I should start by saying I wanted to love Reflection. After all, it's a bigger version of my favourite ship, Celebrity Eclipse. But bigger negatively impacted the experience in a few critical ways. See below for more.
Embarkation: When I say WORST EVER, I really mean it. And that includes the spring break-time Carnival cruise I took a long time ago with a ton of very drunk people in line for an hour. This was an hour and a half in a hot, airless line, with no information and no Celebrity staff there to help sort the lines out. Lines were not logically placed and as a result, people were quite confused and embarkation took an hour and a half from the time we got inside the hall. CRAZY. And not a good way to start a cruise.
Cabin: AQ is same as the Eclipse/Equinox, just with different artwork on the walls. A few changes - they've changed the drawers, so there are 3 instead of 5 (making two much deeper, but not as useful for two people sharing). They've changed the bedside tables and those are much more useful now as they're closed cubes (my stuff forever fell off the old gray ones). And in the bathroom, there is no glass door on the chest anymore - it's now open. They've replaced the hairdryer model, making it easier to use. Otherwise, amenities are similar to other AQ rooms on the fleet. Room Steward was Ozy and was the best we've had to date.
Social areas: The biggest impact to social areas has been in the Sky Lounge, which was made much smaller to accommodate the Reflection suites. IMHO, this was a poor decision. It makes the Sky Lounge much, much smaller and rather than all those lovely windows, it's only got windows on two sides - and feels claustrophobic. On the plus side, there seems to be no more smoking in Sky, which is a plus.
Captain's Club: On our cruise, we had nearly 2000 captains club members (inclusive of high-level RCCL). Because of the huge numbers of cruisers combined with the tinyness of Sky, the usual Elite drinks hour was modified significantly. Now, we could go to most any bar, using a ticket/voucher system, 3 per person per day. That seemed like a good idea at first, but quickly we realised that we missed the opportunity to socialise with other Elite members - and every bar was packed beyond belief as a result of all these people with free vouchers. I heard non-Elite members complaining about it as well.
The morning Elite breakfast was as always fantastic - they have sorted out previous issues with not enough wait staff present and got some tremendously personable staffers to handle those activities. Evica was a particular standout - cheery smile and attitude every single day.
Kudos to Chandru, who dealt with all of this crazyness - and the sheer volume presented - with aplomb and grace. He worked hard to make everyone feel welcome and special - which was no mean feat given the restrictions imposed on this cruise with space and the number of cruisers he needed to touch.
Restaurants: We usually eat in Blu, but the additional influx due to the AQ suites meant the restaurant was PACKED every night. Even with an early eating time, it was almost impossible to get a good table unless you showed up at 5:30p. The waitstaff was impeccable - kudos to Marina and to Jose in particular, and Johnnie is as debonair a maitre d' as you could ask for.
Murano: as always, my favourite experience. Fantastic food, and Mariyana was easily the best server I've had anywhere in any restaurant in the world. She made it an outstanding experience.
Tuscan Grille: We'd given up on this after the past few cruises of mediocre food. Exec Chef Alana has changed things on this ship and really taken the level of food up a notch and Tuscan was no different.
The Porch: Would benefit from some additional "meal" salads such as cobb or nicoise - that said, it was the ONLY place to get potato chips on the entire ship and a relatively sane haven during lunchtimes, and the food was good. Try the carrot cake cupcake.
Mast Grill: Menu continues to shrink here. This cruise saw the removal of onion rings. BOOOO. But awesome cheeseburgers, and I still wish they'd bring back the nachos.
Bacio: Always good staff here and lovely coffees. The pastries are nice but don't taste as good as they look. :)
Oceanview: Same as the other ships - but very ugly colour scheme.
Artwork: More photography on this ship than previous cruises. HIDEOUS, AWFUL, DISTURBING video art outside of Blu. I had nightmares after I watched it all the way through. If you have kids, strongly suggest you not let them watch. Other artwork more pleasing, including the Roberto Cavalli-esque foyer on the way to the specialty restaurants.
Celebrity Life: Great Zumba instructor for this cruise. Pool aerobics were a bit laughable - the sweet girl who led them obviously had no idea her land-based moves would never work in an aqua environment.
Entertainment: I wish Celebrity would offer a better selection of TV channels and free-to-view movies. Even airplanes offer better?!
Aqua Spa: Great improvement to numbers of beds in Persian Gardens. Good hair technicians (I got a colour and a keratin treatment).
Disembarkation: Swift, but we were one of the first groups to go. Not sure how later groups fared as they for some reason unloaded ALL THE BAGS from all the groups onto the conveyor at 7:30 a so it was hard to find bags, to put it mildly, then - I can't imagine what it was like an hour later.
Overall: Communication tends to be Celebrity's greatest flaw. Some more detailed conversation with us regarding the engine issue that caused us to miss a port (tenerife) would have been welcome - though they did the right thing and returned our port taxes. And the embarkation debacle should have been addressed.I do want to say that for the first time ever, we had a decent experience in Guest Relations with Jole - she was friendly, approachable and got things done.
Great experience, staff even more friendly and lovely than previous ships - but I'll go back to my beloved Eclipse for my next cruise.