My husband and I departed from Boston aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas on a very hot day (81 degrees). We arrived early, so embarkation was a snap: We were on the ship in 10 minutes! However, if we had arrived later we would have been caught up in a terrible mess. There were many irate passengers who couldn't get porters for their luggage and felt they had been herded around like cattle in long, two to three-hour lines. We missed all that. The ship sailed an hour late in order to get everyone aboard.
The Brilliance of the Seas is the most beautiful ship I have seen. Since we boarded early, we had time to explore the ship thoroughly. The spa area was exceptional, as was the solarium, which housed the whirlpools and indoor pool and pizza service. The theater is multi-tiered, with and an unobstructed view from any seat.
The dining room also has two levels, with a beautiful open staircase leading from the top to the lower level. The Windjammer Cafe on Deck 11 is used for buffet meal service. Its seating is partially covered in the stern of the ship, but unfortunately it wasn't used much because the weather was to cold for many people. I can imagine that in the warmer weather this area would be a favorite. On Deck 12 is a small cafe serving fish and chips, sandwiches, milkshakes etc. The ship has two alternative restaurants that we did not use. They charged $20 per person extra. The ship also has several spacious and well-appointed lounges and showrooms. One of the prettiest areas is the middle foyer where you enter the ship.
Our inside cabin was quite large, with all the amenities that you needed. The bathrooms were rather small, though. We were located on Deck 4 mid-ship, a good spot located near most of the activities. Sports and recreational facilities include a rock-climbing wall, pools, waterslide, miniature golf, basketball and ping pong areas, and pool tables. Many of the passengers were not prepared for the cold weather, so you saw lots of Royal Caribbean sweatshirts and jackets around.
The first port was Bar Harbor, Maine--a quaint New England town with a shopping district that can be easily walked. We took the Olly's Trolley tour to Acadia National Park, which offered spectacular scenery. The next port was Halifax. When you first looked out of the window it appeared to be an old mill town but when you got out and about, it was a really neat city. We took the hop-on bus and got to see most of the city. We also took the harbor hopper, which was fun.
Next we called at Sydney, Nova Scotia. I had planned to rent a car and drive the Cabot Trail, but the weather did not cooperate. It was so windy you could not stand up. In fact, several people were literally blown off their feet. So we decided to stay put and just browse the shops. I should mention that the townspeople are just great! They go out of their way to be helpful.
Our next port was Quebec--a beautiful city with lots to see and do. It is really romantic to be sitting with your cocktails at night and look out over the lights of the city with the Chateau Frontenac in the background. Next was a trip up the Saguenay River. The ship picks up a naturalist who narrates the trip. It is a place of quiet beauty and an area to see Beluga whales and other wild life. It was so windy that it was difficult to see the whales. Only one or two were spotted.
Next was St John's, New Brunswick. We took the jet boat over the reversing falls. That was fun, and we enjoyed it despite getting wet (we were well warned). Our last port was Portland, Maine, which is also a very "walkable" city with several inexpensive tours as well as a "duck" tour. We had two sea days as well.
The entertainment on board was very good. The Platters performed, and there were two production shows and the usual comedians, singers and magicians. Overall, we had a great time. I was not impressed with the dining room food. The choices were not as good as most of the other ships we've been on, and it took at least two hours to be served. The buffet had much of the same fare and was usually hotter, but after 10 days you get tired of buffets.
Next week we are leaving for Miami to sail on Celebrity's Mercury and NCL's Dawn. After that I should be cruised out for a while.