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191 Royal Caribbean Dubai Cruise Reviews

In one word if you are thinking of booking this cruise, don't!! I am sure this cruise is not reflective or typical of Royal Caribbean, but the initial impression of bad organisation and poor standards is not what you would expect. ... Read More
In one word if you are thinking of booking this cruise, don't!! I am sure this cruise is not reflective or typical of Royal Caribbean, but the initial impression of bad organisation and poor standards is not what you would expect. They are trying to turn around the ship in too short a time, leaving passengers hanging around for hours waiting to board, only to find that rooms have been hurriedly prepared and standards within the ship, quite poor. The ports of call are not worth visiting especially when in some you are expected to pay five dollars to get off the ship and leave the port, as you cannot walk in the ports. Trips are too expensive and one of the ports we visited Bahrain was a shocking disappointment. They called it 'Bahrain on your Own' and the only good thing about the trip is that the buses are available to take you back to the ship earlier than planned. On a positive note, the entertainment was excellent. We left the ship leaving our prepaid gratuity for our cabin steward, we never actually saw her for any length of time, other than when she complained to us that we should indicate when we leave the cabin, by putting out the card to make up the room. The cabin was tired, had a dreadful smell most of the time and he balcony absolutely filthy, my husband had to clean it. Basically, we enjoyed the sun and the entertainment but would recommend that you look elsewhere for a holiday with some standards!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas. 2010 Middle East Cruise calling at Dubai, Oman, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain The holiday began with a tiring overnight Emirates economy flight on a Boeing 777-200 from Gatwick to Dubai. ... Read More
Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas. 2010 Middle East Cruise calling at Dubai, Oman, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain The holiday began with a tiring overnight Emirates economy flight on a Boeing 777-200 from Gatwick to Dubai. Emirates made every effort to make the flight comfortable but our party of six all arrived tired and ready for a rest in our Ship's cabin. The flight included a personal screen with a very wide choice of streamed films and TV shows. This allowed individual passengers to watch what they wanted when they wanted to. The local arrival time was 07.45 hrs and the ship was unable to accept guests until the afternoon. We were taken to a Heritage Centre which laid on a breakfast of sweet cakes which appeared to be largely outside the tastes of the new passengers. Eventually at approximately 13.30hrs a coach took us to the ship. We arrived ready to book in at 14.00hrs but had to wait in line for more than one and half hours. We were unable to take advantage of the limited seating otherwise we would have lost our place in the queue. After one hour RCL put additional staff on to assist with the registration but instead of diverting people from the front of the queue for some inexplicable reason they gave priority to people who had only just joined the queue at the back. After registration, we, together with several other passengers made an official complaint to RCL but were told that this was the first time in the Port of Dubai and many of the staff had no experience of registration although they had received the necessary training according to RCL. There appeared to be a lack of management presence in the registration area or maybe they sensed the passengers' anger and just laid low. We arrived in our cabin at just after 16.00hrs, 8 hours after landing at Dubai airport. During the cruise we pursued an answer to our complaint through the reception desk but were informed that the ship did not have the necessary authority so head office would be dealing with this complaint. However during the cruise we learnt of other passengers, probably more persevering than I to obtain a resolution, were given on-board credits as compensation. I decided not to continually expedite a response from the ship as this would have spoilt our holiday. It does seem extremely strange that the ship, made no effort to recompense the majority of customers. A free drink with the dinner on the first evening offered as an apology would probably have satisfied the majority of passengers and gone some way to protecting RCL's brand name. I am not sure what the Marine statutory requirements are in the Middle East regarding Health and Safety; however RCL did surprise me by having the ship's evacuation drill when we were on a ship's tour. They made no effort to hold a further drill for those passengers who were with us in the tour. There was plenty of time for his necessary exercise as the ship spent the first night in the Dubai port. The cabin service only operated when you displayed the relevant notice on the cabin door. For the first two nights our beds were not turned down or the bathroom cleaned due to our oversight caused by our lack of knowledge regarding this policy. The Balcony cabin was of normal industry standard but a lack of proper toiletries in the bathroom (equal to a 2 star hotel) suggests that RCL is run by accountant's whose cost cutting campaign ignores the effects to the brand name. There was no water fountain in the gym and you were expected to purchase the necessary bottled water. This is the first Gym I have visited that does not encourage their customers to drink water during exercise. These small issues indicate a further dumbing down to make the headline price profitable. The Dining room food was generally reasonably presented and cooked but delays in service suggested a reduced level of waiters. The vegetarian options were the predictable pasta suggesting that the Chef's imagination only covered the carnivore diet. The weather was good but a shortage of sun-chairs plus the widespread practice of reserving of empty sun chairs seats with towels made it difficult to find a seat to lay comfortably in the sun. However the decks were crowded with chairs indicating these public areas are not sufficient for the passenger numbers. Deck towels were provided against a cabin number and a twenty dollar charge was made in the event of non-return of each towel to the desk. The tours generally reflected the lack of interesting places to visit at all the ports apart from perhaps Oman. This reflects my personal taste of interest in historical places rather than new buildings and shopping. This is a new cruising area for larger ships and some of the local taxis particularly in Bahrain increased the normal cost up to a factor of ten according to several passengers' horror stories. The ship again repeated the excuse that this was the first time in the area and they were taking steps to make sure it was not repeated in the future. This is good for future passengers but did absolutely nothing from those who suffered on this particular cruise. None of our party experienced either the Spa offerings or the Gym classes due to the very high cost when compared to land based charges. The Emirates day-time flight experience back to Gatwick was comfortable although the booking-in process was nearly one hour. The plane was a Boeing 777-300, which has an economy seat pitch similar to BA's world Traveller plus but without the additional cost. The vegetarian food was far better than anything received on the ship. Would I book another RCL Cruise? - Definitely not Would I fly again with Emirates? - Definitely. Would I cruise the Middle East again - Probably not although a different cruise line such as Holland and America may tempt me as an alternative to the Caribbean Winter sun. Finally despite our on-board complaints and our subsequent letter to RCL we have not received any response. To be fair the letter did request a reply only if RCL cared about their customers cruise experience. However RCL were quick enough to acknowledge the validity of the complaints in the press but qualified this by announcing all the problems had been overcome for future passengers - lucky them! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Boarde the ship in Dubai, total fiasco some passengers were waiting hours in a holding pen many elderly were sitting on the floor, total chaos. On boarding our junior suite i looked at the bedding and found stains all over the duvet cover, ... Read More
Boarde the ship in Dubai, total fiasco some passengers were waiting hours in a holding pen many elderly were sitting on the floor, total chaos. On boarding our junior suite i looked at the bedding and found stains all over the duvet cover, pillows were filthy and had no protectors on. I think they only put top sheet over the duvet to save changing it every turnround which is disgusting. It was changed immediately. Drawers had dark hairs in them very off putting. Ship generally was very nice but not a lot of space to move around when full. Entertainment was the worst ever I have experienced on the 25 other cruises I have been on. Lots of Brits on board (I am one) but it was like a camp site with Karaoke type singers. Mainly in the bars the artists completely out of tune and very old music, many people complaining. The cruise staff and director were a joke hardly ever seen around the ship and looked scruffy in their uniforms. We arrived in 'Bahrain and were literally dumped outside the port to where the taxis were waiting. We wanted to go to Yacht club which should have been 6 dollars they wanted to charge 100 dollars each way for a 15 minute journey. 2 Bus loads of passengers decided enough was enough and went back to ship as usual no Ships personnel around so we went to Pursers desk, attitude was terrible we demanded to see an officer about 50 of us and said if they did not do anything we would all meet the dignitaries that were coming on board for a VIP lunch, amazing how things change. They then decided to put a shuttle bus on for the guests to the town but of course you had to pay. Their Brand is generally cheap, tacky drinks lists, half the European wines were out of stock, staff had poor knowledge of wines, no nuts served with aperitifs you had to ask for them, no bin liners in any of the bins, cheap toilet paper. Our suite had lots of flies as is was situated at the back, you could smell rotting fruit. The Windjammer restaurant was filthy food on floor worktops not cleaned and lots of flies. Mentioned it to staff but not really interested. All in all staff need a wake up call we the passengers have choices and I am going back to Princess Cruises. Hope this helps. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
PRE CRUISE. This cruise started with a planned night parked in Dubai, before actually setting sail early afternoon on Day 2. This provided flexibility for arrivals and people had a larger window for embarking than would be found on a ... Read More
PRE CRUISE. This cruise started with a planned night parked in Dubai, before actually setting sail early afternoon on Day 2. This provided flexibility for arrivals and people had a larger window for embarking than would be found on a normal 7 day cruise. We took a non-stop 14 hour flight from Australia, which had us landing at the sparkly clean and very efficient Dubai international airport at 10am, perfect for our midday check in time for the Brilliance of the Seas. We took a 30 minute taxi from the airport which set us back about 60 dirhams ( USD$16). We were quite pleased with ourselves to have travelled halfway around the world seamlessly, arriving at the terminal just as boarding was starting. EMBARKATION. There were long lines when we arrived at Port Rashid. We had not printed out bag tags, but were quickly given some by the many porters running around at the front of the terminal. Apparently, there had been a computer glitch which had delayed the start of processing, so there were a few grumbles. Fortunately, we were directed to the suite line, where we were processed quickly. There were stalls set up selling the soft drink packages, wine packages, and a table for those wanting to move around their assigned dining times or tables. After the obligatory sail away snap, we headed up the ramp to start exploring the Brilliance of the Seas. FIRST IMPRESSIONS. It quickly became apparent that the blend of both passengers and crew on this cruise were very different to other cruises we have taken. Most of those have been out of the USA, so the majority of guests have been North Americans. The passengers on this sailing were largely from the UK and other parts of Europe. There was a broad mix of ages with some families, young couples, middle aged, and older. The crew, we found out, came from all around the world, and represented some 60 countries. The first few that we spoke to were from Turkey, India, Ukraine, and Russia. My instinct with blending so many nationalities had me suspicious that there might be some tensions and difficulties due to cultural differences and languages, however it was very pleasing that everyone got along, did their job, and provided the adequate service where they could, most with nice big smiles. THE PUBLIC AREAS: We found the public spaces to be large, clean and uncrowded. The artwork around the ship, though not masterpieces or of a consistent theme, was modern and attention grabbing. On our floor, there were framed pictures of things like the London underground, and aged advertisements for Guinness beer. The carpets all looked clean and may have even been new on our floor. The colours around the ship varied from dark woods in the Schooner Bar/Colony Club area, to sultry pink desert hues in the solarium pool area. The Atrium which runs through the entire centre of the ship and is 10 or 11 stories high is very impressive and there is a nice buzz there as people marvel at its grandness while moving from one part of the ship to the other. We had read some reports of wear and tear, however it did not seem this was a prevalent problem on this ship. While we did spot a few rust patches here and there, it was obvious there is constant maintenance. All of our deck furniture was brand new, so RCI obviously have some sort of enhancement program in action for the Brilliance of the Seas. THE SUITE: For this cruise, we were in a grand suite. We had booked only 2 weeks before sailing and asked for a suite guarantee. The suite itself was very spacious with a large open lounge room, separate bar area and wardrobes. The marble bathroom with two sinks at the vanity and a huge shower was very spacious with many more cupboards and drawers than we needed. The sleeping area had its own nook and could be curtained off, so was really like a separate room, meaning there was no guilt if one of us wanted to get up early. The television, though not flat screen, was set up so that the audio could be heard from speakers around the cabin. There was also a video and dvd player. Outside on the balcony, we had a table and chairs as well as a lounger. This furniture was new, but not cushioned. Some other guests said they used the cushions from their rooms to make this furniture more comfortable. All in all though, this was a very comfortable cabin. The bathroom amenities were Gilchrist and Soames at the start of the cruise, but changed to a cheaper brand mid cruise for replacements. We wondered if this was a common theme when the bathroom tissue went from 2 ply to single ply. Additional privileges also came with this room, including access to the Concierge club. There was a 24 hour tea and coffee machine, continental breakfast each morning, and complimentary bar with hot and cold canapEs available each evening. We made good use of this and enjoyed meeting other passengers from around the world over a drink or two each night. The actual concierge had hours in the club where he would sit behind his computer and say hello as people came and went but did not seem to do much else. We all wondered what was on the computer that was so interesting. THE DINING: Overall, we found the food to be quite good. We tried several options for breakfast including room service, the Windjammer, The Minstrel dining room and the Concierge club. We were not disappointed with any of these, though the room service breakfast card choices seemed a little limited. We wrote in a request for some extras and they were brought without a problem. The bran muffins, fresh fruits, and orange juice were daily favourites. For lunch, we chose between the Windjammer and the Seaview cafe. The Windjammer has an outdoor seating area with large, very comfortable lounge style furniture, which we found ourselves drawn to. There were plenty of drinks waiters and the food choices seemed to change each day. The Seaview cafe had strange opening hours which changed from day to day, but we managed to sample some of the sandwiches they offered. The pizza which is made to order looked really good but we didn't get a chance to try it. On some days, there were barbeques and entertainment, which were welcomed as expanded choice. The Main dining room menu each night offered enough variety to keep us happy and the quality was pretty good, but not terribly consistent. Stand outs were the salt and pepper calamari, white truffle linguine and the lamb chops. Low points were the pea and ham risotto and the breaded cheese sticks. Our table agreed the best night for us to have gone to one of the specialty restaurants was day number 4, as the menu seemed most limited that night. We had two great waiters looking after us and liked that they looked after drinks as well. One night we tried Chops Grille and had a lovely time with excellent service and outstanding steaks. The company was as good as the menu as we were joined by a delightful Scottish couple we had met each night in the Concierge club. The laughs were a plenty and we were the last table to leave, though the professional staff insisted we take our time and enjoy the night. THE ENTERTAINMENT: There were several full scale production shows in the Pacific theatre, which were enjoyable and a step above high school musical type shows, though on one night a computer glitch cancelled the show halfway through. Another night, Martin Brock performed magic tricks and illusions to gasps of surprise from the auditorium. He was very good and kept people on the edge of their seats. The show times changed each day for one reason or another and were either at 715pm and 9pm, or 9pm and 1045pm. This variance seemed to be when there were big functions like cocktail parties for repeat cruisers early evening, or karaoke late in the evening. The Colony Club hosted bands and other entertainers and was very popular. There was a karaoke night with some great talent, including a Gloria Gaynor impersonator with a wonderful rendition of "I will survive". Music and dancing was available in different places around the ship each night and had big audiences. The crowd on board was a very social bunch and there seemed to be plenty to do in the evenings. We were surprised on the second to last night when the atrium burst into a disco party. The entertainment staff performed tracks from Village People and other songs like disco inferno. It really got the ship rocking and it was a wonderful utilisation of the space. OTHER ENTERTAINMENT: This is the first ship we have been on that had a water slide and rock climbing wall. These were tucked away on the top deck and the only time we noticed them was when we went looking. They are much smaller areas than they appear to be in the advertising, which was a bonus for us, as there are large parts of the top deck for other things such as a jogging track and plenty of sun lounging. Park West looks after the art auctions and they had plenty of "embellished prints" available for those inclined to buy an expensive souvenir. There were also interesting activities that catered to or entertained specific groups such as the international belly flop competition, trivia, bingo, and crafts. THE PORTS: MUSCAT, OMAN: Cruising into this port was very scenic. The black cliffs and mountains lining the entrance to the harbour provide a stark contrast to the desert that we left in Dubai the day before. The ship docked at the main container port of Mutrah, a few kilometres from the city of Muscat. As the container port is active, buses were provided to the port gate, and a little further to the Mutrah souk. There are literally hundreds of taxis at both of these drop off spots, but no information centre, which makes it a little difficult to know where to go without prior research. We escaped the throng of taxi drivers by heading into the souk and looking through the various shops and beyond. There is a money exchange shop in the souk which is convenient as some of the stores will only accept the local currency, the Omani Riyal. We found a barber shop, spice shops selling every imaginable spice and wonderful fragrances, as well as typical clothing and jewellery shops. After a little treasure hunting, we decided to get a taxi for a few hours to show us around Muscat's sites. We really hoped to find someone who spoke clear English, so talked to a few of the drivers and negotiated a deal of about USD$25 per person for a 3 hour trip. We saw the palace, a beautiful grand Mosque, international hotels, the public beaches, ancient forts and the fish markets. The city is very well kept with excellent roads lined with sculptures. We stopped at a traditional Omani restaurant and tried some of the typical dishes including hamour, a white fish, in a tamarind curry sauce, Omani bread in milk, and other treats. We had hoped to visit an internet cafe in Mutwah before returning to the ship, however it had closed for the afternoon break, as had most of the street front stores. We later found out they close from 1 - 4pm. FUJAIRAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: The city of Fujairah was billed as being an "ultra modern" urban development. Tall mountains around the city meet the desert, which in turn meets beaches and the sea. For those without planned tours, there were options of a complimentary bus to the gates of the port, or a $5 per person shuttle to the LuLu Hypermarket in the city. We chose the latter as we wanted to see the town itself. Driving in, there was evidence of many new buildings and quite a few that looked as though they had commenced construction, but suddenly stopped. There seemed to be a swirling dust storm, but we found out later that this is normal and occurs because the sand and dust in the area is so light. The city seemed a little eerie as the shops and buildings looked deserted. The hypermarket was what appeared to be a standard supermarket and a few shops. There did not really appear to be much around at all. We set out down the main street in search of something interesting, but we didn't come up with much, though we did find an internet cafe, ticking that off the "to do" list. One of the crew on the ship had told us that the Hilton Hotel was a nice place to visit, so we took a cab there and had a coffee looking out over the beach. The beach was clean and some people were swimming, but the hotel pool and bar looked more inviting. We took a cab back to the port, which worked out to be cheaper than what was being charged for the port transfers at about $3. Overall, this was not a very exciting port for us, however we spoke to some ladies who said this was their favourite stop. They had taken a ship tour and raved about their guide and what they saw. If we were to visit this port again, we would try and book a ship's tour. ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: The Emirate of Abu Dhabi accounts for over 80% of the land mass of the UAE. As such, it has control over the most oil. We were not sure what to expect of this city as it has always seemed to be dwarfed by Dubai in the media. We were very pleasantly surprised. The planning and construction of this city has been very well thought out and it seems like a very clean, safe place to visit. Like all of the ports on this itinerary, we arrived at the city's container port. A makeshift, luxury air conditioned, carpeted welcome centre awaited. Without pre booked tours, there were options to take a shuttle to the gates, or a big bus tour around the city. This seemed pricey at $50 per person, however it promised a tour and information/commentary about the city during the trip. We liked that you could get on and off as you wished, and it was great to hear an explanation of how this recent desert to city creation occurred. The City has some magnificent architectural creations, the beaches are pristine and clean, and it is easy to get around, as the streets are in a grid like system similar to NYC. We visited the Emirates Palace Hotel which is jaw dropping in its opulence. Entry into the hotel requires respectable dress (no shorts), but there was no problem with wondering around the grounds and taking photos. We also visited the Grand Mosque, which we were told was one of the largest mosques in the world and can take 40,000 faithful at prayer time. Apparently, the chandelier in the main prayer room is one of the largest in the world and cost 36 million dollars. We thought it was spectacular. We enjoyed sitting on the upper deck of the big bus, however after talking with others about their day in Abu Dhabi, it seemed it would have been much more economical to get a taxi and ask them to drive you around all the sites. The only problem with that idea would be missing out on all the info provided in the audio tour, though a knowledgeable driver would perhaps be just as good. KHALIFA BIN SALMAN PORT, BAHRAIN: Prior to arriving in Bahrain, there were many stories from the staff about the previous week's visit and how many people had been ripped off by taxi drivers. One story went so far as to say that the Captain had bailed an elderly lady out of prison as she refused to pay the outrageous fare a taxi driver tried to charge her. We were assured that the local authorities were on top of it and given information about how to manage the taxi drivers and their fares. The ship offered either transport to the gates, where taxis awaited, or a paid shuttle service to the city for $21 return. When we asked about the shuttle, the first spaces were not until the afternoon, so we decided to give the taxis a go. When we got to the gate, there was chaos, as many passengers were lined up and waiting as the police escorted each to a waiting taxi, ensuring that everyone knew the rates, and exchange rates etc. There was a lot of arguing, and it looked to be a long wait. One of the problems seemed to be that the currency is the Bahrain Dinar, which most passengers would not have on them. Subsequently, the offered exchange rate by the taxis is ridiculous. Instead of waiting, we went back to the pier and asked about getting the ship's shuttle, which we were able to get a ticket for straight away. The bus ride into the city was about 45 minutes. It was clear that Bahrain has not benefited from the infrastructure and development enjoyed in the United Arab Emirates. Most buildings looked old and run down. We were dropped at the city gates in the middle of the city, and wondered into the souk, enjoying the contrasts of fruit and vegetables, tacky electronics, and spice stores. The majority of the store owners and vendors seemed to be of Indian origin. We found some treasures and left the area just as everything was closing down for the long afternoon break at 1pm. We ventured into a 5 star hotel for refreshments and some pampering. While there, we took the opportunity to read the local English language paper which was filled with stories about exploitation of low paid foreign labour, disputes between locals and foreigners, and other undesirable issues such as children being promised into marriage. One case going through the courts involved an 80 year old man having married a 12 year old girl in neighbouring Saudi Arabia. While these sorts of stories might have been sensationalist, they highlighted some of the differences between this region and our own. Leaving Bahrain, it seemed that this kingdom is not really comparable to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as far as what is it offers for tourists. On return to the ship, there was a long line of people at the excursions desk complaining about the tours they had taken that day. DUBAI: The sailing times in and out of Dubai give the impression that this itinerary allows for a large amount of time in this port. The departure on the second day had been at 2pm, with an all aboard time of 1130am, due to the muster drill. For those that had boarded the first afternoon and spent the first afternoon/evening on board, this only allowed for a few hours in the morning of day 2. At the other end of the sailing, the ship arrives into Dubai at 2pm on day 6 with disembarkation the following morning. We took advantage of the complimentary shuttle services to the shopping malls from the pier. The taxis are reasonable and drivers friendly so it is easy to get about and some of the buildings are unbelievably spectacular. We visited the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, as well as the spectacular Burj Al Arab hotel at Jumeirah Beach. The Atlantis Hotel at the Palm is open to all and there are shops and restaurants as well as a movie theatre. It is quite spectacular just how large the palm development is. There was more than enough to do in Dubai and the malls all had amazing shopping. We had good luck with our timing as the Dubai Shopping Festival had just begun and there were huge savings and promotions in all the stores. Dubai seemed to have the most activities of all our ports for tourists. THE WRAP: As this cruise was our first time with RCI, we were not really sure what to expect. Despite the few grumbles mentioned here, we were happy with the good value we got from booking this cruise. Few cruise lines have weekly itineraries in the Middle East region and we felt as though RCI has made a good go of showing a variety of ports over the 7 days for this trip. Our advice to others taking this cruise is to research the ports and think about where organised shore excursions will provide a better experience than doing it on your own. As far as the ship is concerned, it seems to be in a very good condition. Though some of the staff need a little persuading, there are others that are shining stars. We met some lovely new friends and they made this cruise a whole lot more fun. We would not hesitate to cruise RCI again, particularly if the itinerary and price are both right!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We were on the first cruise out from Dubai. We have posted a letter that we sent to RCI which is somewhere in TA. This is our thoughts and experience in one liners. Please feel free to follow up with any questions. Boarding: Arrived on ... Read More
We were on the first cruise out from Dubai. We have posted a letter that we sent to RCI which is somewhere in TA. This is our thoughts and experience in one liners. Please feel free to follow up with any questions. Boarding: Arrived on schedule @ 6.45 am. Taken to a derilect theme park until about 12.00 noon. Outside seeting on wooden benches or wrought iron seats... no cushions but loads of sunshine . Dockside: Queued for about two hours. All checkin terminals working just too many passengers to cope. Those who had NOT checked in on line got through in about 15 minutes... they had a different queue. Stateroom: Level 7 in the middle of the ship with a balcony. First time on any ship so no previous experience to compare it to. We were pleased with our choice of cabin and thought the extra we paid for the balcony was worth it. Power sockets in room are US style so UK passengers need an adapter or travel plug. Food & Drink: Buffet: Windjammer resturant was good with many options. Hot dogs & burgers, fish, pasta, carvery salads or pizza. Some fresh fruit but the fresh fruit salad was the usual apple & melon mix. Normal evening meals: Minstral restaruant American food i.e. mash with roast turkey. A little disappointed as dishes lacked imagination. My wife has an intolerance to wheat & dairy and was given baked potatoes four meals out of six. This despite giving the kitchen 24 hours notice. Formal: Chops Grill. You pay $20.00 pp for a slightly better menu. Fillet steak was very good. Wife had the fish, cooked without sauce, but cold and raw in the middle. Re cooked but no apology! Late night pool party: Loads of fresh fruit available. We asked why they could not supply more choice of fresh fruit during the day. Their answer was that this fruit was loaded on board especially for this party! Drinks: We bought one soda package on the www but probably would not bother in the future. Coke & Sprite were $2.00 each so we think you would need to drink 5 per day to break even. We bought Evian bottles in a 24 pack which almost lasted us the trip, although we did use it for making tea in our cabin. Going ashore: Your passports are held on board and passengers issued with a local border pass at each port as you leave the ship. The border police board the coach at the gate and you all hold your card up to show you have them. When the passports are returned they have entry and exit stamps for each stop. You return the pass when you get back on board. Generally three transport options. Shuttle to dock gates. - Usually free. Shuttle to town. - $5.00 pp each way. (Bookable on board). City tour. - Bookable on board or before you leave on the RCI www. Note... if you book an official tour the ship will wait for you to return. If you do your own thing the ship goes without you. The ship docks in Abu Dhabi on Friday morning but leaves about 6:00 pm. Not a great deal of time to explore the best stop on the cruise. Friday is their Holy day so most shops do not open until after 2:00 pm, even in the malls. Also the city tour includes a conducted tour of the biggest mosque in the UAE. Guess what... everyday except FRIDAY! Enertainment: Excellent team although I suspect it is the standard package on other RCI ships. Not a lot of info on the RCI www before you leave the UK. Good choice of live music in various bars. Overall we enjoyed our first cruise on the BOS but would probably trip a smaller ship next time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Our pre-cruise stay at the Hilton Beach Resort and Spa in Ras al Khaimah was the perfect location to unwind from the flight from the UK and may have spoilt us for what what was our first (and last) cruise experience. On arrival at ... Read More
Our pre-cruise stay at the Hilton Beach Resort and Spa in Ras al Khaimah was the perfect location to unwind from the flight from the UK and may have spoilt us for what what was our first (and last) cruise experience. On arrival at dockside in Dubai we could not board The Brilliance of the Seas because all the check-in computers were down and we had to wait almost 2 hours before being processed and allowed on board. The stateroom we had booked was their largest but when we saw what space we had we were gobsmacked, at its widest you had about 3 feet of space between the end of the bed and wall, about 10 feet in all, if I opened the toilet/shower room door when my wife was getting dressed, she ended up being knocked into the wardrobe. Having said that, the queen size bed was comfortable and with a small sofa in front of the television, it was just about adequate. Our troubles started at our 9.00am breakfast the following morning. We decided to eat in the Windjammer Cafe as breakfast served in the dining room ceased at 9.30am. The place was heaving with people when we arrived and it took five minutes to find vacant seats. The choice of buffet breakfast was very good, but the layout of the serveries meant you walked around for ages before you found all the components for your meal, then you went for your toast. Seeing that over half of the passengers were British, and the average Brit has 2 slices of toast for breakfast, they had one toasting machine catering for everyone, including those who wanted bagles, rolls, etc. The queue was sometime 20-plus and with the air conditioning working very efficiently, by the time you sat down with your breakfast it was stone cold. At lunchtime, this same apparent lack of of equipment meant that the queue for the one servery for chips stretched an equally long distance. We had no complaints about the evening meal in the dining room, this was first class with a varied menu and excellent service. We had opted for a table for six but when we arrived we had a table for 12 with just one other couple to keep us company. Luckily we got on very well, but it could well have been a disaster. We had ordered a wine package online but because this was a Muslim country, they had not received the delivery so we had to pay the onboard price - around £30 a bottle There are two sittings for dinner, we chose the early 6pm sitting which usually finished between 7.30pm and 8.00pm. Again the problem of space arose when we tried to find seats in the main Schooner Bar for after-dinner drinks. This was always full and meant you either had to sit in the Colony Club and put up with bingo and quizes or go to the sports bar which had very basic seating and plenty of smokers. On our first night we enjoyed a bottle of Moet in the small Champagne Bar but on subsequent nights we found all the seats in here taken by people drinking beer and spirits. The lack of facilities were by now taking its toll. Our days consisted mainly of sunbathing on deck, as the ports of call were all container ports, meaning you had to get a shuttle from the ship to the town, where you were left to your own devices unless you had booked an excursion. The opinion of most people we spoke to were once you had seen one Royal Palace, one Mosque and one Gold Soukh all the rest were very much the same, so our only trip out was in Dubai itself. There were no excursions on our second to last day as we were sailing back to Dubai so the ship was full. Knowing exactly what would happen, I had an early breakfast and grabbed a sunbed at 9.15am and then sat and watched as people began wandering aimlessly around with towels trying to find somewhere in the sun to sit. No chance . . . all the available space was taken and a lot of frustrated sunbathers had to sit in the shade. As this holiday was an experiment to see if cruises would suit us, we decided on 7 nights with Royal Caribbean, as their reputation for quality is well documented. What a disappointment. They have got too greedy by cramming as many staterooms as possible onto the Brilliance of the Seas but have neglected to provide adequate facilities to cope with numbers at peak times. It felt a lot of the time like being at an up-market Butlins holiday camp, but with the rip-off drinks prices of a 5-star hotel - and nowhere to escape to. We had no complaints with the standards of dEcor on board or the service outside of peak times, the casino was very spacious where we spent many hours playing the slots and blackjack. The entertainment was first class with a different show every night - and Gordon, the 'camp entertainer', was a good all-rounder. To summarise, the Brilliance of the Sea has been built to a high standard spec with enough variety of eateries, bars, lounges to satisfy most people but we found it just too congested, with everybody going to the same venues at the same time meaning no seats and slow service. The UAE destination was also a mistake with lack of variety in the ports of call. We have decided to give cruising a miss in future, but for those people prepared to give it a try we would recommend paying a little more for a smaller ship cruising the Med or Caribbean, or for those who love to mingle with the crowds to go for the Ocean Village or Oasis of the Sea experience and pay less money. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
I cruised for a week with my parents on the Brilliance in early Feb. It does not reflect the cruiseline, but our flight from Heathrow on Emitares new A380s were fine. They hold a lot of people, and it takes a long time to get on and off ... Read More
I cruised for a week with my parents on the Brilliance in early Feb. It does not reflect the cruiseline, but our flight from Heathrow on Emitares new A380s were fine. They hold a lot of people, and it takes a long time to get on and off the plane, but it went smoothly. The in-seat TVs are great, the choices are amazing. If you don't find something to watch, theres a problem. There are also some games and a music library. Embarkation didn't take too long. It all depends on when people are flying in. If a bunch of buses show up at once, you have to queue. If not, the process is quick. I never had a problem, and if you do have to wait, there are seats and free wi-fi in the terminal. The ship itself is nice. I haven't been on a Royal Caribbean ship before, and it was nice and clean. The pool area was often crowded though, it was almost impossible to find a chair after 9am, because people would go and throw their towels on them. The buffet area is nice and some good choices. There is a fair amount of seating, and if you go out back and sit outside, there are always tables. The main dining room was nice. The waiters were excellent, and the food was fine. Generally, cruiseline food quality has declined in recent years, so it wasn't fabulous but it was fine. We ate one night in Chops steakhouse, and the food and service was excellent. It was worth the extra charge for a special night out. We went to the Murder Mystery and dinner in the Italian restaurant was included in the price. The food was good, and the entertainment was great. The shows cast does the mystery, and they are a lot of fun. You'll really enjoy this, but be careful, it sells out quickly. It's worth the price. The shows in the theatre were all good. The cast is great, great singers and dancers. We saw all three shows and enjoyed them all. The tango show is especially good, as it features tango dancers from Argentina. It is the most 'different' cruise production. But the cast is all really nice and great performers. The cruise director Gordon is great. He's really funny and charming. Try and have a chat with him if you can. He's a great guy. The TV channel options are horrible. They play the same stuff on a loop over and over again. There are only a couple live news channels, but everything else is BAD BAD BAD. If you are traveling with children, or just like to watch stuff, bring a DVD player or a laptop with some DVDs, because you won't be getting much from the TV at all. Unfortunately there was NO enrichment that I could find. I would have loved to have an archeologist or lecturer speak about the area of the world we were in. This is where civilization began. There is so much history and culture, and it would have been nice to learn more about it. If you are interested in history, do your reading ahead of time! The photographers were not as pushy as I see on other ships. That was nice. People I talked to at guest relations were rude. They seem to not care at all about helping the guests or making things go smoothly. A lot of staff enjoys being on the ship, but guest relations seem to just see it as a job they need to get through. Something should really be done. I find if you go with a reasonable request, they will do all they can to help you, but on this ship, they didn't. I didn't even have a complaint, just a question, and I was treated as though I was a bother to them. Not at all impressed. Explorations (the tours) was tricky because the ship is new to the area. So I understood that the staff was still learning about the destinations and tours. But the lines were rediculously long. Even at the end of the cruise, they had long lines. They really need more excursion staff on the ship. I went to the desk one time, and a girl from the casino was working there, and didn't know much. It wasn't her fault, it wasn't her job. But they need a bigger desk and more staff. The hours were also very short, so every guest had to go see them all at once. The ports were mixed. Dubai is great, and Abu Dhabi is great. Taxis are cheap, there is plenty to see and do. Please make sure you go out and see these cities! Muscat Oman is ok. The port has shuttles that run back and forth into the little town. These shuttles aren't run by the cruiseline, so don't blame Royal Caribbean if there is a problem, cause it isn't them. The town they bring you to is NOT downtown Muscat. There are some restaurants and a market to walk around in, but if you want to go into the city, you take a cab. Negotiate. Don't pay their rate. Also, get familiar with the money. Negotiate a rate in UAE Dirhams. They will accept them. The palace in the city is pretty cool, probably the highlight. Fujairah didn't seem to offer anything. We walked to a few duty free shops, but there is nothing else in walking distance. There are apparent beaches to go to, but we never left the port area. This seems to be a bad port, and I got the feeling they only decided to go here because they had to fill a day. I would have prefered an overnight stay in Abu Dhabi or a visit to Qatar instead. Bahrain is interesting. The port is really REALLY far from everything. There is nothing to walk to. You need to take a tour. That being said, take a tour. It is an interesting country and there ARE things of interest to see and do. The first cruise caused a lot of problems, because taxis were charging naive guests hundreds of dollars for taxi rides, and so the cruiseline is weary of recommending taxis here. That is responsible of them, they recognized a problem and are warning guests about it. Disembarkation was not pleasant. It was easy to get off the ship, but they kick you off by 9am, and most flights aren't until the evening or the next morning. So a lot of people had to bring their luggage around Dubai or sit in the airport. The cruiseline should set up a program where you disembark but they store your luggage for the day. That way people can pick up their bags later and go to the airport, maximizing time in Dubai. It wouldn't be a big deal, because the ship is in Dubai until the next day anyways. This would make a huge difference and wouldn't leave such a bad taste in your mouth at the end of the vacation. Overall we did enjoy the cruise. The staff was mostly wonderful and the shows and entertainment were good. The guest relations staff and disembarkation were negatives. Read Less
Sail Date February 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
We have just returned from our Brilliance of the seas cruise around Dubai. We have cruised a few times before and whilst we are not "experts" we know what we like and what we expect from a cruise, so here we go! Flights: We flew ... Read More
We have just returned from our Brilliance of the seas cruise around Dubai. We have cruised a few times before and whilst we are not "experts" we know what we like and what we expect from a cruise, so here we go! Flights: We flew emirates from Gatwick overnight arriving at Dubai 07.30 Monday morning. The flight was fine. It had a good entertainment system on board offering more films / programmes than any other carrier we have used. The screens are larger than many and worked well. Food was typical airline standard, the cabin crew attentive and the seats comfortable (no foot rest which could be a problem for some) the flight was 40 mins late leaving but the time was made up during the journey. All in all not a bad experience. ARRIVAL IN DUBAI Having read some earlier reports we were a little worried about the arrangements when landing. Yes you are taken to a "holding area". This is not as bad as it sounds, coffee and light food is laid on whilst they process you and sort out your sea pass account. Some people did register and then made their own way to Dubai for sightseeing; others went on an optional coach trip around Dubai. We opted to stay at the holding area as we were tired and the thought of a few hours on a coach travelling around Dubai did not appeal. We transferred to the pier about 11am and were on board within 15 mins, No problem at all with check in. PORTS OF CALL Having not been to the area before we were unsure what to expect. We had read all the previous reports so decided that on this rare occasion we would book ships excursions. Muscat: we did our own thing, got the free shuttle to the dock gate and walked in to the small town. Had a look around the souk, grabbed a coffee and sandwich in a local cafe and then strolled back to the ship. Not a lot else we can say really, most people done the same thing. Fujairah: Most people took a tour here, we did to. If you take one don't bother with the one we had "east coast tour" Everyone (including us) moaned about it. You basically get driven up in to the mountains to be shown some have been "removed" and sold to Dubai as hardcore for building projects. To quote the guide, "on the left is a mountain, further down the road you can see a clearing, this is where a mountain used to be before it was removed and sold to Dubai" --- riveting! Abu Dhabi: What a fantastic place, we wish they had missed out Fujairah altogether and gone strait here. We done the city tour, great fun and informative. Most people we spoke to enjoyed the visit here. Bahrain: We took the tour "relax day" basically they take you to a hotel with private pool / beach for the day. On the way they give you a quick tour of the city. We enjoyed it as we fancied a day lounging around a decent pool / beach. The hotel was great, the tour includes lunch which was first class and the staff were just fantastic. They could certainly teach some skills to the crew on the Brilliance but we will come on to this! Our only gripe about the day was that the "beach" was about 500 yards long and believe it or not the sea was freezing! Many people stayed on board this day, some took tours and a few used taxis. They appear to have sorted out the problems with taxi drivers trying to rip people off but beware! We did talk to a couple of American woman who had to call the police when the driver demanded $175 for a journey that should have been around $70. The Ship: The Brilliance is starting to look a little "tired". Having said that she was spotlessly clean, many of the carpets are new and the furnishings are in a good state of repair. It's not until you look closely that you realise paint is flaking in quite a few places. We believe it's because they just keep slapping another coat on any area that looks bad. Rust is also showing on many balcony areas. None of this posed a problem for us because as we stated all areas were very clean. FOOD / DINING: When we cruise we expect good quality well presented food from attentive waiting staff. This for us is where it all went wrong. The food at best was mediocre, the presentation of the food was appalling and the waiting staff had so many people to serve it was impossible for them to give the service we would expect. Royal Caribbean appear to have cut back on staff numbers to the extent that customers loose that "pampered feeling". No longer chocolate on your pillow, no turndown service at night, no feeling of "let me spoil you ". Drinks: We were shocked to find that rcl had suspended the normal wine packs that they sell when cruising. First we were told that this was because wine was in short supply. However it was apparent this was not the case they had just decided to try to squeeze a little more money from the guests. Prices in the bars for beers and spirits was also a little on the high side. (That was if you didn't give up waiting to be served by the bar staff who again where greatly understaffed.) It was not unusual to wait for 10 to 15 mins for a drink because the poor barman was on his own! So in conclusion, Did we enjoy the area, yes to a point Could rcl have made the experience better, you bet! Would we cruise again with rcl, Not a chance, How many more loyal customers will rcl alienate before they read the writing on the wall! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
This was our third RCCL cruise and have sailed several times previously with Princess and Celebrity. We have been to Dubai before. Stayed in Dubai for a night pre cruise and went to the terminal about 12.15 walked straight to check in ... Read More
This was our third RCCL cruise and have sailed several times previously with Princess and Celebrity. We have been to Dubai before. Stayed in Dubai for a night pre cruise and went to the terminal about 12.15 walked straight to check in and was on the ship in about 5 mins. Was told our rooms would be ready by 1 o'clock which they were and we received our luggage mid afternoon. We both really enjoyed this size of this ship, we were on Navigator in November which is a lot bigger and more modern but this one had a much nicer feel to it and more open spaces to sit which we liked. We especially liked the sea view cafe area to sit except for one day that passengers moved the tables and put their sunbeds in place instead so there were no seats whatsovever outside even although the cafe was opened. This started to happen the next day when a woman sat in her sunbed in the middle of the tables but ourselves and other passengers sat at all the other tables and effectively blocked her sunlight and she gave up and moved to just outside the cafe where there was plenty of space in the sun. The hours of the cafe changed daily and sometimes didn't open until 4.pm. We did not find the ship dated and thought that a lot of the carpets had been recently replaced. They certainly were on our floor. Also we found the place very clean. Our stateroom was cleaned every day before we returned for breakfast and unlike a previous poster we did not find it a hassle to take our card from behind the door and put it in the card slot to say "make up room" I would have thought that it would be more of an inconvenience to have someone knocking at your door to check if you wanted the room done. You cannot please all of the people all of the time. I overhead a woman at breakfast one morning saying that the captain should really have made an announcement to say that we are now passing beside an oilfield (which was quite spectacular to see), which he told us over the tannoy twice during the day to look out for between certain times. By the way the time we passed was quarter past midnight!! I'm sure the guests retired for the evening would have enjoyed that. Highlights for us : Open spaces for eating/drinking, pre dinner champagne bar with canapes, sitting on our balcony overlooking a misty Dubai, the staff and Chops Lowlights : Service in Portifino, the singer (??)in Schooners and that it about it. We looked upon the days in Fujariah and Bahrain as sea days as there was nothing we really wanted to do there but we enjoyed Oman and Abu Dhabi and in fact I have been looking to book a hotel in Abu Dhabi this afternoon! Disembarking was easy and we stayed a couple of nights in Dubai on our return and having spoke to people who did the cruise package without any extra nights said they regretted not staying pre cruise. I would suggest that if you weren't doing a pre cruise to go to the "holding area", leave your luggage and check in, get your sea pass and then get a taxi into Dubai and see the sights, that way you are not wasting precious time there. If you get a chance have a look at the fountains in Dubai Mall which are on every 20mins from 6pm, it is also right beside the tallest building - two birds with one stone. Taxi's are extremely cheap and start from 20 dirhams from the airport or the port and note that the meter keeps running when you are stopped in traffic but even then our taxi to the city centre from the aiport cost us under £10. On the way back to the port you don't have to pay the charge and taxis start the meter at 3 dirhams. Having thoroughly enjoyed this cruise we will be recommending it to others. Please do not be apprehensive about this cruise, maybe a lot of the earlier negativity was because it was a completely new venture for RCCL but I reckon they are not doing too badly now!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We were really looking forward to this cruise and we were not disappointed. We had booked the cruise and flights separately. We flew overnight from Heathrow to Dubai landing at 8am. Collected our luggage and transferred to Port Rashid by ... Read More
We were really looking forward to this cruise and we were not disappointed. We had booked the cruise and flights separately. We flew overnight from Heathrow to Dubai landing at 8am. Collected our luggage and transferred to Port Rashid by taxi. The journey took no longer than 30 minutes. We hadn't been sent luggage tags from RCCL prior to the cruise, but this wasn't a problem as there was a gentleman with a supply of tags that he just wrote out and attached to the luggage. Porters are also available. We were using the new terminal at Port Rashid. Very nice with an ATM machine and a Bank where you can change money. We were on My Time Dining and were able to reserve a table for that evening at the desk in the terminal. We couldn't purchase a wine package at that time as RCCL weren't too sure what wines would be available. We did purchase the wine package that evening at dinner, and any choice of wine we picked throughout the week was never substituted Check-in was a breeze. We had to wait until 11am before boarding began. The time went very quickly. Guests either headed straight for the Windjammer or the swimming pools. Access to the staterooms was at 1pm. Our suitcase arrived at 2.10 pm - very quick. If you can manage it go out to Dubai ahead of the cruise and spend a night or two in Dubai, otherwise you will be very sleepy on your first day. At the port there are taxis lined up ready to take you anywhere you desire. Also The Big Bus Company and free shuttle buses to the nearest Malls are available. Muscat was our first port of call. We took an independent tour with Arabesque Travel. www.Arabesque.Travel We highly recommend them. We had booked this with another couple and the cost was GBP40 per couple. Fujairah was our second port of call. We decided we wanted to enjoy the ship that day. I took advantage of the Spa offer. We did talk to people that had taken the Desert & Wadi Safari tour and they had really enjoyed it. Abu Dhabi was our third port of call. We were late docking due to the heavy fog. We were lucky to get in to the port. We took the free shuttle bus to the port gates and met up with a friend. We drove to the F1 circuit and had lunch at the Jaz Hotel there. Fantastic. After lunch a drive past the Mosque, which is huge. You are unable to go inside on a Friday as that is the Holy Day. The landscaping is now being done at the Mosque. We couldn't get in to the Emirates Palace Hotel for tea, as we didn't have a booking. Marina Mall is big and there is an observation tower there where you can go to the top and have a drink. The Corniche is very pretty. We would like to return to Abu Dhabi. Final port of call - Bahrain. The ship is docked quite a way from Manama the capital. Again there are free shuttle buses to take you to the port gates. RCCL had laid on a special tour to the F1 circuit for the Qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix. We would have been interested but not at USD500 each! The taxis do not seem to be so much of a rip off as they were a few weeks ago when Brilliance first started operating out of Dubai. We again talked to a couple that had taken the Bahrain Ancient and Modern Tour and had really enjoyed it. The guide was very knowledgeable, but the coach was dirty. That is down to the tour operator and not RCCL's fault. A few notes about the ship. We had been on Brilliance of the Seas last May. Her swimming pools are lovely. The casino is good. The Windjammer serves a wide choice of foods. Our cabin was immaculately clean. We only managed to see one show The Soul Sensation. A Tamla Motown tribute group is the best way of describing them. The whole theatre was rocking. That same evening it was the BBQ outside and everyone was dancing. We had the best cabin steward we have ever had, Svetlana. As a previous review has said, put your little cards in the key slot outside when you want your room made up or privacy. That really helps the cabin stewards, they are not mind readers. My Time Dining works very well for us and we made a reservation for the following evenings as we departed the restaurant each evening. The current Captain is Captain Henrik Loft Sorensen. He has a good sense of humour. The Cruise Director is Gordon Whatman, just love him. The Dining attire is as follows : - Day One - Casual Day Two - Formal (after departure from Dubai) Day Three - Casual/White attire (Muscat) Day Four - Smart Casual (Fujairah) Day Five - Formal (Abu Dhabi) Day Six- Casual (Bahrain) Day Seven - Casual (Dubai) One downside was the appalling way that many of the guests abuse the sun beds and place towels etc down to reserve them, against the policy of RCCL. We even found out that people were reserving them and then going on 4-hour tours. Disgusting and very selfish!! RCCL need to police it much better than they do. Having said that, it is now very difficult for them to just take the towels away as they swipe your key card when you are given the towels. For those that are interested you can depart the ship after it has been cleared by the Dubai authorities at any time, so that is about 3pm onwards. However if you wish to depart the ship before 6.30am the next morning you have to carry you own bags off. RCCL have started an experiment whereby you can pay to stay on the ship up till 8pm the day you get off. You have to vacate your stateroom by 9am and you cannot use the dining room to eat. Other than that you have a free run of the ship. They charge USD50 per person or USD80 per couple or USD100 for up to 4 people in a stateroom. This destination is not everyone's 'cup of tea'. You need to go with an open mind and enjoy it. We had a fantastic time and are looking forward to visiting The Gulf again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We flew out to Dubai to spend three days prior to our cruise- we have been there several times before so this time intended to be a bit touristy - we caught the abra across the creek for a few dirhams, went to the gold souk and the spice ... Read More
We flew out to Dubai to spend three days prior to our cruise- we have been there several times before so this time intended to be a bit touristy - we caught the abra across the creek for a few dirhams, went to the gold souk and the spice souk and visited my favourite diamond shop; with DH's pockets a bit lighter we rode the new skytrain, we watched the skiers in the Mall of the Emirates, sat outside The Address Hotel to watch the Burj Khalifa fountains, and we had probably the best meal of our lives at the Buddha Bar in the Grosvenor House Hotel - go there if you can! We also ate at the Madinat Jumeriah resort which is a complex of 3 hotels built around a waterway and a souk - there are dozens of restaurants here in a charming setting - we ate at Times of Arabia. The next night we went to JBR (Jumeriah Beach Residence) which is a new development called The Walk- lots of restaurants, shops and at least 3 Starbucks - we ate at a Turkish called Kosebasi. The restaurants and quality of food in Dubai is excellant - I don't think we have ever had a bad meal. The cost of wine brings a tear to your eye though....! Anyway, relaxed and refreshed and with the tan started, we went to the port around 2 on Monday. It literally took about 5 minutes to check in and then we were on board. We boarded from the 'tent' building and not from the new terminal as Costa seemed to be there. We were sorry to see the poor old QEII looking unloved and run down docked next to us. This was our second cruise on Brilliance and I have always deemed her to be my favourite ship of the RCI fleet so we were keen to see if she lived up to our expectations and memories. Cabin: We were in an aft with the larger balcony - plenty of space for two chairs, small table and a sunlounger. The cabin itself was looking a bit dated, the sofa definitely sagged a bit, the decor was a bit dark and there was sometimes a bit of a pong from the pipes in the bathroom - think tomcat... Beds were as comfy as always, service from Thomas was prompt and efficient - we put the little card in the slot whenever we left for breakfast and he would appear instantly. Only 4 towel animals this cruise. Bathroom had good hot water pressure but the shower curtain was useless and we (that should be I) always managed to flood the floor! Bedroom had two curtains that separated the bed from the sofa so it would be suitable for sharers. Balcony was in need of a paint and the balustrade needed a varnish. I must hasten to add that the rest of the ship was spotless and we could see no evidence of recent reports that she was looking run down or shabby. Food: Always subjective, but IMO the food on this cruise was the best out of my 3-4 recent RCI cruises. Honestly. The fillet and the ribeye in the MDR on formal nights was delicious and the steak in Chops you could cut with a butter knife it was so tender. We had MTD and our food was always beautifully presented, promptly served and piping hot. To avoid the smash n' grab nature of the Windjammer we had lunch either in the Solarium, good club sandwiches, or in the Sea View Cafe, which no one seemed to have found as it was always very quiet when we ate there, good made to order pizza, pannini and pasta and great outside tables with aft views. OK, and then there was Portofinos: I have not had a good experience with Portofinos for my last 3-4 cruises - ever since they stopped doing the whole roasted garlic I feel - and I'm afraid again it seemed to be lacking in the finesse and quality of Chops. My Caesar salad was prepared in approx 10 seconds in a ceramic bowl, my shrimp risotto was not as good as the one I had had earlier in the week in the MDR, and my mushroom pasta was a bit dry. The first bite of 'mushroom' turned out to be some sort of twig.....the people on the next table had to send their well-done steak back to the kitchen twice as it was so rare it was still mooing. So sorry Portofinos, Chops wins hands down. We had room service breakfast once and this was delivered spot on time. We also had the Diamond breakfast in the MDR once but we were seated in a section right in the middle of the dining room all by ourselves, we felt we were in the 'naughty' room so we didn't go again! There are canapEs in the Champagne bar in the evening which is not normal on RCI ships so remember to stop by there. The new wine list is also much better than before with a far wider, global selection. There are now only about 10 wines they do not have in stock fleet wide but they hoped to have full stocks by the time the ship is back in Barcelona. We had a lovely Spanish rosE and an Italian Falanghina amongst others. There is a wide range coming in under $50 a bottle. Staff: As usual they were excellent. A mention must go to Gordon (the CD) and Cuddy, who really suited the British audience on board - they weren't over gushing like some CDs I can think of; Idris and Natalia in the MDR MTD section who were excellent; the famous Rusti in the Champagne bar who has been on board as long as the ship has been in operation I believe, and finally the wonderful Angela in the Diamond Event who kept our glasses filled to the brim every night. Entertainment: Again, a subjective topic, but given the wide ranging demographic on board, then I felt they covered all corners. The majority on board were Brits, there were a lot of Gemans, Europeans and Eastern Europeans and only about 100 from USA and 150 from Canada. There was an excellent, very young, Danish magician who made women disappear and bottles appear and had an amazing knack with numbers; there was a Brat Pack tribute group and there were the aerial artists - worth it ladies for the 6-pack of his stomach alone! A very funny act was Erky from Turkey with his Who Wants to Be a Royal Caribbeanaire quiz - don't miss this one! Rules: The chair hogs were out in force, the chair next to me in the Solarium remained empty for 5 hours. I kid you not. Dress code was mostly adhered to and I saw only a few non-conformers on formal night. Suits outnumbered tuxedos 2:1. The man wearing the lurid green trousers should have been reported to the fashion police! As there were quite a few Europeans on board most nights were dressy. There was a 'white' night the day we left Muscat. Activities: We always mark off what we are going to do in the Cruise Compass and then we don't do a thing! So we didn't go to bingo, art auctions, dance classes, quizzes or towel folding lessons. I did go to the spa area and had a lovely sauna and steam (free) which is in the ladies locker room. And I did spend a lot of time on my balcony enjoying the wake with a good book. That is what cruising is about. Ports: As Gordon kept telling people, this was not a cruise like the Caribbean or the Mediterranean. You could not just walk off into town, there were different cultures to be respected, dress codes, no churches or archeological sites - it was a very different itinerary. I got the impression that many did not realise this or appreciate it. If a cruise ship is visiting 5 Muslim countries then it is obvious (to us at least) that things won't be open on Friday. Mutterings were heard that 'we should have gone somewhere else on a Friday..' - where exactly would they suggest in a Muslim region? Dubai: this was easy port - many taxis waiting - there was AED20 port surcharge during the day, and AED25 at night. So it was always cheaper to come back than it was go to anywhere! There was a free shuttle bus that took you to Dubai Mall too. Muscat: we had a private tour booked with MARKTours www.mark-oman.com - it was a half day tour and cost $105. We shared with a couple from our CC roll-call. We were met at the gangplank - many tours were not allowed into the port, so you would have to catch the free shuttle to the port gates. We were taken to the Mosque- a fabulous building with the largest chandelier in the world made by Swarovski . Ladies must cover their heads and must be covered from neck to wrist otherwise you will not be allowed in. Then we went to the fishmarket and the vegetable market - the biggest spring onions we have ever seen - then to the souk, and finally out to a little museum called Bait al Zubair which was in a restored private house and was small enough to keep your interest, there were displays of weapons, dress and house hold items; and then to see the royal palace before returning to the ship. We actually got out off the car at the souk and had lunch at a restaurant called Turkish Lights - it is right up the stairs by the souk entrance, and was delicious, pitta, hummous, fattoush and a chicken kebab, a few pepsis for $20. From the souk there was meant to be a shuttle that ran you back to the ship, but we took the stroll back to the port gates, which was along the sea front, and only took 10 minutes. Muscat, and the Omani people were charming and we would love to return. Fujairah: I am sure that travel journalists could call this port 'underdeveloped' or 'untouched' but you have to admit that the 2nd largest bunker port in the world is not very scenic. We took a ship's tour here - the Dibba Dhow cruise and it was very good - pricey at $159pp but I think our Fujairah experience was more positive than others. It was an early start at 7:15, and you were given a copy of your passport picture page as you were actually going to go back over the border into Oman again. As an aside, make sure you have lots of spare pages in your passport as you get stamps for entering and leaving each port! It was about an hours drive to the port, then you climbed across a few dhows to get to our dhow. There were 2 toilets, a shower, plenty of seating on large cushions, shade and sun, towels, plenty of water and juice, a delicious lunch, snorkling, swimming and generally a fun day jumping off the side of the dhow into the water. We were back at the port by around 3 and just had enough time to run across to the duty free shops. We went to the first one so have no idea how prices compare but 200 Marlboro were $16 and a litre of Gordons was $12. The downside was they only took cash so we could not buy as much as we wanted. Of course the spirits were impounded as we went on board and the xray machine guy spotted them -but we got the bottles back on Sunday morning. Abu Dhabi: another day, another industrial container port! Free shuttle to the port gate and then we got a taxi to the city. We were insistent that the meter was turned on but he still ripped us off! The meters are like little computer screens showing the driver's name and licence number but somehow we now realise he now got a little popup to cover the cab fare. He charged us AED40 for the ride to the Emirates Palace hotel where as the honest cabbie on the return charged us AED11.25! It was quite a long journey along the Corniche, so it does show how cheap the taxis really are. We loved AD - it was spotlessly clean, and the development was more thought out than in Dubai. The whole Corniche waterfront area is being developed as a beach and restaurant area, and it had a very European cosmopolitan feel about it. The Red Bull air race trials were on so the place was jumping! The Emirates Palace Hotel was stunning - huge - over 1km from one end to the other and well worth a visit. Bahrain: I'm afraid to say we didn't get off. This was to be our sea day, relaxing in the sun. Of course the weather co-operated with firstly rain, and then a sand storm which blocked the sun completely! And then we were back in Dubai again. Because of the one day in port at the start and the end of the cruise it seemed to lose the chaos of disembarkation as people left at all hours day and night. We strolled off at 6:45 and caught a cab to the airport for AED45. All in all a very very enjoyable cruise and yes, we agree that Brilliance is still our favourite ship in the fleet. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
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
Flew Emirates COACH! They have rows in the back that are just two seats which was nice so we had two windows and two isles which worked for my family. Not bad leg room and not bad food for coach. Pre-cruise Atlantis Hotel, loved it, ate ... Read More
Flew Emirates COACH! They have rows in the back that are just two seats which was nice so we had two windows and two isles which worked for my family. Not bad leg room and not bad food for coach. Pre-cruise Atlantis Hotel, loved it, ate in three restaurants in hotel that we loved. Had buffet dinner at Al Iwan in Burg Al Arab and we loved it. Had breakfast out of hotel one morning at Lime Tree Cafe and loved it. Dubai - took the water taxi and went to the souks, lots of fun and really the only shopping we did the entire trip. Did the night safari, private company Orient Tours, and we really had a good time. Paid $66 per person and RCCL passengers were there with us and I believe they paid $145. Boarding the ship took us about an hour. Balcony cabins on 9 were fine and connected which actually was nice for shouting back and forth instead of pounding on a door. Food was generally mediocre as was service. Never really felt like staff cared if I was happy or not, just that they were doing their jobs. Common areas (pool, bars, Windjammer) always felt very crowded. Always had to walk around a bit to find a table or a lounge. Guest relations people seemed to be lacking a lot of knowledge about the ship and ports. i.e. I was in line behind someone asking where the library was and the guy behind the desk took out a map of the ship! I told the lady it was on 9 and they both asked me if I was sure. Oman - took a private tour with Arabesque and it was great. Great tour guide and never had to stand in any lines. At the mosque, women must be completely covered except for hands and face. Our guide made sure we had the right stuff before we left the port but there were many people with other groups being turned away. Ladies, a scarf around the shoulders is not enough. We improvised by putting on hooded sweatshirts and wrapping scarves around our necks. Men just needed long pants. Fujariah - took the cruise excursion for beach and snorkeling. We really were glad because it was nice to sit and swim in a big pool without 2400 other people. Abu Dhabi - took the hop on hop off bus which was right outside the ship terminal. No need to buy any shuttle tickets from the ship. We did the full circle and got off where we wanted to see the sights. Men - if you want to see the Emirates Palace Hotel, you need long pants. They won't even let you in the front gate with shorts. FYI if you get off at Marina Mall and then want to go back to the ship instead of completing the circle, the bus has an express back to the port. FYI the bus is also available right outside the cruise terminal in Dubai. Bahrain - did the "all day relax" cruise excursion. Got a general city tour on the way to the resort. Had a wonderful day at the pool and a fabulous buffet lunch at the resort. My family all thought the food was better than anything they had eaten on the ship. Currency - we used Dirhams and American dollars. As far as I could tell, everyone took whatever you had. My one piece of advice would be to have small bills for taxis cause they always claimed to not have change. Taxis - in Dubai were cheap and plentiful. Warned about taking them in the other ports so we didn't. Weather - was perfect as far as I was concerned. We dressed as we would at home in hot weather with the exception of the mosque. Enjoy, Judy Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
CRUISE, DUBAI, OMAN, FUJAIRAH, ABU DHABI AND BAHRAIN We left Birmingham airport 20 minutes late on an Emirates flight to Dubai. Landed just after midnight and transferred to the Arabian Courtyard Hotel near Port Rashid ready to join the ... Read More
CRUISE, DUBAI, OMAN, FUJAIRAH, ABU DHABI AND BAHRAIN We left Birmingham airport 20 minutes late on an Emirates flight to Dubai. Landed just after midnight and transferred to the Arabian Courtyard Hotel near Port Rashid ready to join the cruise. Arabian Courtyard was classed as 4 star but in my opinion it was closer to 3 star. Regardless it was OK for one night, but I would not have wanted longer there. Joined the Brilliance of the Seas and check in took around 10 minutes. Very organized. Grabbed something to eat in an overcrowded Windjammer Cafe and caught a taxi to the Gold Souk for that special treat ring. Got back to the ship and luggage had arrived so unpacked. Asked about upgrade to a balcony cabin and were told there had none, but various conversations throughout the week made me doubt this. Supplies of toiletries were non existent in the bathroom cabins and I never failed to wonder how they had managed to obtain toilet paper so thin that it could not even have been classed as one ply. Counter productive on cost saving as you had to use 3 times as much. First port of call was Oman. When we landed at 9am the temperature registered 41C. It was very hot. Went to the Souk which was well worth a visit. Currency is Rials but they accepted AED Dirhams. By the time we got back to the ship the temperature was approaching 45C. Never have I felt heat like it. This was my favourite port of call. Second port was Fujairah. I had read the trip reports previously and didn't expect too much which was just as well because it was disappointing. We did the shuttle bus to the port gate and then paid extra for the shuttle to take us to the Lulu Hypermarket. Waste of time. Third port was Abu Dhabi. What I saw I liked. Clean and modern. Again we paid for the shuttle bus that continued past the port gates into the centre. We got off the bus at the town centre mall. Unfortunately there was nothing much else around the same area to wander around other than the marina which had the bluest sea I had ever seen. Fourth port was Bahrain. Again opt for the shuttle bus to part gates and paid extra for the transfer to the Mall hoping there would be souks in the vicinity. There were not so we ended up at the mall for 4 hours. We assumed that there would be an hourly collection from the mall as there was on the 2 previous ports, but there wasn't. We and other passengers felt as though we were just dumped at the mall. The items were so expensive I don't think anyone purchase anything. Then we called at the museum which was as boring as hell on earth. Not my cup of tea at all. A complete waste of a day and at $21 each, far too expensive for what was offered. Got 3/4 of the way back when the coach broke down. Groan!! All the passengers had to get off the bus and wait at the roadside in the heat for a replacement. Thankfully another coach occupied by BoS passengers stopped allowing us all to jump on for a lift back to the ship. Arrived harassed and disappointed. There were only 2 ports of call (with the exception of Dubai) that were worth a visit and to be honest I had already gathered this from previous posts. The cost of alcohol was extortionate. $12 for a glass that was not even full for a Chardonnay. Outrageous. During the week the Iceland volcano erupted (damn the thing). I guessed straight away that our return flight home would be delayed. It turned out to be a nightmare situation. RCL were absolutely useless. All they were interested in was making money. There were stupid pointless photo shoots. Photo with a cuddly toy, one with a member of staff dressed in arab outfit, one in front of the ship, one at dinner, one by the pool, one............... People were getting sick and tired of being asked to have their photo taken. I enquired on Saturday morning (whole companies were still open in the UK) at the Guest Relations desk what their intention was regarding hotels and flights when it became apparent we would not be flying. I was informed that if it was a RCL package (which mine was) then RCL would locate us a hotel and alternative flight. As if!! So based on this information RCL were going to re-locate between 1,000 and 2,000 passengers in hotels, pay for them and re-arrange their flight home. I bet they will I thought! While guests were at the evening meal and continued to the entertainment section of the ship RCL left in each cabin a note saying all passengers where to disembark at Port Rashid in Dubai and arrange their own accommodation and return flights. I was right!! Furthermore at the same time as leaving the distressing note envelopes were left for you to tip the staff. A mutiny occurred. A meeting was held on deck 9 whereby 3 passengers were elected to speak to the captain. The outcome was that no hotels would be paid for, no flights organised (although different carriers were more helpful than others eg. Virgin), so chaos erupted. The captain eventually agreed free access to the internet and cabin phones in order that the passengers could book accommodation, but you try getting the use of a PC on board that ship... you can't. RCL gave all passengers an Emirates contact number and told each passenger to keep ringing if for flight updates. You were left on hold for ages and still obtained no information. For me my 2 sisters proved saints. I text them and they managed to book me and hubby 2 nights in a hotel. I asked them for 2 nights assuming that this amount of time would be close to the delayed time it would take to fly back to the UK. We had to pay for the hotel and the taxi to it. I then found out that if you sought the assistance of RCL they would offer a FOC shuttle bus to a named hotel but they only started offering this facility the day before we were due to disembark and by this time we had already reserved our hotel. RCL was sailing on a repositioning cruise from Dubai to Barcelona. Hardly any new passengers were joining the ship yet they still dumped all the existing passengers. They preferred to leave us all with no flight and no accommodation and sail to Barcelona best part empty. Words fail me especially bearing in mind that today on the news we hear that a new cruise ship sailed from England to Spain with the sole intention of collecting stranded passengers. We had already paid for our cruise and RCL couldn't have cared less. I sailed to the Baltics 3 years ago with RCL and was satisfied with them, the service and the food. How things change. As I previously said everything came down to money, the service was OK but the food poor. The Windjammer food was cooked at least a couple of hours in advance and by the time we ate it, it was fit for the bin. Seating in here was also insufficient. The Minstrels dining room menu was poor. For the last 3 days I hardly ate anything. The choice was dreadful. On the last night I walked out in disgust. What with the dumping of us planned for the following day and then rubbish food it was too much. The entertainment in the theatre was satisfactory but dated. Nothing has changed from all the previous cruises we had done over the years. I must give the Beatles Tribute Band an award as they were absolutely outstanding. Went to see them at the first show and returned for the second show. Got off the ship on the day of disembarkation and transferred to the hotel to accumulate my maxed out credit card. Thankfully I did have a credit card though as people both old and young were put off the ship with no card and no money. Overall I was very disappointed with the attitude and service offered by RCL. When to see Emirates in the Town Centre Mall who gave us a return flight date of 6 May. It's dire. How on earth could we afford to stay in the hotel for this amount of time, buy food, arrange clean laundry and survive? While it is easy for people to say we should think ourselves lucky to have been stuck in Dubai, they are really missing the point. The whole holiday was spoilt and not just by the volcanic activity, by the attitude of Royal Caribbean not assisting us. We both needed to get back to the UK as soon as possible. We had not catered for 2 weeks and had commitments back in the UK and I also had a sick mother. On Tuesday we went to the Mall of the Emirates (my favourite mall) and visited DNATA. They were helpful and through them we started to agree our route home. The following day we moved out of the hotel because of the cost and went to the airport to start our way home. We slept fitfully at the airport during the night and at 5.55am left Dubai airport for Doha. Then caught the connecting flight to Tunis with Qatar Airways. A very satisfactory service and I would say an improvement on Emirates. Arrived in Tunis and dashed to any of the ticket desks that would provide us with a flight over the sea to Europe. Nothing available at most of them. Went to check at Tunisair who were flying to Paris at 14.55 and were put on standby. Was asked to return in one hour to see if seats were available. Returned in 40 minutes and were told the flight was full. Felt like crying after the length of journey we had already made and the thought that we may be stuck here for another 3 days for the next flight to Madrid. Went to enquire at the business class desk and inbetween the language barrier problems we found out that they had 2 seats left in economy. Hubby checked in the bags while I ran over to the ticket desk to pay for them at which point the system went down. Explained the urgency of the matter (only 20 minutes now until anticipated flying time) and the person at the next desk assisted. Dashed round to pay the cashier (it's not all done at the same desk), grabbed hubby and ran from one end of the airport to the boarding gate. Caught the plane with minutes to spare. Although hubby and I were not sitting together at least we were on the flight and as hubby said to me when we got off 'that plane wouldn't pass an MOT'. I had to agree. Arrived in Paris and paid the extortionate rate of 245 euros each for Eurostar to London arriving at St Pancreas Station. Again was tight on time and almost missed it. Arrived in London, caught a taxi to Victoria Coach Station to transfer back to Birmingham and the bus had left 10 minutes early. How ironic that we had got from Dubai to London just managing to catch all connections only to find National Express had left early. Waited an hour for the next one and arrived at Digbeth Coach Station at 3.30am absolutely shattered. Arranged for a taxi to home and arrived here safely at 4.10am. We consider that we didn't go on holiday. We had 2 weeks of stress and a cruise ship that was sub-standard. Now we are in the process of going through all invoices and receipts with a view to trying to reimburse ourselves an estimated £3k that we did not allow for. The outcome of all this is...............I'm never going on holiday again!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We have just returned (last night) from a cruise to Dubai,Oman,Fujariah,Abu Dhabi and Bahrain on the Brilliance of the Seas. This is our first cruise with RCCL and the first time we have visit the Middle East other than has a transit ... Read More
We have just returned (last night) from a cruise to Dubai,Oman,Fujariah,Abu Dhabi and Bahrain on the Brilliance of the Seas. This is our first cruise with RCCL and the first time we have visit the Middle East other than has a transit passenger. After reading the other reviews on this cruise we were a bit sceptical. We had relatively good flight from Manchester with Emirates and arrived in Dubai around 8am after a delay of 1 hour. The trip to the holding centre was fairly short, but being extremely tired, having been up 24hours this was the last thing we wanted. They don't tell you when you book that you don't go straight to the ship you get a letter a few weeks before departure with the option to book a city tour instead, but don't be fooled we were under the impression that you went on the city tour instead of going to the holding centre, but you don't you go to the holding centre until about 10.30 and then go on the tour.Drinks and a light continental breakfast were provided however we had to sit around a table on dinning room chairs for about 3 hrs, we really could have done without this. You are given a coloured card and when your colour is called you then have to board another coach which takes you to the ship. The cabins are not available until after 1pm so another couple of hours in the red hot sunshine in the clothes you left home in. We were quite lucky has when we went to our cabin our suitcases had already arrived but some passengers did not receive theirs until 6pm. We quickly got washed and changed and took a trip from the port on the big bus(the same open top buses you see in London and other cities)cost approx £45 each. The bus takes you around the city and beach area. You can buy a dual ticket for Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It is well worth the money as you get to see all the main sites and you can hop on and off at any of the stops along the way. We booked a balcony cabin just for the 2 of us, the cabin was nice and the bed was very spacious which is more than can be said for the balcony, we were a little disappointed with the balcony, just enough room for 2 chairs and a little round table. The bathroom was fine but when you got in the shower you had your own little pool in the bathroom, the shower curtains are not long enough and do not sit in the tray and water goes everywhere. You cannot look in the wardrobe if someone wants to go in the bathroom because the doors have to be opened alternatively. The ship was very nice and extremely child friendly (shame that we had packed the kids off to Cyprus with their Grandma). There was a bit of trouble trying to find a bar inside that opened during the day as most remained closed ( not that you can afford to drink onboard - pint of lager £6 small glass of house wine £6.50, cheapest bottle of wine cost around £25.00 with gratuities ,same bottles that Asda sell 3 for £10! If you ordered a short you did get a good measure though! A 750ml bottle of water cost £3.10, piece of advice whilst in Dubai go to the cafe in the cruise terminal you can buy 2 x 500ml of water and can of pop for less than £3. The drinks, even soft drinks are expensive onboard they say its because they have to have it imported from Jordan and the government charges 16% tax, but how can they justify water and soft drinks being so expensive when they are readily available. The excursions are also very expensive we only did the wild adventure in Bahrain because we wanted to go to the Formula One circuit, it was a 4 1/2hr trip and cost $125/£85 each, most trips were around the same price.The wildlife park was a waste of time but the Circuit was excellent. Dubai,Abu Dhabi and Bahrain are very much alike tall buildings,lots of building work going on but well worth the visit, Fujairah and Oman, not much to see other than forts and mosques. At all of the ports you cannot get off the ship and wander around the port (like you can in the Caribbean) has they are all ports for cargo you have to get a shuttle to the port gates and then taxi's or book excursions through explorations onboard. We only ate once in the main Restaurant as we booked for the late sitting and it was too late most nights (8.30pm) and when you get someone on your table that takes 2 hours to eat a meal your night is almost over and done with by the time you have finished, but it was our choice to eat in the Windjammer self service, the food was very nice I can honestly say that I didn't put anything on my plate that I didn't like, however it could have done to be a bit warmer and I do wish that they could make an alternative warm dessert to Bread pudding it was the only warm dessert for 6 out of the 7 days although it is one of my favourite desserts and it was excellent there is only so much you can take. We didn't manage to make any of the shows but I heard they were quite good. They told us that the average age onboard was 43 it's a pity that the rest of the entertainment wasn't aimed at this age. If you like piano and Violin music and a guy that can't sing then your made up. We really did enjoy the holiday, but after all the hype we got over Royal Caribbean I still think P&O offer the better service and the little extras like information about the ship in your cabin instead of having to queue at Guest relations for an hour, being able to make your own tea and coffee at meal times, having coffee in your cabin instead of just tea and the little bathroom accessories.P & O also offer self service washing machines and tumble dryers all you pay for is the washing powder this is not an option on RCCL but they had an 'offer' on a small bag of small items such as underwear which would come back washed and folded for just $25/£17. The mix of nationalities onboard was nice there were people from all over the world both as guests and staff. 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 are a family of 6 - Grandma (who celebrated her 80th on the 7th), twin girls (who will be 21 on the 22nd), our 16 year old son and us. We flew out on Sunday 4th April in the evening which got us into Dubai at 8am. I had read about the ... Read More
We are a family of 6 - Grandma (who celebrated her 80th on the 7th), twin girls (who will be 21 on the 22nd), our 16 year old son and us. We flew out on Sunday 4th April in the evening which got us into Dubai at 8am. I had read about the staging process so decided to do a bit of sightseeing before getting to the ship in the early afternoon. I arranged for a car & driver to meet us at the airport. I would highly recommend the company we used which I found on the Internet. It was mystiqueluxury if you google them. They were extremely responsive when dealing with them on-line and their service didn't falter when we arrived. We booked a 3-4 hour tour for 560AED in a GMC Yukon which was large enough for all of us and our luggage. Our driver Mark was extremely personable and his manager Shehan took the time to check that we were happy. So much so, we also used them in the afternoon when we arrived back in Dubai. This time they booked us to go up the Burj Kahlifa (so we didn't need to pay the exorbitant on the day prices) and a tour of the "Old Town". On arrival at the docks, we were processed quickly and our bags arrived in our staterooms shortly after we had lunch. In Muscat we booked to go on the "Mystical Oman" tour as the cost of doing it on our own was more expensive than the ships tour. It was very good. In Fujairah we decided to take the shuttle into town ($10 return) which was a mistake. They took us to a shopping centre where we were hounded by taxi's - had a coffee and then returned to the ship. In hindsight, mystiqueluxury did offer to send Mark over to dive us around. His charge for this would have been 700AED - which isn't bad if there are 6 of you. In Abu Dhabi I booked another car and driver using face-book (now that's a first for me!). The company was called Connection Chauffeur. Again, google should be able to find them. This cost us $84 for 3 hours which we increased to 4 hours during the tour. Ahmed was our driver - really nice guy and did us proud. We didn't book anything in Bahrain - and left it too late when we decided we should! That said, we decided to try our luck with the taxi's.. we agreed a price of 70BHD for a 4 hour tour. He wanted 80 - we wanted to pay 60 so we met midway. Our driver this time was Jeff (or Jafer). What a lovely guy - we had a great morning with him. His taxi number I think is is 2457. So, those were our tours now back to the ship. Cabin (stateroom). My wife and I had a double, Grandma on her own down the corridor and our 3 children next door. I would say the cabin size was adequate - no more than that. Our stateroom attendant (Carlos) took care of us and didn't complain about the mess our offspring made! Food. We were on the 2nd sitting with "My Time Dining". We were all impressed with the quality of the food and service from our waiters (Yusof & Ediz) was impeccable. It would however have been nice to have been on a larger table to socialise. We had breakfast in the main restaurant and lunched at the Windjammer. The choice at the latter was very good and breakfast was breakfast. Bars. I guess it is down to the strong dollar but I thought their prices were on the high side. Service was sometimes slow but this isn't a complaint. Entertainment. We all enjoyed the shows but I know this a a personal opinion. It was great to hear live music in each of the bars. We didn't use the disco. Pool. Too crowded and very difficult to get sunbeds as many were "reserved". RCI need to police this better. People would place towels on beds from 7am onwards which isn't good for those who abide by these rules. Summary. We all had a fantastic holiday and would like to cruise again. Things I would check before we do this again are- drink prices (or all inclusive option), cabin size, availability of guest speakers, size of ship (think I'd prefer something smaller). Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We had already been on the Serenade of the Seas for a week up to Alaska in 2009 and knew that the Brilliance of the Seas is a sister ship. We had liked the Serenade and so were looking forward to a similar experience on the Brilliance. ... Read More
We had already been on the Serenade of the Seas for a week up to Alaska in 2009 and knew that the Brilliance of the Seas is a sister ship. We had liked the Serenade and so were looking forward to a similar experience on the Brilliance. We have family living in Dubai so it was a perfect opportunity to stay with them for a few days before joining the ship. Se we arranged our own flights to and from the UK and booked a cruise only. We booked a cabin on Deck 7 and were a bit apprehensive about the "obstructed view" aspect but in fact when we got to the cabin this was no problem whatsoever. Check in at the pier was a dream - 25 minutes from start to finish and when staff saw that we were returning guests we seemed to be given an extra friendly welcome. Whilst at the pier we signed up for a 7 bottle wine package. We found our cabin very easily. It was quite small - OK for a week but you would not want to be there for more. However, there was plenty of storage shelves and drawers. Comfy bed with 2 huge pillows each. Small shower room serviced twice daily. Our room attendant was Romeo and he serviced the cabin well enough. There was a kettle in the room but all you could have was tea - no coffee is supplied (we enquired at reception). How bizarre and mean is this??? They even supply cream (for the coffee which you can't have!!!). The hot water supply varied and twice when I got up in the middle of the night there was no hot water at all. Whilst waiting for our cases, we went on a tour of the ship. Of course, we soon remembered the layout from having been on the Serenade. However, they had dispensed with the large lounge/bar at the front of the ship and this is now a gym/fitness centre. Overall we thought the decor a bit tired - the whole place needed brightening up. Cases arrived in due course and we unpacked in plenty of time to get showered for dinner. I was really impressed with the compulsory lifeboat drill as you had to give your cabin number to the crew member so they could check that everyone was complying with the drill requirement. This does not happen on a lot of ships we have been on. We had chosen My Time Dining. This worked perfectly and we only had to wait once for a table. We don't like having dinner at 6pm and certainly not second sitting where you are not getting anything to eat until at least 9pm. We found the food in the main restaurant OK with plenty of choice. Service was good and they keep your bottle of wine in store for another night it you have not finished it. We had breakfast in the Windjammer. This place could do with some attention. Firstly there were flies buzzing around in some parts of the restaurant and there always seemed to be a stale smell of food/cooking. Second there are no trays so people have to keep walking backwards and forwards between their table and the service counters. In my opinion this created a clutter of bodies!! The fresh fruit was very good but overall we did not think that the food was as good in this restaurant as in the equivalent restaurant on the P&O Azura. This was especially true in the middle of the afternoon. The afternoon tea spread on the Azura was great - on the Brilliance it was poor - especially the cakes which tasted like cardboard and had plastic - type cream. We never ate here for dinner. Full marks though for the coffees. In fact we liked the fact that you could get coffee, tea and water on tap 24 hours a day for no extra charge. This is good. We ate once in the Portofino and once in Chops Grille. Both meals were excellent - lovely food, excellent service and a nice ambience. OK you pay something extra but we thought this was worth the money. Being Crown and Anchor members we were invited to a function where the Captain addressed us all. This was a big occasion and included canapes and free drinks. We were very impressed with this. The ports of call were Fujairah, Muscat and Abu Dhabi before arriving back at Dubai for a full day in port. Our family had queried why we were going to Fujairah as it is just a commercial port. Well it soon became obvious - we went there to take on fuel for the ship. The place was a dump. Muscat in Oman on the other hand was lovely and we had 2 full days there although one would have been enough. We did an interesting half day walking tour arranged by the ship. Abu Dhabi is a commercial city and really the only thing worth seeing is the Grand Mosque - and this really is worth a visit. We did not get off the ship on its full day in Dubai as we have been there several time and decided to "chill out" on the ship instead. The weather throughout the cruise was variable with lots of haze (not unusual in this part of the world at this time of the year) and it was also quite cool in Abu Dhabi. I would not choose to do this cruise earlier in the year than our date as this weather can be very cool. And now for the things we did not like: 1. The price of drinks on this ship are OUTRAGEOUS. £5 for a pint of beer and £65 for 2 bottles of average wine which we bought in one of the bars and took to our cabin. Of course, all drinks prices have 15% added for service. This is well over the top. For example the service we had for the 2 bottles of wine was the waiter fetching them from the store and handing them to us. We weren't the only people commenting unfavourably on the price of drinks. As a result a lot of the bars were almost empty. This was never the situation on P&O Azura as the price of the drinks was reasonable and no 15% added. On that ship, the bars were very busy. RCI should understand that on this cruise they are catering for the British and Europeans, not Americans and we will not pay over the odds for stuff. If RCI lowered the prices, they would actually sell more drinks! 2. RCI offered a taxi service from the ship to the airport on disembarkation day. Cost?? US$35 PER PERSON!!!! We did the trip by taxi for 65 Dirhams (about £11.50) for the 2 of us and our luggage. This was roughly a quarter of the price RCI were charging. What a rip off by RCI. 3. We had a dispute about 2 items on our bill. Fortunately we check our account on a regular basis and these 2 items occured on the first day of the trip. It then took us 4 DAYS to resolve the problem and to have them removed from our account. This involved us going down to guest relations on each day. No one was interested in helping us and the guest relations staff were next to useless until the last day when we really kicked off and one of their staff actually got the dispute resolved. As he said, we were on vacation and don't need the aggravation. How true but basically it was down to us to run around to bars and speak to managers. What sort of customer service is that? 4. A minor irritation - RCI have withdrawn the daily news bulletin available to guests. So, from the above you will gather that some aspects of the cruise were very good, some appalling and some inbetween. Would we go on RCI again? Very doubtful and not on this ship unless it has had a make-over and freshened up. Read Less
Sail Date February 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 had cruised on the Brilliance before so we more or less knew what to expect onboard. We have also sailed on the Navigator and Freedom class ships before, but feel that the Radiance class ships are the most elegant of all. We ... Read More
We had cruised on the Brilliance before so we more or less knew what to expect onboard. We have also sailed on the Navigator and Freedom class ships before, but feel that the Radiance class ships are the most elegant of all. We chose this particular cruise because we wanted to see this part of the world but, on the other hand, we did not want Dubai to be our only destination, and this cruise offered a bird's eye look of several destinations. We did not leave the ship in Fujairah, as we had read that this particular port had nothing interesting to offer. In Muscat we found a local travel agent, www.mark-oman.com, and booked a half day tour through them. We highly recommend them, as they offer a half day tour in a private car for small groups of four people, at a price almost half than the price offered for the same tour onboard. The ship spends two days in Muscat, one has the opportunity to see a lot in this beautiful city of Oman. Abu Dabi looks like a very modern European city located in the middle east, only much cleaner and quite beautiful. If one is interested in shopping, the Marina Mall is the best place to go. The last two days spent in Dubai were he highlight of the cruise. We booked a half day city tour onboard and then spent the rest of time sightseeing and shopping. If one is interested in spending more days in Dubai, we recommend the Al Manzil hotel, a 4 star hotel with 5 star specifications, very conveniently located next to the Dubai Mall (one of the largest worldwide) as well as the Fountains, where one can watch a spectacular water show every evening starting at 6 p.m. The ship: Boarding was swift and we were onboard within 15 minutes. Leaving the ship was just as well organised. We had an outside cabin with balcony on the 9th floor. As usual, the cabin was always immaculately clean, our cabin attendant was very helpful and there was ample storing space. Entairtainment: We were rather disappointed from the shows in the theatre. They were very poor and unimaginative, compared to previous cruises with Royal Caribbean. The cruise director was a disappointment too, we saw little of him and he could have done a much better job in making the ship look more lively. Food: Royal Caribbean seems to have downgraded the food quality. Gone are the days when lobsters were served in the restaurant. Other than that, the various dishes were tasty and there was a reasonable variety of choices. Compared to my previous cruises we would rate this particular cruise with an 8 on a scale of 10. We have sailed with NCL and Celebrity in the past, but we find that Royal Caribbean will be our first choice in our next cruise. In this very competitive business of cruising, they offer a fair exchange on money paid to services offered and they know how to deal with problems onboard. For example, one of our suitcases was lost while leaving the ship (what a big problem this may be for a traveler), but it was found and sent to us to the airport, by a private car, withing half an hour, in time before we boarded the plane. Will we sail with Royal Caribbean again ? Of course we will, it will always be our first choice. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
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