Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas photos and review…

The indoor pool on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas.
The Pacifica, live theatre on the ship.

This is an older ship that was built in 2002, renovated in 2013. Many new updates will be completed in 2015.

The health club on the ship.

Walking through the ship we find areas that should be renovated to update the décor, although there are few areas showing any signs of wear and tear. The obvious diligent and regular maintenance are clearly evidenced in all areas.

The views from the treadmills.

The design is excellent, in that it’s easy to find the elevators, and maneuver from one area to the next without aimlessly wandering around as we’ve done on a few prior ships.

The deck where many passengers take long walks.

The cabins are smaller by approximately 15 square feet as opposed to other cruises we’ve booked in the past and future. At 179 square feet for an E1 category Balcony Cabin, the square footage difference is negligible based on its creative design. We don’t find ourselves feeling cramped at all.

The outdoor pool.

We each have our own closet and share a series of shelves for the folded items. There are numerous drawers we haven’t needed to use. The bathroom is surprisingly sufficient with shelf space and a roomy medicine cabinet.  The shower is adequate, although water may quickly accumulate on the floor if the shower head isn’t angled correctly or the water pressure is too high.

Alternate view of the pool.

The bed is comfortable with good covers and pillows. After Gerald, our conscientious cabin attendant, cleans the room, replaces towels, empties trashes, restocks coffee, and tea supplies, we find the cabin comfortable for sleeping and for the few hours we spend inside each day.

Ship equipment on display near the elevators.

The common areas of the ship are appealing and comfortable with adequate seating and close proximity to an ice machine and complimentary coffee, tea, juice, and water. Each morning, as we worked on our posts, we’ve lounged in the area adjacent to the Windjammers Café with a full wall of windows for sea watching and wide padded chairs at tables for four with soft music playing in the background.

Viking Crown Lounge on the 13th floor.

As this familiar area has become more familiar, we find ourselves feeling as if we’re in the living room of a home we’re renting, content, as we could possibly, be. The only difference is that from time to time, people stop by, sit in the extra chairs at our table and chat with us which is always enjoyed and appreciated.

View from the Viking Crown Crown Lounge.

As soon as they leave our table, I’m quickly back at work striving to complete the posts we’ve scheduled for upload through the end of the cruise on September 14, 2014.

The ship’s superstructure.

We’ve included photos of the main live theatre here today, we’ve yet to watch any of the evening entertainment although we watched a matinee with an Irish comedian on Saturday.

Cute waiter in the lounge.

We’ve heard tepid reviews as to the various evening shows. Without 8:00 pm dinner reservations, we usually don’t leave the dining room until 10:00 pm or later, when table sharing often precipitates delightful conversations.

Mannequin of a boy fishing.
Another mannequin fisherman.

Nor have we yet to watch a movie in either the outdoor or indoor theatres when we’ve already seen all the movies they’ve shown. Too cold outside, no one appears to spend time at the pool although numerous guests have frequented the hot tub, not necessarily our thing.

The Centrum, or atrium of the ship.

The service aboard the ship is exemplary from what we’ve experienced. From the beverage staff in the Windjammer Café to the tech guy, to the customer service desk, to dining in the specialty restaurants, everyone is knowledgeable, gracious, and eager to please.

Poolside lounges.

We’ve asked for very little; a credit for US $399 when I couldn’t get online; the three occasions when the tech guy assisted me (he was unable to get me online on the ship’s WiFi); Gerald, our cabin steward, for extra pillows for our cabin; and Anthony, the thoughtful maître d’ who’s assisted with my special diet. They’ve all been thoughtful and kind.

Vitality at Sea Spa.

The quality of a cruise is also subject to the ease with which passengers are able to disembark the ship at various ports of call. It’s been seamless on this ship, allowing passengers to quickly get off and back on the ship.

Solarium Park Café.

There are several items for which passengers incur additional costs while cruising including cocktails, sodas, specialty coffees, teas and bottled water (the ship’s water is safe to drink), specialty restaurants, WiFi, spa services, and personal training.

The Solarium Park Café fresh display all included in the cruise fare.

As on most ships, there is a medical clinic on board with a physician and a few nurses. Unless an illness is a shipborne illness, there are fees to see the doctor, often quite expensive which may or may not be reimbursed by insurance.

The view across the Centrum.

We’ve never visited an onboard doctor although we were required to see him (at no expense) when we boarded the Carnival Liberty in Belize in April 2013, when security confiscated our bag of vitamins and we were nearly arrested.

The Casino Royale which we don’t visit other than for an upcoming Slot Pull.

They confiscated the duffel bag with the sealed, labeled bottles of vitamins and minerals asking the ship’s doctor to declare if they were in fact vitamins or dangerous drugs. Luckily, the doctor was equally appalled as we were, over the fuss made over the vitamins and he encouraged the security officers to let us and our vitamins be reunited. It took 24 hours to get the vitamins back. For details of this story from April 10, 2013, please click here.

King and Country Pub, with a cost incurred for all beverages.

Overall, we’d rate this ship an 8 out of 10, only due to the WiFi issues, the lack of quality food in the main dining room, and the fact that certain areas are outdated.

The “authentic” English pub as shown above.

Would we book a Royal Caribbean cruise in the future when Celebrity is our first love? We already have done so. Currently, we have two Royal Caribbean and two Celebrity cruises booked into the future, in each case based on good past experiences and the convenience of the itineraries based on our choice of preferred locations at the time.

Yes, there are other cruise lines we’ve yet to experience in our travels, such as the highly regarded Princess and Holland America lines. Perhaps in the future, our itinerary will encourage us to do so. 

Until then, as always, we’ll continue to “love the one we’re with.”

                                               Photo from one year ago today, September 11, 2013:

Due to technical difficulties, we were unable to post on this date one year ago while we were in Kenya.

Part 2…Last of Icelandic 4×4 tour photos…Happiness?…Fleeting or constant?…

Update: Not to our surprise, the waters are rough crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Many passengers are sick in their cabins and walking from area to area is challenging. As on our last transatlantic crossing in April 2013 with 50 foot swells, the 25 foot swells we’re having today are not so quite as bad to us. We aren’t seasick continuing to enjoy the wonderful people we’ve met while onboard.

In October of 1986, President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met in the Summit Meeting in this building which was formerly the French Consulate.  The meetings broke down to be carried on at a later date. See this link for details.

Happiness is fleeting. At times, it wraps around our hearts during a special moment or it entirely surrounds us on a day when everything in the world is right.

Shops along the boulevard in Reykjavik. Many Icelanders travel to Europe and the US for shopping when prices are outrageously high.

In our old lives, we experienced our fair share of those special moments. However, the challenges of everyday life often imposed upon maintaining a perpetual state of contentment. 

Popular church in downtown Reykjavik.

A pipe broke, spewing water all over the basement. An error was made on our cable bill throwing us into a frenzy to correct it, feeling a sense of frustration and angst perhaps throughout the day. Day to day life has many challenges, often completely out of our control or beyond our realm of responsibility.

Additional view of a church.

Of course, the greatest angst of all is when we do make a mistake, an oversight, an unintended spontaneous blurb which may hurt the feelings of a loved one or friend.  It is during these times, we may feel as if it will never be right again and happiness becomes a fleeting memory.

In many countries we don’t see this much use of color in the buildings when many are brick and stone from centuries ago. One gets the impression that much of Reykjavik has been built over the past 50 years.

When we left the life in Minnesota, almost two years ago (October 31, 2012), we had no expectations of happiness being a daily state, of being consistent, or even somewhat dependable. 

More buildings finished in varying colors add a certain appeal to the city.

After being ill for many years to suddenly become well in August 2011, we both felt a sense of urgency to take advantage of my renewed health by living “outside the box” for as long as health allows. It could all change in a day, a week, or a month. We chose happiness as a way of life.

Shops in the busy downtown area. Many sidewalks are heated utilizing the geothermal pipeline to keep them safe, free of shoveling and manageable during the frigid winter months.

We asked ourselves how we could best achieve such a state of happiness. The answer in our hearts bespoke being free; of most responsibilities, of certain obligations, of the tasks of maintaining a house, a car, a lawn. 

This is the prison in Reykjavik with few prisoners. The crime rate is one of the lowest in the world.

We were left with only with the responsibility of financial matters, planning and following our travel schedule and, of course, to one another. 

An intersection in the downtown shopping area.

Communicating with our far away loved ones has not been anything but pure joy. Yes, we occasionally feel a tinge of guilt for leaving everyone. But, it doesn’t consume us when we’re committed to loving them all with open hearts, not guilt or sorrow, both of which impedes happiness. They know we love them. 

Photo op for tourists in downtown Reykjavik.

Ah, the old clichés such as, “live life when you can” or “live life on your terms” or “live your dreams” are terms we all often espouse when speaking to others, seldom adopting these principals for ourselves.

Busy commercial corner in Reykjavik.

So, here we are, “living life on our terms” pleasing some, frustrating others, and leaving some curious as to how we could possibly dispose of everything we knew and love to make a life of happiness.

Icelanders believe that Leif Erickson, represented in this statue, discovered America, not Christopher Columbus.

Whatever comes, we’ve been exquisitely happy these past almost two years, often looking at one another with expressionless faces, eyes locked upon each other when suddenly a wide-tooth baring grin, almost from ear to ear, fills our aging faces with pure and simple happiness. 

Silver art along with the shore representative of the Vikings that came to Iceland.

“Pinch me,” I often say. “Is this well organized, meticulously planned, and executed life really ours?” Yep. That’s us.  And for however long it lasts, we’re grateful. 

Two huskies on a walk in the town.

We love it now as much as the first day we left the US on January 3, 2013 after spending two months back and forth between Arizona and Nevada, planning our final details. In many ways, we love it more now, with the experience under our belts, with the kinks worked out and with the fear all but gone.

Colorful office buildings in Reykjavik.

No longer do I fear flying in tiny airplanes, scorching hot weather without AC, lack of screens on windows, scary bugs, rough conditions or rough roads. Laying it in God’s hands, coupled with common sense to keep us safe, we carry on.

Our tour guide explained that this was a building where a bank was located, a fiasco when the market crashed, whereby an angry customer drove his car into the lobby.

Today, we share the last of our photos from Monday’s Iceland tour. Monday night, we departed Iceland and will be out to sea for five days. I won’t have WiFi until Sunday morning at 8:00 Eastern time when we dock in Boston. If anyone needs to reach me please email me here which I’ll check daily. If urgent, please email Tom.

Flowers on the side of the road in Reykjavik.

Posts and photos will continue daily when we’re out to sea during which I’ll use Tom’s computer with the ship’s slow WiFi signal. In the meantime, we’ll continue to have fun, cherishing each moment, everyday, every week, every month, every year of happiness for however long we’re gifted with the desire to continue on.

On the return drive to Reykjavik, we spotted several lakes and ocean inlets.
We returned to the ship in time for the mandatory 4:30 boarding.

Photo from one year ago today, September 9, 2013:

In Kenya, we dined at Sail’s Restaurant at the Almanara Resort, famous as the resort where Kenya’s president has stayed. The food was excellent. To gain entrance into the resort behind it’s heavy wood doors, locked and guarded, we had to provide our passports and show evidence of a reservation. It was this restaurant that was bombed recently, months after we’d left. Security is tight in many places in Kenya but brutal incidents continue to occur.. For photos and details from that date, please click here.