The Celebrity Reflection is the 5th and last of the Solstice Class. The first ship of this class, the Solstice, was launched in 2008. Then every year, for the next five years, Celebrity launched a new ship of the same class: The Equinox in 2009, the Eclipse in 2010, the Silhouette in 2011 and finally the Reflection in 2012. All of these ships were built at the Meyer Werft Shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, with the same deck plan in cookie cutter fashion. Since we sailed twice on the Solstice in 2010 and once on the Eclipse in 2011, we are very familiar with the Reflection deck plan, but we also noticed the similarities and differences of the interior decorations among these vessels.
Having sailed on the Solstice gave us a reference point from which to see the evolution of the interiors of this class of ships. Where the Solstice was ethereal with her multitude of diaphanous draperies, this newest ship is more stark in her clean cut lines and homage to her name. Look for the portrait of the girl kneeling down to see her reflection in a pool of water. Also check out the standing girl with an apple in her hand observing her reflection in an ornate mirror; strewn at her feet are several apple cores! This whimsical picture on Deck 14 is "Apples" by Stoinska. Then in the Grand Foyer there is a seven foot tall rose! No reflection to see here, but rather an incongruous aluminum flower on which to ponder. The Reflection is a stunning ship with a nod to modern luxury. The choice of white, silver, platinum and crystal gives a clear sharp edge to her decorations.
On a Sunday morning, Boca Raton is normally about an hour drive on I-95 to the Port of Miami. Unfortunately, on this morning, there was an accident involving a motorcycle which added an additional 30 minutes to the drive. However, once we were on the Pier, everything went smoothly and we deposited our luggage; we had no tags since this was a last minute booking, but the porter tagged them in a minute. We have priority boarding and registration as Elite Members and were on board in fifteen minutes and we were delighted that the rooms were ready.
The welcome on board Buffet was a pleasure -- however, it also was the harbinger for overcooked roast beef. So many things were wonderful: the soups, pastas, salads, desserts, and fruits -- but the roast beef was not well done -- it was over done! However, by the same token, the Carving Station had fabulous leg of lamb with mint jelly; roast pork with crackling and apple sauce; and terrific Baked Honey Ham -- all were done to perfection.
The Solstice is 122,000 tons, but the Reflection is 126,000 tons with a length of 1,063; thus, she is just 30 ft. longer and this makes her the largest ship in the Celebrity fleet. Her beam is 123 feet, with a draft of 27 feet. Her occupancy is 3,046 guests; the ratio of passenger to crew is 2:1, which indicates that service is great aboard. Celebrity has a proud heritage coming from the Greek Chandris Lines. These magnificent ships with the huge "X" on their blue smoke stacks are distinctive in every way. The Captain and most of the officers are of Greek origin and lend a certain Hellenic quality to the atmosphere on board. In our previous reviews of the Solstice class we have already done a deck by deck description of these ships (see our Solstice review at this web site).
Overall the ship is decorated in a sleek modern style with ample use of white, silver and chrome. Lounges and public areas are resplendent with stylish Italian arm chairs in a variety of patterns and fabrics including brocade, velvet and leather. The unique top deck features a lawn with a Bocce Court (where passengers may challenge the officers at this Italian sport), along with an unparalleled ocean view. On this deck there is also The Porch, an original casual diner, open for lunch from 11:30am to 3:30pm, where we had one of our best panini, the Italiano, with prosciutto, provolone, arugula, etc., just delicious!
Our stateroom was wheelchair accessible cabin #7139 on Deck 7 starboard side which is spacious and well laid out. When entering on the left is the huge bathroom with safety rails all around. There is a single sink with eight shelves for personal belongings. The commode is tall, but a riser with arms was also added -- very thoughtful. The large 4X4 ft. shower also had a fold down seat, which was alas too low for a wheelchair occupant. The king size bed is quite high and flanked by night stands. Then, there is a very low love seat which converts to a bed. Whoever designs these cabin interiors should be cognizant of the fact that chair, bed, and sofa heights should be approximately the same as the seat on a wheelchair for easy use by the disabled passenger. If they are way too high or too low it makes them useless. A sofa at the right height or comfortable chair in which to sit and read would be welcomed.
When entering on the right, there is an alcove for parking the wheel chair. Next, there is a double armoire for hanging clothes. Then, there is a granite desk/vanity with a lighted mirror and a 32" TV, a bureau with six draws, a private safe, and a refrigerator. The walls and the furniture are light oak wood and the carpet is a variation of Burberry plaid (beige, brown and maroon). At the far wall there is a wide glass sliding door to the spacious balcony, on which are two reclining chairs and a table. All this is kept in tip top shape by our steward the formidable I Kadek. There is one picture in the cabin: a portrayal of flames -- red, white and black. We nick named it Dante's Inferno; we found it incongruous and not a pleasant sight. Vincent enjoyed the wide balcony, where he spends much time, especially at night, relaxing and star gazing. He thought that during this cruise in the moonless nights he would enjoy identifying the various stars, planets and constellations; however, he was not very fortunate since the weather conditions have not been optimal for star gazing: he spotted Jupiter, the brightest body in the night skies, only a few times, and once the Ursa Major (the big dipper) and faintly the Polar star, on the way down to St. Maarten. However, on the return leg, when our balcony was facing South-West, Orion was also easily identified.
SERVICE & FOOD
Service on board under the Hotel Manager Julian Brackenbury is excellent. We also had extra consideration by our cabin steward I Kadek. He was always cheerful and willing to please. Service around the ship was excellent in both the boutiques and the various dining facilities. We had a terrific lunch on The Porch ($5.00 nominal fee) on Deck 15. The open sea air was delightful. They serve soup and terrific sandwiches, desserts and fresh fruits. The service is highly individualized and gracious. The menu is brunch in that waffles, pancakes, etc. are available, along with panini and other sandwiches. This was an excellent experience.
Our last Celebrity sailing was in Aqua Class and thus we dined in the Blu Restaurant. In Blu there is a smaller and more health conscious menu served in a quiet intimate restaurant. The portions are precisely measured for lighter meals -- no weight gain here! In the opus dining room portions are huge and so is the menu. On the left are the Always Available: shrimp cocktail,escargot, chicken breast, steak and Caesar's salad etc. On the right are each night's specials -- all the usual suspects: steak, lobster, lamb chops, pork chops, chicken, turkey, quail, etc., etc.... The cuisine is diverse and well prepared. The portions, however, tend to be too huge to manage. The plates themselves are all over sized and heavy. They look more like family platters than individual plates. For example, the brazed beef ribs in Barolo wine had easily four portions on the plate. It was utterly delicious, but way too much. Even breakfast utilized 14 inch plates that were so heavy to lift that we felt sorry for the waiters.
Every night we dined in the Opus Restaurant where the Assistant Maitre D' Andrei Sagi assigned us a nice table for two at the early seating. We anticipated the arrival of the bread basket each evening, because it always held fresh crispy bread sticks among sliced French bread and unique artisan breads (olive, cranberry, rye, etc.). Desserts were terrific and included the following: creme brulee, chocolate souffle, apple and key lime pies, brownies and New York Cheese Cake, among many other delights. Our waiter Nely and his assistant Neven, along with Elody, a beautiful French waitress, who served us a few nights, always made our dinnertime pleasurable. During sea days we also had lunch in the Opus Restaurant; this is a spectacular two deck dining room with its soaring columns and pillars which add majesty to the elegance of the room.
Cruise Director Paul Baya is well-prepared for the job -- he is at home on the stage, not only introducing the artists and the shows, but also singing as a professional: His voice was magnificent in a duet performance with Celebrity singer Marita of "The Prayer", reminiscent of the Andrea Bocelli/Celine Dion's rendition. We enjoyed the show "Momentum" where the performance of the Celebrity Singers and Dancers was spectacular, especially the aerial acrobatics.
The ship provides all the usual activities such as the fitness workouts, dancing lessons, trivia, wine tasting, interactive Deck Parties, Ping Pong, Lawn Bocce games (available only on Solstice class ships) and many other activities for every passenger. There is fun for all or, if you prefer, just sit in the best comfortable chairs and chaise lounges at sea located on the Promenade.
PORTS OF CALL
Day 1. Miami, FL USA Depart 4:30pm
Day 2. At Sea
Day 3. San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive 4:00pm Depart 11:00pm
Day 4. Philipsburg, St. Maarten Arrive 10:00am Depart 7:00pm
Day 5. Basseterre, St. Kitts Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm
Day 6. At Sea
Day 7. At Sea
Day 8. Miami, FL USA Arrive 7:00am
This was a simple and easy process. The night before we placed our large luggage in the corridor. In the morning at 7:00 we had breakfast in the Dining Room, then went back to the cabin for our hand luggage and proceeded to the Bistro on Five, where we met ship stewards who assisted us to baggage claim. Here we got a porter who helped us find our luggage and guided us through customs and passport check. Then the porter took us to the passenger pick up area, where we waited for the van driven by our son Enzo. All very quick and painless -- we were home in Boca Raton by 10:30am.
This was our 99th cruise and another good one, since we have never had a bad one yet. However, it was not as good as the other cruises we had on the Celebrity ships. We always had fantastic cruises on Celebrity, thus our expectation for this one was also high. Although this was a good cruise, it did not meet our expectation. We usually book on board future cruises, but not this time, since lately we had to cancel some cruises due to Mary's health problems. For now we don't know when we'll make our 100th cruise. We hope it will be soon. Happy Cruising!