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Royal Caribbean delays restart of troubled cruise ship in Australia

03 Apr 2024

Royal Caribbean has delayed another Brilliance of the Seas cruise in Sydney, Australia.

Brilliance of the Seas

Passengers booked on an April 4th sailing of the cruise ship received an email that the sail date has been pushed back to Sunday, April 7th, 2024.

The ship reportedly started experiencing issues on March 22nd, 2024. 

Passengers shared online that Brilliance of the Seas arrived 90 minutes late to Lifou Isle, New Caledonia.

Brilliance of the Seas aft

While the ship was docked at Lifou Isle, crew members allegedly attempted to fix the issue but were unsuccessful.

The sailing was cut short from 11 nights to only 7 nights.

Afterward, Royal Caribbean also cancelled the sailing scheduled for March 30th, 2024, a 5-night itinerary to Tasmania.

Now, Royal Caribbean has sent another email to guests that the April 4th sailing will be rescheduled.

Letter for Brilliance

“While repairs for the technical issue that we encountered on one of our previous sailings were completed, during routine testing, we discovered that we’re going to need some extra time to get the ship ready for you,” the email reads.

The cruise line stated that Sunday, April 7th is the earliest date Brilliance of the Seas was able to obtain a terminal in the Port of Sydney.

Because of this delay, the cruise’s embarkation date will have to be pushed back, and the itinerary changed.


The email went on to extend apologies to guests who may be disappointed: “We are terribly sorry for this last-minute change."

“We understand this news is disappointing, but we hope you’ll join us on the alternate itinerary planned below.”

At the time of the publishing of this article, CruiseMapper showed Brilliance of the Seas was sailing on its way to Sydney, Australia.

The cruise ship’s original planned itinerary was to leave Sydney on April 4th and spend two days at sea, followed by stops at Noumea, New Caledonia, Lifou Isle, New Caledonia, and Mystery Island, Vanuatu.

After two more sea days, the 8-night cruise was then intended to return to Sydney, Australia on April 12, 2024.

The new itinerary will now only last 5 nights, and visit Hobart, Tasmania for two consecutive days.


“Prepare for your time in Hobart,” Royal Caribbean’s email said, advising guests that the temperatures would run in between 16°-19°C (61°-66°F) and that passengers should pack warm clothing.

If guests do not make a response, they will automatically remain booked on the now-April 7th sailing of Brilliance of the Seas.


Similar to the previous cancellation of a Brilliance of the Seas cruise, guests will receive the following compensation for the inconvenience and shortening of their cruise:

  • A 50% refund of the cruise fare paid as Onboard Credit.
  • A Future Cruise Credit (FCC) in the value of 50% of your cruise fare paid and sent to the guest’s email
  • A refund for any pre-paid shore excursions impacted for Noumea, Lifou, and Mystery Island in the form of Onboard Credit
  • A pro-rated refund for days missed on any packages that are charged daily (such as Beverage, VOOM, and Dining Packages)
  • All bars opened, with drinks at a 50% discounted price
  • Guests who purchased beverage packages will have 50% of the package cost refunded as Onboard Credit
  • Guests who pre-paid their gratuities will receive a prorated refund for the days shortened on the sailing
  • Guests who booked Royal Caribbean flights or transfers will have arrangements rescheduled automatically
  • Any travel change fees reimbursed up to $250 USD for domestic travel and $400 USD for international travel
  • Hotel costs reimbursed up to $250 USD per stateroom, up to three nights before embarkation

Guest Onboard Credits will be available for use anywhere onboard, and any remaining refunds at the end of the sailing will be sent back.

Sydney opera house

Additionally, passengers will receive Crown and Anchor loyalty points for each night of the original sailing, instead of nights actually sailed.

Essentially, they will still receive 8 nights of loyalty points, even though the actual sailing will be 5 nights.

What is the technical issue?

Brilliance of the Seas

Royal Caribbean did not give many details as to what the technical issue is.

In the email sent to guests on Thursday, April 4th, the cruise line referred to it as, “The technical issue that we encountered on one of our previous sailings was completed, during routine testing.”

Passengers who were on the previously cancelled sailing, however, began to speculate.

Brilliance of the Seas

Guests shared that the ship supposedly had an engine problem within the propulsion system.

Brilliance of the Seas would not be the first Radiance-Class ship to have a propulsion issue cancel or delay a sailing.

In September of 2023, Radiance of the Seas had two Alaskan sailings that were cancelled due to unplanned technical problems with the ship’s propulsion system.

However, other guests on Brilliance of the Seas claimed that the ship’s azipods were damaged.

Royal Caribbean uses azipods on their ships to help them rotate 360 degrees while safely maneuvering. 

One Reddit user claimed to be onboard Brilliance of the Seas while sharing, “If you look out the back, we are definitely running on one propeller.”

However, no specific details have been officially announced about what propulsion issues the ship could be experiencing.

Royal Caribbean cancels Australia cruise last minute due to propulsion problem

23 Mar 2024

The current South Pacific sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas is getting cut short due to an unexpected technical issue with the ship’s propulsion. The cruise line has also announced the ship’s following itinerary, scheduled for March 30, 2024, has been cancelled.

According to online reports from passengers aboard Brilliance of the Seas, the ship has encountered technical issues while sailing from Australia to the Eastern Melanesia Islands. This forced Royal Caribbean to cut the sailing short. Due to the anticipated repair times, the subsequent itinerary is also cancelled.

Brilliance of the Seas departed from Sydney, Australia on March 19, 2024 and was set to sail for 11 nights. The original itinerary was meant to be a South Pacific sailing with five ports of call throughout New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

The ship did arrive for her scheduled stop in Lifou Isle, New Caledonia on March 22, 2024. Reportedly, Brilliance of the Seas arrived 90 minutes late due to the technical issue, requiring the ship to sail at a much slower speed than normal.

beach in Mystery Island Vanuatu

Crew members allegedly attempted to fix the issue while Brilliance of the Seas was docked in Lifou Isle, but to no avail. Now, the sailing will not be visiting Noumea in New Caledonia or its scheduled stops in Vanuatu, which included the ports of Mystery Island, Port Vila and Luganville.

Brilliance of the Seas was originally scheduled to arrive back in Sydney, Australia on March 30, 2024. Now, the 11-night sailing on Brilliance of the Seas has been cut short to 7 nights with only one port stop. The ship is now scheduled to arrive in Sydney on the evening of March 26, 2024 at 8pm.

In addition, Royal Caribbean has cancelled the March 30, 2024 sailing on Brilliance of the Seas due to the unplanned maintenance, which was a 5-night itinerary to Tasmania. Guests were notified of the cancelled cruise today, March 23, in an email sent from Royal Caribbean.

Compensation Details

Sydney opera house

In a letter to guests onboard the current sailing, Royal Caribbean detailed the maintenance issue. Also, the cruise line provided information regarding compensation that guests will be provided due to the unfortunate fate of their sailing.

“As the captain previously shared, Brilliance of the Seas is experiencing a technical issue resulting in the ship being required to sail at a much slower speed. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to make our scheduled calls for the remainder of our sailing. Please note, our ship remains seaworthy and safe as we have redundancies in place to keep us sailing,” stated the letter.

All guests will receive the following compensation due to the shortened itinerary:

  • 50% refund of paid cruise fare, to be paid as onboard credit
  • Future Cruise Credit worth 50% of original cruise fare paid
  • Refund of all pre-paid shore excursions for Noumea, Mystery Island, Port Vila and Luganville, to be paid as onboard credit
  • Opened up bars with 50% off all drinks, along with a 50% refund to those who pre-purchased drink packages
  • Complimentary internet and phone access. Prorated refund for pre-paid internet packages
  • Reimbursement for travel fees up to $250 USD for domestic travel and $400 USD for international travel
  • Hotel reimbursement of $250 USD per stateroom, per night, for up to 3 nights

Cancelled Sailing

In the communication sent to guests on the March 30 itinerary, Royal Caribbean stated, “As you know, Brilliance of the Seas experienced a technical issue on its last sailing, and we’re returning early to begin required maintenance. Our crew has started working on restoring the system and we’re deploying the best experts.”

Further, Royal Caribbean states that despite the cruise line’s best efforts, the needed repairs to fix the technical issue will not be done in time for the next sailing on Brilliance of the Seas. Because of these repairs, Royal Caribbean has to cancel the March 30, 2024 sailing.

Brilliance of the Seas was scheduled to sail from Sydney, Australia on a 5-night itinerary to Hobart, Tasmania. The impacted passengers are receiving a 100% refund for the sailing. In addition, Royal Caribbean is issuing a 50% Future Cruise Credit for impact guests to be used within one year on a future sailing.

Attempted repair

Guests currently sailing on Brilliance of the Seas have been sharing the ill-fated itinerary on social media, including posts on Facebook, Reddit and TikTok.

As mentioned above, one guest onboard Brilliance of the Seas reported that the ship arrived 90 minutes late to its first port of call in Lifou Isle, New Caledonia. Supposedly, guests were told the late arrival was due to headwinds.

Following the port stop, crew members apparently attempted to repair the propulsion issue while the ship docked in Santa Bay, New Caledonia. Passengers onboard stated that Brilliance of the Seas began sailing away from the Melanesia Islands, which was unusual. At the time, no announcement had been made regarding itinerary changes.

beach on Lifou Loyalty Island

Rumors onboard supposedly began circling among passengers about the ship having a potential engine problem with the propulsion system. Others mentioned that the ship allegedly experienced damage to its azipods. Azipods can rotate 360-degrees and are used to propel cruise ships, allowing the vessel to safely maneuver.

While attempting to repair the propulsion issue, guests reported an announcement was made that their next port of call, Noumea, was canceled. It was unclear at the time if there would be further impacts to Brilliance’s itinerary, although guests onboard noticed the onboard app was showing unplanned sea days for the remainder of the itinerary.

Further, guests reported that Brilliance of the Seas started to sail to Sydney, Australia and away from the remaining ports of call on the ship’s scheduled itinerary. CruiseMapper was also showing Sydney, Australia as the next port of call for Brilliance of the Seas. At the time, no announcement had been made by the ship’s captain regarding the situation.

Brilliance of the Seas pool deck

As the ship began sailing away from the South Pacific islands, guests reported that the captain made a much-needed announcement confirming the new shortened itinerary. In the announcement, the captain supposedly stated that guests would receive letters in their staterooms regarding the matter. In the letter, compensation would be discussed and guests would be provided with more details about the unplanned change.

“Running on one propeller”

chairs on back of Oasis Class ship

According to online reports, guests feel understandably disappointed and upset regarding the situation; in particular, passengers said there was little communication shared until hours after the ship began sailing back towards Sydney, Australia.

One user on Reddit - who is apparently onboard Brilliance of the Seas now - shared, “If you look out the back, we are definitely running on one propeller.”

Another report from a guest online said the Captain explained how the propulsion issue is limiting Brilliance of the Sea’s ability to turn correctly. “So we can go forwards and backwards, but we will need a tug or some manual intervention to turn,” shared the user.

Radiance of the Seas azipod

Brilliance of the Seas is now sailing back to Sydney at reduced speed and will take three sea days to arrive back in Australia.

Not many details are available regarding the specific issue with Brilliance’s propulsion system. At this time, all we know the ship’s propulsion is damaged in some way. Brilliance of the Seas has two azipods, which are used to help rotate the ship while maneuvering. The use of azipods has been standard for Royal Caribbean within the last decade.

Scheduled itineraries

Auckland, New Zealand

Brilliance of the Seas has spent the last few months sailing from Sydney, Australia with itineraries to the South Pacific, Tasmania, Fiji and New Zealand.

Currently, Brilliance of the Seas is scheduled to cruise on an 8-night itinerary to the South Pacific islands on April 4, 2024. This is the last round-trip itinerary from Sydney, Australia before Brilliance of the Seas begins her repositioning journey back to North America.

On April 12, 2024, Brilliance of the Seas is scheduled to begin her transpacific sailing from Sydney, Australia to Hawaii with stops in Tahiti and New Zealand. Throughout the summer and into early fall, Brilliance of the Seas is scheduled to sail itineraries around Alaska.

Currently, the only impacted sailing for Brilliance of the Seas is the cancelled itinerary on March 30, 2024. It’s unclear at this time if more cruises will be cancelled due to the propulsion issue.

Prior propulsion issues

Radiance in dry dock

Brilliance of the Seas is not the first ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet to have propulsion issues impact sailings. In fact, sister-ship Radiance of the Seas had ongoing propulsion issues back in September 2023. Both of these ships are Radiance class ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet. Both ships were built back in the early 2000s, making them more than 20-years-old today.

Back in September 2023, Radiance of the Seas had two Alaskan itineraries cancelled due to unplanned technical issues with the ship’s propulsion. Guests had already boarded the ship for their scheduled itinerary on September 1, 2023 only to find out the sailing would be cancelled due to repairs needed with the propulsion system.

Radiance of the Seas

Before Royal Caribbean cancelled sailings on Radiance of the Seas, guests on the prior itinerary had stated hearing strange noises overnight while the ship was sailing to Seward, Alaska. 

While Royal Caribbean intended to conduct the subsequent sailing on September 8, 2023, that sailing was also cancelled due to the maintenance problem. The cruise line stated at the time that repairs for the ship were taking longer than anticipated.

I spent 10 days in a 170 square foot windowless cabin for $202 per night: take a look inside my Brilliance of the Seas stateroom

02 Jan 2024

Deciding which cabin to book for a Royal Caribbean cruise can seem daunting. With so many cabin categories available, from small interior cabins to multi-story suites, it’s helpful to get an idea of what each type of cabin offers.

Brilliance of the Seas interior cabin

On my most recent Royal Caribbean cruise, I booked a 170 square foot interior cabin on Brilliance of the Seas, a Radiance Class cruise ship that launched in 2001.

The total cost of my interior cabin for a South Pacific itinerary on Brilliance of the Seas was $2,018. This included taxes, fees, and gratuities for two people in the cabin, which brought the cost to $1,009 per person. Because the cruise was ten nights long, the price per night was around $202, or $101 per person, per night.

Brilliance of the Seas interior cabin

Initially I was a bit skeptical to spend ten nights in a tiny interior cabin, as I had never taken a cruise over seven nights long before. In fact, I even considered upgrading to an oceanview or balcony room, but ultimately decided against it. Saving money on my cruise fare enabled me to spend more on extras like shore excursions and even an additional post-cruise night in my disembarkation port of Sydney, Australia.

Related: I spent $3,214 on a 10-night Royal Caribbean cruise. Here’s what everything cost, from my $1,273 flight to $230 catamaran tour

While my windowless cabin was certainly nothing luxurious, it quickly became a cozy place to call home on Brilliance of the Seas. Let’s take a look inside.

Brilliance of the Seas interior cabin

My interior cabin had a king-sized bed, which was two twin-sized beds pushed together. The bed took up the majority of this area of the cabin, with just a small amount of space on each side of the bed.

A nightstand with a drawer and a nightlight were placed on each side of the bed, too. The master lights could be controlled via a switch on just the left bedside, with the stateroom’s telephone on the right.

Brilliance of the Seas interior cabin

My friend and I later had the bed separated into twin beds. Each bed was pushed to the wall and our nightstands were placed in the middle. By doing so, our cabin seemed to have more walking space, as the space on each side of the king bed was combined together in the middle between the two twin beds.

While my cabin was quite small, I appreciated the fact that we had a couch. Some interior cabins on Royal Caribbean ships only feature a small chair, and this is never ideal when both guests want to relax in the cabin without sitting on the bed.

couch in Brilliance of the Seas cabin

Like all Royal Caribbean cabins, my Brilliance of the Seas cabin also featured a desk and vanity space. In this space was a desk with seven drawers along with a television, cooler, and additional shelving. I found the desk chair comfortable when getting ready for dinner in front of the mirror or working at my computer.

Brilliance of the Seas interior cabin

There were two North American-style outlets and two European-style outlets at my cabin’s desk. Because Brilliance of the Seas is an older Royal Caribbean ship, you will not find outlets by the bedside or elsewhere in the cabin.

While I do prefer charging my phone by my bed, I still found the amount of outlets adequate in the cabin. Bringing a European plug adapter ensured I could take advantage of all four outlets, too, and this was an essential item to pack for my sailing.

Related: 40 essential things to bring on a cruise

Brilliance of the Seas interior cabin

Depending on your cruise market, a kettle may be available in the cabin. Cruises from Australia and the United Kingdom, for instance, typically place a kettle on your ship’s vanity or dresser.

Above the television was a safe along with two additional shelves. Because of the amount of storage elsewhere in the cabin, though, I did not have a need for these extra shelves. Instead, I stored the cabin’s kettle in this area so it was out of the way for the sailing.

Brilliance of the Seas interior cabin

Below the television was a mini cooler, which came empty. Using the cooler was helpful during our cruise, whether to store beverages like Powerade and water bottles before a port day or to store fruit and desserts I brought back to my cabin.

Brilliance of the Seas interior cabin

Next to the vanity, closest to the cabin’s door, was a closet.

Brilliance of the Seas interior cabin

Inside the closet were six shelves along with ample space for hanging clothes. If you would prefer to use your cabin’s vanity drawers for storing belongings like snorkel gear and electronics, you should find more than enough space in the closet to unpack your clothing.

Being an older ship, I expected storage space in the cabin to be lacking, but I did not find this to be the case whatsoever, and there were more than enough shelves and drawers to fit my belongings, both in the vanity and closet.

Brilliance of the Seas interior cabin

It’s not a cruise from Australia if you don’t bring a pack of Tim Tams with you to the cabin, and these delightful cookies had a permanent spot in my cabin’s cabinet (until they were gone, of course).

Brilliance of the Seas interior cabin

Related: What surprised me on my first Australia cruise

My cabin had a private bathroom, and while not very spacious, it was well maintained given the ship’s age.

Like the rest of the cabin, the bathroom also had storage space, with shelving behind the mirrors for toiletries, hair styling tools, and makeup.

Brilliance of the Seas interior cabin

The shower had a cloth curtain, and while a combination body wash and shampoo was provided, I recommend bringing your own body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. Additionally, there were two small shelves in the shower.

Brilliance of the Seas interior cabin

Overall, I found my Brilliance of the Seas cabin to be comfortable during my ten night stay onboard. I found the cabin better maintained than the cabin I stayed in last year on sister ship Radiance of the Seas. There did not appear to be much wear and tear in my Brilliance of the Seas cabin compared to her sister ship.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong cabin to book on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Booking an interior cabin could be the perfect choice for those on a budget, but a nightmare cabin for passengers in search of something more opulent.

Having such a tiny cabin encouraged me to spend time elsewhere onboard, allowing me to experience more activities and make friends with fellow passengers during the sailing.

I found my small, windowless cabin to be the perfect place to call home during my cruise.

I spent $3,214 on a 10-night Royal Caribbean cruise. Here's what everything cost, from my $1,273 flight to $230 catamaran tour

18 Dec 2023

Cruises are known for offering an impressive value in a vacation. Food, accommodation, onboard activities, and transportation to various ports is included in guests’ cruise fares, and this is what draws millions of people, including myself, to book cruises every year.

Last month I cruised to the South Pacific from Sydney, Australia, and I spent ten days aboard Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas.

Because it was my first time cruising from Australia, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of my cruise budget, but I hoped I could keep costs relatively low while still maximizing my vacation experience.

In total, I spent $3,214 for my cruise vacation. Here’s what everything cost, from my $1,273 flight to $230 catamaran tour.

*All prices are in US Dollar (USD) unless otherwise noted

I paid $1,009 for my cruise fare, which included all taxes, fees, and gratuities

I booked my South Pacific cruise nearly a year in advance. This meant prices were significantly cheaper than if I had booked just a few weeks or months before the departure date.

For a 10-night cruise, my interior cabin came out to just $2,018, which included all taxes, fees, and gratuities for two guests. As one of my friends joined me on the sailing, we paid just $1,009 each. This was a steal for a 10-night itinerary, bringing the nightly cost to just around $100 per person.

Flying to Australia is not necessarily cheap, but I found prices relatively reasonable. For a round trip flight on Delta from Los Angeles to Sydney, I paid $1,273. I booked the flight around three months before my cruise.

In addition to my flight, I spent around $45 on roundtrip transportation from Sydney’s airport to the city center. While I took the train into the city upon arrival, I decided on an Uber on the way back as it was more convenient with luggage, albeit more expensive.

I spent the night in Sydney before my cruise, and I spent $200 total for a hotel room

It’s always recommended to arrive in your cruise departure city the day before your cruise begins. This allows you to have extra wiggle room in case your flight gets delayed or canceled.

Most flights from the United States to Australia depart at night and arrive in Sydney in the morning. However, because of the time difference between the two countries, you will usually arrive two calendar days after your flight departs.

Related: The costly cruising mistake newbies make planning their first cruise

If your flight leaves Los Angeles at 10:30 PM on November 20, for example, you will not arrive in Sydney until the morning of November 22. Be sure to account for this when planning flights to Australia.

Regardless of when you arrive, you will need to book a pre-cruise hotel for the night before your cruise. I spent $200 to stay at the Holiday Inn Darling Harbour, which was located near the city’s Chinatown neighborhood. While the hotel was not the most luxurious in Sydney—consider the Hilton, Four Seasons, or Shangri-La for a more upscale experience—it provided a comfortable stay before heading to the cruise port the following morning.

I only spent $75 while onboard, but I had $50 onboard credit

One of the aspects I enjoy most about cruising is the fact that you can board a ship and, if you wish, spend absolutely nothing extra while onboard.

When I cruise, I try to stay relatively frugal on the ship. Because I receive five free drinks a day through Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor Society, I rarely spend extra on beverages. And, if I choose to dine at specialty restaurants, I tend to do so for lunch instead of dinner for the lower cover charges.

On my Brilliance of the Seas cruise, I only spent $75 total on top of my cruise fare during my ten days onboard.

On the first evening of the sailing I dined at Chops Grille, Royal Caribbean’s steakhouse, and the cover charge was $50. However, because I had a buy one, get one free deal through my Diamond Plus status, I split the cost with my friend, bringing our meal to just $25 each.

Related: 45 easy ways to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Casino on Royal Caribbean

Additionally, I spent $50 at the casino throughout my cruise, but I spent it far too quickly than I would have liked. After realizing luck was not in my favor, I chose to avoid the casino for the rest of the trip.

By the end of the cruise I had only spent around $75. I dined primarily at the ship’s complimentary venues and attended free activities, which made it easy to keep my expenditure so low.

Additionally, I received $50 onboard credit by booking my sailing through MEI Travel, effectively bringing my overall cost onboard to just $25!

In total, I spent $522 on shore excursions, something out of the ordinary for my cruising style

I rarely book shore excursions in cruise ports. After too many crowded, overly touristy shore excursions, I almost always prefer to explore ports on my own or hire a private guide instead.

Yet when planning my South Pacific cruise, I realized I had no idea how to spend my days in port. I had never been to that region of the world before, and some of the ports, such as Luganville, Vanuatu, are so infrequently visited by cruise ships that I could not find updated information online about the ports.

On our first stop in Lifou, I rented a bicycle for $30 and spent another $7 on an entry ticket to Kiki Beach, one of the most extraordinary beaches I’ve ever seen.

For the following two days in Luganville and Port Vila, Vanuatu, I booked a spot on a private tour of the islands, spending $65 and $105, respectively.

Related: Top 10 cruise ship shore excursion mistakes to avoid

Then, in Mystery Island, I split a private cabana rental for $55 per person and took an hour-long day tour of a nearby island for $30.

Finally, my day in Noumea was the most expensive yet, as I signed up for a spot on a private catamaran charter. For $230 per person, myself and seven other passengers spent a day sailing around New Caledonia’s stunning coastline and small islands.

Normally, I would never consider spending $230 for an eight hour excursion in port, but living in luxury for a few hours on a private catamaran—with food and rosé included—was entirely worth the cost.

While in port, I also spent $40 on food and drinks

Even though there is endless food included in your cruise fare onboard a Royal Caribbean ship, I always like to try at least a taste of local cuisine in each port. During my five port days, I spent $40 extra on food and drinks not included in my shore excursions.

In Lifou, I spent $10 on kava, a plant native to the region that is made into a beverage. The drink is a natural drug that can elevate your mood and increase relaxation. Although I’m certainly not advocating trying new drugs when you cruise, tasting kava is a right of passage when cruising to the South Pacific!

Unfortunately, the drink tastes like mud, and I could hardly drink it. I even tried a second cup a few days later on Mystery Island ($10), and it was just as rancid.

Nonetheless, it was an interesting cultural experience.

Aside from kava, I spent another $20 on miscellaneous food and drinks, including a delightful omelet and rice dish on Santo Island and passion fruit cocktails on Mystery Island.

After the cruise I stayed in Sydney one more night, which cost me $100 after discounts

I cruised to Australia with a friend who lives in the United Kingdom. Because we don’t see each other often, we decided to spend another night together in Sydney before returning home.

I decided to “splurge” on a hotel stay at the 5-star Shangri-La Sydney, and I booked a room for $300. However, I was able to use a hotel credit through my American Express card, giving me $200 off the room.

Related: I'm a budget cruiser. Here are 8 easy strategies I used on my recent Royal Caribbean cruise to save money

In addition to the $200 discount, I received a $150 AUD credit to use at the hotel, so my friend and I enjoyed cocktails at the hotel’s bar, which featured a stunning view of Sydney Harbour.

In total, I spent $3,214 for my cruise vacation, which included my cruise fare, airfare, hotels, and all shore excursions

Vacation budgets can vary greatly from person to person, but I found my 10-night cruise on Brilliance of the Seas to be surprisingly affordable.

When I first started planning a cruise from Australia, I expected to spend far more than $3,000 for the vacation. I assumed airfare alone would cost me $2,000, and the cruise fare might cost another $2,000 per person on top of that.

Yet I managed to stay within—even below—my initial budget, and I never felt limited during the cruise. I was able to book several shore excursions, try local food in port, and enjoy food and drinks on the ship without blowing my budget.

If I tried to visit the exotic islands of New Caledonia and Vanuatu on my own, I surely would have spent far more on flights and hotels in each destination. If anything, my cruise to Australia and the South Pacific was just another example of the incredible value a cruise vacation can offer.

6 things I loved and 3 things I hated about my Brilliance of the Seas cruise

08 Dec 2023

Today’s mega cruise ships are packed with the latest thrills, from zip lines to indoor skydiving, but what is it like sailing on one of Royal Caribbean’s older cruise ships?

I recently cruised on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas, a Radiance Class cruise ship built in 2002. During my exotic ten day sailing to the South Pacific—my longest cruise thus far—I relished the opportunity to enjoy a more traditional cruising experience.

Although I love cruising on massive vessels with nearly endless activities to enjoy, there’s something special about the relaxed, quieter ambiance of cruising on a smaller, older ship. For the most part, I loved everything about my time onboard, from the attentive service to the itinerary and friendly faces around the ship.

Nonetheless, there were, like any cruise, a few things I did not enjoy. Whether the lack of specialty dining restaurants or the thin walls in my cabin, my vacation was not entirely perfect.

Here are six things I loved and three I hated about my Brilliance of the Seas cruise.

I loved the ship’s unique itinerary, which isn’t offered on newer and bigger ships

My cruising mantra is to always select itineraries that visit at least one destination I haven’t been to before. Whether a new island in the Caribbean or a new port in Alaska, exploring breathtaking destinations is a major reason why I book cruises.

When the opportunity arose to book a cruise from Australia, I began searching for Royal Caribbean’s most unique itinerary in the region during the month of November. I decided upon a 10-night South Pacific cruise that visited five islands in the French territory of New Caledonia and the Pacific nation of Vanuatu.

Related: 15 countries you didn’t know you could cruise to on Royal Caribbean

You can find South Pacific itineraries on new ships like Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, which also sail from Australia, but they typically only visit two or three islands on each itinerary. 

Sailing on an older ship like Brilliance of the Seas gave me the chance to make the most of my long journey across the world to Australia. I absolutely loved visiting five diverse, breathtaking islands during my cruise, and I was happy I chose the most unique itinerary available.

I hated the limited specialty dining options

I’ve recently reached the Diamond Plus tier in Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society, and one of the new perks I receive with this status is a buy one, get one free dinner at a specialty restaurant.

I thoroughly enjoy eating at Royal Caribbean’s specialty restaurants, as I love the calmer atmosphere and wider variety of cuisines. Because of this, the BOGO deal was the perk I was most looking forward to trying on Brilliance of the Seas.

Unfortunately, though, older Royal Caribbean cruise ships often have limited specialty restaurant options, and Brilliance of the Seas was no exception. The ship only features four specialty restaurants: Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, Izumi Sushi, and Chef’s Table.

Only two of these restaurants, Chops Grille and Giovanni’s Table, allow guests to use the BOGO discount. I would have loved to dine at Izumi—my favorite of Royal Caribbean’s restaurants—but I was told this was not, unfortunately, covered with the discount.

Even though the food offered at Chops Grille and Giovanni’s Table is of great quality, I’ve been to these restaurants many times before on other ships, and eating the same meal over and over can get a bit boring.

Having limited specialty restaurant options was one of the few times I wished I were sailing on a bigger cruise ship.

I loved my Main Dining Room experience, from the delightful cuisine to attentive service

Despite the lack of specialty dining options, I found myself pleased with my experience in the Main Dining Room on Brilliance of the Seas.

With fewer options onboard for meals, you’re likely to find yourself eating in the Main Dining Room more often on smaller ships compared to on Royal Caribbean’s largest vessels. On my Brilliance of the Seas cruise, I ate in the Main Dining Room nearly every evening along with lunch on sea days and several breakfasts.

Related: 21 Tips for the Best Cruise Ship Main Dining Room Experience

Although I frequently eat in the Main Dining Room on other Royal Caribbean cruises, the over-the-top service I experienced on Brilliance of the Seas was on a different level. My waiters, Stefan and Stephen, were beyond attentive, regularly bringing me surprise menu items to try and delivering food in record speed.

I felt so attached to them by the end of the cruise that I couldn’t even fathom eating dinner anywhere else! As a plus, the food quality and flavors were excellent as well.

I loved the ship’s tango show, and I wish I attended more productions while onboard

Whenever I sail on new ships like Wonder of the Seas, I prioritize attending entertainment shows. I just can’t pass up the entertainment offered onboard, from AquaTheater shows to ice skating shows and Broadway productions.

On smaller ships I tend to avoid theater shows. Although I can appreciate the talent of the cast on any ship, I’m never as thrilled with entertainment on old cruise ships. Whether the smaller budget or lack of a storyline, I would usually much rather spend my evening doing something else instead.

Regardless, during my time on Brilliance of the Seas, I figured I should at least try to attend one production show, so I attended a performance of Tango: Buenos Aires.

I grabbed a front row seat by showing up a half hour early, and I was quickly left impressed by the professional tango dancers and live music of the production. It was one of the more unique production shows I’ve seen on an older Royal Caribbean ship.

Following the performance, I wished I had attended more production shows during my time onboard, but I’ll definitely try to attend more shows next time I sail on an older ship.

I hated the Royal Mystery puzzle game, as it was way too difficult

I cruise with Royal Caribbean relatively often, and I find myself getting into a certain routine while onboard. While I’ll attend a trivia session or two during the day and listen to live music in the evening, I have realized I don’t try enough new activities to keep things interesting.

Determined to change this and try something new, I participated in the Royal Mystery puzzle game while onboard. The purpose of this complimentary activity is to "solve" the mystery of a museum heist during which important artwork was stolen.

Through a series of clues found throughout the room and in a folder of papers given to participants, each team is supposed to determine which character committed the crime.

While the concept of the game was intriguing, I found it to be exceptionally difficult. Of the hundred or so people playing the game, almost everyone appeared confused. Not only were the clues unclear, but there were so many steps to the game that only one team even got close to solving the mystery.

I’m glad I went out of my comfort zone to try a new activity, but I wish it would have been a little easier. Most passengers are not professional detectives, after all!

I loved the small ship experience and seeing familiar faces around the ship

Prior to my Brilliance of the Seas cruise, which was ten nights, I had never booked a cruise over seven nights in length. The main difference I found when cruising on a longer itinerary, particularly on a smaller ship, was the community that formed while onboard.

Being on a smaller cruise ship for ten days meant I saw the same guests again and again during my sailing. By the end of the cruise I had formed friendships with several passengers, and we spent our days attending activities together, playing cards at Schooner Bar, and sharing meals in the dining room.

Sure, it’s possible to form friendships on bigger cruise ships, but it’s a lot easier on the smallest Royal Caribbean cruise ships as you’re more likely to see the same passengers around throughout the sailing.

I loved the internet speed—it was the quickest I’ve ever experienced on a cruise ship

The internet speed on Royal Caribbean cruise ships has significantly improved since the launch of Starlink internet in 2022, but nothing could have prepared me for the insanely quick speeds on Brilliance of the Seas.

As someone who frequently works remotely from cruise ships, I rely on Royal Caribbean’s internet to complete tasks like uploading videos to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube channel. In the past, uploading content could take hours, which was certainly not ideal for productivity.

Related: Can you work remotely from a cruise ship? I put it to the test

While on Brilliance of the Seas, I encountered the most responsive internet connection I’ve ever experienced on a cruise ship. I was streaming Netflix with no issues, uploading large video files in under twenty minutes, and video chatting with friends and family back home without any connection delay.

Due to my ship’s remote itinerary in the South Pacific and the fact I was sailing on one of Royal Caribbean’s older vessels, I expected slow, frustrating internet speeds, but this was (thankfully!) not the case whatsoever.

I hated how thin the walls were in my cabin—I could hear everything from next door

One downside I’ve noticed when cruising on older ships are the thin walls in the cabins. Whether on Rhapsody of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, or Brilliance of the Seas, I’ve always been able to hear sounds from guests in the rooms adjacent to my own.

From alarm clocks to conversations and televisions, it’s not ideal being able to hear what is going on outside of your cabin. Although these sounds are somewhat muffled, I missed the thicker walls of cabins on newer cruise ships during my recent cruise.

I loved the new drink menu at Schooner Bar

When it’s time to grab a drink on a Royal Caribbean cruise, one of my preferred bars is Schooner Bar. Royal Caribbean’s nautical themed bar is found on every ship in the fleet, and it’s a popular spot for activities like trivia and live piano music.

In September 2023, Royal Caribbean revamped its drink menu at Schooner Bar, crafting cocktails such as the Peanut Butter Tropic, Parrot Punch, and Southern Belle.

Related: Royal Caribbean revamps its nautical themed bar with new menu

Because I cruise with Royal Caribbean often, I can’t pass up the opportunity to try a new drink menu. During my cruise I tried several new drinks at Schooner Bar, my favorite of which was the Desert Pear Margarita, which combines tequila, desert pear syrup, and lime juice for a distinct fruity flavor.

If anything, the new drink menu at Schooner Bar made me even more excited to try cocktails at one of the new bars on my Icon of the Seas cruise this January!

Royal Caribbean redeploys cruise ships for 2023-2024 cruise season due to new speed restrictions

28 Jul 2022

Four additional Royal Caribbean cruise ships scheduled to sail in 2023 has been moved elsewhere.

Brilliance of the Seas side docked

Guests that were booked on Brilliance of the Seas for her summer 2023 sailings received an email today that their sailings have been cancelled.

Royal Caribbean's original plan was for Brilliance of the Seas was to continue offering sailings departing from Tampa, Florida through April 29th, 2023 and begin its European season on May 15th, 2023, before making its way back to Tampa, Florida in November 2023.

The International Maritime Organization recently shared new speed regulations that Royal Caribbean must adhere to and as a result, they've repositioned some of ships for the upcoming 2023/2024 season.

Radiance of the Seas in Vancouver

Brilliance will now sail from Vancouver, British Columbia starting April 3rd, 2023 and Sydney, Australia beginning October 23rd, 2023.

Enchantment of the Seas will now take Brilliance's place in Florida and Europe and will offer similar itineraries.

The original plan for Enchantment of the Seas was to offer sailings departing from Vancouver, British Columbia on April 3rd, 2023 and Sydney, Australia on October 23rd, 2023.

Instead, Enchantment of the Seas will now continue offering sailings from Baltimore, Maryland through April 20th, 2023 and begin a European season with departures from Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy, Athens (Piraeus), Greece, and Venice (Ravenna), Italy starting May 15th, 2023, before making its way to Tampa, Florida in November 2023. 

Starting July 28th, 2022, we'll automatically move your clients to the new Enchantment of the Seas sailing departing on the same day as their original Brilliance of the Seas cruise. They'll receive like-for-like accommodations onboard Enchantment of the Seas, and their amenities will remain the same.

Guests that were booked onboard Enchantment or Brilliance of the Seas have 3 options:

  • Automatically move to the Enchantment or Brilliance of the Seas sailing departing on the same day as their original cruise
    • Their new sailing will still offer the same beautiful ports as their original cruise, and it'll depart from the same destination. 
    • Move them to a like-for-like stateroom and their original stateroom category price will either be protected at their original cruise fare rate or reduced to the current cruise fare rate (whichever is lower).
  • Re-book any other Royal Caribbean International sailing
    • Royal Caribbean will waive any non-refundable deposit change fees.
    • No price protection
  • A full refund of any paid portion of your cruise fare (including non-refundable deposits) and any pre-paid amenities to the original form of payment within 14 business days

Guests have between now now and August 18th, 2022 to decide. If the person does nothing, they'll remain booked on the alternate Enchantment of the Seas sailing.

Voyager and Adventure of the Seas

Adventure of the Seas in St Maarten

Another swap was announced for Voyager of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas.

Due to the same International Maritime Organization speed regulations, Voyager of the Seas was to offer sailings departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida through November 4th, 2023, and Orlando (Port Canaveral), Florida beginning November 10th, 2023. Instead, Voyager will now sail from Galveston, Texas beginning May 9th, 2023.

Adventure of the Seas will now take Voyager's place in Florida place and will offer similar itineraries.

Guests will be automatically moved to the new Adventure of the Seas sailing departing on the same day as your original Voyager of the Seas cruise. They'll receive like-for-like accommodations onboard Adventure of the Seas, and their amenities will remain the same.

Just like Brilliance and Enchantment, guests have the choice of the automatic move, a move to another ship, or a full refund.

Another ship moves away from Europe in 2023

Brilliance of the Seas is the second Royal Caribbean cruise ship to be redeployed away from Europe.

Earlier this month, Serenade of the Seas had her summer 2023 cruise season cancelled.

Serenade of the Seas was to offer sailings departing from Copenhagen, Denmark and Stockholm, Sweden starting May 21st, 2023. 

Serenade of the Seas in St Lucia

Instead, she'll be homeported in Florida in summer 2023.

Unlike Brilliance, Royal Caribbean cancelled Serenade's European season due to the war in Ukraine.

Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas restarts cruises from Tampa

16 Dec 2021

Another Royal Caribbean cruise ship has resumed sailing this week.

LIVE - "Back on Brilliance, baby!" Brilliance of the Seas February 14-18, 2019 - Live Blogs - Royal Caribbean Blog

Brilliance of the Seas is scheduled to sail from Tampa, Florida on Thursday, which marks Brilliance's return to service.

Brilliance of the Seas completed her test cruise earlier this month, and received its Conditional Sailing Certificate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to start cruising.

This will be the first time Brilliance sails with paying passengers in over 21 months.

Brilliance of the Seas B2B Live Blog – Michael's Cruise Preview | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean requires all passengers 12 and older sailing from Florida to present proof of full Covid-19 vaccination with the final dose administered at least 14 days before sailing.

Children age 11 and under do not require Covid-19 vaccination to cruise. However, kids age 5 to 11 who have been vaccinated may present proof of full vaccination and follow the protocols for vaccinated guests. 

All unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 must undergo 2 more Covid-19 tests at the cruise terminal and prior to disembarking.

LIVE - "Back on Brilliance, baby!" Brilliance of the Seas February 14-18, 2019 - Page 9 - Live Blogs - Royal Caribbean Blog

All crew onboard all ships in the fleet will be fully vaccinated.

Brilliance will offer 4- and 5-night Bahamas and Western Caribbean cruises from Tampa. Itineraries include stops in Costa Maya, Cozumel, Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Guests who have been vaccinated will have full access to venues onboard, and will not need to wear a face mask at vaccinated-only venues. Here is a list of venues and activities available to vaccinated-only guests, as well as everyone.


Brilliance of the Seas is just the latest cruise ship to return to service after being shutdown in early 2020. She is now the 19th Royal Caribbean International ship to restart sailings again.

Enchantment of the Seas will be the last Royal Caribbean cruise ship to restart cruises before 2021 comes to an end, with a few more ships scheduled to restart operations in early 2022.

Live blogging from Brilliance of the Seas 2018 - Preamble | Royal Caribbean Blog

Brilliance will sail from Tampa until the end of March, at which point she will move to Europe to begin her summer season.

Royal Caribbean expands new smartphone app to Brilliance of the Seas

24 Sep 2018

Royal Caribbean has quietly added Brilliance of the Seas as one of the ships in the fleet to be able to use the cruise line's new smart phone app.

While the app has not been updated, the list of supported ships in the app does now list Brilliance and we were able to pull up an upcoming Brilliance of the Seas sailing for use in the app.


Royal Caribbean has been expanding the apps to include more ships recently, with Independence of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas all added recently.  Moreover, Allure of the Seas is currently testing a new chat feature.  

There are currently nine ships supported by the new smart phone app, with each ship offering varying feature sets.  These include:

  • Adventure of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Brilliance of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Serenade of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas

The new app is being actively developed, which means not all features area available on the app yet.  Moreover, the cruise line is slowly rolling out support for more ships.

The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Royal Caribbean adds chat feature to Allure of the Seas

20 Sep 2018

Royal Caribbean has released version 1.10.2 of its new smart phone app, which prepares to add Brilliance of the Seas to the smartphone app as well as adding the much-anticipated chat feature to Allure of the Seas.

The chat feature allows guest-to-guest chat on Allure of the Seas.  Guests may link to other staterooms and chat with friends and family for free.

Allure of the Seas is the first Royal Caribbean ship to offer the chat feature and marks a major step forward in the app's development.

The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Review: Chops Grille on Brilliance of the Seas

08 Mar 2018

On a recent Brilliance of the Seas cruise, we decided to revisit a popular Royal Caribbean specialty restaurant, Chops Grille, to see what's new in this classic restaurant.

Royal Caribbean's signature specialty restaurant, Chops Grille, remains a favorite for many who cruise Royal Caribbean often.  It's inviting atmosphere, great cuts of meat, and service have earned Chops Grille quite a reputation among repeat cruisers. While Royal Caribbean continues to add new specialty dining options periodically, Chops Grille remains a popular choice.

Many blog readers have shared with us their positive experiences at Chops Grille, so I wanted to re-visit Chops Grille on Brilliance of the Seas to ensure it continues to be somewhere I can recommend to others.  And so, in the name of research, my wife and I have returned to Chops Grille once again.


Chops Grille on Brilliance of the Seas is located conveniently on deck 6 near the Schooner Bar.  Its location adjacent to Giovanni's Table and across from the Schooner Bar makes it an easy-to-find restaurant, since there is a lot of foot traffic in the area and odds are you will walk past it multiple times on your cruise.

Walking into Chops Grille, you will find a large, open room that has tables filling the interior, with some booths along one side.  A few tables are near the windows to provide a view outside.

Chops Grille on Radiance Class ships has a large open kitchen, which provides a nice view for guests into the work being done to prepare food.


The Chops Grille menu on Brilliance of the Seas has changed recently, to bring with it the "new" Chops Grille menu.  Other ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet have this updated menu, and Brilliance now joins them with it.  You can always tell the new menu from the old menu based on the fact the new menu offers seafood towers, as well as does not have the French onion soup.

While I lament the loss of the French onion soup, I decided to try the Wild Mushroom soup.  After all, it has truffle oil, so how bad could it be?

I really enjoyed this mushroom soup because the consistency of the broth was just right.  It was not too thick or watery.  Of course, the white truffle oil helped distinguish this from a mushroom soup you might heat up at home.

From the Signature Appetizers, I went with the tuna tartare.  Admittedly, I can never resist tuna, and this version was outstanding.

As a self-described ahi tuna habitué, I found this to be worthy of a Brazilian steakhouse style operation, where my waiter would bring me as many as I want until I turned over a card to indicate I was satisfied replete.

For our entrees, I was not sure what to order.  My wife always picks the filet mignon (no one ever regrets filet mignon), but I was not sure what to do.  I opted to ask our waiter for his recommendation on what he really enjoys.  He pointed me to the New Zealand rack of lamb.

I know what you are thinking, "There are entrees on the menu that do not have beef?" but it does indeed exist.  My hesitation about lamb is that it can be tough, and I spend more time trying to extract the meat from the bone than actually enjoying the food.

Nonetheless, how could I object to a recommendation made by a crew member I had met just 15 minutes earlier?  I rolled the dice on the lamb.

To my pleasant surprise, the lamb was extremely soft, and essentially fell of the bone.  Instead of wrestling with the knife or wondering aloud to my wife what time the Windjammer is open to, I spent a few glorious minutes enjoying a terrific serving of lamb. 

No visit to Chops Grille is complete without a few sides.  The sides can feel like a meal, but they offer a great accompaniment to your entrees.  I prefer to load up my fork with as many mushrooms as I can fit, alongside a cut of the meat and a dip in the mashed potatoes.  Perfection!

The new Chops Grille menu has resulted in the removal of the Red Velvet cake.  Alas, no restaurant is perfect.


I enjoyed our meal at Chops Grille on Brilliance of the Seas.  It is easy to see why Chops remains such a popular choice with so many cruisers, based on the wonderful menu.

It is important to note that for this visit, we took advantage of a Royal Caribbean dining package, which brough the cost down considerably.  The price for Chops Grille continues to push up, so consider a dining package as a way to really save money.

For a night out of great dining, Chops Grille is a solid choice for celebrations, date nights, or "the main dining room menu isn't my favorite".

What are your thoughts on Chops Grille? Leave us a comment and tell us about it below!

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