BACKGROUND: My wife and I are both retired and have cruised Princess & Carnival multiple times (Platinum level). We’ve cruised with NCL before and decided to do a B2B with RC Brilliance OTS since it also sails from Tampa. Since I spent 5 years as a teacher, I decided to give letter grades for each component I reviewed.
ARRIVAL + TAMPA: We booked our Jet Blue flight from Central New York State (Syracuse) to arrive the night before the cruise. The complimentary shuttle to the Crowne Plaza picked us up around 5:30 PM and had us at the hotel within minutes. Check in was a breeze, we set up a shuttle run to the pier ($10 p/p via Blue One) for noon the next day and we settled in for the night. The next morning we ate some bagels that we brought from home took the 1:00 PM shuttle to the pier. The Crowne Plaza staff was helpful, professional & friendly, the pool was nice and the room was complimentary since we had a “Buy One Night, Get One Night Free“ promo Hotel + staff = A
EMBARKATION: By the time we got to the ship, the lines were gone and we breezed through with no problem. The cabins were ready so we dropped off our carry-on bags and had lunch at the buffet. Easy peazy (if there is such a phrase) Embarkation = A
We were on Deck 9 aft cabin 9073 – two decks directly below Lido and a few decks above one of the MDR’s. The balcony cabin was roomy enough for us and our luggage, the balcony was a good size (bigger than many on the newer ships) and the bed was comfortable. As usual the closet doors open toward the bathroom door so you have to maneuver around to get stuff out. The bathroom was adequate but a tad smaller than we are used to. We were aware of the dreaded shower curtain having a life of its own so we followed other posters advice and brought over sized clothes pins to put on the bottom of the curtain to keep it in place. The shower had great water pressure but was very small. The actual toilet area was really small.
it was similar to a Wal Mart on Black Friday. Hordes of people…..and those were just the vendors trying to separate you from your money. There were at least 4 ships in port (possibly more) making shopping like the “Running Of The Bulls at Pamplona (Spain)” It’s just crazy with people and not fun…. We should have done an actual excursion.