The new Celebrity Reflection is a stunning ship, with grand public rooms and a high level of service. I shared a cabin with my partner. My best friend took a single.
Embarkation - (Miami) Fast and efficient. Very few lines to wait on.
Staff and Crew - Our cabin stewards was efficient, but my friend's was slow to respond to simple requests. However, there was hardly a crew member who failed to say, "hello". I saw officers, including the Captain, regularly mingling with passengers. The cruise staff were very active. The cruise director, Paul Baya, entertained at the deck party and seemed everywhere on board. The ship's crew knew how to involve guest at their dance parties. The Sky Lounge usually had good music.
Cabin - We started the cruise with an outside cabin directly forward. We heard excessive noise during the evening as waves hit the bow (sounded like giant 'booms') due to rough seas. The ship was very accommodating and followed up with a change of cabin in the same area, yet much quieter. The level of professionalism at Guest Services extended to the Hotel Manager writing me a personal note to make sure all was OK.
The cabins were comfortable with quality bedding. Passengers can ask for feather or body pillows. There are nice touches like flat-screen TVs which pull out of the wall and tilt. The balconies are private. One concern is the storage space above the bed, which is difficult for shorter people. The bathrooms are well designed with a large shower and lots of space for toiletries.
Note: Celebrity, like most ships does not allow passengers to bring irons onboard. We tried, but they found it in our luggage. They left the booze alone, but took the iron (!). [We got it back after the cruise.] What I don't like is the fact that RCCL ships do not provide a laundry room with irons and ironing boards. This forces you to use their paid services.
Public Rooms - The theatre is lovely, the shops beautiful, with more jewelry stores that one could possibly need. The decoration in the corridors near the shops is very elegant, with high ceilings. The bars were popular, especially the (iced) martini bar. One thing I didn't like was the fact that nearly all deck chairs were placed right next to each other, with little space to move them for privacy. This is partly because so much of the top deck is taken with the lawn or the (pay-for-use) alcoves. While the alcoves were used, the restaurants on the top deck (for-fee) were usually empty. The lawn is nice, but simply takes up too much space where they could have deck or other lounge chairs. The library was large, but the books seemed old. The nook area for reading was very popular, as was the game room. There were two smoking areas, one near the pool and buffet. It's time Celebrity end all onboard smoking
Food - the MDR food was quite good. Salads were very fresh, but veggies seemed uninspired. As someone who eats fish nearly every night, I was happy with most preparations. My travelling companions enjoyed veal, beef, and pork. Desserts were not particularly special, which was a disappointment. One night we ate at Murano. We enjoyed bronzini, lobster, Chateaubriand, and Dover Sole. The desserts there WERE special, including a Grand Marnier souffle. Another nice touch from Celebrity is the extent of their room service menu. While Princess has cut out most hot dishes for breakfast, Celebrity still offers a full in-cabin breakfast and a large day/evening room service menu. Your cabin steward calls you, letting you know he or she is on the way with your food. The buffet had a nice variety of food and the Oceanview Cafe had a nice outdoor sitting area in the aft of the ship. It was disappointing that high tea was only for Elite.
Activities- We played lots of trivia and danced in the evening. This cruise offered a magician (very good), Elton John impersonator (also good), and 3 production shows. The singers and dancers were fine; however, the shows seemed to have little in the way of an organized story or them, which made the choreography seem uninspired. Kudos to Celebrity for excellent Select and Elite cocktail parties. They offered more than your ordinary rum punches and mimosas.
Ports of Call:
San Juan - We'd all been to the ports before, so for us, it was a lot of same-ole-same-ole. In PR, we walked around Old San Juan, took the free tram to El Morro, and stopped by the pier for a mojito. At night we took a walk by the city walls.
St. Thomas - We went to Megan's Bay, beautiful as ever, but too crowded. Five ships were in port that day and the crowds took away from the beauty of the beach. We docked at Crown Bay, where there a lot more shops than the last time we were there. Supreme Liquor is still there, with prices that beat the larger Riise's.
St. Maarten - We took a cab to Orient Bay, which we visit each time we're on the island and went over to Club Orient for nude sunning and swimming. It's still a special place.
Disembarkation: The ship's procedure was very organized, but once you get your luggage, the lines were long. We parked at the pier, which cost us $140 for the week ($20 per day).
We look forward to our next cruise on Celebrity; it's certainly one of the best cruise lines afloat.