We sailed the Brilliance transatlantic in September - we loved it so much we booked an 11 day for April 03. She is a beautiful ship, the crew and Captain were the best we've ever sailed with (it was our 27th cruise and our 17th with RCI). The only problem we found with aft rooms is the lack of a passenger staircase in the rear of the ship. If you want to go up or down, you need to go to the centrum elevators or stairs. If you don't mind a long walk, you won't mind doing this, as the very aft rooms have HUGE balconies. The ship was full, but never seemed crowded. We did find the dining room appeared to be a bit tight, but the service was excellent. I think the wait staff probably had some serving problems with the lack of space, but it never showed in the way they performed their tasks. We had a category D room on deck 9, and the room was very spacious, with lots of storage space. The solarium is a beautiful area, and h the hot tubs and pools are now open for 24 hours a day, so you can enjoy it day or night.
The Windjammer has a great area in the rear - an outside dining area which has a canopy to keep off the sun. Loved the sports bar, and Eddie the bartender was outstanding. Can't wait for our April cruise to see this beautiful ship again!
You will love her!!
I haven't used the drink card but have listened to many passengers on "RCI" discussing them. The consensus was that they DO benefit you IF you would buy that many regular alcoholic drinks. They are accepted in all the bars, including the nightly shows.
About the "Brilliance," the layout does make it harder to operate from the back of the ship but I appreciated the walk while on the "Radiance" (identical sister ship). Am booked on aft deck 10 (#1104) in August on the "Brilliance" and very excited to be there.
Be sure to visit the "Seaview Cafe" early on so you will know it is there as an option when you might want some finger food or a snack. Also the "Windjammer" is a step up from the other buffets you may have had on other ships so feel free to wander around before deciding what to get.
Any other questions, feel free to email me. Otherwise have a great trip and let us know how it went upon your safe return, Robbie
I just got back from a 10 day trip aboard the Brilliance (Dec 13 - 23). Any cabin on deck 8 is well situated.
I am not much of a drinker, so I cannot comment on the drink card deal they offer. A few things about drinking I did not like:
1. If you buy a bottle on board for in room consumption, they charge you an additional $9.00 corkage fee. That is highly insulting.
2. They have eliminated wine stewards in the dining room - and the job is left to your waiter. In our case, we had a bottle sent to the table by our travel agent. The waiter just poured my wife and I full glasses without giving me the opportunity to taste it first. When we finished dinner, there was close to 1/2 a bottle left, which he promptly disposed of, rather than asking if we wanted more, or if we would like it saved for another evening.
The ship is beautiful, but after that, the rest of the Royal Caribbean food and cruise experience was mediocore at best. We could not make one stop beacuse of sea conditions - which is fully understandable. But when pressed on the issue of the unused port tax - there was no refund. We have had similar incidents on other cruise lines and the unused port tax was credited to our account.
They tout that the ship is internet equipped and I took a laptop because of business scheduling issues. To hook up in the room was a flat $120 fee for the cruise - outrageous! If you use their terminals, it's $.50 a minute - also outrageous. I used internet connections on shore at various stops for $2.00 per hour and was able to do the necessary file tranfers required for my business. They are now nickle and dime-ing you to death and it is insulting to say the least. Any coffee other than regular or decaf is charged as a bar drink!
As far as the current scurge of stomach problems, the crew was entirely mum on the situation. By mid cruise - fully 25% of the dining room was missing - and they were not all in the alternative dining venues. I was sick with stomach problems for 4 days. One day was severe, the other days were just "troubling". I did not report to the ships doctor, as I would have been quarantined to my cabin, and was not sick enough to curtail any activities, so I did not want to be shut in. I will give the crew credit as they very aggressively disinfected the ship virtually non-stop during the entire trip.
By the way - as diamond members of Crown and Anchor, it only took us two full frustrating hours of standing on lines to embark at the pier. I think we could have gotten through quicker with the "masses". Disembarkation was quicker, only because I was able to "acquire" special "Early Disembarkation" tags. We had hours to spare in making an 11am flight out of Miami.
If the trip was not the bargain that it was, I would not have elected to cruise with Royal Caribbean, and will try to avoid them in the future. For my money, Celebrity is miles ahead of RCI and HAL is miles ahead of Celebrity - my opinion only. My wife was not unhappy with the trip, but she also agrees that Celebrity and HAL and far and away much better at everything.
Is 10 days on the Brilliance better than 10 days up here in the frozen north - you bet! Would I go on the Brillaince again - not likely - unless like this last trip, we paid less than $70 per person per day. At that price - it was a good deal. I just need to lower my expectations.
By the way - we have lots of experince with RCI and 20+ cruises with other lines.
How can you brag on the one hand that you spent only $70pp/day for your cruise, and complain on the other hand that you got "nickel-and-dimed?" I'm really sorry that you feel "insulted," but even if you'd paid the money to hook up your computer you'd still have gotten the best vacation bargain out there.
Cruise fares have gotten so cutthroat that the lines have to make a buck somehow. If you live anywhere near a major metropolitan area, does it occur to you that three halfway decent meals at restaurants would cost you something close to $70? And that wouldn't buy you a room to sleep in, much less one that transports you across the sea!
You claim to be a business person. Take a step back and try to figure out how you could run a profitable business at the fare levels now being charged. Maybe if you do you can throw a blanket over some of your indignity and enjoy the tremendous value that cruising represents these days. You claim to be a long-standing veteran cruiser. Dig out some of your old cruise tickets or credit card stubs, check the dates, and run the fares through an inflation calculator. Then compare that number to your current fare of $70/pp/day.
Some services and activities on cruise ships are expensive. But, they are also optional. Nobody's forcing you to buy booze, compute with your computer, get backrubs, take shore excursions, or gamble. If you feel some or all of these things are not good value for money, just say no.
But don't be insulted. You haven't got much of a case.
AR- right on! How can people complain about the prices today and the beautiful ships they are sailing? We sailed in 1980 on the Carla C (Costa lines) in an inside cabin with an upper and lower berth and paid over $1,000 apiece for the privilege for this 7 day cruise. Compare that to the $600 per person we paid in September to be transported aboard the Brilliance of the Seas from London to Boston - and this time we were in a balcony cabin, category D. You can't have it both ways - lower prices and no way for the shipline to make up for the huge building and staffing costs today except for art auctions, specialty restaurants, etc. Then you have those folks that bring their own liquor onboard, but that's another story for another time. We did meet a couple on a Radiance cruise that said their Sign & Sail card balance was always zero. They never bought anything on board, and always took the least expensive room. So it can be done!
(Hopefully they had tip money with them!!!)