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

Matt Hochberg

It's cruise day, and time for our next Royal Caribbean cruise to kick off with a 4-night Western Caribbean cruise on Brilliance of the Seas.

Brilliance sails out of the Port of Tampa in the winter, which is about 80 miles from our home.  This means we can easily drive over to the port the day of the cruise.

After dropping our kids off at school, we hit the road to get to the port.  We arrived a few minutes before 11am, and boarding had already begun.

One thing I always do when parking at the Port of Tampa is to take advantage of the valet parking option.  The cost is $80 versus $60 for standard parking, and valet is so much more convenient (especially on disembarkation day).

Check-in was a breeze and we went from curb to onboard in probably ten minutes.  Not bad for a port without expedited arrival.

Once onboard, we decided to begin taking advantage of our Unlimited Dining Package and eat lunch at Chops Grille. 

The lunch menu at Chops is smaller than at dinner, but features the highlights from the dinner menu.  

I went with the wild mushroom soup and burger, with a side of mac and cheese.  Great way to kick things off.

By the time we got out of Chops, our staterooms were ready right at 1pm.  

We booked a Junior Suite on Deck 10 for this sailing.  As I recall, the price of a Junior Suite was not much more than the price of a balcony, so I decided to go for it.

The best part of a Junior Suite is all the extra space you get, so there is less shuffling around.  

I also really like the look of the room, with the dark woods and nice finishes.  The room looked great, and I am pleased with my choice.

Next up, we walked around the ship to check things out.  Being our fourth time on Brilliance, there were not many surprises, but it is always good to get your bearings and see where everything is onboard.

Muster drill is fairly early (3:30pm), and luckly our muster station is at Chops Grille.  I love any muster drill where I can sit down.

After muster drill, it was time for sailaway.  I opted to go to the helipad at the front of the ship for the amazing vantage point it offers.

You can access the helipad on Radiance, Voyager and Freedom class ships, and is one of my favorite Brillaince of the Seas secrets. On Brilliance, go to the outside deck on deck 5, and walk forward.  

We had fabulous weather for sailaway, with partly sunny skies and comfortable temperatures.

After sailaway, we headed back to the room to shower and change for dinner.  

As we got ready for dinner, it was also time to watch the sailing under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

The sailing under the bridge is always very cool, but this evening we also had one of the best sunset sky colors that I have ever seen.

I went up to the front of the ship to enjoy the best view of the sailing under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge I have ever seen because of the combination of the sky colors and the spectacle of going under the bridge.

Dinner this evening is in Izumi.  I, for one, can never get enough sushi and I love the sushi at Izumi!

After dinner, it was time for evening entertainment in the pub.

Tomorrow is a sea day.

Stray Observations

  • There are a bunch of fans in the casino that I never recall seeing before.
  • There are interactive games via the app now available on Brilliance.
  • To my delight, the area above the Centrum on Deck 12 is open once again to guests. The Loyalty Ambassador is now located here, and indicated to me this area has reopened as of a few months ago.
  • There appears to be a WiFi receiver in our room