In 2009, my husband and I embarked on a 12-night Western Mediterranean cruise that took us through Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Dubrovnik.

In the summer of 2012, we're heading back...only this time, our three kids will be joining us, and it will be a 12-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise that will have us sailing through Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

This blog is a chronicle of our cruising experiences - the good, the bad, the ugly. It includes a day-by-day journal of what we did, how we did it, what we did right - and what we didn't do so right.

Not only do we use this to "remember" our adventures, but our hope is that our story will assist others in their own planning.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Ship: Brilliance of the Seas

I love the Radiance-class ships of Royal's not too big, it's not too small, and I love the ambiance & the decor on the ships. So, when researching which ship to take for this cruise, it was a no-brainer: it was the Brilliance of the Seas.

Then, when picking our room, it was also a no-brainer. I have a propensity towards claustrophobia...don't know why, wish I didn't, but have learned to live with it and manage it. Therefore, I like to travel in suites - I like the extra room, I like the large balcony, and I love the extra perks that come with a suite, such as the Concierge Service. Here is a list of the enhanced perks that come with a suite, as of March 2009:

*Priority check-in
*Personalized attention throughout the cruise with complimentary Concierge Club service on select ships
*Reserved prime seating in the main theater for entertainment shows, where available
*Priority tender tickets on select cruises
*VIP pool deck seating, where available
*Full breakfast, lunch and dinner dining room menus available for in-room dining
*Complimentary luggage valet service
*Luxury spa bathrobes for use onboard
*Complimentary pressing service on formal night
*Priority departure with exclusive suite departure lounge featuring continental breakfast

On our 1st cruise, we traveled in an Owner's Suite - which was wonderful, but a little too large for just 2 people. Since, then we travel in Grand Suites. This is a map of what a Grand Suite looks like:

The actual photo on the RCI website looks like this:

We are booked for Room #1556, which is on Deck #10, in the center of the ship (or the "hump", as some people say), next door to the Royal Suite. If you click on this Deck Plan, it will enlarge, and you can see where #1556 is:

We are looking forward to this room, as we try to get it for every cruise that we go on. We feel it is our home away from home. It has good access to the Lounge, as well as the central stairs, which we try to use (in lieu of the elevators) while traveling from one deck to another.

Some basic ship facts for the Brilliance:

Maiden Voyage: July 19, 2002
Passenger Capacity: 2,501
Godmother: Marilyn Ofer
Gross Tonnage: 90,090
Length: 962' Beam: 105.6'
Draft: 26.7'
Cruising Speed: 25 knots

Of course, once we cruise, I'll take photos of the room and post them here.

Until then,


Planning: Reservations 2009

After much research, (my favorite cruise research website is, I decided to book our cruise with Royal Caribbean. We have cruised with them before, and we like the ships, the service, and the amenities.

Our cruise was booked on August 3, 2008.

I don't use a travel agent when we I find half the fun of the trip is in the planning, and I like to do everything myself. So, I booked directly on the website.

I made the minimal deposit, and then made regular, monthly payments until I paid in full on March 26, 2009. (I wanted to have it all paid for by our actual anniversary.) I used my Royal Caribbean Visa card - I can earn "double points" on my credit card for purchases related to cruising.


My hubby (DH) and I have been married now for 10's a second marriage for both of us.

We like to cruise - but because of our schedules, and children, and jobs, etc - we've managed to only take 3 cruises in the past few years.

For our 10th anniversary (which was March 26, 2009), we decided to go on a cruise to Europe.

This blog will chronicle the planning, and then the actual cruise itself. I hope to post stories, reviews, and photos of our trip.

Feel free to browse - and I hope you enjoy the cruise!