Royal Caribbean InternationalBrilliance the Seas ReviewTransatlanticFran
Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Brilliance of the Seas
Sailing Date: April 28th, 2006
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
Royal Caribbean International
Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Review
This was our second cruise with Royal
Caribbean, and overall it was terrific. We were through the line and onboard
before our time of 2 p.m. Lunch was being served in the Windjammer Cafe as we
arrived. The luggage took a little while to come, but loading luggage for 2500
people must be an incredible exercise. Our room steward kept checking to see how
long it would be, and kept us updated. Dinner was casual so it wasn't really an
issue. Note for people taking this cruise - 5:30 is too early for a dinner
seating, unless you don't eat lunch! We ate more often upstairs in the
Windjammer, where we could eat later, and sit and talk to friends until we got
shooed out at 9:30.
Our dinner partners were really interesting people, although we were at a table for ten and only six ever showed up. All of us often ate together in the cafe, and met in the dining room for the more formal dinners, and for the last night together.
There was some weather which made a few people seasick just after leaving Miami- but I couldn't say it was a problem. The Captain informed us they would be sailing around the edges of a major system. There was one stormy night when I went out on the balcony, and the wind was blowing and there was lots of spray - it was quite exciting. Back in the cabin with the balcony door closed, we never knew there was anything going on. The rocking motion of the ship kept putting us off to sleep, with the result that we would be out by 10:30 and sleep till 10:30 the next morning.
For us there was reading on the deck, walking every day on Deck 12 (6 times around is a mile!), good meals with lots of variety and fresh fruit, Tai Chi classes, lectures, movies, singing around the piano in the Schooner Bar, and the musician, Anselmo Boles, was really amazing. He can play and sing anything you ask. I asked to drink Mojitos, and the bar staff ran all the way to the bar at the other end of the ship to get mint - and always thereafter had mint - and made great Mojitos to boot.
The second night out was the Captain's Welcome Aboard Reception, with photo op. A very pushy photographer kept telling us to "get closer, get closer" (by then I was so close to the Captain there was nowhere to go!) so I quipped "Oh yes, always get close to the Captain!" - made him snicker, but he managed to slap a beatific smile on his face for the photo. I thought my husband would collapse laughing.
Later that evening we heard that there were 3300 people (passengers and crew) from 60 countries on board.
There were some really good live shows - notably a young jazz trumpeter - 19 years old - named Chantz Powell. We got to know him and his mother, and he dedicated a song to us in the first show. The other good act was the Beatle Maniacs - who had the audience dancing and singing in the aisles (but then, they're Canadians too, eh?) The Captain's ship talk was also fascinating, particularly how the ship was built and how the stabilizers work. Brilliance is not *pushed* through the water by propellers in the stern, but is *pulled* through the water by three enormous bow thrusters which literally suck the water through, creating far less friction and bow wave, and saving on fuel. Make sure you go to the Ship Talk, if only for the jokes!
The first day we took a tour, the organization of each group was almost nil, instructions were poor, and we waited an hour to get off the ship and onto our bus. Subsequent days were better organized. We tried to be patient as we heard that this was also a training cruise, and there were a lot of new crew and staff. It was interesting that the most communicative of the cruise staff was a young man from Beijing whose English was not perfect but he really could get ideas across. He was also the Tai Chi teacher, and a lot of fun.
Of all the stops, we enjoyed Malaga and Barcelona the most. Malaga enjoys 300 sunny days a year, and has almost no industry, hence no pollution. Nice was a big disappointment - the "beach" is mainly rocks. Don't bother with the tours from Villefranche - take the train or a taxi to Cannes - or Monte Carlo. Cannes is lovely. A good French breakfast was 7 Euros, which we didn't think was too bad. In Barcelona, be sure to see the cathedral of Antoni Gaudi, the Sagrada Familia - and if you can, take the train out to little villages along the coast. We stayed with friends in a place called El Masnou - and it was beautiful.
I can't leave this review without praise for Captain Peter Sundet. He was visible around the ship, friendly, funny, the crew liked him - and I don't think he missed a thing in his strolls around. A friend here in Toronto worked with RCL on the ships and says he's the best. We concur. We were early in every port, and he has no trouble sailing and leaving late returns behind. There was some illness aboard (which is to be expected with that many people) but his updates were clear and informative, and the crew moved quickly to keep it contained. Here's a phrase to add to your cruising vocabulary: "The winds are a little fresher than we expected today, but it's a large day out there." - and sure enough, the only description for the expanse of Atlantic, and blue sky, was "large". If you sail Brilliance of the Seas, and Peter Sundet is your Captain, tell him Fran says "Always get close to the Captain." See if you get a snicker.
Down sides to the cruise: Smoking is allowed in cabins, and we ended up beside someone who smoked cigars all day, to the point that the whole corridor smelled. RCL offered to move us, but had no room which was the same as ours. In the end we stayed in our room but left the balcony doors open all the time. We are pressing the issue of smoking, as we know other cruise lines are making some sections smoking and others non-smoking, which makes sense.
Did we love this cruise? We did. We're considering doing the return trip from Barcelona next year - as we're both off from our jobs and it sails just before Christmas. As a clergy person, I was intrigued that there is no on-board chaplaincy service. Remember too, that more than 3000 people - even though it doesn't look like it - is the equivalent of a small town, and comes complete with the same kinds of issues you'll find anywhere.