There are so many fabulous cruise lines and ships to choose from that it can be overwhelming and difficult to know how or which one to choose. How do you possibly decide? I suggest you start by picking the itinerary of where you would like to sail. After you find out where you want to go, it will help in narrowing down the ships that sail to your desired destination.
That is exactly what I did. I wanted to go to the Mediterranean. After doing all of my research and checking out the various ships (easily done on line), I chose the amazing ship, MS Brilliance of the Seas, which is a cruise ship belonging to the Royal Caribbean’s Radiance class. It sails from Barcelona to the Mediterranean from April to January, which included all the countries and cities I hoped to visit. For your information, the Brilliance also sails from Dubai to the Arabian Peninsula and India from November to April. Furthermore, she sails through the Suez Canal during her repositioning cruises. Starting in 2012, the Brilliance will sail from Copenhagen to Northern Europe and in September 2012 will make a transatlantic crossing to New York. From there she will sail to Canada and New England, until November, when the Brilliance of the Seas will sail from Cape Liberty to San Juan and will do Southern Caribbean voyages.
I loved this beautiful and fabulous ship. In spite of the fact that the Brilliance is petite in comparison to its newer, larger Oasis- and Voyager-class fleet mates, it has a real fashionable, up to date feel and still includes some of the best features that have become Royal Caribbean trademarks. The Brilliance was the perfect size for me. It was large enough to keep me busy, but cozy enough to experience some sense of privacy. I found I wasn’t waiting in long lines for whatever I wanted to do, which was a pleasure. The two cruises I chose were the 12 NIGHT MEDITERRANEAN VENICE CRUISE ( Barcelona, Spain visiting Villefranche-Sur-Mer, France >> Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Italy >> Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy >> Naples, Italy >> Venice, Italy >> Ravenna, Italy >> Dubrovnik, Croatia)
and a 12 NIGHT MEDITERRANEAN GREEK ISLES CRUISE (Barcelona, Spain visiting Villefranche-Sur-Mer, France >> Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Italy >> Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy >> Piraeus (Athens), Greece >> Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey >> Santorini, Greece >> Naples, Italy).
These two cruises seemed to attract a diverse range of passengers, from young couples to families and retirees. I noticed that the Brilliance is also popular with groups, whether friends traveling together or those rewarded with corporate incentive getaways. On my cruises, there were people from all over the world. I met 6 couples that I adored and we promised to keep in touch with each other forever. That is one of the joys of sailing!
The ship holds 2,502 guests (total) and 848 crew (International). The itineraries were outrageously spectacular. Although, I only spent a day in each port, it gave me a great sense and taste of where I want to return one day.
The Brilliance is a magnificently smart looking ship and I found it to be stunning throughout. The glass elevators face the sea which made for non-stop ocean beauty. The ship boasts a nine-story glass-constructed Centrum which is not only gorgeous but incredible state-of-the-art technology.
A terrific informative planner for the duration of the cruise arrived on the very first day we sailed, which helped me to map out the shows and evening entertainment that interested me. Every evening, an easy to follow program full of helpful tips for planning my next day was delivered to my stateroom. The ship had many exciting, fun, and fascinating activities making boredom a virtual impossibility.
The staterooms are lovely, although as in all ships, typically small. However, every single inch is put to good use. The cabins are functional and provided plenty of closet and drawer space for all of my things. There are a total of 1,055 staterooms which include: Ocean View: 817 (577 with balconies) Interior: 238 Staterooms with third/fourth berths: 341 Wheelchair accessible and staterooms: 15.
All cabins are equipped with a television, telephone, Cyber Cabin, refrigerator/mini-bar, hair dryer, 110/220 electrical outlets, and individually controlled air conditioning/heat.
I strongly suggest taking the Cruise Excursion Tours that are offered especially, if it is your first time in any of the ports. They are truly sensational. I felt at times rushed, but it is the only way to get in all there is to see. It took all the worry out of missing important sights, gets you into attractions without the normal wait time, and takes the huge concern out of missing the ships sailing time. The staff at the excursion desk was so informative, patient, and very helpful in selecting your excursion wants, needs, and desires.
Main Dining Room: Is an elegant grand room. The food and service rivals any ship on the seas. The servers aimed to please and seemed to care about each and every morsel of mouthwatering selections that I placed into my mouth. I found the food selections and the food itself excellent.
Chops Grille: The Chops Grille is a wonderful gourmet restaurant nestled in its own private location on the ship. For an extra cost, I enjoyed dining in a lovely, intimate atmosphere. It is a charming way of escaping the large amount of people for a quiet and elegant dining experience. The foods served here are distinctly different from what the rest of the ship offers. Here, I found amazing soups, salads, appetizers, and delicious steak selections that are uniquely out of this world and of the highest quality. Chops Grille is quite delectable and impressive with the most excellent service from Joao, my handsome server.
Portofino Italian Restaurant: Also, for an extra cost, Portofino provides much of what Chops offers but with an Italian menu. Here, you too will find a calm, relaxing, and peaceful atmosphere and decor with the most scrumptious food and excellent service. Bravo to Portofino and the entire staff here!
Seaview Café: Here, is where you can find a casual atmosphere for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the beautiful views of the ocean. For lots of variety and yummy food selections throughout the day, the Seaview Café may be your spot. After a long day in port, this is where I came to just grab a bite to eat at night without having to fuss or get dressed.
I have to take my hat off to Markus Zihlmann, the food and beverage manager, who strives and achieves food excellence of the highest standards. His values, principals, and work ethics are extraordinary. He took me on a tour of the ship’s kitchens and you could see the remarkable dedication and pride in his eyes as he danced around the kitchen stations. It works like a well oiled machine. Each person has a job to do and Markus makes sure they complete each task to perfection. The Cruise line is lucky to have him.
Concierge Club: Is a special room for Diamond Plus, Pinnacle members, and those staying in select suites. I was treated like royalty here. The lovely concierge, Betsy Medrano, and Norman Munoz, the expert bar tender, jumped to my every need. Betsy, with her grace and elegance took care of everything I needed on the ship from my excursions to my returning airport needs. Norman never stopped serving the best drinks and most delicious Hors D’oeuvres, finger foods, and sweets served anywhere. He never skipped a beat with his tremendous service and care. The chic Concierge Club is one of my happy places on the ship. Worth getting a suite for this room alone! Furthermore, the Concierge Crown and Anchor Lounge is also available to Diamond Plus, Pinnacle members, and those staying in select suites.
Room Service: I think that room service on the Brilliance was one the best I have ever experienced on a ship. Fast, delicious, hot and cold foods delivered quickly and cordially. I must extend kudos to my favorite server on the entire ship, Conroy Chambers. You rock Conroy!!!!
Housekeeping service: Bravo to my steward John! My messy room was cleaned with love twice a day, every single day. I never had to ask for extra of anything. He nailed my every need and desire. He even left his crafty towel animals on my bed nightly. As I observed, everyone else felt the same way about their steward.
Other meeting places on the ship:
I found all the Royal Caribbean classic hang outs on this ship as well, like the Schooner Bar, the Windjammer Cafe, the climbing wall up the smokestack, miniature golf, and a water slide.
There were a few surprises too, like the rather avant-garde and fashionable Starquest bar/nightclub forward on Deck. My dance buddies and I were excited to realize that the bar revolves when the bartender flicks a switch. At first, I thought I drank one too many…This is a very cool dance club where we happily danced the nights away.
Another awesome hang out is the Latte-tudes Coffee bar, which serves Seattle’s Best coffee and feels like a legitimate Internet cafe, regardless of the gorgeous sea views. It was my favorite spot for a quiet morning coffee and e-mail check (Due check out the ship’s computer rates and packages).
The Indian Raj-themed Solarium: With its sliding roof, the solarium is a perfect place for peaceful, relaxing tranquility! Here is where I caught up on my much needed reading and leisure. This theme of light, space, and breathtaking sea views recurs throughout the ship, principally in the elegant, light-filled atrium with glass elevators.
Casino Royale: If you can’t be in Las Vegas, here is a great place to enjoy your gambling desires. But, Las Vegas doesn’t sail on the ocean and the Casino Royale does!
Other Places to relax on the ship are:
The Colony Club (A unique British colonial-style lounge with self-leveling pool tables, Indoor/outdoor country club with golf simulator)
Capacity Viking Crown Lounge
Adventure Ocean Youth Area
Optix Teen Center
Youth Pool Area (Adventure Beach)
Conference Center and Services
Brilliance Day Spa & Fitness Center:
The fitness center is an incredible workout room with state of the art equipment and daily classes. Although I found I ate more than usual, keeping in shape was not a problem as the Brilliance offers a variety of physical environments such as: Three Pools, Three Whirlpools, Half Basketball Court, Rock-climbing Wall, Nine-Hole Miniature Golf Course, Golf Simulator, and a Jogging Track…
Beauty Salon: This Beautiful salon is staffed with trained experts that easily handled all of my beauty needs. Not an easy task, I might add~
Shops and Boutiques: The shops change merchandise throughout the cruise, so frequent the shops often for great deals!
Art & Photo Gallery: The photographs are outstanding and will no doubt be treasured life memories. So, DO take and purchase a lot of photos, I did. There are so many lovely backgrounds to choose from. My favorite is the plain white where I sat on the floor, got silly and now have casual, fun moments to cherish.
Business Services: Do get familiar with all this service has to offer. It helped me to keep in touch with my home and office.
Medical Center: The ships medical facility is quite remarkable. I had to visit there for a personal problem I developed and Doctor Mariette Mouton from South Africa was not only a fabulous doctor but a lovely and caring woman.
My bar and dining room wait staff, cabin stewards, and all personnel in general were very warm, helpful , friendly, and more than eager to please. These dedicated people on the ship work so hard and diligently that I almost felt badly how much they truly wanted to make me happy and how much they wanted me to enjoy myself. Amazing crew, simply amazing! The captain was fun and had quite a sense of humor. I actually made a point of listening for the very humorous Captain’s address every evening as we sailed into the sunset.
I would also like to thank a truly outstanding guest services manager, Adrian Fernandes, who did everything humanly possible to make my cruises brilliantly memorable and dazzling. He went out of his way not only for me, but for every person he came in contact with the entire cruise. What a shining star!
The entire staff of the Brilliance of the Seas is well trained. It was apparent that they were all committed to making my (and every passenger’s) at sea vacation experience one that I will never forget.
Every experience aboard the Brilliance of the Seas was second to none. The cruise ships personnel and all the ship offers made my sea journey special, memorable, and unique. The Brilliance, without a doubt, delivers what travel dreams are made of, indeed!
Goto website: http://www.royalcaribbean.com/home.do