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939 Royal Caribbean Transatlantic Cruise Reviews

JEWEL OF THE SEAS Transatlantic Cruise Harwich, England to Boston, Mass. Sept. 1st, 2004 By Mary & Vincent Finelli For us the most exciting trip is the transatlantic crossing on a new ship; of course, the draw back is that in order ... Read More
JEWEL OF THE SEAS Transatlantic Cruise Harwich, England to Boston, Mass. Sept. 1st, 2004 By Mary & Vincent Finelli For us the most exciting trip is the transatlantic crossing on a new ship; of course, the draw back is that in order to do this we must first fly to Europe, since currently most cruise ships are built in Finland, Italy, France and Germany. And the Jewel of the Seas was built in Germany. Consequently, we flew to London, England from Miami, Florida, on August 29th and spent two days in this splendid city. We had been there before, so no herd like tours for us this time. We stayed at the City Inn Westminster and spent a good part of our time at Westminster Abbey, where we even observed Matins. On September 1st, Royal Caribbean International (RCI) transferred us by bus to Harwich, England (home of the Pilgrims' "Mayflower" ship). Harwich harbor has had extensive growth recently, but the best thing about departing from Harwich is the Bagpipe band which plays as the ship sails away. This is an exceedingly touching moment as the passengers realize that they are headed for the ship's maiden transatlantic voyage. The band is elegantly dressed in full Scottish apparel, kilts and all. EMBARKATION The bus deposited us and our baggage just twenty feet from the port door. Excellent! There was wheelchair assistance from the entrance. We were grateful, because there is no elevator and the ramp leading to the ship has an unusually steep incline. The Crown & Anchor Society has priority check-in for its Diamond and Platinum Members. It also greets all passengers with freshly baked cookies and lemonade. All this welcome was nice after the two hour long ride from London through the quaint English country side. Between check-in and boarding, we were in our cabin in less than thirty minutes. SHIP When RCI conceived of the Radiance Class of ships, it truly designed a modern, classically shaped liner with yacht like overtones: 90,090 gross tonnage, GTV (Gas Turbine Vessel). The first of this class was the Radiance of the Seas (2001), followed by the Brilliance of the Seas (2002), the Serenade of the Seas (2003) and finally the Jewel of the Seas (2004), which concludes this class of ships. All were built at the Meyer Werft Yard, Papenburg, Germany. Last year, RCI also concluded the building of the larger Voyager class ships, five in all (Voyager, Explorer, Adventure, Navigator and Mariner of the Seas), and recently it has announced the construction of two Ultra Voyager class, soon to be the largest cruise ships in the world. The Jewel is 902 ft. long, 106 ft. wide (Panamax). It has a 28 ft. draft and cruises at 24 knots. There are three acres of glass windows, giving passengers continuous views of the seas. There are nine elevators and twelve passenger decks with a maximum passenger capacity of 2,501. This trip the ship was full to capacity with passengers of all ages, from infants to elderly, and a crew of 859. The total number of staterooms is 1055: 817 are ocean view of which 577 have balcony; 238 are interior. There are 19 wheelchair accessible cabins distributed in various categories. All cabins have interactive TV, telephone, hairdryer, computer jack, refrigerator and 110/220 volts electrical outlets. We were happy to sail again with Captain James, Chief Purser Francois and Maitre D' Orlando. We felt like we had returned home. The first night we saw a gorgeous sunset while dining, with the sun, a huge red ball, slowly setting in the west over the sea. Then, at 9:30pm from our balcony, we watched the full moon rise, changing colors from orange, to gold, to white by ten o'clock. The air was so clear the craters of the moon were evident. In other reviews, we have described the Jewel's sister ships in detail and we refer you to our prior reviews for details. But each ship has a specific identity which arises from her unique art work. Many pieces are in the forward and Centrum staircases. Even though we extensively use the elevators, we manage to visit the ship's staircases, where we can view the interesting art work. Deck 2 has some ocean view and interior staterooms, but mostly non public areas. Look for interesting art pieces in the forward stairs between decks 2 and 3, such as David Stuart Forbes' unique "Luggage of Babel Part I" a work in neon, wood, metal, leather and paper. In the Centrum stairs between deck 2 and 3 are Pascale Riberolles' blown glass vases "Automne - Clairette" and Paul Cox' photo collage "Tafelberg/Curacao." Deck 3 has all ocean view and interior staterooms. In the Centrum staircase between deck 3 and 4 are Lippa Dalen's earthenware "Vase" and Ramon Enrich's acrylic painting "Paysage." Deck 4 forward has the first level of the Coral Theatre, midship are staterooms and toward aft is the Centrum, with the Guest Relations Desk and Explorations Desk. This Centrum is beautiful with a marble dance floor, bar and an eight deck tall atrium with balconies on each deck. There is a water fall and orchids plus a stunning sculpture by Nico Widerberg (Norway) entitled "Northern Lights" made of aluminum, stainless steel and crystal. This sculpture is lighted by an intricate system creating an awesome effect recalling the Aurora Borealis. Here also is the portrait of the Jewel's Godmother: Kathy Mellor, the U.S. Teacher of the Year 2004. In the forward staircase between deck 4 and 5 is Miguel Chevalier's holographic film "Flow" and in the Centrum staircase is Birgit Ten Berge's oil painting "Landscapes" Aft is the Tides Dining Room, whose entrance is magnificent. There are silk draped columns, stretching all the way aft to Mouls' Mosaic of Byzantine glass, brass and copper titled the "Full Moon Swing." The colors of the dancers' clothing are emerald, amethyst, ruby and tourmaline: tones reflected by the Ship's name (RCI "Art, The Collection," 2004). Prominent in this mosaic is the full moon. With artwork like this, the dining room is simple, but dramatic and tasteful. Deck 5 & 6 are all public areas: Deck 5 forward is the main level of the Coral Theatre. Its beautiful curtain ("Reef Rhapsody") has an ocean theme evoking images of sea fans and schools of fish. Midship on Deck 5 is the conference Center, Photo Art Gallery, the shops (logo items, jewelry, perfume etc.) and the Centrum with the "Latte-tudes" coffee shop. Toward aft is the Tides Dining Room Balcony with its wine cellar walls. In the corridors leading to the dining room there are some colorful glass panel scenes. Deck 6 forward is the Coral Theatre Balcony, where we sat at the back for shows. There is an excellent view of the stage from every seat. There is a Cinema featuring the latest movies. Toward midship is the Pit Stop Sports Bar and the Casino Royale. The Champagne Bar is located near the Centrum. Toward aft is the Schooner Bar and as usual some of the most interesting art work can be found here. The model of the "Soliel Royal" (Louis XIV, the Sun King) Flagship of the French Fleet launched in 1690, is exquisite in detail. Ebbing's ceramic statue "Beatrice" is amusing with its upturned nose. The corridor to the Schooner Bar holds a wooden boat with a steering wheel which fascinates children. The entrances to Portofino and Chops Grille are here and toward aft is the Safari Club, and the Game Reserve with self leveling gyro pool tables. All the way aft is the Congo Bar. Sinclair's "Pair of Giraffes" done in painted resin and Couts' oil paintings "Cheetah" and "Zebras" are found here. Decks 7, 8, 9 & 10 are all staterooms with the exception of the Bridge located forward on 10 and the Library on deck 9 and the Concierge Club on deck 10, located near the elevators. Art work in the forward staircase, between deck 8 and 9, includes Spaans' photographs of light sculptures "Three Dancers, Blue Corner, Yellow Door" and, between deck 10 and 11, Van Munster's neon "Brainwave" and "Moi." In the Centrum staircase there are interesting photographs: Deck 6 - 7, Ellen Kooi's "Velserbroek - The Bridge" and deck 8 - 9, Jorma Puranen's "Language is a Foreign Country 1-3." Decks 11, 12 & 13 are public areas. Deck 11 forward is the Ship Shape Spa and the Solarium, Vincent's favorite area. There is a whirlpool and a lap pool. The Burmese and Thai influence here is nice and includes the following: an antique Burmese Bell, a Temple gate flanked by two Golden Elephants and Manley's "Reclining Tiger" in bronze. Midship is the outdoor pool area and aft the Windjammer buffet with casual dining. Deck 12 forward is the ShipShape Center, Gym, the jogging track, and the Crown & Anchor Society Lounge. From midship to aft are located Adventure Ocean (arcade), the Teen Pool, Sports Court with its comical Kinloch Bronze "Catch," a stout man in a bathing suit trying to get up a beach ball game. There is also the Seaview Cafe: an excellent place for lunch -- onion rings, Cuban sandwiches, fish and chips, soups and salads -- desserts too. Deck 13 forward has the Viking Crown Lounge, with its 180 degrees view of the sea, and Hollywood Odyssey (intimate night spot) plus a putting green, mini golf course and the Rock Climbing Wall. CABIN Stateroom #7114 is one of nineteen wheelchair accessible staterooms w/ automatic door openers. When entering on the left, there is a double armoire, with a set of shelves, private safe, and a large closet. Next there is a desk/vanity with lighted mirror, T.V. and refrigerator. There are two plush blue arm chairs and a large coffee table. A glass wall faces to the verandah with sheer drapes and heavy brocade blackout drapes. We found these useful, since the passengers in the cabin next door left their balcony lights on all night. Our balcony had a large table for dining or playing cards etc., two chairs and a chaise. Very nice. When entering on the right was the huge bathroom, with a 4'X4' shower, sink, medicine cabinet and plenty of safety rails all around, and eight hooks for hanging robes and clothes. There was also a chest of drawers, a king size bed, two night stands and reading lamps -- very comfortable. Our cabin attendant Glenford O'Garro was the best! He kept everything spotless and was so cordial. Thanks Glenford. FOOD & SERVICE Hotel Director Nibu runs a tight ship. He has high expectations for the crew and we feel that they are met. Anything that we needed was promptly and pleasantly provided. On a new ship, it is difficult to have all things come together so quickly, but Nibu managed it well. The Tides Dining Room and all of the many food venues are in the capable hands of Maitre D' Orlando. If a preference is just stated, his subordinates are on it and they relay it to the waiters (or vice versa). Their motto is "please the passengers." Mary asked for lemon wedges on the first night and they were on our table every night thereafter. Our waitress Anabelle and her assistant Daniel were both very efficient and pleasant. We have done enough cruises to realize that when passengers are tardy to dinner it can disrupt the pace. Meals are usually served course by course to insure freshness and proper temperature. We are always amazed when passengers stroll into the dining room fifteen to forty five minutes late. The servers work in conjunction with the galley (course by course), which may be serving more than a 1,000 meals for each seating. Fifty years ago, when we first began traveling by ship, the dining room doors were closed fifteen minutes after the stated dinner time. People are not so punctual nowadays, but courtesy is always in vogue. We used Room Service on a daily basis. Full American breakfast every morning was hot and and inviting. One night we had dinner with soup, salad, Filet Mignon and cheesecake for dessert, all served in our room elegantly. We also dined with our friend the Captain, where an excellent meal was over seen by Maitre D' Orlando. Mary, seated beside the Captain's father, had a lively conversation with this very erudite gentleman. We were also treated to an exceptional luncheon by the Group Coordinator Elmer in the Tides balcony with its wine display cabinetry. ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Jill is part of the "Take Out Team," which brings on line the new ships, thus placing RCI's stamp on every ship -- from the Concierge to the Chef. This system provides uniformity of service throughout the fleet. The RCI singers and dancers were on their final cruise and really went out with a lot of energy. We felt that by far the best production show was Tango Buenos Aires, a revue built around tango stars Ruben and Sabrina direct from Argentina. Having seen the Argentinean tango champions in Buenos Aires over two years ago, we were thrilled to see this sinuous duo. Their routine with the boles was superb. John Christie was also in fine form once again. We missed the Celtic Tenors, but were assured that they brought the house down. Music in the Centrum featured "Deja Voo" by Theo and Zlati (Bulgaria), his "Jail house Rock" and her "More" were something. The Rosario Strings played each evening before dinner and their Bass player also sang some great renditions of Johnny Mathis hits. In the Schooner Bar, Barry from Boston entertained with Broadway show tunes. There were "Olympic Games" at the pool, Horse Races, Guest Talent Shows, "Dead Again" an interactive murder mystery, "The Quest" an adult scavenger hunt, plus the usual Bingo and Slots Tournaments. After all, five sea days are a challenge for the Cruise Director, and she was up to it. Then there was also the sea itself which treated the passengers to many beautiful sunrises and sunsets. There were dolphins frolicking in the Atlantic at dinner time. There were terns, gulls, birds and spouting whales. Then, there were the many faces of the ocean itself: calm and serene, active with swells, glistening in the sun or even shrouded in fog with the ship's fog horn sounding. Don't forget the game of figuring the ship's course. Just after leaving Cork, Ireland, Vincent was convinced that the ship was going east instead of westerly. He was puzzled until the next morning, when the Captain announced the ship had returned toward Ireland to debark a lady with acute appendicitis, foregoing the usage of a helicopter due to a thick foggy night and transferring the patient to a boat which met the ship half way. Later the Captain reassured passengers that she had been operated on and was recovering well. PORTS OF CALL Naturally on a transatlantic cruise there are five restful sea days. However, this cruise started off with exciting European cities: London, Harwich and Plymouth, England; Le Havre, France; and Cork, Ireland. Then of course across the pond there is Portland, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts. We enjoyed this itinerary and found the approach to Plymouth lovely, while Cork whet our appetite for a return to Ireland. Sept. 1, Harwich, England Depart: 5:30pm We sailed into the sunset accompanied by the Bagpipes playing traditional tunes. Sept. 2, Le Harve, France Arrive: 7:00am Depart: 10:00pm LHA Tour: Paris sightseeing with Lunch cruise on the Seine, 11 hrs., $189. This is well worth it since it tours the Normandy countryside, the major sights of Paris and serves a gourmet meal on the river. There are three other tours of similar length and price to the Beaches of Normandy, Mont St. Michel and the Alabaster Coast. Sept. 3, Plymouth, England Arrive: 9:00am Depart: 5:00pm Tendering to the port is necessary. This was the last stop for the Mayflower prior to sailing for the New World. PYG Tour: Leisurely drive & Devonshire Cream Tea, 3.5 hrs., $56. Admiring the Devonshire moors covered with heather and drinking cream tea make an unbeatable combination. Sept. 4, Ringaskiddy, Ireland Arrive: 7:00am Depart: 5:30pm Ringaskiddy is the port for Cobh and Cork. CKB Tour: Scenic Drive & Blarney Village, 3.5 hrs., $40. This took us through the countryside to the Woolen Mills; with hindsight perhaps the CKA Tour of Blarney Castle and Panoramic Cork would have been a better one, because to get so close to the castle, one might as well see it up close and personal, rather than just from afar. We didn't take the CKA tour because of the warnings describing the presence of stairs. Sometimes we find these tour warnings are a bit exaggerated. There are also excursions to the Killarney Lake region and the Waterford crystal factory. Sept. 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9, At Sea. Sept. 10, Portland, Maine Arrive: 8:00am Depart: 5:00pm There are an abundance of city tours and several tours for the sports minded: kayaking and lobster fishing. PWA Tour: Portland highlights & lighthouse, 2 hrs., $29. This not only tours Portland, but also does the rocky coastline. Sept. 11, Boston, Massachusetts Arrive: 8:30am Depart 5:00pm There are two highlights of Boston City tours by bus BXA, 1.5 hrs., $45 which ends at Logan Airport and BXA, 2.5 hrs., $45 ending at the Sheraton Boston or at the Hyatt Harbor Side Hotel. However, if there is time, the better part of the day, it would be nice to do the "Freedom Trail," a walking tour by the Boston Common, Paul Revere's house, the Old North church, etc.... DEBARKATION RCI has a color/number procedure with the Immigration/passport check done several days earlier on board. Boston has a simple system with a very short distance to the baggage pickup. There were an abundance of porters, taxis and busses right at the port terminal. We were met by Mary's brother Frank and his wife Regina. Just perfect timing -- we didn't wait a second and we were off to three days in Sudbury Massachusetts, Mary's home town. SUGGESTIONS Almost every day the NY Times FAX ran out, not enough copies, but there were too many copies of the German, French, Canadian and Spanish daily news sheets. Perhaps, at the end of the day a survey on the number of unused sheets and the unfilled requests of the other language papers should suggest the number of copies to be printed for the next day. CONCLUSION This was a wonderful cruise, passengers should expect a few glitches on a new ship, but this was almost perfect. We were amazed at the gentle kindness of all the crew. This always starts from the top: the Captain should be very proud of his subordinates, Francois, Nibu and Maitre D' Orlando. It was surely a pleasure to sail with them. We are looking forward this winter to booking two more cruises on RCI ships so we'll reach the number of 25 cruises for the status of Diamond Plus in the Crown & Anchor Society. In the meantime we have already booked a cruise on the new Caribbean Princess for November. Happy Cruising! 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Sail Date September 2004
Brilliance is a marvelous ship with wonderful amenities. Having sailed on her before, we knew what to expect before embarkation and were not disappointed. We specifically selected a cabin on the curve of the atrium which gave us a much ... Read More
Brilliance is a marvelous ship with wonderful amenities. Having sailed on her before, we knew what to expect before embarkation and were not disappointed. We specifically selected a cabin on the curve of the atrium which gave us a much larger balcony; one which actually accommodated a chaise lounge as well as two chairs and a small table. This cruise was a Transatlantic crossing preceded by a three-day swing to Corsica and Mallorca. The first three days saw the ship populated by Catalonians who were on a long weekend. Since we were booked for second seating we were not ready for dinner to be served at 10:00 p.m. A talk with the chief dining room steward easily transitioned us to the main seating which was at a more convenient 7:30. The final 11 days, the crossing through the Mediterranean to Lisbon and finally Miami, saw the dining hours back to the normal 8:30 second seating. Knowing of the change prior to sailing, however, would have been more convenient. The service provided by the ship's staff was impeccable. We should all be treated so well at home. From the cabin attendant to the waitress, to the assistant head waiter, to the staff at guest relations, it was all perfect. If only the staff at RCI's Miami headquarters could do half as well. Although we realize the need for cruise lines to explore additional sources of revenue in order to keep fares attractive, the incessant art auctions in the atrium area of the ship.....almost a daily occurrence.....are enough to almost ruin that area for the 98% of passengers who could care less about the auctions. The sound carries up through seven decks and is unavoidable. Better they were held in the theater or a lounge. We will be on Brilliance again in April for a jaunt down to Panama and are eagerly looking forward to another voyage on this gracious liner. Read Less
Sail Date October 2004
Check in was a dream, after 15 mins we were on board and in our cabin. US ports could learn a lot from here and should do!!!!!! The cabin was roomy with lots of space for all our clothes. Which idiot agreed to put the beds next to the ... Read More
Check in was a dream, after 15 mins we were on board and in our cabin. US ports could learn a lot from here and should do!!!!!! The cabin was roomy with lots of space for all our clothes. Which idiot agreed to put the beds next to the window and not the sofa is beyond me. That is a huge error. Celebrity's balcony cabins are far better. The bathroom was small and had the most unpleasant odour, it stank from urine. Our steward told us they had had problems and everything was repaired in Barcelona, after we shower it would be ok. In fact it got worse. The next day we went to guest services and asked somebody have a look, true to RCI nobody came. I asked to see the GS manager (Sue). I was told she was not there, I said I would wait and took a seat. 2 mins later she came out, I informed her about our problem and we were moved to another cabin and things were ok. It seems they have problems with this section, we cruised again in Jan '05 in cabin 9206 and had the same problem. The food was terrible, choices were limited, poor quality in the restaurant. Our waiter from Turkey was not that good. He served starters without sauces, our pasta dish was dry and was sent back, I could not even get a steak cooked rare, he said it was not allowed. Our bus boy was super he should have been he waiter. Every day on the menu, shrimp cocktail, parma ham & melon Caesar salad. Not served as extras but as a choice, after 11 days!!! The buffet in the Windjammer was just the same, the food choice was limited, salads were the same daily, main courses lamb, chicken, etc., were not good. The waiters from Romania and Turkey were so miserable they just walked around and did nothing. The tables were left dirty after they cleared the things away from the last guests. We had cruised on the Vision and that was much better, even the tea and coffee station has been reduced, no lemon, honey, etc., only half & half portions of milk were available. At times the entertainment was good, mostly just ok. In the end we stopped going. Arrival in Miami was early in the morning and was nice to see the skyline all lit up, the only thing that's nice about this port. Getting off the ship is a joke. The new immigration laws for non US is so bad that it will be a long time before we visit again. They take fingerprints, eye photos, etc., which is ok. However in Jan. they were taken 4 times, with more than 1 hour standing in line at the airport cruise terminal to board, again to leave the ship and again to leave the USA. Criminals are treated better. If the details were correctly stored as our passports are swiped through the machine all the info should be on the screen and not that everything has to be repeated. This they call security, to us its a nightmare. RCI has become a mass carrier with cheap prices, even cheaper quality. The customers no longer matter, all they want is to fill the ships. After our cruise in Jan again on the Brilliance (booked Jan '04) we encountered the same problems, quality, etc. IT'S BACK TO CELEBRITY FOR US. Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
My wife and I just returned from a transatlantic cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas. It is accurately named "brilliance" of the seas. The ship was absolutely beautiful and the service was second to none. We sailed from ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from a transatlantic cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas. It is accurately named "brilliance" of the seas. The ship was absolutely beautiful and the service was second to none. We sailed from Barcelona, ported at Alicante & Malaga (Spain) and Lisbon, Portugal. All three cities were interesting in their own way. Alicante offered the least to us of the three, but it was a nice place to visit. We took a guided tour (walking and bus) in Malaga and found it to be very interesting. We had an excellent tour guide and would like to have had more time there. Lisbon offered a great location to walk and shop. The streets were very inviting for visitors and the shops were welcoming to tourists, even though the language was a barrier. Returning to the ship for the next 7 days at sea, we were overwhelmed by the activities offered on board. There were more things to do than we could participate. A wide variety of activities and interests were included and all were well planned and executed. The crew members that led each activity were very friendly and interesting. The ship was nicely appointed with exquisite furnishings in the public areas. The furnishings included inlaid woods, marble, granite, beautiful artwork, tapestries, leather and other top of the line materials. Much attention had been given to detail. The self-leveling pool tables were a nice feature, especially on the days when the ship was experiencing excessive motion due to the rough seas. Even the seats in the 3 level theater were equipped with air conditioning in the seatbacks. As with previous cruises, the food was delicious. Each dish was tasty and beautifully presented. The service by our head waiter and assistant was excellent. The Seaview Cafe was a particularly quaint and pleasant place for an afternoon meal. It was somewhat remotely located and offered an ambiance found no place else on the ship. The service in our cabin was excellent. Our steward (Dotsie) was pleasant and very efficient. We would love to repeat this transatlantic cruise in the future or return to this ship for any of its cruise offerings. It was a trip to be remembered! Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
Just returned from our spring crossing to Europe onboard the beautiful Brilliance Of The Seas. We started in Miami Apr 29th for our 13 night sailing to Barcelona with stops in Funchal(Madeira), Lisbon, Malaga and Villefranche. - The ... Read More
Just returned from our spring crossing to Europe onboard the beautiful Brilliance Of The Seas. We started in Miami Apr 29th for our 13 night sailing to Barcelona with stops in Funchal(Madeira), Lisbon, Malaga and Villefranche. - The Ship: The Brilliance just got out of dry dock the day prior to sailing and looked brand new inside. Everything was clean and was being kept that way. - Embarkation: Boarding process in Miami was a breeze despite a full ship. Took only appr. 25 minutes to be on the ship 8am 12:30h noon). Good work RCCL! - Fellow Passengers: Good mixture of older an middle aged people on board (slightly older crowd than experienced on other cruises with RCCL though), almost no kids. Mostly Americans but also many Europeans, mostly British, Spanish, German and French. - Staff and Cruise Director: Staff was friendly throughout but not always too attentive when it came to assisting older or handicapped people. Improvement/training there should be considered by RCCL! Staff in the dining room at our table outstanding! Mihaela (Romania) and Diego (Uruguay) were just perfect! Overall great staff and always smiling. - Entertainment: Bill, the cruise director was a very friendly person, easy to chat to but unfortunately a little bit lame compared to others I had on previous sailings. Nice guy, but not really the best CD. However he did his best and had an open ear to every question or suggestion. Entertainment during this long cruise was rather boring and disappointing. The RCCL singers and dancers and their production shows were the worst I´ve seen so far. The dancers were actually pretty good but the singers were awful and the productions themselves very boring. Improvement please! - Food: The food overall was very good but definitely needs improvement in the Windjammer (buffet). It seemed to be the same variety every single day. The main restaurant however was good throughout the journey. Very nice menu cards with a huge selection to choose from every night. Specialty restaurants are very good but not necessarily worth the extra money. It is great and maybe worth it for a more intimate dining experience but there is no reason to go there for the food, since the food is as good and free of charge in the main dining room. - Seas and weather: Crossing the Atlantic sure is a challenge and one does not know what to expect. We left Miami in bright sunshine and had mostly great weather throughout the whole journey. The weather did get bad when we were in the middle of the Atlantic for 2 days. For a few hours we had winds up to 130mph (from the side!!) and quite high waves. It did a little damage to the ship (nothing serious though) but I was amazed how stable the ship still was. I never felt insecure or sick at any time not even if we slammed into one big wave at 4 a.m. which woke everybody up. It sure was an experience. Information from the bridge was always very good by the way. - Ports: The six sea days went by very quick. Funchal/Madeira is absolutely beautiful and worth every visit. Lisbon is great but we did not have too much time in port to see most of the city. Malaga´s old town is nice to walk through and do some shopping. Villefranche (close to Nice) is one of the most beautiful ports I´ve been to. Very charming little village (tender service) and close to Nice and Monte Carlo ( easy to reach by train). Not to be missed is a tour from there to St. Paul De Vance. Absolutely stunning! RCCL charged for every transfer (US$4.- each way!) in the first three ports. I remember it was all free on Celebrity. - Overall: Great cruise, met the nicest people, beautiful ports, very friendly staff, good food. What more can you ask for? Would I do it again? Definitely! Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
WONDERFUL SHIP AND WONDERFUL CRUISE. The ship was in perfect condition after being in dry dock for approximately one week before the Trans-Atlantic cruise began. Kudos for the following: 1. The staff was very attentive. We experienced ... Read More
WONDERFUL SHIP AND WONDERFUL CRUISE. The ship was in perfect condition after being in dry dock for approximately one week before the Trans-Atlantic cruise began. Kudos for the following: 1. The staff was very attentive. We experienced great cabin service and an attentive wait-staff. 2. There were many activities, games and contests to keep even the pickiest passengers occupied. Everything from napkin-folding type activities to dance contests with a few Black Jack tournaments thrown in. There were several dance orchestras or bands covering all types of music from rock and roll to disco to ballroom dance. 3. The food was very good with the buffet bar being a wonderful, casual alternative to the more formal dining room. 4. There were children's activities and a children's area with a water slide to keep even the most active children busy. 5. The work-out room was fantastic. It is a good size and adequately outfitted with many tread-mills, bikes, rowing machines, weights, and pretty much any type of work-out equipment you may wish to use. The spa is equipped with a steam room and a sauna. 6. The entertainment theater is a two-story, beautiful room. The seating is wonderful stadium-style seating. There are even oversized chairs that can accommodate two people. 7. The rock and roll band of Vicki and the Holding Company was wonderful. Vicki is a fantastic singer and does a fabulous job with Janis Joplin music. 8. Over all the entertainment outside of the ship's own "Broadway-Style" performers was fantastic. We especially enjoyed the music of the American Drifters, but all the entertainers were very good and very professional. The acts included violin music, piano music, juggling, comedy, and singing. Most of the entertainers engaged the audience by bringing their act into the audience and occasionally bringing passengers on stage to participate. 9. There is closed circuit TV that shows a variety of movies. The drawbacks were: 1. The ship "Broadway-Style" performers sounded out of tune and the dancing was out of sync. The first show was delayed by several days due to rough seas and a set malfunction. We really enjoy the ship's "Broadway-Style" shows, so we were disappointed that the ship's performers did not seem prepared for the sailing. 2. This was a Trans-Atlantic crossing with many consecutive days at sea, so were disappointed that the movies shown in the movie theater were relatively old movies. The one day we did attempt to view a movie, the theater was filled well before the start time. The movie theater seating is not adequate to accommodate the number of passengers on the ship, however, there are so many other activities to occupy one's time that this should not be a significant problem unless you are a movie buff that enjoys stale, old, B-class movies. There are also movies available on your cabin TV set. 3. There is no self-service laundromat on board, so be prepared to bring lots of clothes or pay a fortune for the ship's laundering service. 4. The spa is over-priced but usually runs a "special of the day". Twice I made an appointment at the spa for the "special" and both times when I arrived for my appointment I was told my treatment was not included in the "special of the day" price, and I would be required to pay more for the service. The first time I accepted the mis-booking as an error and paid the additional amount, but on the second occurrence I said I would not keep my appointment and turned to leave the spa, at which time I was told they would "honor" the special price. I'm not sure if this is a bait and switch or if the person booking my appointments was inexperienced. In either case it is annoying and I thought the spa should have done more to rectify their mistakes. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Having sailed on Royal Caribbean several times, we knew what to expect, (at least that's what we thought)! We are old time cruisers and have sailed on numerous ships of all different categories. Royal Caribbean we generally felt was ... Read More
Having sailed on Royal Caribbean several times, we knew what to expect, (at least that's what we thought)! We are old time cruisers and have sailed on numerous ships of all different categories. Royal Caribbean we generally felt was "run of the mill", but tolerable. Well, we got a rude awakening this time. Although the Brilliance of the Seas itself, is a nice looking ship, with handsome public rooms, that's about the best we can say about it. We endured 22 days of the worst food that anyone could dish out. It was tasteless, without imagination, and boring. The best description would be "institutional". Our waiter and assistant were exceptional and attempted to bring us the food the way we wanted it. Unfortunately, despite their willingness,they were up against it. We gave up eating in the main dining room as whatever they brought out was generally cold, pre-cooked, and unremarkable. Instead we chose to eat at the Windjammer buffet where we could at least eyeball what was being offered. Unfortunately, there generally was nothing that was appetizing so we usually ate something, and left very dissatisfied. Speaking of the Windjammer, we generally had breakfast there. Again, one could not have fresh orange juice, half and half and, believe it or not, coffee spoons. For some reason, coffee spoons are hidden. When we asked "why no spoons", we were told....use the wooden spoons. We also attempted to eat at the Seaview cafe, which specialized in Italian food. We noticed, however, that the pasta was pre-cooked. We asked the cook if we could have our pasta cooked to order and "al dente". In an arrogant manner we were informed that they were not allowed to cook the pasta to order. Following this, we found the manager of that particular restaurant who instructed the chef to cook the pasta as we requested. We subsequently returned there, but again, encountered a hostile environment which made it impossible to enjoy any food at this restaurant. In conclusion, Royal Caribbean has obviously decided to downgrade whatever they offered in the past. It is now geared for the mass market and if your not willing to go along with what they implies, I suggest you go elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Well, After 3 days in London and 2 days in Barcelona, we finally made it to the port for embarkation. Of course the tears started flowing on my first site of Brilliance and again as we went up the escalator to board her. This was a ... Read More
Well, After 3 days in London and 2 days in Barcelona, we finally made it to the port for embarkation. Of course the tears started flowing on my first site of Brilliance and again as we went up the escalator to board her. This was a fabulous way to start our first time to Europe. Experiencing European cultures and their people was very exciting and eye opening for me. EMBARKATION- We arrived at the port check-in building around 12:30-1:00. After giving them our checked bags outside, we proceeded to check-in. We actually entered the wrong line. When the RC representative noticed we had our set-sail passes and passports in hand, she kindly opened the rope so we could enter the correct line. After a 5 minute wait in this line, we were able to check-in and get our seapasses. 15 minutes later we were boarding this beautiful ship. They did not offer this when we sailed in Feb. to Nassau. Even though we were one of the first people to the holding area, it took a total of 1 1/2 to get seapasses and board once they started allowing the embarkation process. We truly enjoyed the new process, as it was very convenient and efficient. I would recommend that anyone able to use this process, to do so. BOARDING- Once we boarded Brilliance, we went directly to our stateroom. We were delighted when we opened the door and got our first look. None of us had ever had an oceanview room. We were surprised at how much more room there was than our previous inside stateroom. I was so much in shock, that I didn't even notice the bottle of rum with beautiful rose attached, was sitting on the vanity. I had pre-ordered this before we left for Europe. Afterwards, we went to explore our new home for the next 11 days and get a bite to eat. THE SHIP- We were amazed at Brilliance and her beautifully appointed furnishings. From the inlaid tiles everywhere, gorgeous woodwork, lighting and many sculptures throughout. Brilliance was definitely everything we expected and more. My travel companions immediately started taking pictures of everything of interest to them. My roommate/partner, especially liked the lighted glass stairs in the centrum. All of us had seen pictures of Brilliance before our cruise, but nothing could have prepared us for what we were seeing with our own eyes. Brilliance was, from what we could tell, very clean and had been upkeep to her standards from birth. The staff was friendly and professional. SAIL AWAY- Of course we had to have our muster drill. This was absolutely the funniest muster I had ever experienced. There was another ship docked directly behind us in Barcelona. The Blackwatch, started playing the theme song from Titanic on their loudspeaker 15 minutes into our muster. It was so loud, we could barely hear the announcement from the captain. Everyone, including the staff, were laughing while they tried to give us info on emergency procedures. Afterward, we went to the Starquest to order a drink and meet some of our internet friends from CC. We had planned a pre-meeting, because our Meet & Mingle was not to be held until our first sea day. My partner had made up name badges and I had made up info packets for our ports of call. We had name badges to recognize each other for our pre-meeting. I handed out my info packets to those who were there and later delivered the rest to individuals staterooms who were not. We also had extra name badges for those who could not print them out at home. Some of our new friends lived in areas in Florida ravaged by hurricanes. We found out later, some had to pack in the dark, as they still had no power. All-in-all, we made some great friends and truly enjoyed sailing with these people. All of them, enhanced our experience throughout the cruise. FOOD VENUES- Some, more experienced cruisers than I, sometimes criticize the food more than others. I have had nothing but good experiences, with all venues offered on the ships I have sailed. Main Dining- The main dining was usually very good, with good choices and excellent service. However, I did notice the variety of choices declined throughout the cruise. Some being repeated but, always some type of choice. Usually they had about 5-7 choices of appetizers, 3 salad, 4 entrees, and 3 main desserts with alternatives that were sugar free. Windjammer- I enjoyed this venue because of the variety of choices you have. Breakfast always had a wide variety of foods plus the fact of being able to get omelettes or eggs made to order. I especially enjoyed the fresh pineapple and little potato rounds they offered. The pineapple chunks were the most succulent and sweet I have ever had. The potato rounds(though only offered twice that I saw) were crunchy on the outside and had like mashed potatoes inside. I truly enjoyed both of these foods. Lunch and afternoon snacks usually had good choices too. From handmade sandwiches to hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, with stirfrys and meats/with vegetables always. All were enjoyed. Seaview Cafe- We went to the seaview cafe on the first day they were open. They had a good choice of foods from hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries to pizzas and handmade sandwiches. All were made to order and were no extra cost. You simply order when you arrive and they bring it to you after it is prepared. However, if you wanted drinks other than water, you had to purchase them from the bar in the restaurant. I just brought lemonade or tea from the windjammer with me. Also, even though not necessary, usually tipped the waiter before leaving. We ended up eating here several times throughout our cruise. The food was great! Chops- The food and service here went above and beyond our expectations. My partner and I booked Chops 2 days from the end of our cruise. We took the earliest seating they offered and were the only ones, other than a couple of ladies who were in front of us, in the restaurant. Later, at 6:30, there was a party of eight that came and were seated. We were seated next to the window which looked out over the beautiful atlantic ocean. Our waitress and her asst. catered to our every need. First they offered their wine list(which we do not drink wine) and then brought us a delicious loaf of fresh baked sourdough bread with two choices of butter. One regular and the other a blend of spicy butter with red peppers. Then we ordered our appetizers and main entree and vegetables. I ordered the portabello mushroom and my partner the crab cakes. My mushroom was great and decorated to look like a starburst with slivers of carrots shooting out from 4 sides and a piece of melba toast with feta on top. The crab cakes to were beautifully decorated in the same way. Both looked like a piece of art we did not want to destroy. We both ordered the 10 oz. filet mignon and vegetables of our choice. When they brought them out, we were surprised at the size of these cuts of meat. The vegetables were put on a platter, in separate dishes between us, for both to enjoy. We had ordered the sauteed mushrooms, fried potatoes w/sauteed onions, mashed potatoes, and onion rings. All were very good, but the mashed potatoes were the creamiest and the onion rings (though barely battered, if battered at all) the best we have ever had. After finishing this wonderful dinner, there was still dessert to go. I don't see how anyone could eat dessert after all this wonderful food. We ordered them to go. I ordered the Mississippi mud pie and he the apple pie a la mode - the a la mode. I ate the mud pie the next day. I don't know if he ever ate the pie. I was unable to finish mine. It was soooo rich, that I actually started feeling kind of sick. Like you did as a child when eating to much candy. This venue, even with its surcharge of 20 dollars, was a step above the main dining. We also left a little bit of a tip for the wait staff, for their wonderful service. As you can tell from my description of this meal, we thoroughly enjoyed it. We will definitely try this venue along with Portifino on our next sailing. It was a treat that either of us had never experienced. PORTS OF CALL: Alicante, Spain -- Even though we missed 5 hours of our port time here, due to my travel companions, we really enjoyed this port. We were under the impression our first 2 ports were not going to be that interesting. We were very surprised that we had no idea of how wonderful they were going to be. With all of their beautiful buildings, fountains, tiled walkways and buildings. The people were very friendly and welcoming to us. I'm sure they deal with this all of the time. We went to the central market here and enjoyed it a lot. Upstairs was the fresh meat section(which was nauseating after a few minutes). Downstairs, underground, was the fish market and on the other side the fruit and vegetable area. I noticed a stand with glowing type rocks in the back corner of the fruit market. I stopped my friends and we proceeded to check it out. It was a herbal remedy stand that had these salt crystal lamps for sale. I had to have one. One of my friends, more Spanish speaking, asked if they took cc's and how much they were. They did not take credit, so I ended up with the smallest one they had at 25 euros. It had a european plug, but was easily remedied when we got home. It is on and glowing as I speak. We left the market and shot many pictures of this port city. Before we returned to the shuttle bus, all of us went down to the beach and touched the Mediterranean Sea for the first time. A port that provided us a great experience and glad we didn't miss. Malaga, Spain -- Another port that we missed 5 hours of our port time. This city was also beautiful with all of its buildings and neat little parks. When we departed the shuttle, we walked across the street to investigate this city. There were horse and buggies lined up and down the street for tours. Also a park that was positioned between the opposing streets, like the Ramblas in Barcelona. There were street vendors all around the perimeter of this park at one end. I picked up some post cards at a news stand. Once we found out how to get to the Gibraltar Castle overlooking the city, we caught the tourist bus. After hearing some of the history of this city and some of its highlights, we arrived at this wonderful fortress. As I said, overlooking the city and the port docks. We took many pictures from above and were amazed at the spectacular views. After arrival to the castle, I proceeded to purchase tickets for entry. One of the women that was collecting tickets, kindly told us that after 2:00 entry was free. So, I got my money back from the machine and we left to eat our sandwiches, which we had brought with us. They had a little stand with drinks and souvenirs just outside. I bought sodas and a keychain, and we waited for the free entry which was only 10 or 15 minutes away. After touring the grounds we hopped back on the bus to the downtown area. On the way there we passed the home of the artist Picasso. It was told that he and his family lived here for 14 years before moving to Barcelona. Also where he discovered his love and passion for painting. After a couple of more stops, we got off at the cathedral(still undergoing some renovations), to return to the ship. We enjoyed this port just as much as Alicante. On our way to Lisbon we passed through the Straits of Gibraltar. My partner was amazed that we were this close to the northern coast of Africa. With Morocco on one side and Gibraltar on the other. He actually left our second seating dinner, to get some pictures of this. Lisbon, Portugal -- My cruising companions had it together by the time we docked here. Our approach into Lisbon was absolutely breathtaking. We were one of the first group of people off the ship. We took the shuttle from the port to the central square in the shopping district, Praca do Comercio. A huge square right in the center of this beautiful city. Also, right there was the Arco da Vitoria. A huge arch in front of their main shopping district. A sidewalk avenue with many street vendors and stores all along the way. The people were just as friendly and welcoming as our first 2 ports. However we also had some trying to sell us sunglasses and drugs along the way. We simply declined their offers with a no, and walked away. We ran across one of our CC friends at the square and was surprised to find he had made it quicker than we did. He had used the info provided in my packet to do so. He simply got off the ship, walked to the street and caught the appropriate tram to the square. Being this was our first time here, we did not know this could be accomplished. We definitely will keep it in mind on our next visit here. We could have saved 8 bucks a piece by doing so. May not sound like a lot but, could have been spent on souvenirs. We asked the tourist info stand where we could purchase our 1 day travel passes and were pointed in the right direction by the kind and friendly, English speaking woman there. We arrived at the Elevator Santa Justa a few blocks later, to find the ticket office below to be closed for lunch. In the meanwhile, we went into a cafe to get a soda and use their restroom. One of my friends had a cup of coffee and one of their many pastries they had. He indulged in many throughout the day. Afterwards we left and walked within the area taking pictures of everything in site. We returned to the ticket office and purchased our passes. By the way, they offer 1 day and multible day passes that cover all buses, metro, and trams. The 1 day pass was 3.40 euros for each of us. They also offer a discount shopping card(obtained at the info booth) for around 3-or 4 euros, that gave you anywhere from 5-20 percent off at any of there 200 hundred member shops. I actually wasted my money on this, as we ran out of time to do much of any shopping. We proceeded to the tram and made our way to the Castle of St. George(Sou Jorge). Unfortunately, we went way past our stop and ended up a little lost. We did have a laminated map, and also stopped in another cafe to ask for directions and use the restroom. Bet you can't guess what my friend got. LOL! Anyway we found our way to the Castle and bought our tickets for entry. This castle gave us another wonderful overview of the city. After touring this site and taking many pics we left. While waiting for the bus, my partner and I went into a hand painted tile store to find something for our sisters. I purchased a tray w/2 tiles in it for mine and one tile for his(she was watching our home and cat while we were gone). We returned to the square, to catch the appropriate tram, to go to the Tower of Belem. Unfortunately we never made it, because we got off the tram a few stops too early. We really wanted pictures of the Tower and Jeronimos. We ended up getting some pics of a beautiful park with statues throughout. On our way back to catch the tram to the square, my friend stopped for even more pastries. We started getting a little paranoid we were going to miss our shuttle back to the ship. It was 6:00 and we had to be back to the square by 7:00 for the last shuttle. We arrived at the square at 6:30 and had 30 minutes to scramble for some last minute shopping. Overall, Lisbon, was very exciting with all of their history and beautiful architecture. We definitely want to return here, because we did not get to see and do all that was planned. The information and experience of ground transport, will definitely help for our next visit. Now onto our 7 sea days to relax and unwind from all of our travels prior and during our cruise. Sea Days(7)- We truly enjoyed all of our sea days. With all of the activities and food offered, we had no choice but to enjoy. Anyone, wanting the true experience of cruising, needs to plan an itinerary lasting 10 days or more. We were delighted with our choice of this one. Our Meet & Mingle was held the following day in the Hollywood Odyssey Lounge. Meet & Mingle- We had the pleasure of meeting all of our CC friends and also the ones we met at our sail away meeting. What a great experience! Meeting all of these people from all walks of life and parts of the world was magnificent. They truly enhanced our cruising experience. Luckily we had made up the name badges, as Royal Caribbean had run out of the lanyards and name tags they usually give out. We had made up plenty of extras. This was a nice party with the usual hors d'oeuvres and drinks, and raffle prizes. We got to meet all of our internet friends and put names with faces. About an hour or so after our meeting, I went to the first of many art auctions. They offered free champagne and piece of art just for attending. Also, raffle tickets and a coupon for more, at the end. I ended up winning a piece of art from the raffle. I was thrilled and found it to be quite lucky. Quest- They had the notorious Quest at some point during our cruise. I had never participated in this game, but found it was a lot of fun. A few of our CC friends, my friend and myself, made up a team. We played and did all the silly little things you do to get points. They kept telling us we were competing for a keychain. When they got ready to announce the winners and runner-ups, they said the prizes had been upgraded to a Brilliance ball cap and one of those RC over the shoulder packs. As the runner-ups, we got the shoulder packs. I thought these were actually better than the ballcap. We all had a great time and of course they video taped this event to put on the cruise CD. I was the early riser of us, and caught all of the sunrises on this cruise. My partner would take over when he got up and found me. We captured most every sunrise and sunset there was. Some of the most spectacular I have ever experienced in my 38 years. On November 22nd we finally reached Miami for our disembarkation from the ship. ENTERTAINMENT- I enjoy the entertainment offered in the main theatre. I have not had enough experience to rate it as it should be. I think, for what they are, they are pretty good. A very talented group of singers, dancers, musicians and various acts that are accustomed to performing night after night. Also a variety of guest performers throughout the cruise. I liked all of them, I attended. We also went to the movie theatre and saw Aviator with Leonardo DiCaprio. I didn't know that the late HH had so much to do with aviation. The next day we saw Alexander in the main theatre and enjoyed it too. On sunday, 2 days before the end, I also played a round of put put and climb the rock wall. Both were enjoyable, but the wall left me somewhat out of breath. Guess I'm not in as good of shape as I thought. Overall, all the activities offered were good. DISEMBARKMENT- Unfortunately we had the last color tag to be called for this process. We enjoyed our last meal and went to the Colony Club to await our color to be called. We sat and visited with one of our tablemates, from Amsterdam, for the few hours it took. Finally, after 10:00 they called our color out. We got off the ship and had to wait again in line to go through Customs. On the way off the ship, I handed out thank you notes I had prepared for our staff tip envelopes, to other staff we encountered. I had several left and found this appropriate to do. We experienced nothing but good from all of the staff on Brilliance. Staff- From our stateroom attendant to our waitstaff, they provided professionalism and courtesy throughout our cruise. Elena(Slovakia) and her asst. Ralph took care of our every need at dinner. Remembering ordering preferences after the first couple of days. They definitely did a great job and were rewarded in their tip envelopes. All of the staff aboard Brilliance treated us with the utmost respect and dignity we have become accustomed to. Our overall experience on Brilliance for this Transatlantic itinerary, was truly enjoyed. Even though we experienced some rough seas at the beginning of our cruise, we had a great time. I had never experienced this and was awakened by the ships movement and slight creaking. I had to get up and see what was going on. I was thrilled by this. My partner, after a little while, came to find me. I was up on the pool deck enjoying a cup of coffee and cigarette. My usual morning ritual. He was afraid that I would get near a rail somewhere and be thrown overboard. I laughed at this thought, as I would never put myself in that type of position. The first night we experienced 15-25 foot swells that tapered off in a couple of days to calm seas. I jokingly said that most roller coaster rides only last about 45 seconds, that we were in for a 11 day roller coaster ride. I love roller coasters! After leaving Lisbon, we had some more swells, but only 10-15 foot ones. Captain Michael actually took us about 300 NM south of our original course to avoid rough seas and bad weather. Everyday closer to Miami we got, the temperature got warmer. Ending up around 80 degrees one day out from Miami. This was a great ship and itinerary. We are already planning our next transatlantic, so that we can visit Rome upon disembarkment and then onto Athens before returning to the states. All of my planning and expenses for this trip really paid off. Most everything went off with a hitch. Something I'm quite proud of. We took well over 3000 pics during this vacation and will have them posted shortly. Until we sail again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
We are Diamond members we have 18 RCCL cruises, 2 Celebrity cruises and 1 Princess and this has to be one of the best! Embarkation was a little disorganized but when we found the priority line everything went smoothly. The jewel is ... Read More
We are Diamond members we have 18 RCCL cruises, 2 Celebrity cruises and 1 Princess and this has to be one of the best! Embarkation was a little disorganized but when we found the priority line everything went smoothly. The jewel is beautiful. our luggage was in our room and unpacked before 2 pm. The Jewel Expo in the lobby was a great way to get door prize tickets and to get to know some of the staff. Seas were a bit rough till we arrived in Bermuda but were calm for the rest of the crossing. Bermuda was a very unfriendly island and extremely expensive. At sea days were wonderful with a staff that had planned great activities, who changed and added new ones as they read their guests. The cruise director, Karen Mayberry was wonderful! She was everywhere on the ship, so with her guests always! A great staff also.. Bobby, AD was fantastic and ready to move up to director any day. The entertainment was good. Lots of British entertainers. Lisbon was wonderful as usual. Taking the train to Casscaiis always a nice trip to do. The train is 6 Euros for 2 round trip. The new shuttle system leaves a lot to be desired. The excursions dept. on ship too needs some work. Very disorganized. Vigo, Spain... We did a ship tour to the Border country and enjoyed the Celtic village ruins and the walled village. Great photo opts. Beware..the gypsies were out in full force and several people were robbed. LeHarve (Paris) -- This excursion was nice and a good way to see Paris. 2 1/2 hours by couch each way and an excellent 1 1/2 hour driving tour when there and 3 1/2 hours on our own to explore. Lines were LONG so my advice is to obtain tickets to any places on line before you arrive. Bruges .. Fantastic port. We toured the canals by boat then on foot. This town was the so interesting and has buildings dating from 800 to the present day. Wonderful. Food was average. Our waiter was good but not the best we've had. The head waiter was rarely by our table but we survived ok! Our room was very nice. Largest inside and for the first time we could put our suitcases under the bed. very good room steward. The Diamond lounge was very nice. The regular room was overseen by a terrible staff person but the bartender in the overflow room was wonderful. The ship is well kept up and still very clean and nice. The solarium food area is so good. The crepes were to die for! Karen Mayberry as I have said was the best cruise director we have ever had! She is so available for all her guests. One minute she will be in the elevator interviewing guests the the next minute she is running a trivia game. So much fun. When she and Bobby, Asst. cruise director noticed that there were more that 30 people at the first line dance class they put more on the schedule every day. Dani, Brent, Belinda, and Paulo kept the fun going all the time. Bobby is ready for a move up to cruise director any time! Debarkation in Harwich, UK was smooth and the trip (1 1/2 hours). British Air back to Miami was good. We booked the airfare through RCCL and drove to Ft. Lauderdale where we left our auto. RCCL did the flight from the UK and there were 2 transfers in our packet and we expected to be transferred back to the pier to the place that we embarked from. All in all this was one of the best transatlantic trips we have done! Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
Not So Brilliant Brilliance of the Seas. My husband and I just returned from a trans-Atlantic cruise on RCLs Brilliance of the Sea. And, while we had such a good time we are already planning our next trans-Atlantic cruise, we intend to ... Read More
Not So Brilliant Brilliance of the Seas. My husband and I just returned from a trans-Atlantic cruise on RCLs Brilliance of the Sea. And, while we had such a good time we are already planning our next trans-Atlantic cruise, we intend to go on another line. Our only previous cruising experience was with Carnival. Since general opinion seems to be that Carnival is at the bottom for quality, we expected RCL to be better. It wasnt. Embarkation was smooth. It took quite a while for our luggage to get to our room, however. So long we were starting to worry Our balcony stateroom was smallish and rather worn looking. The bed had curved corners, making it even smaller than a queen. The mattress and pillows were a big disappointment after Carnivals dream bedding. The bathroom was almost devoid of amenities  just some small bars of soap and an unlabeled dispenser of something in the shower. What a contrast to the basket stuffed with goodies on Carnival! And where were the fluffy bathrobes like Carnival offered? Not on RCL! There was plenty of storage and the balcony was nice and private, however. Most of the public areas of the ship were tastefully decorated, even understated. The only departure was the Solarium, with its Indian jungle theme. The plastic foliage closer to the glass roof had faded to blue and the giant elephant s with the little bridge were fun. Actually, this became our favorite place. It was always warm and you could sit in the sun or shade. I loved the twittering bird loop in the day, which changed to crickets and the like after dark. It was quiet and peaceful. Just turn your teak deck chair to face the Atlantic and chill. There was a lot of actual art on this ship, labeled like a museum. Some of it was actually good. There was a book about the art in our stateroom, and we meant to give ourselves an art tour but never got around to it. The whole impact of the ship would have been very classy if so much of the upholstery wasnt stained and torn. Everything looked rather worn out and some pieces were downright disgusting. Time for a redo, RCL! The Windjammer buffet was rather confusing. We seldom ate there, but each visit we toured the whole area before grabbing a plate. Since we mainly only had salads in that area, we cant really comment on the food there. The pizza was terrible, however. The Minstral dining room was attractive. Our waiters were very, very quiet. Just took orders. We bought a wine package and it always seemed to take a long time for our wine to appear  usually with the entrEe, sometimes even later! That was not good. The food was fine. I just dont expect great things when thousands are being served. However, dishes with a Thai or Indonesian theme were delicious (except the pot stickers, they were terrible). We ate lunch in the dining room as well. Most selections were good, but I wish there had been a more varied menu. For a 12 day cruise it just got a little old. With so many days at sea, the cruise director staff really had to work hard. As for the cruise director himself, he had no pizzazz a t all. The newlywed/not-so-newlywed game  which is usually hysterical  was flat. Contrast that with Fang, who hails from Beijing. He taught an origami class every sea day AM. Since theres not much to folding paper, he added a lot of humor. He also taught a tai chi class in the afternoon that was hugely popular. We also enjoyed a series of comedy improv classes and dancing lessons  the instructors really worked hard. Since DH and I are trivia buffs, we never missed a game, and there were plenty. Morning and afternoon, plus Spanish trivia and British Pub Trivia. We were there for them all. As were a solid group of hard-core trivia fans. And, there were problems. Sometimes the recorded answers were wrong  dead wrong. For example: Who played Patton in the 1970 movie? Bet you thought it was George C. Scott, right? Well, their answer sheet had Michael Douglas! Gosh, I guess Scott was right not to pick up his Academy Award that year! The thing that really bugged all the players is that no one did anything about correcting the wrong answers, so week after week its the same error. I know that sounds trivial (pun intended), but it did cause a lot of arguing and there was at least one disputed answer in almost every game. Please, RCL, let me come up with some trivia games for you. Ill make sure the answers are correct and documented. We're not much on cruise shows, but the two we checked out on this trip were pretty poor. The first night show had a juggler/comedian on a unicycle. I have to give him props for doing that on nine foot seas, but his whole act was simply obnoxious. Another night featured a Beatle act-alike. It was just four guys dressed like the Beatles in their early days and singing their songs. That was it. There was a good band for dancing most nights. That was fun. Now, let's talk about Norwalk Virus. Oh, yes, both DH and I got a dose. As did hundreds of others (or so I heard). Now, the Brilliance had hand sanitizers at the entrance to every eatery. And, once the virus broke out, they were cleaning everything night and day and making sure folks used the sanitizers. But you wont convince me that the problem didnt start in the kitchen. Norwalk Virus results from decal matter being introduced into food. If someone didnt wash their hands properly and got sick due to that, it might impact a roommate, or family members or others in close contact, but it wouldnt create a Code Red epidemic (which is what our cruise had). If Norwalk were that easy to catch, wed all have it all the time (just think of handrails in airports and all the people who touch them in a single day). For something that widespread, it has to start in the kitchen. This problem seems to be happening over and over and its starting to hurt the industry. Are the cruise lines making kitchen staff and servers wear disposable gloves? If they arent, they ought to be. Since our illness struck during port time, I have nothing to say about Lisbon or Malaga. At Madeira we rode the skyride up to the top of the city, wandered through some simply stunning gardens, and watched folks slide down the streets on old wicker sleds (looked like fun; wish wed done it). We couldnt get over the variety and of beautiful flowers every where. Villefrance was absolutely beautiful. Walking around was a delight. We didnt do any excursions run by the ship. We just poked around. We truly did enjoy the cruise. Its just that we expected it to be better than Carnival. It wasnt. And, that was a big disappointment. Were new to this cruising thing and now think that maybe we should stick to new or newly refurbished ships. So were trying out the Crown Princess in September 2006 (she just launched in June). If thats the key, Ill let you know. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
OUR GROUP -- After spending 6 months in Florida we were travelling home to the UK for the summer with our two married daughters and their DHs plus a 19 month old grandson. For one daughter and family it was their first cruise and for the ... Read More
OUR GROUP -- After spending 6 months in Florida we were travelling home to the UK for the summer with our two married daughters and their DHs plus a 19 month old grandson. For one daughter and family it was their first cruise and for the other her second. My DW and I have cruised on two previous occasions. One part of the family had flown into FFL from the UK the night before embarkation and the other part of the family had been staying with us in our Florida holiday home for the previous week. The younger daughter and family (travelling with us) did not know that her older sister (flown in the night before from the UK) would also be on board for the journey home to the UK as we had kept it as a secret. We had planned that the surprise would be unveiled on deck 11 outside the Windjammer where we would be having our embarkation lunch. This was a very emotional occasion with joyful tears being shed when the two sisters did meet up at the pre-planned point and the long kept and at times difficult to keep secret was revealed. EMBARKATION was very professionally handled. We had our Sea Pass completed on-line in advance of arriving at Fort Lauderdale so we sped through and were on board having lunch in the Windjammer on deck 11 at 12 noon, about 30 minutes after arriving for embarkation. Cabins were not accessible until 1.00 oclock but there was an area close to the gangway on board where hand luggage could be tagged and left before being taken up later to the cabins by crew members. CABINS -- We had a GS category cabin and it was extremely comfortable with a huge balcony. We will find it very hard to go to a lesser category cabin after experiencing this level of comfort. Our daughters and family had D1 category cabins also on deck 10. These were very adequate with suitable balconies and even with a babys crib in one of them were reasonably roomy. Our suite attendant (Geedee) was from Bali and performed his duties in a friendly and efficient manner. The animal towels on the bed most evenings were terrific. CONCIERGE -- As a GS category cabin holder we qualified for the Concierge Lounge which although small was very adequate for its purpose. The concierge was a charming South African gentleman called Mpho who performed his tasks admirably and was always very helpful. Cocktails were served each evening between 5.30 and 8.30 with a good selection of hot and cold canopies. 24/7 coffee and tea was also available as well as a continental breakfast and lunch time snacks. Because of problems I had linking up my laptop computer to the ships Internet wireless system, Mpho arranged for me to have gratis, dial-up facilities in my cabin. Although very slow it met my needs and allowed me to keep in touch with the outside world during the whole trip. THE JOURNEY This was a 14 night re-positioning cruise with stops in Bermuda, Lisbon (Portugal), Vigo (Spain), Le Harvre (France) and Zeebrugger (Belgium) before disembarkation in Harwich (England). There were plenty of sea days, seven I think in total and the seas were generally very calm. The ports of call were all interesting with opportunities to tour in the countries of the ports of call. As someone from the UK we were quite familiar with the European countries visited so did not take any special tours. We did however undertake a four hour taxi cruise of Bermuda which was highly informative and fun. FOOD in the main dining room TIDES was excellent every single night we dined there. Out fantastic waiter (Walter from Chile) and his lady assistant waiter (Festy, from Assam in North East India) really did look after us. We always took Walters recommendations as to what to eat from the menu and he never let us down. One night the Head Waiter (AJ, also from India) arranged for a special India curry meal to be prepared and served for our table. The recipe, he informed us, was e-mailed to him by his mother in India. It was delicious. We ate on two occasions in CHOPS where the fillets are well worth the $20 charge for dinning in this specialty restaurant. The food, service and ambience were all excellent and we would strongly recommend that the fillets are ordered in preference to the other choices on the menu. The T-bone steaks, however, were huge and were a good alternative choice and much enjoyed by my DW. Kristina from Hungry, the manager of Chops, excelled when our meal was interrupted by baby sitting problems (more of that later). PORTOFINOS was visited by us once and although good was not quite up to the Chops standard. The WINDJAMMER buffet restaurant was used by us for both breakfast and lunch on most days. The quality and variety of food was very good and my only criticism was that we ate too much there!! Although we didnt use the SEAVIEW CAFÉ, our family who did visit it were pleased with both the table service and food quality. The same applies to the SOLARIUM where family reports suggested that the crepes were magnificent. So over all the food was a big hit on the Jewel. However we did not eat from the ROOM SERVICE menu so can not comment on what the calories were like from that source. SPA Out kids bought us a spa package including a message. The whole experience was spoilt however by the hard sell made by the staff at the end of the message in trying to sell us beauty/therapy products. In addition to this unpleasantness we were surprised at being asked for a tip!! THE SHIP was magnificent and met all our expectations and more. I wont go into details here as this has been covered in so many other reviews. What was amazing to us was that despite there being nearly 2200 passengers on board, the ship never looked crowded (except at dinner and the theatre) and there was always space available to do your own thing. GUEST RELATIONS was the one activity that really let the ship down. In our dealings with them they were more interested in fobbing us off than dealing with the problem. On the two occasions when it was necessary to deal with this department we had problems. The first was when I couldnt receive the ships full Internet service on my lap top. I demonstrated my problem to one of the female staff who insisted that I was not connected but should keep trying. I explained I was connect and illustrated this point to her. However she just didnt want to know and directed me away and said keep trying it later. I then went to the concierge who examined the problem and then spoke to the IT people on board. They confirmed that my computers wireless software might not be compatible with the WIFI system on board. Something that Guest Relations could have done for me instead of fobbing me off with misinformation. The second occasion was when we booked the baby sitting service for the nights we were at Chops and Portofinos. Having booked a babysitter and had it confirmed by Guest Relations that she would be available, she then never appeared at the appointed time. Our party was in Chops at the time while my daughter was in her cabin with the baby waiting for the arrival of the babysitter. She was then due to join our family party in Chops. When the sitter still had not arrived after 30 minutes we contacted Guest Relations (the booking agency) who said the sitter was no her way. When she still hadnt appeared after a further 30 minutes we were fobbed off with no excuse or explanation as to what had happened. I then asked to speak to the head of Guest Relations. During this time our very frustrated family group were sitting patiently waiting for my other daughter to arrive so we could order our eagerly awaited Chops meal. Eventually 1 hour 30 minutes after we arrive in Chops, and still not fed, I met with the Duty Officer who explained that there had been a complete mess-up and the baby sitter had never been informed that she was required that night. Apologies were offered but I asked for some other compensation. We eventually ordered our meal at 11.00 PM, 2 hours late, and my son-in-law took over baby sitting duties leaving the five of us to eventually enjoy a good meal. The Chops manager Kristina told us not to rush our meal and was very sympathetic with our problem and said we could stay as long as we wanted in the restaurant although it would normally be shut by now. She made a big fuss of us knowing that we had had a difficult evening so far. In a gesture of goodwill we had a wine paid for by Guest Relations!! After that we were never really confident with Guest Relations generally nor with the baby service in particular but did mange to deal directly with the baby sitter for future occasions. ENTERTAINMENT was okay but not really anything special. The main productions were adequate and were performed by a new group that had just joined the ship as they were booked for the forthcoming summer season in the Baltic. The play room facilities for our 19 month old grandson were very good. Few children were on board however. Mountains of Fisher-Price toys were available within the play room which was well supervised by a very charming young lady called Sue from Montreal. DISEMBARKATION in Harwich was very well organised and there was no hassle getting off the ship after a good breakfast. OVERALL the Jewel of the Seas is a first class ship run very professionally (with perhaps the exception of aspects of Guest Relations activities) and the Captain, officers and crew are to be congratulated. We were amazed to hear some people, just two in fact, being critical about the cruise and their criticism left us speechless. I suppose on all ships there will be the usual few who just cant be pleased with the service and choice. They are always a tiny minority of CC boards. We have booked two more cruises on Royal Caribbean ships, one a return Transatlantic trip to Tampa from the UK in the fall, and one next year in the Mediterranean. If they are up to this standard we will be very pleased indeed.    Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
We recently were able to cruise from Florida to Europe on the beautiful Jewel of the Seas. We are not first time cruise people having been on Holland America, Celebrity and Princess lines and were looking forward to a new line and ship. ... Read More
We recently were able to cruise from Florida to Europe on the beautiful Jewel of the Seas. We are not first time cruise people having been on Holland America, Celebrity and Princess lines and were looking forward to a new line and ship. This is what we found--- Embarkation--This was very easy and stress free and took only about an hour or so from start to finish. This was by far the most easy embarkation we have experienced. Stateroom--We spend little time in our room and and decided and inside cabin was all that we needed. The room was of similar size to other ships but was set up better--especially the bathroom and did not seem too crowded. A small couch was present so we could sit and relax and a draw curtain could be used to shield the bed from light if one wanted to go to bed while the other stayed up--a nice touch. The Ship--The Jewel of the Seas is a new ship--built in 2004 and takes on about 2000 or so passengers. It is in a word--beautiful and very well appointed. The Centrum is especially nice and goes from level 4 to 10 and the live music played there can be heard all the way up making reading,playing cards,etc on the upper levels very pleasant. The lounges are excellent with good seating and there are no substandard areas. I don't like any smoking and hence avoided the casino and the one smoking lounge but did visit the cigar smoking lounge which was nice. The theater is state of the art. Overall the ship is wonderful and never seems crowded. Dining--The two main areas of interest here are the Windjammer cafe and the main dining room. There are two other areas specializing in Italian food and steaks that are extra cost and we did not go there. Smaller cafes for more fast food type service are present but not visited by us. The food in the Windjammer and main dining are essentially the same and there wasn't much differentiation in what you could get in either place for any meal. The food could be described as being less upscale and imaginative as the other lines we have been on although perfectly good and of course--plentiful to the degree of excess if wanted. For example at one dinner the Chef's suggestion was a pork chop of some type--not what I would call 5 star eating but certainly ok. Do not expect very exotic dishes on this ship although the food will be satisfactory. Desserts were beautiful to look at but frequently not all that tasty. Room service is always available but not used by us. Late evening food is available but also not used. Activities--Entertainment--The ship has wonderful live music with very talented musicians and singers roughly all day long in many locations beginning about noon each day. Some of the musicians are really very good--the best I've heard on any cruise line and could be performing at more noteworthy venues. During the day there seems to be plenty to do for the women with knitting classes,art auctions,shopping,etc to keep them occupied. For men there seems to be much less during the day of interest and men should expect some time when they may be looking for something to do. The evening entertainment on our 14 night cruise consisted of 2 very good,polished,professional production shows with the other nights filled up with comedians,singers,etc that were also very good. Also at night there is Karaoke,dancing,drinking,casino,and in general lots to do. Overall I was impressed with the live music and production shows but for a 14 night cruise more production shows are expected and needed. Men's daytime activities need exploration and improvement. We did not bring children and have no idea what is available for them. Service--In a nutshell the crew of this ship from the cabin staff to the dining room, guest services, etc., are truly wonderful. I can not sight one deficiency. We were completely and totally satisfied and pleased. Shore Excursions--Our ports of call consisted of Bermuda, Lisbon, Portugal, Vigo Spain, Le Havre, France and Zeebrugge, Belgium. We had never been to any of these and they were all wonderful. The names may not be well known but the excursions from these ports are excellent. The ship staff that discusses the ports,the excursions,and what to expect,etc are informative and right on practical. We only used the ship excursion one time for transportation into Paris--everything else we did on our own and got great service at cheaper prices although the ship sponsored excursions were comprehensive and of good quality if you want to go that way. Disembarkation--Equally as fast and easy as embarkation--the best we've ever experienced. Summary--We enjoyed the Jewel and especially the live music,the staff and the ports of call. I would not want to again be on this ship if I were to have several continuous days at sea but would consider a shorter cruise with a similar number of ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
I am a 44 year old male, single and usually travel with friends. This was my 8th RCCL cruise, first on a Voyager class ship. I picked this particular cruise for different reasons: a) I did enjoy the transatlantic journey on the Brilliance ... Read More
I am a 44 year old male, single and usually travel with friends. This was my 8th RCCL cruise, first on a Voyager class ship. I picked this particular cruise for different reasons: a) I did enjoy the transatlantic journey on the Brilliance the previous year very much; b) I prefer longer cruises over short ones; c) I thought the Voyager would have more to offer on sea days due to its size. Overall it was a great vacation and a fun trip. That was due to the people I was with and the people we met on the cruise. The weather was perfect on most days, the food and service in the dining room very good and the location of the Royal Family Suite just perfect. However, there were many things that I find worth mentioning here. A few good ones, many not so good ones. I try to be very objective here and would like to point out that I´m definitely returning to RCCL because I do like their overall product and their ships. Embarkation in Miami was as always. I did not see any improvement though due to the fact that everybody is supposed to put in their details online before the cruise. No reason to complain though! Luggage is another story. I absolutely do not understand how luggage that has been checked in with the same guy arrives in the cabin at different times. In our case we are talking of a period of 4 hours between suitcase one and the last one. I also do not understand why luggage of those that booked a suite does not get priority handling. Friends of ours in an Owners Suite had to wait 10 (!!) hours for their luggage to arrive.. Unacceptable no matter what cabin you booked! First impression of the ship was not a good one. It looked rather old in most areas, including our suite. In urgent need of a complete overhaul in many areas. In fact I thought it was the oldest looking ship I had been on so far. Deck 9, our deck (as well as other hallways), definitely needed new carpets in the hallways. They looked bleached out, partly stained and most importantly the carpet smelled like it had been there ever since the ship had its maiden voyage and never got a solid steam cleaning ever since. This was especially evident since the nearby elevator area obviously had just received a brand new carpet. The sports deck looked like it had been (mis)used by way too many people and cried for some care and renovation too. However, the worst-looking part (when it comes to public areas) of the ship was the gym. I have never seen anything like this on an RCCL vessel before. Machines were old and rotten, full of stains, and partly dangerous because they had not been maintained and cleaned whatsoever. The Suite. Although it was great in size (the balcony of course was the best I ever had) and only 3 of us sharing it (what a luxury, I know), I must say it was was also in a rather sad condition. It must have gotten little to no attention over the past years. New sofa and chairs were the only thing that was nice. Other than that it was a rather "not so royal Family Suite". Stained walls, dirty bathroom bowl, curtains ( new ones!!) in the master bedroom, that would not cover the window completely, stained and sad-looking balcony chairs, 2 lamps next to sofa not working at all, one of the lamps stained, one of the lamp shields broken, dirty carpet, missing buttons on stereo, loose sockets, a light switch not working, a light dimmer that needed to be replaced in order to work fully, closet doors loose. The beds...another story. The Royal Family Suite does not come with the comfy beds the equally expensive Owners Suite comes with. The beds are the same as in any other cabin. Need I say more? I´m sure the ship will get the new beds before it returns to Miami in fall though. So overall we were a bit disappointed with the suite. We had maintenance coming almost every day for 10 days. Instead of fixing it all at once, they decided to do little by little every day. Quite annoying! I think one of the reasons for the lack of attention to the suite was that our cabin steward who tried to do his best, had too many rooms to look after and probably was not trained to give that extra attention to suites. The other expensive suites usually have 2 cabin stewards to look after it. He had to take care of 2 RFS and many other cabins including Junior Suites. Too much for one person. Our friends in the Owners Suite by the way had even more bad luck. After 2 days their complete lightning system in the cabin broke down (same happened in the suite next to them). Result was that they had to call reception to turn on and off the lights in the cabin whenever needed... No, this is not a joke. It also could not been fixed till Barcelona. Other suites by the way (including the Royal Suite) had problems too but they got a little more attention than we did which partly made us feel like second class suite guests. The suite comes with the fantastic privilege of concierge service. Would have been perfect if the ship would have been prepared for it on this voyage. They had a huge number of Diamond members and suite guests on board. Way too many for the tiny lounge. They decided to open a second lounge on deck 13 in one of the unused rooms. Still insufficient in every way. After 6:00 p.m both rooms looked like a battlefield. The concierge Martin however, was one of the best employees I have ever come across with RCCL. Professional in every way. Thank´s to him not more people complaint on this cruise. The ship really did not seem to be ready for Europe with a different clientele and much pricier cruises. Having done only 7 night Caribbean fun cruise, the staff and the ship had a hard time dealing with the challenge of a longer transatlantic cruise with so many experienced cruisers. Drinks went w/out. No Tonic for 2 days which is bad if you have many people on board drinking Gin-Tonic, white wines went out (especially the ones from the wine promoted wine & dine program but also in the concierge lounge), Ginger Ale went out for 2 days.. These are just examples. All this can happen, no doubt, but every little thing adds up. The GOOD: Yes, there are also good things to say. The food in the dining room was as good as always. I cannot understand why people complain here. Sure it is not gourmet food but that you cannot expect on a huge cruise ship with rates that they offer these days. With the huge variety they offer every day one would think they can please anyone. We certainly were. We also had the absolute best waiter (Paolo from Portugal) and assistant waiter (Alina from Romania) ever. They made every dinner special to all of us! Even the headwaiter was good this time. Concierge service with its amenities (free shuttle tickets etc.) was great. Martin the concierge a jewel! Staff overall was very friendly and most of the times smiling, as one would expect with RCCL. Shows were good to excellent, much better than on the Brilliance last year, a definite improvement. The disco on the Voyager class ships is great. The DJ however was not. He had a hard time pleasing the passengers, especially the Europeans. He kept playing R&B and HipHop and did not want to understand that most people did not like that at all. Other bars and venues were great and offered something for everyone. That´s also a big plus for a Voyager class ship. Will I cruise with RCCL again. You bet. Already booked for next year twice! Will I book a suite again if I can afford it. Definitely as it pays! Will I go on the Voyager again. Not sure, rather not. Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
We were pleasantly surprised with our 1st cruise. A little nervous about 5 days across the Atlantic, but there was only one night (just before we got to the Azores) that the seas got quite rough. I put a travel sickness patch behind my ear ... Read More
We were pleasantly surprised with our 1st cruise. A little nervous about 5 days across the Atlantic, but there was only one night (just before we got to the Azores) that the seas got quite rough. I put a travel sickness patch behind my ear and I was fine. My husband and two sons felt fine the whole trip. The ship was clean, nicely decorated, very good service. I particularly enjoyed the shows at La Scala, and the Cruise director, Simeon, was funny and very welcoming. I loved the Azores (Sao Miguel)...I recommend taking Taxi tours rather than the tours that are offered on board the ship. We were in a taxi and saw all the sights in most of the port stops and we paid approx. 100 euros for 4 hours and the taxis will accommodate 4-5 people. Be sure to stay up for the Midnight buffets - they're spectacular and fun. Our children 11 and 13 had the time of their lives. Often phoning back to our cabin at 11 pm from the Optix or Adventure Ocean to ask if they could stay later. We enjoyed all the activities...rock climbing, in-line skating, mini golf, soccer games, basket ball and so on! The gym on the ship is excellent. I didn't really enjoy any of the fitness classes (especially the spinning class - that's really, really tough). I would highly recommend this cruise (for any age). Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Just back from the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas September 11 through September 23, 2006. Warning, this review is very long and a bit fragmented. My head is still floating. There were 2 of us in the Royal Suite, Cabin Number 1556. This ... Read More
Just back from the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas September 11 through September 23, 2006. Warning, this review is very long and a bit fragmented. My head is still floating. There were 2 of us in the Royal Suite, Cabin Number 1556. This was a 12-night transatlantic cruise from Harwich, England to Boston. We flew out of Boston Logan on September 7 and spent a few days at the Holiday Inn, Kensington Forum in London. London was great fun but the Hotel was too far away, next time in London we will stay closer to town. London is also uber expensive with the British Pound about double the value of the US dollar. Our Driver (Darren Parsons of Adelphi Executive Hire www.adelphiexecutivehire.co.uk was great.) met us at the airport, dropped us at the Hotel and then picked us up a few days later and brought us to the port in Harwich. The port was very easy to find, we dropped our bags, tipped the kid tossing them on the tram and walked into the pier building. Because we had the Suite we were directed behind the red curtain for express check in and that was where the preferential treatment began and ended. First impression the ship is large, clean and very bright. Embarkation was effortless, it was around 2:30pm and we were in our suite by 3:15 or so. The Jewel is a lovely ship. Not gorgeous but tasteful. Suite: The Royal Suite is nice. Again, tastefully appointed but nothing exceptional. It was the perfect size for the 2 of us. My favorite part of the suite was the whirlpool tub. I loved it. Unfortunately there were left-over dead roses and open soda cans in the fridge. One of the sinks was clogged and the place reeked of cigarette smoke, yuk. A rather bad first impression. We met our room steward Ben who was nice but much harried. Ben told us to go enjoy the view while he finished cleaning and worked on removing the cigarette smell&. He never took the time to show us how to operate the suite remotes, lighting, drapes, etc. And the way to get rid of the smell consisted largely in opening the balcony doors. We had booked the Royal Suite expecting a certain level of service, which was non-existent. After dropping our stuff in the suite, we were off to the Windjammer Cafe for the luncheon buffet. This was very good. The space itself is nice, overlooking the harbor and the seating was comfortable. I thought the food in the windjammer was better than the main dining room, especially breakfast. They put out a great spread. This was a much older cruise than we are accustomed to. We are not kids (45 and 50) but the average age was probably 70. Our tablemates joked that this ship was sure to run out of oatmeal and prune juice. This cruise was old even for them and they were about 70. Nightlife on the Jewel was missing unless you like ballroom style dancing or very serious karaoke. The DJ in disco was great but I never once saw more than 12 people up there. The elevators are ridiculously slow. I have an idea here: I think when you push the button to call an elevator and wait and wait and finally decide the stairs don't look too bad, after all it's only 5 flights. There should be a button to cancel your elevator call. Just a thought. On to dining We did not go to the Portofino's or Chops but everyone told us it was excellent but took about 2.5 hours. Our waitress in the Tides Dining room was Charmain, she was great. We sat at a table for 6 but 9 of the 12 nights there were just 4 of us. We went to dinner for the tablemates more that the food. We dined with the most wonderful couple. Great table talk, fun stories and lively banter. Even though I thought the food was good and the service was outstanding. The meat was often dry and they insist on putting fruit with all desserts, but I am not a fussy eater, so it was all good to me. Normally on a cruise, my husband and I greatly enjoy the Casino. The Casino Royale on the Jewel was large, and for the most part very quiet. We sat at a 10 person Texas Hold'em table and played the other passengers. It was a $5-$10 limit game, a friendly game and if you won some money one night, you gave it all back the next. We all joked that the same money just kept going around. The house rake was 10% (more than any other cruise or casino I have ever been to) with a cap at $10.00 per hand. This was the oddest Casino ever. The hold'em table was not really in the Casino but just outside of it in the News / Weather Bar. It was supposed to be a Sports bar but it had NO SPORTS on the TVs 7 out of 12 nights& no kidding, so we called it the News/Weather Bar. What was most upsetting is that around midnight or 12:30am the Casino host would come around to shut down the table. This was unreal. It was the only busy table in the so-called Casino and they wanted to close it. Even on Sea Days when you have no reason to rise early the next day. About the third or fourth night my husband (who is quite soft-spoken and rarely says boo) spoke up and said that we are here on vacation and everyone at the table wants to play cards& and he asked why can't we stay and play longer? Well, let me tell you he was reamed! The little twit of a Casino Supervisor was so very rude to my husband; it set the tone for the rest of the cruise. I dare say this is the best rested Casino Staff on the Seas. With the noted exception of Keith (excellent!), Emma and Justin (both very good), this Casino Staff was rude (especially Sandra) condescending and at times incompetent. Dealers Evelyn and Pinky both mucked the winning hand more that once. So we decided to have a few tournaments in the Card Room. I called my concierge Andrea. Even though Andrea is NICE. She is not a concierge. She is more of a hostess or barmaid. Ok, so let's stop here and talk about concierge service. It may be unfair for me to compare concierge services from other cruise lines but hey, in my experience, if you have seen one concierge you've seen them all& or so I thought. We had the Royal Suite, so we paid a lot more than most, so we expect certain privileges. For example, on other cruise lines, the Concierge meets you, if not at the pier directly, than at least in your suite. Stops by, hands you a business card, carries a clipboard to take any notes (change dining times, order flowers, liquor etc) and lets you know he or she will be available to you to book your spa treatments, excursions or dinner reservations. This never happened. I found Andrea in the Concierge Lounge hurriedly mixing drinks and balancing a food tray. So there was my cue that we did not in fact have a concierge, but a stressed-out, over worked waitress. Poor Andrea, I told her that she had too much on her plate with over 200 Platinum members onboard and her job was not that of a concierge. That perhaps she needed an assistant to handle the bar and small things and that she should at least take the time to introduce herself to Suite Guests. She agreed but I could see that she was not really listening. Too often people mistake heartfelt advice for complaint. I ordered 3 bottles of wine through Andrea to be delivered to fellow passengers. And 2 of the 3 thanked me. So an alarm went off and sure enough the third bottle was sent to the wrong cabin. I asked Andrea to send the bottle to the correct cabin and she said she would try and get the bottle back. I told her NO, you cannot take wine away from someone a day later. Not only had they probably opened it by now but it is just wrong to compound the error. So I purchased a fourth bottle to be sent to the correct cabin. Augh. Interjection: I am not a loyal Royal Caribbean Cruiser. I go wherever my budget allows on whatever cruise line suits my needs in respect to timing and ports. I think if you are a loyal RCCL cruiser, than by all means you should take advantage of whatever perks RCCL throws at you. The impression here is that RCCL really takes care of its' Platinum or Diamond Members&.but how? By giving them a coupon book, throwing them a party and free drinks for a few hours of the day? I don't get it. I think RCCL has over extended itself here; the so-called concierge lounge and another one just like it were packed. How preferential is that? Besides, the coupons were only good for stuff I would never use & discount on the second bottle of wine UNDER $50.00?, Free Picture of the Ship? Johnny Rockets (not on this ship) $2.00 Casino Credit& please. This Concierge lounge was full every time I stopped by for a coffee. There was never a free seat and most folks stayed for the 3 hours of drinking and just sat and drank. I know this because prior to dinner, I stopped in for a coffee and after stopped back for express tender tickets (shouldn't these be delivered to my suite?) and the same people were still there. My husband made the same observation. Now my husband is a true romantic. He wanted flowers in the suite from every port we stopped at. Native floriculture. Andrea had never heard of this, the only flower service onboard was tea roses. Nice but not quite. SO after much ado, he made the order and at every stop we got glorious flowers. By day 7 the suite no longer smelled of smoke but rather a very lovely funeral home& a lot of flowers! Now because we had this nice suite, and met so many nice folks on the message board and at the poker table (and some people are just curious about the suite itself) we decided to have a little get together mid-day on a sea day. I gave Andrea the invitations Cookies and Cocktails along with the room numbers the day prior. She did not get them out until a couple of hours before the party. So, many people told me they JUST got the invitation. Others that did not show up may have never got the invite, I don't know. It is not a huge deal, not life threatening, but still it is sloppy. It was awkward seeing other Crown Jewels and not knowing if they got the invitation or not. So we had our little party and Hugo from room service came through with fancy cookies and lots of finger foods and exotic tid-bits (salmon, caviar, etc) and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Nuff said. The Suite: The Suite was nice. One major complaint: NO Coffee maker. Come on now, even Carnival ships have a little coffee maker. We brought our own coffee (Dunkin Donuts) but were unable to make it. They say it is a fire hazard, bull. Another problem with the suite was the poor TV reception. We had huge white lines constantly riding up the screen. This drove me nuts so I called Andrea. But she is only available during the AM coffee hours or the PM drinking binge so I was on my own. I had 3 guys from electrical maintenance in the suite trying to fix the problem. They told me that the entire side of deck 10 had this poor reception problem. But I had made friends with my neighbors and their TVs worked just fine. So the maintenance guys lied. I asked if they could just replace the large flat screen with one from the Sports Bar since nobody was watching those anyway and they were the same size, but they blew me off. I offered to pay, but still no. Also you could not get the CD player to work. You had to play CDs though the DVD which only had one giant speaker under the TV. Here we are in is this lovely suite with speakers all throughout the ceiling and you cannot get them to work. It was very frustrating. Also the Suite has these huge archaic remote controls that hardly work and need a lot of re-charging. I just wanted a simple clicker. Back to poker. Since the Texas Hold'em table was only open at the Casino's leisure, us committed poker players decided to have our own tournament. I had brought my chip set and there were 10 of us, so why not? I called Andrea about 5pm, since this is the ONLY time to reach her, (first mistake) to request that she reserve 2 tables in the Card Room for 10am the following morning (this is standard procedure on any cruise line) I called again to confirm but she still had not had time to make the reservation. So I told her no problem, I could see that she was busy and I would contact the Activities Director myself and make the plan on my own. NOW, Andrea said she could not give me the Directors name or number. She told me it was up to her to do this. Yes, I agreed but knew she was too busy. I called her back later, she said we could not have the 2 tables in the card room because of a scheduled bridge tutorial but they would bring 2 tables and 10 chairs to my suite, OK fine. Next morning I stop by for coffee, see Andrea ask when the tables and chairs will be delivered& she said Oh, you can use the Card Room now, Bridge Talk will not be until 11. Well, I told her that our Poker game will go longer than 1 hour and that I had already invited everyone to MY SUITE. Augh. Long story short, we got the table, chairs and they stayed in my suite for the rest of the cruise. We had 3 tournaments. And while we played in my suite, the dealer sat alone at the Texas Hold'em table in the News/Weather Bar. The Cruise Director was OK. But the shows were same old. One girl can really sing, the other (a soprano) was not as good. Both men singers were good. Truth be told I only saw one show entirely the others I either left early because they were lame or I could not find a seat. The Platters were great but Standing Room Only. Again on other lines, your concierge makes sure you get seating. I am not a tough customer. I expect to get what I pay for. If I had paid less than I would happily accept this level of service. Truly I am an easy customer, I book my own excursions, do not want spa treatments or have special meal plans. Itinerary: great places, great weather, loved them all. Did the Blarney Castle Excursion and the Guinness Dublin Tour, both were awesome! Music: I only heard one great band, do not know the name, I think I crashed a private party in the Hollywood Odyssey. It was full of officers. Overall: What I heard a lot on this cruise was how relaxing it was. This was definitely a relaxing cruise. If you want to relax than this is the cruise for you. I was bored to bits. Also my husband spoke at length with an older fellow passenger that told him that he thought many elderly people actually live full time on cruise ships. And this kind of made sense to me. When we were being herded like sheep into the Tides Dining room among the sea of canes, walkers and wheelchairs, it had a funky, sour milk smell. Hell, it beats the rest home and is probably about the same cost. The good: The ports, the weather, best tablemates ever, meeting new friends, Meet and Mingle Party, easy embarkation and disembarkation, Thomas and Hugo from Room Service (very good room service menu but the same as all the other rooms, again at this suite level you either have a butler, or waiter that will bring you good food late at night or a concierge to arrange it), excellent photographers courteous and professional, no hard sell for bingo or the Art auctions, Mpho and Gemma from Guest Relations were wonderful. Seafarer Cafe was also very good. The Bad: The Staff, not just the Casino but the overall attitude. It was like they were doing us a favor. Lousy concierge service, no nightlife, lame casino, crowded or poor shows, s l o w elevators, an overall sloppiness that continually reminded me that RCCL just does not care. After re-reading my review, it sounds like a miserable cruise. It was not. It was the best we could make it. The ports were magical, the weather perfect and the Crown Jewels a lot of fun. If ever we cruise RCCL again, we will just get the balcony cabin and not have any great expectations, thus no disappointment. Plus I should note that most everyone I spoke with was having a wonderfully "relaxing" cruise. They absolutely loved it. Till next time, Enjoy this glorious day. Juried Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
This was our first transatlantic cruise, and because it was 12 days we decided to take a junior suite. The price was very good for 12 days. We booked the entire trip through Royal Caribbean, to include the flights, and pre-cruise transfers ... Read More
This was our first transatlantic cruise, and because it was 12 days we decided to take a junior suite. The price was very good for 12 days. We booked the entire trip through Royal Caribbean, to include the flights, and pre-cruise transfers and the hotel in London. The booking was fairly smooth. The flights were convenient, and we got to choose our own seats on the airlines. The flight to London was routine, but of course due to the security measures, it took us about an hour to get through customs at Heathrow Airport. We thought that was bad until my sister told us that it took them two hours to get through earlier the same morning. In any case, we had no problems, and the Royal Caribbean agent was waiting for us outside customs with a plaque with our names on it. We had our own private taxi driver to the City Inn Westminster, one of the RCCL hotels. The check in at the hotel was speedy and our room was beautiful: clean and modern. We enjoyed some sightseeing that afternoon to include lunch at the Tate Modern Museum Cafe. Later we met up with my sister and brother in law, also staying at the City Inn and we had a delightful dinner at Simpson's in the Strand. The complimentary breakfast provided by the hotel the next morning was impressive. They had something for everyone. We strongly recommend the City Inn Westminster. It is a smart, clean hotel in a great location, five minute walk from Westminster Abbey. The RCCL bus picked up our group at 10 AM and we were whisked off to the Port of Harwich about two hours away. There was a separate check in line for suites, and we didn't have to wait at all. Altogether a smooth trip so far. When we got on the ship we were so impressed. The Jewel is a beautiful ship. The first thing we did was split up, so that I could check out our table in the dining room, and Scott went to find the suite and drop off our carry on bags. Our assigned table was badly placed between a pillar and wall, so I got in line to request a change. This process is not very guest friendly. I was third in line, but the maitre'd told us the only table available was in a far corner. Not a very good spot, but at least it was a quiet area and by a window. We were stuck and had to take it. What irritated us about this is that every night at dinner, there were tables for six or eight in the middle of the dining room that had only two diners. Why they couldn't have put us there we do not understand at all. In any case, I got the table changed and notified our traveling companions of the switch once we got to the suite. The suite was incredible: spacious, well appointed, with a walk in closet and a marble/granite bath, full tub and shower. It had a large balcony which we used constantly, coming into port and departing, as well as with champagne watching sunsets. Our suite had plenty of room for cocktails or champagne with friends before dinner, which we did several times. Our steward Ben was the best; we never wanted for a thing. He was always there within one minute when we needed anything. After the first day he knew that we always wanted fresh ice in our bucket, and for the duration of the cruise it was always there. Our room was always spic n span. Kudos to Ben and his staff. The public spaces on the Jewel are beautiful. The atrium became our favorite place for our pre-dinner cocktails. There was always music and dancing, and the bartenders got to know our drinks. The atrium is an incredible space, and we have many great photos. We also liked the Safari Lounge, the Schooner Bar, and the Champagne bar but alas these were the smoking areas, so we limited our time there. We always have late dinner seating. Our food at dinner was usually very good. We tended to stick with the special of the day or to follow the suggestions of our waiters. They were usually right. A couple of times when we ordered something he didn't recommend we ended up sending it back and getting a steak. The meat was always a safe bet on this ship, whether it was steak, duck, veal or lamb. But even the fish specials were great. And of course the lobster was wonderful. One of our favorite places was the Seaview Grill which was a well kept secret for the first few days, as it was way up at the top of the ship at the very back. They had the best french fries, and they were open late. For breakfast and lunch we tended to stay with the buffet, which was always good: plenty of choices, and some variation from day to day. On excursion days we ordered room service breakfast to save time. We found it to be very good: it arrived on time, and it was hot and tasty. We did this three times, and it was consistently good. The solarium food was pretty disappointing. After one try of a crepe we never went back. But the pool here was very nice. The entertainment on board was pretty good. We went to most of the shows in the main theater and were never disappointed. Our favorites were the broadway show tune review and the Platters. The chanteuse in the Atrium was terrific. They played all kinds of music from the 40s to the 80s, from waltz to cha cha to disco. People danced a lot here and so did we. We went on several excursions and they were very well done. We especially liked the day trip to Mont St Michel when we docked in Cherbourg. The gray drizzly weather was a perfect complement to a visit to this medieval mountaintop abbey. And the countryside was so beautiful. We also enjoyed our trip to Blarney Castle when we were in Cork, but wished the bus could have dropped us off in Cork after it. We ended up back at the port in Cobh where we had a delightful lunch on the waterfront instead. We went on our own in Plymouth, Dublin, and St. John's. These are great places to wander about and explore, and in each of these places we found that in one day we could see a lot of the main attractions. In Halifax we had arranged for a van for the six of us, and he took us to many hidden places along the route to Peggy's Cove, showing us some incredible seascapes. He dropped us off on the waterfront where we had Digby scallops, Nova Scotia lobster and the freshest fish and chips. After that we were able to walk the waterfront trail right back to the ship. We were very lucky on this voyage as the weather was beautiful. The crossing was fairly smooth and we were able to be out on deck for miniature gold, rock climbing, lunch at the Seaview or just sitting by the pool. The three sea days for the crossing passed so quickly we can't even account for our time!! Spa treatments helped pass the time, and we even went to the gym several times to get on a treadmill. A great facility. Disembarking in Boston was smooth and uneventful if somewhat slow. Having the last day before arrival as a sea day is great. It gave us time to pack unhurried and prepare for the next part of our trip. All in all this was a wonderful cruise experience. The 12 days just flew by. Jewel of the Seas is a beautiful, well-maintained ship, with lots of bright open spaces. We never realized there were 2,000 passengers on board with us. Royal Caribbean should be proud of the ship and its able, friendly staff. We would definitely sail on this ship again if it had the right itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
This is one of the six largest ships currently in the RCCL fleet, carrying over 3,000 passengers and 1,200 crew. Some of my comments are reflective of the ship's size but not all. Check In: This is an area that can be improved. ... Read More
This is one of the six largest ships currently in the RCCL fleet, carrying over 3,000 passengers and 1,200 crew. Some of my comments are reflective of the ship's size but not all. Check In: This is an area that can be improved. Even with electronic check-in available, it took over forty-five minutes to complete the process. This is just not acceptable. Many of the passengers were elderly and this was a very long time for them to stand in a line. As mentioned above, if we would have checked-in earlier, the problem may not have been so severe. Cabin: We were in cabin 9287 on deck nine. The location was excellent: midships between both sets of elevators and only two decks below the buffet and the fitness center. The cabin was exceptionally quiet. The only negative was the size (160 sq ft) and limited amount of storage Overall Condition of the Ship: The ship celebrated its seventh year of operation during our voyage. The crew has kept the ship in excellent condition except for the carpeting which needs replacing in portions of the ship and the cabin couches which were soiled and showing wear. Staff: The main dining room waiters and housekeeping staff were excellent, a hallmark of RCCL crews. However, the wait staff in the Windjammer Cafe ranged from excellent to surly. RCCL needs to have better supervision and crew training in this area. Customer service be Guest Relations was only average at best. Library: The ships library was pitifully short of books. Guests were permitted to check out as many books as they desired, leaving many of us out of luck when we tried to obtain reading material the second day of the voyage. Internet Cafe: There were adequate computer terminals for guest use. However, there was no crew member available to assist guests. Costs were high (50 cents/minute) and connect time took several minutes or more. Guests were getting logged off unexpectedly and also charged for tie not connected. This service was far below that I used on Holland America. Sanitation: RCCL attempted to enforce good sanitation habits but was not very successful. Hand sanitizers were available in eating areas but in few other places around the ship. Many of them did not work at all. Crew members were observed sneezing into their hands and then handling food. The fitness center had only two stations with sanitizing towelettes for wiping off equipment. Many of the guests had colds by the end of the cruise, including my wife. Exercise Room and Spa: Excellent with plenty of cardio equipment available for guest use. The one area for improvement is to increase the staff as many times there was no one available to answer questions and replace the exercise towels. Food Quality: The Windjammer Cafe food was average at best. Too often the breakfast and lunch menus were repeated with little variation. The food in the main dining room was very good. Another positive RCCL trademark was the ability to substitute steak, fish or chicken for the daily menu items. Thanksgiving dinner could have been made more of a celebration than it was, however. Entertainment: Evening entertainment ranged from excellent to poor. The Drifters were very good and Lindsey Simon was outstanding. The ship's singers and dancers were only adequate. The band usually was so loud that the singers had to almost scream to be heard. The ice skating shows were great but because of the small venue, tickets were hard to get. Other Comments: 1. The Captain's Welcome Aboard reception was held on the Promenade. The area was much too small for the size of the crown. Many people were pushed and shoved. This was a totally unacceptable location for this size gathering. 2. The recorded music that was piped in around the ship was terrible. It was more like Carnival than a RCCL ship! The average age of the guests was over 50 yet all the music was retro-rock and rap. 3. There was excessive glitz in the ship. More attention was paid to art work and cutesy areas than on what the guests might desire: quiet areas for conversation. 4. The game room was completely inadequate for a trans-oceanic crossing. With many Europeans on board, there was a huge demand for bridge tables. There were six for the entire ship! Often times many guests had to be turned away. 5. The main theater (La Scala) was very adequate to accommodate a large audience as was the pools areas. RCCL made certain that guests could get lounge chairs for sunning as well as having the opportunity to watch the entertainment without having to arrive thirty minutes prior to performance as is the case in some cruise ships. Overall Assessment: RCCL has a comfortable ship in the Voyager of the Seas. With some minor modifications, the ship can be outstanding. Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean and it provided good value, but there were many little things that could have been better with little cost to the line or effort by the staff. I reserved the cruise, my air and transfers with ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean and it provided good value, but there were many little things that could have been better with little cost to the line or effort by the staff. I reserved the cruise, my air and transfers with RCI by phone 10 days before the cruise. Things got done, but not exactly as described: 1) I had no transfer in Barcelona because I travelled 1 day before- I think I paid for it anyway. Air deviation was $75. not the $50. I was told by reservationist, who also didn't know the Air Dept.is not open weekends. (when I made my cabin reservation). Our cabin with balcony was on deck 6 forward in a quiet, handy location for the promenade, library and theater, but a bit far from the Windjammer Cafe and the pools. The cabin refurbishment was excellent- great beds, linens, new paint, etc. Simeon was an excellent cabin attendant- fun towel animals, and almost always done tidying up before we came back. This was the first time my husband and I had early seating at dinner, at 6PM (which was 30 min. earlier than Miami office told me) and we wouldn't do it again. It left you scrambling to get to dinner and then with 1 hour to kill before the evening show, usually at 9PM. Drinks in the lounges were expensive, except Happy Hour 5-7PM or $4.25 drink of the day. As noted by another review, finding a glass or cup of tea was hard, unless you took one back to your room from lunch. $3.95 seemed high for a milkshake, too. Why not a milkshake or ice cream hour at Ben 'n Jerry's or a champagne hour in the lovely Champagne Bar? Food in general was well-displayed , made of excellent ingredients, but seldom impressive. Personally I found most entrees a bit plain and in need of sauces, even if on the side. I only saw lobster in a few soups and salads, never as an entree in 11 nights. We were at sea on Thanksgiving, and saw little attempt to celebrate by the ship, except for a few paper banners and turkey at dinner. Waiters lacked personality and exhibited little showmanship as we'd seen on HAL or NCL. We missed the Gala Buffet because it was almost a secret- no mention of it on the PA system, or by the waiters at dinner, or any signs on the Promenade. Only a small mention in the daily planner under the food schedule. The Explorations and Guest Relations staff were always helpful and seldom overwhelmed with long lines. One really helpful feature that the ship's photo and name index had was the ability to look up people by their first name and picture, even if you didn't remember a last name or cabin number. I got to 2 of the 4 Cruise Critic events- the cabin tour with wine and cheese, and the Bridge Tour. Both were fun and friendly. This sailing had a nice mix of Americans , English and Europeans, many of whom were fluent in English. I enjoyed meeting 2 Barcelona residents, a Swiss banker, a retired English sea captain, an American submariner, and English retirees. The crew was amazingly international- including a Nepalese security officer! Captain Gerry Larsson was memorable for his youth, personality (playing guitar and singing in the Pub twice), and professionalism. I would probably sail again on RCI, if the price and sailing date fit my plans, but I did not come away from this cruise with any special allegiance to RCI, or even strong personal memories of a waiter, bartender or other staff member. (As I still have of HAL and NCL employees from 5-10 years ago.) The ship should provide at least 1 map/guide to the ship per cabin, even including what food/drink is available at various locations-like which selections of wines and beers by the glass, that herbal teas were in the spa, etc. The floral shop was hidden away with short hours, and limited items. With such a multicultural ship's staff, there should have been more bilingual presentations than 1 cooking class in German! A showing of the movie, or Spanish language trivia could have been done. Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
I took the cruise only fare with the RCI transfer from Barcelona airport to the cruise port. On arrival in the airport I was met right away by RCI reps who took me right to the transfer coach. About 30 minutes later I was at the ship. My ... Read More
I took the cruise only fare with the RCI transfer from Barcelona airport to the cruise port. On arrival in the airport I was met right away by RCI reps who took me right to the transfer coach. About 30 minutes later I was at the ship. My luggage was not on the coach and they told me I would see it later that day outside my stateroom. I had used online check in and walked right in and didn't have to wait. This was around 1145am. I decided to board and go to the Windjammer for lunch and then go to my stateroom to leave my valuables in the safe. I then got off the ship and went into Barcelona for a few hours. There was a shuttle bus for 2.50 return. On arrival back to the ship around 5pm I got my luggage outside my stateroom. The Promenade stateroom was perfect for me as I was travelling alone and didn't want to be confined to an inside but wanted some kind of a view but without breaking the bank. It was spacious and well worth the extra $100 or so that I paid than if I had an inside. It was nice to look out and see into the Promenade. The shower was good and had more room than other cruises I have been on. The bad points were that the air conditioning could not be turned off fully and only be set to neutral but the air still blasted out resulting in me getting a sore throat having to go to the medical facility to get something for it. There should be a way to turn off this A/C as it really was a pain. In the end I had to block the air vent with paper and tape and then I got alot better. Also the stateroom was a bit worn looking with dents and chipped paint on the vanity area and the odd stain. The bed was very comfortable and these are the new ones put in last month I believe. The ships public areas were very well maintained and it didn't look dated even though its one of the older 'New' ships. I loved the Promenade and the Cafe was great for tea/coffee and cookies anytime of day. The pools were nice but I didn't use them or the hot tubs as I'm not a fan of them. I used the Sauna and Steam rooms which were ok. There was a good gym and Spa center also. The Ocean Adventure for kids looked great and I guess they must have stayed in that area as even though there were kids on board you rarely saw them. Johnny Rockets was nice , I went twice.Look out for Marcelo from Romania he is a laugh and was so friendly. If you have a Crown and Anchor savings book you get a free voucher for one visit and I also bought the soda package so I paid nothing. Normally its $3.95 for the food and around $3-4 for drinks. If you want a speciality shake its around the same. I didn't go to Portofino's was planing to but never got there. One thing I will say is that compared to say the Jewel it didn't look as plush. The main dining room was very nice and the food was good apart from one night the Duck was very hard to eat and not nice. I had Steak most nights which was always nice. On various nights I ordered 2 mains and there was no problem at all. Our waiter was Yuksel from Turkey who was very helpful. The other was a girl from Poland who was nice enough but not very out going and didn't smile much. There is just one thing I thought was a bit disappointing and that was on a few occasions there were dirty glasses and cutlery with water marks on them. I know you cant polish 3000 of these but you can get rinse aid that stops these marks!!!! A few nights I went with my table mates to the Wind Jammer and found the food very good and some nights as good as the main dining room. The staff in the Wind Jammer are also very nice. I found the soda package for $6 a day plus 15% service very good value and as I don't drink alcohol it made the cruise all inclusive for me. The entertainment was very good and I'm not usually a show person but I enjoyed the ones that I did see. The Drifters were good and the comedians were also. The cruise director Graham was quite funny also and always said hello when passing you in the ship. Captain Gerry from Norway was the best I have met so far. He was very laid back and approachable and one night even came into the Pig and Whistle Pub to sing which he is very good at. There was plenty to do day and night , the Vault disco was empty alot of times I went there and often only the same few guys there each night. I don't know where all the women where and I guess if they were there the guys weren't the kind who would be interested in them anyway!!! One night there was a latino theme and all the Spanish were there and it was a great night. Karaoke in Cleopatra's Needle was a good laugh even though I would never go back home there were a few who really did have talent. There was an African American girl from Maryland DC who was just amazing. The Ice rink was fun and I had a spin on it for a few hours one night. They make you sign a disclaimer before you go on. The ice show was very good but the que for tickets was crazy and so I let the que go down to the last 10 and then joined it and still got tickets. When I went to the show people who didn't have tickets got in anyway !!! The shops on board offered good value and drink was cheap 2 litres of Baileys for $33!!! Wait til the end of the cruise to by T shirts and other RCI logo gifts as they often reduce them in price. There were plenty of loungers to be had and you didn't have to get up at 6am to reserve them. I found the area at the front of the ship right at the top to be great and nice and quiet. The ports of call::: Barcelona, nice but not my favorite city. Lisbon, loved it and would love to go back again. Madeira, amazing scenery and a nice island. don't forget to go to Reids Palace the famous hotel. The views from the lounge are breath taking. Arrival in Miami was 6am and I got off the ship at 7am , the que for immigration was around 15 minutes but it wasn't too bad and the officials were very nice. I took my own bag off the ship so that I could get off when I wanted to. Summary ::: Great cruise and great weather on average 75-81F most days. Very little movement of the ship only 3 nights out of 11 it was a little rough but nothing unusual. I would go on Voyager again if the price was right but I prefer to try new ships each time. I couldn't fault the service or facilities and the food was good. I have to say I prefer the Celebrity brand especially the Century and the Millennium ships as I like the decor on them. The 6 days at sea I was worried about but they went so fast and the good weather really was a bonus. The meet and mingle was good and I got to meet alot of really nice people from all over the world. Some people said the Meet and mingle was not organized properly and the lack of drinks and canapes compared to others times. Also there were no management from RCI in attendance which was disappointing. This was my first meet and mingle though so I thought it was nice. I was more interested in meeting people who I had been talking to on the cruise critic boards to be honest. I had a great vacation and I am thinking of doing another Trans Atlantic next year. I will also sign up for meet and mingle and use the Roll call boards next time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
This was our 4th RCCI cruise, the previous two also being on Radiance class ships. We booked about 6 ½ months before the trip and selected our preferred cabin, the Junior Suite, which offers more space than the deluxe outside stateroom. ... Read More
This was our 4th RCCI cruise, the previous two also being on Radiance class ships. We booked about 6 ½ months before the trip and selected our preferred cabin, the Junior Suite, which offers more space than the deluxe outside stateroom. Since airfare to Barcelona was so expensive for direct flights from NY, and all other flights made connections, we decided to fly to Paris and took the overnight train to Barcelona (the Elipsos Trenhotel  see www.eurorailways.com for more information) which was a nice way to travel to Spain. Our Gran Class cabin included a shower and toilet, and our ticket included dinner (with wine) and continental breakfast. In Barcelona, we stayed at the Hotel Gran Florida, (booked through American Express Platinum Travel Service). This hotel was FABULOUS, although a bit out of town. We had a great dinner at Botofumeiro, an old world style restaurant downtown, the night before we got on the Brilliance. If you have the time don't miss the Sagra Familia, Gaudi's cathedral which is still under construction. Entertainment (including Cruise Staff)  same old, same old. A really mediocre RCCI production which included a lip-synching baritone and a comedy dance duo which was best suited for a 5th grade birthday party turned us off early on. I did hear comments that other shows, which we didn't attend, were of the same caliber. The Cruise Director, Bill Brunkhorst, came off as totally insincere and fake. The Cruise Staff seemed hard working. Ports: We took none of the ship's excursions. Instead I researched activities in each port prior to leaving. Villefranche  Go to Nice either by bus (expect a long wait) or by taxi (about 25 Euros). Old Town is very quaint. There is a great store with lavender, olive oil soaps, herbs etc. called La Maison D'Olive. Don't miss it. Malaga  hired a car to drive us to Ronda (about 200 Euros), about 1 hour through the countryside outside of Malaga; breathtaking views and some nice shopping were the highlight. Lisbon  THIS IS A MUST: use Inside Lisbon Tours (www.insidelisbon.com). We had a walking tour for the 4 of us which lasted 6 hours, including a wonderful lunch at a non-touristy restaurant on a side street. Natasha, our guide, was friendly, knowledgeable, and informative. If you want to buy Portuguese wines visit Napoleao. Christine will let you taste not only wines but also older ports as well. They ship to the states. Funchal  a big disappointment. The town is very crowded with lots of buses and traffic. Visiting the Madeira houses was boring. None of the staffs bothered giving any information about the wine, but simply dropped the glasses on the table, told you the type of Madeira you were tasting (sweet, semi-dry, etc.) and walked away. While we ended up buying 2 bottles (in shops), I was hoping to spend more but they didn't care so neither did I. 6 Days at sea - there were lots of activities going on. Unfortunately the Cruise Director felt it necessary to read the entire list of morning activities and afternoon activities over the loudspeaker, as if people couldn't read their Cruise Compass. The weather was nice so we laid on deck and took a dip in the pool. By the 6th day I started getting antsy. 5 seas days in a row is enough for me. Fellow passengers: The crowd was older, as one would expect for a 13-night cruise. Very few children. Let me continue by saying that I have NEVER heard so much complaining on a ship. From the moment people got on it seemed they were looking for things to complain about and seemed to relish the act of lodging a complaint. There was a little motion on the ocean (and I mean little) and people complained about that. Robes  some people don't understand that the robe is not to be worn around the ship, but to use in your room after you get out of the shower! Instead groups would hang out in the Solarium or walk around the decks in their robes. The Chaise Lounge policy is ridiculous! Nobody follows it. Nobody enforces it. Every morning we would try to get lounges in the Solarium and they were all reserved with books and towels although the occupants were nowhere to be found. Rude and inconsiderate. Boarding was fine although we were told to wait in line at check in for general cabins. Since there were no lines at the Suite/Platinum desk we jumped to our assigned line and boarded in no time. In the pier building there is a duty-free shop before you get on board. The prices were good, but we weren't in the shopping mood, so we just got on the ship. General comments: our cabin was great, as we expected. Our steward was efficient, but non-obtrusive. The Brilliance isn't scheduled for the bedding upgrade until 07, but we were fine with the old mattress, etc. There is some wear and tear around the ship, such as the chaise lounges on deck and chairs in the dining room. The Library is not well stocked, but if you finish a book while onboard leave it in the drop off box so they can add it to the shelves. The Shops of Centrum always seemed in disarray. The sales they held in the vestibule area clogged up traffic and made a mess. The Photographers were the least visible on any cruise I have been on, but were around when it counted (formal nights). Food was EXCELLENT in all dining venues on the ship. When we asked our table waitress (Inga from Lithuania  terrific!) she said that, because the ship had been in Europe for the season, the chefs were all European  with high food quality standards, etc. It really showed. The staff at the Seaview Cafe was friendly and welcoming. As expected, the staffs in Portofino and Chops were also great! The Windjammer was good, especially for those late afternoon snacks. Concierge Club  a total DISASTER! RCCI needs to re-evaluate this amenity. There were people who honestly sat in the room from the moment it opened for cocktails until dinner - 3 ½ hours! One man took pride in saying at the end of the cruise that he hadn't spent a dime on drinks because he got his all free at the Concierge. The room was so packed that they opened Starquest on Deck 13 for the overflow. While we were entitled to take advantage of the Concierge, it was just too much of an effort so we spent our time in the Schooner Bar (before dinner) and the Disco (after dinner). There has to be a way to regulate who uses the Concierge Club, how often they can use it, and when. Spa/Gym/Salon: Spinning classes sold out fast (limited to 10 people, pay in advance), but every time we went we could get on a bike. The instructor was fine, some of his music wasn't great - spinning to hard rock?! The gym was clean and well maintained. The Spa was fine, but I felt after both my massages and facial the therapist was more interested in selling me products than anything else. I told them flat out that I was/wasn't interested and they didn't push. I had a nice trim/haircut in the Salon and one of my traveling companions had a wash and blow out 3 times. We were both very happy with the service. Overall: This was our best RCCI cruise (although I think we say that every time). Our complaints lay more with our fellow passengers than the cruise. I don't know if it is a product of sites like Cruise Critic, but it seemed that people looked for things to complain about as if they read about the Brilliance on CC and searched for things to complain about. As one senior staff member told a passenger, You're on vacation - relax! Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
This was our third cruise and second on Royal Caribbean. We've sailed previously on Voyager of the Seas and Celebrity Constellation. Brilliance of the Seas is a beautiful ship and we had a wonderful time on this cruise and we are ... Read More
This was our third cruise and second on Royal Caribbean. We've sailed previously on Voyager of the Seas and Celebrity Constellation. Brilliance of the Seas is a beautiful ship and we had a wonderful time on this cruise and we are already considering cruising the Mediterranean next year. Pre-Cruise We booked our cruise entirely through Royal Caribbean this time around, on our previous cruises I had booked usually online. We had booked our previous cruises with separate airfare but this time it was entirely more affordable to go through Royal Caribbean directly for airfare and cruise. This was specially an emotionally charged cruise for my mother and me. We were originally scheduled for the Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing earlier this year on April 28, however just as we had arrived in Miami on the 27th of April we received news that my grandfather (Mom's Dad) had passed away in Mexico City and we had to postpone our cruise. I must say that the entire Royal Caribbean staff, both in Miami Airport and in the head offices was very helpful and understanding throughout the entire situation. We live in Las Vegas, NV but Royal Caribbean Air/Sea staff were fabulous and instead of booking a return flight for us to Las Vegas they immediately booked us on a direct flight from Miami to Mexico City that very morning. We didn't even have to leave the airport and all at no extra cost, and mind you we had not purchased the Cruise Insurance, they even refunded our entire cruise fare on credit for a future cruise. I am very thankful to them by helping my mother and I through this difficult time and for helping us get to Mexico City right away. After we returned from the funerals in Mexico City we immediately booked the Westbound Transatlantic Crossing also on Brilliance of the Seas but this time for November, and this time remembering to purchase Cruise Insurance. Even thought Royal Caribbean was amazing in refunding 100% of our cruise fare, we knew we could have been in a very dire situation had Royal Caribbean not been so lenient, so I surely recommend anyone to spend the extra $80 - $100 per person and purchase the Insurance. Barcelona We left early on Sunday morning, the 5th of November, and flew through New York JFK to fly to Barcelona. We had booked a pre-cruise hotel package as well through RCI and stayed in the Atrium Palace Hotel in Barcelona. The hotel was beautiful and very well located just a couple blocks from Placa Catalunya and Las Ramblas. We were greeted at the airport by the friendly local RCI staff and were transferred to our hotel where we were greeted by the RCI representative in Barcelona. He gave us a letter informing us of the next day's activities prior to boarding the ship and also offered a couple of packages to view the city through their local tour operator. We discussed going on one of these excursions however we thought they were a bit overpriced. One of them was just over 100 Euros so we decided not to book any of them since I had heard that there was a touristic bus that can take you around the city for about 15 Euros per person. Thankfully we found some information about this bus on one of the magazines that was in the room and we found out that one of the stops was in Placa Catalunya which like I said was just a couple of blocks from the hotel. This, of course, ended up being a very good choice. The "Bus Turistic" as it is called, was only 14 Euros per person and it had two routes that pretty much covers all the highlights in the city, and you can get on and off the bus as many times as you'd like throughout the day for the same low price. When you purchase the tickets they advise you that the bus tour is not narrated, however, they do have guides on board and though they do not get into much detail about every place you visit, they do offer a small narration of every place you are passing or stopping by. We did both routes entirely and we got to see all the highlights, like Montjuic, the Barri Gotic, La Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Parc Guell, and all the Gaudi architecture among other highlights. We found Barcelona to be extremely beautiful and we felt as though every street we passed was better than the one before. We couldn't find through the entire tour a single neighborhood we did not like or thought of as beautiful. We got off by the Barri Gotic and walked to the Gothic Cathedral of Barcelona, admission was 7 Euros per person but it was well worth it as it is just a monumental piece of art, we also walked by Las Ramblas which is the colorful center of the City and we also got off the bus at Parc Guell, which is a park with a whole bunch of buildings and sculptures by Antoni Gaudi himself, the great master architect that has marked the city in such a monumental way. We did not get off the bus at the Sagrada Familia Cathedral due mostly to time as it was getting pretty late and we were extraordinarily jet-lagged and tired. Admission for that was 12 Euros per person, but they say that it is a worthy visit though the Cathedral is not completed yet; however it is a magnificent building even if you just look at it from the outside as we did. All in a all Barcelona is such a rich and wonderful city that we have vowed to return to it to see all that we missed in the one short day we were there, and to see all the other sights we missed though we did pass by most of them with the "Bus Turistic", so if you go to Barcelona and you're on a budget, definitely give it a try, it's the sure bet to see pretty much everything though only skimming the surface. We returned to our hotel around 9pm after walking all day, we were exhausted but it was well worth it. On our RCI welcome letter we were advised that Breakfast was include that next morning at the hotel, and also, that we had to prepare our bags to be picked up directly in our hotel room by a porter, and that we would not see them again until we were onboard Brilliance. This was nice to find out, because when I had first booked our pre-cruise stay in Barcelona, they did not inform me that breakfast would be included, and though we knew transportation was included, we did not know it was going to be so easy! By 9:00 am the next morning, right on schedule, the porter was knocking at our door to pick up our bags, after a short breakfast in the nice cafe located in the hotel, we went back up to our room to finish getting ready and wait for our 10:45am pick-up by a bus to take us directly to the Pier. The Hotel was located on the Grand Via, which is pretty much Barcelona's main thoroughfare and we had a balcony overlooking this magnificent street, so we took a few more pictures and watched the bus pull up to pick us up. Check-In & Boarding I only have to say one thing about the Check-In and Boarding Formalities on this cruise.... "WOW", we were checked in and onboard in about 10 minutes!!! It was unbelievable. We did take advantage, though, of the new online check-in feature on RCI's website, but nonetheless we never saw a line forming or too many buses or cars pulling up to the pier even as we were onboard the ship. This might also be due to the fact that the ship was not 100% full, but nonetheless I think we were all impressed with the quick, efficient service in Barcelona. The terminal is pretty large and there were probably about 40 counters or so and they were all open, even at around 11:30 am when we arrived. The Counters are divided in a couple of sections though, around 3 counters are used for troubleshooting and for the Pier Administrator, around 5 for check-in for Suites, around 20 for "Set-Sail Pass" holders, which is the online check-in feature, and the rest for regular cruise passengers. They were serving coffee, tea, and cookies in the terminal building, however we did not even try them as we were done so very quickly. There are also some shops right before you go up the escalators to board the ship, and these we thought were a bit overpriced as to what we had seen in Barcelona, however, if you are just looking for last minute purchases, I guess they are very convenient. We Boarded through Deck 5, which is where the outdoor promenade or "lifeboat promenade" of the ship is, and we were onboard in no time. We immediately headed up to deck 11 to start our tour of the ship as we knew our cabins would not be ready till 2pm. We did our tour of the ship and had lunch in the Windjammer and before we knew it, it was 2pm and our cabin was ready. Our cabin attendant quickly introduced himself and explained some of the features of the room (which we already knew but we let him go on), and he also reminded us of the muster drill which was to be held at 5pm that afternoon. The Ship Ok, if you have read some of my previous reviews, you know I have to be thorough with my description of the ships, as in my opinion, they are sometimes the most important deciding factor when you go on a cruise, so here goes, the full scoop on the Fabulous Brilliance of the Seas. Deck 2 This is were some interior and exterior cabins are located, these are the fewest cabins on any deck of the ship, so if you are looking perhaps for some privacy perhaps this would be a good deck for you. This is also were the Medical facility is in the forward section of the ship (only accessible by the forward elevators and stairs) and where the tender stations are. Deck 3 This is were we stayed, in an interior cabin, #3617, the entire deck is just cabins, and it is probably were there are more cabins of any single deck, this is also were there is a ship entrance/exit in the forward section of the ship which we used to embark in Lisbon. Deck 4 The Heart of the Ship. This is where the main floor of the Centrum is, and where the Guest Relations/Explorations desk is and the lobby bar. To the aft is the main level of the Minstrel Dining Room, were we spent 13 unforgettable dinners, and forward are more interior and exterior cabins. The Midship elevators are 6 in total, the famous 4 that face the ocean through that impressive multi-story window, and 2 that face the Centrum. The 4 that face the ocean serve decks 2 through 13, and the ones that face the Centrum serve decks 2 through 11. The elevators are pretty efficient, however when it's rush time as in any ship, it could take a while to get an elevator, or for example, if you are going from Deck 3 to Deck 11, you might have to stop at every single Deck before you make it to your destination, thankfully, rush hour is usually just once a day when early sitting is letting out and late sitting is on its way to the dining room. The Centrum The Centrum is the very heart of the ship, and there is always something going on, on sea days they usually had a noontime concert and by 5pm the Impromptu Duo would perform and then to close out the night they would have Grace's High Society Trio, the Impromptu Duo were very good, but Grace, in my opinion, had one of the loveliest voices I have ever heard and she had a very good fan base that would dance to her tunes every single night. We spent a few nights there with her and we even became good friends. Both musical groups play mostly danceable music and all-time favorites. During our Cruise we also had 2 Centrum Concerts or Performances, first was Renato Pagliari, who is an opera singer and performed in the Pacifica Theatre, however he was so popular, that he performed the next night in the Centrum to a full house of people hanging off the Centrum Balconies, it was so nice to see all the people perched high and clapping for him. Further on in the cruise the stars of the production show "Tango Buenos Aires" also had a Special Tango Performance in the Centrum, and again, the effect was ethereal. I was really happy that they use this beautiful space so well, because as I had written about the Constellation, I had wished they utilized the Grand Foyer more often because of its sheer beauty, but I'm glad to say that RCI has the Centrum very well utilized. Deck 5 This Deck is home to the upper level of the Minstrel Dining Room. We usually entered the dining room through this Deck as I enjoyed making a grand entrance by walking down the Grand Staircase of the Dining Room and seeing the wonderful mural at the opposite end and also the lovely waterfall that is the centerpiece of the Grand Staircase. Deck 5 is also home to the outdoor promenade, Cafe Latte-Tudes, the shops, conference center, art & photo gallery and the main level of the Pacifica Theatre which is were we always sat for all the shows that were put on. The Pacifica Theatre is probably the loveliest of the theatres of the ships I have been on. As the others, it is very modern but I specially liked the dEcor and the comfort of the seats, and in general, the openness of the space. I also loved the exterior promenade which is where I enjoyed many after-dinner cigarettes while watching the ocean go by. The shops were very nice, and though not as extensive as they were onboard Constellation, I thought they were plenty big, and perhaps even bigger than the limited selection Voyager had. Cafe Latte-Tudes we never tried, but it was always busy, however I don't think I would pay that much for Seattle's Best Coffee, LOL, however if a Starbuck's had been onboard I would have been there probably every day! Deck 6 This is where the lovely Colony Club is located in the very aft of the ship. This space is absolutely lovely with rich wood and British Colonial dEcor, this is where they usually held the bingo and Karaoke, which I finally got the guts to perform one night to my rendition of New York New York, which in my opinion went pretty well, but may be the people clapping were just being nice. We also often played Backgammon here as they have a few tables set up with either Backgammon or Chess sets, however if these two games are not your cup of tea, right next door is the Calcutta Card room, and they have an endless variety of board and card games. Also a little further down is the Bombay Billiard Club, where the famous self leveling pool tables are, and let me tell you, it is a sight to behold when the ship is rocking and the tables are keeping the balls perfectly straight. We never played, but we enjoyed watching a couple games there. Deck 6 also hosts the very popular Schooner Bar, which in my opinion is a million times nicer than the one on Voyager, and much larger also, this place was always full of people, and the Piano Player, Anselmo Bowles, was very good, as well as the Guitar Player, Lech. They always had people right around the Piano or wherever they were playing singing along with them. Right by the Centrum is the Champagne Bar, and this is a nice spot to enjoy a cocktail while still listening to the music of the Centrum and while enjoying a fabulous view of the ocean, immediately forward from the Champagne Bar is the Casino, and if you've read my review of Voyager you know I hated the dEcor on Voyager's Casino, but on Brilliance, the Casino's Art-Deco motif was very nice and pleasant and we even won $40 once!, I only wish that they had a few more penny machines as they only have 3 and they were always full, they are very popular, and of course, being from Las Vegas, we know that the trend now is to have a bunch of penny machines everywhere, but hopefully soon they will add more, otherwise the nickel machines are also fun. After the Casino is the Scoreboard Bar & Cinema, this place always seemed to be empty, but perhaps it was because there were not that many sports enthusiasts onboard, or because while cruising the Atlantic we did manage to loose signal from some channels so perhaps ESPN was not available, in any sense, it is a nice bar if you're a sports fan. The Cinema is right next door, and it is really nice with stadium seating, however it felt kind of small this cruise due to the fact that we were 6 days at sea and a lot of people would go down to watch the movie of the day, and both times we were there the theatre was packed, there were even people sitting on the floor and on the side stairs, even us, the first time we went, we had to sit in the very, very front on some improvised chairs the staff had brought in, and needless to say it was very painful to sit so close, but the movie (Memoirs of a Geisha) was pretty good, and they always played fairly recent movies. After the Cinema is the front elevator lobby and the Balcony of the Pacifica Theatre. Decks 7, 8, 9 & 10 These of course are the main passenger decks on the ship with all the balcony staterooms, four of our tablemates were staying on Deck 9 and two more were staying in Deck 10. On Deck 7 by the Centrum is the Business Services Center, which also doubles as an added section of Royal Caribbean Online which has stations on Deck 4 and Deck 5 as well. Deck 8 hosts the Explorer's Court, which is basically a little sitting room. Deck 9 has the library and Deck 10 the Yacht Club, which is another sitting area and the Concierge Club. On this particular cruise our tablemates were Diamond Plus members of the Crown & Anchor Society and they told us that there were so many Platinum and Diamond Members onboard that they had to improvise another Concierge Lounge in the Hollywood Odyssey which is on Deck 13 on the Viking Crown Lounge. Deck 11 Deck 11 of course is the heart of the daytime action, hosting the Windjammer Cafe and the Pools. The Windjammer is beautifully decorated as the rest of the ship, however they are still lacking a bit on the food quality during breakfast, however they have a great omelet station, so you can never go wrong with fruit, some fresh bread, and a freshly cooked omelet if you don't want to try your luck with the lukewarm French toast and waffles, or the kind of old scrambled eggs. The Drink station is open 24 hours so you can always get coffee or water at any time of the day, and I'm glad they put some effort into decorating this room as well, because Voyagers was a clear disappointment. The Main Pools is really nice and this is where we spent most of our day time, the DEjà Vu Duo performed here most of the days, they are from Bulgaria and they are very good. The Hot Tubs were available most of the time, and there were always plenty of deck chairs, though the ones directly under the sun were usually full, but we still managed to get a couple chairs on the sunny side on a couple of occasions which was more than plenty for us. Otherwise if you're looking to get tanned the deck chairs on Deck 12 and the Sun Deck on Deck 13 are always available. The Solarium is very nice on this ship, and we enjoyed spending a few times there, however the first couple of days of the cruise the heat was unbelievable in this space, but I think they corrected it over the duration of the cruise as it became cooler later. We didn't spend as much time here as in other cruises where we have enjoyed the solarium, due to the fact that we really enjoyed listening to the DEjà Vu Duo and taking part in the poolside activities. Also on one of the days crossing the Atlantic, the ship was rocking so much that they had to empty some of the water in the solarium pool because it was overflowing, so it was closed for a couple of days though the hot tub stayed open. The hot tub in the Solarium was always full and even though it clearly states that guest should only enjoy the whirlpool for 15 minutes, there were people that would stay in there for hours, and I mean that literally, so it was unfortunate that some people could not enjoy the whirlpool due to this inconsiderate people that would sit in the whirlpool all day. The Solarium also has the Solarium Cafe & Bar which serves healthy alternatives like Greek Salad, Wraps, and Fruit; Mother enjoyed going to get Fruit there on many occasions. Directly forward of the Solarium is the Brilliance Day Spa, Mother had won a special Polar Age Consultation on the first day of the cruise on a raffle, but we never had the time to go redeem it at the Day Spa, however the dEcor is very nice and Arabic. Deck 12 This is the sports deck, having the jogging track, the Shipshape Center, the sports court and the Country Club & Golf Simulator. This is also where the Adventure Ocean Program is and the Crown & Anchor Lounge which is "floating" over the Centrum with a lovely glass bottom in the center where you can see all the way down to the base of the Centrum. This was also where our favorite lunch spot was, the brilliant Seaview Cafe. I had read on a previous review that they served sandwiches like a Cuban Sandwich or a Reuben, but instead on this cruise, it was a Panini & Pasta Restaurant, perhaps they change this from cruise to cruise, but the Panini's were absolutely delicious and the Pasta even better, though I wish they would serve the pasta with grilled shrimp or grilled chicken which was not an option, but oh well, they also serve great pizzas and we enjoyed quite a few lunches here. And though the food is great, another complaint is that they only serve water and bar stuff, no Iced Tea or Lemonade like in the Windjammer, so I had to walk down to the Windjammer all the time to bring up some Lemonade for Mother and Iced Tea for me, I didn't mind the walk, but just another petty complaint. Deck 13 - Viking Crown This of course is the signature fixture on all RCI ships, and this one was very nice, Voyager was divided into four sections, but Brilliance was only two, the Starquest Disco where we danced the night away on 70's Night, and the Hollywood Odyssey which in the afternoon doubled as the Concierge Lounge, and in the Evening would be a nice quiet spot to listen to Jazz or the Guitarist, Lech. Otherwise, DJ Twain would spin records in the Starquest and was always eager to play requests. This cruise was mostly older people, and the Starquest was usually empty, but 70's Night was packed. Right behind the Viking Crown is where the famous Rock Climbing wall is, and this time I did give it a try, I must say it is much harder than it looks and I was sore the next day, but I'm not a big sports guy, so I guess I'm just a big wimp, but it was still fun. Right behind the wall is the Fairways of Brilliance Mini-Golf Course, which is a very nice and fun 9 holes of golf. Ship Overview So there's a brief description of what's on the ship, but overall the ship is absolutely beautiful, wood and more wood everywhere, there is very little show of wear or tear, and there are people constantly cleaning everywhere though at first you can't really spot them as they seem to be crew members just walking around the ship with little backpacks, however they have all their cleaning supplies in the little backpacks and as they walk the clean the whole ship. There is a rich use of wood and marble through the entire ship as I said, and even the bathrooms have extensive wood and marble and designer fixtures, however be careful when you lean to wash your hands as it is sometimes wet around the edges for some reason (probably due to the round design) and I got wet a couple of times. There is also windows everywhere and art around every corner of the ship, they even put a guide of the art around the ship in your stateroom, and however it doesn't nearly cover it all. We would definitely cruise on another Radiance-Class vessel any time as they are beautiful and big enough, yet small enough for everyone. Ports of Call Villefranche Villefranche was our first port after leaving Barcelona the day before. Villefranche is the deep water harbor that pretty much serves Nice, Cannes, and Monaco. For this port we decided to take a cruise-sponsored Tour as we have come to find that they are very reliable and very informative. Our excursion would take us to Nice, the town of Eze, and Monaco. We started the morning off by having breakfast in the room as that always proves to be the best bet when you are a late riser and you have to be at a certain point at a certain time, that way you can be having your breakfast while still getting ready. Our tour met at the Pacifica Theatre and we were escorted to the tender station in the forward of the ship. After the short tender ride to the port and the sweeping views of our majestic vessel, we disembarked and were directed to our bus. The funny thing is that all of the busses are staged at an old fort in Villefranche which ahs very narrow streets leading into and out of it, so it was quite a ride to go in and out of that place. We had a fantastic guide and her English was perfect with that lovely French flair. Immediately after leaving Villefranche we took the short ride to Nice, our first stop was right at the waterfront by the marketplace where we had some free time to explore the lovely outdoor shops and narrow streets. After some pictures and some shopping we headed back to the bus for a driving tour of the highlights of Nice. The tour guide was very good at explaining all of the history of Nice which is a city that goes back all the way to Roman times. We visited some of the sights like the Roman Amphitheater, the Square Hat sculpture and the Russian Cathedral before heading out to the city thought he Middle Corniche road on our way to Eze. Eze is a medieval village perched high above the Mediterranean Sea, we thought it was a very charming place and we had a wonderful time while we were there. Perhaps some of you might recognize Eze as Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel stayed at the Chateau Eza during her trip there, and believe me, a stop here is well worth it. After walking around the Village, we came back down the hill to a restaurant just at the entrance of Eze where we had lunch (included in the excursion) which was very good and there was also plenty of wine to go around. After lunch, we headed out of Eze and into the land of the rich and fabulous, Monaco. Monaco was an amazing experience as we got to see all of the sights, like the Prince's Palace and the Place du Casino. There was an option to pay a few more Euros to go into the Casino, however we decided to pass this up and instead we walked around the beautifully landscaped grounds around the Casino and took lots of photos. We also got to see the lovely Cathedral where the remains of the late HSH Princess Grace and HSH Prince Rainer lay, as well as the houses of HSH Princess Caroline and HSH Princess Stephanie. After seeing the sights in Monaco we were exhausted and slept most of the way back to Villefranche while taking the Lower Corniche road. After arriving at Villefranche we decided to walk around the town a little bit as we wanted to see some more of this quaint little town. The streets are narrow and full of charm and we even got to visit the Cathedral where there was a coir rehearsal going on, and needless to say it was very lovely. After a short walk, we decided it was time to head back to the ship to refresh and get ready for dinner and Showtime. Malaga After a lovely day at sea in the gorgeous waters of the Mediterranean, we arrived in Malaga, birthplace of Pablo Picasso. For this city we also decided to take a cruise-sponsored tour to Marbella and Puerto Banus. We once again had breakfast in the room and unfortunately we arrived about 1 minute late to the Pacifica Theatre so we had to rush behind our group to follow them to the bus. Once we were out by the pier we got kind of lost since we had lost track of our group as we saw some of them go left and some of them go right, however, one of the local RCI staff directed us to Bus #4 to the left of the ship, mind you we speak Spanish perfectly so there was no way for us to get confused by what the RCI staff member was telling us in Spanish as well, so off we went to Bus #4. After a short wait, Bus #4 started to get going, however we thought it was a little odd that no guide had come onboard to introduce themselves or anything of the sort, and this is where I began to get concerned, and after the short drive the bus stopped at the entrance of the Pier and everyone stood up and got off the bus. At that time we asked the bus driver what was going on and he informed us we were only on the shuttle that RCI had provided to take guests back and forth from the ship to the port entrance. Needless to say we were horrified that they had directed us to the wrong bus, so we immediately headed back to ship to figure out what was going on. After we got back to the ship, we approached some of the local staff, but we were directed to go up to the Guest Relations desk on deck 4 to sort out the situation. By this time it was obvious to us that we had missed our tour and that obviously we'd have to make alternate arrangements. My mother was a little upset and she sort of yelled at the guest relations people for like a minute, but the guest relations staff was very nice and they said they would refund our card and obviously apologized for the mistake. Also, I must say that it was partly our fault for being a minute late to the Pacifica Theatre, so I have no complaints for the RCI Staff besides the fact that we were sent to the wrong bus, but otherwise the situation ended up being resolved. After the whole debacle, we ended up deciding to take the free shuttle back to the port entrance and look around to see if we could find a cheap tour or something to do. It turns out we found another touristic bus that operates in Malaga and we were quick to hop on. It turned out to be a great choice again as we got to see all of the sights, and this time we did have narration via headphones that were available on the bus at no extra cost. We visited the fort (5 Euros) and the old Arab castle as well as the Cathedra (5 Euros to go in) as well as other sights. In the end we ended up being quite happy with our self-made tour and returned to the ship very satisfied later on in the evening. Lisbon For Lisbon we had also decided to take a cruise-sponsored tour, however it was sold-out since the beginning of our cruise, so we were already considering other options. We were able to find out that there was a touristic bus in Lisbon as well, so we decided to make that our first stop. For Lisbon it was unusual as we arrived in port in the mid-afternoon; however it was exciting as we got to see the ship dock, and it was quite an awesome experience. This port was also nice because Royal Caribbean was also running shuttles from the port to the Praca do Comercio, which is pretty much in the heart of the city and about 15 minutes away from the dock. Immediately after debarking we headed straight for the shuttle and we found the bus stop directly in Praca do Comercio. There was a rather long wait for the first bus to arrive, but once it arrived we really enjoyed the narration (via the headphones as well) and seeing most of the sights. We saw the Edward VII Park, the Basilica da Estrela, the old monastery and the Monument to the Discoveries. We were going to get off the bus at the Monument to the Discoveries, but decided against it since we saw the Cruise busses had just arrived and there was a very large crowd, instead we completed the circuit and returned to Praca do Comercio. After we got off the bus, we decided to walk around the many shop-filled streets around the Praca do Comercio and we eventually walked all the way to the cathedral following a free map we had gotten while on the bus. The Cathedra, though not as spectacular as Malaga's or Barcelona's, was impressive nonetheless as it is made in simple medieval architecture. After a few pictures and a little rest in the little plaza in front of the Cathedra, we continued our walk back to the Praca do Comercio so that we could catch a shuttle back to the ship. Once we made it back to the dock, we decided to go to the little shopping district and marina that is right next to the pier. There are many restaurants and a few shops in this area and the view was very nice and peaceful. After we walked the entire length of the shops and marina, we decided to start heading back to the ship for a snack and to get ready for dinner. All in all, our stop in Lisbon was very nice and we would totally do the bus again, it turned out to be a great choice. Funchal/Madeira Madiera is an island of the cost of Africa belonging to Portugal, this time we also chose a cruise-sponsored tour, and this time it went off without a hitch. Our tour would take us from the dock to the cable cars which take you a long way up the mountain. The views are absolutely awesome from the cable car and it's a very smooth ride all the way up the mountain. After we got to the top, it was time to head to the toboggan. This was the best part out of the whole tour; it was just amazing to go down on those little wooden basket-type cars. The wait was kind of awful as a lot of the tours arrived at the same time, and there were 4 ships in port (Crystal Serenity, AIDA Vita, Thomas Cruises and us), but at least the queue that formed was around a really nicely landscaped area, so we didn't mind too much, and believe me, the ride in the end was well worth it though it only took about 10 minutes to go down the mountain. After the toboggan ride, we were taken to see some of the cloth work that locals do and we also visited the local marketplace which was really colorful and full of exotic things. I've read in some reviews that some people thought that Madeira was very busy and full of traffic, but I guess since we're originally from Mexico City we really enjoyed it, it was sort of a throw back to some of the Latin American capitals and it really made us realize how our cultures are just so similar. After a walk around the city and by the marina, we decided to walk down to the dark sand beach and then we took a lovely stroll all the way back to the ship. This walk was nice as we got to see all of the 4 ships in port really close up and we got to take some nice pictures. Also right in front of the ships, there were many stores so we got to buy some last minute souvenirs. Afterwards, we boarded the ship and soon enough it was time to say good bye to terra firma and head off into the Atlantic for 6 days, we wouldn't touch land again until Miami. Days at Sea When we first booked our cruise, I wasn't concerned at all over the 6 days it would take us to cross the Atlantic; however I was a little concerned about the rockiness of the ship. My mother gets a little seasick sometimes, and though she's proven to be a pro at cruising, she still carried her Dramamine just in case. After leaving Madeira we had a lovely clear day the next day; however it was kind of cloudy and very rocky the next day. This proved to be the only day that the boat rocked quite a bit and it was quite funny to see the how people seemed to "waddle" around the ship as it was bobbing up and down. My mother had a small spell of seasickness right after breakfast that day, but after some Dramamine and a quick rest in our cabin she was good to go for the rest of the evening. We found out that what had caused her to get sick was the fact that we sat very close to the windows at the Windjammer that morning and you could see how the ship would go up side to side quite a bit, so it was all visual, after that we learned not to sit to close, or rather to have mother facing the inside of the ship. That night, even our waiter was out of commission due to sea sickness and our Head Waiter was in charge of his tables. The rest of the days were rather calm, and though we had very lovely weather for the whole trip (except for that quick shower on the rocky day) it was still somewhat cool for pool activities for some days, however, the closer we got to Florida the nicer it got and we got to enjoy many days in the pool. We would also shuttle back and forth from bingo one day to the Cinema the next and so on and so forth. The Cruise Director's staff always made an effort to keep everyone entertained, and before we knew it we were very close to the Florida Coast. It was nice to see the "sea-show" (for some of you who might be into aviation, the map that most airliners show during flight is often referred to as the "air-show" where the map shows you how your trip is progressing) to see how far we had gone. It was also fun to keep changing the time every other day, for most of our trip we were gaining hours so it was quite relaxing. On the last day, as we were reaching the Bahamas, we were able to spot many ships heading back to Florida, we got to see a few Carnival boats and even passed very close to Castaway Key (Disney's Private Island) and we even got to see Disney Wonder or Magic docked off-shore. As it was getting later in the afternoon we noticed that we began to pick up speed. Just a few minutes after that the captain came over the PA system and announced that we were picking up speed to arrive into Miami that very night due to the fact that there was a sick passenger on board, and even though there was a choice to either Helicopter them out or to stop in Freeport at the Bahamas, it was deemed easier to head straight to Miami as fast as we could. Later on we heard some of the crew around the boat talking to different guests and one of the Cruise Director's staff members told us it was one of the first times that Brilliance was going full speed ahead at around 25 or 26 knots. It was really fun to stand out in the Promenade Deck as it was really windy and we could tell that the ship was plowing ahead, and I often wonder how amazing it is that these 90,000 ton vessels are able to go at over 30 mph. In the end, we were coming around dessert at dinner when we began pulling into Miami. It was kind of fun as we got to see Brilliance dock a second time (since we're always asleep when the ship docks and had gotten the opportunity to catch the scene at Lisbon before we left Europe), however I did think that our overall cruise experience was a little diminished as our "Farewell" party held at the Starquest Disco was as we were already in port, so it was kind of a break with the whole "cruise magic" I guess, but I guess I'm just nit-picking again. All in all, I hope that the sick guest was alright and that everything went well for them. As a curious side-note, one of our table mates also got sick during the cruise and he told us that they had pretty good medical supplies, but he was aware that it was not a hospital at sea, so they were glad they could get those sick passengers off the ship quickly. Conclusion All in all, we had a great time on our cruise, we got to meet very interesting people and we loved Brilliance to death. Over all of our cruises, I think Constellation and Brilliance are closely tied as the best ships we've sailed on, Voyager might be impressive, but Constellation and Brilliance are just beautiful and gorgeous. We would totally sail another Radiance-Class Vessel again, but now it's off to try the Vision class in March 2008 for our South America Cruise! Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
We are a married couple who have been on 14 previous cruise the seven last year, and this was our 3th cruise with RCCL, and our first Trans-Atlantic cruise. We embarked the Voyager of the Seas in Miami, and disembarked in Barcelona, ... Read More
We are a married couple who have been on 14 previous cruise the seven last year, and this was our 3th cruise with RCCL, and our first Trans-Atlantic cruise. We embarked the Voyager of the Seas in Miami, and disembarked in Barcelona, Spain. Voyager of the Seas is a grand ship. The main atrium/mall is very impressive, and the ship has three pools in addition to a childrens pool- center, several Jacuzzis, an ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, mini golf, roller blade track, basketball court, fitness center and steam and sauna rooms. We find the Voyager of the Seas to be a very well fitted ship for a 12 days cruise, with many sea days. Our balcony cabin was nice and clean, and was very well taken care of by our nice cabin attendant. Now we will give our opinion of the Restaurants/cafes onboard: Carmen Dinning Room - we had most dinners in the Carmen Dinning Room, a beautiful room. We had the second seating and we had a table for six. We could not have been more happy with our dinner companions, one couple from US and one couple from Sweden. Our waiters were very attentive and service-minded, and we always looked forward to meet our new friends around the dinner table. We found the food to be pretty good. Was everything in the Carmen Dinning Room great, unfortunately not. We have never had so poor headwaiter service on any previous cruise. We nearly saw our Headwaiter before it was two/three days before disembarking in Barcelona, and of course time to receive his gratitude. On the other hand,the headwaiter service for breakfast in the Main Dinning Room was all right, and we also found the waiter service to be efficient and the breakfast itself to be of a good quality. Windjammer/Island Grill - we had most breakfast and lunch here. Unfortunately we find the buffet to be average at best, and nothing to "write home about". We also observed that some of the crew serving in the Windjammer/Island Grill were not to eager to clean the tables. I think they have a manager problem there. Portofino- we had dinner one night in the Restaurant. The Restaurant itself is very nice and our food was of high quality, but the service from our waiter was extremely poor. When we complained to him, he answered that he had so many other things to take care of. But that was not in the Portofino,because we did nearly saw him at all in the Restaurant. As an example, we had to ask other waiters in the Restaurant to poor water in our glasses. We also complained to the Head Waiter and to the Guest Relations Desk, but we newer got any excuse - very disappointing! Promenade Cafe - good food and a nice service. Johnny Rockets - Good hamburgers and a very service-minded and funny staff. We are not a fan of barservice shouting out for buying drinks every five minutes, when lying on Sundeck, but we have never seen more ineffective barservice on decks, anytime. The staff was most interested in talking to each other or to look out over the Atlantic-ocean. We always had to go ourselves to the Sky Bar or to the Pool Bar, when we wanted something to drink, when lying on Sundeck. After our opinion, it is a lack of both supervision and management. A nice touch - the self service ice cream machines. Ports of Call: Arrived in Bermuda Monday evening . This was our first visit to Bermuda, and we liked what we saw, and we found Hamilton to be a nice little town. Unfortunately, some of the crew who went ashore at night, were involved in a serious fight with locals and unfortunately one of the crew had to be left at the hospital in Hamilton for further treatment. Our Captain Gerry, later informed us that five of the locals had been put in jail in connection with that fight. I addition to that, late at night we were waken up by some crew members yelling and smashing bottles on the ground at the pier. And from our balcony we could observe their behavior. being drunk is one think, but wake up passengers with bad behavior, is another thing. And we are sorry to say that we not found this crew members to be good representatives for RCCL and for Voyager of the Seas. The next afternoon we were heading for Madeira. Unfortunately we awoke the next morning to hear that we where returning to Bermuda to evacuate a seriously ill passenger by a Coast Guard helicopter. Because of this, we had lost so much time that Captain Gary had to canceled the stop in Madeira so we could continue the rest of the voyage as planned. We fully supported his decision when it comes to the well being of a life, but we felt very sorry for our fellow passengers, who have never been before to this very lovely island in the Atlantic, with its beautiful landscape and its flowering. After six days at sea, with a calm Atlantic Ocean and much sun, we arrived in Gibraltar. A popular place to visit. If you are going on your own, we will recommend a tour with the cable car to the top of the mountain. The next day we reached the city Alicante in Spain. We find Alicante to be a nice town, but nothing special. The day after we arrived in Barcelona, which was our final destination. If you never have been to Barcelona before, we really recommend a few days stay in this beautiful large city! Will we take another Trans-Atlantic cruise again? Definitely! Will it be with RCCL? We are not sure. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
We booked this cruise the end of December 2006 at a deeply discounted rate for a balcony stateroom on deck 7. This was our first cruise with RCI and first Transatlantic previously cruised with Princess, HAL, Sunquest and Windjammer. The ... Read More
We booked this cruise the end of December 2006 at a deeply discounted rate for a balcony stateroom on deck 7. This was our first cruise with RCI and first Transatlantic previously cruised with Princess, HAL, Sunquest and Windjammer. The pier side check in was total disorganized with very rude baggage handlers, once you got past that embarkation was smooth and took about 20 minutes and we were on board headed for the Windjammer for lunch. As always, sail away was full of excitement when you hear those long blast from the horn bidding the port farewell, gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. The passengers consisted of US, Can. and European therefore all announcements were repeated three times in English, Spanish and German. I must say that throughout this voyage, I found many of the passengers to be rude and pushy. Apparently in other countries you do not have to wait in line, you just push your way in and ignore everyone behind. This started to weigh on many cruisers and within a few days it was not uncommon to hear shouts of anger from those whom generally are courteous. First day at sea was chilly and not many people sun bathing, a good time to explore the ship. Arrived in Bermuda Monday evening too late to go exploring. Some of the crew went ashore at night and were followed back to the ship and a brawl took place with some locals resulting in one crew member to be admitted to the hospital for serious internal injury. On Tuesday there were 3,000 passengers anxious to explore Bermuda at the same time making for long waits for transportation by bus, taxi and ferry leaving just a few hours to explore before having to return to the ship. Bermuda is a beautiful and colorful city and we would have appreciated more time to admire all it has to offer as we were only able to do a walking tour of Hamilton. Cast off to Portugal was smooth and awoke the next morning to hear that we where returning to Bermuda to evacuate a critically ill passenger. 100 miles from Bermuda brought the Coast Guard in a helicopter and a support plane for the evacuation, which caused great excitement to those watching. Decisions had to be made over lost time so Captain Gary canceled the stop in Madeira so we could continue the rest of the voyage as planned. This brought about some emotions from the passengers, however I fully supported his decision when it comes to the well being of a life. Six days at sea, yikes! forget the deck chairs unless you selfishly hogged one at 6:00 a.m. always a cross wind over the decks so wind proof spots for sun bathing were limited and if you could find a place, you wouldn't dare leave until you were certain you had enough sun. The sea days seemed to jell into each other and we thought the cruise director could have offered more activities. The shows were well produced with the ship cast however some of the one nighters lacked a polished show. I was impressed with "Revolution" a Beatles tribute band and the caliber of the cast in the ice skating show. Finally we reach Gibraltar and had a wonderful time exploring on foot. Be sure to take the cable car to the top of the mountain and watch out for the monkeys. They appear as tame rascals but beware some will relieve you of your camera or handbag never to be seen again. From the top of the mountain you will see the most spectacular view of Morocco, the Straight of Gibraltar and the city you will also see the shared roadway that cuts across the runway at the airport. You can set out on foot to explore the caves, fort and monkey den, you will be walking on very steep roads and must yield to the tour vehicles. Other options are motor vehicle tours or a round trip ticket on the cable car that stops at the monkey den. The main street is bustling with tourists and you will find many specialty shops along the way and original British fish and chips as well as traditional English foods. The only currency accepted is Euro and British Pound. Alicante Spain: main district is within walking distance of the pier we opted for the excursion to Guadalest a must see, the 45 minute ride alone is worth the excursion fee as you will see the beautiful and enchanting landscape and mountains in this region. Our tour guide kept us well informed and entertained with the history and daily living along the way. Guadalest is a small town of 3,500 residents, rich in history as you tour the "house" restored to a museum. Again spectacular views of the country side and mountains. Extremely pristine town with the cleanest air I've ever inhaled. Barcelona: docked at 5:30 a.m. with a smooth disembarkation complete by 9:30. We booked our own hotel and stayed an extra day to explore this historic city only to realize it was not long enough. To truly appreciate all this city has to offer would require several days with tours and on foot. The subway, bus and tram service is easily accessible and a great way to get around. Our biggest obstacle was not finding enough English speaking people to help guide us to our destinations. Euro is the only accepted currency and we found accommodation's, food and souvenirs to be expensive. Final thoughts: we would not be anxious to book this cruise again as there were too many consecutive sea days, advancing the clock by one hour every night for 6 days and the cool weather at sea. We were blessed with moderate seas which made for smooth sailing and did not encounter any rain or storms. Tipping can be prepaid or by envelope, I prefer the latter as it tends to maintain a sense of friendliness and service from the waiters and room attendants that is lacking in cruise lines that only have prepaid gratuities. Voyager of the Seas is a grand ship with an ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, mini golf, roller blade track, basketball court, fitness center, steam and sauna rooms as well as the usual amenities you would expect on any cruise line. The main atrium/mall is very impressive and unique. We were disappointed that there were no self serve laundry rooms or irons available so you are held captive to laundry service. This was our first cruise on a ship this size and even though it can comfortably accommodate 3000+ passengers, we prefer the smaller ships. I would recommend this voyage provided you are able to get the discounted fare and a reasonably priced return trip home. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
My 6th cruise with RCI, my first trans-atlantic. Before leaving I was worried about rough seas and having so many seas day, and being bored. First we had no rough sea days and wasn't bored at all, I love this cruise. Embarkation in ... Read More
My 6th cruise with RCI, my first trans-atlantic. Before leaving I was worried about rough seas and having so many seas day, and being bored. First we had no rough sea days and wasn't bored at all, I love this cruise. Embarkation in Miami - got to the ship at 10:30am drop off luggage and was on board the ship at 11:00am everything went smoothly. We tour around the ship, it's need a little TLC (like cushion on deck chairs are cracked.) To me the ship wasn't decorated to my taste the Navigator and the Mariner is much prettier. But that doesn't matter to me, I still enjoyed the cruise. Now the new bedding on the ship was very nice. Entertainment - Beatles was the best show (must see) The violinist was excellent, the Drifter was good, Lots of very good outside entertainer, probably the best in a long time. Ship Entertainment - The Ice show was excellent always a must see. The broadway singers was horrible the dancers was okay. The good thing was they only had 2 shows on a 12 night cruise. The activity was good, but the one day we miss a port, because of our trip back to Bermuda for the lady who had a heart attack. They had nothing plan for that day. So that was the only boring day on cruise, that night there was plenty of activities. The Dining - Breakfast was okay, we always skip lunch usually had a snack around 4:00pm Dinner in the Dining room was good. The food was good at dinner and had very good choices. Went to Portofino's one night EXCELLENT. The Service - Was lacking and the employees was always complaining about the Management on the ship. Mainly in the dining areas, even some of the people that was cleaning the halls and bathroom was complaining all the time. By the pool you always had to find someone to get you a drink, you didn't have the waiter asking you for a drink every 5 minutes like on most ships. The Stateroom - was clean and all new bedding. The port of calls- Bermuda - enjoyed will be back, not enough time there. We arrive at 5:30 in King Wharf everything was closed, walk around town got back on the ship about 9:00pm. Next morning took Ferry to Hamilton and shop and explore the city, very pretty and very clean city. Maderia - We missed because we had to turn around and go back to Bermuda. But we was going to be there on a Sunday and everything is closed on Sunday. The basket sleidge rides, the winery, and the market. So I guess we really didn't miss anything. Gibraltar - Enjoyed took a bus to the top of the rock, went to the caves, then visited the apes or monkeys, then saw the castle, then went back to the town, and did some shopping and just enjoyed being off the ship. Alicante - A must see the Castle of Santa Barbara it's pretty and you can see the whole town from up there. Then you need to take a walk down the main boulevard. Disembarkment - was very fast we was off the ship at 7:30am. You walk off the ship pick up your luggage and went outside to pick up your cab or bus. We stayed in Barcelona for 3 days before flying back home. It take at least 3 days to see Barcelona. After the 3 days we still haven't seen everything. Overall we had a wonderful time. No rough seas (yeah)We would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
Two couples and a widow (age range 63-70) flew to Miami. Boarding process took 30 minutes. We are Diamond Crown and Anchor members but no priority boarding area was available as promised. Cabins were ready but luggage was not delivered ... Read More
Two couples and a widow (age range 63-70) flew to Miami. Boarding process took 30 minutes. We are Diamond Crown and Anchor members but no priority boarding area was available as promised. Cabins were ready but luggage was not delivered until after dinner (early seating). The ship sailed across the Atlantic, stopping in the Azores, Lisbon, and Cadiz, Malaga, and Valencia, Spain, terminating in Barcelona. All the ports were great! Took only one tour (Ponta Delgado, Azores) and it was well-done. The ship is lovely and shows little in the way of wear and tear. The service on the ship is great. The activities are typical and fun. We play bridge and found the Director to be inept. The service in the dining room was outstanding. It was too bad they had to serve such lousy food. We have been on 25 cruises and the food on this ship ranks at the bottom of the list. We did go to Chops, the steak house, twice and it was well worth the $20 per person tab. We also enjoyed the Concierge room with free booze and appetizers. The quality of the shows was marginal. The Vegas-style shows put on by the ship's singers and dancers were excellent but the individual entertainers were poor. Walk-outs were common. This was our second sailing on the Brilliance. Would I sail on it again? Sure, because I got a great price! Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
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