cruise, the reason for this is that it is stamped for Visas in all ports. I have never had my passport taken away from me for more than a day, so this was a rather new thing to me, but perfectly normal to them. You collect your passport after 6pm on the last day of your cruise. After completing checkin it was just a case of sitting down in the marquee and waiting to be allowed on board. Refreshments i.e. juice, tea and coffee were provided and there was a small cafe where you could get something to eat, as well as a few souvenir stalls. You could also sign up to the soda package there, however there were no wine packages available - RCL stated that they did not have the supplies and that they had been waiting for 3 weeks for the wine to come (a bit odd really as surely they had done their homework prior to this!) You were allowed to board the ship at 11am, and into your cabin at 1pm - so the wait from 11am means that you can explore the ship, get something to eat, laze in the sun at the pool, or head off into Dubai. I felt that this was very good timing considering that 2500 people had disembarked that morning, and the ship was incredibly clean. Taxis were plentiful at the port so you could easily jump in one and go into Dubai, in fact anyone who wants to see the city should do so on the day of arrival as this is when you have the most time to explore the city. However if you want to really see Dubai then my advice would be to stay there for a few days before or after the cruise as you really don't have that much time there otherwise. Unfortunately the Dubai Tower was closed as it had experienced lift failure on the Saturday 6th Feb, so anyone wishing to go up the tower couldn't do so and it was still closed upon our return. Also the observation deck is the only part of the Tower which is actually open. Anyone who purchases the 100AED ticket for the tower does have to wait 2 days to get in, although those paying 400AED will have immediate access. Most suitcases were delivered to your cabin by 5pm, however my own case had somehow lost its luggage tag which RCL had put on it that morning and therefore was not found until 7.30pm - just as well I was on second sitting for dinner really! My stateroom attendant didn't seem that concerned about it being missing, and did nothing to help locate it - I ended up doing that myself. We had been on Voyager of the Seas in September and I have to say I found the cabins to be slightly bigger on Brilliance and certainly brighter - we were in cabin 9582, a hump cabin that was great as you could see both ways when you were on your balcony - it was near to the atrium lifts and yet we heard no noise from the lifts the whole cruise. Our balcony was not as big on Brilliance as it was on Voyager but to be honest it was plenty big enough, immaculately clean, and had space for 2 chairs and a table. Also we had tea and coffee making facilities in our cabin which was a real bonus - a kettle, tea, coffee, sugar, sweeteners and cups (we took the milk cartons from breakfast back to the room and put them in the mini bar for later on) this is something we didn't have on Voyager last year. The compulsory muster is on the Tuesday (sail day) at 12.15pm; this meant that anyone who wanted to take a tour on the Tuesday had to be back by 11.45am so all tours left the ship that morning at 7am. We set sail at 2pm. We booked an excellent tour in Muscat (Magical Muscat), our guide was Paul a Nigerian who had lived there for 2 years and his knowledge of the country and culture was excellent - this tour takes in the Mosque, Souk, Palace and a museum and lasted 4 hours - then it was back to the ship - we did hear of others on the same tour but who were on another coach who were less fortunate with their guide. We had been to Fujairah previously so had no desire to get off and see anything there again - and quite frankly there isn't much there to see. At the port there were a few stalls set up selling carpets and souvenirs, also a duty free shop (as you cant bring any alcohol onboard anyone who purchased some here had it confiscated as soon as they boarded!) So we spent the day onboard, which is where the sun-lounger fun began. Passengers who must have arisen before the sun reserved most sun loungers! We found it hard to find 2 loungers in the sun at 9.30am as most already had towels on them. Often these reserved loungers didn't have anyone occupying them until after 2pm. If you left your sun lounger for a quick snack then you could guarantee that the people beside you who magically reappeared would move your belongings and chairs in order that their loungers were perfectly positioned to catch the suns rays. Considering that the bulk of passengers are from the UK (well, made up of Scottish, Welsh, English, Irish), then French, Italians, Danes, a few Germans, it shows that the British are the worst for sun-lounger reserving, oh the shame!!! We had been to Abu Dhabi previously but this is a very friendly city, with much to see and do so most passengers left the ship here - the Corniche and Emirates Palace would be a must - and shopping is just as good in Abu Dhabi as in Dubai. We didn't get off the ship in Bahrain - 30 minutes to the port gates and RCL charge $10 for their shuttle bus to the port entrance - once out of there its still not easy getting taxis and although the city is trying to stop rogue drivers ripping people off it's not worth the hassle. Sailed back into Dubai at 2pm on Sunday, and as soon as we arrived taxis were plentiful all day and night. The port does offer a free bus shuttle service to Dubai Mall however the queue for this was massive so it's much easier to jump into a taxi rather than try and save yourself £5 each (taxis are in Dubai port 24/7, with Costa having 2 cruise ships there as well as RCL's 1 there are no shortage of customers for them - so no matter what time you want to go into the city there will be a taxi for you!). We had booked on the BA flight leaving Dubai at 02.40am on the Monday and we thus avoided the disembarkation process on the Monday morning, and we were back home in the UK before anyone had left the ship in Dubai! Downsides of this cruise? Well, the onboard entertainment was pretty woeful (as was Voyager from Barcelona last year), unavailability of the wine package meant that the cheapest wine, which could be bought in Tesco for £4.99, cost you minimum $34, actually the cheapest wine was $28 but they didn't have it!! Gin & Tonic came in at $7.48 which is not bad. Like most companies now-days RCL wants to make as much money as they possibly can out of you once you are onboard - be it bingo, drinks, art exhibitions, spa treatments (which are incredibly expensive) but most importantly tours. Yes tours are over priced i.e. you can book a full day in Atlantis the Palm AquaAdventure on their website direct for £35 each adult but try to book it with RCL and it will cost you $159 each. In the bigger ports such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi you can go off and do your own thing easily, however Bahrain, Muscat and Fujairah ports means you really need to book something with RCL and that's exactly how they make their $$$'s. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Summary. We (my wife and I plus my father) were on the 8th February Dubai cruise, approaching it with some trepidation on account of poor reviews of the initial cruise for this itinerary. We enjoyed the cruise and thought it reasonable ... Read More
Summary. We (my wife and I plus my father) were on the 8th February Dubai cruise, approaching it with some trepidation on account of poor reviews of the initial cruise for this itinerary. We enjoyed the cruise and thought it reasonable value for money. The food and entertainment were very good. The shore excursions were very mixed, ranging from good to poor. I suspect part of the problem is that there really isn't much to do in some of the ports of call. We liked Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Muscat. There's little in Fujairah but our excursion to the surrounding countryside was good. We did not like Bahrain. We also had some bad experiences with errors made by staff, but overall we had a good time. Arrival. We flew Emirates from London Heathrow, arranged by Royal Caribbean, overnight, arriving Dubai very early on the Monday morning. We were impressed with Emirates. Since we couldn't board the ship until around midday we were taken to a large hall near Dubai creek, given breakfast and were able to check-in and get our SeaPass cards. It is not an ideal situation but it did seem fairly well organised. We experienced little queuing and were on one of the first coaches to the ship at about 11.30. Others were less lucky and apparently didn't get to the ship until 3pm. After a buffet lunch in the Windjammer cafe we had to wait a little longer before we were able to access our cabins (at 1pm as I recall). Dubai. From a rough scan of the itinerary I had thought we would have plenty of time in Dubai but that really isn't the case. There's the rest of Monday afternoon plus Tuesday morning until you must be back on the ship by 11.30. At the end of the week you have from 2.30pm on Sunday. On the Monday afternoon we took a taxi to the Dubai museum, took the ferry across the creek (excellent value for 1 Dirham!) and explored the spice and gold souks. Taxis from the port start with 20 Dirhams on the meter, whereas taxis hailed on the street to return to the port start with only 3 Dirhams on the meter. Even so, taxi fares are very reasonable in Dubai. They always use the meter. The driving style can be rather exciting but we saw no accidents. The next morning we took a taxi to the Mall of the Emirates and took a look at the ski slope, which is quite amazing. On the Sunday at the end of the cruise we took a Dune Drive excursion and thoroughly enjoyed it. Because we had a late flight on the Monday we booked the 'Dubai City Tour with Airport Drop-off' excursion. This worked very well as otherwise we would have had most of the day waiting at the airport. You can do this tour only if your flight is at 4.30pm or later. Muscat. My wife and father took the 'Mystical Muscat' excursion. They thought it was OK but were disappointed to see little of Muscat (just the palace) and too much time left to explore the souk in Mutrah independently. Since there's a free shuttle bus provided to the souk there was no need to spend a significant portion of an expensive shore excursion there. I took the Snorkelling excursion. This is the only port where snorkelling is offered, which is unfortunate because it was also a destination I was keen to see. The snorkelling was OK, not great. There was zero guidance or information given about what we might see. There were fairly few fish but lovely corals and some turtles. The guide also showed us the palace in Muscat on our return trip, which was a bonus. Fujairah. We took the East Coast excursion and were pleased to have done so as there seemed little else to do apart from remain on the ship. The tour was pretty good for seeing some mountainous scenery and the guide was very informative. Abu Dhabi. This was our favourite port and I wish we had time to go ashore independently as well as take the City Tour excursion. The excursion was good and we saw and learned a lot - but it was frustrating to see so much from a coach window and not have the opportunity to wander along the beach with all the local families enjoying their barbeques. Bahrain. From what we had read in advance we decided to take a tour and we picked the 'Black Gold and Camels' excursion. It says much about Bahrain that the best sights they can find are the original oil well, a tree and some burial mounds. We also had the most unprofessional tour guide I have ever experienced. She complained about her driver, the tour company, the tour itinerary and customers on previous trips she had taken! The best one can say is that we saw quite a bit of Bahrain - enough to be confident we have no reason to return. Food & Drink. We chose MyTime dining and it worked very well for us. We were able to vary our dinner time each day to fit in with whatever else we wanted to do. We did find it necessary to reserve a time 24 hours in advance each day, but that was not a problem. Our waiter, Virgil, and his assistant, Raul, were excellent and we were pleased to be on one of their tables every day. We thought the food was very good in all the venues we tried. We didn't go to either of the extra cost restaurants. We had decided, as on previous cruises, to go for a wine package. This proved problematic. My wife asked four or five of the staff about what was available and how to buy the package and got contradictory stories. When we arrived at dinner on the first evening we were initially told it wasn't possible but, on persisting, we were shown a list and allowed to purchase a package - pre-buying five bottles at a very favourable rate. In the course of the week it became apparent that their wine stocks were very limited and some of the wines were well past their best. A Viura (which ought to be a fresh young white wine) was a 2005 vintage and brown in colour. When we sent it back the waiter told us the cellarmaster agreed it was past its best. Entertainment. Everyone's tastes are different but we thought the quality of the shows was pretty good. As well as the usual production shows, which were OK but not really our thing, there were acrobats, a magician and tango dancers all of whom were very good. Service. In the course of the week I had cause to queue up several times at the Guest Relations Desk and the Shore Excursions Desk. In every case it was because of mistakes made by Royal Caribbean and their handling of the problems was poor. The one that irritated me most was an exact repeat of our previous RC cruise where they insist on converting the account to GBPounds despite my clear choice on their form to let the credit card company convert from dollars to pounds. I wonder how often they make this 'mistake' in their favour? It has happened to me on our last two RC cruises despite me filling in the form clearly and expressly pointing it out to the person at check-in when they put the choice into the computer. Another irritation, not experienced on any previous cruise, was that the cabin steward expected us to put out a 'Make Up My Room' sign when we wanted the cabin serviced. Taking everything into account it was an enjoyable cruise with some interesting new ports of call. Not an itinerary we would do again but we are pleased we did it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We chose Dubai for our first cruise as we had never been there and hoped for calm seas and warm sun, my wife is not a good sailor! Our party 3 couples started off with a 3 night pre cruise stay at the 5* Hilton Resort and Spa at RAK 1 1/2 ... Read More
We chose Dubai for our first cruise as we had never been there and hoped for calm seas and warm sun, my wife is not a good sailor! Our party 3 couples started off with a 3 night pre cruise stay at the 5* Hilton Resort and Spa at RAK 1 1/2 hours from Dubai which was terrific, and perhaps spoilt our initial cruise experience!Instead of the bus from the Hotel to the ship, we took a private tour of Dubai for the day, dropping us off at the ship at 7.30pm, as I had read about delays boarding. It worked well, and I would recommend anyone doing the same stay/cruise holiday to do likewise, as you have very little time to explore Dubai any other time! Embarkation was smooth (we were the only ones in the terminal) and we soon found our cabin. (7580 balcony)1st shock. you could have fitted our cabin in the bathroom of the hotel (6'2" big build does not fit very well in small double bed with rounded end!)Dinner in main restaurant - great food and service. My Time Dining working well. Shock no2 The price of wine! cheapest $33 per bottle! - 6 people 1 White 1 Red (Jacobs Creek $45!) $80 per night incl the dreaded "graturity"! Still the food was good. 1st morning still in port; Breakfast Windjammer self serve - Great, no problem, everything you want incl "British Bar" with proper bacon and Black pudding! One exception, trying to force orange juice out of the bar staff. Most sunbeds round pool "toweled up" Found 6 and did the same! Explored the ship. BOS is a great ship. Clean,tidy well run and something for everyone. Not sure about the "bellyflop competition" when we returned to our beds. Run by an overweight Sheffield man who constantly asked if you were from Scotland, Wales, England or Sheffield! (there were 33 different nationalities on the ship. Very UK holiday camp. God what did they think!) Fell foul of the sunbed police, and lost our beds! (can't complain, fair cop, pity it did not cover every sunbed on the ship, as some were reserved early morning, for those going on trips, that returned in the afternoon, either to sunbath, or collect their belongings!) It got better. Over the next 6 days we warmed to the ship and cruising, once we had got used to it. The Ports of call are pretty disappointing. Not RCL fault, but the Middle East is made up of sand, Mosques and high rise new buildings, not alot else! The excursions were very expensive, so we didn't bother. The 2 I wanted, Sunbath and snorkel at a hotel in Fujairah ($89 each) No swimming in sea as jellyfish. and a visit to the BIC in Bahrain (the £280m F1 racetrack) cancelled because of the impending F1 race on March 14th! Summary; The BOS is good. Food, service superb. Gordon the Cruise Director, brilliant hard worker, was ever present at every event, Clientele. a true mix between hardened cruisers, and people lured by cheap offers who really shouldn't be there! RCL. Extract money at every available opportunity. Once on board they have you. Food,accommodation water, tea coffee included. Everything else charge charge charge! Will we cruise again? NO,sorry,a big disappointment. Not our idea of a relaxing holiday. too many people (2500 on 1 ship. God knows what its like on the bigger ships!)too cramped AND A RIP OFF! Pity Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
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