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  1. Boarding Brilliance of the Seas in Tampa in just 5 short days. Guess I should start on my packing and gathering! We are flying in to Tampa on the red-eye as per usual and will arrive in Florida at the crack of dawn on cruise day. This is my first time booking through Air2Sea so we can feel even more comfortable about the day-of arrival; other options all get you to Florida more than 24 hours before boarding which is not ideal. We’re planning on Ubering to the Channelside neighborhood and biding our time before our 11:30am boarding time slot. Itinerary This 5-night sailing makes two port stops in Cozumel and Grand Cayman. I booked this sailing as a replacement for our 2021 Oasis cruise which changed to a PDCC/Nassau itinerary at the last minute and we missed getting to see Cozumel! We were originally going in April but RC axed a couple of Brilliance’s Tampa sailings to leave for the west coast sooner, and I was able to snag this date that retained the same port itinerary. Day 1 - Saturday - Departs Tampa, FL Day 2 - Sunday - Cruising Day 3 - Monday - Cozumel Day 4 - Tuesday - Grand Cayman Day 5 - Wednesday - Cruising Day 6 - Returns to Tampa Who’s Going - my husband (Adrian) and I (Daryl) Cabin Junior Suite 1078. On my original sail date I had the luxurious aft mega-balc 1100 booked but it sadly got away from me when that sailing was cancelled. I am happy to return to a junior suite after our last 3 Royal sailings in tiny OVBs. We had a full suite for our honeymoon sailing in Greece and now I can’t go back to having to squeeze around each other at the foot of the bed! I also put in weeeeak RoyalUp bids for the 1 and 2 Bedroom GS and the OS. Pre-Purchases As usual, I had to stalk the DBP for awhile before purchasing. I know everyone says to book immediately and cancel when it drops but it started out at an outrageously high $96 so I had to wait it out and was rewarded with the bargain basement price of $64.99 pp/pd. FYI I kept this low price in my cart from a previous sale for about 3 months before pulling the trigger. When I purchased, the current rate was $86.99 so I HIGHLY recommend leaving nice prices in your cart if you don’t want to purchase immediately. We have two specialty dinners reserved; Izumi on night 2 and Giovanni’s on our last night which I tried to align nicely with the new MDR menus that weren’t speaking to me (namely, French and Bon Voyage Night ) This live blog will be uploaded by way of only ONE shared Voom Surf and Stream code between us, hopefully we will be good at seamlessly kicking each other off. Excursions In Cozumel, I booked an excursion I picked out and paid for all the way back in March of 2020! Unfortunately the May 2020 cruise I booked that for was obviously cancelled, then I booked the same excursion for our Nov 2021 cruise that didn’t end up going to Coz, so this time around it took no effort at all to make a selection for this port day. The excursion is through Shore Excursioneer and visits Punta Sur Eco Beach Park and the east side of the island and also includes snorkeling, tequila tasting and lunch. All of this accessed by guest-operated dune buggies which sounds right up our alley. In Grand Cayman, I rented us bikes through Adventura Cayman and they include delivery and pick up near the cruise port. I had planned on renting them through a Lyft-like app called Cycle Cayman on the day of, but after perusing their available bikes on several recent cruise mornings, didn’t find a ton of reliable supply. This way we’ll definitely get the bikes and won’t have to worry about someone renting them while we’re Seven-Mile-beaching and becoming stranded. The Royal version of this excursion was $80 each and only lasted 3 hours so hopefully I’ve made a good choice. Can’t wait to peddle STRAIGHT TO HELL! (Hell, Grand Cayman, that is) This is finally a vacation that I feel like I truly need after some stressful months at work.. and as a graphic / UI/UX designer, this threshold is kinda hard to hit since normally my job is pretty fun. I am mostly excited for 80ºF days! As a native San Diegan, I am much more susceptible to the cold and even though the lowest we’ve gotten here is 35º and rainy, I am frozen and am in urgent need of thawing. Tampa, Coz and Grand Cayman all look to be in the high 70s-low 80s currently with a possible thunderstorm in Tampa on embarkation day. My husband is Puerto Rican so we both love trying to use our Spanish skills on the fly. I learned Greek for our trip last summer (γεια σου Ελλαδα!) but only ever used it more as a parlor trick than a means of actually communicating like we tend to need south of the border. Duolingo, here I come! Let me know if you’ve got any Brilliance or Tampa questions. We’ve only ever sailed out of Miami, SD and LA so it should be fun to navigate in a new city and get to sail out under the Sunshine Skyway!
  2. We seem to have a real addiction to booking cruises. We did not blog our cruise on Enchantment last month, because we did not really expect to enjoy it as much as we did since our last two cruises were Star Class on Allure. We went in with low expectations and were pleasantly surprised by the service and food on the ship. This showed us that we should be more open-minded to the smaller ships that Royal offers. Our only other experience on a Royal ship smaller than Voyager Class was on Brilliance, and it was horrible. We were new to cruising and didn't understand anything about stateroom categories or differences in ship classes. We booked an interior for five of us and had kids on pullman beds above us and a pack and play that made it nearly impossible to even walk in our room. We struggled to fit our stroller down the hallway and could see the frustration from the room attendants when they had to move their cleaning carts to let us by. We also could not fit our stroller in our stateroom. We were expecting the bells and whistles of an Oasis Class ship, but what can I say, we were cruise noobs and didn't realize we needed to research our ship before we booked. If you would have asked us a few months ago what our least favorite ship was, we would have said, hands down, Brilliance of the Seas, but after how much we enjoyed Enchantment, we decided that maybe we were a little harsh on Brilliance and that we should give her another chance now that we are a little more experienced at cruising. We did not expect to book another cruise anytime soon since we have cruises booked all the way through the end of 2021. We were browsing Royal's website the other day, when the hubs brought to my attention something that we thought was surely an error. On the February 27, 2020 sailing on Brilliance, there was a grand suite listed for less than a junior suite and close to the same price as a balcony. We were excited to see this price, but it said it had a max occupancy of five. We called Royal to see if they would make an exception for our family of six. They said no, but we don't know how to take no as an answer. We dug out the number for our senior cruise planner at Royal to see what magic he could work. He put us on hold for a few minutes and came back and said it wasn't a problem since our youngest two are in pack and plays. After he quoted us a price of $2,077 (before prepaid gratuities) for all six of us, we quickly decided it was too good of a deal to pass up and channeled our inner @Lovetocruise2002 and say Yolo. This will definitely be a laid back cruise, but we are really looking forward to relaxing and giving Brilliance another shot.
  3. Just a head's up to those of us on the Brilliance October 11 Group Cruise. The DBP is selling for $48 PP/PD. I haven't seen a DBP in the forty-anything since the beginning of the new year. YIPPEE !!! I cancelled our Refreshment Pkg (which had been a very good buy at $19 PP/PD) and purchased the UDP. I believe the Speednoodles family will be happy to hear this great news !!!
  4. I promised Sabrina that I would do this, so here goes. First: I am the worst live blogger EVER since I hate to take pix. I DO realize that long, text review/live blogs are less effective b/c nobody wants to sit and read line after line of text. I hate it myself ! So I am going to TRY and be brief-er than usual and TRY and incorporate photos, which are 2 things I am not very good at (brevity and photography). Who: Dan and I (Raye) What: S2S cruises on Brilliance and Oasis. Where: Tampa then Miami When: 24 - 30 Nov (Brilliance out of Tampa) then 1 - 8 December (Oasis out of Miami) Why: Because we can...and this will be our first S2S At home, writing this but leaving for the airport (DCA) at 2PM. Uber, cost $81.56. We have to have an XL due to luggage. Honestly, it's not that far to the airport. We live about 20 miles south of DC so it's not more than 15-17 miles to the airport. Kinda high, IMO but still cheaper than parking the car in Long Term Parking for 15 days. We will pass some time at the American Airlines Admiral's Club prior to boarding and then fly First Class to Tampa. Flight is at 5:00, arriving TPA at ~7:30PM. Will Uber from airport to the hotel (Tampa Marriott Water Street); used rewards points for the hotel. We could have used airline miles for the air but we're saving those reward points for a yet-to-be scheduled Alaska trip !! One piece of luggage still missing as it is awaiting inevitable forgotten, last-minute items. So looking forward to Brilliance. #1, we have never sailed on Brilliance before and #2, it has been many years since we sailed on a Radiance class ship. PS. I am already having fits with just 1 pic. I don't know how the rest of you do it !! More, later from the Admiral's Club !!
  5. Hello everyone, My wife and I will be embarking on our first cruise this May and decided to go big or go home. 15 day Transatlantic cruise on Brilliance of the Seas (Tampa > Azorez > Ireland > Belgium > Netherlands). We have probably watched 100 youtube videos trying to be prepared. Have any of you done a transatlantic cruise around May? What kind of weather can we expect during the first half to Azorez and the second half near europe? How are the seas this time of year? (not that we can change our minds now anyways ? Thanks for your time, I look forward to getting to know the RoyalCaribbeanBlog members and plan on doing a "live blog" for our trip.
  6. Figured a day late (and a month late in some cases) is better than nothing... Booked itinerary is as follows: Tampa, Sea day, Cozumel, Sea day, finally back in Tampa. This is the same run that @Mattdid last month and I decided to crash his anniversary sailing. So a forewarning, due to not doing a LIVEish on that sailing I'll be throwing in some of the pictures I took on that sailing. For these that are new to reading my LIVEish. Check out my previous one to get an idea of what fine quality work I produce:
  7. Hey, everyone! My family and I just got off of our second Royal Caribbean cruise. There were two waiters that were really special and helped make the cruise so enjoyable for the family, and we're trying to locate them. My family is hoping to be able to connect on Facebook or something. I don't have complete names, but will include what info I have and if anyone can help I'd appreciate it! Both waiters were on the Brilliance of the Seas as of just last week. The first waiter all I have is a last name : Abadi. The second- I believe is from Mexico. His first name is Juan, and last name either Campos or Compos.. somehow I missed his middle name. I think both were headwaiters. Thank you so much!
  8. I was starting my second Stella as my daughter and I walked through the door on deck 8 of Empress to the forward patio/observation area. I was excited for the quick 4 nighter to Cozumel and back. I was really liking this ship already after a not so perfect boarding experience due to some delays. I started a Periscope for sail away (@DunkelBier_Jay), and had some fun conversations with people as the ship dropped lines and we entered the channel. To our right was the now famous (or infamous) @mpoole3 pad and the mainstay American Victory ship. Tampa Harbour is really cool in that direction. In the other, its all industrial. It is a great sailaway into the Tampa Bay and eventually the Sunshine Skyway Bridge about an hour away. I wanted more of this port! *save your money* As we entered the Bay, we walked down the hallway behind us and to the stairs to deck 5. From there, we walked aft, and I had my first lavalflow in the Schooner Bar... But you're asking...the title says Brilliance, and he's writing about Empress...I'm getting there! The two beers and the lava flow were talking after we finished and started walking aft. What's behind the Schooner on Empress? *Next Cruise* *YOLO* The booking agent was there all alone, and I couldn't let her stay there all lonely like that. So, I booked a Fall cruise on Empress to Cuba with my wife. In the end, it didn't work out schedule wise, so we ended up changing it to the Brilliance January 6 sailing for five nights to Grand Cayman and to Cozumel. So, this coming Friday, January 5, we will board a plane for Tampa where we will spend the night at the Tampa Airport Marriott and then rideshare to the port as early as possible. This itinerary has two sea days to go along with the ports, and it is on a class we haven't sailed before. My goal is to sail every class before 2020. First Port -- Grand Cayman The plan is to rent a car and drive to the North Side and tour Crystal Caves and the nearby rain forest. Following that, we will drive to Rum Point for lunch and some beach time. We will stop by Cayman Brewery on the way back to turn in the car and then tender back to the ship. We chose this because we have been on diving vacations to the Caymans a couple of times, and just didn't want to do the same old thing. We're saving that for the next port. Second Port -- Cozumel I flip flopped a lot on what to do, and I even had Chichen Itza booked for a while after a cruise planner sail, but ended up changing it to a day at Nachi Cocom so that we could go into San Miguel to sample some food and fun before the ship leaves. So, my next posts will show whether or not we pull off these plans, and will show you some sights and sounds that are sure to excite one and all...woot *thanks for reading this far* Briliance, here we come!
  9. Hi all... Although I know its not set in stone and factors at sea can change the plan... but has anyone been on the 12 Night Mediterranean/Greek Islands cruise out of Barcelona on Brilliance of the Seas this season that can share which three nights were the formal nights. Would like to make specialty dining reservations without having to switch it later on. Thanks in advance.
  10. Brilliance of the Seas – Monsters of Rock Cruise Feb. 2-7 Most likely if you have been hanging around Matt’s daily Periscopes lately you have heard me boasting about my wife’s and my annual pilgrimage to sunny Florida or Los Angles for the Monsters of Rock Cruise. This will be number 5 for us. For the first time ever, it will be held on a Royal Caribbean ship, Brilliance of the Seas, and I figured I’d share with everyone for a couple of reason. First of all. it is a RCCL cruise. Second it is a 100% buyout/charter so things are run a little different, and third and most importantly (to me) it is an 80’s rock n’ roll cruise. Being a charter you will not find any dress code. It’s a sea of black concert t-shirts and hiked up mini shirts in the MDR. BINGO will not be played, port shopping seminars won’t happen and the sexiest man and Belly flop competition are the furthest things from anybody’s mind. We came to rock out! Even the drink package is ‘worked differently’ (more on that later)! My wife and I will be flying to Tampa from San Antonio the prior like all good and well behaved cruiser should. The cruise happenings will actually start the night we arrive at a club in downtown Tampa a stone’s throw from the Port. Vince Neil, the front man of the 100 million record selling band Motley Crue will perform this Pre-Cruise Party. He will also perform on the ship. Our itinerary will be: Wednesday - February 1, 2017 - Optional Pre-Cruise Party Thursday - February 2, 2017 - Depart – Tampa, Florida 4 pm Friday - February 3, 2017 - Day at Sea Saturday- February 4, 2017 - George Town, Grand Cayman - 7 am - 3 pm Sunday - February 5, 2017 - Cozumel, Mexico - 11 am - 6 pm Monday - February 6, 2017 - Day at Sea Tuesday - February 7, 2017 -Arrive – Tampa, Florida -7 am Who doesn’t love 80’s rock? From the cheesiness of teased hair to the heart pound sound coming from their interments, it’s always ‘nothing but a good time’. The listing of bands to perform (each at least twice) are… as of today†Vince Neil Cinderella’s Tom Keifer QUEENSRYCHE NIGHT RANGER STYPER TNT KIX SLAUGHTER DANGER DANGER D*A*D SOTO (JEFF SCOTT SOTO ~ TSO, MOVIE ROCK STAR, YNGWIE, BRIAN MAY BAND) Y&T LYNCHE MOB (GEORGE LYNCHE of DOKKEN) KILLER DWARFS SAIGON KICKS ELECTRIC BOYS THE ANSWER BEASTO BLANCO INGLORIOUS BLACK N’ BLUE FASTER PUSSYCAT TORA TORA GIRLSCHOOL JOHN CORABI (MOTLEY CRUE, THE SCREAM, UNION) KIP WINGER (WINGER) JOEL HOEKSTRA (FOREIGNER, WHITESNAKE, NIGHT RANGER, TSO, MOVIE ROCK OF AGES) HEAVEN’S EDGE PARADISE KITTY (ALL FEMALE GnR TRIBUTE BAND) Hosted by EDDIE TRUNK (NY DJ AND EX RECORD COMPANY A&R GUYS COMEDIAN DON JAMISON COMEDIAN JIM FLORENTINE & LUC CARL XM RADIO DJ, FITNESS BUFF, AND LADY GA GA’S EX As usual, we will barely sleep!! Some days the shenanigans start at 10 AM and goes well past midnight…..for 5 days !! In a way, this is a Super Bowl Cruise! Being that the SB will be played in Houston while we are sailing around the waterways of the Western Hemisphere. We had custom made football jerseys with our name on the back that replicate the logo Monsters of Rock is using this trip. The MORC folks have set up theme night which we tend to ignore. Themes in the past have been Prom Night, Pajama Night, Pimps and Hoe’s…. Yeah I know…what are we 10 yrs old!!! A few people get into it, but it is not our thing. We are busy watching the musical acts!! Our stateroom is going to be a junior suite. This category and above are considered VIP staterooms and come with several perks a standard stateroom will not afford you. With VIP you get special check in that is considered different than the Crown & Anchor check in on traditional cruises, but essentially the same thing. You always get a balcony stateroom even with the lower category VIP staterooms. You get Early Access to all theatre shows so you can have first choice of being against the stage or any seat in the theater. On the Monsters of Rock cruises, there are meet and greets for every band where you can rub elbows with each band member and take pictures and an occasional autograph. VIP lets you get to the head of the line which is great because you can be standing in line for hours to meet your favorite rock star on board without it. We go for the VIP just to make life a little easier. Many band members will also be very laid-back and hang out in the Windjammei’r, on the pool deck, in the Centrum, or even Casino. Most of them have had their Hay Day and have checked the ego at the door. Last thing I will talk about in this post is the special drink package that MORC has arranged with Royal Caribbean. For $360 you get 60 drink tickets. These can be split like my wife and I do, or even given away to anyone you wish to buy a drink for. NOT everyone in the stateroom is required to purchase. Each ticket can get you a cocktail or adult beverage up the value of $12. If you go over $12 they will just ask for two drink tickets. I did the math on this one and there is no doubting that it is an excellent deal ...$360.oo/60 tickets is $6 each drink. It’s hard to find a deal like that on land. Almost makes me mad that the regular price a drink package on traditional cruisesare so much more. Well, that is all for now. I will update as my vision sees fit. I will post more posts and pictures during the trip thanks for reading. @Motleybrue AKA Mike Taylor www.MonstersofRockCruise.com
  11. Hi Friends. Seems like I know some of you guys. Newbie here. First Cruise Jan 7th out of Tampa to see if the better half can handle the movement of the boat. I truely hope she can as we would like to take a longer voyage. (she already has her 'patches'). I've done some homework, but cannot find Menu's for Briliance 2016. Particularly our Jan. 7th-11th timeframe. Is there someplace I'm overlooking to find the MDR Menu's for that trip? Really appreciate all the good info you all come up with. I'd like to think that "one day", I'll have the experience to help answer some of these newbie type questions I keep coming up with. Can you tell I'm just a "little bit" excited about our first trip? LOL Have a GREAT Day. Rob
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