My husband and I have become fans of Royal Caribbean. I think the reason is the unbelievable amount of glass on their ships, which means you see the ocean almost everywhere you look. On the Brilliance, that means even when you are on some of the elevators.
The Brilliance is really a beautiful ship. The atrium was smaller than other ships we've been on, yet it was the prettiest. The little "balconies" on each floor overlooking the atrium were wonderful. Even in the hallways -- the "wood" touches -- made it classy.
As far as staff, friendliness, etc., quite frankly we've never had a negative thing to say about these services on any of the cruises we've taken. These people work hard! The entertainment seemed run of the mill, except for John Davidson's show. I've never been a big fan of his, and we almost didn't go to the show, but we would've missed the best night of entertainment on the whole cruise. For 63 years old, he really had energy, and a lot of talent too.
The self-leveling pool tables in the Colony Club are amazing to watch, even if you're not a pool player. We spent a bit of time each day by the coffee bar; sure, you pay a little for a cup of coffee, but I've never been in a Starbucks with such a beautiful view! The seats in the theater were very comfortable, which hasn't been the case on some of the other cruises we've taken. And the game room, which is hard to find (off the Colony Club) was just the right place for an afternoon cribbage game.
One HUGE negative was that we had a balcony cabin on Floor 8 forward, right above the staterooms on Floor 7 with the larger balconies. The smoke from these balconies floated up to ours and totally ruined the balcony experience. Even after lodging a "gentle" complaint with the front desk, it didn't improve. WHY don't any of the cruise lines do something about the smoke? How about those "smoke eater" ashtrays? Better yet, why aren't smokers a little more considerate???????Also, the casino -- we would have spent time at the casino every evening, but the smoke was so bad, even in the middle of the day, that we didn't. Smokers should be put on the back of the ship where the smoke blows off the back and not into our faces. We work really hard for our cruises; we might as well have booked an inside cabin on this one because of the smoke ... However, this could have happened on ANY ship on any line. They all have the same problem.
One other (minor) complaint: so much of the food at the Windjammer cafe seemed to be "regionalized." The chicken noodle soup had been modified to become "Indian chicken noodle soup." Not my cup of tea. When I see chicken noodle soup, that's what I want, not something with a lot of spices. On a positive side, if you went to the Windjammer for dinner, you could have pasta made to order, as well as a steak. And the bread and rools have been excellent on EVERY RCI ship we've been on.
In finishing, we have booked the Brilliance for a 2006 Panama Canal trip. This is the first time we've sailed on the same ship twice. We usually like to try a different ship or line each time, but the Brilliance had the itinerary we wanted and heck, we already know our way around! (We've booked a balcony cabin in a different area this time.)
We're trying one thing differently, however. This is the first cruise where we're not packing dress clothes AND we're not going to the formal dining room at all. Been there, done that. It isn't that we don't like dressing up. The reason is that we like being on OUR schedule. We like to sit on the balcony and watch the sun go down, then eat on OUR schedule. We did this a couple times on our last cruise and just loved it. Also, I'm quite an extrovert, but sometimes even I have trouble making small talk with a table full of strangers. We make friends all over the ship -- in the Windjammer, at shows, in the coffee area, etc., etc. Going without dress clothes will also save one whole suitcase - WOW!