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Royal Caribbean Cruises aboard the Brilliance of the Seas
Above: Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship.

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Ship Details
Began service: January, 2002
Guest capacity: 2,100
Total staff: 859
Length: 962 feet
Passenger decks: 12
CDC inspection score: 95

Brilliance of the Seas Overview

The Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship departs from Miami, FL and Barcelona, Spain. Throughout the year, she offers ocean cruises to Europe, Mediterranean, and Panama Canal. Check dates and prices for cruises to Europe, Mediterranean, and Panama Canal.

Such as? You'll find classics like the Schooner Bar, but there's also miniature and simulated golf, and the Seaview Cafe. Some Royal Caribbean traditions have received new twists. The revamped Viking Crown Lounge is called the Starquest Disco Bar and the bar actually revolves. Business and conference facilities have been expanded on this ship. Latte-tudes Coffee bar, which replicates a coffeehouse atmosphere -- complete with Internet terminals -- replaces Radiance's cafe/bookshop combo.

One of the immediate impressions we got on Brilliance of the Seas was an imitation of a cash register ringing in our ear: K'ching. Royal Caribbean seems to be moving into "a'la carte territory". By this, we mean spending beyond the usual stuff, like shore excursions, spa services, and casino gaming. Be prepared to pay $10 to take Pathway to Yoga at the fitness center, 99 cents-and-up to buy a pastry from Latte-tudes, $9.95 to watch relatively recent-run movies on RCTV, and a $20 service fee to eat in the ship's alternative restaurants.

On the plus side, Royal Caribbean has been introducing beverage packages that can cut costs. These include soda cards (for adults, the package averaged out at about $5 a day, while kids paid about $3 a day). At this point, Royal Caribbean's the only line to offer an adult "Royal Cocktails" card; for $39 plus tip passengers can buy 12 drinks of the house variety, which works out to about $3.25 per drink, saving roughly $1.75 each time).

Brilliance of the Seas tries to be all things to all cruisers. While the ship's smaller than the Voyager, it does have enough room for all the extras we're coming to expect on contemporary cruise ships: a range of restaurant options, a fitness facility with rock-climbing, miniature golf, virtual golf, water slide and a basketball court. There are so many bars that even after a 12-day cruise we're not sure we found them all. And service was generally warm and personable.

But that "big ship" atmosphere has a down side, too. While the ship's layout aims to spread passengers out, it can get congested (and passengers often got a bit aggressive, particularly at the elevators) at "rush hours", at the guest relations/shore excursion desk early and late in the voyage, and, most particularly, getting back on board when shore excursion buses all pull up at the same time late in the afternoon.


Brilliance of the Seas is the second in Royal Caribbean's new Radiance class. The ship's layout and facilities combine some of the best features from the larger Voyager class and the smaller Vision class ships.

Of a total of 1,050 cabins, 813 have an ocean view; of these, 577 have balconies (about 77 percent, the highest ratio in the Royal Caribbean fleet). All cabins have color television with remote, which broadcasts a variety of channels, from RCTV's interactive network (where you can order room service or pay-per-view flicks, buy shore excursions or check your onboard tab) to CNN. All have mini-bars (you pay for what you use), telephones, 110-220 electrical outlets, beds that convert to double or single, loveseats, and in-cabin computer jack for Internet hookups. Cabins in categories C and higher have bathrooms with tubs; all others just have showers.

Standard outside cabins are very roomy and attractive and have huge porthole-style windows and loveseats. Standard balcony cabins are about the same size with the additional space of a verandah; a note: balcony cabins on deck seven face an overhang (that conceals tenders). Inside cabins are surprisingly roomy.

Beyond the basic-style cabins, Brilliance has a succession of suites, starting with "C," which is a more spacious version of the deluxe verandah (slightly larger balcony). "A" and "B" staterooms get a few additional extras, like in-cabin DVD and access to the Concierge Lounge, where passengers need not mix with the "common people" at breakfast (continental) or during cocktail hour (complimentary). The Concierge Lounge has two Internet stations and a concierge, who assists these guests with requests ranging from reservations at the alternative restaurant, to tips on the best nightclubs in port. Note: Diamond-level members of Crown & Anchor (passengers having sailed ten or more Royal Caribbean cruises) also receive access to the Concierge Lounge regardless of cabin level.


In the Minstrel Dining Room, we were pleasantly surprised at the consistently, well-prepared dishes. Minstrel is open seating for breakfast and lunch; then set seating (6 pm for main, 8:30 pm for late) at dinner time. Romantics may need luck to snag a two-top as there weren't many (or plan to head to the alternative restaurants).

Windjammer Cafe was the most popular daytime eatery on the ship. It is a buffet restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks and informal dinners. There is an onsite bar for soda, wine and beer purchases. And a few outside tables. The food was quite good, though the selection for breakfast got pretty humdrum after a few days. Windjammer also has basic 24-hour beverage stations (coffee, tea, water).

We stumbled onto Seaview Cafe by accident and it became a regular lunch/snack place. The atmosphere evokes a cozy beach-front cafe. Seaview is Johnny Rockets with a bigger menu and a beer/wine/soda bar. It is typically open for lunch when the ship is at sea; on port days, it opens for late afternoon and after-dinner snacking.

The Solarium Cafe has a pizza bar and is open all afternoon.

Brilliance has two alternative restaurants and both require a $20 per person service fee. Is it worth it? We loved the six course menus and the food at both; you feel like you are in a small, upscale restaurant, and as one diner commented, "when's the last time you got this much for $20?" At the Chops Grille, choices include a range of steaks (from New York Strip to filet mignon), lamb chops, prime rib, chicken and a fish-of-the-day, all beautifully prepared. Twosomes may want to request one of the banquette tables. At Portofino, the meal included an antipasti, soup, salad, pasta, main course (try the lobster) and dessert. One note: On our cruise, the dining rooms at both spots were rarely more than half-filled, yet, the service was inconsistent Later in the cruise, both Portofino and Chops Grille were open for lunch and dinner; same service fee and menu applies.

Room service is available around-the-clock.


In the Pacifica Theater, there were three major production shows. Other nights, the stage hosted comedians, cabaret singers and musicians. In lounges, musical programs included an intimate, cabaret-style duo in the Hollywood, 70s night with a disc jockey in Starquest Disco, solo piano in the Schooner and fabulous cha-cha (and other dance tunes) with a three-piece band in the Lobby Bar.

Days at sea were filled with mostly traditional-style diversions -- napkin folding, bingo, cooking demos, and art auctions. The pool area usually had a three-piece band at prime time sunning hours.

One big disappointment for movie lovers was the ship's in-cabin and cinema selection of flicks, some so old that we saw them on cruises last winter. Passengers who want to relax privately with a more current movie need to go for the pay-per-view option.

Fitness & Recreation

Brilliance's Ship Shape Center & Day Spa offers treadmills, stairmasters, stationary bikes, weight machines, and free weights. Each day, the fitness director leads workouts geared to a variety of themes, from Pilates and Cardio Ki-Bo to abdominals and walk-a-mile. The spa (expect the usual product pitch after a treatment) offers a variety of services, such as massage, facials, pedicures, manicures, Rasul (an Arabian mud treatment), Ionithermie Algae Detox; and Aroma Stone Therapy.

The Spa's Thermal Suite -- available for an unlimited rate of $50 or a daily cost of $15 -- includes tiled, heated beds (great for sore backs), showers that operate in mist or tropical forms, and (unisex) aromatherapy-oriented steam and sauna.

The Country Club has a basketball court, miniature golf, rock-climbing wall and golf simulator.

The Solarium pool has two whirlpools, along with comfortable, cushion-topped promenade loungers.

A running track snakes around the main pool area; seven times around equals a mile. It is pretty narrow, and gets congested during peak sunning hours. Passengers may want to time their run or walk early or late in the day.

Public Areas

The 7-deck high atrium which serves as a central connection spot for activities in the ship's center. In the evenings, there was always music in the Lobby Bar that drifted along the common areas. The Champagne Bar is a wonderful spot during the daytime and at sunset. Latte-Tudes offers specialty coffees, and the Casino Royale has the usual gaming tables and slots.

The Colony Club incorporates four different lounges/rooms. The Bombay Billiards Club has self-leveling pool tables, Singapore Sling is the ship's events lounge, The Jakarta Lounge has backgammon, checkers and chess tables, and Calcutta Card Club is where guests can play board games and bridge.

The ship is well equipped with three Internet stations (50 cents a minute) which seemed more than adequate. One tip: passengers who travel with their own laptops can plug into the ship's Cyber-Cabin program. For about $10 a day (a bargain if you go online for anything more than 20 minutes each day) you can hook up from your stateroom. It connects for both Windows and Macintosh computers. One more tip: There's no guarantee that the satellite will cooperate every time you log on -- whether in the cabin or in one of the workstations.

The ship's library is a disappointment for the size of the ship. Brilliance's assortment of shops carry from duty free liquor to insignia wear to jewelry to perfumes. Regarding the liquor policy, passengers can buy at duty free prices (and have their purchases delivered to their cabin on the last day) or opt for immediate consumption; the price difference is fairly significant. The duty-free price for a bottle of Absolut vodka was $9.95; the immediate takeaway cost for that same bottle is $19.45. The ship also has a photo area where snapshots taken by ship photographers can be purchased. Adjacent to that are two conference/boardrooms, where all sorts of meetings are held -- as well as interdenominational and Catholic religious services.

Brilliance has a state-of-the-art medical facility and also has a helicopter landing pad for emergency medical evacuations.


The Adventure Ocean Programs has top-notch facilities, including a computer lab, play stations with video, Adventure Beach with water slide and pool, arts and crafts, games, rock climbing and science fun. The "camp" also uses the ship for various activities -- dedicated swimming times, movie showings and special group meals. The in-cabin televisions have a dedicated children's channel and there's the Captain Sealy's Kids Galley Menu. Group babysitting service is available late nights; kids must be at least 3 years old and potty trained; the rate is $5 per hour per child. For private in-cabin babysitting, rate is $8 for up to two kids, per hour with a minimum of two hours. Requests should be made 24 hours in advance.

Expert Brilliance of the Seas reviews are edited by Michelle, and provided by Ian and Cruise Critic.com, an award-winning cruise community. This objective information can help you choose just the right ship for your next cruise vacation.

Brilliance of the Seas
cruise reviews

Cruise Ship Inspection Report
All passenger cruise ships arriving at US ports are subject to unannounced CDC inspection. Brilliance of the Seas Score: 95

Cruise Critic: Brilliance of the Seas
The Cruise Critic gives Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas a 4+-ribbon rating.

Web links
RCL Cruises
Request a brochure, or find a travel agent who represents Royal Caribbean Cruise Line at the company's official Web site.

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Voyager of the Seas

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