Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Sea Day

In:
28Jan2018

No one looks forward to their last day on a Royal Caribbean cruise, but the thing to remind yourself of is that you are still on a cruise. Everyone reading this post at home would love to be on a cruise for just one day, so the key is to enjoy it as much as you can.

Our enjoyment of our last day began with sleeping in. We set no alarms and managed to sleep until past 9am, which is like a teenager sleeping until 2pm. There was still a fair amount of “motion in the ocean” and no signs of the sun. Nonetheless, there was fun out there waiting.

I rolled out of bed and grabbed a bagel and coffee as a light breakfast from the Windjammer and enjoyed it in the outdoor area.

I had a light breakfast because I was heading up to Izumi to try the make your own sushi class. In all of these years, I had never tried it, but out waiter at Izumi last night convinced me to give it a go.

The course is taught by one of the chef’s from Izumi, and you learn to make two rolls, two pieces of nigiri, and a hand roll.

You get to eat everything you make, and it includes a tour of the ship’s galley. Not bad for $28 + 18% gratuity!

Having eaten so much at Izumi, I opted to skip lunch.

My wife and I headed up to the pool deck for to enjoy some relaxation. Sure there was no sun, but time spent relaxing by the pool is still time well spent.

Most of our afternoon was lounging in the Solarium. We had grandiose plans to hit up a few different activities on the Cruise Compass, but my wife decided reading her book was more important, and I felt taking a nap was a new top priority. Hash tag sea day, right?

Following my nap and a few espressos later, we started to get ready for our evening’s activities.

I did not actually eat here, just love the look of the main dining room.

While my wife got herself ready, I thought for certain this would be the right time to do the old, “double or nothing” play at Roulette. As it turns out, “nothing” won out yet again.

We took in some live music around the ship before heading to Giovanni’s Table for diner.

We pre-booked Giovanni’s Table prior to the cruise (saving $6 per person) and saved it for the last night because my wife particularly enjoys it.

I stopped by the restaurant earlier in the cruise to request to have the lasagna from the lunch menu available for dinner. Sure enough, they had it lined up for me.

The meal was great, and we had very good service too.

We rounded out our evening with some time in the King & Country Pub and then seeing the Quest.

Overall, we had a great cruise. The weather did not cooperate as much as we would have liked, but no one has control over that. Our time spent onboard and on shore was a lot of fun, and I’m glad I managed to convince my wife to let me book this.

Thanks for reading and following the live blog. Our next adventure will be in March on Rhapsody of the Seas!

Stray Observations

  • Rita’s Cantina is still a place on the ship, but there is no longer any food offered here. Just drinks.

  • The onboad WiFi worked just as well as it did on Independence of the Seas in November, and I was satisfied with the experience.  While it may not be as quick as the internet on Oasis or Quantum Class ships, it is still fast enough to handle most tasks.  My VPN service (Windscribe) did not work (in TCP or UDP mode), but everything else worked, including live video on Facebook or Periscope.
  • If you take the elevators up to deck 13, there is a hidden "secret" there
  • Last day sales include souvenir cups galore
  • My decision to skip the drink package and rely on drink specials, Diamond drinks and the drink card worked out quite well.  I feel like I did not encounter "drink fatigue", and the drink card especially allowed my wife and I to still enjoy some fruity cocktails.
  • In retrospect, the motion from the ocean was nothing that we could not handle.  While I would prefer calm seas to the point you forget you are on the move, you just get used to the movement.

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Cozumel

In:
27Jan2018

We are stopping at the sole port of call for our cruise, Cozumel, Mexico. While we have been to Cozumel many times before, I always enjoy visits here for the great Mexican cuisine.

I suppose my excitement for guacamole got my mind going a bit too early, because I woke up at 4am and was unable to go back to sleep. I tried mightily, but the combination of the motion of the ship, noise from the ship creaking and my excitement kept me awake.

I took the opportunity to get up and enjoy the sun rise as we pulled into Cozumel.

We docked at 8am, and I went back to the room to get ready to go. We decided to have breakfast in Cozumel instead of on the ship.

Getting off the ship was quick and there were no lines, so we were on our way.

We took a taxi to downtown Cozumel, which is an $8 fare.

Breakfast was at a coffee shop and bakery that we discovered last year, La Cozumeleña. They have fresh baked pastries (there is a separate bakery next door), and there are eggs, sandwiches and even some Mexican favorites.

After breakfast, we opted for the natural follow up to breakfast: drinks at a bar. There are so many bars in Cozumel that it seems like you find a place to drink around almost any corner.

We also did some shopping in town, browsing a few shops along the way.

We had lunch at Casa Denis, which is a popular restaurant. We ate there a number of years ago (I think on our honeymoon), so we decided to re-visit).

I like that the menu is more authentic than just the usual tourist food. The guacamole and soup hit the spot for a light meal.

We did a little more walking around and decided to head back to the ship for some pool time. We made a pit stop at La Mega supermarket to pick up authentic tortilla chips. For some reason you cannot find the same tortilla chips in the States that you can in almost any Mexican bar.

We got back to our room and decided to sit down for a moment. If you have cruised before, you know that means as soon as you lay down on that bed it is nap time.

When we awoke, we headed up to the Solarium to enjoy warm temperatures.

I took in sail away from on Deck 12, which had a great view of Cozumel and a nice sunset too.

As we departed Cozumel, the Captain let us know we could expect strong winds and likely more motion in the ocean. Sure enough, within an hour of leaving the movement started up. In fact, the motion felt a notch or two “higher” than yesterday.

Speaking of “motion in the ocean”, it is important to know that when it happens it is not the end of the world. You get used to doing a staggered walk, and the fun activities still go on. There is no harm in taking some Bonine if you want be pro-active about it.

We had no dinner plans, but opted to see if we could get into Izumi again for diner. The staff there got us a table in no time, and my wife and I changed up what we got this time.

I tried the tuna poke bowl, which is new, and it is a great assortment of cut up sashimi.

We thought it would be a good idea to try the casino again. To summarize, the casino gods did not smile on us.

We grabbed a seat at the Schooner Bar to enjoy some classical music. There is a trio that plays the violin and piano, and it is a very soothing and enjoying performance.

For our late evening plans, we wanted to check out the King & Country Pub for some great bar tunes.

Tomorrow is our last day, and it is a sea day.  Fingers crossed it will be smoother tomorrow!

Stray Observations

  • The drink card appeared today! $75 + 18% gratuity for 10 drinks. Not a bad deal!
  • The draft beer card is also available.
  • It is always important to take your passport with you anytime you get off the ship, but I did notice that despite the fact Royal Caribbean told us we needed to bring ID, no one checked it.
  • Playing the quarter machine in the casino when the ship is rocking rendered no better results than on land. Oh well, it made sense in my mind at the time.
  • The self-leveling pool table does not appear to be functional.
  • Through this evening, there has not been a stage show in the Royal Theater. Each evening has had some kind of a headliner or performer, but no stage production.
  • Luggage tags already? Oh no!

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

In:
26Jan2018

Our first sea day on Brilliance of the Seas started out with us doing what every parent dreams of… sleeping in with no alarm or children to wake us!

The motion of the ocean this morning provided a natural wake up call, as the ship rocked a bit with some swells in the ocean. The motion was nothing bad, just enough movement to stumble or lean now and then when walking.

After waking up, we headed to the Windjammer for breakfast. To my pleasant surprise, it was not terribly busy at 9am. I judge crowdedness purely on the basis of the line at the omelet station, which had no one there.

We decided to enjoy our breakfast at one of the best spots on any Radiance Class ship, the outdoor Windjammer seating at the aft of the ship. Nothing but a gentle breeze and the ocean view to enjoy.

Following breakfast, we headed to the Schooner Bar for General Trivia. To our surprise, we actually won! If you are wondering, the grand prize for being trivia buffs is a Royal Caribbean pen.

We took a walk on the pool deck, which had warm enough temperatures for shorts, but the sky had more clouds than sun, so it was not quite the perfect sea day. Nonetheless, it felt good to be out for a bit.

Seeing that we had won trivia earlier, we decided to give TV trivia a shot. Unfortunately our lack of knowledge of past David Duchovney shows not named X-Files did us in.

We did a bit more exploring of the ship before heading to the main dining room for lunch. Lunch in the main dining room offers some great choices, in addition to the Tutti Salad Bar option. I had the turkey parmigiana and steak fajitas, which were great.

After lunch, we went up to the Solarium for some quality lounging time. The sun had come out a bit more, so it meant warmer temperatures and we even managed to snag lounge chairs at 1pm!

Our afternoon was a mix of lounging and walking around to explore. It was a typical, yet relaxing sea day afternoon.

I also took a trip or two up to the Diamond Lounge for complimentary espresso machine use.

Since it was formal night, my wife went to the spa to get her hair cut and styled for the evening. She reported great service.

We rounded out our afternoon with another trivia session in the afternoon. We missed winning by one point (who knew there were 12 wooden pieces of equipment in cricket), but had a great time.

Tonight is formal night, and we had dinner at Chops Grille. It was another great meal and I tried the lamb chops, which were a great choice!

Our evening entertainment was the classic Royal Caribbean game show, Love and Marriage Game Show.

Tomorrow we will be in Cozumel!

Stray Observations

  • The main pool closed due to motion at one point, but the Solarium pool remained open. Seems odd logic.
  • According to the Cruise Compass, specialty reservations made at Chops or Giovanni’s Table will have an 18% gratuity added on top of the cover charge. Not sure if that is just for reservations made onboard, or those that pre-booked too.
  • I met the Cruise Director, Jimmy Rhodes. After this sailing, Jimmy moves to Allure of the Seas.

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

In:
25Jan2018

Welcome friends to our next Royal Caribbean cruise, as we take you with us on a 4-night Western Caribbean sailing on the fabulous, lovely, and always fun Brilliance of the Seas!

Our cruise day began back at home. We live about an hour from Port of Tampa, which means we opted to sleep at our home the night before and just drive to the port the morning of the cruise. Ah, the perks of living in Florida!

Believe it or not, it was a bit chilly this morning in Florida (“chilly” means below 70 degrees), so we wore jeans, long sleeves and even a jacket. Cannot recall the last time we got on a cruise from Florida in that type of clothing.

My parents are watching our kids while my wife and I cruise, and on top of it all, they offered to drive us to the cruise port. My wife and I packed our luggage into the car and we were on the road by 9am.

The drive was uneventful and traffic-free, with us arriving at Terminal 6 at 10am.

This was the first time we sailed from Terminal 6 in Port of Tampa. It is smaller than the other terminal, and looks more like a warehouse, but functional. It also had absolutely no lines, and we went from curb to security to check-in to waiting area in about 10 minutes.

Being that we are Diamond members in Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor Society, we had a special area to wait to board. Boarding began at 10:45am, and we were on Brilliance very quickly.

The Windjammer did not open until 11:30am, so we sought refuge from the cooler temperatures in the Solarium. The Solarium is fully enclosed, and it was definitely warm enough to swim.

The Windjammer opened right on time, and we enjoyed a great embarkation day lunch. There was even Honey Stung Chicken!

We enjoyed our lunch in the outdoor seating, which is at the rear and sides of the Windjammer. Brilliance and her Radiance Class sister ships offer outdoor Windjammer seating, and it is a great option.

We decided to take a tour of the spa while we waited for the staterooms to open up. The spa is larger than you might think on Brilliance, and it has lots of choices, including a thermal spa choice.

Our stateroom opened up promptly at 1pm, and we took the opportunity to drop out stuff off.

We are staying in a balcony stateroom, about three or four cabins from the aft. It is stateroom 8160.

We have stayed in plenty of balcony rooms over the years, and this room is very much like the typical Royal Caribbean balcony. Plenty of room for the two of us, a nice couch to sit on during the day, and private balcony.

We did some exploring onboard and checked out the Diamond Lounge, up on deck 13. It has a self-service coffee machine that will be my BFF for the next few days.

Brilliance of the Seas has a Park Cafe in the Solarium. It offers snacks, sandwiches and salads, as well as the world-famous Kummelweck roast beef sandwich. It is wonderful!

Our muster drill was on deck 5 outside, but it went by quite quickly. Before we knew it, it was time for sailaway!

We opted to enjoy sail away from the helipad at the front of the ship. The helipad offers great views all around, and is not very crowded since many are not aware that it is an option.

The weather warmed up enough to make for a picture perfect day. Just warm enough to enjoy being outside, but not too hot or sweaty.

Sailing from Tampa, it takes a few hours to get to to the Gulf of Mexico, so there is a bit of time in the channel.

We got ready for dinner and then headed up to the Diamond Lounge for drinks. Since we have no drink package, we opted to take advantage of our Diamond complimentary drinks.

The Diamond Lounge is on deck 13, and offers hors d'oeuvres and complimentary drinks from 5 – 8:30. We arrived around 5:30 and it was busy, but as people started to leave for dinner, we were able to get a seat.

As the evening progressed, we first got a look at a beautiful sunset and then sailed underneath the Sunshine Skyway bridge.

We went to trivia at the Schooner Bar for some pre-dinner entertainment. We did not win, but had a great time trying our best.

There was also some fantastic pre-dinner music at the Schooner Bar this evening.

Dinner this evening was at Izumi on deck 12. I was pleasantly surprised to see Izumi on Brilliance of the Seas had the “new menu”, which meant I got to try a few new menu items.

Izumi was wonderful, and I really enjoyed our meal. I went for sushi while my wife opted for the hot rock.

Tomorrow, is our first sea day and that means time at the pool!

Stray Observations

  • The fridge in our room had this note about the use of the fridge/mini-bar.
  • The Deluxe Beverage Package on Brilliance is $63 per person, per day. If I had purchased it prior to the cruise, it was $50 per person, per day. Pre-pay if you decide to get the unlimited alcohol package!
  • Does it warrant mention it is a great feeling being on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Brilliance of the Seas 2018 Live Blog - Matt's Cruise Preview

In:
22Jan2018

I am packing my bags for another Royal Caribbean adventure, as I get ready to share with all of you my upcoming Brilliance of the Seas cruise.  My upcoming sailing on Brilliance of the Seas out of Tampa, Florida, will take me on a 4-night Western Caribbean sailing to the warm waters of Mexico.  Each day, I will be LIVE blogging to share with you what Brilliance of the Seas has to offer.

On this particular sailing, my wife and I are sailing without the kids (thanks grandma for watching them), and we are looking forward to a great winter escape.  I am always looking for any excuse to get away on Royal Caribbean, and Brilliance of the Seas fit the bill for our quick trip.

The Cruise

Photo by Earl McGrath

We chose this Brilliance of the Seas cruise primarily because it is a convenient one hour car ride from our house, which means transporation costs to and from Tampa will be minimal. Moreover, we can get back home on Monday just in time to begin my day job without having to take additional time off.

I initially met resistance from my wife to book this cruise, primarily because she was concerned about taking my oldest daughter out of school unnecessarily.  I responded with the usual dad sayings of, "She can still get into Harvard if she misses 2 days of first grade" or "Everyone else is doing it, who cares!".  You know, the supportive things all husbands say.  

When those reassurances did not sway my wife, I then convinced my parents to come spend quality time with their grandchildren, et voila, a cruise was born!

Our four night Western Caribbean sailing will depart on Thursday, January 25 and take us to one port, Cozumel, Mexico.

This is my second cruise on Brilliance of the Seas, coincidentally also sailing on her with my wife and no kids back in November 2015.  We had a good time on Brilliance back then (and you can read about that trip here), so I had no trouble convincing myself to go back for another visit.

Stateroom

Photo by Keith Davis

For this sailing, we have reserved a Deluxe Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony on deck 8.  This is a balcony stateroom, and we had reserved it as a Guaranteed Balcony room, which saved us a little of bit of money.  

If you are wondering why we did not opt for a cheaper room, the price difference between the balcony and an oceanview or interior stateroom was around $200, so we went with the balcony.  

In the grand scheme of staterooms that are not a suite, I am fairly indifferent to which type we go with.  I usually just go with the best economical option, and since the price difference was so narrow to jump to a balcony, we decided to go with it.

Itinerary

This cruise has just one port stop, Cozumel, and I think we agonized over what to do here more than we should have.  Cozumel is a favorite port, and I think because it was just my wife and me, I wanted to figure out something we could do that would take advantage of the fact we have no kids.

We are coming back to Cozumel at least 3 more times this year, so we knew we had plenty of opportunity to do it all.  The primary difference on this cruise versus all of those others is the weather.  Being that it is January, I expect Cozumel to be not very hot nor humid.  This means we can actually enjoy being active outdoors without becoming drenched in sweat.

We considered a lot of different ideas, but ultimately, we decided to go in without plans and very likely just head downtown for plenty of drinks and eating.  My wife and I love walking around downtown Cozumel.  The streets are easy to navigate, and there is a plethora of inexpensive food and drinks.  And since we have no children with us on this cruise, we do not have to worry about over-indulging and then trying to be responsible parents.

We decided to save new adventures, that likely will involve swimming, when the kids are with us and the weather is significantly warmer.

Dining Plans

My wife and I decided early on to skip the main dining room and try the specialty restaurants.  We like the main dining room a lot, but until Brilliance of the Seas receives the "new" main dining room menu, we felt it would be fun to just do specialty dining.  You know, in the name of "research."

Originally our plan was to get the 3 night specialty dining package and just eat in the Windjammer on Cozumel day.  We figured Cozumel would be a good day to skip a sit down meal, since we were planning on eating a lot in town during the day. Moreover, we are docked in Cozumel until 6pm, so we should have a full afternoon of fun in town.

When I went to book the dining package, I discovered that it was a financially better deal if I booked the BOGO Specialty Dining Package and then tacked on Giovanni's Table on the last day.  It would save us about $15 per person.

We also decided not to purchase an unlimited alcohol package on this cruise.  I know what you are thinking... why wouldn't we get a beverage package if we have no kids with us?  The answer really stems from our last few cruises, where we have come to realize that when we buy the drink package, we end up drinking a lot more simply for the sake of drinking.  By taking advantage of the two bottles of wine we are able to bring onboard, complimentary drinks in the Diamond lounge each evening, and plenty to drink in Cozumel, we feel confident we will be able to enjoy lots of great libations while saving money. Plus, even if we drink 3-4 cocktails per day, we are still under the drink package daily "break even" threshold.

What's Next

Our Brilliance of the Seas cruise begins on Thursday, January 25th, 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:
04Apr2016

It’s my ninth and final day on board the Brilliance of the Seas, and these days just fly by. 

Today, we were at sea all day traveling back to Tampa, Florida. 

I started the morning off with room service to the cabin.  I’ll be honest; it’s not the best option if you are looking for great food.  But I really enjoy just eating on the balcony and taking in all the views. 

I’ll also mention, in my past cruises, the coffee they deliver was less than drinkable.  However, on this cruise I actually enjoyed the coffee, so looks like they have made a change. 

I sat on my balcony for over an hour this morning just enjoying my coffee and reflecting on my past 9 days. 

Afternoon onboard

We wanted to relax in the Solarium and just take it easy. 

The ship was starting to rock a little, as we were in the middle of The Gulf of Mexico.  The water in the pool was splashing around a lot and it was like a mini wave pool. 

I really enjoyed my time in this pool; heated water is always a pleasant experience. 

Since it was my final day on board, I had to enjoy one more roast beef sandwich.  Look at all this meat they put on my sandwich! 

I had to take one of them off and eat with a fork, but I didn’t mind.  They also serve salad’s here and have a wide variety of toppings. 

Evening on board

Tonight we got ready early, so we could take full advance of the ship on last evening. 

I went to the photo lounge, to get my free diamond 8x10 photo.  After which, it was time to get a pre dinner cocktail. 

I went down to the R Bar since they were playing live music at 5pm.  It was a band playing beautiful music with violins; it almost felt like formal night again. 

I went with the classic old fashion and Hillary had the champagne cocktail. 

Dinner at Giovanni’s Table

We loved our dinner last night at Giovanni’s Table so much; we decided to go back again. 

I had did met a couple on the Enchantment of the Seas two years ago, and we dined with them this evening to celebrate their birthday. 

They are Pinnacle members, and I’ll say, we received a little extra service at dinner. 

Since it was a special occasion we were celebrating the chef made us lasagna.  If you have dined here before you know they only serve this dish at lunch.  However, if you request it in advance they will prepare some for you. 

For our starters, our waiter just brought out a few to try family style.  I enjoyed dining here with more people, because we got to try more options. 

For the main course, I had the filet and lasagna, I know two dishes!  Again the filet was absolutely amazing, so tender just like at Chops Grill. 

The whole staff came out to sing our friend happy birthday, and made her a large birthday cake. 

I must mention the beautiful sunset we saw this evening.  Our reservations were at 7pm, and we were able to watch the full sunset at dinner. 

I highly recommend eat there at this time, so you are able to watch the sunset while you are eating.  Also, the restaurant is not very large, so no matter where you sit, you will be able to see outside. 

Evening Activities

We decided to end our trip in the pub, this is always were mine started.  They had some live music playing, which I might add seems to be the case all the bars. 

If you are a beer lover like myself, you will love their options here.  They have beers from all around the world, and with the exception of 1 or 2 beers they are included in the drink packages.  I loved being able to try different beers all week, and relaxing in the pub. 

The only downside of the pub is the location itself.  They added this pub during the dry dock, so it’s beside the casino on deck 6.  After a few pints, we called it an evening and headed back to our cabin, this was a sad moment because the cruise was over. 

Thank you for following along with me over the past nine days.  I truly enjoyed sharing my experiences with you from the Brilliance of the Seas. 

If you have any questions about the ship, feel free to comment them below and I’ll respond. 

See you again in two months for another live blog from the Allure of the Seas!  

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 8 - Cozumel

In:
03Apr2016

Michael Poole is live blogging from Brilliance of the Seas. Enjoy!

Well friends, we are back in Cozumel, Mexico again. 

We docked promptly at 8am and the Independence of the Seas was docked beside us again. 

This morning, I ordered room service to be delivered to the cabin.  The rooms have cards behind the door, and you can simply fill out what you would like, and the time block you want it delivered.   

We selected the 8:00-8:30am window and it arrived around 8:10am.  The options for room service are eggs, fruit, cereal, coffee and tea.   You can get mimosas delivered to the cabin, but these are not included in the drink package, since they came from room service. 

We enjoyed our breakfast on the balcony and both of us, how happy we were to have it.  Now the question is, can I go back to a standard inside cabin? 

Nachi Cocom

As you know from my day 4 live blog post, I was also at Nachi Cocom. 

Most of my experiences were very similar to the first time; in fact I sat in the very same seat.  The only thing different is I arrived a little later and they greeted us with a welcome glass of champagne. 

I’m a little picky when it comes to champagne, and I found this very pleasant to drink, and they also put strawberries in the glass. 

We did have a beautiful sand creation that said, Cozumel.  It was at the end of my chair and thought it was very beautiful. 

I did ask where it came from and they said a family was sitting in those seats yesterday, and their children made it.  The service this time was much faster than my first trip, but there were also about half the people here today.  I enjoyed some time in the swim up hot tub today, and loved having the bartender just had me a drink over. 

I will note there were about 20 women from a different ship at Nachi that started to get out of hand.  I thought the staff would jump in and ask them to tone it down some, but they never did.  But, this was only on our last hour of the day, and it was almost time to leave. 

We ended up leaving Nachi at 3:45pm, and back on board by 4:15 (last call at 5:00), never been within an hour before.  Once back on board, we napped for two hours. 

Evening Time

For a pre-dinner cocktail we decided to head over to the Schooner Bar, since Giovanni’s Table is right there. 

We have met a really great bartender named, Julie here and she was making better old fashions, than the R Bar.  She would also surprise Hillary every time with a new champagne cocktail. 

They have live music in here each evening, singing on the piano.  I must say, this 4-day sailing the bars are much more crowded than on the 5-day.  If you are happening to sail on the Brilliance anytime soon, stop in and see Julie. 

Dinner – Giovanni’s Table

I had made reservations online prior to my cruise for Giovanni’s Table tonight at 8:30pm.  The cost for the meal is $25 per person and that includes tips for the server. 

The restaurant called our cabin at 5:00pm to confirm our reservation, and that we are welcome to come sooner than our time, if we wanted.  We were seated by the window in a table for two. 

Our server was outstanding; I could just tell he was one of the best, so informative and knowledgeable.  We started out with some sea scallops and mozzarella.  The scallops have so many flavors in them; only problem is we wanted more! 

For the main course, I order the filet and Hillary ordered the shrimp. 

The filet was just as good as chops, maybe even better.  If you are a steak lover and want to save $10 per person in cover charges, just go to Giovanni’s Table.  

They also role a desert cart over table side and all I can say, is save room, because this is the best part. 

Dancing under the Stars

Tonight was the dancing under the stars party again, and I just could not miss that.  Ricky Mathews was the host for the party and it was a fun time. 

There were so many people out on the deck dancing, he decided to extend the party and close the nightclub for the evening. A few times Ricky brought the microphone over for me to sign a few lines of the songs.  

We stayed out on the deck until 11:30pm and then called it a night. 

Stay tuned for one more day, tomorrow we are enjoying our last sea day.  

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

In:
02Apr2016

Well, here we are again for another sea day on board Brilliance of the Seas.

Today, I decided to not set an alarm and just wake up naturally. I’m not going to lie; it was really nice sleeping in past 8am.

The first thing I did was to blog a little on my balcony; I sure did enjoy having this to wake up with. Sadly, my internet connection was too weak to send pictures from out here.

Breakfast onboard

This morning I decided to make my first trip into the main dining room for breakfast.

Hard to believe I’ve been on board for six days now, and this is my first trip in here. For breakfast, they had had a few tables in the center to grab some fresh fruit and granola. We started off with some morning mimosas, which were included with our Premium drink package.

I decided to order an omelet, which is made to order.

The breakfast in the dining room is a great option for those looking for an alterative option than the windjammer. The breakfast is a much slower pace, and we were dining in there for an hour.

Pool Deck

At this point in the day 10:00am, I knew our luck for finding a pool chair was most likely not going to happen. And I was correct; there were zero open pool chairs so we sat on the edge of the main pool.

After about five minutes of the wind, it was time move to the Solarium. In all my cruises I’ve never spent anytime in the Solarium and I absolutely loved it.

The water in the pool was heated salt water, which I really enjoyed. For those who are not familiar with this pool, it’s the adult only pool, so no kids here.

They also have the Park Café inside the solarium for fresh made to order salads and sandwiches. I could see me enjoying another day here again for my last sea day, I truly enjoyed this pool.

Afternoon onboard

This afternoon we were just taking things at a much slow pace and relaxing.

We decided to take our lunch to go from the Windjammer and eat on the balcony. I’m also enjoying having the balcony and just watching the ocean go by with a beer, so relaxing. Who knows, maybe I enjoy having the balcony even more than I thought I did.

We had some grilled fish, white rice, and two Guinness’. The fish tasted so fresh, some of the best I’ve had, and well the Guinness, you know that was amazing.

Dinner

Tonight, we had dinner in the main dining room, which was also my first meal in the dining room.

I had previous emailed Royal Caribbean requesting a table for two, however I was placed at a large table of eight. If I planned on eating here the next two nights, I’d request to be moved.

The service was a little slow, but our waiter said he was sorry for the delay. I order the filet of beef, which I think is the best dish served in the dining room.

I decided to pass on desert, because I think the drink calories from today was enough.

70’s Disco Party

Tonight was the 70’s disco party in the Centrum at 10:30pm.

It was already 10pm when we left dinner, so quickly changed out of formal attire and off went. The Centrum was packed, shoulder-to-shoulder. 

Cruise Director, Ricky Mathews certain surprised me again, with an amazing time. He has so much energy and really brings the guest into the dancing mode.

In all my cruises on the smaller ships, with a Centrum, I can’t recall a disco party this packed. This party last until 11:15pm, and then off to bed we went. I would recommend getting to this party around 10pm if you want a good seat.   

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

In:
01Apr2016

Michael Poole is on Brilliance of the Seas and live blogging for us!

Well, my first cruise leg has already come to an end, but that just means the next adventure is right around the counter.

I woke up this morning at 5:30am (I know, way too early), but I just happen to wake up, so I decided to head out to the pool deck to watch us dock in Tampa, Florida.

The first thing I noticed was the weather was much cooler than I was used to in the Gulf of Mexico.

It was a fun experience watching us dock in Tampa, and only once have I done that before.

After we docked around 6:45AM, I decided to have my first breakfast in the Windjammer. They had the usual breakfast options, but I decided to go for the made-to-order omelet.

On the larger ships, like Matt’s live blog on the Allure of the Seas, you won’t find the fresh omelets due to the number of guest.

Disembarkation

At 7:00 am, they started the disembarkation process for the guest doing express departure.

This lasted for an hour, but I noticed there were not long lines like you might find on the Enchantment of the Seas, due to so many families.

I received a letter to meet in the conference center at 9:00am for sailing again. I arrived a few minutes after, and there were about 20 other guests in the room, with a few others after me.

Around 9:30am, we were escorted off the ship, just like all the same passengers just did. We were held in the United States customs area for 10-15 minutes until they fully cleared the ship.

At 10:05am, we were headed back on board to start our next cruise. The process was fairly easy, but it was a little longer than my previous back-to-back cruise.

Morning onboard

I was a little excited to have an hour on board without any new passengers because I really enjoy taking some pictures without guests in the shot.

But, I didn’t have long, the new guests started coming on board at 10:20AM. I’ve never boarded a ship that early, but I’ve heard they like to flip this ship pretty fast. I then decided to purchase the Premium drink package for $49 per day + 18% cover charge.

I wanted this package since my friend was coming on board, and I new I’d be drinking a little more on this sailing.

Once my friend was onboard, I went up to the helicopter pad and those views just never get old. If you want to go up there, head out to deck 5, where you stand for the muster drill, and walk forward. You will come across two sets of steps, and then you will be standing on the helicopter pad.

Afternoon onboard

I decided to finally enjoy some pool time before the kids over took it again.

The weather was perfect around 85 degrees outside and I got some sun.

So I thought I would report a pretty scary story that happen today on the pool deck. A child got into the water without her mother seeing; the child could not swim at all. Within seconds the child had gone under the water and the mother notice her son was missing.

At this point I noticed the child in the pool and started to make a move to grab him. There was someone else closer than I was, who was able to safely put his head above water. Needless to say, these types of accidents can happen within seconds, and I’m grateful for the outcome.

A few months ago, Royal Caribbean added life jackets for children on every ship.The pool staff then required this child to wear a jacket going forward to get into the pool.

Dinner at Izumi

Tonight’s dinner was in Izumi, and I was really excited about it. I haven’t been to Izumi since Oasis of the Seas in 2012, so I was long over due.

I tried to order saki with the premium drink package, but they trying to force me to purchase a bottle. I went with a few of their cocktails and let’s just say that’s not their specialty.

However, their sushi rolls are their specialty, and I must say I was truly wowed.

The service was very fast, but the restaurant was pretty empty.

We ordered a tuna roll that was so good; I had them bring me another order.

However, this is where I ran into an issue with my SeaPass card. My SeaPass card was actually declined at dinner, boo!

Long story short, they did not link my credit card to leg two of the cruise, and a type of payment was not linked to my account.

It did take about 15-20 minutes for guest services to resolve the issue, but they were able to.

Tomorrow is our first sea day as we head back to Cozumel, Mexico!

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

In:
31Mar2016

Our blog writer, Michael Poole, is live blogging from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas!

Well friends, my fifth and final day is already here. These days sure go by fast. 

The good news is this is just my final day for the first cruise, because I’m staying on board for the next sailing too! 

Today was a sea day, and I decided to do it a little different and stay inside today.  If it was my last day, I’d defiantly be poolside, but I thought my sunburn could use a break.  

Morning on board

Like always, I woke up and grabbed my large coffee at Starbucks, but this time an hour later, at 8am. 

I decided to keep sleeping this morning, since I knew I was in no rush for any early activates. 

I went outside to explore the outside decks and tried to enjoy my sea day in a different way, than just the pool deck. 

I also explored the gift shop to search for these new floating pool cup holders that Matt blogged about the other day, and indeed there they were. 

I collect the ship models and the blue coffee mugs, but I already have both from when I was on her two years ago, so didn’t buy anything. 

After going through a few shops, I decided it was time for my first beer, and I wanted to explore the Schooner Bar. 

The atmosphere in here is really fun, the bartenders are so happy, and well the views they speak for themselves. 

I enjoyed a few goose islands while playing Royal Caribbean Trivia.   I felt like I shouldn’t be playing, almost like I had an advantage over other players. 

The two questions I got wrong were the total number of passengers the Independence of the Seas can hold (it’s 4,370) and the number of current ships in the fleet.  But to be fair, I got that question correct, since they said number of current ships, but they were counting the two new ships, plus Empress. 

Lunch on Sea Day

I was so excited for my lunch today and was actually texting Matt about how I couldn’t wait to eat Giovanni's Table’s lasagna.  Well, serves me right, because they were closed for lunch today. 

I didn’t understand why, because the Cruise Compass said they were open at noon.  Well, that was out so off to the Windjammer I went. 

I walked in the Windjammer and they had a beautiful cake when you walked in saying "thank you" for cruising on the Brilliance. 

I looked around at the food, and nothing really looked good to me, since my mind was set on Lasagna.  They were serving, hot dogs, pizza, burgers, ribs, pasta’s but nothing looked good to me. 

So I was now off to Park Café, third time is the charm right?  I knew the roast beef sandwich and salad would hit the spot.

Theater Tour

On day one I received a card in my cabin inviting me to a back stage tour of the main theater.   The tour was today at 1:30pm, and we were to meet on the portside entrance on deck 5 of the Pacifica Theatre. 

Well it was 1:35 and no one was around to let us into the tour.  After a few calls to guest services and the Loyalty Ambassador’s desk, they showed up a little before 1:40pm. 

Once we got started we received a great tour of the stage and all the elements on the stage.    After, we explored the back room area with all the props were stored. 

Our tour guide was the stage manager and he went over all the items that were set-up for this evenings show.  He also talked about some of the items backstage for different shows they use the longer sailings. 

The tour lasted around 20-30 minutes and I thought it was very unique experience and I’m happy I decided to attend. 

Evening on Board

Tonight, I enjoyed some live music in the Centrum; the assistant cruise director actually sang three songs.  This was her first time signing on a cruise ship and it was quite entertaining.  I heard a guest asking someone after she sang, if she was being serious about it being her first time, she was that good.  After she finished the ship band came on to play some songs.  I really enjoyed myself down in the Centrum this evening, just relaxing and reflecting on the cruise. 

Once the music was over, I decided to go visit vintages wine bar.  This bar is on deck 6 facing the Centrum.  This bar is by far the most beautiful bar on board and the décor is perfect for a win bar.  They have a round bar, so that you can sit on either side, but honestly every seat was open in the evenings.  They have a new rose champagne they are pushing for $31 glass, and I was able to try a sample.  

The service is really great here, and they are very knowledge about the wines. 

Well tonight was sad for all the passengers, the last night of their cruise.  Everyone had their bags outside their cabins so they could take them ashore in the morning. 

This is the departure process if you don’t want to carry the bags off yourself in the morning.  Personally, I like the express option where you carry them off yourself, but I understand with children that’s not possible. 

Well friends, that wraps up my cruise! Thank you for following along with me for the past five days.  But you are in luck, because my trip is not over yet!  I’m headed back out on a four-day cruise tomorrow, back to Cozumel, Mexico I go!   

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