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Robert Smyth

Age: 42

Occupation:Computer Consultant

Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Brilliance of the Seas

Sailing Date: 2009-07-21

Itinerary: Mediterranean

Overall, this was a very good cruise. Our 4th with RCI. We did Jewel to the Baltics, Legend and Independence from Southampton. The ship was as we remembered the Jewel. Food choices have changed for the worse. There is always space for sunbathing and 5 countries in 12 days is excellent. The stateroom was as expected but could do with a plasma TV. The cruise staff entertainment was great, but guest artists were nowhere near the quality of those on Independence of the Seas. We enjoyed the Champagne bar and the Schooner bar - quality bar staff.

The best food was served in the sit down lunch, always freshly cooked and hot.

The food was nice. The Windjammer a bit hit and miss. The sit down meals started worryingly but improved over time. It is very good for mass catering, but not 5 star if you are used to dining out at restaurants. The main meal was typically the only hot part of the dinner. There were soups as well but no hot starters and only one or two souffles for hot desserts.

The sit down meals were all a bit crammed in as well, presumably with it being holiday season so lots of children sharing rooms adding to the head count.

Room service breakfast we only did once since it was a bit average.

Our stateroom was as we expected. The shower is a tight fit with a curtain. Bed was turned into a double which was good. There were lots of rattles that had to be damped with the odd towel or two. The old Philips CRT television showed its age though, they are getting maximum value out of these. Our balcony was excellent, great views as always.

The activities were very good. My children are 16 and 17 and they were very happy with the activities and really enjoyed Lee's management of them.

There were the usual dance lessons, quizzes, poolside activities. Even piano lessons, which unfortunately I missed due to getting the timings wrong.

We did our own thing apart from a Corinth Canal trip at Piraeus which was OK and avoided the Athens traffic.

Santorini was a great location and the trip we did was great as it avoided the crowds up on the cable car and got us to the town of Oia as well as Fira.

In Livorno, we paid for the extortionate shuttle to the town centre then walked (30 mins) to the train station and went to Pisa. We then got a taxi back. This worked out better than the trip. You can't get a taxi at the ship in Livorno. It's worth noting that if you get the shuttle into Livorno before 12, you can book a trip there to Pisa by coach which is a lot cheaper than the one they want you to get and as Pisa only takes a couple of hours you don't have to leave at 7am.

Overall, the trip was good. Mykonos and Santorini were new stops for us and these were excellent. The museum in Naples had some great Pompeii artefacts and Pisa is always spectacular. Kusadasi was a genuine fake laugh. We had a late flight from Barcelona so we did the bus and the Hard Rock Cafe. Civitavecchia was a nice stroll along the beach rather than a trek into Rome. Villefranche was as french as always and nice for trying out my new camera.

The ship is really good. The teen club a bit small for the summer hols, but lots to do for all. Getting loungers wasn't a problem. The bars were always responsive. Great bar staff and attentive waiters. The Argentinian captain, although looking quite young was hilarious. Schooner bar for singing along, Champagne bar for relaxing with a nice ambience.

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