We recently returned from two back to back cruises on the Brilliance of the Seas. Embarkation in Barcelona went very smoothly, taking no more than 20 minutes upon our arrival at noon. The staff was very friendly and well organized. We were directed to the Windjammer on Deck 11 for a buffet lunch. We used this restaurant throughout the trip except for dinners and were never disappointed in the food or service. Excellent selection and we really loved the Tapas served at 4 P.M. each day. The food stations are scattered so this avoids those long buffet lines - excellent idea.
Our inside cabin was surprisingly large and very comfortable with warm colours. Service was excellent throughout the cruise. The cabin attendant will introduce himself to you almost immediately upon your arrival, so if you would prefer to have some quiet time in your cabin first, make sure you put out the "do not disturb" sign.
The ship itself is one of the most beautiful I have been on, particulary the Colony Club (with its pool tables). I found the Centrum area to be a bit small- this area was used for pre or post dinner dancing and was quite crowded before and after the dinner seatings. Its location right by the purser's office didn't help matters.
The pool area was very crowded after 10AM with great difficulty getting lounge chairs after this time. You have a better possibility of getting a deck chair near the rock climbing wall, although it is located near the basketball courts and children's area so it is a bit noisy. While we did not use the solarium pool, it is beautiful and tended to be less crowded than the regular pool. It can get quite humid and warm there.
There are two alternative restaurants on board for a surcharge of $20 per person, both were excellent. One is Italian cuisine, the other specializes in steak.
Organization on board was very good, particularly for shore excursions. It is a good idea to pre-book your shore excursions before you board (at least 10 days before sailing). Tickets are delivered to your room and you avoid lineups and the possibility of sold-out excursions.
I was a little disappointed in the quality of the salads and main entrees in the dining room, although appetizers and desserts were excellent. Several pasta or rice dishes that I tasted were very heavy, steaks were generally good. Service was excellent on both cruises. We had an early dinner seating since we are used to dining early - this worked out well except you may be a bit rushed if you take some of the longer shore excursions. Early seatings were 6 or 6:30 p.m. and late were 9 or 9:30. If you take the early seating, you will be attending the late entertainment time of 9:30, if you dine late, the entertainment for you is scheduled for 7:30.
The excersize and work out area located on Deck 12 is excellent, with many aerobic and weight machines. Classes are also available, but are charged at $10 per class.
We found the main entertainment on board to be poor, especially the production shows. The main singers seemed to have difficulty harmonizing and the general effect was quite amateurish. Headliners were fairly good, but in general we were disappointed. Several of our tablemates stopped attending after the first few shows.
While the library on board is very small, it is open 24 hours a day - a wonderful idea since we have always found the limited hours most ships post for the library are very restrictive. On board the Brilliance, we were able to check out books at any time simply by logging in our name and book title.
Disembarking was effortless, when our tag colours were called, it was a quick walk off the ship.
In general, we were very pleased with our cruises on the Brilliance with only slight disappointment in the quality of the food in the dining room.