My wife and I just returned from the seven day cruise aboard the Reflection to the Eastern Caribbean. First the positives -- almost all of the staff were very nice, especially our stateroom attendant Salvador; Michael, our waiter and Luiza, the matre d' in the main dining room. The ship was very clean and the stateroom spacious. The drink prices are very reasonable, unlike what we've experienced with other cruise lines. I urge you to experience Michael's pub if you like great company and a wide variety of beer. Lastly, the band D'Revelations was very good. Embarkation and disembarkation was fast, easy and the staff courteous.
Unfortunately, that's where the good news stops.
We were urged by a Celebrity representative (not a travel agent) to go with a Concierge room. First, don't waste the money as you get virtually nothing for it -- a few fruits that are readily available from the buffet 24/7; a $10 bottle of champagne; canapes that were the same thing every day -- each person gets a slice of cucumber with a type of cheez whiz, a tiny sliver of cheese with cheese whiz, and a sliver of sometimes identifiable meat with.....cheez whiz. Oh; and use of two bathrobes that never left the closet.
What was terrible is that the staterooms on the 12th floor are directly under the Oceanview Cafe. I expressed my concern about this to the agent I booked the trip with, and he assured me that noise would not be an issue. To paraphrase his words, "there is 3 feet of steel and soundproofing above your ceiling. I guarantee that you won't be bothered with noise." Bull hockey. If you're on the 12th floor, you will not sleep after 6am when the kitchen staff starts working. I am a heavy sleeper and was awoken each morning to LOUD crashes of pots, pans, carts rolling, etc. We and our neighbors complained; the guest relation staff finally admitted that they had had several complaints and would ask the kitchen manager to please try to be quiet. That's fairly ridiculous as they have a galley to run and things are going to get banged around. Needless to say, that didn't help. In fairness, Celebrity did give us a $100 onboard credit. I feel this was completely inadequate as the rooms should have been discounted heavily, not sold at a premium. I would not have agreed to the room if it were half that price. I can only surmise that Celebrity reps will not hesitate to lie about noise issues with these rooms.
I must say I have not experienced that much swaying on a vessel since a dive trip I took one time during bad weather and in 6 ft. seas. The Reflection was REALLY rocking from side to side. I heard quite a few people talking about it and saw several instances of people running into each other as they walked. Navigating the buffet was a challenge. I thought it strange because the weather was very good and the sea seemed calm. On the next to the last day, the captain announced that he was going to extend the stabilizers to give a better ride. Are you kidding me? It took him the virtually the whole cruise to figure that out? And sure enough, the ride suddenly was like what you would expect. Completely unacceptable.
There are very few things for kids or young at heart to do. Fortunately, we didn't have our children with us. There are no water slides, water parks, climbing walls, etc. that you probably have experienced with other liners. There may have been activities but they certainly were not publicized or stressed. There are two small outdoor pools -- one that is good for kids as it is about 3 ft deep. The other small pool is good for adults as it's about 4 Â½ feet deep. That's all there is in outdoor pools for 3500 guests. The pools had a posted limit of 35 people each and both almost always had far more than that in each. Our pool at home dwarfs any of the pools on the ship. There is one indoor pool if you want to give up soaking up the rays and being outside. It is also quiet as a mausoleum in there.
A huge section of the upper deck is devoted to the Lawn club -- 10 cabanas that were usually empty. You can rent them for $150 on a at sea day or $100 on a port day. There are also a couple of grass areas that would have been nice to be able to get on but they have them roped off. There's a nice lawn court for bocce ball. Unfortunately, since there's very little to do on board, we were never able to get in a game as others beat us to it. They needed a waiting list.
The music acts ranged from embarrassingly bad (the quartet), to average (Robert Symons, steel pan and Matt&Riley,the acoustic guitar duo), to very good (D'Revelations and the jazz trio). Unfortunately, most of the time the outdoor pool was handled by the quartet and steel drum acts. That is, when they actually played. There was a significant amount of time there was no music at the outdoor pools. There were also very few outdoor activities for the guests -- I know of two volleyball games and one celebrity Olympics but I'm used to belly flop contests, xgames, beauty contests, etc. There was several dance classes and the instructors were very good.
The ship production act was pretty standard. The comedian Steve, was pretty good. Even he made several jokes about how old and sedate the cruise guests were. He joked with a couple of 24 year old girls about how they were on the wrong ship if they were looking for young guys. He also joked with an audience member who is a funeral director about the potential for new customers on the ship based on the average age of the people on this particular ship.
We did not go to any of the extra charge restaurants but I guess we should have. The Oceanview buffet was very average. Nothing at all that stood out. We tried the room service but gave up after a three times and the orders were wrong each time. The Mast Grill was good.
Luiza, the matre d' at the Opus was very nice and accommodating. Michael, our waiter for a meal (very unfortunate we didn't discover him early in the cruise) was probably the best that I've seen at any restaurant.
I think Celebrity plays to the retired crowd and that's fine but bill it as such. I believe that's why there was little excitement and emphasis on fun outdoor activities; huge areas that were quiet as a mouse. If that's what you're looking for, you've found the perfect ship (as long as you don't book a room on the 12th floor.) Celebrity reps (or at least the one I dealt with) are deceptive when they tell you it's a "fun" cruise with lots of things to do. Unfortunately, you don't get the onboard itinerary until it's too late.
However, if you are looking for fun and excitement, outdoor activities, things like dodge ball tourneys, etc. this is definitely not the ship for you. I was bored out of my skull by the end of the trip. I guess one good thing was that I had plenty of time to work out a lot in a nice gym.
I am so glad this was not my first cruise. For it had been, I doubt that I would ever go on another one and that would be a shame to miss out on the great time that can be had on a cruise. I'm quite sure I won't ever sail with Celebrity again. I just don't like being lied to when I book accommodations.