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kyriecat

Oct. 3 Brilliance Greek Isles Review

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Pre-Cruise & Boarding

 

We flew to Barcelona a couple days early to enjoy the city before the cruise. We arrived late on a Saturday and stayed in the Apsis Atrium Palace hotel. I booked it myself (could get a suite for less than RCI charged for a regular room). We soaked in the hot tub on the balcony to get rid of the kinks from being on a plane for 13 hours. The suite was very spacious and the hotel is in a safe area really close to several restaurants and the Placa Catalunya, which is the main transportation square with subways and buses.

 

The next day we ate breakfast at the hotel before touring. Breakfast was buffet form with a wide variety of foods – fruits, pastries, eggs, meats (hot & cold), cheeses, and cereals. We took the Bus Touristic around the city. I thought it was a great way to get around since it took you to the major attractions. Others have said taking the subway is just as easy and cheaper. We really enjoyed the Barri Gothic. The winding streets and narrow alleys were fun. It was disappointing that the cathedral was being restored so the entire front was covered with scaffolding. Since it was Sunday, there were services going on so we decided not to go inside and possibly disturb worshippers with our sightseeing. We stopped for paella on one of the local restaurants in the Barri Gothic. Really good! I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant. After lunch we took the bus to Parc Guell to walk around. The walkways in the park are interesting, but the views overlooking the city are incredible. The city is so packed together that there is very little grass or trees. The only trees inside the city are along Las Ramblas. We ate tapas that evening at Cuidad Coudal, which was recommended by the staff at the hotel. The tapas were very good. I’m not entirely sure what we ate since our waitress didn’t speak English and our Catalunyan is non-existent. We pointed at the items that looked interesting.

 

On Monday we boarded the Bus Touristic again and went to La Sangria Familia cathedral. My husband and I marveled at whether the cathedral was genius or some form of substance abuse. We went to the top of the towers for another view of the city. The stairs are very narrow and difficult since it’s two-way traffic. After the cathedral we stopped in the royal gardens for a walk. We were dropped off in the Placa Catalunya where we had gelato (ice cream) before returning to the hotel to pick up our luggage.

 

We had a small problem catching a taxi to the port from the hotel. We asked the front desk to call a cab for us, but the first two cabs that stopped said they don’t carry luggage and left. We found that strange since we had no problems getting a cab from the airport to the hotel. I couldn’t figure out why they stopped by a hotel where one would assume people would have luggage if they wouldn’t transport the luggage. The third cab had no problems with the luggage and took us to the port. It only took about 20 minutes for the drive and cost around 25 euros.

 

Brilliance of the Seas is a gorgeous ship and was easy to recognize from the road. We arrived around 3:30 for boarding. The lines were a little long even though we were in the “express” line for those who filled out their documents online. It took us about 45 minutes to get onboard. We dropped our carry-ons off in the cabin and went to Windjammer for late lunch. Food was okay – really liked the honey-glazed fried chicken. Other items tasted bland to my SE Texas taste buds. We walked around the ship for a while, found our dining table, and returned to the cabin to find the rest of our luggage was already waiting for us.

 

We stood on our balcony to watch the departure from Barcelona. This was our first balcony so it was a new experience for us. We were one cabin aft of center of the hump. It was an excellent location since the elevators and stairs we right around the corner. We used the stairs almost exclusively to help burn off those nasty calories.

 

We had LATE dining so we took a nap before dinner. There were 4 dining times – 6, 6:30, 8:30, and 9. We had 9 PM, which is really late. I wish they could stagger the dining to be 6, 7, 8, and 9. We weren’t sure what type of dining companions we would get since the majority of the passengers seemed to be in their 40s and up. I am 33 and hubby is 34. We actually ended up at a great table where we were the “old folks”. We sat with 2 honeymoon couples and 1 couple who were getting married in Santorini. It was awkward at first (always is), but we quickly became friends. Our waitress was Alif and assistant was Shmi. Service was sub-par the first night because Alif and Shmi had another table of 8 who only spoke Spanish and neither of the waiters spoke any Spanish. Since they were struggling with their other table, it delayed our meals. The food was good, but I don’t remember what I had – shrimp ravioli I think. The menu was different from previous cruises – some of the same things but many new ones.

 

One of the questions that come up often is whether jeans are allowed in the dining room. Since most of our tablemates were wearing jeans, I asked our headwaiter, Sing, about them. Although the recommended dress code is slacks or skirts for casual nights, jeans are allowed. I was surprised at the number of people who were wearing jeans, even the older crowd. I had not seen many jeans on previous cruises. Shorts and tank tops are still listed as not allowed, but no one will be turned away for wearing them.

 

After dinner was walked around the ship for a little while then went to bed so we’d be ready for the stop in Villefranche the next day.

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What a wonderful review! Can't wait for the rest. I will be taking the Brilliance transatlantic eastward 4/28/06. Please keep posting.......I am sitting here on the edge of my seat....

 

:D

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Villefranche

 

The night was a little rough – lots of wind and the ship moved around quite a bit. Fortunately I don’t get seasick easily so aside from waking up a few times during the night, felt fine. I woke up Tuesday morning and went out on the balcony to watch the amazing site of us gliding into port. Villefranche is a gorgeous port – there are houses built up along the cliffs. It looks exactly like I expected the French Riviera to look. I watched the crew lower the tender boats while my husband woke up. I’ve decided the balcony is a MUST HAVE for all future cruises. We used to get a window cabin, but the window would not do justice to the Mediterranean.

 

We ate a so-so breakfast in the Windjammer. I’m not a big breakfast eater so fruit is enough for me. There was a good selection of fruit – melons, pineapple, figs, cocktail, apples, oranges, bananas, and prunes (I won’t go there based on the cruiser ages!) My husband believes in a hearty breakfast so he was disappointed. The scrambled eggs were really runny, the bacon had sat out and was no longer crisp, and the sausage was cold. The hash browns were pretty good. I normally like a glass of milk and cup of coffee with breakfast. European milk does not taste the same as American milk. I can’t explain the difference but I didn’t like it. The coffee was horrible. I like cream and sugar in my coffee, but it tasted bad no matter how much I put in. There were several other complaints about the coffee.

 

We booked all our tours through Royal Caribbean. I know we could probably get a cheaper tour from a 3rd party, but I was nervous with this being our first European cruise. It took me a couple trips before I was comfortable booking my own Caribbean excursions.

 

We did the Nice, Eze, and Monaco tour. Francois was our guide. She was very informative and personable so we enjoyed the tour. The only thing we hated was the crowd of people. There were three ships in dock that day.

 

We began by taking the tender to Villefranche to the bus. From Villefranche, we drove through Nice to Eze, which is a small medieval-era village on a hilltop. The bus parked at the base of the hill and the group walked to the top. Once at the top, we walked through the streets of Eze. Francois gave us a history of the village. The “streets” are all stairs about 4 feet wide designed narrow enough for defense but wide enough to allow two burros (only way to transport goods into the village) to pass each other. The buildings are all on top of each other wrapped around the hill. The area is all shops and restaurants now. There is an excellent view of the coastline from the hilltop. We were given about an hour to roam around and shop before lunch.

 

We ate lunch at a restaurant at the base of the hill. The food was reasonable – salad with tuna and vinaigrette dressing, chicken in a mushroom sauce with green beans and French fries (we thought the fries were a joke on the American tourists), and chocolate mousse. I really liked the chicken!

 

After lunch, it was on to Monaco. We walked past the Oceanographic museum, the houses of the princesses, the gardens, and inside the cathedral where Princess Grace is buried. The cathedral was beautiful on the outside and inside. Pictures without flashes were allowed inside so I took several. Following the cathedral we went to the Royal Palace and saw the changing of the guards then had about 30 minutes free time for shopping. There are so many shops around the palace that we didn’t have enough time to visit them all.

 

We got back on the bus and drove part of the Grand Prix race way before stopping that the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo. We had an hour to either go inside the casino or walk around the shops and hotels outside. My husband and I decided to go inside. There is a 10-euro pp entrance fee, but it was worth it. The inside of the casino is right out of a James Bond movie – very luxurious. There are murals on the ceilings, chandeliers, and dealers in tuxedos. We didn’t have time to gamble because we wanted to look around before we had to get back to the bus. I felt sorry for the gamblers because of the crowd of tourist stomping through. I think everyone on all three ships showed up at one time. To get back to the bus, we had to walk down the hill from the casino, take an elevator down to a tunnel under the roadway, and then ride an escalator back up. The crowd trying to get into the elevator was unbelievable – people pushing and shoving.

 

We made it back to the bus on time. We waited about 10 extra minutes for 4 people to show up before an officer came by to say the bus was parked too long and had to leave. Francois waited at the casino stop while our driver gave us a tour of some of the other areas of Monaco before returning to the casino. When we returned, the missing people had not shown up yet so Francois got on the bus and we left. The people were over 30 minutes late at that point. We found out later they were winning in the casino and didn’t want to leave. They returned to the ship with another tour group.

 

We drove into Nice and saw several of the homes of the rich and famous along the way. This area of France is obviously not for the average Joe! Francois pointed out the houses and gave us histories of some of them. We drove by the marina to see the large yachts, saw luxury hotels, the opera house, markets, and McDonald’s. I thought it was sad to see a McDonalds just down the road from the most expensive hotel in the area. We stopped for a while to walk around and take pictures before heading back to Villefranche.

 

The only complaint I have about the port stop was the tender system. All the tenders for the various ships dock in the same place. There was absolutely no organization. It was just a big mass of people who surged forward when the tender for their ship stopped. If you had jumped to the front when your tender docked but didn’t get on, you got pushed into the next tender even if it wasn’t yours and had to fight back off.

 

We made it back to our ship and had a little while to “chill out” on the balcony before dinner. It was nice to sit outside and be away from the crowds for a while. I wish we had more time, especially in Monaco. It was such a fascinating location.

 

We finally got to meet our room steward, Nikki, before going to dinner. She was very efficient and wanted to know if there was anything special she could do to make out stay even better. Nikki was very sweet, but because this trip was so port intensive, we didn’t really get to know her very well. On our Rhapsody trip last year, we saw our steward Oscar constantly. He would even open the door for us when he saw us coming.

 

At dinner we discussed our days. No one took the exact same excursion although we all took one. It was interesting to compare notes and thoughts. We got to know our dining companions better. I have no idea what I ordered, but I’m sure it was good. I only didn’t care for a couple things at dinner the entire trip. Alif and Shmi got some help from one of the other waiters for their Spanish-speaking table so dinner was much smoother. It still amazes me how well we got along with our dining companions. I’m not sure why RCI would group a couple from near Houston (us), with a couple from near Boston, a couple from near Toronto, and a couple from San Juan, but it seemed to work well. Obviously we had differences but we managed to agree not to argue just discuss things.

 

After dinner my husband and I sat in the Schooner Bar and listened to the piano player for a while. Eventually the smoke was getting to me so we decided to shoot pool for a while. Brilliance has pool tables with gyros that adjust the tabletops to compensate for the wave action. I have never been seasick until I played on those tables! Watching the tabletop move around made me queasy! I ended up having to quit playing. We had a disagreement with the bar tender in the Schooner Bar because he left my husband’s sea pass card on the bar when we reserved the pool table. I thought that was irresponsible of him since anyone could have come by and taken it. We later found out that someone used it to buy a couple of drinks while we were playing pool. The bar tender said he does that all the time.

 

Ended up going to bed after that. It was a long day of touring with another to come when we docked in Livorno the next morning.

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We docked in Livorno early. We got up at 6 AM (early tour) and we were already docked. Livorno is an industrial port and not very scenic from the balcony. The real stops are further inland.

 

We had breakfast in Windjammer again. Fruit for me (skipped the milk and coffee this time). Hubby decided to try an omelet this time. He was disappointed with the fixings – ham, bacon, cheese, tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms. Last October on Rhapsody there were shrimp and crab available. The omelet was less cooked than he likes (center was runny). The bacon was better this morning.

 

Finished breakfast and on to our Florence/Pisa tour with Daria as our guide at 7:30 AM. That is way too early for vacation, but the tour was 10 hours. It turns out that wasn’t enough time to see everything. It was about 1.5 hours from Livorno to Florence so most of us on the bus took a nap. Daria was okay as a guide but not terribly enthusiastic, especially after Francois the previous day.

 

We stopped first at the Piazza del Duomo to see the outside of the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore and the baptistery. Daria turned us over to a local Florentine guide (forgot her name) to lead us through Florence. The cathedral was being restored so part of it was covered in scaffolding. The cathedral is one of the largest in the world and I thought it was the most beautiful (on the outside) of all the churches we saw. It was constructed of white, pink, and green marble fashioned in the typical Gothic style. I really wished we were able to go inside. However, Daria explained to us that the traditional Gothic churches were extremely ornate on the outside but the inside was minimally decorated. Daria also explained the doors of the octagonal baptistery are copies of the original doors created by Ghiberti. The doors were named the “Doors of Paradise” by Michelangelo due their detail.

 

There were several Gypsy women roaming through the piazza while we were there. Daria had warned us about them. One would distract you while another would pick your pockets or steal your camera. I have a very valuable SLR camera that I brought with me. While I was taking pictures of the cathedral, a couple of the Gypsies approached me – one from the front asking for money while the second approached on my side with my camera bag. I told them to go away, but they still wouldn’t leave me alone. I ended up yelling at them to attract attention. It seemed to work because as soon as several people began looking at me, the Gypsies ran off. My advise in Florence (and Rome and Athens) is watch your belongings and don't be afraid to get vocal.

 

After the Piazza del Duomo, we moved to the Piazza della Signoria in the heart of Florence. This Piazza is home to the Fountain of Neptune, as well as a copy of Michelangelo’s David and the Loggia dei Lanzi. The Loggia is a covered area featuring the works of several artists from the Renaissance period. The Rape of the Sabine is probably the most well known of these. Our guide initially did not want to give us any time to explore the piazza on our own. We protested since there was so much to see in the piazza most of us wanted to walk around rather than stay in one place to hear an explanation then leave.

 

The hand of Neptune was damaged a few weeks before we were there by a drunk who decided it would be fun to swing from the hand into the fountain. The sculpture cracked at the wrist and the hand shattered. The rest of the fountain was still intact and a gorgeous showpiece.

 

From the piazza we walked to the river to see the oldest bridge in Florence. It was spared the bombings during WW2 as well as several previous altercations. On the way to the bridge we passed the Uffizi gallery which houses paintings and sculptures of the Florentine masters, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, and Cellini. The gallery is decorated with busts of the famous artists and thinkers of Florence, including Dante and Michelangelo.

 

The final stop in Florence was the Basilica of Santa Croce, which houses the tombs of many well-known Florentines. We saw the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, Donatello, Dante, as well as several Medici royalties. The exterior of this church is very plain compared to the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, but the interior is gorgeous with sculptures, columns, and mosaics. Photography with flashes was not permitted and the interior was very dark, making it difficult to capture the true beauty of the church. Renaissance style churches were plain on the outside and highly decorated within.

 

The next part of the tour was lunch, which I wished we had skipped. According to the brochure, lunch would be in a “first class restaurant”. The Italian version of first class differs from mine. We ate at the Jolly Hotel in Florence. Lunch started with vegetable lasagna, which was almost edible except that the cheese on top was completely burnt brown. The next course was roast beef in a reddish sauce with mixed vegetables. The roast beef was mostly fat and the sauce tasted suspiciously like watered-down ketchup. The mixed vegetables had been boiled to the point of being a multi-colored mush. Dessert was a lemon tart that was so dry that it crumbled. I wish we had spent more time exploring Florence and skipped lunch completely! I should have realized lunch would not be good when I spotted Daria eating a salad.

 

After lunch we spent about an hour driving to Pisa. I spent the time taking my afternoon siesta. We only visited the “Field of Miracles” in Pisa, home of the famous leaning tower. Also on the field is the Duomo Santa Maria cathedral, baptistery, and cemetery. It was a bit of a walk from the bus parking to the field, around 1/3 mile. We were given an hour to explore the area on our own. Daria did warn us about the vendors around the outside of the walled Field of Miracles selling fake Rolexes, Gucci and Prada bags, shoes, etc. Apparently in Italy it is legal to sell fake designer products but illegal to purchase them. If you are caught buying these items, the fines can be up to $5000 US. That could really ruin your vacation!

 

Since we didn’t have much time, we decided to visit the cathedral and the baptistery. We wanted to climb the Tower, but the next available time slot wasn’t until after our tour was scheduled to leave. Maybe next time I’m in Pisa!

 

The cathedral is another example of renaissance architecture, although in my opinion not as nice as the cathedral in Florence. I prefer the Gothic structures on the outside. The stained glass and marble columns inside the cathedral are gorgeous. The interior was burned at one point and several of the mosaics and sculptures were damaged. We didn’t get to spend nearly enough time inside since we also wanted to see the baptistery. The baptistery is round with a domed roof. One interesting thing we found inside the baptistery is its ability to magnify sounds, such as the children screaming. That could shatter eardrums! The magnification was enough to allow whispers to be heard across the room. The baptistery was disappointing after being inside the cathedral since most of its stained glass was broken or missing. I am not certain whether there are plans for restoration of the baptistery. Hopefully they will. It is a gorgeous piece of history.

 

We spent the remainder of our time walking around the leaning tower, which was initially supposed to be the bell tower for the cathedral. We were able to see the attempts to keep the tower from leaning further around the base. I was completely in awe observing the tower. This was something that I had seen in pictures and read about but never expected to really be able to see in person. It’s such an incredible experience seeing such a famous structure. I really wish we were able to go inside. The structure itself is beautiful with its arches, carvings, and columns, although its tilt is its real claim to fame. Unfortunately it is still slowly tilting further due to the unstable soil conditions and could possibly fall over completely in another 20 years. Hopefully I can return before that happens!

 

We reluctantly left the Field of Miracles to catch our bus. We made a stop for gelato at one of the booths outside the walls to make up for our lack of lunch. The trip back to the ship took around 45 minutes. Daria pointed out the American Army base, the agricultural items such as pine nuts and olives growing by the roadside, and explained some of the history behind the rivalry between Livorno (her hometown) and Pisa.

 

We ate dinner that night at Chops. It was well worth the $20 pp fee. We both had the crab cakes (awesome!) and house salad. Hubby had the filet mignon for his main course and I had the salmon. We shared sides of sautéed mushrooms, mashed potatoes, and rice pilaf. The filet mignon was tender enough to cut with the fork and the salmon was seasoned and flaky. The mushrooms and potatoes were good but the rice was disappointing. It wasn’t seasoned very well and was more like plain white rice than a pilaf. The crowning glory of the meal was dessert. We both had the mud pie - an incredibly rich chocolate cake drizzled with chocolate syrup. MMM!!

 

After dinner we spent some time in the Colony Club watching the karaoke. It’s nice to hear people who can sing show off their favorite tunes. However, I prefer to see the people who either can’t (or don’t know they can’t) sing get up there. I know I can’t sing but I don’t have the guts to get up on a stage and prove it. One woman who couldn’t sing was really funny because she kept going after they stopped the music. She was determined to sing the complete song with or without the music. There were a couple of Elvis impersonators also. Got to love watching middle-aged men attempt to shake their hops a la the king! After karaoke we went up to the Starquest for some dancing (have to burn off that mud pie!) before retiring for the evening. Had to get up early for Naples!

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I am realizing that my descriptions of the tours are getting way too long so I'll try to pare down the future ones. We saw so much during our excursions that it's hard to limit the information. The entire trip really was absolutely amazing. I was very reluctant to get off the ship at the end!

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Don't pare anything down! This is wonderful. Your information is very helpful, and you have a nice way of writing. I'm enjoying living vicariously.

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We started the day with a room service breakfast on the balcony. Naples looks like an interesting port with a couple of buildings resembling medieval fortresses right near the dock. Too bad our excursion for the day didn’t include time in Naples!

 

We left at 8 AM for the Amalfi Coast Drive and Pompeii with our guide Ciro. We drove past Mt. Vesuvius and through the Naples suburbs, which are a mixture of medieval and renaissance architecture with modern structures. We began with the drive around the Sorrento Peninsula. The drive had some lovely views of the coastline and Naples. We made a brief stop at a shop that specialized in wooden inlays to use the facilities and walk across the street to the scenic overlook for photos.

 

The Amalfi coast reminded me of the California/Oregon coastline with the narrow, twisting roads and sheer cliffs dropping into the ocean. There were some rather scary moments when two buses passed each other along the road. In the villages the streets are even narrower and people were stationed outside the towns to make sure that two oncoming buses didn’t go through at the same time. The villages have buildings stacked up along the cliffs with steep staircases running from one level to the next similar to what we saw previously in Eze. Each of the villages has a church that with a tiled dome and whitewashed walls. The churches all appear identical except for the color of the tile on the dome. Ciro pointed out some of the homes owned by famous people such as Sophia Loren and a Saudi prince.

 

We made a stop in the village of Amalfi to sightsee and shop. We wanted to go inside the Cathedral of St. Andrew, but it was closed. This cathedral was a mix of the renaissance style seen in Florence with the Mediterranean style seen in most of the villages. We ended up wandering through some shops and stopping for a gelato. I’ve noticed that gelatos are addictive. The vendors normally don’t speak enough English to translate the flavors so I look at the flavors and point to one that looks interesting. After about 45 minutes, we got back on the bus to continue the tour.

 

In one of the villages the people stopping buses didn’t do a very good job. An oncoming concrete truck and a bus in front of us couldn’t get around each other in the narrow street. Traffic was so stacked up behind each of them that neither could back up enough to let the other by. We ended up stuck for almost an hour until the police could move enough vehicles into alleys and driveways to allow the concrete truck to back up and let the bus around. I think I learned how to cuss in Italian sign language while waiting for the mess to get cleared.

 

Because of the delay we were late reaching our lunch stop. It was after 3 by the time we got there. Unfortunately for the restaurant our delay caused a schedule conflict for them. We had to walk through a banquet room set up for a wedding party to get to our banquet room. The food was pretty good (lasagna, chicken with vegetables, and cake) but the service was rushed because the staff wanted to get us out before the wedding party showed up. We didn’t make it. I felt very sorry for the newlyweds because they had a herd of tourists tromping through their reception area. Some people on the tour even stopped to take pictures of the reception and the bride and groom. I thought that was rather rude.

 

After lunch we headed back towards Naples via a more direct route than the coastal road. Ciro initially said we would have to cut our time in Pompeii short because of the delay during the drive. That announcement didn’t go over well with most of us so he called the ship to let them know the tour was running late. Despite our running late, we still made the stop in the cameo shop. I thought it was a waste of time. We got a brief explanation about cameos then the sculptor swiped the cameo with the chisel a couple times and said it was finished. I would rather have skipped the stop completely or seen a cameo in the beginning or middle of the sculpting process.

 

Pompeii was the next stop (finally!). The city was much bigger than I expected. As we approached the entrance, we could see remains of the city walls rising from the surrounding area. I only expected there to be a few buildings. They have actually dug out about half of what was once a large, well-developed city. We saw two of the theaters, shops, houses, temples, etc. Most of the roofs were destroyed by the weight of the ash that fell on the city when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Also, many of the statues and frescos that were found intact were transported to museums for preservation. Ciro showed us pedestals were several statues and sculptures were removed. A few of the buildings still had beautiful painting or mosaics on the walls. It would be very easy to become lost within the city without a guide or map. We didn’t even see ¼ of the buildings that are excavated. In the city are several plaster casts of bodies found buried under the ash. It is obvious from the casts that the occupants of Pompeii had no idea what was coming.

 

I am so glad we made the stop in Pompeii. It is so impressive to see how much work archeologists have done in the area. I was disappointed with the Amalfi coast drive portion of the tour. It was interesting at first, but after 5 hours all the little villages look exactly alike. The food and guide were really good, but the scenery didn’t hold my interest. I would choose something that allowed for more walking around to see things rather than sitting on a bus. I would also like to spend some time exploring Naples since we didn’t have time this trip.

 

Because our tour ran long, we ended up getting back onboard right at last call. We quickly changed clothes to join our group for dinner. After dinner was the Quest game. None of the other couples had played before so two of them joined us as a team. We had a great time but didn’t win. It was Western Night onboard so there was country and line dancing. We joined a couple of the dances but apparently the Two-step and Cotton-Eyed Joe are danced differently in the Mediterranean than they are in Texas. We gave up and joined the others in the Starquest for dancing and drinks. We had a good time and stayed out late again. Oh well, we get a sea day tomorrow.

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After several busy days of excursions, we finally get a much needed sea day. I love port stops and trying to see everything possible, but an occasional sea day is perfect to recharge.

 

I made sure to set the alarm just in case we slept REALLY late so we would make it to the Meet & Mingle party at 11. It was nice to put faces with the screen names, but I was really disappointed with the turn out. Only 10 of us showed up. RC left us a good spread of snacks (including some with caviar) and gave out several door prizes. The group chatted for about an hour and exchanged e-mail addresses before going our separate ways.

 

Hubby and I went down to the dining room to check out the menu before deciding nothing looked appealing and trying our luck in the Windjammer. The WJ food was nothing special – good selection but rather bland in taste. I know that comes from feeding a couple thousand people, some of which can’t eat seasoned foods. I need to remember to bring a small shaker of Tony Cachere’s seasoning on my next cruise.

 

After lunch it was time to do a thorough exploring of the ship. We had walked around some but hadn’t covered the whole ship yet.

 

We’d already been in the Starquest Disco at the top deck so we worked our way down. Deck 12 has the rock climbing wall, mini golf, Sea View Café, basketball/volleyball court, and the walking track. We skipped the rock-climbing wall. I figured it was overly hyped based on the TV commercials and the number of shirts, mugs, koozies, etc. in the ship shops with “I climbed the wall” on them. We kept meaning to try the Sea View Café but it was tucked outside at front part of the ship so we kept forgetting about it until the last day. The Sea View has create-your-own Italian type foods like pizza, calzones, and pasta dish. There was a list of toppings, pasta types, sauces, and cheeses and you could mix-and-match to create your meal.

 

Brilliance has a nice children’s water area that is on deck 12. This was my first cruise on a Radiance class vessel so I hadn’t seen the water area previously. There are a couple water slides, a wading pool, sprinklers, and a few items to climb around on. The weather during the cruise wasn’t really warm enough for kids to fully enjoy the area. I’m sure the youngsters would have a blast on sunny days.

 

The Solarium on deck 11 was decorated in an Indian motif – elephants, Hindu gods, lots of fake plants. We were disappointed with a couple of things. We traveled on the Rhapsody last year and its Solarium had 2 hot tubs and the pool had resistance jets for swimming. The Brilliance Solarium only had one hot tub and the pool did not have any jets. Also the Brilliance Solarium was smaller than the one on Rhapsody. The day was windy and a little cool so the Solarium was packed – not an empty lounge chair or hot tub seat to be found. By empty lounge chair, I mean one without someone’s towel, book, etc sitting on it. Only about ½ the chairs had actual bodies in them. Another thing I noticed about Brilliance vs. Rhapsody was the kids in the Solarium. There were VERY FEW children on board (I would estimate less than 50 under age 13) but there was always at least one kid in the Solarium pool the few times I went in. On Rhapsody the staff asked the kids to leave almost immediately. The kids on Brilliance seemed to be there with family members and none were really misbehaving (some water splashing and jumping in the pool but no screaming and running) so I didn’t get too upset over it. I never saw kids in the hot tub, which was where I wanted to be. There is a café in the Solarium but the selection is very limited – usually one or two pasta dishes and a couple wrap choices. The café was listed as being open noon – 7 daily, but I noticed several times that it was closed during those times. Lack of interest I think.

 

One thing I really like about the Royal Caribbean ships is it seems like the staff takes pride in keeping the ships looking nice. Almost everywhere we went, someone was cleaning. My husband apologized to one woman who was cleaning the handrails on the staircases because he was dragging his hand along the rail. I know the carpets on our deck were steam cleaned twice during the cruise so I assume the other decks got the same treatment.

 

The shops on Brilliance are the same as on the other ships – a RC logo shop, boutique, jewelry store, photograph store, and a combination general store/liquor store. I bought a few logo items. We didn’t buy any liquor onboard so I didn’t find out if you could or couldn’t buy a bottle onboard and pay a consumption fee to drink it in your cabin.

 

There is a Latte-tudes onboard, but the coffee tastes like the same that is served in the dining rooms. I didn’t care for it, which saved me some money on cappuccinos. I made up for it in bar drinks.

 

I took it very easy this day to rest up for the next round of all-day excursions. We soaked in the Solarium hot tub for a while. We found out it really is a very small world because we met a couple in the hot tub from the same town as hubby and I. The hot tub had fresh water but the chlorine level was so high that my eyes started burning very quickly. I ended up getting out to try the pool. The pool was salt water but really cold after being in the hot tub. I didn’t stay long.

 

After the soak, we decided to try the Internet café. I decided not to bring my laptop (too much extra weight) so we used the RC computers. You can prepay and get 150 minutes for $50, 60 minutes for $25, or pay $.50 per minute as you use it. We spent the $50 since we wanted to keep in touch with family. My husband and I grew up in the Beaumont/Port Arthur, Texas, area and our parents and siblings are still there. We wanted to make sure that everyone was getting home safely after the evacuations and the post-Rita house repairs were going smoothly. There were also packages for WiFi access, but I didn’t look into prices since I didn’t have the laptop. We saw several people with laptops in the library, C&A lounge, Schooner Bar, and Latte-tudes so there must be hot spots in those locations. I don’t know about in-cabin access.

 

My husband was also disappointed with the sports bar. He is a BIG Astros fan and was hoping to see some of the games while onboard. Houston was (still is) fighting for a World Series spot. (Go ‘Stros!) Because of the time difference, Houston day games would be live in the evening onboard. However, Brilliance decided to tape the baseball games and broadcast them during port days so soccer (football) and golf games could be live. We hardly ever saw anyone in the sports bar. The only time we saw very many people was when they broadcast the Dallas/Philly football game on Sunday night.

 

I ended up taking a nap then had to get ready for formal night. There were two formal nights (both on sea days). We rented a tux for hubby so we didn’t have to haul that with us. For $97 (a little steep since you can buy a lightly used rental tux for less) he got pants, two shirts, jacket, cuff links and studs, and shoes. We reserved the tux in advance through Cruiselineformal.com. It was waiting on our cabin on the first day. Hubby looked even more gorgeous than usual.

 

We noticed there didn’t seem to be as many men in tuxes as on previous cruises. I guess most men didn’t want to rent one or pack one for overseas. My husband was the only one at our table in a tux. Two of the other men wore dark suits and the other man wore a shirt and tie without a jacket. I was the only woman at the table in a long formal. Two others wore cocktail dresses and the other woman wore a sari. Dinner was very nice. I remember eating the shrimp but don’t remember the appetizer or dessert.

 

After dinner one of the other couples (J&J) and us decided to listen to the piano player in the Schooner Bar for a while. There didn’t seem to be good ventilation in the bar because the cigarette smoke would linger even when there were very few people smoking. For the most part, the smokers and nonsmokers respected each other’s areas. A couple of times smokers would move ashtrays into the nonsmoking section of the bar, but it was because the smoking tables, which were all next to the piano and the bar, filled up first. I’ve noticed that all the ships I have been on have the same problem with smoke lingering. I think it’s a combination of little air circulation and ceilings that are lower than in land-based restaurants and bars. We’d stay until my eyes started bothering me than move on.

 

The men decided to try pool after a while and the ladies decided to watch them and talk. Another honeymoon couple that was on an excursion with J&J the previous day joined us for pool. No one believed me about getting seasick watching the pool table until J started feeling sick during the third game. We decided to move to the disco for a while. We didn’t stay long since it was Latin hits night and none us of are fans of Latin music. The guys decided to try their luck in the arcade.

 

We played some air hockey (hadn’t done that in a few years) and the guys played video games. I have no hand-eye coordination so I just observed and heckled. We finally decided to turn in around 4 AM. I was having cravings for cookies. Another thing about Brilliance that I didn’t like was there is nothing open to get food after dinner. On Rhapsody, Monarch, and Majesty there was a snack area that served cookies, fries, pizza, and burgers until 2 or 3 AM. It was nice to run out and grab a slice of pizza or some fries to graze on before bed. On Brilliance the Schooner Bar and Starquest Disco had chocolate candies and hors d’ oeuvres from 11 until midnight but nothing else. Room service is available 24 hours a day. I ended up ordering cookies from room service. Hubby decided since I was getting something he wanted a pizza. It took about 30 minutes for the food to arrive. Pizza was okay but cookies hit the spot. Finally made it to bed around 5 AM. We partied pretty well for being the “old folks” in the group.

 

I realized after reading through this that I listed several items as being things we didn’t like or were disappointed with. All of these were so minor that they are barely worth mentioning. This was the vacation of a lifetime and I loved every minute of it. If we had not previously cruised with RC and had a few expectations based on the previous ships, we never would have noticed anything amiss. I think I’ve mentioned before that Brilliance is a gorgeous ship. We completely fell in love with her and already have a cruise booked for next Sept. on her sister, Radiance.

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for the wonderful review. Having visited the area on land last summer, it was nice to hear your review - and visiting on a cruise sounds like an excellent way to visit. I especially believe that it might be the perfect way to introduce my DW to traveling overseas - the knowledge that she would be sleeping in the same place each night would probably give her some peace of mind.

 

Thanks again.

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My mother and I are 90% sure we're going on the Greek Isles in May (we just have to saunter over to our TA and hand over the deposit), so I really appreciate the review. Good choice to book the Radiance....she's my favorite ship so far!! The beauty of the Radiance is what's making me push my mom towards the Brilliance because she's never been on that class. Just one question....were there lots of people out in Starquest late at night? I'm 24...will there be anyone else my age? Thank you in advance!!

Laura :p :D :p :D

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Killafee,

 

The ship was about 80 - 90% full of people over the ago of 45 so the Starquest was rarely full. The exception was 70s night when they played 70s music and the Brilliance singers performed some of the Village People hits. My husband and I heard prior to going on the cruise that the crowd would be mostly "mature adults" so we were worried that there might not be many under 40 adults. Our TA said the summer sailings tend to have a better mix of people since schools are out (college and below). I think Royal Caribbean did an excellent job with the dinner seatings. We had a table for 8 and got along really well with everyone at the table. They were all couples mid-20s - early 30s. We met a few other people on excursions and around the ship that joined us sometimes. Most nights there were only around 20 people at the disco, most of them from our group. It was quiet compared to some of the other ships, but we had fun.

 

Another great way to meet people is on the excursions, especially those with lunches or in the gym and hot tubs. The lunches are open seating so you can sit with a group that looks interesting and chat. The key is to be outgoing. There will probably be more young adults on the May sailing then there were in October. I'm know if you go thinking you'll have fun, you will.

 

BRL,

 

The cruise is an excellent way to get a taste of several cities and countries. We loved waking up in a new place without having to haul our luggage around. The only bad thing about the port stops is you never feel like you get enough time to see everything you want. Almost every port we got back on the ship saying, "I wish we had a few more hours here." It's good incentive to go back later for a land trip to the places you really loved.

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We ended up sleeping until around 11 since we went to bed so late the night (or does 5 AM count as morning) before. We docked in Mykonos, which is one of the Greek islands, around noon, but our tour didn’t begin until 2. We ate another bland lunch in the WJ. We meant to try Sea View, but forgot about it until we had already started through the buffet. We considered getting off the ship to explore and coming back for our tour but heard it was about 2.5 miles into town so we didn’t really have enough time. The main town was around the bend from where we docked so we couldn’t see much of it from the deck.

 

We had left a note before we went to bed for Nikki not to bother cleaning our room that morning since we knew we would end up sleeping really late. We didn’t want to throw off her schedule since she has several rooms to clean. By the time we returned to the room after lunch, Nikki had been by anyway to leave ice and make the bed.

 

We met J&J a little while before the tour since they were going also. The only tour on Mykonos is the Delos trip. We got off the ship and transferred onto a large boat for the 30-minute ride over to the island of Delos. The ride was very windy and rough. I was surprised that no one got seasick.

 

Delos is an island founded by the Greeks to honor their god Apollo. According to their mythology Apollo was born on this island so the Greeks built a community there to honor him. The community was accepting of foreigners and open to tourists wanting to make the pilgrimage so the community became a major residential and trade area. The Greeks in Athens became jealous of the status of Delos and began to pass laws to limit the number of residents and reduce trade. The laws along with the limited water supply on the island eventually drove people away until it was deserted and fell to ruins in the 1st century BC. The island is currently deserted except for the group of archeologists digging through the ruins. Delos is very different from Pompeii and the ruins we would later see in Greece and Turkey since they have not been excavating the area for very long. There are pieces of columns and bricks from walls scattered throughout the area. There are very few structures that are rebuilt. My husband and I thought it looked like a giant had scattered his Lego blocks around the island.

 

The commerce and religious sections of the island are almost completely gone. There are a few walls and columns still standing to indicate where structures were. The residential section of the island has several homes with walls and floors intact. Several of the homes have lovely tiled mosaic floors. The theater is the only structure that is almost completely intact. We wanted to climb up to the Temple of Isis that is on a hill overlooking the island, but didn’t have enough time.

 

Delos was interesting because we had the opportunity to see what similar excavated sites looked like before the archeologists had a chance to put things back together. It gave a new appreciation for the work done in Pompeii. The trip back to Mykonos was even bumpier than the trip over. Several times waves went over the boat, spraying the passengers. The guide told us that the waters were worse in the summer. That must be some ride!

 

We docked in Mykonos and were able to explore the town a little before returning to the ship. It was already 6:30 and we had 8:30 Portofino’s reservations. Most of the buildings are typical Greek-island architecture – whitewashed stucco walls with painted blue roofs and shutters. Most of the buildings along the pier are restaurants and shops catering to the tourists. There are a few places to rent motorcycles, ATVs, and cars for those interested in seeing the interior of the island or heading to the beaches. There are a few vendors selling junk foods (candies and chips) near the shops. There were the typical American versions of Lays and Doritos along with some regional flavors. I bought a bag of paprika and tomato flavored Cheetos to try later. My husband and J&J also bought a few bags of chips. There is all this food on the ship and we bought chips. Pretty sad!

 

We received shuttle bus tickets back to the ship with our excursion so we used those to get back to the ship and change clothes. J&J mentioned that they were interested in trying Portofino’s sometime so we invited them to join us. I called Portofino’s when we got back to the ship to see if changing our reservation from 2 to 4 was a problem. They were very accommodating.

 

Dinner was amazing. The service was impeccable and the food was perfect. I ordered the tiger shrimp appetizer, the lobster pasta, and the halibut with lobster ravioli for my main course. Dessert was the tiramisu. Everything looked and tasted amazing. After dinner, they brought a small tray of cheeses and chocolates to finish the meal. We really enjoyed Chops, but Portofino’s was just incredible. I’m glad we went to Chops first because we would not have been nearly as impressed if we went after Portofino’s. I prefer seafood and seasonings to cuts of meat, and Portofino’s really delivered! It was without a doubt the best meal that we had onboard.

 

We watched a little karaoke then tried a little midnight hot tubbing before bedtime. The hot tubs are really empty around midnight so there was no waiting. Plus the crew had just finished cleaning it. Nice and soothing after a BIG meal. Then off to bed since Kusadasi was an early stop.

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Thanks for all the valuable information.

 

We are booked on the 14 day BOS, October 2006.

Starts in Istanbul and ends in Barcelona.

 

I had a few questions...

 

How did you find the weather. We have only been to Europe in the spring.

I imagine the average would be in the 60's. We are traveling from Oct. 20

until November 11, including the pre and post cruise additions so it will be

a little cooler.

 

You mentioned that many men DID NOT wear a tux. Would you say a dark suit would be all I would need? My wife is planning only to wear cocktail dresses. Would love to leave my tux at home!

 

Since we will be in Barcelona in November we would prefer to bring a few pair of jeans. Was that OK at dinner on the ship? This type of trip is so port intensive that dressing real casual a few nights would be welcome.

 

Marty:)

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The weather was a little cool - highs in the upper 60s-low 70s. Kusadasi was the only really warm stop in the mid-70s. The days were mostly cloudy with scattered showers, mostly in the mornings. You will want to bring a small umbrella with you. Every time it rained we were swarmed with people selling small umbrellas for 5-10 Euros each. It never rained for very long - 30 minutes at most before clearing up. a couple of times clouded up again and brought some afternoon showers. I carried a light jacket on every excursion - usually wearing it in the morning, putting it a backpack in the afternoon, and wearing it again in the evening. I wore shorts, capris, or skirts depending on where we were. My husband wore shorts unless we were taking an excursion that involved a stop in a church, then he wore pants.

 

You will be perfectly fine wearing a dark suit for dinner. I would guess about 1/2 of the men wore tuxes, with the remainder wearing suits or jackets and slacks. We saw very few men wearing shirtsleeves and ties for the formal nights or jackets without ties. Both formal nights were on sea days (thank you RC for that!) so there was plenty of time to get ready. I hate formal nights when I have to rush back from a late excursion. I wore a long dress one night and a cocktail dress the other. I didn't see very many others in long dresses - mostly cocktail dresses, pantsuits, or slacks and blouses.

 

On casual nights, I always wore a skirt/blouse and hubby slacks/polo shirts. However, everyone else at our table were jeans for the casual nights. I would say on casual nights around 1/4 of the diners (mostly the younger ones) were in jeans. This is a change from previous RC cruises where the Cruise Compass actually listed no jeans for the dining room. I had heard about the change but wasn't sure how many people would be in jeans. Plus I had enough other things to pack and jeans are heavy. I think I'll wear them at least a couple nights next year when we do the Alaska cruise since I'll want jeans for the excursions.

 

I still have a few more port stops for my review, but haven't had time to finish due to work. It's hard to catch back up after being out for two weeks! I have to leave for Aberdeen, Scotland tonight so I may try typing on the plane ride and copying it here later. I've only been home a week so I'm not ready to head back to Europe!

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we do bos 12 nighter w.med. in june so all of your info is great. i have been told there are 3 formal nights...but you only had 2???

so aside from the two formal nights...polos and slacks work (for the men)

for the other nights?

i also have read that the pax from europe like to dress up...what is your view of this?

keep up the good work

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Another jewel of Ephesus is the theater, which was one of the largest in the ancient world. The apostle Paul preached in this theater and gladiators fought here. The marble benches still bear the names of the families that owned the seats. With the exception of the stage area, the theater is almost completely intact. When leaving, Halit gave us about 30 minutes for shipping/rest stops. The restrooms in Ephesus are pay-toilets, costing $.50 to use. We learned that Halit likes promptness because a couple was late returning to the bus and we started to leave without them. Fortunately for them, their friends were already onboard.

 

Following Ephesus we boarded the bus for Miletus, another ancient city about 45 minutes away. Miletus was once a port city but the Aegean Sea has moved out over the years and Miletus is now about 5 miles from the sea. Miletus has not been excavated to the point of Ephesus, but still has several interesting structures. The theater here is also nearly intact. It seems of all the structures from the ancient world, the theaters survived the best. We also walked through the bathhouse, which is missing the roof and several walls, but has the pool and some of the original statues. There are a few statues remaining from the ancient city.

 

The next stop was Didyma, which is only a few miles from Miletus. We ate a buffet style lunch in a local restaurant. I could identify some of the items like fruits and vegetables, but there were several dishes that I Kusadasi was another early tour so we had to get up at 6 AM to get moving before the 7:15 tour. It’s hard to get up after sleeping late for a couple of days! Hubby finally learned that if he asked for his omelet cooked “well done” it was fully cooked and not mushy in the middle.

 

We took the Ephesus, Miletus, and Didyma tour with guide Halit. Of all the guides we toured with, Halit was my favorite. He was very informed and interesting. We started the tour with Ephesus, which is about a 45-minute drive from the dock. Along the way we passed the remains of the Temple of Artimis, House of the Virgin Mary, and the Basilica of St. John. We also passed a water theme park, which shattered a few of my misconceptions about Muslim countries. Apparently Muslims enjoy a good water slide just like Americans, although they wear a little more than bikinis and trunks while there. It was packed when we got to Ephesus since several ships were in dock that day, including Celebrity and Princess.

 

The first impression of Ephesus is WOW! The ruins have been under excavation and reconstruction since the mid-1800s. While there are some columns and marble blocks lying around like on Delos, many of the original structures have been rebuilt. Although many of the statues and frescos have been removed and placed in museums, the details uncovered in Ephesus are still unbelievable. We walked over cobblestone and marble roads. Columns and partially reconstructed fountains line the main road through town. The figures of gods and heroes are carved on many of the columns. Along the road, there are still-legible inscriptions in Latin and Greek describing the local patrons who founded the city. We walked through the residential district and saw several partially reconstructed homes.

 

We continued down the street, past the beautiful arches of the Fountain of Pollio to the brothel. Halit showed us what is considered one of the first advertisements for the brothel. Near the brothel is the bathhouse with fabulous mosaics. The library of Celsus is one of the crowning jewels of Ephesus. The library façade was rebuilt to its original two-story height fronted with columns and statues. To the right of the library is a gate leading to the commercial agora or market. Above the arched gate, the Latin dedication of the gate to the emperor Augustus and his family can still be read. We stopped by the temple of Hadrian with its gorgeous friezes and went inside the public latrine. Long rock benches with holes for business line the walls of the latrine. There’s nothing like having a seat on a 2000-year old john! Halit mentioned that the rich often sent their slaves ahead to sit and warm the benches before the master came.

 

had never seen before. I ended up loading a plate with a spoonful of almost everything. Some of it was good and some of it not so good. The restaurant did not have air conditioning so there were several large windows without screens that were open to catch the breeze. Unfortunately, the windows also allowed some flies to come inside, which disturbed a couple of the group members. I don’t care for flies, but they weren’t any worse than you would find during a typical picnic or outdoor barbecue. The restaurant also a few cats that wandered through, but they did not bother anyone or beg for food.

 

The Temple of Apollo is located across the street from the restaurant where we dined. We walked over to explore. The temple was slowly destroyed during several earthquakes before it was completely finished. Some of the columns are still standing but the decorative carvings were never completed. Halit gave us a tour of the temple, explaining the history and rituals of the worship of Apollo before starting the trip back to the ship.

 

Along the way, Halit asked if anyone was interested in seeing a Muslim mosque. Several people were so he stopped in one of the villages. There was an area with a few shops nearby for those who did not wish to enter the mosque. The mosque stop was completely voluntary. Halit told us that women were not normally allowed in the mosques except during Ramadan, when they were allowed to enter the upstairs balcony area but had to stay behind a curtain. Since no one in the group was Muslim, Halit brought the men and women into the mosque. We had to remove our shoes before entering the mosque. The inside is plain compare to most churches and the worshippers kneel on the floor rather than sit in benches. Halit explained the different sects of the Muslim religion and how a typical worship service is held. I thought it was very nice of him to take the time to explain his religion to those who were interested, especially in these times when Muslim people are viewed with suspicion.

 

We had some time before we needed to get back on the ship so were went through the bazaar. The Turkish bazaar is very similar to the open-air shops found in Mexico and the Caribbean islands. The vendors are tenacious and won’t take no for an answer. A few of them were interested in bargaining, but several gave a price and said take it or leave it. We found that most of the items sold could be found in several other shops so if one vendor did not give a price you wanted to pay, try another one.

 

After returning to the ship, we took a nap, ate dinner, and went to the Schooner Bar for a little dancing. It was a typical evening for us. Next stop – Santorini, Greece.

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Dean,

 

Slacks and polos will definitely be fine for dinner on the casual nights. Our cruise was a little unusual because there was about 70% Americans onboard as opposed to the usual 50% or less mix.

 

Several people did dress well for each meal, although I didn't notice a large group dressing any nicer than on past Caribbean cruises. My husband and I began cruising about 5 years ago. At that time, it was normal to dress up for each meal, even casual nights required jackets and dresses. I didn't notice the Europeans dressing any differently than the nicer dressed Americans. I don't think any of the Europeans were among the group weariing jeans to casual dinners, but I am not certain about that. I met very few Europeans on the trip - mostly Americans and Canadians.

 

Regarding port stops, Europeans do dress better than the tourists. I saw women wearing dresses or pants and heels or men in suits wandering in the streets. I don't know if they were on lunch breaks or if they normally wear nice clothes to run into the store.

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Dean,

 

Slacks and polos will definitely be fine for dinner on the casual nights. Our cruise was a little unusual because there was about 70% Americans onboard as opposed to the usual 50% or less mix.

 

Several people did dress well for each meal, although I didn't notice a large group dressing any nicer than on past Caribbean cruises. My husband and I began cruising about 5 years ago. At that time, it was normal to dress up for each meal, even casual nights required jackets and dresses. I didn't notice the Europeans dressing any differently than the nicer dressed Americans. I don't think any of the Europeans were among the group weariing jeans to casual dinners, but I am not certain about that. I met very few Europeans on the trip - mostly Americans and Canadians.

 

Regarding port stops, Europeans do dress better than the tourists. I saw women wearing dresses or pants and heels or men in suits wandering in the streets. I don't know if they were on lunch breaks or if they normally wear nice clothes to run into the store.

 

thanks..continue your great review. how come you didnt post this in the review section?:D

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Thanks for the fantastic review. We will be with Marty on the Brilliance 14 night Med and Greek Isles in Oct. 2006. Glad you liked the Brilliance. I am a lover of the Voyager class so I miss many things when on the Radiance Class. But we do have a wonderful intinerary so what's not to like. I am concerned about the weather. Had hoped for some 70's at least. I am very much not a lover of cold weather. I am watching the weather each day now to see how it is in the Med. We will be renting the tux on board also. We always do this rather than packing it. I just like to see men dressed up to match the ladies. And they are sooooo handsome in the tux. Wish all the men would wear them as they used to do. We are embarking in Istanbul so that will be quite interesting we think. Looking foward to the rest of your review. Thanks. Myra

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Dean,

 

The last time I submitted a review, it took almost two months to show up and alot of it was removed due to the length. I get long-winded sometimes, but I also like to provide as much information as possible in case others are interested in the details of a tour I took. I don't think the brochures give enough information about what you really do and see.

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