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DarthGrady

Pictorial Review: Brilliance OTS 12/16/13 ~B2B~ with Carnival Ecstasy

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Day 5, The Changeover

We woke up early on our last morning aboard the Carnival Ecstasy. We decided to skip breakfast and just get drive thru on the way to Tampa. The VIP debarkation area was in the Chinatown Lounge at 7:15. The crew walked us off the ship and we were in the parking lot within fifteen minutes. It was a very easy process. The Radisson had two shuttles waiting on us, so there was no wait there either. This was definitely one of the fastest departures from Port Canaveral that we've ever had. It was a great cruise overall, very relaxing and enjoyable.

After leaving Port Canaveral we had to make a stop to pick up my wife's parents before heading on to Tampa to embark on the Brilliance of the Seas. We had fairly light traffic until we got into Orlando. No surprise there, O-Town is usually a traveler's nightmare. It seems to only exist to prevent anyone from getting anywhere in a reasonable amount of time. But we eventually collected the in-laws and made our way to the Port of Tampa. It was time for round two.

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Day 5, The Brilliance, Tampa, 12/16/13:

For those wondering why this review starts at day five, it's actually a continuation of a back-to-back review that started on the 12-12-13 sailing of the Carnival Ecstasy from Port Canaveral. As a quick recap, it was a great little four night cruise. We did a day at Sandals in Nassau and enjoyed the wondrous beauty of Freeport from deck of the ship. That pictorial review can be viewed HERE

We booked this sailing of Brilliance to celebrate my wife's thirtieth birthday. It also marks a few important events for us with Royal Caribbean. It was exactly five years ago that we took our first cruise with RCI aboard the Monarch of the Seas. I remember not being totally sold on them back then. Monarch was a great ship, but not so superior that I saw Royal becoming my cruise line of choice. That first impression of Royal Caribbean can be found HERE if anyone wants to reminisce with me.

But on the advice of some folks in that thread we decided to try one off the newer Royal ships. We took a cruise on Freedom of the Seas the next year and were thoroughly impressed. My "wow factor" was well documented HERE.

So five years later we're officially Royal Caribbean fans and will be moving up to Diamond Plus after this cruise. Several factors have contributed to that aside from the awesome ships. Royal's past guest program is well beyond most of their competition. The perks and nightly events (for Diamond level and above) make you feel very welcome and foster a camaraderie that you don't see on many other cruise lines. We've met many new friends during Crown and Anchor events and see lots of folks over and over again.

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Thank you for continuing this thread over here. Really enjoyed the first half, looking forward to the rest. :)

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Thank you for continuing this thread over here. Really enjoyed the first half, looking forward to the rest. :)

 

No problem!

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We got to the terminal around noon, Beth dropped her parents and I off while she left the car at The Parking Doctors. She caught their shuttle back to the terminal and we headed inside to check in. Then it all sort of fell apart. My wife booked each of her parents into two rooms song with me and her to get the senior discount on both cabins. The pier check-in agent just couldn't figure out how to put people from different cabins on the same expense account. Even after another agent came over and explained it to him, he just couldn't get it. What's normally a five minute affair turned into twenty minutes or more. We eventually got checked in, but it was a painfully process. Thank goodness for the priority line.

The Brilliance, at Port of Tampa

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My last Diamond card

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Thanks for the reviews. I just read your Ecstasy review. That ship docked in Freeport was the Explorer which is a Semester At Sea ship.

 

Have to say that the old/earlier Fantasy class ships are actually some of my favorite Carnival ships. That was back when Carnival had imagination and presented a good product.

 

Now I will enjoy part II of your review.:)

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Upon boarding the ship I was immediately impressed with the new look given to get during her renovations. I'd been on two of Brilliance's sister ships (Radiance and Jewel), but neither had gotten the new renovations.

The Brilliance's lobby had been totally redone with the new R Bar design that I'd previously seen on Enchantment_of_the_Seas. The look was very modern/elegant and much better than the old decor. Even the staircases and elevator lobbies had been made over and looked excellent.

 

 

The R Bar

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Thanks for the reviews. I just read your Ecstasy review. That ship docked in Freeport was the Explorer which is a Semester At Sea ship.

 

Have to say that the old/earlier Fantasy class ships are actually some of my favorite Carnival ships. That was back when Carnival had imagination and presented a good product.

 

Now I will enjoy part II of your review.:)

 

I saw that on her funnel, I was trying to figure out what that was all about.

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The stairwells and elevator lobbies also got the new carpeting colors

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The atrium got new wall decor with color changing LED effects. The old atirum fountain and glass staircase are gone.

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Nice review so far Grady. Sorry to hear of your hiccup at the port. You, too, have some really nice photo's. Patiently waiting to hear more about your trip experience. :)

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They took out the green glass staircase from the Centrum? Boo.

 

I thought that too at first, I though the old staircase and fountain were neat. But I do like the new look, its much cleaner and more modern.

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The old Champagne Bar had given way to the new Vintages. I don't care about champagne or wine, but the new look is certainly an improvement. Up at the top of the ship there were more changes. What used to be the Crown and Anchor study had apparently turned into some sort of weird establishment that uses chains, ropes and leather harnesses. My hopes were dashed when I found out that it's just an area for staging the new atrium acrobatics show.

The new Vintages

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What was once the Crown and Anchor Study is now the rigging area for the new atrium acrobatic show. It is now off-limits to guests, so no more cool views down into the atrium through the glass floor (which has been removed).

 

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Other changes up top include the big LED screen above the main pool and the replacement of the old Solarium Cafe with the (much better) Park Cafe. The port side of the aft Windjammer porch is now a Rita's Cantina, and the former Seaview Cafe is now a for-fee Izumi Sushi (boo!).

Speaking of Izumi, it looks very nice inside and I would consider eating there if they didn't price gouge. You have to pay five bucks per person just get in, and then you have to buy the sushi ala carte. I wouldn't mind buying the sushi rolls, but I'm not going to pay money to have the opportunity to spend more money. Entry should be free if you're paying per item. What's odd is that Rita's Cantina is setup same way, but doesn't have a cover charge.

The main pool with its new LCD screen.

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Thankfully the name plaque was retained

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Edited by DarthGrady

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Do you mind if I post a link of your review in mine? You have a ton of pictures from areas I don't and you know of all the changes since Brilliance went through it's revitalization where as I don't since this was my first go 'round with it.

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Do you mind if I post a link of your review in mine? You have a ton of pictures from areas I don't and you know of all the changes since Brilliance went through it's revitalization where as I don't since this was my first go 'round with it.

 

Definitely, and feel free to post a link to yours here!

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Definitely, and feel free to post a link to yours here!

 

Thank you. I didn't want to just throw your stuff out there without permission. Sometimes people are funny about that sort of stuff even though it's posted for the world to see. lol.

 

And of course, will do.

 

For anybody wanting to read another review of the same cruise from a different perspective, here you go.

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1959063

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All of a sudden, reviews of the Brilliance are popping up all over here on CC.

 

We did the Canada to Cape Liberty in Nov 2012 on the BOTS but for various reasons (Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Sandy....) never wrote up this trip or even posted pictures to an internet hosting site. Time to get back in the game.

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We were able to immediately drop off our luggage in the cabins. We had ocean view cabin #3596. The location right off the aft staircase was very convenient. Our view was definitely of the ocean, it was only about twenty feet below our window. The room itself was in good shape and had a small sitting area.

My only complaint about the room is regarding the bathroom. The shower curtain was too short and water would spill out onto the floor. There was also a noticeable odor of mildew at times, probably due to the constant wetness from the shower. All this could be solved (and SHOULD be solved) by Royal Caribbean adding the sliding shower doors to all ships that don't have them. They're much better at keeping the water in and don't molest you while you're shampooing.

Our stateroom

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Our lovely view

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For anyone wondering if the flat screen TVs have inputs for electronic devices. I'm not sure if RCI has locked them out though.

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All of a sudden, reviews of the Brilliance are popping up all over here on CC.

 

We did the Canada to Cape Liberty in Nov 2012 on the BOTS but for various reasons (Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Sandy....) never wrote up this trip or even posted pictures to an internet hosting site. Time to get back in the game.

 

Funny you mention that cruise, there were a few folks on board during this cruise that were on the ship with you during Hurricane Sandy.

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More cabin photos

 

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The bathroom, with awful (and nearly pointless) shower curtain

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Some swag

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Our Christmas tree

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That takes care of the cabin and a few areas of the ship. Lots more to come, but that's all I have time for tonight. I'll be back on tomorrow with more.

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Funny you mention that cruise, there were a few folks on board during this cruise that were on the ship with you during Hurricane Sandy.

 

There were 3 couples at our table and all were severely impacted by Sandy.

 

We had a 120 foot oak tree land squarely on our house, partially demolishing it. After 6 months the house was rebuilt and we sold it and moved to Florida.

 

The second couple lived on the Jersey Shore....enuff said.

 

The 3rd couple lives in Manhattan on 14th street in Stuyvesant Town. Their parking garage is below street level. Before we all got off the ship in NJ, the wife told us that their car is now a submarine.

 

We had been booked to do a b2b on the BOTS down to San Juan but that was cancelled and insurance did pay us back for the skipped second leg.

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There were 3 couples at our table and all were severely impacted by Sandy.

 

We had a 120 foot oak tree land squarely on our house, partially demolishing it. After 6 months the house was rebuilt and we sold it and moved to Florida.

 

The second couple lived on the Jersey Shore....enuff said.

 

The 3rd couple lives in Manhattan on 14th street in Stuyvesant Town. Their parking garage is below street level. Before we all got off the ship in NJ, the wife told us that their car is now a submarine.

 

We had been booked to do a b2b on the BOTS down to San Juan but that was cancelled and insurance did pay us back for the skipped second leg.

 

Not good about the damage and subsequent cruise cancellation. At least they made it right. Welcome to FL, at least you don't have to worry about hurricanes anymore......;):D

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As always, it is so GREAT seeing another excellent review. I have come to rely on your opinion of ships, as your views mirror mine very closely. We loved our cruise on the MSC Poesia we took last year after reading your review. One of my favorite ships now. As you can see by my signature, we are now bound for the Allure in May. Thanks again for helping me spend money. We live in Sarasota, and it would be great to travel with you and your wife on a future trip. Once again, thanks for taking the time to write about and photograph your travels.

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As always, it is so GREAT seeing another excellent review. I have come to rely on your opinion of ships, as your views mirror mine very closely. We loved our cruise on the MSC Poesia we took last year after reading your review. One of my favorite ships now. As you can see by my signature, we are now bound for the Allure in May. Thanks again for helping me spend money. We live in Sarasota, and it would be great to travel with you and your wife on a future trip. Once again, thanks for taking the time to write about and photograph your travels.

 

Thanks, glad to hear the Poesia worked out well. We've been talking about doing a cruise on her, they offer some attractive rates.

 

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

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Thank you for posting your review and including pictures, very much appreciated. So was the little tree something you brought along? :)

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Thank you for posting your review and including pictures, very much appreciated. So was the little tree something you brought along? :)

 

Yes, a little USB powered tree. Just the right size for a cruise ship cabin.

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Shortly after boarding I stopped by the Sky Bar for the unofficial Cruise Critic meet and mingle and met lots of nice folks that I had been counting down with on the roll call. After the muster drill we went upstairs to the Viking Crown Lounge for the cocktail party. Part of the VCL had been converted into the new Diamond Lounge, and the old Hollywood Odyssey Lounge had been repurposed into a Concierge Lounge. The cocktail party was very busy and entire VCL was being used as a combination DL/CL.

The Sky Bar, the first I've seen with tables. Not a bad idea IMO.

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The Starquest in the Viking Crown Lounge

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The dance floor, behind that blue dividing wall is the new Diamond Lounge

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The carousel bar, my nightly watering hole

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The old Hollywood Odyssey, now the Concierge Lounge. There is also a nice porch area outside those big windows, but I couldn't get a shot as I had to sneak in to get this shot.

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The new Diamond Lounge, carved out of a section of the Starquest (Viking Crown Lounge). The coffee machine was putting out sub-par brew the entire cruise. This was a shame since the unlimited free espresso was a high point of my recent Enchantment cruise.

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Thanks for sharing. Good for you for racking up so many cruises so fast, you must be doing something right! I must get on a Radiance class ship...I just simply must. Also thanks for linking to your Carnival trip. I was onboard Ecstasy almost exactly 21 years ago for a NYE cruise 1992-1993. Good memories. Not much of a CCL fan with all their cutbacks now but the Ecstasy still seems to get a lot of love from fans so that is cool. Keep cruisin'!

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