Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog

Live blogging from Brilliance of the Seas 2018 - Preamble

In:
24Sep2018

It is time for another live blog to kick off and this time we are headed for another sailing on the fantastic Brilliance of the Seas.

Photo by Michael Poole

For those keeping score at home, this our third time on Brilliance of the Seas and second time on her this year.  Brilliance just recently returned to Tampa to offer cruises for the fall and winter, my wife and I decided to book a sailing on her for a long weekend getaway.  We rarely need an excuse to book any Royal Caribbean sailing, but we purposefully booked Brilliance the week after our ten year wedding anniversary as a means of celebrating this milestone.  That and I wanted to cruise again.

A trend among all of our sailings on Brilliance of the Seas has been to leave the kids at home, and this sailing will be no different.  My in-laws will be watching the kiddos while my wife and I enjoy a 4-night Western Caribbean sailing.   Eventually we will take the kids on this ship, but each time we book Brilliance it tends to be for these quick getaways and it provides the kids some time with their grandparents (or at least that is what I tell them).

We booked this sailing back in April and at the time, I found a great rate for the much-talked about aft Junior Suite room.  The Radiance Class ships have quite the reputation for their fantastic aft rooms, so I booked one at a pretty good price for both me and my wife.  Fast forward to July and our final payment date was rapidly approaching.  At that point there was a significant price drop (here is how to check for a price drop) for our Junior Suite.  At first I asked my travel agent to reprice the cruise, but then we spotted the Grand Suite was also discounted and still cheaper than we had originally paid for our Junior Suite.  So we decided to upgrade to the Grand Suite while still paying less than we originally had planned!

Our four night Western Caribbean sailing will depart on Thursday, September 27 and take us to one port, Cozumel, Mexico.

As I mentioned, this is our third time on Brilliance.  We sailed on Brilliance of the Seas for Thanksgiving 2015 and again earlier this year in January 2018.  What brings us back to Brilliance is the fact she sails in our "back yard" of Tampa, which is just a smidge over an hour drive. Moreover, it sails over the weekend and we are able to minimize the amount of days off I need from work.  Of course, Brilliance is a fun ship and a great cruise for relaxing and enjoying some time well-spent by the pool.

Stateroom

Photo by Royal Caribbean

For this sailing, we have a Grand Suite booked and the impetus for booking it had more to do with the great price we got than anything else.  Suites are a great way to cruise, but I would be the first to admit booking a suite depends largely on the price.  A lot of people ask if a suite is worth it, and I always answer that it depends on how much more it is from other room categories.

Frankly, I am not certain how many perks of staying in a suite we will take advantage of on this sailing, but it is a nice way to cruise. Staying in a suite is a splurge, and I think in this situation it was well-worth the investment.

Itinerary

Our cruise has just one port stop, Cozumel, which will be our fourth time in Cozumel in 2018 (with another two visits to come later this year). 

We went back and forth with what to do in Cozumel.  With the time of year, it will still be plenty hot and humid so I thought it would make sense to hit up an all-inclusive beach.  My wife thought we would be better off heading downtown in the morning for some great Mexican food and then back to the ship to enjoy the pool and drink package benefits.

We are a fan of authentic Mexican food, as well as some good drinking spots around town.  We tend to favor Comidas Caseras Tonita, because it is the most authentic Mexican we have found in town.  If anyone has any suggestions for great food or drink in downtown Cozumel, please share in the comments.

Once the heat sets in, we will decide if we will head back to Brilliance for pool time or perhaps hop over to Paradise Beach.  I love having this sort of a "problem" of deciding between which great place to lounge and spend my afternoon.

Dining Plans

Photo by Michael Poole

In the spirit of splurging on this cruise, we decided to go with the Ultimate Dining Package on this cruise.  Originally I thought to get one of the other dining packages to augment the regular dining, but my wife thought if we are going to go the dining package route, we ought to "go big or go home."

Like all dining packages, we must wait to book reservations once onboard the ship.  In the past, we have had little trouble getting the times and restaurants we wanted by ensuring we make reservations as soon as we can once onboard the ship.  Brilliance has three specialty restaurants to choose from: Izumi, Giovanni's Table and Chops.  One of the "cruising traditions" we have is to figure out our restaurant preferences on the drive to the port. 

For this sailing I opted to go for the deluxe beverage package.  If you follow my live blogs, you may have noticed I go back and forth on getting the drink packages.  On shorter cruises, it is a whole lot easier to make the drink package a worthwhile investment.  Plus, without the kids, the drink package makes more sense. On the other hand, we have easily cruised without the drink package too.  In this situation, we decided to go for it.  Ultimate dining package and drink package should make for a fun (and filling) cruise!

What's Next

Photo by Michael Poole

Our Brilliance of the Seas cruise begins on Thursday, September 27th, and I will be sharing the details on the blog, as well as across my social media channels.  Be sure to follow me on FacebookInstagram and Periscope for live updates throughout the day.

I invite you to share in this experience with me, by posting in the comments for any blog post questions and comments you may have. I try to make these live blogs as interactive as I can, so I want everyone to feel welcome to share their thoughts.

Thanks for reading all of this and welcome aboard our next fun live blog experience!

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog – Day 9 – Sea Day

In:
12Mar2018

My final day on board Brilliance of the Seas was a sea day, as we head back to Tampa, Florida. Today was the first day all cruise I slept in, I think all those early mornings finally caught up with me.


 

I went down to the solarium to relax, while my girlfriend went to the spa. She received the 50-minute hot stones massage. The cost after the 20% Diamond Plus discount was $130 + 18%. Not the cheapest massage, but it sure did make her happy. Of course, she mentioned the upsell at the end of the treatment, but she kindly said no thanks.


 

I was relaxing in the solarium and noticed how many chairs were open. Since 1/3 of the ship is spring breakers and they don’t hangout in here, you could almost always find a chair. We grabbed some breakfast from the Windjammer and just ate it poolside.


 

For lunch we had our one last meal at Park Café. I tried the corn salad and didn’t think it was very good. But the salad and roast beef sandwich were wonderful. After lunch it was time to get some packing done in the cabin, it so much more fun unpacking!



 

While walking through the main pool, I saw the Cruise Director Mike had a trivia game going on around March Madness. I’ve never seen this played on the pool deck, but I noticed almost everyone was playing.


 

They also had the same 50% off shirts & bags sale. I heard a lady tell her husband, “but it’s 50% off, we have to buy it!”



 

After the uneventful packing up the room, we headed down to vintages to enjoy some wine. We had one bottle in our room we hadn’t opened, so I thought let’s go enjoy it on the lounge.


 

Since it’s our own bottle we didn’t have to pay any fee to enjoy it, but I did tip the server a few dollars for getting us wine glasses and a cheese plate.


 

Dinner tonight was in the Windjammer; I wanted to dine here since I hadn’t tried their dinner all week. When we walked in, I thought wow I’ve never seen this place so empty!


 

They had the same lamb shank they serve in the main dining room the last night. I also found some grilled and fried fish, so I got them both.


 

The meal was enjoyable; I really liked that fact that I could look around at everything before deciding. For our dessert I just made a little sampler plate and we got to enjoy everything. When you can’t pick just one, get them all!

After dinner we walked around saying our goodbyes to all our favorite staff on board. I saw they were playing some kind of game in the centrum; I couldn’t really make out what it was. We ended getting to bed a little early, since we both have work tomorrow morning.


 

Overall it was an outstanding cruise, I loved being able to stay on board for the back to back. Brilliance was in good shape, but did have a few signs of wear. However, after her transatlantic to Europe next month, she will go under a dry dock. I tried to get some information about any changes to the ship, but was unable to get any confirmed information.

I hope you enjoyed this 9-day live blog; I had a lot of fun sharing my vacation with you. My next cruise is in 6 weeks on board Adventure of the Seas. I’ll be taking her from San Juan to New Jersey, so see you soon!

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog – Day 8 – Cozumel, Mexico

In:
11Mar2018

We made it to Cozumel, Mexico our only port of call on the quick four-night cruise. Our arrival time was scheduled for 8AM to 5PM. I woke up early to watch us arrive in Cozumel from my aft balcony. I’ve never used a balcony so much on a cruise; these aft views are really something special.


 

I spoke to the concierge in the lounge last night about helping us get of the ship early. He said no problem and requested we meet him at 7:50AM. Sure enough he took us down to deck 1 and let us skip the line of people waiting to get off the ship.


 

We had reserved an excursion through the cruise line called Fury Snorkeling Catamaran. The full price is $79 per person, however I booked in on a weekend sale in the cruise planner and paid $59 each. To be honest, I didn’t know too much about it but I was looking for something different to do. Our meeting time on the pier was 8:15AM.


 

The catamaran boat was docked at the pier, even before you get to the checkpoint before you exit the pier. It was nice that we didn’t have to take any transportation to our excursion.

The day is split into three different sections, within the four hours. The first is snorkeling, the second is beach time, and the finial is the one our ride back with some line dancing.


 

The snorkeling was really fun; I even jump off the ship. I did however, get stung by a little jellyfish while in the water snorkeling. It didn’t hurt too bad, since it was a little sting, they had some vinegar on board to help reduce the stinging.



 

The second part of the excursion was a quick ride over to their beach. Once you arrive on the beach drinks were included, but the lunch was $11 per person – we passed on their lunch.


 

Everything else on the beach is included, such as water sports, kids water aqua park, and beach chairs. This was a lot of fun and nice that we could do so much and not have to keep paying extra.



 

The last part was our ride back, which is about an hour ride. We stood on the top deck and took in all the views of Cozumel. The staff on board was so great, I’d say every 3-5 minutes they would come check with you if you needed a drink.


 

Overall the excursion was a great success and I’m really happy I booked it. I will likely try this again in the future while visiting Cozumel, but I’m staying away from the jellyfish!



 

In the afternoon we had planned to visit a little beach bar I found out about called turquoise. I learned about this place through some of the crew and then I had a friend visit a few weeks ago and kept talking about it. I thought it was 3 miles down so I took a taxi for $8. Turns out it was only about 1 mile down, so we ended up walking back.


 

They have a great view of the ship while you are enjoying lunch or a beverage. We were really hungry by this point, so we ordered some tacos. The food was so good, I might even make a bold statement and say it’s better than Nachi’s! We stayed around an hour and relaxed and enjoyed a few beers. Our bill for all the tacos, beers, and guacamole was $29.



 

We slept for a few hours in the afternoon, all that action packed day finally caught up to us. This evening we had reservations at Giovanni’s Table our second half of our BOGO. Usually it must be used night 1 and 2, however a wedding party rented out the whole restaurant on night 2.


 

Dinner was great as usual, they were joking that I had become part of their extend family this cruise. I said thank you, but you have also put 5 pounds on me! I ordered the filet and three-cheese pasta again. My girlfriend tried the fish and I really liked it, I kept eating hers.

This evening around the ship seem to be a little calmer than the past two nights. I think people called it a night from Cozumel. They had the 70’s party in the centrum tonight and that was a lot of fun. I saw so many passengers on board dressed up for it. I did make it to the disco tonight for about an hour, but even that was kind of dead.


 

Tonight we change for daylight savings time, so that means I lose an hour of my cruise! Tomorrow is my final day on board Brilliance of the Seas; stay tuned for a fun sea day.

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog – Day 7 – Sea Day

In:
10Mar2018

Today was our first of two sea days this sailing. I woke up at 6AM and took advantage of some quite time in the Diamond Lounge. If you were ever wondering when I spend the time to write everything for the live blog, it’s in the early morning hours.

Last night we placed the room service card outside our door for the continental breakfast. They have the option to order eggs, omelets, and bacon for a $7.95 upcharge.


 

But we just stuck to the basic items like toast, fruit plate, granola, and yogurt. They have 30-minute windows for the delivery time; we picked 8:30AM to 9:00AM. Right at 8:30AM they called the room and said our food was on the way. The breakfast was nothing special, but it was enjoy food to hold us over for the morning.


 

After enjoying breakfast on our balcony we headed down to the pool deck. Today was still kind of chilly and overcast so we headed to the warm solarium. I noticed while walking forward the pool attendants marking unoccupied chairs again. They seem to be all over this on Brilliance, let’s just hope they keep it up.



 

The Solarium was nice and relaxing all morning. We did try to get into the hot tub, but it stayed full the whole morning.


 

Lunch we headed to the Windjammer, I needed a break from Park Café. We went right at noon and it was packed! People were looking for tables, so we ate as fast as possible to help someone else out. I would recommend coming at 11:30AM or closer to 1PM to avoid the rush.


 

We had some nachos, they had a whole section where you could build them yourself. I might have gone up for more they were so good!


 

On the pool deck they had the $10 sale going on and 50% off shirts. This seems to happen every sea day. If you are looking for some good Royal Caribbean gear, this is good place to pick some up.


 

This afternoon we decided to enjoy some relaxing balcony time and our first beverage of the day. The pool deck was starting to get a little wild with all the college spring breakers. Also, so I could work on the live blog some as we are getting off the ship at 8AM tomorrow.


 

Around 3PM I went up to the concierge lounge for an afternoon coffee. Since I’ve mentioned this lounge a few times in my live blog, I thought I’d take some photos for the blog. They have some great outside seating, lounge seating, and the bar.




 

Tonight was formal night but we had planned to start our evening with room service brought to our room for dinner. The cost for room service is a flat fee of $7.95 + 18%. So if you are ordering for one or ten it’s the same fee. In the name of research we ordered a little more than we could eat.


 

A few of my favorites were the wings, Philly cheesesteak and cheesecake. The main course was the salmon and I really enjoyed it, very fresh and tender. I also liked being able to get through dinner in less than a half hour. We had the whole night ahead of us to do whatever we wanted. I would order room service again if I needed a fast dinner.


 

Most of the evening we spent down at the R Bar for the captain’s reception. They had a band playing for a little over an hour before the reception. People were up dancing and enjoying themselves. I used my three diamond drinks while sitting here, so no extra cost on drinks without the drink package.


 

The captain came on for about 5 minutes to introduce the officers and say a few words and the event was over. I asked someone about all the dancers they had out last cruise and they were confused also why that didn’t happen. No big deal, I just thought it ended very fast.


 

We jumped around to Vintages and to listen to some music at the schooner bar. I tend to like to jump around and see different venues. Around 10:30PM we did the ever so long walk back to our cabin and get ready for bed. We are breaking records on our steps this cruise, so I’ll take it!

Tomorrow is going to be a long day in Cozumel, Mexico and we wanted a good nights sleep. I'm excited to share all the new things I'm doing in Cozumel tomorrow! 

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog – Day 6 – Tampa, Florida

In:
09Mar2018

Today was our turnaround day in Tampa, Florida. I wanted to get up early and watch us sail into port. Too often I’m on land watching this view in Tampa, so I wanted to see the view from the ship.

It was around 50 degrees on the top deck and the wind made it feel even colder, but I survived. We docked at a different terminal than the one we left at, since we were the only ship in port today.

When you do a back-to-back cruise, the cabin attendant from the first cruise will carry everything to the new cabin for you. They even ask that you leave all your clothes on the hangers. While all the guests were getting off the ship, I didn’t have anything to do (pools were closed for cleaning).

So I decided to move all my items to the new cabin myself and get settled in. I had talked to my new attendant the day before, to let him know I was coming. He was kind enough to have my cabin cleaned and ready for me by the time I arrived.

I had received a paper on day one explaining the turnaround process, I was to meet in the conference center at 9:30AM. We were delayed for 10-15 minutes because one family was still packing up and causing the whole process to be delayed – don’t be that family.

Once we walk off, we enter customs just like you would leaving any cruise, we handed over our passports, but no questions were asked. After that we went right back on board. It’s a very easy process and now I had the ship all to my self, we had 9 consecutive cruisers.


 

I had about an hour on board without passengers, so I took advantage and walked around taking some pictures of the empty ship.


I also stopped by a few suites to tour them. They were in the Royal Suite cleaning it, but they said I could tour it quickly. At 10:40AM I started seeing the new guest arriving on board.



 

On this sailing I was moving up to an aft facing ocean balcony – 9660. This cabin is simply amazing; the balcony has so much space. As soon as my girlfriend got on aboard I took her straight to the cabin. That’s also another advantage of sailing again, they let you come and go from the cabin as you please day 1 and you aren’t required to wait until 1PM or later.

Most of the afternoon we were swimming in the Solarium since it was cold in Tampa. We were so surprised we were the only ones in the pool and hot tub. The pool water was warm since it’s heated and that area is enclosed.

For sailaway we stayed on our balcony and opened a bottle of champagne. I usually spend sailaway dancing on the pool deck, so I was looking forward to something different.

We backed into the turning basin because we pulled in this morning, so that was neat because we were looking straight at our home, maybe 100 yards away!



 

We started our evening in Vintages; I love this bar on Brilliance because of the ocean views. But I also love wine too, so maybe it’s that! Around 6:30PM we passed under the Skyway Bridge, the sun we also setting so it was that much better.


 

At Vintages, if I ask for a cheese plate, they will usually bring one out for you to enjoy with wine – no charge. Funny, he brought us one but it didn’t have any cheese on it.


 

We did jump over to Schooner Bar for awhile, they were very busy this evening. I was talking to some of the crew on about that tonight it felt like the ship was much more “alive” than the last few nights. They said, on the 4-night sailings almost everyone on the cruise has the drink packages.

Which on this sailing, my girlfriend and I decided to pass on the packages. Today I spent $8 on my BOGO coupon and got two beers. I’ve just been taking advantage of the wine I carried on board and my diamond drinks.

For dinner, wait you guessed it… Giovanni’s Table. They seated us about a half hour early because we were just getting hungry. We carried a bottle of wine to dinner, since it was a bottle from Crown & Anchor for being Diamond Plus they waive the cork fee.

We both ordered the filet, again it has the sauce already on the steak. We also had them sit a three-cheese tortellini in the middle to taste. Let me tell you, the tortellini was amazing! I’m sure it’s because of all the cheese, but I was eating that over my steak. Really outstanding meal again, the service at this restaurant couldn’t be better.

After dinner we made a little donation to Royal Caribbean International in the casino. We also used our free spin to win in the slots, but no luck with that either. The casino was so busy and smoky we decided to leave and head to bed.

Thanks for following my full turnaround day on board Brilliance of the Seas. Tomorrow we have a sea day as we sail to Cozumel, Mexico. I have all new adventures planned for Mexico, so stay tuned!

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog – Day 5 – Sea Day

In:
08Mar2018

These cruises always go too fast; today was our final day of the cruise.  I had planned to sleep in, but of course I woke up at 6AM and got up for the day.  This morning I watched the sunrise from the Diamond Lounge working on the live blog, but I forgot my camera! 

For breakfast I wanted an omelet so off to the Windjammer I went. The made to order omelet was ready in 2-3 minutes I couldn’t believe how fast they made it. One perk of getting up early, it isn’t so busy at 7AM. I sat in the outside area again just taking in the view and enjoying the morning.

At 9:30AM I had a bridge tour scheduled by the loyalty ambassador on onboard. We were asked to arrive 10 minutes early for security screening. They scan you with metal detectors prior to going on the bridge and also ask you to sign in on a clipboard for records.


 

Once we were on the bridge the second officer took us out to the wing and explained some of the equipment. It was also fun to see the glass on the floor they use for docking.


 

Someone asked about our stop in Grand Cayman and noticed we didn’t use our anchor while we were in the middle of the water. He explained that it was too deep and their anchor wouldn’t hit bottom. So they use a technology that it similar to autopilot that keeps the ship within the same 10-meeters at all time.


The bridge tours only last 30 minutes, because they have other groups coming in one after the other, including the all-access pass they sell in the cruise planner. I really enjoyed it today; they were very friendly and answered so many of our questions.



 

I decided to go soak up some sunrays and take advantage of our last sea day, within an hour of being outside it starting to pour rain. Everyone cleared out and I headed back to the Windjammer (for the second time today) look at me! It was a total zoo because everyone from the pool deck also had the same idea.



 

I had some grilled fish and it was so fresh, I really enjoyed it. I passed on the cake, I almost went for it but I decided I have 4 more days of eating on board.


 

Most of my afternoon was hanging out in the pub watching March Madness and napping. Just taking it easy, I did finish my 10-drink punch card this afternoon and found it a really great value for just $57. I only wish they had more than 2 beers on draft.


 

I went by the guest services desk walking to my room and wow that line was long.  Try not to wait until the last sea day to visit them, or go very early in the morning.  


 

This evening was the last one on board, so I spent two hours in the concierge lounge chatting with some of the new friends I’ve made. That’s one of the reasons I love cruising so much, you can meet people from all over the world.

After the lounge I went to listen to the piano player in the schooner bar. He was really entertaining and the lounge was very busy tonight. I didn’t have any dinner plans tonight; I wasn’t hungry so I just decided to skip a meal.

I hadn’t attended any shows this week, I thought I was due for one. I went to the farewell show in the main theater. The show starts a little slow but they end on a high note, music from ET and Star Wars. I was happy I saw the show and at the end people were giving them a standing ovation.

After the show I headed to bed, so I can be fully rested for the turnaround day. I’m so happy I’m staying on board for one more sailing! Stayed tuned, the live blog will continue!

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog – Day 4 – Cozumel, Mexico

In:
07Mar2018

Today was our second port, Cozumel, Mexico. We didn’t arrive until 10AM, so it was nice being able to relax this morning and not feel rushed to get off the ship. I wanted to watch us sail into Cozumel from the helicopter pad, since I could see Liberty of the Seas was also in town.

On Brilliance the helicopter pad is open access to anyone, so I recommend you coming up here at least once. It was rather windy but really fun to watch us sail into town. You will want to go to deck 5; in the centrum area you will see doors to lead you to the outside deck. Once you are outside, just walk them all the way forward.

As soon as we made our approach to the pier, we started spinning to back in. So I decided to head up to the to deck to finish our docking process.

I reserved a day pass at Nachi Cocom, which is an all-inclusive beach property. The cost is $55 per person and they limit the property to 120 guests per day. The taxi rides are $17 per way, up to 4 people. I heard a couple in line talking about how they were going to Nachi, so I just asked them if we could share a taxi.

Since Brilliance was the last ship to arrive in Cozumel, Nachi was almost full by the time I arrived. Thus, I had a set in the last row, no big deal it was still beautiful. I had some guacamole down on the beach at 11AM and then lunch up by the tables at 1:30PM. For lunch I ordered the shrimp fajitas, and maybe it was all the beers, but they were the best I’d ever had!


 

I ended up staying at Nachi until a little after 5PM, since our ship left at 7PM. It was a really great day in Cozumel and the service was outstanding both down by the beach and the swim up bar. There was almost no one at the property when I left, so I ended up taking my own cab back for $17.

This evening was the Crown & Anchor top tier event. This is a special event to recognize all the Platinum and above members. They had out drinks and talk about all new ships coming out. I am happy to report I had my first Stella of the cruise at the event! They announced all the total number of members on board: 136 Platinum, 42 Emerald, 64 Diamond, 45 Diamond Plus, & 6 Pinnacles.



 

Dinner tonight was back in Giovanni’s Table. I know what you must be thinking, how much Giovanni’s can one person eat! Last night I had asked them if there was anyway they could save some of their lunch lasagna for me at dinner. They checked with the chef and since we were in port they were closed for lunch, but that we would make me some fresh for dinner! It had so many flavors and very filling, I wasn’t able to eat it all and skipped my dessert tonight. Talk about a food coma!

After dinner I decided to go straight to bed. My day in Cozumel was perfect, but I think with all the drinks and food I was ready to get good nights sleep. Tomorrow is the last sea day of this voyage and I have a lot planned, stay tuned!

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog – Day 3 – Grand Cayman

In:
06Mar2018

Our first port of call was Grand Cayman and we arrived bright and early at 7AM. At this port you don’t dock, since they have no docks for ships. They operate on small tender boats that take passengers over. I went down to deck 1 to leave the ship and they had a small line but it went very smoothly.


 

The tender ride takes around 10-15 minutes to get over to land. We had four ships here today and we were the furthest away. They have taxi’s right outside, but they wait until they can fill their vehicles before they leave. I wanted to spend the day at the Royal Palms and the taxi over was $4 per person each way.


 

Once you arrive to Royal Palm’s they charge you $2 per person to enter their facility. That covers access to the beach, restrooms, swimming pool, etc. However, if you want a beach chair those are $12 and the umbrellas are $15. The beach was getting so busy, I decided to hangout by the swim-up pool bar.

I ordered the local beer and it was $6.75, so it’s not the cheapest place to order drinks. The grounds itself is beautiful; they have done a lot of upgrades here since my last visit. I would recommend this place if you are visiting Grand Cayman, just plan on spending a few dollars on everything you want to do

Our day in Grand Cayman was short, all on board was 2:30PM. I decided to leave around 12:30PM to give me plenty of time to get back. Once I was back on board I slept for a few hours, so nothing from the afternoon to report.



 

At 5PM up to the Concierge lounge I went for a few drinks, I’ve met so many nice people during this cruise in the lounge. I only stayed for an hour and jumped over to the Diamond lounge to watch sunset.


 

Dinner tonight was in Giovanni’s Table, I just love this place so much I decided to go back. I arrived a little early but they seated me no problem. I was glad I came early because they have 48 people coming at 8PM.


 

For my starter I had vegetable soup, I didn’t think I’d like it but it was so yummy. The main course I had the filet again, this time they had the sauce already on the steak. I love the sauce, so I was happy with it, but if you don’t I’d recommend asking for it on the side.


 

After dinner I decided I needed to show some love to the Pub. On Brilliance the pub is on deck 6 beside the casino. It’s kind of out of the way, so I hadn’t really spent much time here. Now I know where all the college kids have been all cruise, they take over the pub in the evenings.


 

They didn’t have a sign up for the 10 draft beer cards, but I asked about them and sure enough they sold me one. The price is $49 + 18%, so I spent a total of $57 and this will carry me through the rest of the cruise. I had a few beers and listening to the singer, it was a really fun evening. I have a feeling I’ll be back at the pub at some point this cruise.


 


 

Around midnight I called it a night, when I arrived in my cabin I saw a crystal block. Crown and Anchor gives out the first block at 140 points and again every 70 after. Tomorrow is our next port of call in Cozumel, Mexico!

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog – Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
05Mar2018

Today was our first sea day as we sail to Grand Cayman.  I didn’t have any set plans today other than relaxing poolside.  No idea why, but I woke up before the sunrise this morning.  Since I was up I decided to get a run in at the gym.  The Brilliance has a really nice fitness center, with a lot of equipment.  They did have clipboards lined up to sign up for classes, but I noticed many were full. 


 

After my run I noticed the sun was just starting to come up so I rushed to the room to grab my camera.  This is a must for at least one morning of the cruise, seeing the sunrise is pretty incredible at sea. 


 

At 7:30AM I decided to make my first visit to the Windjammer.  It wasn’t very busy at all, since I guess majority of the ship was sleeping in, it is vacation after all.  I saw they had an omelet station, so I got a made-to-order omelet.  It wasn’t noticeable for those not looking for it, so be sure to ask if you don’t see it. 

I wanted to eat outside on the aft sitting area, since it was such a nice morning.  If you go out the side doors you will see plenty of seating in the aft of the ship.  This was pretty amazing to be eating breakfast with the view of our wake.  I just sat here for a while taking in the views.  It made me even that much more excited for my aft balcony on the next cruise. 


 

I did walk through Rita's the former mexican resturant on board.  I have a feeling this will be removed next month during the dry dock.  For now they only serve drinks in the afternoon, even a $40 jumbo margarita. 


 

After breakfast I wanted to grab a pool chair because I saw many already be reserved.  I noticed the pool attendants putting time stamp on people’s chairs, with a note saying they will be removed in 30 minutes.  Great job by Royal Caribbean ensuring all guests will have a seat out by the pool.  



 

I just relaxed and read my book until noon by the pool.  This was when I noticed how many college spring breakers were on board.  To my surprise they were just enjoying some sun like everyone else.  Cruising this time of year for a while now, it’s pretty common to see the spring breakers on board.


 

For lunch I went back to Park Café, I guess everyone read my day 1 blog post, because it was packed! Many people couldn’t get tables to eat, so I rushed to eat to give up mine.  I went with a large salad today, I asked him to put double lettuce since I wasn’t getting a roast beef sandwich today. 


 

Most of the afternoon I just walked around the ship, did a little casino time and happy to report I’m up $5.00! I was going to attend an event at the pub to learn about beer but it was $30 + 18%, and you only got to sample a few beers, so I passed. 


 

Tonight I made it to the Concierge lounge right before 5PM, because last night was so busy I wanted to get a seat.  How funny, because only 7-10 people showed up tonight.  I like that they have a bar with seating in the lounge, I got to make new friends in the lounge and have fun with the bartender. 


 

Tonight was formal night so I only stayed in the lounge for an hour and I wanted to get out and explore the ship some.  They has some nice formal music playing in the centrum beside the R Bar.   Since it was the captains party they were also handing out free champagne! This is from 7:45PM-8:15PM, so make sure you don’t miss this. 



 

Dinner this evening was in Chops Grill with my BOGO, but the cover charge is $35 without.  They were busy tonight since it was formal night, but I’ll say my service was really slow.  I noticed my waiter had so many tables and was doing everything he could to keep up. 


 

I ordered the mushroom soup, crab cake, and the NY Strip.  The soup was outstanding, maybe the best soup at sea!  The steak was good, I asked for red wine sauce and he put another on it by mistake, so I just went with it.  I skipped dessert; honestly I was just ready to leave.  I had them open a bottle of wine for me and I took it over to Giovanni’s after for them to hold for me until the next night. 



 

I ended up going to the nightclub on deck 13, they were playing 80’s & 90’s music for an hour.  I really enjoyed hearing the old tunes, but when it switched to current pop music I decided to call it a night. 

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog – Day 1 - Embarkation Day

In:
04Mar2018

My cruise day has finally arrived; of course I woke up at 6AM to watch the Brilliance of the Seas pull into the port of Tamp Bay. I never set an alarm to do this; I just naturally wake up, due to all the excitement.

I was planning to walk over to the ship this morning, but my girlfriend was heading out at 10:30AM and offered to drop me off. arrived at 10:30AM down at the new terminal 6 in Tampa.


Royal Caribbean is almost always at this terminal now; my expectations were very low, based on recent reviews. However, it might have been the smoothest boarding process ’ve ever seen. think it helped that it was so early in the morning, but I didn’t wait in a line during the whole process, I just walked right on board.


 

My first hour on board was exploring the ship, taking it all in. It’s been two years since I’ve sailed on Brilliance, so I was trying to take it all in.



 

I went into the Solarium around 11:30am and noticed the pool was closed due to some repair work and fresh paint. I relaxed and waited until noon when Park Café opened in the Solarium.



 

For those of you that might be looking for a more relaxing day 1 meal, I highly recommend Park Café. It’s included in the cruise fare and surprisingly I was the only one here. I had a salad and the favorite roast beef sandwich.


 



 

After lunch I went to explore the ship more, that’s when I noticed people were lined up buying the drink package on board. The price was $63 per day, plus 18% service charge. I’m always so surprised people don’t buy the package in the cruise planner online when they run discounts. If you didn’t want to purchase the drink package they had the drink of the day for $8.



 

At 1pm the cabins opened up and mine is just a few feet from the centrum. I booked a solo cabin on this cruise, room 4587. They have three solo cabins on Brilliance of the Seas and they are a great value for solo passengers.

The room reminds me of a college dorm room almost, just a twin bed, closet, small desk, and the bathroom. I love the location of the cabin since it’s maybe 5 seconds away from the centrum. The cabin itself has plenty of storage and the bathroom is standard like all the other cabins.


 

Muster drill was at 3:15pm, nothing exciting to report just the usual standing on the outside decks. I was in my cabin when the alarm went off and my cabin attendant kindly reminded me it was time to go.

After the drill I went looking for my luggage since it still hadn’t arrived. Since my solo cabin is off on a small hallway by itself of only 9 total cabins it takes a little longer for them to bring the bags. They actually come up on the other side of the ship and they must pass through the centrum to bring them over to us. I wanted to get unpacked and ready for the night. I was able to find them and get ready for the evening.

Tonight I wanted to take advantage of some free cocktails, since I don’t have a drink package. I went into both the Concierge lounge and Diamond Lounge tonight.


 

The Concierge lounge is large; they have outside seating, a lot of tables, and even a sit-down bar in the lounge. I stayed in the lounge for two hours just making friends with everyone; it’s one of my favorite parts of cruising all the new people you get to meet from all over the world.


 

At 6:30PM we passed under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, everyone in the lounge rushed out to the outside deck to see it.  It's always exciting to see this and right at sunset made it even better.  


 

The Diamond lounge was much smaller with maybe 10 tables, however they have a view over looking the pool deck. So I guess it’s a give and take on which lounge I like better.

Dinner tonight was in Giovanni’s Table at 8PM. I purchased the BOGO offer online for $30 that lets you dine night 1 & night 2. I made my reservations right when I got on board at Chops for both restaurants. When I arrived I first noticed it was empty, other than two other tables and myself that was it.


 


 

The service was outstanding; it was like I had the whole staff waiting on me. I had a few starters and my favorite the filet. They suggested I come back tomorrow night, but I told them I’ll be in Chops.

 

But, they did talk me into coming back night 3 and 4! The manager gave me a discount offer to come back later during the cruise.

I wish I had some entertainment updates but I didn’t see any shows or enjoy any music around the ship. After dinner at 9:30PM I actually went to bed! I was pretty tired from my full day and decided to get some sleep before my sea day tomorrow.


 

My bar tab for the day was $14 without the drink package, I purchased a beer and another using my BOGO coupon pre-loaded on the sea pass card.

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