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Brilliance of the Seas provided a great cruise experience for girls trip celebrating twenty years of friendship. Tampa is an easy port from which to embark. We stayed in the port area the night prior and enjoyed delicious dinner and great service at Jackson's Restaurant. Courtyard by Marriott was good lodging option and provided free shuttle to the ship. Although the lines were long, the check in process moved in a fairly efficient manner, and stateroom was available by the time we boarded shortly after 1 PM. The first afternoon went as expected with muster drill (easy and well-organized) and sail away. For me, a plus is also the smaller ship size as I don’t care for the mega ships with large passenger capacity. Stand-outs on the ship were definitely main dining service and entertainment. Even though dining service is typically high quality, this was the best service I’ve had on a ship. My traveling party of four was delighted to have a private table and the exceptional service of Praful, Charles, and Mario. They were so attentive and personable that we really looked forward to dinner each evening. We found this level of service to be consistent across meals in the main dining room. Other service of note was provided by Vladyslav who had a good sense of humor and patience as we asked many questions and weighed the options as well as Nitil who checked on us even at meals for which he was not our assigned server. Food was also consistently good. Same breakfast menu each day, but lunch and dinner provided good variety. My taste runs primarily to seafood, so I had fish of the day for three dinners. Two (barramundi and hoki) out of the three were excellent. Only one with an Asian flavor/presentation did not suit my palate. Seafood linguini was also tasty, but mushroom risotto fell a little short as the vegetarian selection one night. My traveling companions had several red meat entrees, which they enjoyed. Excellent desserts with every meal! Only concerns with main dining was the early seating time of 5:30 PM (seems a little too early, especially on port days; 6 PM would have given a little more time) and lack of creamer for coffee. Two of our party are coffee drinkers. It was always a big production to get creamer for their coffee. It appeared to not be available in the dining room, and they had to wait for staff to go all the way to the coffee station outside of the Windjammer. This seems really short-sighted of RC not to have it readily available any time coffee is served. Not fans of buffet meals, so we only ate in the Windjammer on days when the dining room was not available. It was good enough for a couple of lunches with extensive salad bar and variety of hot options. Due to early departure time for our excursion, we opted to have room service breakfast one morning, which was convenient. Please note there is now a surcharge for any order other than continental breakfast. This is my first cruise with any charges for room service, which I think is a disadvantage. I would have skipped buffet in favor of room service for lunch on port days if not for the charge. Royal Caribbean offered one formal with casual cruise attire for the other nights. I was a little disappointed not to have a smart casual night, but it seemed many passengers dressed for it anyway as we did.Personally, I would like to see a return to more strict dress code, especially no bathing suits. A bathing suit with mesh cover up is still a bathing suit. We were also quite impressed with high quality of entertainment. In addition to debut of Center Stage with RC singers (Rachelle presented excellent rendition of “At Last”), dancers and orchestra, we were treated to concert of 50’s and 60’s music by Rookie!, very talented and high energy as well as three comedy acts: comedian Miguel Washington (laid back and fun), ventriloquist Ronn Lucas (laugh out loud entertaining), and danger juggler Aaron Bonk (who knew extreme juggling could be so exciting?). We also enjoyed live music around the ship with Manda Vincent, Shelly Page, and BOTS orchestra. Manda in the piano bar had great range, but I would have preferred more singing and less talking as well as greater variety of songs (not entirely her fault due to request feature of piano bar setting). We would have liked to have heard Shelly more, but times conflicted with other activities. Although maybe not as many activities as some of the bigger ships, there was still plenty to do. Fitness options, dance classes, passenger involvement opportunities (very competitive hula contest and dance competitions proved to be quite amusing) plus movies, informational sessions, and good old fashion relaxation poolside, in the Solarium, or at one of the many lounges available around the ship. We enjoyed more varied selection of wine at Vintages Wine bar than dining room and bar areas served, but prices seemed a little high. As wine drinkers, we are familiar with wines and how much they should cost. Philip, our room steward, provided solid service. He checked our room twice a day and always replaced any dirty towels and glasses. He was also good about checking in with us on days in port to see if we had any questions. RC also made a point to address safety with passengers as Philip and other staff members talked to us security and safety while off of the ship. However, if you have not cruised in a number of years (10+), you will notice a change in the level of service provided by the stewards (not their fault as I am sure this is determined by the cruise line and staff resources). Ice has to be requested. Adorable towel animals don’t appear every night although we were treated a cute frog and an adorable elephant. There is no longer a chocolate on your pillow. Nor do the stewards seem to be as available in the hall as I have noticed in the past. I think the level of service is still good, but not quite the pampering it was when I first cruised in 2009. In Grand Cayman, we selected the Cayman Glass Bottom Boat and Island tour. Meeting time for departure was very early at 7 AM, but was well organized, including tender boat ride into the harbor. There was not a lot of narration with boat tour, but it was too loud to hear in any case. The captain did a brief introduction and checked with us before diving under the boat with bread to attract sea life. A lot of fun just to see what was happening in the water. We then transitioned to small shuttle bus for island tour with stops at Hell (take your passport if you would like a stamp in it), a rum factory, and dolphin experience. Our guide Anju was information and personable. Stops were brief, about 15 minutes each, so a little rushed for pictures/souvenirs/sight-seeing. Dolphin watching was probably the highlight. We returned to harbor area with plenty of time to walk around the area and have some downtime before dinner. Getting a return tender boat was very convenient. We chose Legacy of the Maya: /Ruins and Chocolate Tasting in Cozumel. Although not as extensive as the ruins in Tulum, tour of San Gervasio was quite interesting and informative with time for brief time for souvenir shopping. We had delightful guides with Isra and Tricia who also provided commentary as we were in transit to each site. Each participant was supplied with headset at the ruins in order to better hear the guide (work with static button to improve quality). Following ruins, we traveled to eastern part of island for photo op at non-commercial section of beach. There were vendors set up there with local wares, but it did feel a little rushed to really browse. Tour ended at The Mayan Cacao Company where we were treated to demonstration of chocolate-making process and samples. Later start of excursion did not leave enough time to peruse area before getting back on ship in order to be ready for early seating. Debarkation went smoothly as we exited ship directly after our number was called. No trouble finding luggage, but there was a bit of a wait with lines for re-entry. Use porter service if time is an issue. We considered it an excellent trip start to finish. Five nights and ports of call were just right for our getaway!

Excellent Girls Trip

Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Review by lauramae31

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: November 2018
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Ocean View Balcony
Brilliance of the Seas provided a great cruise experience for girls trip celebrating twenty years of friendship. Tampa is an easy port from which to embark. We stayed in the port area the night prior and enjoyed delicious dinner and great service at Jackson's Restaurant. Courtyard by Marriott was good lodging option and provided free shuttle to the ship.

Although the lines were long, the check in process moved in a fairly efficient manner, and stateroom was available by the time we boarded shortly after 1 PM. The first afternoon went as expected with muster drill (easy and well-organized) and sail away. For me, a plus is also the smaller ship size as I don’t care for the mega ships with large passenger capacity.

Stand-outs on the ship were definitely main dining service and entertainment. Even though dining service is typically high quality, this was the best service I’ve had on a ship. My traveling party of four was delighted to have a private table and the exceptional service of Praful, Charles, and Mario. They were so attentive and personable that we really looked forward to dinner each evening. We found this level of service to be consistent across meals in the main dining room. Other service of note was provided by Vladyslav who had a good sense of humor and patience as we asked many questions and weighed the options as well as Nitil who checked on us even at meals for which he was not our assigned server. Food was also consistently good. Same breakfast menu each day, but lunch and dinner provided good variety. My taste runs primarily to seafood, so I had fish of the day for three dinners. Two (barramundi and hoki) out of the three were excellent. Only one with an Asian flavor/presentation did not suit my palate. Seafood linguini was also tasty, but mushroom risotto fell a little short as the vegetarian selection one night. My traveling companions had several red meat entrees, which they enjoyed. Excellent desserts with every meal! Only concerns with main dining was the early seating time of 5:30 PM (seems a little too early, especially on port days; 6 PM would have given a little more time) and lack of creamer for coffee. Two of our party are coffee drinkers. It was always a big production to get creamer for their coffee. It appeared to not be available in the dining room, and they had to wait for staff to go all the way to the coffee station outside of the Windjammer. This seems really short-sighted of RC not to have it readily available any time coffee is served.

Not fans of buffet meals, so we only ate in the Windjammer on days when the dining room was not available. It was good enough for a couple of lunches with extensive salad bar and variety of hot options. Due to early departure time for our excursion, we opted to have room service breakfast one morning, which was convenient. Please note there is now a surcharge for any order other than continental breakfast. This is my first cruise with any charges for room service, which I think is a disadvantage. I would have skipped buffet in favor of room service for lunch on port days if not for the charge.

Royal Caribbean offered one formal with casual cruise attire for the other nights. I was a little disappointed not to have a smart casual night, but it seemed many passengers dressed for it anyway as we did.Personally, I would like to see a return to more strict dress code, especially no bathing suits. A bathing suit with mesh cover up is still a bathing suit.

We were also quite impressed with high quality of entertainment. In addition to debut of Center Stage with RC singers (Rachelle presented excellent rendition of “At Last”), dancers and orchestra, we were treated to concert of 50’s and 60’s music by Rookie!, very talented and high energy as well as three comedy acts: comedian Miguel Washington (laid back and fun), ventriloquist Ronn Lucas (laugh out loud entertaining), and danger juggler Aaron Bonk (who knew extreme juggling could be so exciting?). We also enjoyed live music around the ship with Manda Vincent, Shelly Page, and BOTS orchestra. Manda in the piano bar had great range, but I would have preferred more singing and less talking as well as greater variety of songs (not entirely her fault due to request feature of piano bar setting). We would have liked to have heard Shelly more, but times conflicted with other activities.

Although maybe not as many activities as some of the bigger ships, there was still plenty to do. Fitness options, dance classes, passenger involvement opportunities (very competitive hula contest and dance competitions proved to be quite amusing) plus movies, informational sessions, and good old fashion relaxation poolside, in the Solarium, or at one of the many lounges available around the ship. We enjoyed more varied selection of wine at Vintages Wine bar than dining room and bar areas served, but prices seemed a little high. As wine drinkers, we are familiar with wines and how much they should cost.

Philip, our room steward, provided solid service. He checked our room twice a day and always replaced any dirty towels and glasses. He was also good about checking in with us on days in port to see if we had any questions. RC also made a point to address safety with passengers as Philip and other staff members talked to us security and safety while off of the ship. However, if you have not cruised in a number of years (10+), you will notice a change in the level of service provided by the stewards (not their fault as I am sure this is determined by the cruise line and staff resources). Ice has to be requested. Adorable towel animals don’t appear every night although we were treated a cute frog and an adorable elephant. There is no longer a chocolate on your pillow. Nor do the stewards seem to be as available in the hall as I have noticed in the past. I think the level of service is still good, but not quite the pampering it was when I first cruised in 2009.

In Grand Cayman, we selected the Cayman Glass Bottom Boat and Island tour. Meeting time for departure was very early at 7 AM, but was well organized, including tender boat ride into the harbor. There was not a lot of narration with boat tour, but it was too loud to hear in any case. The captain did a brief introduction and checked with us before diving under the boat with bread to attract sea life. A lot of fun just to see what was happening in the water. We then transitioned to small shuttle bus for island tour with stops at Hell (take your passport if you would like a stamp in it), a rum factory, and dolphin experience. Our guide Anju was information and personable. Stops were brief, about 15 minutes each, so a little rushed for pictures/souvenirs/sight-seeing. Dolphin watching was probably the highlight. We returned to harbor area with plenty of time to walk around the area and have some downtime before dinner. Getting a return tender boat was very convenient.

We chose Legacy of the Maya: /Ruins and Chocolate Tasting in Cozumel. Although not as extensive as the ruins in Tulum, tour of San Gervasio was quite interesting and informative with time for brief time for souvenir shopping. We had delightful guides with Isra and Tricia who also provided commentary as we were in transit to each site. Each participant was supplied with headset at the ruins in order to better hear the guide (work with static button to improve quality). Following ruins, we traveled to eastern part of island for photo op at non-commercial section of beach. There were vendors set up there with local wares, but it did feel a little rushed to really browse. Tour ended at The Mayan Cacao Company where we were treated to demonstration of chocolate-making process and samples. Later start of excursion did not leave enough time to peruse area before getting back on ship in order to be ready for early seating.

Debarkation went smoothly as we exited ship directly after our number was called. No trouble finding luggage, but there was a bit of a wait with lines for re-entry. Use porter service if time is an issue.

We considered it an excellent trip start to finish. Five nights and ports of call were just right for our getaway!
lauramae31’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
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Entertainment
Cabin
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Cabin Review

Ocean View Balcony
Cabin 2D 8538
My traveling party had adjoining rooms with balconies, which we found comfortable and adequate for our needs. There is not an over-abundance of storage, but enough for two to a room. Although the cabin will sleep more than two, in my opinion, it would be much too small for any more. I had only two minor complaints with the stateroom. One, there was an uncovered toilet bowl brush right under the towel rack and we had to discard use of a couple of hand towels/washcloths when they fell on it. Gross! Royal Caribbean, there is no excuse for not providing the enclosed containers for the brushes. Two, the refrigerator was not cold enough to adequately cool beverages.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Mayan Ruins
    Tour included Mayan ruins at San Gervasio, beach stop, and chocolate factory. Ruins were interesting, but enjoyed beach stop and chocolate factory a little more. I would have liked a little more time as the beach as there were vendors with local wares. Excellent guides and very organized.
    View All 366 Mayan Ruins Reviews
  • Island Tour
    Good value for level activity - combination of glassbottom boat ride and island tour with stops at Hell, rum cake factory, and dolphin experience. Personable guide and leisurely pace. Not quite enough time at each stop, but pretty typical for this type of tour.
    View All 186 Island Tour Reviews