Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog

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

In:
30Sep2018

The last day of our cruise is here, and it means a day at sea.  Sea days are sometimes chock full of activities, events and parties.  Our sea day was more of a “let’s recuperate” kind of day.

We woke up right on time and at first I thought I was ready to get my day started with the same vigor and enthusiasm from day one. It became quickly apparent that would not be the case.

We had breakfast at Chops Grille, and it was just as good as when we ate there on day two.  

Right after breakfast it was time for our bridge tour, which is a perk of being a Diamond Plus/Pinnacle guest.  

My wife had actually never done a bridge tour before, so we opted to go for it.  

It is fascinating to be up on the bridge and see not only how the ship operates, but get one of the best views available onboard.  

A bridge officer talked about the basic bridge operations, how the crew conducts their work and showed us some of the controls.

After the tour, we found a couple of lounge chairs by the pool and I indulged in a much needed, and satisfactory nap.  That decision to catch up on sleep really helped my energy levels for the rest of the day.

For lunch, we headed to Izumi.

Another great meal, and luckily the warm house sake was back in stock, which meant I could get it as part of the drink package.

After lunch we managed to find two lounge chairs in the Solarium and spent our afternoon relaxing by the pool on a great weather day.

After a relaxing day by the pool (and hot tub), we grabbed a few drinks before dinner.  

Dinner this evening took us back to Chops Grille.  The service was great tonight and I only ordered the tuna tartare for my appetizer and entree. Yes, it was that good.

After dinner, we decided to savor our last few hours left on the ship with some bar hopping.  Having the drink package makes trying out different bars a little more interesting.

Overall, I really liked our time on Brilliance. In fact, it may have been the best of the three times on her and it has earned a special spot in my opinion on favorite ships.  While it may not have the overwhelming amount of activities and things to do that the new ships offer, it is a really fun cruise and for these long weekend sailings, a perfect length.

We actually booked another sailing on Brilliance for in 2019 as an excuse to get back onboard.  It remains to be seen if we will keep that booking, but I would love to sail on her again.

Thank you to everyone for following along and being a part of the live blog.  It has been a great pleasure sharing this sailing with all of you.  My next live blog sailing will only be a short six week wait when we board the brand new Symphony of the Seas!

Stray Observations

  • Rita’s Cantina does appear to be no more.  We stopped by the location and while the area still has the decorations and look of the restaurant, I could not find any menus or anything of that nature.

  • There was some definite “motion in the ocean” this morning.  Nothing intolerable, and by lunch the waves had calmed down some.
  • Brilliance of the Seas has its own escape room game, which is held in the Colony Club.  There is no cost to it, and it is the same game we played on Harmony of the Seas (in the On Air Club, not Escape the Rubicon).

  • A very depressing cake.
  • The self-leveling billiards table are not functional (as in they do not self-level).
  • There was leftover merchandise in the Centrum Shops from Brilliance’s Baltic season with deep discounts.
  • Someone asked for drink prices, and here is a look at the Schooner Bar menu.  I feel this is pretty exemplary of the drink prices onboard




Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Cozumel

In:
29Sep2018

Our one and only port stop brings us to Cozumel, Mexico and a day filled with sun, fun and plenty of guacamole.

Brilliance of the Seas was scheduled to dock in Cozumel at 8am, although local time is an hour behind, so we decided to sleep in a bit and get off the ship at 10am our time.  Most of the shops and restaurants do not really open until 9am local time.

We skipped breakfast onboard and grabbed coffee from Cafe Latte-Tudes.   

Getting of Brilliance of the Seas was a breeze, with no wait at all.  

We caught a cab and headed to downtown San Miguel for some drinking and eating.

We arrived downtown right around 9am, and a lot of the spots had not opened up yet so we started off our downtown adventure at a bar near the plaza area of San Miguel.

After one drink, we headed over to Casa Cuzamil, which is a bar and restaurant that serves breakfast, cocktails and even some food.   I had visited Casa Cuzamil on a previous cruise to Cozumel, but wanted a place with breakfast and lunch, as well as alcoholic drinks.

The best part of Casa Cuzamil is the fact theiy have a rooftop bar with lots of shade, a great breeze and even a hammock.

We spent probably more time there than we originally intended but it was so darn relaxing and cool on that roof that we hung out there for quite a bit.  Heck, I would not have minded spending a few more hours there.

After plenty of drinks and some light eats, we took a quick walk to my favorite spot to eat in Cozumel, Comida Caseras Tonita.

I have been here a number of times and in my estimation it is the best example of authentic Mecxican food at a reasonable price. Today's lunch did not disappoint.

We made a pit stop on our way back to the ship at La Mega supermarket for some souvenirs and food for home.

Back on the ship, it was time to cool down in the Solarium Pool.

After a refreshing afternoon in the pool, it was time for a great sailaway from Cozumel and getting ready for dinner.

We booked Izumi for dinner and it was surprisingly very crowded. By the time we left, there were no tables left open.

After dinner we headed down to the Pub for another great set of music.

Stray Observations

  • Bubba Gump Shrimp has been added to the Cozumel port stop area.
  • Overall, Brilliance is immaculately well-kept.  Ship is clean, well-maintained and not showing any signs of aging.
  • Here are the water slide hours
  • I have been fairly impressed with the ship's internet.  It is not as fast as some of the other ships in the fleet, but it has been quite responsive and I have generally not run into extremely long load times or disappearing internet signal.  

Tomorrow is our last day, and it is a sea day. 

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

In:
28Sep2018

The second day of any cruise is my favorite day of the sailing because it is the first full day onboard and it is usually the sort of day you think about all the time in the days, months and years leading up to your cruise vacation,  Embarkation day is wonderful because it is the start of your cruise, but there is so much going on.  When day two is a sea day, it is usually a day full of fun and activities that really sinks in that “I’m on a cruise!” mentality.

We woke up earlier than I expected (PSA: be sure to turn off your daily alarms on your phone before going on a cruise), but took things easy as we rolled out of bed.

For breakfast, we decided to take advantage of our suite benefits and head to Chops Grille.  Each morning, Chops offers a breakfast for gold SeaPass card guests that is a fantastic alternative to the main dining room.

I wanted to stay on the lighter side of things and went with smoked salmon on a bagel, while my wife went with french toast. My salmon was excellent!

After breakfast, we headed to the Schooner Bar for a round of morning trivia. 

Considering our team consisted of just me and my wife, we did pretty darn well, scoring 12 our 20.  I could not remember that Fleming discovered penicillin and struck out on the trick question if giraffes have more bones in their neck than humans (same amount of bones, giraffe neck bones are just bigger).

After being denied a trivia championship, we took a walk around the promenade deck on deck 5.  Today was a wonderful sea day, with no waves in the ocean, no motion to be felt and nothing but sun and a few passing clouds.

We made our way to the helipad on the front of the ship, which is a great little hidden secret about Brilliance of the Seas.  It is usually open throughout the day, and a great spot to enjoy the view.

At 11am was the suite guests reception in the King & Country Pub.  This was a thank you event for suite guests that included a visit by the ship’s Captain, as well as plenty of complimentary alcohol and quick bites to eat.

Since we have the Ultimate Dining Package, lunch at a specialty restaurant is included in our package benefits so we headed up to Izumi.

Izumi is priced a la carte, so you get a per-person stipend.  Our waiter told us we would have a $35 limit with the package, and was quite creative in the math to make our purchases work.

We ate with a few friends from RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com, so we got to see quite a few dishes.

I started off with a miso soup and poke tuna taco.

One of our friends had the tuna wasabi, and I had instant sushi envy.

For our main course, I went with a sashimi combination plate and my wife chose the hot rocks with steak.

One of our dining colleagues chose the spicy ramen soup with pork.  He said it was a lot of food (nearly overwhelming).

Feeling very full from our lunch, I really wanted to relax by the pool.  We got changed in our room and then headed down to the Solarium.

As you might expect, the Solarium was crowded, but after two to three laps, we managed to grab two lounger chairs.

It was a great afternoon of pool time, drinks and even a coveted nap.

Around 4pm, it was time to head back to the room and get ready for our evening activities. 

After getting ready for the evening, we grabbed some pre-dinner drinks and then headed to the the theater to catch the Broadwway tribute show.

We have seen this show before, but it was a great performance of favorite showtunes across a variety of Broadway shows.

Dinner tonight took us to Chops Grille, which was packed for formal night.

The food was great, although our service was a bit slow. Nonetheless, it was a great meal.

After dinner we went to the most crowded Pub I can recall being at in recent memory.   It was great to have a ton of energy with every song.

Stray Observations.

  • The main pool was back in service all day today.
  • There is a crew of contractors working to upgrade the WiFi infrastructure on the ship.  I spoke briefly to them, and they indicated that the upgrade was more about better WiFi coverage rather than faster speeds.
  • The guests in this stateroom were quite creative with their stateroom door decorations.
  • In terms of maximizing my drink package benefits, so far I have been succesful in "breaking even" on my investment. Two drinks between breakfast and the afternoon, two drinks at dinner and two drinks after dinner, combined with a coffee or two and bottles of water and the drink package math makes a lot of sense.
  • It seems to be hit or miss when it comes to wait staff to take drink orders on Brilliance. Just one waiter came by in the afternoon to take our drink orders inthe Solarium and the Pub waiters tend to stay behind the bar. Meanwhile the Schooner Bar has waiters roaming all over the place.
  • Chops had the red velvet cake on the dessert menu
  • Our stateroom attendant really went to to town with our anniversary decorations tonight.

Tomorrow is our only port of call, and it will take us to Cozumel, Mexico.

Brilliance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Tampa

In:
27Sep2018

Our Brilliance of the Seas cruise is here! No matter which Royal Caribbean sailing we happen to book, I always get super excited for the start of the vacation and this is no exception.

Living in the Orlando, Florida area, we opted to drive to the Port of Tampa in the morning.  My in-laws came over to take care of the children while we were away, and we hit the road right at 9:15am.

We reached Tampa at about 10:15, although had to make a pit stop to pick up a forgotten toiletry item.  We arrived at Port of Tampa in Terminal 6 at 10:45am.  We valet parked the car ($80 total cost) and went through the check-in procedure.  To my amazement, boarding had already begun!

Onboard Brilliance of the Seas, it felt so gratifying to be back on Brilliance again.  There was a bit of line at the Centrum elevator area, so we walked up one deck to deck 5 and then walked forward through the Centrum Shops.  The forward elevator banks were not busy at all, so we headed straight up to the pool deck.

We started off our cruise with some drinks at the Solarium Bar.  We have the Deluxe Beverage Package on this cruise, so expect a trend of drink photos coming you way.

The Windjammer was listed to open at 11:30am but it was open when we walked by at 11:15 or so.  My cruise tradition of lunch at the Windjammer continues!

After lunch, we decided to relax in the Solarium until our staterooms were ready at 1pm.

We are staying in a Grand Suite on Deck 10 and it is a great size for just the two of us. In fact, it is a lot of space and I was quite happy with our decision once we stepped foot inside.

A pleasant surprise in our room was our travel agent surprised us with an anniversary decoration package.  

There was also a surprise gift from Crown and Anchor Society as well.

In the afternoon we decided to hang out by the Solarium Bar, primarily since it was much cooler temperature-wise in there compared to the main pool.  

Speaking of the main pool, the entire day the main pool was closed for maintenance. Not sure what was going on, but they were working on it much of the time.

Muster drill seemed a bit earlier at 3:15pm, with sailaway immediately following at 4pm.  It was a glorious day weather wise, but also quite warm if you stood in the sun. 

As afternoon turned to evening, we headed down to the King & Country Pub to enjoy some live music from the pub singer.  Due to the football games later tonight, the pub singer was on early.

A little after 6pm, we headed back outside to enjoy one of the real highlights of sailing from Tampa which is going underneath the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

We walked around Brilliance to check out more of the venues.  The nice thing about Brilliance of the Seas is despite her size, there are lots of great venues to enjoy and it seems like there is something happening.

Dinner tonight took us to Giovanni's Table.

I noticed there was a serving of roasted garlic and olives that came with the bread, which was new to me.

For my entrees, I chose the eggplant parmigiana and the branzino fish.

Both were good choices, but I have to give the edge to the eggplant parm.  In fact, on the "old" Giovanni's Table menu the eggplant parm is an appetizer, whereas here it is an entree.

Stray Observations

  • The WiFi login screen seems to be an updated user interface.  A bit more modern in its look.
  • The new Royal Caribbean app is available on Brilliance, although its functionality is mostly limited to being able to browse the Cruise Compass.
  • Here is a look at the Concierge Lounge, which is quite a bit larger than I was expecting.

  • Darts are available to play in the Pub. I am not very good at darts.

Tomorrow is a sea day and a day full of plenty of fun....and cocktails.

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!

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