HARWICH, England -- It's a curious development in a cruise line's history when a 90,090-ton, 2,100-passenger ship is considered "small."

But that's how some described Royal Caribbean International's new Brilliance of the Seas, which was christened here.

The Brilliance, despite being barely svelte enough to squeeze through the Panama Canal, carries about 1,000 fewer passengers than Royal Caribbean's Voyager-class leviathans.

There's not enough room for an ice-skating rink, but there are plenty of other facilities to keep passengers busy, such as two self-leveling pool tables, a minigolf course, an extensive spa and exercise room and a rock-climbing wall.

The ship's 12-deck atrium and extensive use of glass along its exterior allow for plenty of open space; small lounges on each deck provide guests with intimate places to meet and mingle.

And if guests don't want to meet and mingle, more than half the cabins have a balcony where passengers can retire and relax.

Those familiar with sister ship the Radiance of the Seas should feel right at home on the Brilliance. Royal Caribbean president Jack Williams said the line made only a few "tweaks" to the basic design.

The Brilliance opened its inaugural season with a series of cruises from Harwich (about an hour-and-a-half by train from London and two hours by coach) to northern Europe and the Baltic region.

The ship repositions to the U.S. in September for Canada and New England cruises and then finishes the year in the Caribbean.

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For a full review of the Brilliance of the Seas, see Travel Weekly's Cruise Guide in the Sept. 2 issue.


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