This is a review of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines ship, Brilliance of the Seas. According to their website at royalcaribbean.com, the Brilliance was built in 2002 and is part of the Radiance class of ships. Anyone that has sailed on this class knows that the size and layout of the ship borders on perfect. It is a large ship, able to carry 2,500 passengers, but there is rarely a feeling of crowding, and there are many intimate areas where one can usually find some quiet time.
The ship itself is beautiful, but long time cruisers have begun to notice as little amenities start to disappear from cruising and RCCL and the Brilliance are no exception. Long gone are the days when you are greeted at the gangway and escorted to your cabin, and now the traditional greeting with a glass of champagne seems to have also met the budget cuts. Nevertheless, the crew and staff are as friendly and attentive as ever, and you are made to feel welcome by everyone you meet.
The embarkation process is smooth and easy, but note that early boarders are usually not allowed to their cabin before one o’clock. This, of course, means the first trip to the windjammer to begin the cruise eating experience. Like many of the more recent RCCL and Celebrity ships, the buffet no longer is made up of the traditional four long lines on each side of the ship, but a more free style arrangement in the back of the seating area. This allows much easier access to the foods you want without waiting in line. And there is always something you can get to with no line at all.
Speaking of food, for most cruisers, the dinner experience can be one that makes the trip more enjoyable. It seems that the staff is making a better effort to seat dinner guests together according to language and age, which can make a big difference in the experience. The food and preparation continues to be good, but again, you can see the quality slipping a bit. You can no longer get filet mignon without a surcharge or visiting a specialty restaurant, and gone are the lobster. Two shrimp, regardless how ‘giant’ does not make a substitution. Most disappointing, the desserts have slipped much further in quality than the rest of the meal service.
For frequent cruisers, the Radiance class has an amenity that has really made a difference for RCCL, and that is the concierge lounge. Unfortunately, just as travelers were beginning to get used to this, they are taking it away for the frequent travelers and preserving it only for suite guests. Of course, if you have twenty-five or more cruises on RCCL, they will allow you back in. Even a middle of the road hotel has a concierge available, and it’s hard to understand why a luxury cruise ship can’t have the same.
On deck during a sea day, it can be difficult to find a chair, but once again, RCCL does a good job of managing the large number of cruisers on board. Most of the time a chair could be found with a little persistence, even in the small and intimate solarium – another great feature of the Radiance class ships.
The cabin service continues to excel and cruisers will enjoy a clean and well appointed cabin with an attentive and friendly cabin steward. It is always amazing how quickly a room can be cleaned and made ready for another day. Turn down service is still done daily, but gone are the little chocolates on the pillow.
Whether you are a first time cruiser or a seasoned veteran, the Radiance class ship and in particular the Brilliance of the Seas offers a fine value and a very enjoyable cruise experience.