Number of Cruises: 7
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Brilliance of the Seas
Sailing Date: December 23rd, 2002
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
My wife and I, along with our two sons
(ages 22 and 18) and my wife's parents were on the 11-Day Circle the Caribbean
cruise from December 23rd and returned on January 3rd, 2003. This was the 7th
cruise for my wife and I with others being on Carnival and NCL over 20 years ago
and RCCL Severeign, Dolphin's SeaBreeze, and Celebrity's Century in the past 5
The Brilliance is truly the most beautiful ship we have been on, including the Century. There is so much glass that you can almost always see the water. And, the colors and decorating are very classy and understated for the most part. We had a balcony cabin on deck 7 that adjoined our sons room and my wife parent's room was next door.
We arrived at the Port of Miami around 11:45AM, dropped off luggage and then parked in the garage ($10 per day). We were told the wrong gate to go to and had a long walk. Waited in line to check in for about 25 minutes, then got our photo and were on board by 1:00PM. The Windjammer Cafe was open for a buffet and we had the afternoon to explore.
Since it was Christmas, we brought a small tree and decorated it for the cabin. The cabin is very nicely appointed and around 180 square feet not counting the balcony. The lifeboats were on the deck below us and covered by a large white cover that went our approxmiately 8 to 10 feet from our balcony. Therefore, we could not look direcly down at the water. The balcony, like many of the outdoor decks, was covered in a rubbery surface that always seemed wet. The cabins include a TV, refrigerator (Mini Bar), hair dryer, safe, and good closed space. They also had very nice reading lamps while in bed.
The ship was decorated for Christmas and had many trees, greenery and poinsettias around. On Christmas, the Captain, crew and many staff joined passengers in the Centrum to sing Christmas caroles. On Christmas morning, Santa and his elves paraded from the top deck down to the Centrum and gave wrapped gifts to each child. They also had their photos made with Santa. RCCL had also provided each cabin a very nice rolling picnic cooler as a Christmas gift which was a nice touch.
All public areas were beautiful. The Colony Club is a very nice area as was the Pacifica Theatre which is large and was rarely crowded on our cruise. The most beautiful area was the Solarium with the pool, hot tub, greenery, and elephant statues. There was also a pizza stand that was open all afternoon and a bar. The two-story Minstrel Dining Room was is even more beautiful than the dining room on the Century. There are many big tables for 10 to 12 so it may be hard to get a small table. We were at a table for six.
The food was okay in the dining room but not quite as good as The Century. The desserts were usually very good. On Christmas Day, they had a traditional turkey and dressing entree.
The Windjammer is a nice informal restaurant near the top with lots of glass. It is open for breakfast, lunch and many evenings for dinner. It is designed really well with many different food stations so there were hardly ever any lines. Breakfast was good and the same foods most mornings. Lunch included hot foods along with burgers, hot dogs, pizza, salads, and more. They also had really good cookies, desserts and soft serve at the back of the Windjammer.
We also ate several times at lunch and late night at the Seaview Cafe. It is hard to find but they have cooked to order sandwiches, chicken wings and fingers, and more. The Cuban and Reuben sandwiches were very good. The Seaview is very small but was usually not crowded.
Our sons ordered room service on many late nights and found the service quick. We ordered only once late night and the servcie was also quick. The menu is fairly limited and the food is okay.
We did not eat in either of the two specialty restaurants which cost $20 per person.
If you like Midnight buffets this is not the cruise line for you. They had a Chocoholic buffet one evening but the lines were long and we did not go. They also had one or two other buffets that again we did not attend. However, they are supposed to have something called "Gourmet Bites" in lounges on the evenings they do not have a buffet. However, we went several times and never saw any food or evidence that any food was ever there.
Music reviews by the RCCL Singers and Dancers were excellent. There were a couple of comedians, jugglers, and a group called the Guises that were good. We had two name entertainers on the cruise. First, the 60's band The Happenings ("See You in September" and "I got Rhythm") performed and put on a very entertaining show. John Davidson performed on New Years night and was disappointed in the show. He does cheesy bits and very little singing. He was apparently on the entire cruise because we saw him on several occasions.
Disco was good, especially on 70's night for us old folks. They had music every evening from 6 to midnight in the Centrum lounge, a band in the Colony Club and piano bar in the Schooner Bar. Karaoke was in the small Hollywood lounge on deck 12.
They have a small but nice cinema and say they have "first run" movies. However, they played the same movies on TV that were in the theatre and they were NOT first run or even close.
Service was excellent. Our dining room waiter was Angel and Alex was his assistant. Both were from the Philipines. Josep, from Croatia, was the headwaiter and was extremely attentive and visited with us most evenings. Our cabin steward was Hussan from Indonesia. He was efficient and personable and left towel animals on several evenings. The lounge service was slow and the drinks cost entirely too much.
Took longer than other cruises we have been on but this is our first since 9/11. Everyone now must go through customs so it takes longer than in the past.
The ship movement was noticeable on many occasions but it may have been due to the time of year. The seas were typically rough and it was so windy during the evening that you could hardly be on deck. On sea days, of which we had 4, deck chairs were at a premium because there seemed to be more teenagers and children due to Christmas. And, yes people saved chairs.
This was a wonderful ship and cruise and would recommend it to anyone. Even though the food is average, the ship is spectacular and the service good. And, after an 11-day cruise it may be hard to go back to a 7-day.