Brilliance of the Seas

Royal Caribbean expands new smartphone app to Brilliance of the Seas

In:
24Sep2018

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

In:
20Sep2018

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

In:
08Mar2018

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.

Atmosphere

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.

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.

Overall

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!

Photo tour of Category 5D Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony on Brilliance of the Seas

In:
10Feb2018

Here is a look at the category 5D Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony, which will take you through the cabin to provide an idea of what to expect if you book this category stateroom.

On Brilliance of the Seas, we reviewed stateroom 8160 on Deck 8 near the aft of the ship.  It was one of the last staterooms on the deck, which meant it was a bit more secluded than some other rooms.

This stateroom has a small couch for sitting on during the day.

The bed in this photo is joined together, but can be split up upon request. Access to the balcony is also on the other side of the bed.

The private balcony measures 41 square feet in size.

Top 7 must-do activities on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas

In:
29Jan2018

We are back from a fantastic cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas and wanted to share with everyone our list of great activities to try onboard.

Brilliance of the Seas offers a lot of fun shows, events, programming throughout the cruise. We went through the list of offered activities to handpick the things you ought to try on your Brilliance of the Seas sailing.

Play darts

In the King & Country pub on Brilliance of the Seas, you can take in live music, throw back a few pints and try your hand at the dart board.

Unlike the pubs found on Royal Caribbean's larger cruise ships, the pub on Brilliance of the Seas has a dart board and darts to use by its patrons.  It is the perfect opportunity to see who has the best dart skills, with the loser buying the next round.

Darts in the pub is complimentary.

Two ways to watch a movie

Brilliance of the Seas offers two venues onboard to watch new and classic films onboard.

Like so many Royal Caribbean ships, movies are shown in the evening by the pool. Poolside movies are great because you can combine seeing a new flick while in the hot tub.  

Brilliance of the Seas also has a dedicated movie theater, with stadium seating and a fully enclosed space to see the films just like in a theater on land. 

Both movie venues are complimentary.

Water slide

Brilliance of the Seas offers younger children their own dedicated water slide towards the back of the ship for lots of sea day fun.

Kids will find the slide a fun activity that takes them down a twirling journey before ending up in a splash area.

Use of the water slide is complimentary.

Sushi making class

Whether you are new to sushi or consider it a favorite food, Royal Caribbean regularly offers a Make Your Own Sushi class during your cruise.

Guided by an Izumi's chef, you will learn the proper technique for making three different sushi rolls. Before you know it, you will be able to easily create the same kind of sushi served in Izumi.  And the best part? You get to eat everything you make!

In addition, there is a galley tour of Brilliance of the Seas' main dining room kitchen included with the class.

The cost to take a sushi class is $28 per person (plus 18% gratuity).

Escape room

A recent addition to Brilliance of the Seas is a new escape room game that will challenge your intellect.

Partnering with Puzzle Break, Royal Caribbean offers guests an escape room experience called, "A Royal Mystery."  The game involves teams working together to solve a series of clues and puzzles that will lead them solving the larger mystery before time runs out.

A Royal Mystery is complimentary.

Visit the thermal spa

If you are looking for the perfect way to relax anytime you want, consider purchasing a thermal spa pass.

The thermal spa pass gets you access to a few different services that can be enjoyed throughout your cruise at your leisure.  It includes:

  • hot stone chairs
  • rainforest shower room
  • infrared sauna
  • steam room

Royal Caribbean sells day-passes for this service, which offer unlimited access to the thermal spa.  These passes are limited in quantity to prevent overcrowding.

There are two thermal spa pass prices: single and couples.  Price will vary depending on sailing.

Have a Kummelweck sandwich

There is lots of great food on Brilliance of the Seas, including arguably one of the best snacks on any Royal Caribbean ship, the Kummelweck sandwich.

Guests are served a rare, thin cut of beef dipped in au jus accompanied by a secret sauce.

If it sounds mighty tasty, that is because it really is and something that is a must-try (at least a half dozen times) for any guest.

Your thoughts

Have you been on Brilliance of the Seas?  What do you think is something that everyone should try onboard? Share your thoughts in the comments for the blog post!

Royal Caribbean now offering escape room game on Brilliance of the Seas

In:
18May2017

Guests sailing on Brilliance of the Seas can look forward to enjoying an escape room game while onboard their next sailing.

Puzzle Break CEO Nate Martin confirmed to Royal Caribbean Blog in an exclusive interview that the company now offers, "Royal Mystery," which is a hybrid puzzle hunt escape room experience that is playable by multiple teams at the same time.

Puzzle Break's website lists Brilliance of the Seas as a ship offering a Puzzle Break experience

"To bring Puzzle Break experiences to an even larger audience, we also have a couple of games that we've done for Royal which we're rolling out to more and more ships everyday. It is a kind of a hybrid experience, that kind of captures what an escape room is...but instead of one team in one room, it's a whole bunch of teams in a very large space all working on the same puzzles independently, racing against the clock and somewhat racing against each other," said Nate Martin, Co-Founder and CEO, Puzzle Break.

"This is called A Royal Mystery, we're going to be eventually be doing several of these for Royal.  They are available now aboard Brilliance of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, and I think we are rolling out to Harmony pretty soon."

"I think the current plan of record is to get those on every single ship in the fleet."

Royal Mystery on Ovation of the Seas. Photo by drummerdave72

Royal Caribbean and Puzzle Break are also collaborating on bringing an escape room experience to Symphony of the Seas, which is Royal Caribbean's upcoming fourth Oasis Class ship that will debut next year.  According to Martin, an escape room game for a ship like Symphony of the Seas costs "over a million dollars to make."

Royal Caribbean cruise ship to skip port stop in Turkey due to attempted coup

In:
17Jul2016

Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas will skip a scheduled port stop in Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey this week following the news of the attempted coup in the country.

Royal Caribbean issued a letter to guests, informing them that the scheduled stop in Ephesus on Wednesday, July 20, will be canceled.  Royal Caribbean is working to find an alternative port of call to replace the stop.

"Since we became aware of the incident, we have been in close contact with our Global Security Team in Miami, as well as our local contacts in Turkey.  After taking all of their intelligence and advice into consideration, we have decided to cancel all port calls to Turkey, including our scheduled call to Ephesus (Kusadasi) on Wednesday, July 20.  We are currently working to find an alternative port of call and will let you know as soon as one is confirmed.

We truly regret having to take this action, but feel it is in the best interest of all guests.  The safety and security of our guests and crew members is always foremost in our minds."

All shore excursions purchased through Royal Caribbean International will be refunded to the form of payment used.  

Thanks to Royal Caribbean Blog reader Jacob Holness for alerting us to this change.

Royal Caribbean cruise ship rescues 18 Cubans

In:
19Mar2016

Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas rescued 18 Cuban migrants off the coast of Florida on Friday morning, following a 22 day journey at sea for the migrants.

The United States Coast Guard reported the rescue by the Royal Caribbean ship, which unfortunately also resulted in nine deaths prior to the resucue.

Brilliance of the Seas spotted the raft while on her way to Mexico, west of Marco Island in Florida. The migrants on-board suffered from severe dehydration, the Coast Guard said.

"Our deepest condolences to the families of the nine people who recently did lose their lives," said Captain Mark Gordon, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard's 7th District. "Unfortunately, tragedy is all too common when taking to the sea in homemade vessels with no safety or navigation equipment. The dangerous waters of the Florida Straights can be unforgiving for the unprepared on ill-advised and illegal voyages."

Review: Chops Grille on Brilliance of the Seas

In:
22Dec2015

Perhaps no specialty restaurant is as well known (or liked) on Royal Caribbean cruise ships as Chops Grille.

Over the years, Chops Grille has seen her fair share of changes, but it remains a fan favorite restaurant for the high quality food offered.  

While on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, we just had to go back and try Chops one more time and see if all the admiration it receives is deserved.

Atmosphere

Located on deck 6 of Brilliance of the Seas, Chops Grille is right outside the Schooner Bar and is the only specialty restaurant that was not a recent addition.

The restaurant is essentially one large room, with booth tables along the sides, some smaller tables by the windows and larger tables in the interior.

There is an open kitchen, which allows guests to watch the "action" in the kitchen from tables close enough to get a view.

In the evening, the lights are dimmed and it certainly feels like you are dining in a fine steakhouse, with the dark and light browns contrasting against the white tablecloths and plates.

What is interesting about Chops Grille is fleet wide, the experience inside is pretty much the same and all Chops Grilles have a very similar flow.

Food

Though the focus at Chops Grille is naturally on the steaks, there are plenty of other things to talk about as well.

To begin the meal, a plate of warm bread with butter is served.  

My wife swears this is the best butter ever.  We are not certain what is in it, but it just tastes really good.  Certainly a great start to the meal.

Admittedly, it is often difficult to not over eat just the bread, but you must avoid the temptation because the food that is forthcoming is always worth it.

There are quite a few appetizers to choose from, and it sets the tone for the entire meal of there being too much good food to try for one stomach to handle.

For salads, we tried the mesclun salad and the crispy goat cheese salad.

Both are freshly made and good starts to our meal.  Plus, eating a salad before hitting the "heavy stuff" totally offsets the calories, right?

The signature appetizers offer some of the best food that do not end in the word "steak".  

The charred beef carpaccio is some of the thinnest and tastiest slices of beef I have ever had.  

The beef carpaccio has been a staple of the Chops Grille menu for years and something I always have to order.

However, the award for most impressive appetizer goes to the grilled black pepper bacon. 

Comparing this slab of slow-cooked Berkshire pork to bacon you might get at a diner is like comparing a 12 year old Pee Wee football player to an NFL linebacker.  

This is a massive serving of bacon and among bacon aficionados, it is a must-order.

For our entrees, I went "off the reservation" and actually did not order a steak.  Please, hold your fire!

In an effort to document all aspects of the Chops Grille experience (and to watch my girlish figure), I opted to order something other than steak.  

I asked my waiter if he recommended the Everything Crusted Tuna or the Snapper Veracruz and without hesitation, he pointed me to the tuna.

As the name implies, everything is indeed crusted on this tuna and it was mighty good.  

I love tuna and this was definitely a great piece of fish and I enjoyed the Asian inspired seasoning.  

Fret not, steak fans, because my wife went with old faithful: the "petite" filet mignon.

The steaks at Chops Grille have been historically great and this time was no different.  A beautiful piece of meat and cooked to perfection.  I may or may not have snuck a few bites in from my side of the table.

For dessert, I do not even read the dessert menu because I always order the same thing and regret nothing!

Yes my friends, I always order the red velvet cake.

I do not care about what it used to be or anything else. It is still really, really good and arguably the best red velvet cake I eat every time.

We also ordered the chocolate mud pie, which is a rich chocolate cake served with a berry sauce.

By this point in the meal, we were stuffed, so it was time to waddle out of the restaurant with the knowledge of another great Chops Grille meal complete.

Overall

I have eaten at Chops Grille on a number of Royal Caribbean cruise ships and each time I have a great experience and this meal on Brilliance of the Seas was no different.

I feel the consistently good meals at Chops Grille are why so many guests come back time and time again.  In fact, it is not unusual to hear about guests that dine at Chops Grille on multiple nights of their cruise.  It really is that darn good.

Chops Grille offers a lot of food and we did not even try the dry aged steaks this time (for our review of the dry aged steaks, check out our Navigator of the Seas review).  However, that is the strength of the menu that you can order so many options and still come away with a great meal.

Chops Grille excels at all aspects of the meal and it is because of this consistency that it is hard to ever go wrong with dining here.

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

Review: Giovanni's Table on Brilliance of the Seas

In:
16Dec2015

Of all the Royal Caribbean specialty restaurants available, few have spread as far and as wide as Giovanni's Table has, especially given how relatively new it is to Royal Caribbean.

While aboard Brilliance of the Seas, I just could not resist the temptation to enjoy lunch at Giovanni's Table one more time.

I had no plans to dine at Giovanni's Table, but the tempting favorites along with the lower lunch price swayed my decision on one particular sea day.

Atmosphere

Located on deck 6, Giovanni's Table is across from the ever popular Schooner Bar.

Walking in, the restaurant is rather large and offers seating in a variety of configurations.

The restaurant is essentially one large room, with windows making up one wall, that offer an unobstructed view of the ocean.

On our day to eat here, there were waves of 2-4 meters, so we certainly had some action to see.  Admittedly, these waves were also responsible for not having the largest of appetites with all of the motion.

Giovanni's Table will not win any accolades purely for its aesthetical looks, but it feels like a restaurant that is distinct from its surroundings and certainly more elaborately decorated than Rita's Cantina

Eats

It is no secret that Giovanni's Table is an Italian restaurant and there are plenty of Italian favorites to pick from on the menu.

On my last visit to Giovanni's Table on Freedom of the Seas, I felt I did not do a good job ordering, so this time I would try something more on the "seafood spectrum" as means of correcting the experience.

Once seated, we were served complimentary bread and olive oil.  This is consistent with the every other Giovanni's Table I have dined at and having bread and oil is a standard practice among many Italian restaurants.

As I said earlier, the ship was rocking quite a bit so we ordered lightly.  

To start with, we shared an insalata caprese.

This is your standard tomato and mozzarella salad. If I can be picky, I would point out the tomatoes are the same previously frozen tomatoes served in the Windjammer.  Not the end of the world, but I was hoping for something fresher.

I also ordered the eggplant parmigiana.

The eggplant parm from Giovanni's Table is not breaded and is more of a baked eggplant than traditional eggplant parm.  Nonetheless, I would say this was the best eggplant parm I have had at Giovanni's Table in quite a while.

For our entrees, I ordered the sole filets, while my wife opted for the pappardelle pasta.

My fish was a lightly fried sole filet that was served on top of sautéed garlic zucchini spaghetti.

The fish was light and pretty good, but it was the zucchini that I really enjoyed.  Combining the zucchini and fish together was a real treat and if I were to order this again, I would ask for extra zucchini.

My wife's pasta came in a white cream sauce and the little she ate of it, she enjoyed (the motion of the ocean was starting to get to her by this point).  

I sampled a bit of it too and thought the pasta tasted better than something out of the box.

Overall

Giovanni's Table on Brilliance of the Seas is a good option for those looking for Italian food that is more than just the typical pasta and sauce served in the Windjammer.

It is far from my favorite specialty restaurant, but the price (especially for lunch) makes it almost impossible to ignore. 

I will point out that when we dined there, there were perhaps six tables but only one waiter who also was serving as maître d'.  

Because of this, the service was extremely slow.  It did improve towards the tail end of the meal when more servers showed up to assist. 

Our overworked waiter was still quite generous, because he opted not to charge my wife for her meal because she barely ate it due to her not feeling well.  Definitely a welcome gesture and a credit to his service.

If you are asking, "should I eat at Giovanni's Table on Brilliance of the Seas," my advice is go for lunch on a sea day and take advantage of the lower cost and ease of which it is to get a table.  Stick with traditional Italian dishes and enjoy the view!

Giovanni's Table is open for lunch 12:00pm to 1:30pm and open for dinner 6:00pm to 9:30pm and we reviewed Giovanni's Table on Brilliance of the Seas.

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