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Host Karen

Live from June 5 Brilliance!!

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We’re live aboard Brilliance in the Med! I'll try to update this log each day to give future Brilliance travelers some information and hints about the ship and the ports we visit. If you have any questions, please post them and I'll try to hunt down the answers.

 

Sunday: After spending two days touring the beautiful city of Barcelona, we boarded Brilliance today. We left our hotel, Apsis Atrium Palace, at 11, were at the pier within 15 minutes, waited on the security line for about seven minutes, and walked right up to the check in desk. Check in took less than five minutes (we had completed all of our documents online), so after presenting our cruise documents, passports, and a credit card, we received our Sea Pass cards and were on our way.

 

We immediately noticed that we did not receive the dining time we had chosen, but there was a desk in the terminal building where we were able to change our time and table even before boarding the ship. Dining information is as follows: 6 p.m. on deck 4, 6:30 p.m. on deck 5, 8:30 p.m. on deck 4 and 9:00 p.m. on deck 5. Contrary to previously published reports, the Spanish speaking guests have not been relegated to deck 5 – there are passengers from many countries dining on each deck.

 

 

The Windjammer was already open for lunch when we boarded, but we headed first to Chops to make reservations for dinner during the cruise, then up to the salon for formal night hair appointments, and then to guest relations to obtain our Cybercabin connection ($125 for 12 nights plus a $25 refundable deposit for the cord). We had an informal get together of our Cruise Critic group, and only four of the group of 42 who had confirmed did not attend. Muster drill was at 5:15 and then we headed off to dinner.

 

 

The menu has changed since our February 2004 cruise and definitely for the better. Tonight I had the Vidalia onion tart followed by the shrimp ravioli. DH had a melon platter followed by a stuffed chicken breast. Everything was quite good. For dessert we enjoyed an apple pie a la mode and a rum-soaked sponge cake filled with pastry cream. Our waiter is lacking in the personality department, but we hope to loosen him up within a few days.

 

The ship looks lovely. No signs of wear, and everything is clean. There are automatic dispensers of hand sanitizer located at the entrance of the Windjammer and the dining room. We didn’t see anyone use them, but we did.

 

We attended the Welcome Aboard show (one time for everyone at 7:45). Bill, the cruise director, seems quite pleasant, although we miss Clodagh O’Connor, who was our CD on our two prior BOS cruises. We greatly enjoyed the comedy of Neal Austin. Some of it was very lame, but that made it even funnier.

 

The schedule for dining for the duration is as follows:

 

Monday: Cannes (Villefranche for upcoming itineraries) – casual

 

Tuesday: Livorno – formal (there are three on this cruise, despite the fact that the cruise materials indicate there are only two); Fiesta Latina

 

Wednesday: Civitavecchai – casual/country western; Spaghetti Western party; The Quest

 

Thursday: at sea – formal (Captain’s welcome aboard reception)

 

Friday: Mykonos – casual; Greek night

 

Saturday: Kusadasi – smart casual

 

Sunday: Piraeus – casual/toga party after dinner

 

Monday: Santorini – smart casual/70s; Love and Marriage Show; 70s Dance Fever

 

 

Tuesday: at sea – formal

 

 

Wednesday: Naples – casual/50s & 60s; 50s & 60s Dance Party

 

Thursday: at sea – casual

 

Monday: Couldn’t get an internet connection last evening. Room service arrived on time this morning and the entire order was correct and hot. We are about an hour from Cannes, which is a tender port like Villefranche, and we will be in port from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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Thank you for this. As a first timer with the same cruise in September you have already provided a lot of information that helps me.

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Thanks for posting olliekl. She is a beautiful ship, isn't she! I hope to sail the Greek Isles someday and will enjoy your posts.

 

Garry

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thank you so much for taking the time to post this great information.

 

We will be sailing her next week and also staying at the Atrium Palace.

How was the hotel? were the beds as hard as they say they are?

 

Can't wait!!

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The Atrium Palace is a lovely hotel, but the beds are definitely hard. Between being jet lagged and the mattress, I didn't get much sleep the first night. The second night I was so tired I could have slept on the floor! It's in a great location near everything, and it was very safe to walk around at night. All of the staff we dealt with understood English and were very helpful with restaurant recommendations and directions.

 

The rooms are smaller than standard hotels in the U.S., but they were quite nice with lots of wood and marble. They do not offer washcloths in the hotel for sanitary reasons (?). The breakfast buffet was good and the offerings included fried and scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon (delicious), pastries, breads, cereal, yogurt, meats, cheeses, juices, coffee and milk.

 

Karen

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Karen,

 

Thank you so much for such a thorough report.

 

I am the coordinator for 16 travelers to Europe October, 2006. I have offered them the Brilliance, the Millenium or the Golden Princess. They are family and close friends and so far the voting is across the board. Glad I began the process this early as I knew it was going to be a problem to agree on which ship.

 

None of us have been to Barcelona. Did you love it and is there something I could report to the group that was special about that port?

 

Thank you,

Nancy

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Hey Karen, I hope you have a good time on your much anticipated cruise. Please keep your O friends in mind, and have a great time! I envy your trip!

 

jc

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Hi Karen,

 

Thanks so much for your wonderful cruise log! This is a great help to me as well as all future Brilliance Med cruisers. I hope your cruise is nothing but outstanding in every way. Enjoy!

 

Paul

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Will you please pass on Greetings to "okiebaugh" (Kris and fam)? Thank you! Tell her we wish her a ball of a trip from Florida friends! Brenda, Alex and Nicholas! ;)

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Karen,

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to post your experiences. Your info is very helpful for thos of us doing this cruise later.

 

Enjoy! :)

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Karen:

 

Thanks so much for posting. I will be doing BOS in the Med next July.

 

I had a couple of questions for you:

 

1) what did you do in your time in Barcelona? Is it an easy city to do on your own?

2) What excursions will you be taking on this cruise? Ship tours or private tours? If they are private, what tour operators? Will you be doing any port cities on your own?

 

Thanks and have a wonderful time!

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Karen,

 

For those of you who did private tours from Cannes/French Riviera, can you inform as to how early you were able to get onto a tender? I know they usually assign the first tenders to people on the ship's shore excursions, making independent tourists wait for the later tenders. Was there a way to get on an early tender if you weren't on a ship's excursion? How and where did they pass out tender tix?

 

Thanks!

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Thanks so much for continuing to post live from the Brilliance. We going on this ship 7/23/05 and we're enthused by the information you've posted. Please share more as your trip goes on or when you get back. It is much appreciated by the group we're traveling with!

 

Regards,

Jen

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Hi Karen from an O friend. I have friends who are going on her in July, so it is good to hear it is still great!:D

 

Barbara

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Another O checking in to say hi. :D I have many fond memories of the Brilliance and am happy to hear you're enjoying yourself.

 

Beth aka #2

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We're sailing the BoS August 4, 2005 Venice cruise--very excited to get reports from the ship.

 

You mentioned the "Cybercabin" connection--does that provide unlimited internet access during the cruise?

 

You're very kind to respond to questions during your vacation!

 

THANKS

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Karen, Thank you for taking the time to post these reviews it is exciting because we are going on the same itinerary June 4th 2006 and you can never get enough information....

 

This will be a 4th year in a row on the Brilliance, we love the ship...

 

You mentioned dining times for the various decks, but what about deck 9....we certainly don't want to be eating at 9pm... we asked for late like we usually do...but that is usually 8.30pm...

 

Looking forward in anticipation of getting your reviews... Have a wonderful trip....

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Sorry I just realized what you mean't about the dining times I had read that they use different floors of the dining room at different times...

 

Hope we get the 8.30pm

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Hi Karen,

 

We appreciate your taking the time to share your cruise experiences with us. We are booked on the June 17 sailing on the Brilliance and will be getting on the ship as you are disembarking. We also are staying in the Atrium Palace for two nights prior to our cruise. We are very interested in all your comments and insights relating to your time in Barcelona and the cruise.

How did you get from the airport to the hotel? What was the cost?

Also, How did you get to the ship from the hotel? What was the cost?

Any special recommendations on eating in Barcelona?

How did you tour Barcelona? Walking, bus, etc.? Was it crowded?

 

Also, how is the weather?

 

Thanks!

 

Joe & Tori

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So much information and so little time. Let me first excuse myself for today as we were in Florence and we are exhausted. Tomorrow is Rome, so we're off to bed momentarily but I wanted to answer a few questions if I can.

 

We made reservation with Taxi Internacional before we left for transfers from the airport to the hotel, the hotel to the port and the port to the airport. The cost from the airport was 35 Euros (we gave a 10% tip), to the port was 25 Euros (although they quoted me 28) and to the airport is supposed to be 35 Euros. I can post the website address when I have a chance, but you may be able to find it on the Europe board or through a Google search.

 

We saw quite a bit in Barcelona and I promise to post more on Thursday when we have an at sea day (if I can get an internet connection).

 

The weather has been gorgeous. Every day it's been in the upper 70s to low 80s and sunny, although some people were rained on in Monaco and Nice yesterday.

 

Cybercabin service on Brilliance allows unlimited internet access at dial-up speeds. It's $125 for this 12-night trip, but we have had two evenings when we could not get onto the internet even though we could log on to Cybercabin.

 

I think the earliest tender for Cannes was around 10:30 but it may have been 15 minutes earlier. We didn't try to leave the ship until 11:30, and although they were still giving out tickets and the tenders were full, we didn't have to wait for the next tender. I would guess you could reasonably expect to get off the ship before 11 a.m. if you go down to get tickets as soon as they are offered.

 

DH is reminding me that we have to get some sleep before our tour tomorrow. We are doing private tours in Rome, Naples, Santorini and Athens, and did a "Florence on Your Own" ship tour today in Florence. More on that tomorrow or Thursday.

 

Keep those questions coming and I'll be back soon with more information!

 

Hi Os!!

 

Karen

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Karen:

 

Thanks so much for posting. Its great that you're doing this. I can only imagine how exhausting all of the port stops are one after another. But I guess that's also what makes this cruise so fun and unique.

 

Keep posting and have a great time!

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I am SO enjoying cyber-cruising with you and looking forward to reports on all of your stops, which we will be doing in October. I have a silly question now that you are cruising along the coast of Italy. Can you see the on shore lights as you cruise, or are you farther out to sea? We were in Italy on a land vacation two years ago, and saw the Brilliance docked off of Livorna and it was such a beautiful sight! We drove along the coastline from Rome to Florence and it was a gorgeous drive. Never thought we would be taking this cruise!

 

Have a great time!

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Thank you Karen,

We'll be on Brilliance in October for the Med /Venice cruise. We're looking forward to your comments about Barcelona since we'll be doing 2 day pre cruise.

 

By the way, Clodagh O Connor is now on Explorer of the Seas. We had the pleasure of meeting her this past week on our Caribbean cruise. We agree, she's terrific.

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Hi Karen,

 

Two questions about the Florence on your own tour:

 

Did the bus make a photo stop at Piazza Michelangelo either on the way in or out of Florence?

 

Where did the bus drop off/pick up in Florence?

 

Thanks much!!!

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Hi Karen,

 

Thanks for your posts, this is greatly appreciated!!

 

We are the June 17 sailing of the Brilliance and I'm trying to plan my time.

 

1. Is the ship arriving to the ports on time?

 

2. What time do you have to be back on board before the ship sails? ie. 1 hour or ?

 

Thank you, and I hope you are having a wonderful time!!

Carole

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