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Tiffeven

Brilliance of the Seas... take two

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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.

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Forgot to mention, Steven and I decided to download the MyVegas and MyKonomi slots app on our phones a few months ago after hearing about it on a Royal Caribbean facebook page.  Since we usually book two years in advance, I didn't know how beneficial it would be, but since it was fun to play and coins don't expire we decided to play anyway.  I'm glad we did because we were both able to get $100 obc for this cruise.

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9 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

Wow! I am putting in my request now to see how a GS can hold a family of 6. 😜 Enjoy!

Thanks.  It's going to be cramped for sure, but with it only being four days, we'll make do.  Any longer, we wouldn't have went smaller than the two bedroom.

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Just checking in.  We have 6 days and a wakeup until we board.  We are usually on top of things, but we are slacking this trip.  We have yet to pack or find a hotel.  We haven't received our concierge email yet.  Hopefully, that will come soon and give us some motivation to get our butts in gear.  We plan to leave on the 26th and get a hotel that night.  It's only a 10.5 hour drive (if we don't get caught in Atlanta or Chattanooga traffic), which seems much more manageable to do in one day after the 15 hour drive to Galveston last month.

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We received our concierge email today from Amit Chattopadhyay.  We also got around to packing the luggage for the two youngest.  Now we just need to pack ours and the two older kid's luggage.  I think we are going to skip making a hotel reservation and get one on the drive.  Brilliance is supposed to be the only ship in Tampa, so hopefully we won't have any issues finding a hotel the night before and if so we will stop a little outside of Tampa.  We've tossed around the idea of leaving a day early and bumming around Florida, but we are leaning towards just driving down the day before since we will be headed back to Florida for Navigator next month.

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On 2/24/2020 at 3:05 PM, orion619 said:

We just returned from Briliance's 4 day to Cozumel and our party of 5 had a great time. There's always something going on. We love this class of ship, not too big, not too small. Hope you have as great a time as we did.

 

 

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I'm glad to hear that you had a great trip.  We are very excited to board.  I love the wake view picture.  I always try to capture a few wake view pictures on each of our cruises.  There's something about it that feels especially calming.  As the shirt says, "Wake view is best view."

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One day until we board!  We left about two hours ago and are happily snacking on Starbucks and Chick-fil-a.  GPS says we have another 9 hours to go, but with four kids and traffic, I'm guessing it will be closer to 11 hours.  It seems we are going to have to rethink what we are wearing tomorrow since we packed shorts and swimsuits.  The high in Tampa tomorrow is 59 and the low is 42.

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35 minutes ago, Tiffeven said:

We're finally here.  The two older kids just fell asleep, but the babies are restless from being in the car all day and are fighting sleep hard.  Steven and I are trying our best to get them to sleep, so we can follow suit.

Best of luck with that but it will be worth it very soon 🙂 

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Here goes attempt two at posting this.  I'm not sure what happened, but everything I typed just disappeared.  This will probably be an abridged version of our day since I'm too tired to type it all out again.  Today, started out hectic, but it ended up working out and was a good day.  When we went to check out of the hotel this morning, Steven couldn't find his wallet.  After frantically searching for it for 40 minutes, we realized my wallet was missing too.  At that point, we started questioning if we had left them in the car and if so, did we lock the car.  After an hour of panicking and thinking we were going to miss the cruise since we didn't have IDs, we remembered the secret pocket on our carry-on backpack where our wallets just happened to be hiding.  Crisis averted.  We parked at port and made it onto the ship in no time.  After exploring the ship a bit, we opted to bring Windjammer and Park Cafe to our room for lunch.  We unpacked until muster, and then took the kids to the rock wall and arcade.  We stopped in the concierge lounge for sodas, and while some of the guests seemed nice, there was quite a bit of stuffy people.  One of whom was very rude to the concierge and bartender.  The concierge, Amit, seemed very friendly and attentive.  We had main dining room delivered to our room for dinner, and it was still warm when it arrived.  The kids went to Adventure Ocean and the nursery, while Steven and I went to the Windjammer and the casino.  We stopped at the shops to pick up a ship model, since we hadn't started collecting them yet last time we were on Brilliance.   We had planned on seeing the comedian, but we were tired and decided to pick up the babies and go back to the room.  We had already promised Christian that he could stay late for gaga ball, so we gave him an extra hour in Adventure Ocean.  We are about to place our breakfast order and call it a night.  

Final thoughts: This time on Brilliance is much more enjoyable than last time.  We are really enjoying ourselves and are glad we still have 3 more full days.  Although, we were a little hesitant about 6 of us in a one bedroom grand suite, I'm happy to say, it is working out quite well.  I will post a few pictures of how perfectly the pack and plays fit beside the bed.  Royal uses the travel pack and plays so they are smaller than normal ones.  The balcony is narrow, but that is expected with Radiance class.  We realized how spoiled our kids are when our son complained about how tiny the room and balcony are.  To be fair though, as long as he has arcade and gaga ball, he's happy no matter what room we are in.  As for us, we are just happy to be cruising.

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Day 2:  We woke up right before 10am just in time to have breakfast delivered.  After breakfast, we went to the 2 for $20 t-shirt sale.  I thought I pretty much had every shirt Royal offers, but to my surprise, I found a few new shirts.  We spent some time in the arcade and grabbed Windjammer for lunch.  I am a Starbucks addict, so I decided to try a latte from the espresso machine in the concierge lounge, and while it was definitely not Starbucks, but it was actually pretty good.  In fact, I went back later for another one.  We had hoped to take the kids to the pool today, but it was still too cool for us to want to swim, so we went to the arcade instead.  The two older kids went to Adventure Ocean, while we did free play in the nursery with the babies.  We had dinner in our suite.  At which time, we realized how much of a drama queen our 7 year old is.  She was eating on the balcony, when our son decided to do the same.  She came back inside complaining that she needed her peace and quite and that she wants to enjoy relaxing to the sound of the waves in solitude. Talk about high maintenance!  We dropped the babies off at the nursery and the kids at Adventure Ocean at 7pm and went to the concierge lounge.  It was a lot less stuffy in there today, and the staff was very friendly as always.  We also went to Next Cruise to inquire about a 7 day on Rhapsody.  We have yet to go to Belize and have been wanting to check that block on our travel list.  There was a pretty good deal on the Oceanview Suite (no balcony), but I was really surprised when he told us the next cruise OBC would only be $100.  Although it is considered in the grand suite or above category for suite perks, it only gets the same next cruise credit of $100 that a balcony gets rather than the $300 that grand suite and above gets.  He said this also applies to the Panoramic Oceanview Suites.  If anyone else has booked either of these categories through next cruise, I would love to hear if you got the balcony/junior suite OBC or the grand suite OBC.  We picked up the kids and went to the Windjammer for snacks.  We have ate way too much and are telling ourselves that tomorrow we are going to eat way less, but I feel like that is probably not going to be the case.

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9 hours ago, Tiffeven said:

He said this also applies to the Panoramic Oceanview Suites.  If anyone else has booked either of these categories through next cruise, I would love to hear if you got the balcony/junior suite OBC or the grand suite OBC. 

I have never booked that through Next Cruise but I have the suite booked on Jewel!  If it's the same one that I am thinking of.  Category VT; 1054?  Used to be the old concierge lounge?  Now it's a 2 Bedroom Oceanview Panoramic suite. 

Next Cruise often has the information wrong on the Panoramic Suites.  They tell people that it will not receive full suite benefits either so it would not surprise me if they messed up the OBC information.  I would try to look into it further and clarify.  You get the GS benefits in those suites and you also pay GS gratuities so I'm not sure why they would not consider it the same.  The only thing I can think of is that maybe if you are trying to book with a refundable deposit on those suites, you would only get a max of $150 OBC.  That is in their terms and conditions.  

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10 hours ago, Tiffeven said:

At which time, we realized how much of a drama queen our 7 year old is.  She was eating on the balcony, when our son decided to do the same.  She came back inside complaining that she needed her peace and quite and that she wants to enjoy relaxing to the sound of the waves in solitude. Talk about high maintenance! 

I may have laughed quite hard at this. This is my daughter to a T as well when it comes to her brother!!

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Day 3: Cozumel

Katarina (our 1 year old) kept us up late last night, so we decided to skip room service breakfast and planned on sleeping in this morning.  Unfortunately, that did not happen.  Around 8:30am, the loudest drilling sound could be heard inside our stateroom and all throughout our hallway.  It woke all of us up and led to very irritable babies today.  Since he was already awake, Steven decided to go for a run.  On his way out, without prompting, the room attendant profusely apologized for the noise stating that she had already called the manager multiple times.  The concierge also apologized and gifted us with Izumi dinner for Steven and me tomorrow.  He offered for the full family, but a date night without the kiddos is too enticing for us to turn down.  

After getting the kid's ready, we had breakfast in the Windjammer.  The ship docked in downtown Cozumel which was new for us, so we decided to get off the ship.  We shopped around for about an hour before heading back.  Maybe it's just the novelty of it, but I definitely preferred downtown Cozumel to where we usually dock.  After Windjammer lunch, we took the kids to the arcade,  played a little shuffleboard, and hit the pool.  The water slide is really slow, but the kids still enjoyed it.  We ordered main dining room to our room, and it was by far our least favorite meal.  Overall, it was dry and lacked flavor.  The rest of the meals from the MDR have been quite good, so this was a little disappointing. 

After dropping the kids off at the nursery and AO, we went to the concierge lounge for a drink and probably the fifth latte of the day.  The bartender in the concierge lounge, Gerome, is incredibly nice and always happy to help.  We hit the casino for a few minutes.  We are incredibly cheap when it comes to the casino and put $10 into the video blackjack machine and were planning on betting $1 until it ran out.  We accidentally bet $5 and won then accidentally bet $10 and won again.  We felt like high rollers cashing out our $25.  We picked up the kids and now that the babies are asleep, so we are going to enjoy a few minutes on the balcony before we call it a night.

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13 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

I have never booked that through Next Cruise but I have the suite booked on Jewel!  If it's the same one that I am thinking of.  Category VT; 1054?  Used to be the old concierge lounge?  Now it's a 2 Bedroom Oceanview Panoramic suite. 

Next Cruise often has the information wrong on the Panoramic Suites.  They tell people that it will not receive full suite benefits either so it would not surprise me if they messed up the OBC information.  I would try to look into it further and clarify.  You get the GS benefits in those suites and you also pay GS gratuities so I'm not sure why they would not consider it the same.  The only thing I can think of is that maybe if you are trying to book with a refundable deposit on those suites, you would only get a max of $150 OBC.  That is in their terms and conditions.  

It's pretty much the same suite.  It's cabin 8000 on Rhapsody.  I asked Amit, the concierge on Brilliance, about it.  He spoke with the concierge on Rhapsody who confirmed that it does have suite perks, but it only gets the obc of a balcony/junior suite because all of the panoramic suites or any of the oceanview suites that do not have a balcony are considered in the same category as junior suites with elevated suite perks equivalent to a grand suite.

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Day 4: Final Sea Day

I woke up this morning before everyone else, so I enjoyed some time on the balcony before everyone woke up.  We had breakfast delivered and then grabbed a latte from the concierge lounge.  We booked a cruise on Rhapsody through Next Cruise and took the kids to the arcade.  We played a few minutes of mini golf, but it was incredibly windy, so we didn't stay long.  We ordered dinner to the room as usual, but ordered less this time since Steven and I had dinner reservations at Izumi tonight.  The brownie on the MDR dessert menu tonight was delicious with vanilla ice cream.  We dropped the kids off at the nursery and AO and headed to the concierge lounge for a drink before dinner. 

Even though we have had Izumi many times, tonight was a new experience for us.  We usually have hibachi or sushi, but tonight we decided to try the hot rock since Brilliance does not offer hibachi.  Steven had the beef tenderloin, and I had the surf and turf.  We also had miso soup and the spicy shrimp tempura roll (with cream cheese added).  It was very tasty.

After dinner, we decided to try our luck in the casino and lost $15 in about 30 seconds so decided to not push our luck.  We embarrassed ourselves in pool and then I crushed Steven in a game of checkers.  We headed to our room to pack, and then picked up the kids.  We are currently waiting for room service to be delivered.  I will update tomorrow about the debarkation process.

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