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Brilliance Five Night January 6 Sailing


DunkelBierJay
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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.

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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...

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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!

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2 hours ago, Matt said:

What are your dinner plans? MTD? Traditional? Windjammer Curry (aka the @monorailmedic dining plan)?

We may hit Giovanni's one night for dinner. Other than that, we expect to be in the MDR three nights and Windjammer one night (I love curry too). We are booked for Chops lunch on the second sea day...I can't pass up an experience like that for $19 pp. I am particularly interested in seeing what Rita's Cantina is all about (I believe it is still on board). I love Sabor, so it may be a bad comparison.

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2 hours ago, spiegeje -- DunkelBier_Jay said:

We may hit Giovanni's one night for dinner. Other than that, we expect to be in the MDR three nights and Windjammer one night (I love curry too). We are booked for Chops lunch on the second sea day...I can't pass up an experience like that for $19 pp. I am particularly interested in seeing what Rita's Cantina is all about (I believe it is still on board). I love Sabor, so it may be a bad comparison.

I'd love to see photos of the MDR dinner menu.  I'm trying to figure out if Brilliance has the new or old MDR dinner menu.

The rub on Rita's has been it's fine for drinks at the bar, but the food is not great (see link below).

1 hour ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Brilliance still has Rita's ?  I thought it was just Radiance that still had Rita's.

Yes, and when I went on Brilliance in November 2015 it was awful

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2015/12/09/review-ritas-cantina-brilliance-of-the-seas

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Just got off Brilliance Jan 6. They still have Rita. The curry was great in the Windjammer every day for lunch and dinner. The ship is awesome. I booked another cruise and was given 350 off for next cruise. I booked a 6 day junior suite cruise. Went to the diamond lounge every morning and evening. The lounge is relaxing and never felt crowded. I met a man who took 32 cruises last year. He's on the another b2b cruise. 

 

 

 

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57 minutes ago, Sweety said:

Just got off Brilliance Jan 6. They still have Rita. The curry was great in the Windjammer every day for lunch and dinner. The ship is awesome. I booked another cruise and was given 350 off for next cruise. I booked a 6 day junior suite cruise. Went to the diamond lounge every morning and evening. The lounge is relaxing and never felt crowded. I met a man who took 32 cruises last year. He's on the another b2b cruise. 

 

 

 

Was his name Bill?   I met a guy that cruises like that.  Saw him on Oasis and Harmony.  

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Travel Day and Embarkation Day 1

After wrapping up a few things at work, we headed to the airport for our evening flight to Tampa. 

We landed in Tampa at 9:50 and walked into our hotel room at the Tampa Airport Marriott at 10:10. Nothing is better than walking from your plane to baggage claim to check-in.
 
Getting to the hotel is easy. Adjacent to baggage claim is a bank of red elevators with the name “Sikorsky” above them. Just go back up to level 3 and follow the signs to “Hotel.”
 
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1/06/2018 — Embarkation Day
 
No alarms today, but we woke up at 9, got ready and we’re out the door at 10. 
 
Our ride share arrived at 10:30, and that was the longest wait of the morning. 
 
We arrived at Terminal 6 at 10:50 and were on board by 11:03. Here was a slight snafu with my SeaPass card bringing up my photo as I scanned in, so security had to retake my photo instead of kicking me off. Whew. 
 
Now, to Deck 11
 
Windjammer
 
In all of my Royal Caribbean cruises to date, have yet to have found honey stung chicken anywhere. My wait ended today!
 
I grabbed Honey stung chicken, zucchini salad and rice biryani, and all three were delicious!
 
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The Windjammer was bustling, so instead of braving the chilly weather on the open deck by Rita’s Cantina at the back, we headed forward to the Solarium and celebrated Embarkation with Kraken Lava Flows...slurp!
 
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After muster, I went to the helipad and hung out for sail away, and was able to see and be seen on Michael Poole’s Periscope (mpoole3) as I waved his way!
 
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A little after 4:30, we went to the Pub to watch the Titans play the Chiefs. We lasted until the Titans were down 21-3 only to find out as we headed to dinner that they came back and won! 
 
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After resting and cleaning up, we headed to the Main dining Room for dinner. 
 
I ordered
 
Shrimp cocktail
Horseradish encrusted salmon
Coffee ice cream
(Really good iced tea)
 
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This concludes a great Embarkation day. Next will Be Day 2 at sea...we’re rocking it as I prepare this post, and our day in grand Cayman. Thanks for reading!

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3 hours ago, JLMoran said:

Are the Bass Ale and Guinness on tap, or just cans/bottles? I'm guessing the latter, given @twangster's posts from Anthem with its "more modern" pub. Just wondering if a Black & Tan is an option on board.

Like all the pics and the summary! Definitely looking forward to reading about the rest of the cruise!

Thanks for the kind words. I snapped a pic of the tap on day 1...D1F8108E-ACF9-490A-BD44-DD8654F2B8FA.thumb.jpeg.4acadc05cbf4d0f798314869a4d700f0.jpeg

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Day 2
 
We woke to a rocking ship with whitecaps outside. Queeziness is not welcome, so I popped a ginger candy and went to the Windjammer to drink water and eat. 
 
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Our Assistant waiter, Ludmilla (Milla) is Ukrainian and is as sweet as can be. I remembered some Ukrainian words fro a past life, and said дякую (thank you) for bringing me some iced tea the night before. She made a point to have me come to the omelet station in the Windjammer, and she would take care of us. Here’s the best omelet I have had on a ship! ⬆️
 
After lounging around the AstroTurf deck just forward of the spa for a couple hours, lunch #1 was calling, so I grabbed a cheeseburger and topped it off some soft serve and a couple eclairs. 
 
Lunch#2 was a serving of some Irish stew in the Pub. That was all I needed for the day, but you guessed it, I kept eating after the headliners show. 
 
Headliner — Joe Grimm — blues who won America’s Got Talent In year five. He performed a lot of Otis Reading and some other bluesy numbers with the ship orchestra and did some numbers with his wife. He said it was his second cruise, and it was noticeable that he was bothered by the rocking of the ship...he still soldiered in and out on a great performance. Please take a look at the Periscope that I posted last night for more of you like. @DunkelBier_Jay
 
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Dinner was in the Main dining Room followIng the Captain’s message in the Centrum. 
 
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Melon and yogurt
Spinach and shrimp ravioli
Pistachio ice cream and coffee
 
After dinner, we had ambitions of dancing, but we were beat, so we called it a night. 
 
The next post post will be of our day in Grand Cayman which we finished just before I finished this post. I’ll do my best to get it posted before Alabama and Georgia plays tonight. There’s a lot of buzz about the game around the ship, and I feel like there’s a lot of hate for the Tide aboard, so we will proudly wear our Crimson!
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21 minutes ago, spiegeje -- DunkelBier_Jay said:

We woke to a rocking ship with whitecaps outside. Queeziness is not welcome, so I popped a ginger candy and went to the Windjammer to drink water and eat. 

Was this a pro-active move? Or were you already feeling the effects?

The only cruise we've experienced sea sickness was on Brilliance a few years ago.

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1 hour ago, Matt said:

Was this a pro-active move? Or were you already feeling the effects?

The only cruise we've experienced sea sickness was on Brilliance a few years ago.

I prefer ginger candies and green apples to bonine, so I always have them nearby. I was fairly dehydrated when I woke up, and I was feeling it. A glass of water and a ginger candy took care of it so I could have a great breakfast. I felt queezy on Empress one night and a little on enchantment a few years ago. For me, if I stay hydrated, I usually keep it at bay. 

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The alarm went off entirely toooooo early. The ship arrived in Grand Cayman at 7:00, and yes, we were in the Windjammer at that time eating one of Ludmilla’a omelets. 

We were off the ship by 8:15 and the three block walk to Cayman Auto Rentals commenced after some scoping on the tender. ECA9EAD7-3012-457D-BE41-82785DC877B4.thumb.jpeg.acfe2d8ad46e19a48c915cc0a8c415c4.jpeg3B475AC6-7531-42D7-83D1-12B917DB41F0.thumb.jpeg.f2668ea7f1fbcb5ce2d1347ce89b72dd.jpeg

We rented a Kia Rio after I REALLY wanted a Jeep, but for $50 more, what do you really get. 

 

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Driving in the Cayman’s was much easier before the explosion in hotels, cars and people over the last twenty years. So, gps was the best thing ever since driving on the left side of the road is a rare occurrence, and there are about three round-a-bouts for every traffic light on the island. 

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We pulled into Crystal Caves’ parking lot and redeemed our ticket and waited to board busses to take us into the forrest where a gift shop, nasty poison ivy that grows up in the air and can melt your skin off as well as the famous crystal caves. 

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I took oil far too many pics to share in this live blog, so I’ll spare you just like I’ll spare you pics of my kids when they were babies. At the end of the tour, I told our guide, Robert that we planned on going to Rum Point and what should we order there. He said get nachos and a Mudslide, but if we wanted authentic island food, go to Over the Edge for steamed fish and CayBrew. It was only a quarter mile west of where we were, so we changed up our plans  we did not regret it!

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mid you ever find yourself on the North Side Of Grand Cayman, Over the Edge would be a great choice for a meal  

After spending some time on the deck “over the edge,” we decided to head back to Georgetown and turn in the car. We topped off the tank on the way $4.42/gallon and dropped it off without a hitch. As we were walking back, there is a Cuban cigar store where I bought a few.

Fatigue was setting in from the walking at Crystal Caves (a little over a mile), the huge meal, and lack of sleep. The ship was rocking last night, and our cabin creeks like crazy in heavy seas.

We changed into swimsuits and headed to the Solarium to get in the pool and snooze a little.

*I found something!*

i must have walked by it a half dozen times, but Park Café is in essentially two separate spots on board  there’s an assemble your own salad station which I was aware of, but there’s also a sandwich and proteins section. What did they have that I haven’t tried in a Royal Caribbean ship?

The Kummelwick! I grabbed one in a frenzy of anticipation. 

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In the next post, I will wrap up our evening and share about our day in Cozumel. Thanks for reading!

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15 hours ago, twangster said:

Drat, out of reactions for the day.  

However great pictures and post.  I have a new destination to explore on GC.

How was the KummelWeck?  ( A fav of mine) 

I really enjoyed the Kummelwick. I had it with horseradish.  I will try it with mustard next time, and I look forward to comparing it with my trip on Allure this summer. 

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5 hours ago, Matt said:

Looks like a great day in Grand Cayman!

How's the air temperatures been during your cruise? Warm enough for swimming?

In the Cayman’s the air temp was in the 80s. I heard he water was a little cold. The water in the Solarium has been fine all along. In Cozumel, it’s fine after the initial shock. 

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On 1/8/2018 at 11:33 AM, JLMoran said:

Are the Bass Ale and Guinness on tap, or just cans/bottles? I'm guessing the latter, given @twangster's posts from Anthem with its "more modern" pub. Just wondering if a Black & Tan is an option on board.

Like all the pics and the summary! Definitely looking forward to reading about the rest of the cruise!

That's a sad beer list; I wonder if the bartender knows how to make a Bumblebee.

 

Loving the blog!!!

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51 minutes ago, spiegeje -- DunkelBier_Jay said:

I really enjoyed the Kummelwick. I had it with horseradish.  I will try it with mustard next time, and I look forward to comparing it with my trip on Allure this summer. 

The Kummelwick sandwich is the best. I love eating it on my balcony looking over the horizon.

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Wrapping Up Day 3 and Day 4 in Cozumel

After the delicious Kummelwick, we cleaned up and went to the matinee production of Showtime, the Broadway review show on board. It was what one would expect, and if you like showtimes, it’s a fun show. I especially liked the three ABBA songs that concluded it as shown by how weepy I get every time I hear ABBA. I don’t understand why except that it brings me back to the years when I crushed on Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad.

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The next decision was pivotal. As usual, missing out on our waitstaff interaction is a serious thing for us. We’ve grown quite attached to Arturo and Liudmylla. We didn’t want them to think we were cheating on them eating someplace else. 

*confession — we did*

The national championship game was being shown in the main theater and the pool, and the crew put on a big production for the guests with hamburgers, hot dogs, buckets of beer, and a cake for halftime. 

3181D67D-EDB4-43FA-8218-E99964988C73.thumb.jpeg.f4d66f403df9a55e3e5adc2f56002f31.jpegMy Crimson Stripe beer brought good luck!

Day 4 in Nachi Cocom

I looked at the prospect of Cozumel with a little fear with seven ships in port. Geeky Jay looked up what was in port and totaled the capacities to get a potential of about 21,000 people in port. 

We docked with the Liberty and it was fun seeing the passengers in the two ships wave at each other. 

Since VOOM went down at this point, instead of scoping, I did a time lapse of our vessel coming alongside. I’ll put a link to it when I upload it to YouTube later...VOOM issues

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Nachi Cocom

The Intenrational Pier, for those who have been there, know that it is a maze of shops with people begging you to come into them. It was crazy busy when we navigated to the taxi stand. Fortunately, there was no line for taxis, and we were on our way in no time  

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For lunch we ordered the shrimp and rice and enchiladas verde.

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We ordered from this menu. I’m not sure what a burguer is. They haven’t updated it since the last time I was here, and that’s no problem at all. The food is really good. AB55BEE6-9447-4711-8126-E4FB23EBABAA.thumb.jpeg.883bc11bf5abcec3b1031113e8b1ac8e.jpeg11D7CE8F-F558-47B8-A794-B6AE370F77A9.thumb.jpeg.6c0a2ed5d152f831403cb4b5de0b46f1.jpeg

Consistent with Matt Hochberg’s new tradition of finding hairy little creatures, I found one too, but there wasn’t any arachnophobia. 396B266A-5473-4725-B405-ABF690BD74E7.thumb.jpeg.bd5da88fca12af585899249e00957ba5.jpeg

Jose (Joseph), our waiter told us they don’t mind the big hairy tarantulas, but they don’t like these little raccoons because they steal. I’ll take my chances with the raccoon. 

After lunch, I went to the hot tub, and was there over two hours. I may or may not have had more piña coladas than I can remember. I paid for it later when I had to wake up from a nap for dinner. 

The trip back to the pier was uneventful, and we got out of the taxi across the street so we could do some shopping. We also saw part of a Mayan pole ceremony.

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1 hour ago, Floski said:

So, did you enjoy Nachi?  I can't wait to get there.  

I also want to go to a grocery store or someplace off the beaten path to look for some tequila.  

Hoping everything works out!

Loved it! The hard part is not booking it on future visits. I want to see the rest of the island!

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54 minutes ago, spiegeje -- DunkelBier_Jay said:

Loved it! The hard part is not booking it on future visits. I want to see the rest of the island!

I know that feeling.  We really enjoyed it last time, but I think when we go to Cozumel next, we are going to do something different just because there's so much to see and do in Cozumel.

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Day 5 — Sea Day

When you pay for several hours in a hot tub losing count of piña coladas, you enter coma land. So, we didn’t venture outside our cabin after dinner. My wife watched a movie while I nursed a serious hangover until I finally fell asleep. I woke up and felt ok, and wandered the ship while most were still asleep. 

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I took some video on my GoPro and will post a link in a wrap up after I have had a chance to edit it a little. 

After the walk, we went to the main dining room for breakfast, which hadn’t yet done on this cruise. I always like talking to the people we sit with in the MDR at breakfasts, and wish we had done it a little more on this sailing. 

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although it isn’t on this menu, eggs Benedict was available, and that’s what I ordered. I seriously don’t think I ever order it on land, but it’s my default at sea for some reason. 

Following breakfast, I was concerned about still being too full to enjoy Chops lunch, so I headed to the gym to burn some calories. It might all be in my head, but no one can convince me it didn’t help, because Chops was amazing. I cannot think of a better value than pre-booking Chops lunch on the cruise Planner for $19 each  

8E8363C7-EF81-4FB9-8CC0-A373B3CC2C53.thumb.jpeg.a21e93a8d34daab1e9916e0585e3a864.jpegMushroom Soup — OMG

80AEAB2C-4723-4946-974A-AB434DE33599.thumb.jpeg.7178f0fae2332d8470ada2b6adedf8c7.jpegFilet cooked medium — Perfection

I paired it with a Malbec from Argentina which was nice, and dessert was warm chocolate cake with raspberries and vanilla ice cream. 

Next, it is to the pool deck to waste away the food coma. 

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The next post will wrap up the last sea day, List some final takes and hopefully include links to some video if anyone is interested. 

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