Number of Cruises: 10
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Brilliance of the Seas
Sailing Date: February 24th, 2003
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
Pack for Success
Our holiday began with a cross continent journey on Star Alliance partners Air Canada and United Airlines. The air journey was fine but one of our suitcases never made it to Miami at the same time that we did. This is a good lesson; pack as if one of your suitcases won’t make it. We didn’t. Maybe you will!
The Long-Line Shuffle
Royal Caribbean insured that our 11-day cruise vacation lived up to their motto “like no vacation on earth”. Trouble is, the Earth component is part of the vacation on which RC can use some tutoring. The check-in process is a clumsy variation on Disney line-ups. Rather than sending the first person in the queue to the next available agent, RC stacks people from the end of the queue behind busy agents. Tough luck if you’re behind an agent taking a long time to process guests.
Bizarre Baggage Returns
Part Two of land-based issues plaguing Royal Caribbean is their unwieldy baggage retrieval process, once the cruise is complete. We were part of a group that included at least a dozen “Early Debarkation” cruisers who waited almost 2 hours for our bags. Whatever RC’s process problems are, they are being downloaded to their guests. One frustrated “Early Debarker” mused that had he known the frustrations of RC’s baggage retrieval process, he wouldn’t have given such a glowing cruise review on his comment card.
A Quintessential Museum of Urban Art
This was our tenth cruise, and the first on the Royal Caribbean line. We were wide eyed and google mouthed over the magnificence of this enormous ship. Truly a masterpiece at sea, the Brilliance is a result of a four-year construction process. The architecture inside the ship is simply stunning! The attention to detail is breathtaking. The urban art theme onboard is manifest by towering whimsical sculptures, inspired photography, and an eclectic medium of funky contemporary art.
What a Stateroom!
We prefer staterooms that are sandwiched between other staterooms as opposed to being above, below, or beside public rooms or decks. On the Brilliance of the Seas, the two stateroom decks that most appeal to us are deck 3 and deck 9. Our lovely Deck 3 ocean-view stateroom’s amenities included a large comfortable bed, ample storage, an efficient bar fridge, a comfy sofa, generous lighting, and inspirational artwork.
The Calorie Neutralizer
The fitness centre on the Brilliance is better than the one we belong to at home! There are about 15 treadmills, about 8 elliptical machines, recumbent bikes, plenty of resistance equipment, barbells, benches and a large compliment of dumbbells. A big hardwood gym floor used for aerobics and other fitness activities surrounds this well maintained equipment. Regrettably, RC charges extra for some of the fitness activities led by a trainer, though all the other fitness amenities are included at no additional cost.
Without exception, before breakfast each day we climbed the stairs from our Deck 3 cabin to Deck 12’s Ship Shape fitness centre and spent 60 minutes working-out. Setting our metabolic clock for the day, so to speak. My complete participation in the program is a testimony to my wife’s keen persuasive skills! Good thing; as we arrived home in as good or better shape than when we left. That’s no small wonder, given the chefs’ delicious food available in reckless abundance!
We enjoyed leisurely outdoor breakfasts and lunches from the Windjammer Café. In the evening dined in the crowded Minstrel Dining Room at a table for ten with couples from Scotland, South Carolina, Illinois, and yours truly from Canada. We only hope that the others enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed theirs. The food was fine, though the service from Murat and Elesio was even better.
Royal Caribbean offers a prepaid cocktail card that I bought, though I don’t recommend it to other cruisers. On two occasions, my single glass of Merlot with dinner was punched twice. The first time I brought it to the server’s attention and it was corrected, though I let it pass the second time. In the future, if I choose to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, I’d use my SeaPass card and simply sign for every glass. The saving on the cocktail card is minimal anyhow.
We spent many afternoons by the main pool on the 11th deck. The pool is well designed to cool a body from the heat of the Caribbean sun. The pool Band energized guests and those who weren’t on the floor dancing were wagging their toes over the edge of their lounge chairs. The poolside beverage servers were present but not a pain in the butt.
The nighttime entertainment in the Pacifica Theatre was pretty good. We particularly enjoyed Two Funny Guys, a pair of very funny comedians (you had to be there) and the singing quartet, The Diamonds who wore bright red blazers and performed all their hits including Silhouettes on the Shade, and Why Do Fools Fall in Love?
The Crew Review
The crew of the Brilliance seems pleasant and cheerful. My guess is that they’re treated with respect and it shows. We once cruised with a crew that seemed sullen and resentful. What a drag! Not so on the Brilliance. The Captain has crafted a working environment that has led to an inspired crew and satisfied guests.
“Like no vacation on earth” They’ve certainly got that right! Now, it’s time to bring RC’s land-based operations up to speed with those of the sea.