Part 2 - Copenhagen / Embarkation / Brilliance of the Seas
Part 2 - Copenhagen - Embarkation - Brilliance of the Seas
The next morning we were woken by the sun shining directly into our room. A look at the IPad presented us sunny 27C (84F) as the day’s forecast. Lucky us!
Since we had some time left between breakfast and embarkation, we went for another walk which took us past the Palace and the Frederiks Church.
Obviously, no visit to Copenhagen would be complete without a visit to the Little Mermaid. You couldn’t miss her. An MSC ship had just docked and it seemed as if all passengers at once wanted to be on a photo with the Little Mermaid. No wonder she turned away…
OK then, we waited for the right moment, took a tourist-free photo and returned to the hotel from where we took a taxi to the ship.
And there she was, our Brilliance… at last!!! Quickly, on board!
Our ship „Brilliance of the Seas“
NB: On Radiance Class ships, some areas, especially the Centrum, have been refurbished in the meantime. So some of the photos are not up to date anymore.
After inspiring experiences on the Liberty of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas, the “big ones” so to speak, the bar was set pretty high for me. I was very curious how much I’d like the comparatively small Brilliance. The first impression of the outside of the ship lying in the Copenhagen sun was very positive.
The attractive design and the anticipation made my heart as a Royal Caribbean fan beat faster: we are cruising again!
After a smooth check-in in the Crown & Anchor queue, this positive impression continued on board in the light-flooded Centrum. To me, the first arrival in the lobby of a ship is always a moment of happiness. This was no exception.
Many large window areas, for which this class generally gets a lot of praise, allow generous views outside. The interior, in turn, which is kept in muted hues, seemed very natural and harmonious with the incoming daylight. Contrary to my personal fears, even on the inside the Brilliance seemed in no way cramped.
Upon arrival, we took one of the glass elevators to deck 8 to visit our home away from home for the coming week. In front of our cabin, we were greeted with a warm smile by our stateroom attendant, a little Balinese lady. We immediately felt at home. Her warm and genuine friendliness was to accompany us throughout the week. On one occasion, when I thanked her in Indonesian/Balinese, there were literally tears in her eyes. Every now and again we got talking about Bali and that, one day, she wanted to open a shop there. On a side note, she did a marvelous job looking after our stateroom, which was always in spick and span condition.
Our balcony stateroom (8592) proved to be spacious enough and with the typical RCCL colors quite inviting. Situated in the “hump” of the Brilliance, the veranda offered a superb view both forwards and backwards.
In some reviews I had read that the age of the ship showed in the staterooms. We didn’t notice any of it. Contrary to neighboring cabins, we already had a modern LCD television and the furniture was in good condition. The bathroom was bright and clean. Only the features of newer vessels including a shower door instead of the shower curtain still used on this ship (permanent flooding) is something both of us would prefer – if we were to make a critical comment at all.
After inspecting our cabin, we went on the mandatory discovery tour of the ship. We found both the public places and the pool area to be clean and pleasantly designed.
The solarium, a pool with tropical design covered by a sliding glass roof, should be mentioned here as a signature feature of the Radiance Class.
Next to it is the Solarium Café, so nobody has to starve while lazing. Meanwhile this venue has been renamed into Park Cafe.
As usual, the fitness center is well equipped and offers many modern machines as well as various classes. Birgit likes to take the yoga classes while I try to run off my guilty conscience on cross-trainer & co.
In the entrance of the spa area we got a teaser shoulder massage. Although it did whet our appetite, we found the prices for massages etc. quite high, so for that week we left it at that. In addition to the public, separate saunas and steam baths we were also shown the Thermal Suite. The Thermal Suite is a separate, non-public area with steam bath and exterior views. A kind of relaxation room, also with huge panorama windows, offering heated lounge chairs to relax. For the Thermal Suite we treated ourselves to the weekly pass, which we shouldn’t regret.
Next we had a look at the Schooner Bar and the Colony Club, Jakarta Lounge and Singapore Sling´s on deck 6. At first I found these areas a bit old fashioned, especially compared to the design of similar areas on the Liberty and the Oasis. But as the cruise went along I got more and more used to the traditional design, and we had some very nice evenings there, especially in the Schooner Bar, which we enjoyed with fellow travelers.
On the Brilliance, the signature Viking Crown Lounge, on Royal Caribbean ships typically built around the smokestack, was on deck 13. Throughout the whole cruise we were to experience it as pleasantly quiet and empty. The panoramic views were a joy, especially in the fjords.
Moving on to the restaurants. The Windjammer Cafe offers buffet meals at various stations. The food is good and plentiful. I don’t want to praise it too highly, but (unfortunately) I always found something tasty justifying another tour to the buffet. During peak times the Windjammer was well attended without ever seeming hectic.
What we enjoyed a lot was the possibility to eat outside. We were extremely lucky with the weather, which allowed us at almost every lunch to enjoy the view from the open deck. Therefore, we didn’t feel any lack of space, about which we had read from time to time.
In the evening we enjoyed the service in the tasteful and comfortably designed Main Dining Room. We had booked “My time Dining”, which meant we didn’t have to stick to fixed sessions. Already on the first evening we met such a nice dinner crowd at a table for 8 (a couple from the UK, Canadians, Texans) that we all returned to this table to meet at 7.00 pm. Our waitress read our every wish from our eyes and looked after us in an exemplary manner. If we couldn’t decide between two dishes on the menu, we always appreciated her advice. Often she’d still bring the other dish – “Just to compare” – oh dear. Without exception, we found the food excellent and tasty... Did I mention that we went to the gym on a daily basis?
I also want to mention the Seaview Cafe on deck 12. This is where you get pasta, pizza etc. and where you can also find seats both inside and outside. But since we were already well at other places, we didn’t try the food here.
NB: In the meantime, this restaurant has been replaced by specialty restaurants on this class of ship. On Brilliance it was turned into IZUMI.
We so enjoyed the food, the service and the company in the Dining room that we didn’t go to any of the specialty restaurants, for which you pay an extra charge. But here are a few pics of the Chops Grill and the Portofino.
After the sumptuous dinners, shows in the theater or events in the Centrum made for entertainment. The shows weren’t as technically elaborate as on the Liberty/Oasis but were still nice to watch.
The events in the Centrum also got a lot of praise from many guests. But personally we like to spend our evenings quiet and cozy, so we weren’t very interested.
Most of the evenings we met up with our table companions in one of the bars and traded anecdotes. This is where my first, frumpy impression of the bars soon changed and we enjoyed the coziness and the good company.
Conclusion regarding the ship:
Although, as a technology fan, I always was and still am excited about the possibilities on the Liberty and the Oasis, i. e. the larger ships, I came to appreciate the more intimate atmosphere on the Brilliance and quickly took a shine to it. At times I missed strolling along the Promenade of the big RCCL ships – however, not as much as that it would have been a knock-out criterion for me.
I didn’t mind the smaller size, many might even consider exactly this an advantage. But there was something Birgit and I noticed: with the ship being smaller, we noticed the aspects we found rather unnerving more clearly (“Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiit’s BINGO TIME!”). On the large ships, everything is more dispersed. But it was easily bearable and didn’t really bother us either.
And then there was the Royal Caribbean service, which could be felt everywhere and which enthused us again. The fact that we already booked two more cruises on one of the sister ships, the Serenade of the Seas, is proof that we thoroughly enjoyed it.
In December 2012, we’ll cruise on the Serenade right after its refurbishment... I am already curious about what will have been changed.
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