B R I L L I A N C E  O F  T H E  S E A S

R O Y A L   C A R I B B E A N

Words} Ken Waller 

Photography} John Russo

Location}  Greek Islands 

I have always had a love-hate relationship with cruising. I love the idea of unpacking once and seeing so many magical destinations but on the other hand, I don’t like being confined to a ship. But I said what the heck, I wanted to see several destinations, most of which are not the easiest to get to,  so I thought taking a cruise was the best option so I signed up for a seven-day Mediterranean cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas. I could not have been any happier with my choice! Our departure point was Venice, well actually not Venice, but a short two hour drive, with ports of call in Dubrovnik & Split Croatia, Mykonos, and Santorini. All are interesting, historic, and exciting destinations.

The 13-deck vessel, with a capacity to hold 2,543 passengers, is all that is needed for an incredible voyage. “Wow” is the first word that comes to mind. With 9 options for dining, a humongous gym and fitness center, a full-service spa, a hair salon, and a nail salon, and enough stores to keep even the most seasoned shopper busy, I was a bit overwhelmed. Not to mention the various venues for theater, live music, dancing, miniature golf and Broadway-caliber shows. The sports staff arranged pickleball and table tennis tournaments. On several nights there were themed parties with DJs and a spectacular light show. Really took me back to 1987! Lots of fun dancing the night away in the middle of the ocean! Such a great place to be with your friends enjoying life! The disco party night was held in the grand atrium with dancers in the elevators. So many fun nightlife/bar venues  Vintages, Schooner Bar, The Colony Club and Solarium. I have to say I felt like I was on broadway at the Center Stage at Pacifica Theater.

The onboard F&B team was really incredible. From the food to the service, everything was spot on.  One of the most memorable experiences was Chef’s Table; A curated, wine-paired 7-course meal. The chef would come out with each course explaining each dish. We also go to meet some great people from around the globe, it was fun, delicious, and educational. Two of our other favorite dining venues were Giovanni’s and Chop’s Grille.  Giovanni’s was the perfect mix of Italian and Mediterranean food while Chop’s Grille was a delicious steak house On the nights we did not have a specialty dining reservation, we had dinner in the main dining room. It was a great eating venue that offered a variety of gourmet selections.

Tips for having the best cruise experience

  • Arrive a day early at the port of embarkation. The last thing you want to do is miss the boat because your flight was delayed.
  • At your destination, if time allows, take a hop-on/hop-off bus tour, available in most major cities around the world.
  • Pay for the most expensive internet plan and drink package. You think you won’t need it, but you will.
  • Do not stay in your cabin! Go to the specialty gatherings. You will meet so many fun people who are there to have a great time!
  • Enjoy the entertainment on the boat. Royal Caribbean gets first-rate comics, singers, musicians, cabaret acts, theatric productions, and DJs.
  • Book excursions prior to getting on the ship. The best excursions sell out fast and you don’t want to miss opportunities to see and experience new things. To avoid surprises, ask if the excursion requires extreme physical activity.
  • Book a large suite with a balcony, trust me on this. It makes the world of difference.
  • Relax. Find a quiet area on one of the top decks, and bring your headphones, iPad, and sunscreen. Try to disconnect from the world.
  • For day trips, bring comfortable walking shoes (not flip-flops), a sweatshirt, bug spray, and a small backpack with copies of your passport.
  • Do not eat only in the main dining room. Try the specialty restaurants on board, as Atlantis has some incredible chefs.
  • Bring extra canvas duffle bags for all the stuff you said you wouldn’t buy.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink a ton of water and remember what we can buy over the counter in the US, such as tums or antacids they do not sell abroad. Be prepared.