This pre inaugral cruise on Reflection was a competition prize offered by Celebrity and won through Cruise Critic. We were extremely excited to be one of the first to be sailing on this brand new ship and accepted that the format would be short and maybe all the features would not be up and running - how wrong we were with regard to the latter.
This two day cruise was primarily an advertising event for the world's press and travel agents. Although there were ships tours and lots of filming for both sectors this was not intrusive and did not spoil our enjoyment... in fact because of this there were many sections of the ship, eg suites, all categories of stateroom and parts of the spa and gym which the mere mortal would not normallly see were thrown open to us.
Travel and embarkation: Celebrity flew us from Heathrow to Amsterdam where we joined people from all corners of the world and all boarded coaches bound for Eemshaven, a tiny industrial port about 3.5 hours from Amsterdam where we would first set eyes on this beautiful ship and step aboard. Amsterdam airport was chaotic and the Celebrity staff were not easy to find but eventually we joined the rugby scrum and pushed our way onto one of the many coaches provided. Celebrity had provided everyone with a bag full of sandwiches and other goodies to get us through the journey, well done celebrity such a good touch. We stopped about 50 minutes away from the port to have a comfort break, free tea and coffee and to stretch our legs. This is the first time we realised not everything was going quite to plan, the coaches were being held at this point for longer than scheduled as the embarkation process at Eeemshaven was proving more difficult then anticipated. We continued about about half an hour late and once we got to the port were held outside for a further 20 minutes or so. Once we got into the check in marquee it took about 45 minutes to get through and actually onto the ship. We were weary when we got on board but did we think it was worth it? You bet! If we had paid for the cruise we may have felt a bit grumpy, but this was free and I am sure Celebrity learnt a few lessons when it comes to trying to get a couple of thousand multi-national people through a small tent at the same time and using just one onboard X-ray machine.
We stepped aboard to the accustomed glass of bubbly at about 5 pm and after dropping off our bags dashed to the muster drill which had just started. This was run very professionally by the crew, however we were very unhappy that this was held even though all passengers were not on the ship. It was announced that all passengers were present but when we returned to our cabin we watched at least 4 more coaches drop off their passengers so we were aware that at least 200 people who sailed with us did not take part in the drill. In our view this is unforgiveable and indicated that schedule was more important to Celebrity than passenger safety.
Reflection herself ... she is stunningly beautiful, but we are Solstice Class fans! The finish is luxurious, the staff at all levels are hard working and charming, the food and drink exceptional.
We were allocated an Aqua Class stateroom which was exactly as you would expect on all S Class ships, so no surprises there.
There is one extra deck of staterooms.
The theatre is larger and on 3 levels, still sumptuous with plenty of leg room and great line of sight.
The Sky Lounge has been reduced by about half in size to make room for suites... hope the sound proofing is good because the Sky Lounge is now being used as a disco venue and Quasar no longer exists.
The Quasar area has now been changed into conference rooms.
Team Earth is now a quiet area called the Hideaway where you can get coffee etc.
The Porch, an eatery with yummy pastries and panninis can be found at the edge of the lawn along with several cabanas which can be hired for $99 per port day and $125 per sea day for 4 people, for this you get your own area with picnic and drinks... you only get to look out on others sitting on the lawn not the ocean and others can spread their rugs right in front of you ... not sure it does it for me.
Michaels Bar is a lot bigger, no longer a snug gentlemans club type venue, shame, more a themed pub.
Comfortingly Tuscan, Qsine, Murano, Bistro on 5, Cafe Al Bacio, the Mast Grill, Ocean View and all the expected Bars are all still there and the main dining room on Reflection is called Opus and is beautiful. One change which is welcome is the chairs in the MDR, they are the same design as on other S Class ships but they weigh so much less, yeah, you can go to dinner without the risk of getting a hernia.
The Fitness Centre is bigger and offers lots more than before, a private gym area where you can hire your own personal trainer, spinning type cycle exercise classes and other specialised fitness training sessions which I cannot quite remember, by this point in the tour my head was spinning.
The spa and the treatments on offer have been expanded.
The solarium was its usual haven of serenity with pool, saunas and lovely healthy food.
On this cruise we were so lucky to find that everything was non-chargeable. We tried a little bit of everything, cocktails, wines, coffees. The shows were not only professional but exceptional. We saw Peter Martin(?) who is a Juggler, we weren't sure if this would be our thing. A shame he was so undersold! Yes he could Juggle ... amazing! He is also a very funny comedian, how we laughed. Nick Weir is the Entertainment Director, he usually starts off the new ships, we have seen him before when Eclipse was launched. As before he is slick, professional and very fond of his own voice. The general ship acts were to a really high standard.
This went really smoothly in Amsterdam where we were boarded onto coaches for the 30 minute drive back to the airport.
We absolutely loved this short cruise on Reflection. We can only extend our thanks to Celebrity and Cruise Critic for giving us this amazing opportunity to be one of the first to sail on her.
Did we like Reflection? We loved her!
Would we book a cruise on her? In a heart beat!