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Brilliance of the Seas / March 18 - 23, 2023


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Still waiting to leave in Grand Cayman, we’re 50 minutes late so far. Saw someone get disembarked to a waiting flashing vehicle on shore. Hope they’re okay! I actually saw the family waving her off from their cabin. They seemed cheerful and no one was in a stretcher when the tender landed. (Thank you, binoculars) 



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Sea day today and it’s finally a looovely day. This ship has rocked way more than any cruise I’ve been on, even worse than the Pacific! Even people we’ve been meeting with 50+ cruises under their belts agree it’s the worst. But today we’re cruising along as expected. 

Back to Cozumel! 

We met our excursion at the Royal Shopping Center across from the International cruise terminal. The other group never showed so we got another private tour! We were riding in a vintage Meyers Manx dune buggy that would NOT have been sanctioned by Royal due to the lack of speedometer and the gear would pop out after big bumps. 😂 Still super fun and we made it back in one piece. We cruised south past all the resorts I see you guys mention on these blogs, Paradise Beach looking best from the front gate impression alone hahah. We made it to the Southern most point, Punta Sur, and entered the Eco Park on a hunt for crocs. 






Unfortunately none were to be seen since they don’t actively feed them, better meals to be found elsewhere! Still beautiful though. 

This is essentially a Mayan speaker! Wind would whistle through the top acting as a navigational tool. 



After this was a trip up the Faro (lighthouse) Ceralain. Suuuuch nice sweeping views after the strenuous hike up the stairs. The door at the lantern is tiny so you have to squat down on all fours to get outside at the top. Worth it! 



Please enjoy the Marry Me driftwood with the NO response. 





Two $11 tequila shots later we were driving to the beach for lunch and hanging. We were also going to snorkel but the water temps left something to be desired. This combined with rainy skies led us to say no thanks to the snorkeling which we’ve done plenty of times. The fresh salsa was amazing! Lunch was good as free lunches go. 




Spent some time in the water after lunch when it warmed up and then we went back on the road seeing the east coast of the island. We went through the center ciudad where most of the locals live and made it back to the cruise port around 2pm. 



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Phew! Made it home but came back to add some more Brilliance pics, thoughts and recap our last day.

After our port day in Cozumel we made it back to the MDR a second time to try out the Mexican Night menu. We had the same table and waitstaff as night one. 



While I absolutely do not advocate for the corn cakes, the “pork enchilada” I can't recommend enough! While it is 100% not a pork enchilada, it isss a very tasty pork burrito in a crispy flour tortilla with sour cream. I ate every bite of this! Of the three desserts we tried (coconut layer cake, tres leches cake and flan) the flan was definitely, and surprisingly the best.


After dinner we hit the casino for a bit. I snagged these quick shifty pics for @Ampurp85 to give you a rough idea of size!



We somehow made one single $20 entertainment charge last on the machines all week! Eventually lost it all on the last night but we were able to bank 40 Club Royale points somehow with just casual nightly play.

After the casino we hung out in the centrum for a bit listening to the violinist who played some fun modern songs with piano accompaniment. image.thumb.jpeg.df63eec5089435a8b7c72a7840f568a4.jpeg 


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The next morning we were in Grand Cayman! We were supposed to anchor and tender from the west side of the island, giving us easy access to the city center but due to winds we ended up anchoring off the south shore instead at Spott’s Landing boat dock. We were able to contact Adventura Cayman about moving our bike rental delivery and were able to pick those up right at the tender dock. The tender operation took foreverrrr and we weren’t able to board one (the first allowing non-excursion guests) until 11:45am. Since the original arrival was supposed to be 10am we lost a good chunk of the day waiting to go ashore but still had a nice time!

On the approach to GC.


Another Holland America ship was already anchored on the west side. Lucky little duckies! 


We grabbed some cocktails at the pool bar to transfer to our insulated tumblers. Pro DBP usage while on shore.




After getting the bikes we had a loooot farther trip to pedal to Hell (the new location added 7 miles of biking before we even got to the original drop off point) so we ended up giving up after 9 miles and lounged for a bit at the lovely Coral Beach along the famed Seven Mile Beach. $10 entry pp but it included chairs in the shade. 

First bike pit stop because the scenery demanded it.


Por queeee??? 🐔


Looking back towards the ship (we anchored with Carnival Pride)


Packing my beach float on my back the entire way. 





Iguana statue almost got me. 


Got a lot of nice ones like this, biking and iPhone photography is a hard combination! 


Coral Beach shady seating area.


There is no seating on the beach due to erosion. Only beach access is by way of staircase. 



Poor floatie-less souls making do out there. 



After a fun $50, 12 minute taxi ride from Georgetown (we gave up and locked up the bikes, 11 miles of biking was enough for one day and my butt is still feeling the effects of this endeavor nearly a week later!!!) we were back in the tender line for 5:15 all aboard. 


When we got back on board the only food available was from the Park Cafe, but after waiting in this lengthy line I finally had my first taste of a Royal Kummelweck. Delicious with gravy! We enjoyed ours on the balcony and waited for sail away. 



Departure ended up being delayed so we got to enjoy a beautiful land-side sunset. 


After this loooong day we decided we didn’t want to do a full MDR dining experience and headed for the Windjammer. It was balmy enough to dine out on the aft deck which is so nice. The 11 biking miles + buffet food coma really set in after dinner and we did not make it out to any of our planned shows. When we returned to the cabin Charles had added a bat to our crew (Splits Bird still seen donning his sunglasses on the table in the background)!


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Casino looks big and I enjoy that you actually like to get out while in port. I too think that pork burrito is one of the best new additions to the menu. I do notice the tortilla seems to change a lot. I had spinach but I saw the regular flour ones in photos.

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On Day 5, as we sailed back to Tampa, we enjoyed a leisurely sea day that began with our usual breakfast trip to the Windjammer. Finding seats was never an issue with all the aft seating. We also liked sitting in the Rita’s Cantina area because of the breeze that flowed through the open windows (and of course bar proximity). 

Towel crew lookin pretty cool!


Somehow snagged a pic of the breakfast WJ without many bodies! 


The biscuits and gravy were a daily fave but since nothing on this ship has much flavor, the green onions came in handy! (Daily omelette not pictured)



After breakfast, we secured some seats on deck 12 overlooking the main pool area and spent some time soaking up the sun, sipping on cocktails at the Sky Bar, and taking dips in the Solarium. It was a day for maximum drink package usage, as we somehow got up to 14 cocktails each! We had a nice view of the always amusing Belly Flop competition, the Cruise Director and Activities Manager give a pretty good commentating performance. They have a very 80’s vibe to them in person and on the morning RCTV show. Funnily, at the Top Tier event the CD asked the crowd how many of us watched the morning show and not one person raised their hand (we were converted from this experience) and he seemed genuinely floored that none of us watched it!! 





After this we packed it up to grab some WJ lunch where there are some of the best views on the ship. Then we took a trip around the Fairways of Brilliance mini golf course which is located on the highest deck with the rock climbing wall. 





As the day wore on, we retreated to our balcony for some quiet time, showered, and got ready for dinner at Giovanni’s.





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24 minutes ago, Ampurp85 said:

I too think that pork burrito is one of the best new additions to the menu. I do notice the tortilla seems to change a lot. I had spinach but I saw the regular flour ones in photos.

I am glad I got the flour, funny no reports of corn since that’s what an enchilada should be made with! Still tasty (and preferable, to me anyway).

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Dinner in Giovanni’s was fantastic. We’d been to the Giovanni’s on Oasis but this meal far exceeded my expectations after having only an okay experience there. We got a perfect window seat and got to watch the sunset throughout the course of the meal. 

The Osso Buco was the standout! We also enjoyed the gnocchi, carbonara and the filet. We thought the filet was actually better than what we had at Chops on previous cruises. For dessert, the chocolate hazelnut was so rich and decadent. Finally a Royal dessert with some flavor! I swear they’re hiding the sugar and butter from the pastry chefs. I would definitely eat at Giovanni’s again although our next cruises will have a Jamie’s instead. 


There was a perfect pole in the way blocking the sun from my face for awhile! 





After dinner we listened to some music in the centrum before heading back to the room to start the sad packing process. 


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man that centrum view is just so pretty 😍

1 hour ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Send some rain south !  We’re burning up down here !

we were in san diego for a week and i swear it rained every. single. DAY. then we flew back home to NJ and the following day was buckets of rain. and today is monsooning (or so it seems) — PLEASE take it!! 😅🫠😂

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14 hours ago, asquared17 said:

we were in san diego for a week and i swear it rained every. single. DAY.

Oh NOOO! I have been loving it!! I felt bad it rained again last week on our dog/house sitter (my MIL) while we were cruising but otherwise I have been welcoming all San Diego deluges from the comfort of my couch! I actually had to learn how to drain our pool, previously I had only ever had to fill it due to evaporation. 😆 

Sorry it messed with your vacation though. Going to the zoo in the rain is usually a good indicator you’ll have the place to yourself! 

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Disembarkation was a breeze. Tampa does not have the facial scanners but the attendants checking passports barely glance at them and you get through pretty quickly. We enjoyed breakfast in the WJ and were out of our cabin by 8:30.

Back where we started. 



Got bird photo bombed by this guy! 



We snagged one of the $10 pp shuttles to the airport because Lyft and Uber were both around $40 but I’m not sure I recommend this mode of travel. They’ll be standing right outside the port doors when you exit. We had a while to wait until our 2pm flight out so we didn’t want to fully commit to going through security when we got there at 9am so we decided instead to hang at the Marriott that’s located at the airport. They have a cafe, great seating indoors and outdoors and an awesome view of the tarmac for entertainment. We sat here enjoying the beautiful day and played gin rummy for awhile before actually entering the airport. I definitely recommend this mode of time wasting! 




Final thoughts! 

We absolutely loved this class of ship which I never thought would happen after having loved our (albeit mid pandemic and way under capacity) cruise on Oasis. All of the bar spaces seem so much bigger than the interior spaces for these same venues on Voyager class and above. The Schooner bar took like 3 minutes to walk all the way through! I so love seeing the sea in all public spaces. Our favorite new venue on this class of ship was the Colony Club with the aft-facing view. This gets me super excited to experience the 270 in Alaska this September! 

We were only able to try 2 nights of the new MDR menus, but I enjoyed both of these meals. Royal continues to have a dessert problem wherein everything we try tastes like nothing! Why?! I see allll this chocolate and whipped cream layers and the bite is literally just like eating texture. WHERE IS THE FLAVOR!!! Main courses are usually corrected with some pepper application but desserts cannot be saved table side hahaha. I do highly recommend the ice creams available in Giovanni’s (vanilla, choc, strawberry) which I failed to mention above. This ice cream was decadent! 

As for the age of this ship, you can definitely see shabbiness if you’re running around looking for things to get upset by. When I stand back and look at overall venues, they are clean and aside from some outdated carpet and fabric patterns, look great! A real Negative Nancy could see this aging example (carpet edges pulling up in Starquest) and tell you the ship is trash but I would say you have to be looking pretty hard to find it. 


The junior suite had these bathroom amenities, I am not sure if they’re the same for all cabins but I assume so? The shampoo smells like peppermint, the conditioner like coconut and the soap smells like an AXE-laden teenage boys underarm. While I brought my own shampoo I really wish I had brought along my own body soap too so I didn’t smell like a high schooler after every shower! 


Because I have seen people ask this, the Brilliance JS has the combo glass/curtain where the curtain doesn’t stretch the whole way and leaves one end of the tub spraying water out onto the floor. 


Once again out here advocating the procurement of European travel adapters which greatly extend your charging capabilities. We went from having 2 outlets to being able to charge 8 items! Please excuse the untidy cable management. 


Goodbye JS 1078! You’ve been good to us. The furnishings in this room are more modern than the JS we had on Freedom. Aside from the ceiling crackling noises which happened every morning without fail, and the large overhang above our balcony from being under the wider 11th deck, I really liked this cabin. 


Only 167 short days to go until Quantum! 🥳

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47 minutes ago, DDaley said:

Oh oops! I meant to link them above. It’s these guys: European Travel Plug Adapter 2 Pack, TESSAN

You did, but you accidentally wrote UK rather than European. I don't remember ever seeing a UK outlet on a Royal Ship, not even on Anthem which sails from the UK.

UK outlets look like this:


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1 hour ago, FionaMG said:

You did, but you accidentally wrote UK rather than European. I don't remember ever seeing a UK outlet on a Royal Ship, not even on Anthem which sails from the UK.

UK outlets look like this:


Oh no! I will edit that right now. Thank you! 

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1 hour ago, brienc said:

Thanks for taking us along! 3 short months before I'll be aboard on the Alaska itinerary

This ship will be amazing for seeing Alaska! Also, all the crew we talked to about it were so excited for the repositioning, none of them had ever been. 

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