This past February/March myself and a group of friends flew to Miami to take in some winter sun for a few days, as well as enjoy a 7-night sailing to the Caribbean on board Celebrity Reflection. Whilst it was my second time on Reflection, where I was eager to see how she’d changed since her debut, I was interested to see how the group travelling with me found Celebrity’s Modern Luxury, as well as how they found the Caribbean islands.
Part 2 – Celebrity Reflection
For part 2 of the blog series I wanted to focus on the ship. The third and final blog will focus on the ports on our cruise, as well as thoughts around cruising with a group on Celebrity.
Celebrity Reflection is a gorgeous ship. Designed from the award winning Solstice Class, you can see the detail and consideration that had been put into the spaces and areas on board. The Class boasts a number of unique features, including the first and only real lawns at sea. On top of what you may find on board any of the other ships in the class, Refection has a number of further enhanced features, my favourite of which is the enlarged and redesigned Sunset Bar at the top-aft of the ship. Here you can comfortably gaze out at the wake of the ship.
I’ve sailed on board Reflection before in the Mediterranean and in sailing from Miami the ship definitely echoed a very different vibe to how I remember. Ships inevitably take on some of the attributes of the homeports they sail from and in this case Reflection definitely had more a South Beach part vibe than I remember from before. Every night there would be a party somewhere around the ship (which is no bad thing!) and everyone was definitely in the party spirit. This created a very fun and friendly atmosphere across the ship.
The stateroom – Aqua Class
We decided to book three interconnecting Aqua Class staterooms on Deck 11 on board. Overall we were impressed with the stateroom, with its additional amenities compared to the standard balcony and concierge class staterooms. Highlights include:
- A Personal Spa Concierge to arrange Spa treatments
- Daily delivery of flavored tea
- Exclusive access to Blu, a specialty restaurant featuring “clean cuisine” that also serves complimentary breakfast every day
- Complimentary access to the Persian Garden and Relaxation Room
- Aromatherapy diffuser
- Pillow menu
- A upgraded Hansgrohe® shower, as well as additional bathroom amenities, including shower gel, facial spray and lip balm
- Plush bathrobes and slippers
- On-demand wellness programming
I enjoyed every part of Aqua class, although arguably I would call most of these features nice-to-haves which added a little extra to the overall cruise experience, rather than essentials that I couldn’t do without. The two exceptions are the complementary access to the Persian Garden as well as access to the Blu restaurant, both by far made the Aqua class experience worth it.
However, in terms of the Persian Garden, you could have booked a standard balcony as well as bought access to the Persian Garden for less than the Aqua Class package. Unfortunately, I’m now hooked on this and I will have to book access to the Persian Garden on every ship I visit!
Access to Blu is something you can only do in Aqua Class, and with that in mind I would definitely recommend the upgrade to it. The food and service at every meal was impeccable.
Food and Drink
There are a plethora of venues on board to appeal to most people and tastes, including; the Sunset Bar, a comfortable outdoor bar that overlooks the aft of the ship; the Martini bar, which inevitably becomes the party-hub of the ship every night; World Class Bar, a quieter destination which serves what I would call ‘high-end’ cocktails; Ensemble Lounge, which had some of the best drinks on board as well as amazing jazz and live acts every night; and the Sky Observation Lounge, located at the very front top of the ship affording great views forward. I think my one disappointment is the effect of drinks packages on the speed of service and resulting queues, particularly at bars such as the Martini Bar, which unfortunately erodes the good vibe of the venue.
In terms of food there are a number of Celebrity staples on board including: The main dining room, Opus, served great food and great service the nights we visited; The Lawn Club, an al-fresco dining experience situated on the lawn at the top of the ship, which specialises in grilling and roasting a variety of joints of meat and seafood – we had an amazing night here one evening; Tuscan Grille, the lines signature Italian steakhouse, serving mouth-watering steaks and accompaniments with views to the wake of the ship; And Qsine, described as a culinary journey whereby you order various themed items via an ipad, again backed up with exceptional service. A couple in our party also tried Murano, an avant-garde French fine dining experience, one evening and reported that it was an amazing experience as well. As part of the Suite Class on board, Reflection also features the relatively new Luminae suite restaurant.
Finally, there was a new dining concept on board Reflection, instead of the usual Bistro on Five venue which you find across the fleet, on board Reflection it had been transformed into a pop-up ala-carte restaurant now known as Sushi on Five. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to try this, but from what I saw passing by the food looked amazing and people were thoroughly enjoying the new concept.
Activities and Entertainment
Unlike other lines, Celebrity seems to take a more relaxed view on entertaining guests. There is a rolling programme of activities across the ship throughout the cruise but largely you wouldn’t necessarily notice them taking place. In the evenings there tends to be a themed party night drawing inspiration from around the world, ‘transforming’ various venues such as the Martini Bar, Cellar Masters and the pool deck. This is a very clever method of bringing venues which tend to be on the quieter side into a more active use, such as Cellar Masters.
The centre piece of entertainment is the Celebrity Theatre, which hosts three main production shows on a 7 night cruise, together with a number of guest performers throughout the week. The quality and variety of skills in the shows are great and well worth watching. There are also other venues such as Celebrity Central, which classically hosts comedy nights, but on our cruise was unfortunately closed for a corporate event. In addition to this there are of course the various high-end shopping outlets across the ship, the Casino, photo gallery, as well as other venues.
Staff on board
I have to say, the staff on board Reflection were some of the best I’ve experienced in all the years I have been going on a cruise. They went out of their way to make sure everyone had a great time and ensure every problem was solved. Truly impeccable.
Group thoughts on the ship
Celebrity, and the Solstice Class as a whole, both lend themselves to group cruises. I noticed on board there were a number of groups both large and small, and all seemed to be having a great time. The group I travelled with were a mix of new-cruisers and others which had cruised on other lines, both of which were impressed with what celebrity cruises and the ship itself had to offer. All said they would go back on Celebrity again, which I think is a great
… Watch this space for blog number 3 which will take a look at the various islands we visited in the Caribbean.
Photos © Marcus Adams and Celebrity Cruises 2016