Brilliance of the Seas
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Sail Date: 29th Aug-10th Sept 2017
Ship Capacity: 2501
Route: Barcelona-Nice-Livorno (Florence/Pisa)-Civitavecchia (Rome)-Salerno (Amalfi Coast)-At Sea-Venice (overnight stop)-Bologna (Ravenna)-Kotor-At Sea-At Sea-Barcelona
Why we chose this ship: The Brilliance is the second Radiance class ship we've been on and is in fact our favourite Royal Caribbean vessel so far. One of the main reasons we love the ship so much is due to its beautifully elegant style & amazing views; you'll find many window vantage points around the ship, the best being the glass elevators which allow you to look right out across the water. The Atrium is also a particular highlight of the ship, offering a relaxing place to sit & enjoy live music during the day & a fun activity hub in the evening.
Another fantastic feature of the Brilliance is accessible helipad at the front of the ship; most vessels helipads are off limits to passengers, but on this shop you are welcome to visit it, including during sail ins & outs. This means you get an incredible space in which to stand or sit -there are a few benches- as you arrive in port. This was particularly utilised on our sailing as we visited both Kotor (Montenegro) ad Venice (Italy), arguably two of the best sail-in experiences due to their incredible views.
The Brilliance carries 2500 passengers, allowing for a nice intimate feel across sailings; you’ll be able to get to know spaces & staff well, and we found there to be very limited queuing for things like activities or bar service. We’ll now move on to some ship-specifics but overall, we highly recommend the Brilliance to any young couple who want a classy yet lively getaway.
Activities & Entertainment: For those who like to stay active while on vacation, you’ll be aptly satisfied with the amount of things to do on-board The rock climbing wall is our personal favourite –free to use & open for climbing daily- but we also love a less strenuous game of mini golf on the top deck. There is a fully equipped gym on-board & a designated running track, so there is plenty to keep you physically occupied.
To relax after all that exercise, we loved going to the Solarium the design of which is very similar across the Radiance class ships. Once again, views are a key feature thanks to the glass ceiling that allows the –hopefully- bright blue sky to shine down on you while you relax. You can do this on one of the cushioned loungers or whilst taking a dip in the salt-water pool, which we found preferable to the main one on deck as it as warmer! But if you don’t mind cool water, the outdoor pool is a great place to spend some time, especially on sea days where the deck is full of fun activities, such as pool volleyball and dance classes. If you prefer to just watch such goings on, grab a seat at the Pool Bar or Sky Bar, the latter being our favourite spot for a daytime drink. If you’re staying on-board during a port day or are at sea, there are various quizzes, scavenger hunts and other games running throughout the day as well as at night. One in particular not to be missed is the Royal Mystery Escape Room, provided by Royal Caribbean’s partner company, Puzzle Break and only available on the Brilliance, Harmony, Anthem & Ovation. We wont give too much a way, but you play as a team –or in two’s, as we did- and solve paper based puzzles that eliminates suspects surrounding a curious crime. The game takes place in the Safari Lounge and while you do have to pick up a couple of clues from across the room, most of the time you will remain seated at your chosen table; as the game takes place on formal night, I was glad of the lack of physical aspects as I didn’t fancy running around in heels! There will usually be just one running of the game per sailing, so make sure you arrive early & get a good seat.
There will be plenty of other evening activities throughout your sailing, with a variety of acts performing nightly in the Pacifica Theatre; the Royal Caribbean dancers & singers were the strongest company we’ve seen on this cruise line so far & they performed a good range of themed musical shows. There were also many excellent headline acts throughout our sailing, with our favourites being the Beatles tribute band & ‘Hector is Magic’, a wonderful magician who we also saw on the Vision. Bars around the ship also provide live musicians throughout the evening & the Safari Lounge also hosts Karaoke nights throughout sailings.
Dining: Overall, we found our dining experience on the Brilliance to be fantastic, especially the evening meals served in Minstrels, the main dining room. There was always a wide variety of choice each night & our waiters never failed to cook dishes exactly to our liking. We chose 8.30 traditional dining on this sailing –at a private table for two as requested- & service was consistently efficient. For lunch, we mostly ate in the Windjammer, which had an incredible range of dishes, including a worldwide cuisine section which alternating daily.
We also tried evening meals in 3 of the speciality restaurants on-board, as we had purchased the ‘3 Night Dining Package’ prior to sailing. This can be bought through your Cruise Compass & is excellent value for money, reducing the cost of paying for each speciality restaurant individually.
We loved Giovanni’s Table, trying a fantastic antipasti board to start & both enjoyed a pasta main. We highly recommend the lamb gnocchi but don’t forget to leave room for the dessert cart, which makes its way to your table towards the end of the meal. Izumi was also highly enjoyable, where we shared a generous portion of miso ramen to start, followed by a chef’s speciality roll each. There is a great selection of rolls to choose from, with fillings to suit both sushi connoisseurs & those who prefer cooked fillings (shrimp, crab vegetables, etc.). The Sake cocktails are also gorgeous, so make sure to grab one during your meal. Our favourite speciality restaurant on the Brilliance is definitely Chops Grille, which we enjoyed previously on the Vision. The steaks here are truly, as advertised, the best on the high seas, of fantastic quality & full of flavour even before adding the delicious sauces available. We particularly love that steaks requested well done are butterflied, which ensures it is cooked to perfection but not overdone. We enjoyed a range of sides, but the creamed spinach was our particular favourite. There was a range of deserts available, & we enjoyed a beautifully presented ice-cream sundae, served in a giant sweet waffle & covered in fresh berries. For us, Chops provides the best steak dinners we’ve ever had, so whenever your on-board a Royal Caribbean ship that has this restaurant get your reservation in straight away!
Accommodation: We chose an interior cabin for this trip, located on deck 8. Being one of the older ships in the fleet, there weren’t any of the high-tech innovation found in newer staterooms, such as virtual balconies; however this wasn’t of great importance to us & the cabin on the Brilliance met all of our requirements aptly, if not providing the ‘wow’ factor. There is sufficient storage space, a good sized bed –under which cases can be stored- plus a fridge & television. The bathroom is the standard interior cabin design, compact but adequate, though we were please with the amount of space on the vanity unity and its good lighting. Our cabin attendant was, as usual on Royal Caribbean ships, friendly & helpful but not overbearing & he provided some excellent towel animals during our voyage! We have mentioned this in previous reviews, but for any first time cruiser reading this in preparation for a sailing, you may well find an interior cabin to be significantly smaller than the average hotel room but with so much to do on-board we spent very little time in our cabin & there was certainly enough room for us both to manage in just fine.
Overall: The Brilliance completes various routes worldwide, so you could be sailing on her anywhere from Europe to the Caribbean (or one to the other, if you’ve chosen a transatlantic cruise!). No matter what the route, you will find plenty to do on this beautiful ship, all whilst surrounded by elegance & incredible views, thanks to its thoughtful design.