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flippergirl

Brilliance January 6-11, 2020

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Hello from Brilliance of the Seas. We are traveling with my DH and I as well as my 2 year old and 4 year old boys. We are in an Owner's suite. We are also traveling with both sets of grandparents and some of my siblings/cousins. 11 people total.  I enjoyed reading reviews pre-cruise so I will try to give some details especially for those with littles. 

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Pre-cruise: We flew Southwest from Texas to Tampa nonstop. This was my youngest kid's last flight as a lap child and during nap time.  I was glad for bags fly free.

We stayed in the Sheraton Four Points Westshore. They do have an airport shuttle that runs every 30 minutes but we chose to use an Uber XL. It was about $20. For car seats We used a whizrider for the 4 year old and an immigo for the 2 year old. This was pretty reasonable to lug as opposed to normal full size seats. The hotel was nice and had suites with a separate sitting room which was good because the 2 year old fell asleep at 6pm after no nap. 

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Excited to hear more, especially if you use the nursery service. We will be going on Brilliance this summer with a 1 year old. 

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5 hours ago, jacobtsf said:

Excited to hear more, especially if you use the nursery service. We will be going on Brilliance this summer with a 1 year old. 

We haven't yet but hope too. The hours are somewhat limited. It is open 5:30 to 10 except day 1 and 8 to 10 am on sea days. 

 

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The hotel had a breakfast buffet that was not included so we bought a few snacks at publix the night before since my parents drove and had a car. We are dinner at the hotel which was ok. We took uber XL to the port which was $17 and we left around 11:30. We got through security and on the ship fairly quickly.  There were no significant lines except for check in.   We were glad to have priority check in since the kids were getting restless. 

 

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We went to the windjammer which was crowded but were able to find a table outside in that aft sections. It was a cool day, in the 40s in the morning and mid 60s at lunch. Cabins opened while we were at lunch. 

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Cabins: we had an owner's suite which is very nice. The bathroom has a tub and separate shower and 2 sinks (and a bidet).  The bedroom is separated from the living room with a curtain and has a window. The balcony has 1 lounger and a small table with 2 chairs.  The travel crib is really little and really too small for my just turned 2 year old. It is probably best for 18 months or younger.  

Our group has 3 adults in an Ultra spacious oceanview room. It is also a great room for families. The kids loved the forward facing windows and it has a small 2nd bedroom with bunk beds. 

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We are on the Brilliance in April with our 6 year old Twins, I'm excited to read the rest of your review!

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We bought a 2 device voom surf and stream plan since my DH needed to work and we wanted to be able to pull up videos for the kids.  It was fine for emails social media but a fair amount of buffering for streaming videos. We could not get the kids kindle fire tablets to connect to voom so we mostly used apps and shows downloaded at home. We did not buy the beverage package but carried on 2 bottles of wine and 6 bottled water and 6 apple juice. It was nice to have it but lugging it around before cabins opened was a pain.

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Muster was quick and painless. We were in chops. After that the crib was there so we put the little one down for a late nap. We did go up to watch the ship go under the Skyway bridge which was a little after 6. It was pretty cold and windy and we only brought light jackets. the 4 year old really liked it but the 2 year old mostly didn't like the cold wind. He and 1 hid in the fitness center until right when we went under the bride 

We had my time dining and ate at 7:30 in the MDR. It was late but with a group of 11 we had limited choices. MDR dinner is a long process for littles. We don't allow the tablets at the table but if you do I would use them. (They use them plenty otherwise though).  The 4 year old did ok with 9 adult to entertain him but the 2 year old mostly wanted to walk up and down the stairs the whole dinner. I had escargot which was pretty good and the feta polenta which was tasty but very small.  I wished I would have ordered more food. The apple blossom was good apple crisp but nothing special. 

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I My inlaws are frequent cruisers and prefer Norwegian.   They said they like the entertainment better. I wish I would have brought a wrist watch. I didn't bring my phone everywhere and there aren't many clocks around. I liked having a lanyard as some clothes don't have pockets and those that do don't feel secure. My mom used a little money belt and put her phone and sea pass card in there. 

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Love it. 20yrs ago took my then 2, 4 and 8yr olds on what was their first Cruise on Royal. Back then ship's didnt have anything for kids that they do now, but still had great time. Love this ship, have 5 Cruises planned on her next 2 yrs

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I forgot that after muster while the little was napping I took the 4 year old to the water slide.  He loved it. It was quite cool for water activities (upper 60s) but the water was pretty warm. Under 46" tall kids have to ride with an adult so I had to slide with him. It was fun but I was a bit cold. The kids pool is there as well and is 2 feet deep in the center.  The slide was open 3:30 to 6:30 on day 1 and port days, noon to 4 on sea days. 

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Day 2: Key West. This was the little one's actual birthday though we planned to celebrate on the sea day. The weather was gorgeous.   We booked the hop on hop off trolley. Dh wanted to see the Hemmingway house so we planned to stop there and then go the the butterfly museum. The kids loved the cats as well as the roosters running around town but the 4 year old had a meltdown so we grabbed a quick lunch and then went back to the ship. 

We got back and my dad watched them while DH and I got a couples massage.   It was wonderful.  It was annoying when they pressure you to buy the oils and stuff afterwards but didn't take too much time. 

We took the kids for a quick dinner in the WJ then my Mom watched them while we went to dinner in the MDR. 

I had the pork chilli tacos (delicious) and the lamb (good) and cherries jubilee (I enjoyed it).  We finished eating at 9:20 and I realized I missed the beginning of the production show so we went to relieve my mom. She had actually dropped off the big one at Adventure ocean and he seemed to be having fun playing catch when we got there. 

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Day 3: Sea day. Once again it was wonderful weather. It was warm enough to swim comfortably. We had breakfast in Chops and played mini golf. Both kids enjoyed that. I did the rock wall which was fun. I was able to climb the most difficult section so If you are an avid rock climber it will be too easy. Then big kid and I went to the water slide/kids pool. 

At WJ at lunch I had a delicious vegetarian curry. It was one of the best things I ate all cruise. 

Since we were celebrating the little kid's birthday we all ate in the MDR together but the birthday boy crashed out before dessert. I had the beef carpaccio and the seafood linguine. I found both disappointing. The duck was much better. My sister is vegetarian and had the spaghetti bolognese off the vegan menu and I tried it and it was pretty good. 

DH took the little one to sleep and the rest of us including the 4 year old went to the Colony club for karaoke.  The song selection was ok but missing several songs I wanted to sing. I had a tasty margarita and the bartender gave me a mocktail for the 4 year old. 

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I think it was day 2 morning that I took the boys to the sports court early in the morning. There was a half court basketball and 2 small soccer goals. They had fun running around throwing balls and there were no big kids there yet. I highly recommend. 

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Day 4 Cozumel: My inlaws stayed on the ship and watched the kids and my parents, siblings, my DH and I went on a scuba trip. We did a private trip with Scuba with Alison. It was really great. We did discovery scuba since only my mom and i are certified. a few chose to snorkel. It was a 2 tank dive and some of then stayed on shore while dh and I went back to relieve my inlaws. We met them at WJ to eat and them did mini golf for a bit. It was starting to get stormy at this point. So we went to the room and the kids took a bath. Then we went to check out the Concierge lounge. The kids liked the snacks and we had a glass of wine and picked up some bottled water. We were glad we had some $1 bills. The kids were having a hard time sitting so we grabbed another glass of wine to go. 

We went back to WJ for dinner.  It was Mexican night and the food was just ok. I live in Texas so we have good Mexican food around. We took the kids to AO and nursery after that. The little one was happy to go but the big one fussed for a bit. Apparently he was ok after about 5 minutes. They give you a ship phone for the nursery but I didn't realize til the end of the night it was dead and needed charging. DH and I hung with the adults for a few hours and picked then up a little after 10. Both were still awake but exhausted. 

Side Note: there were at least 7 ships in port and it looked like the Norwegian Escape had to tender. 

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Day 5: Sea day

We woke up th the boat rocking and rolling pretty good. It had been storming since we left Cozumel. Both kids slept in. DH wanted to go to the fitness center so I ordered room service breakfast. It is a really useful suite perk if you have young kids. DH came back 20 minutes later looking really green. So he was pretty sick most of the day. Deck 12 which includes mini golf and the kids pool was closed due to weather. With those favorite being closed we spent a good amount of time inside on their tablets. It was nice having a bigger room. I took the 4 year old the the egg drop and he was mildly interested. 

By the evening the weather had calmed significantly and Dh was feeling better so we went to Chef's Table which I had prebooked.  It started at 6:30 and AO didn't open until 7 so he went to eat with my dad in the WJ. They had the chocolate buffet with the chocolate fountain which he loved. 

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Chef's table was great. There were 10 people there and we enjoyed talking to them. The food was fantastic and the wine was enjoyable (though nothing out of this world) and it paired well together. I enjoyed every course and finished everything but the dessert.  We had:

Scallops carpaccio 

Tomato soup 

Lobster salad

Roasted branzino 

Filet mignon 

"The world" dessert (chocolate shell with ice cream inside and a caramel sauce poured on top)

We met up with my sister in Schooner bar for a bit before picking up the kids and heading to bed. 

 

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Debarkation and Florida Aquarium:

Out flight home was at 4 so we had time to kill. We got up just in time to head to Chops before they closed breakfast at 8. After eating the kids ran around Colony Club. It was a good place for that. Lots of space to run around and a good view of the forklift and the pool tables. Since the aquarium doesn't open til 9:30 we stayed there til they said "everybody off"

 We headed off the ship, grabbed a porter who took us all the way to the front of the aquarium. At that point it was 10 minutes til they open. The kids liked the fish and really enjoyed the playground in back. We ate there and the chicken fingers were surprisingly good. 

From there we grabbed an Uber XL and headed to the airport to get home. 

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Final thoughts:

For our group, a family reunion cruise worked out really well. We were able to spend some time with our families but also have time to ourselves both as a family and as a couple. Having the nursery was really nice and made a difference in our enjoyment. When the weather was nice there was plenty for young kids to do but it got thin when the weather was bad. We also felt a 5 day cruise was a good length for our group. any questions I will try to answer but don't ask me for cruse compasses because I don't have them. Cheers and happy cruising. 

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48 minutes ago, flippergirl said:

Debarkation and Florida Aquarium:

Out flight home was at 4 so we had time to kill. We got up just in time to head to Chops before they closed breakfast at 8. After eating the kids ran around Colony Club. It was a good place for that. Lots of space to run around and a good view of the forklift and the pool tables. Since the aquarium doesn't open til 9:30 we stayed there til they said "everybody off"

 We headed off the ship, grabbed a porter who took us all the way to the front of the aquarium. At that point it was 10 minutes til they open. The kids liked the fish and really enjoyed the playground in back. We ate there and the chicken fingers were surprisingly good. 

From there we grabbed an Uber XL and headed to the airport to get home. 

Can you offer more detail on the aquarium?  My sister & niece’s flights don’t leave until about 7 pm after our Brilliance cruise 3/2-7.  The aquarium might be something they could do to kill some time.

 

Thanks,

Cathy

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1 minute ago, shelbylook said:

Can you offer more detail on the aquarium?  My sister & niece’s flights don’t leave until about 7 pm after our Brilliance cruise 3/2-7.  The aquarium might be something they could do to kill some time.

 

Thanks,

Cathy

 

The Florida Aquarium will store your bags for free while you are in the Aquarium.

 

Info here:  https://www.flaquarium.org/

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Thanks for your review!  We did a family reunion on Brilliance over Christmas (20 of us, ages 16-75).

I thought 5 nights on a ship this size worked well for us too.  Any longer and I think we'd all get a little bored.

 

My inlaws were also in an Owner's Suite, the other adults in Junior Suites and the young adults & teens were in a combo of balcony and inside rooms.

 

My daughter and her fiancé did the Chef's Table as well and raved about it.  I wished I had joined them!

 

We had 2 large tables next to each other in the MDR and service was painfully slow each night.  Not sure what the issue was because there were many large groups at other tables and we were always the last table leaving each night.  Our servers where nice though, and somehow always kept our orders straight.

 

My only issue with the whole cruise was that the water that came out of the faucet on my sink was scalding hot (no cold water at all).  It was so hot that I had to wet a wash cloth, let that cool and then wash my face with it - and use bottled water to brush my teeth!  My daughters, who were a deck below us, had the same issue.  Not sure what was going on.

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