We have boarded the Brilliance of the Seas operated by Royal Caribbean. This mammoth ship has 13 decks of well thought out pleasures. The boarding process was a breeze. Apparently we missed the noon rush. Upon boarding there are tons of guests milling around trying to figure out what to do or where the lunch buffet is. We marvel at the buzz below us on the dock as the forklifts zip in and out from the ship loading goods. The logistics of this operation are mind boggling.
Our decision to start the journey with a glass of wine is a good one. The Vintages bar on Deck 6 is manned by a youngish Russian who pours us a yummy Cab Sauv from California into sparklingly clean glasses. Our view is to the shore terminal and the sunshine. Florida… fuck yeah. We haven’t seen the glorious sun in 4 weeks and we missed it (I think we’ve had 2 sunny but cold days in Collingwood all month). Nasty. This is a great alternative.
It’s about 1:30 pm and having had no food all day we are feeling the vibe from our delicious wine. Lunch is calling us on Deck 11. There are so many people it’s hard to find a spot and just as we are feeling frustrated, a table for 2 vacates and we jump in. The selection is amazing and we enjoy a full lunch. Finished with a cup of coffee and a couple of cookies.
Time to check out our cabin. We have stateroom 9576 on the 9th Deck. It’s directly off the centrum next to the Book Nook (a cozy area with comfy chairs and several book cases). We are pleasantly surprised to find our cabin spacious with a king bed and separate sitting area. The balcony is oversized with 2 chairs and a bistro table and plenty of room to spare. I’m surprised they didn’t add a lounger as there is room. We decide to nap for 45 minutes until the mandatory drill.
After the drill (Which is the typical snooze fest except for the captains update which included some cool stats about the trip) we return to the cabin to see if our bags have arrived. Nope. Good time for another nap before dinner. Awaking at 6 pm we find our bags outside the door. Quick change in time for dinner. A wonderful schedule of relax, drink, eat, sleep repeat is emerging. Perfect.
As we are leaving we meet our steward Hubert and order a case of water and some club soda. Hubert is from Panama but lives in Costa Rica. He speaks great English which makes Rudy very happy.
My time dining means we can eat as our schedule dictates. But I have made reservations at the same time each day while we are at sea. The hostess asks if we don’t mind eating with others. Sure. We can do that. Our table for six has four guests already seated. Two couples. As soon as we sit the waitress from South Korea asks us about beverages. Our desire is water and plenty of it.
Dinner is full of chatter. Our table mates are engaged; one couple from Alabama chats with Rudy and the other from Seattle with me. All the ladies are Susan’s. All retired. Conversation is lively and we steer clear of the usual mine traps: Donald Trump and healthcare. Funny how religion isn’t even on the radar.
Alabama has to eat and run as they are attending the show. We eat at a much more leisurely pace with Seattle (Mike and Susan) and continue the conversation. Mike, we notice, is missing a hand. I’m struggling not to ask how as my gaze is drawn to the poor stump as though it’s glowing. Why does that happen?? Nonetheless we ask what he’s retired from (and I’m desperate for a clue on the hand …) and he launches into a spiel about being a banker specializing in commercial real estate. No clue there. My mind (helplessly) runs through scenarios at a rapid pace: don’t bite the hand that feeds you sticks as I imagine a hostile bank client lunging over the desk to gnaw on Mikes hand …..
After dinner we take a stroll around the ship. It’s a beauty with neat art and sculptures and amenities that are nicely decorated and appointed. A definite step up from the party barges that have been our experience on Carnival. For example, the gym is huge with every imaginable equipment and gadget. The top deck has a full array of activities such as a sports court (hello pickleball), golf and rock climbing (don’t think so). The entertainment level has a cinema and pubs and casino.
We end our tour at the crows nest. Top of the ship with a spectacular view of the sunset. Breathtaking. Settled into cushy lounge chairs we order a cocktail and take in our upcoming journey. Something the captain said at the drill had piqued my curiosity and use the ships app to check it out. It’s apparent that my geography is lacking. I didn’t know exactly where the Azores are located. I assumed they were near Portugal. Nope. Try the middle of the Atlantic. It’s our first port and we arrive in 6 days or so.
So far the Caribbean Sea has been typical: warm, moist, slight rollers and breezy. Hope this continues for a few days.