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Brilliance of the Seas / March 18 - 23, 2023


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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. 

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)

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. 🤞🏼

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.

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! 

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2 hours ago, FireFishII said:

I have been to Hell, GC and have the T-shirt to prove it.  LOL.

YES, I am definitely in the market for a Hell magnet and shot glass! Would a Hell Christmas ornament be sacrilegious? hahaha

2 hours ago, FireFishII said:

I will be on a cruise this summer to Italy.  Both my husband and I are learning the language.

Oh how wonderful! Everyone seemed to appreciate when I could tack on a thanks, please, excuse me etc in their language. A bartender actually touched her hand to her heart once when I asked for χυμοσ ροδακινο (peach juice!). Seee, I can’t be THAT dumb of a tourist if I went to all this trouble before arrival! 😆

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3 hours ago, brienc said:

We'll be on Brilliance for Alaska in June, so I'm definitely following along for a preview!

I’ve seen people mention this class has a lot more glass looking out to the sea which should be perfect for Alaska! I will try and get some interior photos since we don’t get a lot of small ship action on these blogs.

3 hours ago, JohnK6404 said:

Have an amazing time! Jealous... we have never been to GC! 😎

It was at the top of my Caribbean list just under the ABC islands which are still on the horizon. How could I say no to a place advertising a Seven Mile beach?! (oops just Googled this and found out it’s only 6 miles long, hahaha) 

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17 minutes ago, DDaley said:

I’ve seen people mention this class has a lot more glass looking out to the sea which should be perfect for Alaska! I will try and get some interior photos since we don’t get a lot of small ship action on these blogs.

It was at the top of my Caribbean list just under the ABC islands which are still on the horizon. How could I say no to a place advertising a Seven Mile beach?! (oops just Googled this and found out it’s only 6 miles long, hahaha) 

It was originally on the itinerary for our FEB 2022 Odyssey sailing along with Aruba and Curacao, but it was swapped out for Nassau because GC was still closed to cruise ships back then... one day we'll get there! 😆

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We have boarded this beauty!!! I have been saying “it’s smaller than any ship we’ve been on so far” but it feels faaaar from small. All the walking spaces are huge and bright, so much natural light filtering in from outside. 

Back to this morning. We Ubered from the airport over to the Channelside district where the cruise terminal is and walked around waiting and waiiiiting for the sun to rise. Luckily it did not disappoint once it finally made its appearance. 😯 




We ate some breakfast at the Waterside Grill  and idled around with some breakfast cocktails (or 5am after an all-nighter cocktails depending on how you look at it) waiting for 9:30 when we could finally go to the Florida Aquarium! 





For around $30 this attraction was pretty entertaining and a good use of our Tampa loitering time. Most of the exhibits focus on water fowl, fish and critters from around Florida. The African Penguins section is pretty lame though, waaaay too small for the amount of penguins they have. The otters were a crowd favorite and I could’ve stood there watching them for a lot longer! 


We made it through the whole thing in about 1.5 hours and started our way back to the ship for boarding. Got to the port at 11:10 for our 11:30 boarding and were let right inside, on board by 11:18! 

We caught them loading the vodka just for us 😂


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I am a big Centrum fan, I don’t miss having the Promenade at all. 



Once we boarded we headed to deck 6 for a cocktail from Vintages and a stop by our muster station. We sat in the amazingly large and bright Schooner for awhile watching our SDSU Aztecs in the second March Madness round. 




After some self-leveling pool, we headed to the Windjammer for lunch on the back patio. I looove this layout for the WJ, there is so much additional seating! We were still able to find plenty of seats around 1pm.


Florida Aquarium seen on the right


Chefs Table (please note the chandelier)


After lunch we checked out the pool deck and hung out in the Solarium for awhile. With the covered roof it was so warm in there despite a very breezy day in Tampa. I love the elephant theming! Might be my favorite Solarium (having not tried Quantum class yet). 



All the crew we have encountered have been in great spirits, the vibe on thus ship is so friendly! Just started sailing away now and Serenade isnt far behind. 




Trying to nap a bit before dinner at 6:45. MDR tonight I thiiiink, that red eye is rough. We’ve decided we’re too old to do this long haul again hahah, been up since 5am back on March 17! 😴😴😴

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the centrum!! man radiance class ships are really just stunning 😍 love all the natural light and glass that allows the outside to filter in. loved the themed solarium too 🤩

we liked to watch the dancing and activities below on the ground floor of the centrum from up on a higher deck after dinner each night. 

the crew are usually so attentive and happy; much better pax to crew radio i think, and some have been there for multiple contracts. 

looking forward to the rest of your adventures this week and hearing how the MDR experience is! 

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This ship is seriously so beautiful. I might be a small ship convert?! Although the Icon documentary has been on repeat on RCTV and I also will have to try that behemoth once she goes down in price after a few years. 



We popped by the R Bar and listened to the talent for a bit. He taught the crowd some Spanish to comedic effect - quiero mas cerveza etc 😂

MDR dinner was pretty good in comparison to previous cruises! And we had absolutely amazing servers who I hope we’ll have again on subsequent dinners. 



Look at this table placement!! 

Standouts were the tomato soup appetizer and the southern fried chicken in spicy honey. Pretty tasty! Desserts failed to impress but overall my impression of the first night of the new menu is good! 



Currently waiting for Majority Rules in The Colony Club. Our first Royal game show! 

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2 hours ago, asquared17 said:

we liked to watch the dancing and activities below on the ground floor of the centrum from up on a higher deck after dinner each night. 

Yessss this is suuuch a highlight of this class of ship! I love the centralized performances I can easily pop in on from above. Observin’ HAWK STYLE 🐦 

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After dinner we meandered about a bit, watching some March Madness in the pub and the musicians in the Centrum for a bit. The bassist was impressive. We strolled through the casino but every single slot machine was down at the same time! We took that as a sign to come back at a later time and ended up in the Colony Club for the Majority Rules game show. The hosts were pretty entertaining and our team ended up with only 3 points since the crowd skewed to aligning on pretty lame answers. 

We made it out till 10pm which was very satisfying after such a long day! We have the balcony slider ajar to hear the waves (and because it’s freezing in here) and I can hear some baddd karaoke wafting in! Ahhh vacation bliss ☺️






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3 hours ago, Jamesszy94 said:

going to be interesting to see how she compares to her Oasis

I can only compare to Oasis, Voyager and Freedom class but the one place you can reeeeally feel the size difference is on the pool deck. The one communal pool is small and the area surrounding feels a bit cramped too. The interiors really don’t feel small at all though! 

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Woke up to the ship rocking and rolling! Clocks said 10am but I knew they said we’d have a time change last night so while we slept almost a full 12 hours, we gained one back! Only 9:30am now with plenty of time to find some breakfast before things start closing. 

A little overcast now but hopefully will clear up later! ☀️ 


There is also a funny tapping sound over the entire ceiling that we thought was rain but wouldn’t that only be coming from the balcony? haha Not raining, and still a deck 10 mystery. 

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Apparently it is a somewhat blustery day as all outdoor activities have been moved indoors or rescheduled (like the Belly Flop). We’re hanging in the Solarium now and it retains the warmth nicely. 

This morning after a trip to the WJ, we dropped by the Top Tier event back in the Colony Club. Top sailors had 2022 points! Still havent heard a pax count for this sailing. 



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Had a great day in Cozumel! Just sailed away, leaving Serenade behind us. Gonna do some blog catch up now since we left so early to get to GC tomorrow. 

Yesterday after a rousing game of Bingo we tried our hand at the Corn Hole tournament in Starquest and found our way to the helipad where we saw Serenade following us to Coz. I’ve only ever been to the helipad at night on previous ships so it was really cool to see the bridge and the sweeping views during the day. 





Hellooo sister!


Last night we had dinner in Izumi! The placement of this restaurant feels like such an afterthought. The only way to access it is at the veeery back of deck 12, past the kids pool area and we definitely got pretty wet on the 3 minute voyage since it was raining fairly hard by then. We got two rolls, Tonkotsu ramen and teriyaki. I don’t remember the rolls being only 4 pieces on any other ship. It was the only time I’ve eaten sushi and haven’t been stuffed full afterwards! I continue to like the Izumi mochi even if the skin is a little on the thick side. 


The funny part of this meal was the overhead speaker completely going insane and crackling with a loud static noise for the last 15 minutes or so of the meal. The manager was going around letting us all know a technician was coming but that he couldn’t fix it. A couple was entering as we were leaving and I wondered what they thought of the ambiance 😅


Bird doing the splits towel art. ¡Ole!


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2 hours ago, Ampurp85 said:

@DDaley  The 4 rolls are a new change to the prefix menu. I too hate that thick skin on the mochi balls dessert. 

Also, your pictures make me really want to sail Brilliance as I love the beauty of the centrum on small ship classes like this. Is the casino big? 

Ohhhh good to know on the 4 pieces. 

To me, yes the casino seemed large! There were enough games that we always find room to sit, even in prime post-dinner hours. The tables area was at leaaast 6+. Certainly not as big as our last trip on Nav but I think big enough to hang in for awhile. We went on a Greek cruise line and the casino was maaaybe 10 machines big and the attendants could watch your every move so possibly my view is skewed from having experienced those horrors. 😱 All the specialty dining and bars feel huge though and all face outward which is such a nice change. 

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Made it to Grand Cayman but we’ve anchored off the south shore instead of the west which has delayed arrival and messed with private excursions. We got in contact with our bike rental and alerted them to the change so 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼 we hope we’ll still get those! Sun is finally shining but all underwater (snorkel/dive/glass bottom) Royal excursions were canceled due to low visibility. 

Falling behind on the blog but will update on our Cozumel adventure later, we loved seeing three sides of that flat thing! 




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18 minutes ago, FireFishII said:

I love that bird doing the splits.  

Me too! He is currently our only towel art but our attendant Charles has let him stay so far! I put sunglasses on him to show our appreciation which may be the reason why he hasn’t been bussed away yet 😂

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