Age: 30 something
Number of Cruises: n/a
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Brilliance of the Seas
Sailing Date: September 8th, 2002
I'm going to go into great detail with this review, so please keep that in mind if my review appears too run long. My husband Brian and I are in our mid-thirties and live in Barrow, Alaska. This was our sixth cruise and the third one for which I have written a review.
London, England Sunday, September 8th
Time to take a cruise!
We slept in!!! After days and days of getting up so early, we finally got to sleep in! We got up around 9:00 a.m. and ate breakfast alone in the hotel restaurant. It was just continental today and I hope to never have to eat an English breakfast again. I don't know how they survive eating all those fatty, cold meats and cheeses, not to mention the yucky sausage and eggs deep fried in an inch of oil. But maybe they don't eat that way and that is just what they feed to the tourists. :O) I ate way too much bread on this trip because I have a weakness for it.
At 11:00 a.m., we checked out of our hotel and got one of the little, black cabs to take us and our luggage to Liverpool Street Station. It took a long time to get there because there is so much construction going on in London and many of the streets were closed off. The driver was getting pretty feed up with it, and could be heard muttering under his breath.
We found where to get our train tickets to Harwich after much wandering around the massive train station. They had a special boat train scheduled today that was heavily discounted for the cruise passengers. It only cost 15 pounds for each of us to take the subway car style train to the Port of Harwich. Everyone on it was going to the boat, but there was NO storage place for all the big suitcases people had! We had four bags and ours were small in comparison to many others. Everybody piled their bags right against the door which is a serious NO, NO. They had to add four more cars to accommodate everyone and the conductor told us that we had to move our luggage. Everyone asked themselves, "where in the hell should we put them?". We stuffed one of ours under a seat, one behind a seat, one right up against me and one in an open seat next to a guy who was nice enough to offer it. Most people just left their bags at the door and did nothing about it. It took about an hour and fifteen minutes to get to Harwich once we finally got going. We talked with the people around us who would be our cruise mates on the Brilliance of the Sea. Robert and Sue were from San Francisco and Alexander and Peter were frequent cruisers from Germany who were really interesting to talk to.
When we pulled into Harwich, everyone poured off the train and threw their bags at the attendants and got in line as quickly as possible. The line was out the door of the terminal and didn't move very fast. Inside, there was a musician playing soft easy listening music which Brian recognized was by the rock band Queen. It took a little over an hour to get on board and we got to know a few people while standing in line. We heard from someone that Royal Caribbean's new Brilliance of the Seas, is the largest ship to ever dock at this port.
Aaahhh, it feels SO good to get on a cruise ship. The excitement returned instantly when we boarded the Brilliance of the Seas. She was only recently added to Royal Caribbean's fleet and is the newest cruise ship out right now. This is the 90,000 ton ship's 6th official sailing. It's very impressive, and absolutely gorgeous inside. The first thing we noticed was the beautiful woodwork and the striking glass windows which could be found everywhere! It is bigger than the first cruise ship (70,000 ton) we ever sailed on and of course smaller than the (140,000 ton) Adventure of the Seas, which we were passengers on last December. We were very happy with our cabin (#7558) which was located on deck 7 towards the aft of the ship. It was plenty spacious, but of course we are used to dinky rooms now, from our time spent touring the British Isles. We had more than plenty of storage space and the colors of the room and ship were navy and brown. The bedspread was an ugly brown print and the loveseat was a very pretty blue. The bathroom was small with a circular shower with just a curtain, not a door. The balcony had two comfy chairs and a little table.
We went exploring while waiting for our luggage and Brian videotaped briefly until he ran out of tape. We took a moment to make reservations for Chops Grille which like Portofinos, is an alternative dining room located on deck 6 that costs $20 per person. We had found Portofinos enjoyable on a previous cruise, so we decided to make a reservation with the gentleman taking reservations. We asked if he knew which night that the main dining room wasn't serving anything real interesting and he said that Wednesday night was English night. Having just spent two weeks in the British Isles, that sounded like a night we wouldn't mind missing. Our reservation was made for 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, which would be September 11th by the way. Back at the room we found that one of our bags had arrived so I unpacked it while Brian grabbed another tape and battery for our video camera. Then we headed out again for a late afternoon lunch in the Windjammer Cafe. Windjammer Cafe is where you find the buffet style dining options on the ship. There were floor to ceiling windows looking out and the food was quite good. The lettuce was really good and crispy and the sandwich wraps we decided upon were scrumptious. The lemonade was also excellent, and it hit the spot. Then we had to get back to our room to grab our life jackets for the outside deck muster drill. It was the most organized drill we have ever done and I was impressed when we sailed away from the port on time at 5:00 p.m. The bags still had not arrived when the drill was over, so we briefly explored the ship a bit more before the our evening meal in the two level, Minstrel Dining Room.
We chose the early seating so each night our dining time was at 6:00 p.m. Thankfully, dress for dinner was casual on this first night. We found our table for six on the bottom floor by the door and near the kitchen. It wasn't a great location, because we didn't have a view of the gorgeous dining room. Our waiter, Mustafa from Turkey and his assistant, Claudia from Chile were really nice and attentive to our needs. We were joined by Jane and Paul from Raleigh, NC. They were an elderly couple who have done 23 cruises. They were very tired that night because they had just flown in from the states that day. The other couple arrived a little late after we finished our first two courses. Bruce and Adriana were in their early 30's and from Connecticut. We visited a little bit with our table mates while we dined on really good cod with a saffron based stuffing crust.
After dinner we made our way to the Pacifica Theatre which is located on decks 5 and 6. Here we briefly met Clodagh O'Connor, our Cruise Director from Ireland and we all got our first glimpse of this ships entertainment staff. The short Welcome Aboard Show was pretty boring until the comedian came on stage. His name was Neal Austin and he was hilarious. He was very geeky looking and he used magic and lots of props in the vane of a more talented Carrot Top.
After the show, we wondered around some more and visited the Shops of Centrum on deck five. Brian picked up a bottle of Grand Marnier to take back to the room. It cost an extra $9.00 to have the bottle in the room. We saved money in the long run and on some days added a bit of it to our morning coffee. People who don't know us will likely think we're alcoholics based on our trip reviews. We also discovered that the ship has a movie cinema that seats about 50 people. We'll have to check that out at some point.
The remaining bags were waiting for us or "me", since I'm often the one that does all the unpacking. Brian's stuff was pretty wrinkled so I turned on the shower and steamed up the bathroom. That worked pretty well. Then I hand washed some of our shirts and under garments. I distinctly recall that Brian promised me that I wouldn't have to do any laundry while we were on this vacation. It was very hard to pack for a three week vacation and the two week British Isle tour we took prior to this cruise left us short on clean clothes. All in all, it hasn't been too bad, I guess.
By the time I was done unpacking, it was after 11:00 p.m. and I was pooped. Brian preordered room service for our breakfast in the morning through the TV and we went to sleep with the balcony door wide open to enjoy the sound of the sea.
Brilliance of the Seas Monday, September 9th
We awakened at 7:40 a.m. to the tranquil sound of the ocean through our open balcony door. The noisy neighbors woke us up a couple of times, but the sound of the waves put us back to sleep. We grew tired of waiting for our breakfast to arrive. Brian had preordered it the night before for delivery at 8:00 a.m. At 8:50 a.m., we gave up and went up to the Windjammer Cafe and had a fabulous omelet.
There was not much in the Compass (the daily cruise planner) that appealed to us this morning so we grabbed a cup of coffee and went back to our room to add some Grand Marnier to it. I had wanted to sit on the balcony and enjoy my coffee, but it was too cold.
We went to the Colony Club for some mid-morning line dancing, but the floor was too crowded to do any serious dancing so we gave that up. Hasn't there been any new dances since the Electric Slide? We decided to watch the dancing and play checkers instead. In the same lounge, they had some tables made of nice dark wood with inlaid board games on them. We sat down to play checkers and realized that we didn't remember how to play! It's a kids game, how sad is that? The India motif Colony Club was a richly wooded lounge located at the aft part of the ship with floor to ceiling windows looking out the back. There is also the peaceful Calcutta Card Room located just off from the Colony Club with a lot of different games available to play. At the entrance was the Bombay Billiards Club where two pool tables were equipped with stabilizers so the balls wouldn't roll around with the movement of the ship. I think I read somewhere that Royal Caribbean paid $40,000.00 for them. The tables were not open for play yet, so we went up to deck 13 to play a round of 9-hole miniature golf. It was extremely windy and cold but we braved the gale force winds long enough for me to kick Brian's butt. :O)
Our chosen lunch venue was the Seaview Cafe on deck 12. We thought this was going to be the Brilliance of the Seas' version of the fantastic Johnny Rockets of the Adventure of the Seas. We ordered a strawberry shake and it was the worst shake we have ever had. They used strawberry daiquiri mix and didn't even blend it well. Yuck! It was in a tiny glass and cost $3.74 with the mandatory 15% tip. We were so disappointed and couldn't bring ourselves to drink it. The shakes at the Seaview Cafe were definitely nothing like our beloved Johnny Rockets. Johnny Rockets shakes were so good and they came in a big glass with the metal container on the side with the leftovers. Later in the cruise, we would find that the food here could be quite good at times. This time however, I thought my Cuban sandwich was just okay and Brian didn't like his burger. We left and headed for the Windjammer where we had a salad and sandwich wrap. Today, unlike yesterday, the lemonade sucked and it began to seem we were not having a good day. Brian grabbed an ice cream cone and I got an orange and a couple of cups of coffee for us to doctor up with Grand Marnier back in the room.
While I caught up on this journal, Brian went to the spa to schedule massages for us. They were booked for the entire cruise already! Only the real expensive package treatments were available. It was obvious that they are trying to sell them instead of the basic massages since the same treatments were included in the $300 packages. Brian was pretty disgusted when he got back to the room. Again' nothing seemed to be going our way. This afternoon we decided to stroll the ship and we stopped off at the Schooner Bar for two glasses of cognac which cost us a surprising $13. The Schooner Bar was probably the nicest bar in our opinion. It was located just outside the Colony Club and had a nautical motif with really dark woods and ship type decor like ropes, sails and even a ships wheel. It smelled so good here, kind of a nice mesquite smell which they must pump into the room. Across from the bar in the middle was a piano area with leathered bar stools for sing-a-longs. We left here with our cognac glasses and returned once again to the ships liquor store to buy a bottle of fine cognac. We usually don't do this kind of thing but the cognac in the Schooner helped us to realize that this could turn out to be our last vacation if we don't lighten our bar tab.
Tonight was the first of two formal nights on this cruise. At 5:00 p.m., we got dressed in our tighter than should be dress clothes and headed to the Captain's Cocktail Reception in the Colony Club. It was a pretty sedate, though well attended party, where Captain James MacDonald told us a bit about the Brilliance of the Seas. I filled up on some great shrimp hors d'oeuvres' and free champagne here. A couple from Texas shared our table with us. He was the quintessential rich Texan in dress, gold jewelry and a strong accent. I never got a chance to ask him what he did, but he looked well off. At tonight's dinner, I had an excellent shrimp cocktail for my appetizer while Brian had roasted vegetables with goat cheese. We both tried the Lobster Bisque and Brian had the Filet Mignon for the main course while I had Duck a`l'Orange. He had some nicely prepared asparagus with his steak and he gave most of them to me. He is such a sweetie. :O) We had a great chocolate mousse and double strawberry cheesecake for dessert. After supper, we went to the Casino Royale and gambled for the first time since we had boarded the vessel. We usually get there a lot sooner. We lost $37 playing blackjack. :O(
Tonight's show was called "Close to You". It was a tribute show that featured a collection of Burt Bacharach songs. It started out really well, but got kind of so-so in the middle and stayed that way until the end. The singers and dancers were really good though. We recognized one of the dancers because Brian had bought the Grand Marnier and Cognac from him in the liquor store. Most of the entertainers have day jobs around the ship to make a little extra money.
After the show, I was ready to call it a night. We had been in bed for about 45 minutes when Brian decided we should go for a swim! I gave in and we headed up to the Solarium pool area but there were young people (18-20) in the pool and hot tub. We didn't feel like joining them so we braved the cold and wind and got in the hot tub in the main pool area. The water was not hot enough but we stayed in it for awhile. Brian was even crazy enough to dive into the pool for a few minutes. It was extremely cold getting out of the hot tub. We dried off very quickly and headed up to the Seaview Cafe for a late night snack that we didn't need. Brian's Reuben sandwich was great and my Tuna Melt wasn't half bad. Maybe the food is pretty good here after all. We finally got our fill and got our wet butts back to bed.
Brilliance of the Seas Tuesday, September 10th
We woke up to wind and rain this morning. The ship rocked all day long - a lot! It didn't bother me too much, but Brian was pretty queasy and it made him dizzy to climb the stairs. The captain informed us that we were getting some of the effects of cruising around Hurricane Gustalf.
We had breakfast, then went to the cinema to see "A Beautiful Mind" It was a terrific movie. OK - We finally have to admit that Russell Crowe did deserve the Oscar and was robbed! :O) After the movie, we played a game of pool. The stabilizers in the tables were definitely being tested by the rough seas. It is amazing how well they work. But since we were still rocking around, it was really hard to play when your not stabilized. But it was fun, even though Brian kicked my behind.
After lunch, in the Windjammer, we decided we better go through Immigration
The line went on and on and Brian decided to bag it and come back later. We went to the casino and played blackjack and roulette. We won a little and walked out $56 ahead. We went back to Immigration where the line was even worse than before! So we decided to wait until the next day to try it again. We spent the middle of the day exploring the various parts of the ship. The Viking Crown Lounge on deck 13 consists of two bars, the Starquest Nightclub has a revolving bar and is the ships disco, while the Hollywood themed Odyssey lounge provided live music with easy listening tunes most evenings. The Crown and Anchor Lounge was directly above the Centrum and offered a unique view of the lower Atrium area. This lounge was on deck 12 and it was the place to go if you enjoy cognac and a fine cigar. The Champagne Bar on deck 6 was very comfortable and decorated with a bubbly champagne theme.
Tonight we went to the Cruise Critic Cocktail Party at 5:15 p.m. which was held in the Starquest Nightclub. We had signed up for it on the Internet a couple of months prior to the cruise and the purpose of the party is to meet fellow cruise critic patrons. But looking around the room, we didn't see anyone we really wanted to talk to and the one out going lady that talked to us was kind of scary. She was a very loud older woman who spent most of her time talking negatively about other people. One of the organizers of the party had made wooden duck and whale letter holders for everyone. That was really nice and he was a very pleasant man. We were joined by the ships captain and cruise director and ate some funky hors d'oeuvres' before heading to supper. There were no free cocktails and over 100 people attended the party.
For dinner I had a great shrimp scampi and Brian had the equally good chicken marsala. We couldn't decided what to have for dessert so we had three between us. I've had better Tiramisu but it was good. Brian had a creamy raspberry thing that was good, but the warm chocolate cake was to die for. There was warm chocolate syrup inside the cake. Num! Brian had three Murphy's Irish stouts and I had a lot of wine, but after eating such a large dinner, neither of us felt a thing from the alcohol. Feeling very full we went back to the room and got into bed by 8:30 p.m., turned the clock back an hour (we turned it back an hour each night of the cruise to reflect the time change) and watched Harry Potter on the television until we fell asleep. How old are we anyway? :O)
Brilliance of the Seas Wednesday, September 11th
We woke up a little after 6:00 in the morning and went for a swim in the Solarium pool. We had it to ourselves for about two minutes. Older people are such early risers! But it didn't get too crowded. The jungle themed Solarium is so tranquil and it was our favorite part of the ship. The center piece was a wall sculpture of three elephants with waterfalls on each side, observing the bridge that crossed the main pool. Steam would sometimes trickle from the elephants and when it was dark a lighting system made them appear violet, blue, red, orange, yellow and green. The Solarium also had a bar, a hot tub and many comfortably padded deck loungers.
We had breakfast, then went to the gym for a light workout and a relaxing sauna. We showered and went to attend the 10:00 a.m. September 11th Memorial Service that was being held at the Pacifica Theater. It was very tastefully done and tearful at times. The audience participated in the singing of hymns like "Amazing Grace" and "How Great Thou Art".
Latte-Tudes Lounge was a place you could relax with a coffee, view the sea or sign onto the internet. We bought a couple of Mochas from the Latte-Tudes Coffee Bar and went to the room for our Grand Marnier additive. We started watching "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" which is really a cute movie. The captain interrupted for a ship wide moment of silence. This was nice, still it was hard to enjoy the movie after that so went for a walk and had some lunch. At all times the Windjammer seemed to be packed full of people. It was always easy to get food but it was always difficult finding any open tables. After lunch we observed but did not participate in the Park West, Live Art Auction. On previous cruises we have bid on prints, but on our last cruise we really over did it and bought an original painting which set us back a bit.
At 1:45 p.m., we thought we would finally beat the crowd for Immigration since it didn't open until 2:00 p.m. Can you believe there was already a line that seemed a mile long? This was annoying so we left and came back at 4:45 p.m. They were supposed to be all done by 4:00 p.m., but the line was still out the door when we arrived. We had to get in line that time because it was out last chance since they only offered Immigration for a two hour period on two days. It was ridiculous to think they expected the whole ship to go through in that time. They brought on two officers to do the Immigration. They were on the ship for the whole week, but would only work those hours . Must be nice to get a free vacation and refuse to do the work to earn it. If they would have opened Immigration up for 8 hours on one single day, there would never had been any congestion. I don't think the passengers who paid for the cruise should have had all that irritation. This could have been handled much better than it was.
The ship was still rocking really hard all day even though we only cruised through the outskirt of the storm. We had to turn north to get out of it a little bit, but then had to turn back south and deal with it. We had 45 foot swells and 65 knot winds whatever that means. All I know is this was the worst rocking we have ever felt. I actually walked into a wall at one point! Everyone was walking the halls and swaying from one side to the other. The stairs were really hard to climb and the elevators would shake a bit. A couple of times it actually felt like we hit something and it shook the vessel like an earthquake! Due to the danger, the ships open decks were closed.
At 5:00 p.m. we went to the Welcome Back Repeaters Party for previous Royal Caribbean cruisers. It wasn't anything exciting but I got my free champagne and some shrimp. We had reservations for Chops Grille at 6:00 p.m. but when our reservation card came to our room, it said 6:30 p.m. So we went to kill some time in the casino before dining. We should have just gone to the restaurant because we lost $50. Bummer. We were surprised to find that the reservation card was wrong and that the restaurant had us reserved for 6:00 p.m. after all. But it wasn't a big deal being late because there were lots of empty tables. Our waiters were terrific and very attentive. The bread was a delicious, sun dried tomato with a pimento spread. Brian ordered a bottle of red wine and we drank a glass with our appetizers of crab cakes and Portobello cap mushrooms. We each had a Cesar salad before our 10 ounce filets arrived. They were both well done so we sent them back. The second time, Brian's was a perfect medium but mine was raw. The third time it was perfect and we thoroughly enjoyed our meals. I hate sending food back but the wait staff was very understanding. We overheard a nearby table rudely conversing that some people just can't be pleased. We were quite tickled to see that when their food arrived it was not cooked to their liking. They sent three plates back so I guess you can't please everyone after all. For dessert, we had a fabulous apple pie alamode. Uff-da we were very full again.
We made it out just in time for the Magic Show that night. The magician (Mark Taylor) was really fast with his hands and used lots of colorful props and we enjoyed it. Oh my gosh, its 10:00 p.m. - bedtime! We even remembered to turn the clock back.
Brilliance of the Seas Thursday, September 12th
Even though we are doing as little as possible on this cruise, the week was still going by way too fast. :O( We could cruise forever. We awoke at 6:00 a. m., got our swimsuits on and went up to the Solarium pool for a swim, but the pool was closed. Even though it was a 24 hour pool, they closed it for many hours every other day to drain and clean it. So we decided to sit and relax on the padded chairs for awhile in case it opened soon. Brian went down to guest relations to get a Compass for the day because we had not gotten one in our room the night before. He came back to the Solarium empty handed. They were having problems with their printer, so they weren't done yet. Brian was pretty upset with the way the day was beginning, so I tried to get him to relax. I had been telling him to calm down a lot lately and we both hope he doesn't turn into a grumpy old man someday! I was quite happy to just sit there and do nothing for awhile, but I needed a cup of coffee. Brian went off in search for it and came back triumphant this time. :O) He sat in the hot tub while I relaxed in a padded lounge chair in the nearly empty Solarium. I was perfectly content and he got to meet a few fellow cruisers.
Two hours later, it became apparent that the pool was not going to open any time soon. It was becoming more populated in our private oasis, so we went to the gym and worked out on the machines and spent some time in the sauna and steam room. The sauna is great, but we can't spend the time in there together because they are located in the different genders locker room. But it is worth the time apart, haha. :O)
After our showers, we went to Latte-Tudes where they were having a special where you get 15 minutes of free Internet service with a purchase of a spirited drink. That wasn't a bad deal since the rate for Internet was 50 cents a minute. We got an Icy Bourbon Mocha which was minty and delicious! Surprisingly, the alcohol didn't make us loopy at 9:00 a.m.
We made a poor choice and went to the Minstrel Dining Room for breakfast today. It took forever and it wasn't very good. Upon leaving the dining room, we checked out the menu for supper that night. There wasn't anything too appealing on it so we contemplated making other plans.
A cooking demonstration was being held in the Lobby Bar. The Chef, Clodagh the Cruise Director and a volunteer from the audience were frosting a cake. Only the Chef got real whipping cream to make his frosting with because the other two whipped forever and didn't get anywhere. Clodagh was being a comedian and doing all sorts of funny things with her frosting and cake which included swigging from the liquor bottle that was an ingredient for the cake. It was amusing.
We went to the casino where I quickly lost $40 on slots. I joined Brian at the Blackjack table and after both of us being down a lot, we walked away $35 ahead even with the $40 I had lost on slots. So that turned out okay for us.
We decided to eat at Portofino's for supper tonight, so Brian went to see if they had any available times. He found out that they were having a murder mystery dinner theater that night for $50 a person. We thought that might be kind of fun, so even though they were sold out, they juggled things around and squeezed us in after some pleading on our part.
We grabbed a quick bite in the Windjammer and headed back to the Solarium. It was the busiest time of the day, but we succeeded in finding two chairs together. We swam together for awhile, then I got out, relaxed and read my book while Brian stayed in the pool. The sun was shining through the enclosed Solarium since we had reached smoother waters for awhile. We spent a relaxing couple of hours there. Brian left me relaxing contently and did another sauna. Then stopped by the spa desk to see if their calendar had opened up for any massages. They must have had some cancellations because we were able to reserve a massage for Saturday.
After the hard morning and afternoon we had, we went back to the room and took a nap! :O) The calmer waters of the day didn't last long and the boat started rocking again. This wasn't bad when you were laying down as it was a bit like being rocked in a crib. Having amassed a fair amount of dirty clothes, we decided to try the ships laundry service. We had about half a dozen articles cleaned and pressed for about $17. The items were returned to us the next afternoon.
After the nap we decided to get dressed up for tonight's murder mystery dinner show. On the way to it, we stopped by the casino and won $40 in blackjack. We wouldn't be able to see the headliner show that night because of the dinner theater, but we did stop by for the beginning of it. It didn't take more than two songs before we left, not because we had to get to the theater, but because he was not very good in our opinion. We grabbed two double cognacs from the room and headed to the Colony Club for the start of tonight's dinner theater.
The murder mystery, called "The Toy Makers Gift" was so much fun! We had a ball. It began in the Colony Club where we were told that a rich toy tycoon had died mysteriously. The five suspects introduced themselves and we had a brief preliminary questioning period. Then at 8:30 p.m. we moved into Portofinos to dine and try to figure out "who done it". Angela, the former mistress of the deceased sat at our table and dined with us. We and the other couple sitting with us asked her questions while we ate. She was totally in character the whole time. The rest of the suspects caused a few scenes in the restaurant to give us a few clues and they went around the room so everyone could question them all.
The other couple at our table was from San Diego. He was a chiropractor who also lectures on some drug that is supposed to be better than viagra. He and his wife were very nice people although a bit too uninhibited about talking about their terrific sex life. :O) At one point the director and creator of the play sat down and spoke with us a bit. You could tell he was excited about how well the dinner show was progressing. Throughout our dinner courses, we were supposed to figure out who killed the old toy maker. It was hard to concentrate on solving the mystery while enjoying the excellent lobster and shrimp. Brian had the Filet Mignon - medium rare - just the way I like it. He had ordered it medium but enjoyed it anyway.
Spoiler's Warning: Don't read this paragraph if you plan to take this cruise, in the event they redo this play.
We picked Robert for the murderer. He was once the business partner of the old man and had stolen ideas from him. We were so wrong. Lionel, the gay house boy did it only because Angela talked him into it. But Lionel and Angela both died in the end, right in the restaurant. It was great!
Then Angela sat back down with us (no longer in character) as her real self, Becky Gustafson. She is one of the lead singers from the ships entertainment staff and in our opinion, the best one. We found out she was from Moorhead, MN which borders ND so we talked about home. She knew someone from Bottineau but couldn't remember her name. She is Lutheran too (like me) and her whole family works at Concordia College. She was thrilled to find someone who knew what lefse and krumkaka were. She is only 20 years old and lives in NY. Her goal is to be on Broadway someday and we think she will definitely make it.
It was 11:30 p.m. when we left the restaurant. I had just finished my cognac and was feeling pretty tipsy. The wine had been included with the meal so I drank a lot of it. :O) The boat was really rocking and the captain said we were hitting 45 foot swells. It felt like the boat was going to break because we slammed down so hard at times. Brian video taped in the room, trying to show how much we were moving. It was really hard to sleep all night.
Brilliance of the Seas Friday, September 13th
Friday the 13th! AAAAaaaaaeeeeeeehhhhhh! We slept in until 9:00 a. m., but we were rocked and tossed around all night. The waves were still really high when we got up.
We had breakfast in the Windjammer and got yet anther mocha at Latte-Tudes that we took back to the room for our special ingredient. We watched the Love and Marriage game on the TV and were glad we hadn't actually gone to it. It was amusing, but really ran a bit long.
All in all, we spent a very relaxing day and did not do too much. Brian checked the email and we had a couple more of the Icy Bourbon Mochas. We played some blackjack where Brian broke even, but I lost. I played slots again because we had a coupon for $2 in quarters. I put in 75 cents and in one pull won $36. So with the losing in Blackjack, I was only down $15. After a light lunch at the Seaview Cafe, we went to the top sports deck and played basketball for awhile. It was still windy and rocky, but the sun was
out and the open air decks were available for the first time since we hit
that bad weather. In the afternoon we played a game of HORSE on the basketball court, which was a lot of fun. I defeated Brian, but just barely.
The Minstrel Dining Room offered lobster as an entree this evening. Mustafa offered us seconds and we happily took him up on it. The chocolate cake we had for dessert was scrumptious. We definitely noticed that everything chocolate on this cruise was just incredible. From here it was off to the casino again which turned out to be a very bad idea. We lost four hands of blackjack in a row because the dealer got 21 that many times. Then a guy started smoking at the table so we moved to a non smoking table. The minimum bet was $10 instead of $5 at this table which doesn't seem fair to us non smokers. This dealer got 21 two times right off the bat and we lost over $100 in no time at all! Then I thought I would win it back at the Roulette table. HA! We lost $160 there. It was a very bad day to go into the casino. From here we went to the main show tonight called "Turn the Beat Around". It was really good with my favorite numbers being the Moulin Rouge medley.
We actually stayed awake tonight so that we could go to the 12:15 a.m. Late Night Adult Comedy Show. It was Neal Austin who was the guy we liked so much from the Welcome Aboard Show on the first night of the cruise. I thought since it was so late at night that it was going to be adult comedy, but it was more the same that he did the first night and fairly tame. He was good but probably not worth staying up so late for. But since we were up, we thought we might as well check out the Gala Buffet. It was impressive as all the cruise buffets we have seen are. I loaded up my plate with some shrimp while Brian stuck to all the chocolate desserts. Everything was fantastic. They had a midnight chocolate buffet a couple of nights earlier that we didn't go to, but I bet it was divine!
It was a bad idea to go to bed extremely full again and Brian had some really strange and violent nightmares. Must have been the late night chocolate!
Brilliance of the Seas Saturday, September 14th
It's the last day of our wonderful cruise vacation. Sigh. I am always sad on the last day, but the weather has finally straightened out. It was sunny, 79 degrees with smooth waters. After a late breakfast, we played another game of HORSE on the basketball court where I barely won yet again. Then Brian beat me at miniature golf. A lot of people were enjoying the nice weather and happy to be on the outer decks. The rock climbing wall was even open and plenty of people were scaling it. We should have stayed outside, but went to the casino to lose $200. UGH I hate that. Brian tried to make me feel better by telling me that it was nothing compared to what we have lost in the stock market. That was supposed to make me feel better?
We went back to the room and got a head start on packing. On a television channel we saw that they had the very front of the ship open to the passengers. So we took a walk out there and stood at the very tip of the ship. It was cool, but not as thrilling as on the Adventure of the Seas because the tip goes out farther on that ship. We tracked down our room steward Dewa, and gave him his tip. We tipped very well because he did an outstanding job. We never saw him with any help and we never had to wait for our room to be done. And even after all the cruises we have done, he made some towel animals that we have never seen before like an elephant and an extravagant bunny.
At 4:30 p.m., we had our scheduled massages which left us pretty relaxed for the rest of the day. They asked Brian if he would prefer his massage from a girl or guy. Brian had no hesitation in choosing the girl and I had to go with the guy. We had scheduled deep tissue massages, but I told my masseuse that I didn't need the elbows. One time I told him it was a little too hard, but after that it was perfect. Brian said the girl was pretty rough on him too, but he didn't say anything. I think he didn't want to be perceived as a wimp! :O) The hour went by incredibly fast and I got conned into buying some bath soak even though I had told Brian he had not better buy anything. :) We decided that in the future instead of losing so much money in the casino, we will just schedule a bunch of massages because it is a less stressful way to throw money away.
Our last supper in the dining room was great. I savored the shrimp cocktail, spring roll and prime rib. The apple pie and brownie were excellent too of course. At dinner we polished off the rest of our bottle of cognac, but we had eaten so much that all the alcohol was soaked up. We said goodbye to our tablemates who we really enjoyed getting to know. We tipped Mustafa and Claudia more than the suggested tip even though we didn't dine there two nights. They were both terrific. Claudia was shy and didn't talk much, but she was very attentive. We also tipped the head waiter. She was very visible and even cut the shells from my shrimp and lobster. Obviously she does a great job with the staff.
We went back to the room to finish packing and had our bags outside our door by 9:00 p.m. And this time Brian actually helped! That was so nice of him! Usually I am stressing at midnight throwing our bags together. We still had half of the bottle of Grand Marnier that we risked packing. It actually made it all the way home to Barrow without leaking on us.
We headed back out, grabbed a Murphy's Irish stout and went to the Farewell Show which featured a guy who juggled and rode a unicycle. His name was Jody Reynolds and he was really good. He picked some poor lady out of the audience, humiliated her, then put her on his back while he attempted to ride the unicycle! He pulled it off without killing her, but the poor girl must have been horrified.
After the show, we decided to spend our final night aboard, bar hopping. We stopped at the Schooner for another stout and listened to the piano music for awhile before going to the Colony Club to listen to the last couple of songs that the band Midnight Oasis played. They were really good and we even danced a little for the first time this cruise. Then the orchestra band set up. We filled out the comment cards and listened to them play a few big band melodies. We watched the older folks kick up there heels and some of them were really quite good. Then we headed up to the Starquest Disco where we had more beer and danced to an 80's music set. That was a lot of fun, but the DJ switched to more modern stuff way too soon. I guess I can't expect them to know the good music from my generation. I asked him to play more 80's stuff and he did, but it was bad 80's stuff. We did notice that more people would hit the floor when they were playing the 80's stuff. We had a few more beers and waited for something else we could dance to. We were rather surprised to see a number of guys dancing with each other on the dance floor. Then the young entertainment crew came in and started dancing. We knew there would be no more old stuff then, so we headed across the hall to the Hollywood and listened to the Celeste Duo. She was really good also and sang things like "Do you know the way to San Jose". It was 12:45 a.m. and suddenly Brian was starving. The only place open for food was the Seaview Cafe and it was about to close at 1:00 a.m. We made a mad dash for it and made it just in time. I had a Cuban with the rest of my beer and Brian had a Reuben. Again they were both good.
On the way back to the room, we stopped at the Solarium to enjoy the tranquility one last time. We sat in a couple of lounge chairs, talked and giggled for awhile. We really miss that place. It is weird that we didn't partake in any of the night life until the very last night. But we don't feel like we missed anything. Maybe we are getting old, but we really enjoyed our slow paced, not doing too much cruise. We finally went to bed and turned the clocks back an hour for the last time.
Brilliance of the Seas Boston, Massachusetts Sunday, September 15th
We finally rolled out of bet at 7:30 a.m. We had been awake for quite awhile because the neighbors were very loud, banging things around apparently doing some last minute packing. I got dressed and ran up to the Windjammer, grabbed a couple of bananas, an apple and two cups of coffee and brought them back to Brian in the room for breakfast.
We were supposed to be out of the room by 8:00 a.m., but we didn't leave until 8:45 a.m. Dewa didn't seem to mind and we told him goodbye. We also told him about a leak in the bathroom he should probably have checked before the next occupants check in. He seemed grateful to have the heads up on it.
We went to the Pacifica Theater to wait the morning out. They called our color tag to disembark, but we stayed on for as long as we could. We were in no hurry to get to the airport where we would just sit and wait for our 7:00 p.m. flight. Brian had tried to rent a car online since we had the day to kill in Boston, but it didn't work out. We didn't want to spend the day at the airport and the only excursion Royal Caribbean offered was the one we did before when we came through Boston. It seems like we have been gone a really long time, but yet it went by so fast considering everywhere we had been on this trip.
Reluctantly, we had to get off the boat at 10:30 a.m. It is always sad to leave, but it's also nice to not to have rush with the crowd for a flight. It was easy finding our luggage since ours were with the very few bags remaining. They had a free shuttle to the airport, but it was pretty much chaos outside with so many buses and no one knowing which one to take. We managed to get on the right bus and made our way into Logan Airport by 11:00 a.m. In the airport we thought about all the fun we had on our first TRANSATLANTIC CRUISE while waiting for our flight home to Barrow, Alaska.