Well, it's been over a week since we returned from the January 26 sailing of the Reflection and I wanted to give it some time to collect my thoughts. The Reflection in general is a great ship. Spotless and well appointed. Our stateroom was on med-deck 8. It was a perfect location. While in our stateroom we hardly ever felt any ship movement.
We flew to Florida a couple of days early to spend some time in the warmth. We came from a very cold Canada at -27Â°C to +27Â°C (that's 80Â°F). We flew into Fort Lauderdale, rented a car from Alamo and then headed to our Hotel in Miami. I got the JW Marriott Marquis at a fantastic rate it was great. Having the car enabled us to wander around the area as we pleased. We were even able to go to an Olive Garden for lunch one day (there are no more Olive Garden's in Canada, pity.) When we checked out of the hotel and returned the car to the Alamo at the Miami airport there was a free shuttle to the Port of Miami. That was great and we save money.
We got to the port to check-in at around 12:00 there were some line ups but nothing that was too long. In short order we were on the ship. We went straight to the Bistro on Five for lunch. Great Crepes. While having our leisurely lunch we heard the announcement at 1:15 that the staterooms were ready. We went to our stateroom and started to unpack. We met our stateroom attendant Philipe who was great and his assistant. I have never felt that way about a stateroom attendant. He was always there when ever we need anything. One day, he left a towel animal on the bed and when we thanked him, telling him that we enjoyed it so much, the following days there was a parade of different towel animals. After the unpacking there was the dreaded muster station drill. I say that not because I don't believe in safety exercises, on the contrary I firmly believe in them but because of the fact that hundreds of passengers are herded into a small area, which inevitably becomes very hot and usually you can't hear anything anyway. (That's the way it was the last time we were on the Equinox in May.) This time it was different though, while still over crowded, we were able to hear and see the video and it was over in short order. We then went up to the Sunset Bar for the sail-away party. Such fun meeting people that I had chatted with over the months on the roll call.
After the Sunset Bar we headed down to the MDR for our early seating for supper. Here's where the problems started. We were at a table for two and the waiter came over and did not even introduce himself nor his assistant. He gave us no recommendations and said hardly more than 2 words at a time. The prime rib was excellent, though. On the second night, after my entre was brought to the table, I noticed that there were only two small little pieces of potato and asked for more and the waiter started telling me that it would take a long while to get them and that it was difficult for him. When my wife told him that she didn't like her dish, he went on an on (literally) about how all the orders should be made at one time and this way it was very difficult for him. In fact, he went on for so long that the two ladies at the table next to us, while they didn't like their food either, they told us that they were "afraid" to complain. Frankly, I don't want to hear about it. While I firmly believe that all ship workers should be treated with respect, this person didn't seem to have the customer relation skills needed. Rather than argue with him, I complained to the Assistant Maitre'd and he offered to move us to another table for 2, which he did and we did not regret it for one moment. Our new waiter and assistant, Ben and Annamaria were great. We were introduced and then were told that they would take care of us. And they did for the rest of the cruise. I found the food to be excellent to superb with very tender steak and meat. My wife on the other hand did not like the seafood and it seemed to be frozen and not quite fresh. We ate in one other venue and that was the Oceanview Cafe the evening we came back from San Juan. We both found the food to be sub-standard and would not eat there again.
Sea days were quiet and relaxing. I won $100 at the slots in the casino. My wife shopped. We ate and drank. We each had the premium drink packages and found them to be well worth the price. I purchased them a few months in advance when there was an online discount. Every morning there would be cafe lattes from Cafe al Baccio, then there would be another coffee mid-morning, bottled water at some time during the day, another speciality coffee in the afternoon, perhaps with a shot of Bailey's. There would be before dinner drinks, wine during the meal, with cappuccino after the meal and at least two evening drinks at some bar or other. Water would be purchased before bed. We figured that we purchased 10 to 12 drinks (of all sorts) a day. When I did the math, it proved to me that the packages were well worth the money we spent.
At one of the bars was where we had another problem. On other Solstace class ships we have loved the Martini Bar. We thought the bartenders were great, friendly and they really knew their flair bartending craft. Here on the Reflection, no dice. On our last evening, we went to the Martini Bar to get a drink, we sat at the bar for 15 minutes while waiting to be served, not even an acknowledgement. The bartenders were too busy throwing ice at each other or serving other guests. Finally, we left and when downstairs to the Passport Bar when we received very good service. So our sea days were quiet and relaxing, and the port days were anything, but. San Juan was our first port of call. We had been there many years before on our honeymoon, so our objective was to wander around, do a little shopping and eat at the "famous" Barrachina. We did it all. The next day in St. Maarten we basically did the same thing. We had also been there before so we took a taxi to Marrigot, (the weather was beautiful) wandered around there for a while, did a little shopping, ate lunch and then came back to the ship. Our third stop was St. Kitts. We had never been there before. What a beautiful island. While sitting on a bench waiting for the DW to come out of a shop in the port area, I met Christian (Trinney) Rameshwar. He was unlike any other tour operators, he was not in our faces. With a rainbow coloured beard, he seemed to be a very laid back gentleman who was offering a tour of the island. When the DW reappeared I asked her if she wanted to do a tour with Trinney and she agreed. We did not regret it. For nearly three and a half hours, he took us on a tour around the entire island. What a trip. It was informative and fun. We even met the police commissioner of St. Kitts. Trinney seems to know everybody. Our day on St. Kitts was the highlight of the cruise.
The next two days were sea days and we used them to rest and relax. Unfortunately the last day was cool and rainy. But that was still a lot better than the temperature that we left back home in Ottawa, Canada. Disembarkation, while busy, was very organized and it took us only 45 minutes to get off the ship, retrieve our bags and make it through US customs. We then found a shuttle to take us to the Fort Lauderdale airport. Be careful when hiring a shuttle, we were originally told that they would charge us $20 per person but when we arrived at the airport the driver wanted $30 per person. I told him that our quoted price was $20 and that I would not pay a penny more. Be firm if this happens to you. Our flight home was uneventful.
In general, I would rate the Reflection quite high. There are some technical problems with the ship that I would classify as minor and that were corrected immediately. There were also some customer service problems that I would say were caused by lack of training. Once the issues are corrected and training improved, the Reflection will be right up there with the other Solstice class ships and I would not hesitate to take a cruise on her again.