CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Brilliance of the Seas Panama Canal March 18, 2005

Embarkation - Embarkation went very well. We got to the ship, signed in and were able to get into our cabin very quickly. The only problems we encountered were related to our dinner seatings. The first dinner seating was advertised as being 6:00 p.m. However, upon arrival we found out it was 5:30. That is way too early for dinner. Also, 2 people in our party were assigned to different tables. After speaking with the maitre d, that was promptly corrected.

The ship is beautiful with many public areas. There is truly a niche for everyone. The Schooner Bar and Colony Club are very nice areas for a drink with friends. The Colony Club also hosts many of the trivia contests, special events etc. On these occasions, the place was always packed. The other thing I noticed which was very different from my previous Celebrity cruise was that the disco was packed every night. The cruisers on RC seemed to be a much livlier bunch than those on the Celebrity cruise. Since this cruise was over Easter (as was the one on Celebrity) there were a fair amount of children - many unsupervised. It does amaze me that parents would allow young children to wander around a cruise ship undersupervised but it happened on both cruises. I think the staff on this ship did a much better job of controlling unruly children than the Celebrity staff did. It also appeared that the childrens' program on the Brilliance really kept the kids entertained. Oftentimes I would see a group with their group leader traipsing around somewhere on the ship having a scavenger hunt or somthing and the kids looked like they were having a great time. There is also a pool for children only which was nice as well as an adult's only indoor solarium which is just beautiful and relaxing. This was a great alternative to the outdoor pool when you wanted to just relax in a quiet atmosphere.

The one area that was lacking was the quality of the food. The food in the main dining room was adequate but I can't say I was overly impressed with anything (although the chateaubriand was very good). I was especially disappointed with the desserts. This is quite a difference from the food on the Celebrity Century where I walked away from the dining room every evening wondering how such wonderful food could be served to that many people. The service was good but not great. It took our assistant waiter until day 3 or 4 to remember to bring lemons for the water. The Windjammer Cafe was a nice alternative for breakfast or lunch. The food was quite good and lunch menus varied every day. The only complaint I would have is with the quality of the fruit. I also noticed that clean-up and personal service here was not as good as Celebrity. I did not eat at Portofinos or Chops. Four of our party did eat at Chops and raved about the food and service.

Ports - Our itinerary included Aruba, the Panama Canal, Costa Rica and Grand Cayman. I think the time allotted to each port was just right. The Panama Canal is not to be missed. I was quite impressed with the ship's step by step commentary on what was being seen. Aruba is a great island and not visit would be complete without a trip to Carlos and Charlies. Be prepared for crazy congo lines with tequilla shots being poured down your throat, strip teases by men etc. Not a place for children or the weak at heart but it was fun!!!! In Costa Rica we took the ship's shore excursion down the Tortuguera Canal. I would highly recommend this excursion. We saw a lot of wildlife and foliage indigenous to the area. The tour guide was wonderful and gave us a lot of information on the history of Costa Rica.

Grand Cayman was very nice. We took a local tour around the island then had lunch at Breezes across the street from the tendering docking area. Had wonderful mussels there.

One big area of complaint is that you can not hear the ship's announcements if you are in your stateroom. You need to open the door to hear what is being said. That was very problematic on the days you had tender tickets because you could not hear when your tender number was being called.

The cruise director, Dan was wonderful. He was lots of fun and got people involved without being offensive to those who preferred to watch from a distance. The other cruise staff were also very good with the exception of Franco, who I found to be irritating, rude and abrasive. It seemed like the bingo crowd liked him so it my just be me.

The quality of entertainment on board varied. There was a violinist that was excellent. However the Brilliance singers could use a voice coach.

Although I did have some minor complaints I would definitely book another cruise on the Brilliance if only for the "fun factor". It's a beautiful ship with lots to do and people that seem to like to have a good time. If you are a person that goes to bed early and likes a more staid and sedate environment I'd recommend a Celebrity cruise.

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