Editor’s note: Celebrity Reflection is currently sailing a transatlantic cruise from Barcelona to Miami. Teijo Niemela, editor of Cruise Business Online and a Cruise Critic contributor, is onboard.
Celebrity Reflection, the last member of Celebrity Cruises‘ five Solstice-class ships, is just a month old. The ship, which sailed a short series of European voyages before its official inaugural sailing and christening, departed Sunday for Miami on its first transatlantic crossing, from Barcelona.
First the bad news: At embarkation, which incidentally was a chaotic mess, I learned that an unnamed technical issue is causing Reflection to sail at reduced speed. The ship was due to spend seven days at sea (and three in port) but will have to skip Tenerife, Canary Islands. Now it will spend nine consecutive days at sea before arriving December 1 in Miami.
The good news? The ship might be the most beautiful Celebrity ship of all (though Reflection, which has an extra deck of cabins, might also qualify as the most crowded in the fleet). Having cruised on two Solstice-class vessels (I’m a repeat Celebrity passenger since the days of Horizon), my first impressions:
The onboard registration process usually is pretty efficient with Celebrity, but there was definitely a problem. Even “elite” members of its Captain’s Club, the top echelon of its past-passenger program, waited more than a half-hour — even after 2 p.m., well after embark “rush hour.” When we finally got onboard, a less-than-stellar greeting didn’t make the situation any better. A welcome drink of some origin was offered, but when I asked for a glass of Champagne, a busy waitress snapped, “I don’t have any right now.”
The Sunset Bar at the aft of Deck 15 has a new shape. It reminds me of some of those fantastic — and dramatic — rooftop bars in places like Bangkok and Shanghai, with stylish furnishings and great views; in this case, you overlook the ship’s wake and some balcony cabins.
The ship’s layout and decor are gorgeous, as they are on all other ships in the class. However, with that extra deck of cabins (and larger passenger capacity), elevator lines are inevitable.
One major change on Reflection: The Quasar Nightclub on Deck 4 has been replaced by a … conference center. I miss Quasar already.
The semicovered Lawn Club Grill and the Porch were introduced on Silhouette, but they’re new to me. These alternate dining options look fantastic, though I’m not sure how often they’ll be open while we’re crossing open seas. While the Lawn Club Grill requires reservations and is offering a “Backyard Barbecue,” the Porch is a casual alternative for breakfast and lunch, serving soups, salads and paninis with table service.
The standard balcony stateroom is great. I can see that a lot of thought went into the design, which is quite functional. The bathroom is especially well-crafted.
The Sky Observation Lounge is still a beautiful, airy room with great views overlooking the bow, but because Celebrity took away half its space (to build new suites) it’s no longer surrounded by three walls of glass. It’s a bit awkward just to have a plain wall without windows on the port side while on any ship’s observation lounge. Sky Observation Lounge will fill in for Quasar as the ship’s disco at night.
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