After our first Celebrity cruise in 2011 on the Equinox, we quickly became Celebrity converts. While we still love to try different lines and ships, Celebrity is the first company we look to when booking. The Solstice Class ships are an incredible blend of hip, modern styling and sophisticated, classic cruising. And Celebrity has continued that trend with their newest edition, the Celebrity Reflection. As soon as this inaugural cruise was available for booking, we knew we had to do it.
Boarding in Amsterdam was seamless and within a few minutes, we found ourselves heading up to our Aqua Class room. We toured the ship, but were already familiar with the layout of this class of ship. It is very similar to the others, but with a little tweak here and there and some extra panache. There is some interesting art scattered around the ship, such as the live-action painting in the hallway outside of Blu. There wasn't much fanfare, considering that this was an inaugural voyage. We were More
a little disappointed that we didn't receive a certificate or something to indicate that we made this voyage. Upon departure from a rainy Amsterdam, there were hundreds of white and blue balloons released from the pier, which was nice.
The main addition on this ship that we were intrigued by was the Lawn Club Grill. We opted to eat there the first night. It is a fun concept, that is interactive and lets you grill the food you choose. We didn't grill, but still enjoyed watching others. The servers were fun and friendly, but my chicken was almost raw inside. Don't know if we had a bad cook, or if this was indicative of some inaugural jitters. Thankfully, our further dining pursuits were much more fulfilling. Blu, reserved for Aqua Class guests, was fabulous as always. Andrea, the Maitre'D, deserves a raise for the genuine care and enthusiasm she gave. She remembered the names of all of her guests and was just amazing. We had great dinners there most nights. We also really enjoyed Qsine - again great food and fabulous servers, but it is meant for larger parties - we are just two and walked away ill. But that doesn't ever stop us for visiting Qsine on all our cruises! Tuscan Grill was good, with a great team working in there. Tuscan Grill is not my favorite on any Celebrity Ship, but it's always a solid selection of Italian favorites. We often ate in the Oceanview Cafe, which we felt was great for a buffet. We always found well-cooked, tasty options for breakfast and lunch. We are picky and always enjoyed this dining option.
Celebrity employed a strong team on this cruise, with smiles, warm hospitality and genuine conversation - both from the front line employees and officers. We really enjoyed visiting each venue on the ship and interacting with the staff. We did experience one low point with the bartender at Molecular Bar. We don't have the drink package as we aren't big drinkers. However, the friends we were traveling with did have the drink package. One night, one of our friends ordered a cocktail from this bartender and didn't enjoy it. He said to me that it tasted funny and offered me a sip. I sipped it to verify that it wasn't that good. The bartender cut my friend off from ordering another drink at that point, saying that he broke the company's rule about buying a drink for someone who didn't have the drink package. We explained that I wasn't drinking the drink - just took one sip. He didn't care and reported my friend to the F&B Manager. I was shocked. This was outrageous behavior. It put a damper on what otherwise was a great cruise.
The ship is stunning! It is modern and fun and spacious and fabulous! Large, but not so large you feel like you are at a mall. There are very few crowds on this ship. The only time we experienced crowds was embarking the ship at each port. With a ship this size, they really should offer two entry points. One is not enough, as we often stood in long lines outside in the rain to board. Our favorite spot on this ship, as on the other Solstice Class ships, is the Solarium. We read, nap and just relax, watching the moodlit colors on the waterfall wall change. The layout of the ship is smart, with entertainment venues and dining venues generally clustered together. Our Aqua Class room was well-furnished and appointed, but with the lack of storage space we have come to expect on these ships. And best of all, we love Celebrity's smoke-free ships (especially after a recent cruise on Crystal which was smoke-filled).
We had an amazing time on this inaugural cruise and can't wait for our next Celebrity adventure. Less
Celebrity Reflection Cruises to the British Isles & Western Europe
Amsterdam was our port of embarkation. It is a beautiful city with so much to see. We visited the Heineken brewery, ate at some fabulous bakeries, enjoyed an Argentinian dinner one night and, of course, wandered through the Red Light District. We stayed at the Hotel Pulitzer, which is a 5-star hotel right on one of the canals. Amsterdam is an easy city to traverse as English is widely spoken and everything is within walking distance.
Barcelona remains our favorite city in Europe. On prior trips, we only had one night to spend here. But this time we did two days. What an amazing city! This was the debarkation port for this cruise and we booked our stay at the W Hotel. It is right on the Mediterranean and is within walking distance to everything in the city. The food, the people, the sites, it is all just incredible. Leaving was tough. But we are looking forward to returning.
The ship docks at Zeebrugge, but Brugge is just a short 20-minute drive away. It is a beautiful old town, full of canals and great shops and cute restaurants. Despite the pouring rain, we loved our day here. We took a ship excursion that took us to a chocolate-making demonstration. Afterwards, we had independent time to explore.
Our day of touring in Vigo and Santiago de Compostela was in the pouring rain. Despite the crazy weather, we loved Santiago and the charming streets of the area. We hired a private guide; unfortunately, her English wasn't very good and we wasted a lot of time trying to help her out with words. She was able to get us into the cathedral during a service and we got to see the giant incense burner swing through the church. Amazing! It was a lovely day, capped off by lunch a very traditional Spanish restaurant.