We sailed on the Celebrity Reflection's March 9th cruising. This was our 15th cruise overall, our 3rd aboard Celebrity. We have also sailed the Summit and the Century. This was our first Solstice class cruising.
We drove from SC to Miami and stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites Airport Blue Lagoon. At first we were a bit wary as the neighborhoods leading up to the hotel were a bit scary. The hotel itself is in a very safe commercial area with lots of shops and restaurants available. We had a suite with a full kitchen which was nice. The bedding was less than stellar but adequate for our one night stay. We did the park and cruise which includes up to two weeks parking and free shuttle to the port. The entire bill came out to around $230. I would recommend this hotel. It was very clean and quiet and the inside parking garage was secured like Fort Knox with heavy metal gates and surrounded with heavy mesh grating. You can park here and not worry about your car.
We took the 10am shuttle to the cruise terminal. We arrived inside around 10:45. Check in was quick and efficient. We were on the ship around 11:30am after a short wait in line.
We headed to the Opus dining room and met with the dining staff who were nice enough to provide us with information about the upcoming menus and even sent a hard copy of the menus for the week to our stateroom. We had already booked Murano's for a night but we added the Tuscan Grill and Qsine for two other nights using their information.
We then headed to the Ocean View Buffet for our first lunch and to wait for our room to come available. For the first time in a long time we were very impressed with the buffet which would soon become a great dining option.
The carving stations had juicy prime rib and the gratin potatoes were downright phenomenal! You have to try them if they have them.
The stations were laid out very well and even though there were a lot of people in there it never seemed crowded.
I will go into greater detail later about the dining options.
We stayed in cabin 7284 which was a balcony mid-ship and literally spitting distance to the elevators. It was one of the most conveniently located cabins we have ever stayed in.
I won't go into too much detail since others have already described the contents. The bed was very comfy with an egg-crate mattress. The shower was awesome with good pressure and the sliding door was a great bonus. Room temperature was comfortable and the room very quiet.
Balcony was a nice size and the chairs could fully recline so if the sun hits your balcony you could lay out right there.
Stateroom TV has free and pay for movies as well as limited channels, account information, the ability to look at pictures and shore excursion booking. We were a bit disappointed that the daily Opus dining menus were not posted, only menus for the specialty restaurants.
Note if you want to plug in and use a personal electronic device (dvd player, wdtv, or video game system) you have to disconnect the black hmdi plug and replace it with your devices plug. You may have to adjust the volume on the tv first since once you switch over you can't adjust it afterward.
We met with our cabin steward Leslie and asked for a large bucket of ice after dinner (the little silver bucket is way too small) and some extra towels and he made sure we were fully stocked all week.
The muster drill was very easy. We reported to the Opus dining room and didn't have to bring our life jackets. We sat and watched a 10 minute video about the safety procedures and then returned to our room. We ate in the Opus the first night and enjoyed the prime rib. My DW had hers medium rare and I got mine medium and they were both cooked perfectly. I had the anytime french onion soup which was very cheesy and good and my DW had the anytime crab stuffed mushrooms and found them delicious! We also had the spring rolls which were crispy and very good. The staff was friendly and spot on with the dinner service.
We went to bed early so we could get an early start on tomorrows fun in the sun.
We started our morning by trying the buffet breakfast. My DW had the made to order omelet which was a little on the thick side and I tried the cooked to order eggs which were fine. Also available...
Boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes, bacon, sausage, baked beans, bagels, english muffins and various breads for toasting. Assorted cold cuts and sliced cheeses.
The English station had corned beef hash, roasted potatoes, turkey sausage, English bacon, bangers, sauteed mushrooms, black pudding and carved Canadian bacon and ham.
The fruit station had oranges, bananas, pears, kiwis, yellow apples, red grapes, red apples and sliced grapefruit.
There was smoked salmon and herring.
There was a station with waffles, pancakes, bananas foster, a daily blintz, french toast and a special waffle/pancake/french toast of the day. Toppings included whipped cream, fresh berries and both a blueberry and strawberry compote.
Cereals included granola, corn flakes, frosted flakes, rice crispies, fruit loops, raisin bran and cheerios.
Sliced Meats and Cheeses
We then scoured the deck for the perfect deck chairs. We usually choose the upper deck for the breeze. We grabbed the two end chairs just outside the sliding glass doors and turned them into the sun for both better sun and a little privacy (don't really care to be butted up to a stranger).
We went to the Mast grill for lunch and order double cheese burgers. The burgers were grilled right with a nice crust but were huge so we stuck with single burgers after that. The fries were very crispy and good. They also offered hot dogs and they have veggie burgers available but you have to wait on them after requesting one.
Dinner that night was Murano's. We have eaten there before and loved it and it was even better this time. We had the lobster bisque which exploded with lobster flavor. The goat cheese souffle now came with a bechamel sauce which made it even more rich and cheesy. We finished with the Chateaubriand for two and the meat was super tender. After a full day of sun and food we retired early.
Day 3 Puerto Rico:
This morning we tried the dining room breakfast and swore never again. The food was the same as the buffet only cold and with a long wait attached. My wife ordered banana pancakes that were devoid of bananas. Stay with the buffet. It is fresher and has no wait time. We soaked up sun and tried the buffet for lunch. They had the following stations...
A pizza station with pepperoni, veggie and cheese pizza which was very good.
A pasta station with several pastas and your choice of red sauce, white sauce, or meat balls. They also had other toppings you could incorporate.
There was a carving station featuring either roast beef, turkey or ham. There is a varied potato side which was very good.
A mexican station with taco shells and tortillas with refried beans and ground beef with chili. They also had steak and chicken fajita fixings.
An indian station with various items as well as a stir fry station.
They had a salad bar with regular and Caesar salad fixings as well as four different cold salads and mixed greens.
They have a sandwich station with lots of different breads and the chef will make cook to order panini style sandwiches. He cooks the meat and cheese separate from the bread and combines them into a tasty combination at the end.
There is an ice cream station with about 8 different flavors and various candy toppings as well as a soft serve machine. And a dessert station with lots of desserts with lots of choices including sugar free options.
Buffet Caesar salad
Grilled Ham and Cheese Panini
Stir Fry station
Ice cream and toppings
We arrived in Puerto Rico around 3pm and we got off to do a little shopping. It was Monday and we found that both the Don Q and Baccardi factories were closed. I am not sure if this is every Monday or not. We went to a local super market and picked up a couple of bottles of Ron Del Barrilito 3 star rum as gifts. We read it is Puerto Rico's most favorite rum.
That evening we ate at the Tuscan Grill for dinner. We had the crab cake, the Cioppino, and the Filet Mignon with Mac and Cheese. All were very tasty and delicious.
Day 4 St Martin:
We arrived in St Martin at 8am and we got a taxi van at the terminal with a few other people for $6 per person. We have noticed that the more people in the van the less they charge. The terminal had a clearly labeled taxi station so you just line up where you want to go.
We went to the Orange Fever bar on Orient beach since they had a deal for $7 which includes a chair, an umbrella, and 1 free drink. Since we got there early we got great chairs right up front. After our free drinks we got a bucket of Coronas 6 for $10. Beach was very crowded but still comfortable. There were of course naked people who had no business being naked (ugh!). Had a nice day and got a taxi back for the same price. There were plenty available.
We dined in the Opus dining room that night. I had the Shellfish Risotto which was very tasty. My Dw had the shrimp cocktail and didn't care for it. We both had the grilled Rib eye which was good but the dining room was slow that night so we were very tired by the time it showed up.
St Martin Orient Beach
Day 5 St Kitts:
We arrived at 8am and we rented a taxi van for $8 a piece. We could have probably got a cheaper rate had we waited for more people but we wanted to get to our destination, The Shipwreck bar Friars Bay beach, early. It was well worth arriving early. We got there around 9am in time to watch a large group of Vervet monkies enjoying breakfast. After snapping up pictures we found some great chairs and settled in. For $10 you get 2 chairs under an umbrella made of palm fronds. It was paradise. The beach just past the chairs slopes way down which allows the waves to crash at your feet without getting you wet. You can get a bucket of local beer (we got Carib) for $15 for 6. We relaxed for the day and left for the ship around 2pm via taxi for $5 per person.
For dinner we wanted to try the buffet, something which we really never do but it paid off in spades. That night they had Barbeque ribs which were fall off the bone and delicious. I also had sliced turkey and steak fries with gravy...yum! The fried cod was crispy and good. My DW had both roasted and garlic chicken which were both juicy and flavorful. We really enjoyed the quality of the food and the ability to just be casual. If you want good food without all the hassle the dinner buffet is a must visit!
Shipwreck bar Friars bay
Day 6 At Sea:
We found our usual chairs and enjoyed the sun for the day. We went to the buffet brunch in the dining room and I must agree with other posters that it really isn't all that. Everything was identical to what you could get in the regular buffet except for a few options. I would give it a pass since it was very crowded.
It was formal night and we didn't want to miss out on the lobster so we planned for the dining room that night. We both had the Blue Cheese Souffle which was just as good as the goat cheese version from the Murano. Very cheesy and creamy but they could have left off the red onions since they were a bit overpowering. We of course had the lobster which we thought was very good but many people might be turned off by the "chewiness". It is Caribbean lobster not Maine and as far as "cruise ship quality" lobster we found them flavorful and having a lot of meat.
We noticed that formal night seems to be less formal than it used to be. Very few tuxedos and gowns and a lot more suits and nice dresses. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing since packing formal wear can be quite a pain. I did not see anyone I would label as inappropriately dressed.
Day 7 last day at Sea (sigh):
We did our usual fun in the sun. That night we booked Qsine since usually the last day in the dining room is usually iffy. We really enjoyed it! If you are only a couple and not a group I would only order off one I-pad and share. My DW and I had the Painter's Mignon which was cooked perfectly with great sides. We had the surprisingly delicious Barbeque spring rolls (we opted out of the veggie). And finally finished up with the Slider party which was tasty and a lot of fun. By then we were stuffed so we ordered the Chocolate tombstone to go and took it back to our cabin to enjoy later (which we did yumm!). Note if you get there at 5:55 you can usually score a window seat. I would definitely recommend Qsine for a unique dining experience!
Self debarkation nightmare!! Not really the ships fault as customs held them up for over an hour. This caused a huge cattle line all the way back to the specialty restaurants. We then got into a backed up cattle line to go through customs ourselves. We had went to debark at 7:00 (which a long line had already formed, I suggest you go real early) and didn't get to a taxi until 9am. Spent about $30 for a taxi back to the hotel and then hit the road for home.
Overall: An excellent cruise with many great options and ways to have fun. An A+ experience. I have heard others complain about lack of friendliness but I felt that every staff member from the restaurant and bar staff to the entertainment staff to our cabin steward were extremely friendly and accomodating.
At 7pm the Hot tubs in the solarium are empty. My wife and I enjoyed a private soak several nights!
The Guitarist is very good and does a mean James Taylor.
Check your stateroom TV if you are supposed to get on board credit. Ours never showed up and we had to deal the pursers desk for 24 hours before we could get it settled.
Movies on demand were good. We enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom, Finding a friend at the end of the world and the Campaign. It was nice to use it like a dvr and pause and resume as needed.
The desserts in the coffee bar are free and are changed at lunch and again in the evening and are very good. The cookies were awesome!
Just a side note that if you book Select dining they charge you prepaid gratuitys at booking and are mandatory. Only traditional dining allows you to adjust tips.
Finally not be be missed are the sunrises and sunsets at sea as they a spectacular.
Hope this review helps and happy cruising!!!