Jan Fisher and I boarded the Brilliance of the Seas today and will be blogging about our trip this week to let you know what to expect on the Card Player Cruises October 19-26 Fall Foliage New England trip. Hopefully, the blogs will provide you with some hints on how to make your vacation easier and better, and give you some fun facts about the cruise.
The Restaurants: The dining choices are many ...most are free but there also are some pay restaurants. Please note that there is no need to pay extra for food on a cruise ship since the food in the free venues is plentiful and tasty. The Minstrel dining room is open for breakfast, lunch (on sea days), and dinner with a choice of at least three appetizers, soups, and salads each evening as well as at least six entree options and six dessert choices. Don't forget ...it's all you can eat so if you want the beef and the pasta, you can order both! Card Player Cruises' passengers are scheduled for main dining at 6:00 pm in order to facilitate opening the cardroom at 7:15 pm each evening. If you prefer a more casual dinner or don’t want to dress up on formal nights, a good alternative dining room is the Windjammer Marketplace. The Windjammer opens nightly at 6:00 pm and is buffet-style with many great food choices and desserts. The Windjammer is open for breakfast and lunch every day as well.
If you want something even more casual, I highly recommend the Park Cafe for breakfast or lunch (I wish they were open for dinner.) Located on deck 11, the Park Cafe is my favorite lunch spot featuring scrumptious roast beef sandwiches, a salad bar, soup, and a few desserts.
Each of the above venues is complimentary. As far as the pay restaurants, Giovanni's Table ($20 per person) is my personal favorite. The service is five-star, as is the food. Beware: there is way too much food if you order every course – appetizer, salad, soup, pasta, entree, and dessert. I recommend dining family style and sharing some of the early courses so you have room for your entree.
Jan's favorite pay restaurant is Chops Grille. It is a gourmet steak house with wonderful food and plenty of it for $35 per person. Other pay restaurants include Izumi (a la carte pricing) which features Asian-inspired cuisine and Chef’s Table ($70 per person) which is a multi-course wine pairing dinner hosted by one of the ship’s chefs. Rita’s Cantina features Mexican cuisine and has a small cover charge and then a la carte pricing which is very reasonable. Let me reiterate that the food in the dining room is wonderful, so going to one of the pay restaurants is not necessary in my opinion.
The Activities: Obviously we will have a first-class poker room for your pleasure that will open at 9 am on sea days and after dinner on port days. Both, live games and tournaments, will be offered every day. If you want to take a break from poker, here's a report on some of the ship activities offered throughout the week: trivia, singles get-together, karaoke, dance classes, movies, sing-a-longs in the piano bar, bridge, Soduko, jewelry making, fitness classes, seminars, bingo, name that tune, scrapbooking classes, Ping pong, line dancing, wine tasting, and cooking classes.
If you are bringing children or teenagers, they will be busy the entire cruise. They have their own counselors, as well as a full menu of activities.
The Ports: The ports are St. John, Halifax, Bar Harbor, and Portland. I highly recommend that you sign up for one of the Royal Caribbean excursions online TODAY so you don’t miss the fun and adventure. Oct. 14 is the deadline to sign up. PLEASE NOTE: Many of the excursions were sold out when we got on the ship today. Taking the ship’s excursions is convenient and safe; they do all the work for you! Please sign up TODAY to avoid getting shut out.
For more information about the excursions, you can go to rccl.com.
Hints to Make Your Vacation Better:
- It is best to arrive at the pier on embarkation day between 2 and 3 pm, when there is virtually no wait to board the ship. If you arrive earlier, you will probably have at least a 30-minute wait to board. Sleep in and enjoy some sightseeing in Boston before going to the ship. Jan and I arrived today at 2:45 and had no wait at all. There was no traffic to deal with and we were ON the ship within five minutes of arriving at the cruise terminal.
- There are hair dryers in every room so you don’t need to bring your own.
- Pack your valuables, passport, medicine, reading material, change of clothes, etc. in a carry-on bag since it might take a while to get your luggage delivered to your cabin.
- Don't overpack. There is very limited closet space in most of the cabins. Once you have laid out your clothes for the trip, put at least 1/3 of them back in your closet and leave them at home.
- If you use a lot of internet, consider buying a package, however remember that you probably will be able to use your phones ashore in the Maine ports (check with your local carrier to avoid any surprises).
- Check in at the poker room on deck five in the conference room (hidden behind the photo displays) between 1 and 3 pm on embarkation day to pick up your name badge that you will need during the cruise.
- NEVER take your passport off the ship; get a photocopy of the main page before you leave home and take it with you in every port for identification purposes. Note: You can take a photo of it on your phone and that should suffice.
- Be sure to wash your hands every chance you get. This is the best way to avoid getting sick during the cruise.
- Bring a sweater, jacket, or sweatshirt. It gets cold on deck and in some areas inside the ship.
- Bring a good attitude and a sense of adventure and you'll have a wonderful time!
If you have any questions about this trip or about the Brilliance of the Seas, please email me. I look forward to greeting you next week.
Card Player Cruises