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First cruise ever - 12/17/20 Brilliance of the Seas


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Hey all - first time posting here as I have never been on a cruise in my life.    My parents went on a RC cruise out of Galveston this past Feb/Mar and they talked it up enough for me to take the leap into trying my first ever cruise.   I have had an irrational fear of drowning and boats since a near capsize boating experience as a kid when we got caught out in a storm on a lake in Minnesota while we were fishing -  this was 30 years ago but I still remember it like it was yesterday,  but I digress.   

Anyways after my parents raving about their first cruise on RC (and subsequently booking same cruise for January 2021 and an Alaska cruise on Celebrity for sometime during summer) I figured what the heck.   Myself,  my partner and two of our very close friends booked the 12/17/20 cruise out of Tampa to Cozumel -  none of us have cruised before so its a first for all of us and we figured it would be a good starter cruise since it is short and was very reasonably priced.   

Couple quick questions from you cruising experts.  Up front I greatly appreciate any input.  

1)  Cabins close together.    My partner and myself booked separate from our traveling friends and we both just did the "interior guarantee" where you cannot select your stateroom.    What is the possibility of getting staterooms close to each other (does not have to be next to each other) if we call RC and let them know we are traveling together?   Not expecting anything here as we booked the bargain basement fare but figured it would be worth a shot.  

2) Brilliance of the Seas activities.   RC website is really not that great in showing what each ship offers and does not,   have found while looking at the portion for Brilliance it shows some activities that I don't believe are available on that boat.   I know its mid-age for the RC fleet so does not have all the newest and best things but I can't really find anywhere to figure out what it does actually have.   Our traveling group age range is 30-42.  

3) Cruise planner extras booking time.   Myself and my partner are planning on doing the deluxe beverage package (not sure about our friends),  and we all are planning on at least 1 shore excursion in Cozumel.   My planning personality wants to book it all ASAP so I can put it in the back of my mind until December, but then I step back and say 'what if shutdown causes cruise to be scrubbed'.    Should I bit the bullet and go for it or wait to get closer to departure?   

If you have any other recommends for a first time cruiser it would would be much appreciated,   I am not even sure what to expect with any aspect of it so any insight would be excellent!    

Thank you in advance! 

Adam 

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Hi, @pezzy669, welcome to the RCBlog forums!

2 hours ago, pezzy669 said:

2) Brilliance of the Seas activities.   RC website is really not that great in showing what each ship offers and does not,   have found while looking at the portion for Brilliance it shows some activities that I don't believe are available on that boat.   I know its mid-age for the RC fleet so does not have all the newest and best things but I can't really find anywhere to figure out what it does actually have.   Our traveling group age range is 30-42.

While I haven't (yet) sailed on Brilliance, I see that the ship has a Schooner Bar as well as a Pub; you can expect to have piano music played nightly at Schooner, while the Pub will likely have a guitarist or other live musician. All the ships will also have activities by the pool like live bands during the afternoons on sea days, Zumba or other fitness classes, etc. How long they play, and how crowded they will allow each venue to get during this time, are unknowns at this point.

The Vintages on board will likely have some kind of wine tasting / pairing event, and the R Bar will probably have a martini tasting; those will be paid activities that you can purchase in the Cruise Planner or once on board.

Schooner Bar may still be doing trivia, though again that's a question mark for how frequently and how crowded they'll let it get.

You can get an idea of other activities that are typically held on board by going to the Cruise Compass section of the site (link is pre-filtered for Brilliance of the Seas). Find an itinerary that's the same as yours (or close enough), and read through to see what's been offered in the past. The more recently the compass was posted, the more likely your sailing will be to do the same or similar.

2 hours ago, pezzy669 said:

3) Cruise planner extras booking time.   Myself and my partner are planning on doing the deluxe beverage package (not sure about our friends),  and we all are planning on at least 1 shore excursion in Cozumel.   My planning personality wants to book it all ASAP so I can put it in the back of my mind until December, but then I step back and say 'what if shutdown causes cruise to be scrubbed'.    Should I bit the bullet and go for it or wait to get closer to departure?

This is a tough call, since we have no idea if December sailings will be a thing. Pretty much everything you can get in the CP is going to be cheaper than buying on board, especially for the DBP and internet packages, so buying the things you really want ahead of time is always better. The best I can suggest is to take @Matt's advice -- start checking the Cruise Planner at least once a week and see what the prices are for the DBP and whatever else you might want to purchase; if the price looks good, snap it up and then keep checking for any sales or other promotions that drop the price. You can always cancel and re-buy with no penalty, so this is a way to lock in what you really want before prices potentially spike closer to sailing date.

If your sailing does get canceled, all CP purchases will be refunded to you automatically. With the sailing only five months away, that's not an awfully long time to be without that money if you're comfortable making the purchases ahead of time. Especially if you end up waiting a bit. And Royal has gotten much better with processing cancellation refunds quickly -- the sailing that I canceled just over two weeks ago has had all refunds processed and returned to my card.

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3 hours ago, pezzy669 said:

3) Cruise planner extras booking time.   Myself and my partner are planning on doing the deluxe beverage package (not sure about our friends),  and we all are planning on at least 1 shore excursion in Cozumel.   My planning personality wants to book it all ASAP so I can put it in the back of my mind until December, but then I step back and say 'what if shutdown causes cruise to be scrubbed'.    Should I bit the bullet and go for it or wait to get closer to departure? 

It’ll be interesting to see if Tampa will be one of the cruise ports that would re-open early in the relaunch process...

Given that you’ll be able to see if any of the traditional Black Friday sale prices will hit your Cruise Planner shortly before your sail date, why not wait until November before buying any onboard package?

The shore excursion could be booked ahead of time through the CP though, as those prices don’t tend to budge, and they could be operating at reduced capacity (so fewer spaces.) - my 2 cents.

 

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22 hours ago, pezzy669 said:

2) Brilliance of the Seas activities.   RC website is really not that great in showing what each ship offers and does not,   have found while looking at the portion for Brilliance it shows some activities that I don't believe are available on that boat.   I know its mid-age for the RC fleet so does not have all the newest and best things but I can't really find anywhere to figure out what it does actually have.   Our traveling group age range is 30-42.  

Read a past Cruise Compass for a good idea of what will be offered onboard: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/cruise-compass?ship=286

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We did Brilliance out of Tampa in December 2018. We like this class of ship. As others mentioned, the cruise compasses that have been uploaded will have the info. We actually got fogged in in Tampa so left the dock 24 hours late and skipped Grand Cayman and only did Cozumel. My wife and daughter swam with dolphins and didn't like it a little bit. My son and I went to a place that had 13 zip lines that ended with a zip in to the water and then paddled and swam through caves. I would do that again!

 

 

 

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You'll be sailing out on my birthday. :27_sunglasses: I haven't been on many sailings, but I remember being nervous about my first one. You will be pleasantly surprised about how nice it is and how little you feel the ship moving. Knowledge is power and there are many on here that can give you lots of it. I applaud you for being brave and facing your fears! Take a look at all of Matt's videos on YouTube. He has lots of knowledge there. If you don't have a travel agent, I recommend that you get one if you still can. Go ahead and plan everything you need and if cruises are canceled you will get your money back. If not then you will have a great time!

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Hello.  We did Brilliance from Tampa in January 2018 with stops in Key West and Cozumel.  It was our first cruise and it was also a freebie since I had won the cruise from the Powerball lottery. 🤑🤪. Now all I want to do is cruise!  My suggestion regarding your rooms...yes call Royal and make sure you have your friend with you.  With both of you together you should be able to talk to someone and make a request.   If close rooms are available I am sure Royal will try to accommodate you!  Also...keep checking online for sales...as long as you are before your final payment date you can get any lower prices available.  I have a group of 32 family and friends booked for April 2021 and since the original booking in March we have saved several thousand bucks total on the rooms...even changed a few from balcony to junior suites!  I am a bit obsessive and check at least once a day 😳.   Also cruise planner sales occur from time to time and yes Black Friday is most often awesome for deals!  If you have already booked your drinks and find a lower price you can cancel and rebook for the cheaper!  Again...check from time to time...the few minutes it takes to check just might save you $$$$$.   Happy sailing!

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I've found that their website highlights the ships pretty well as far as finding out what's available on each ship - just go to the website, and at the top (or in the menu bar, depending on if  you are mobile or not, the desktop site offers a better experience, imo, even if it's the same information), and next to "find a cruise" click "ships".  Find the ship that you're interested in learning about and then scroll down to "Things To Do".  The Cruise Planners offer details, but I like to know which bars and restaurants, activities, etc, are on each ship and these offer a bit of detail.

Welcome to the forums!

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Sorry for delay getting back here - work gets crazy during the week.   Thank you all for the excellent recommendations and advice!!   The cruise compass was awesome to kind of get a feel for what to expect.   

RC a couple days ago already discounted a bunch of the "extras" so the drink package went from $65 to $49 so I went ahead and nabbed it at that price,   was not sure if we could do $65/drinks per day so it was kind of mehhhh at that price,   but $49 is potentially doable even factoring in the day in Cozumel.   At worst we may break even but now don't have the $460 expense to deal with coming off the cruise.

We already determined we are going to skip formal night - not feeling like toting around a suit just for one night on vacation.  That kinda stuff is reserved for weddings and work parties,  not to be folded up in a suitcase for a Caribbean vacation.

Again thank you much for the recommends -  the anticipation for the next 140ish days is killing me!   I have an "I'm on a boat" t-shirt on the way for the departure day.          

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Drink packages are on sale today. $46  per day for Deluxe, $20 per day for non alcoholic royal refreshment package Not sure for how long,  You can book a drink package and cancel and rebook at any time.  The cancellation goes directly back to your method of payment and you can use the same or another method of payment for the new drink package booking.  

 

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