Celebrity Reflection Cruise Review by stwhitm: Volcanoes and rubble
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Volcanoes and rubble
This is a long review but I've tried to ignore what's already been posted before.
Embarkation - nothing to add, quick and efficient. For the first time ever we booked flights/transfers with Celebrity; it is however, a very 'user friendly' service. First impressions on getting on board 'wow! If you've ever brought a brand new car and have that 'pristine and perfect' feeling, well Reflection has it. The public areas are truly impressive. I thought the one exception was the Ocean view cafe, the food was very good but inside it does have a canteen feel, the outside seating area is however very nice . We got an 'against the rail' seat every time we went there. Normally we would have gone to the restaurant for breakfast/lunch etc but sitting outside was so nice to 'sun starved' Europeans.
The lawn area is something I had never been convinced about from the brochure. In reality however, I really liked it. The piece of grass adjacent to the Sunset bar is a really relaxed More area with people reading books and children running about ....being kids. However the main lawn area was hardly used unless you have a Cabana. My wife felt this was too large an area to be inaccessible to most people and could be better utilised eg for mini golf/table tennis or other sports. The cabins are very good and nothing was too much of a problem for our attendant Esther. One minor negative note, we found the duvets too hot even with the A/C on its lowest temperature setting.
Sea days (Listen to the captain!)
Listen to the captain's announcements. He obviously enjoys this aspect of his role and gives very useful information. On day 1 he told us we would be passing Stromboli the next morning. We got up at 7.30 to see it. Definitely an early 'unexpected highlight' and well worth missing n minutes sleep for. Within an hour you'll also see Etna.
Choose your position according to your needs. If you want to chill (or fry) in the sun and don't need immediate access to the pool go to deck 15 & walk up to the solstice deck, much smaller and quieter than the others. Probably not the best for those with children, or who want to be 'near the action'. If you want to read and enjoy doing nothing it's excellent. The ship did not seem over full, even when we went in mid-August. Some have complained of the teenagers in the hideaway - the quirky furniture seems something of a magnet - but we never thought it a problem.
Even though you're on holiday think about going to a lecture. We went to one on astronomy and discovered the International Space Station would be visible one night during the cruise - we saw it another unexpected highlight. Apparently there's an app to tell you the position of the I.S.S. - check it out.
We were tender ticket 37 were off by 3.15, they move quickly. We took one look at the cable car queue and opted for the fast boat to Oia. It's only 20 per head. It's fast and scenic - air con buses at the other end to get into town. Buses leave for Thira on the hour and are included in the ticket. We thought it worth the price for ease.
DONKEY ALERT, the walk down from Thira is NOT for the feint hearted. You will be walking in front of, behind and at times between donkeys. They also have a habit of leaving signs of their presence; if you're in sandals/flip flops (as we were) you've been warned. The cobbles are also very slippy - make sure footwear has decent treads (ours didn't!) The walk up and down is safely done by thousands a day so don't rule it out, it's just best to know what you're taking on. The traffic jam at the cable car is unavoidable - get your tender ticket asap when released.
Our first visit - an amazing city which is absolutely enormous - you don't realise the size until you leave. Those with cabins on the starboard side are in for a real treat when they open the curtains in Istanbul.
Use the internet to book single museum tickets or multi passes and print them out. You'll save an incredible amount of time. We did the city on our own. Leaving the dock area turn right or left - the station to the right is about 250 metres nearer. You must have Turkish lire -3 per journey. The token machines are simple to use - the blue button puts instructions in English. it gives change but doesn't accept credit cards. We left the ship at 8.15 and we are Haiga Sophia entrance at 9, opening time; trams are quick, clean and have air con. The area around the H/S, Blue Mosque is lovely - charge cameras, pads etc you'll find a lot to film. Second day we repeated for the Blue Mosque, check the times it is shut for prayers. Go in the blue mosque - cover ups are provided for those whose dress isn't considered suitable. About 50 metres from H/Sophia is Basilica cistern we thought was very good with a very cool underground cafe - well worth a visit. Topkapi museum is BIG and is in lovely grounds. In the afternoon we booked an afternoon cruise to the Black Sea - It was a relaxing afternoon and might sound an odd thing to do on a cruise but we enjoyed it. The spice bazaar is again fascinating - stock up on vanilla/saphron etc. There are a lot of people selling guides, trips etc - they are polite and don't hassle too much - remember it's their living and their country. It's tempting to try and see everything - you can't, so do a bit of reading and decide what your priorities are.
Kusadassi is a modern holiday resort echoing many others in the med region. The ship comes here for one reason only - Ephesus. Go there! We did a private tour - trip advisor have lots listed, the star ratings show they all seem to offer a good service. The guide was at the port entrance, the minibus was new and fully air-conned and the journey was about 20 mins, the group was 9 and the guide was essential in getting the most from the trip. We visited the site of the Temple of Artemis, or the single column that forms what remains. Yes, it's a single column, but it's one that gives you bragging rights on having seen one of the '7 wonders.' We thought it was very good value and simple to organise. The guide was excellent, her knowledge was invaluable. On the way back she offered several drop off points, shopping malls, the infamous carpet factory - no one wanted either so we went straight back to the ship. The guide was invaluable in Ephesus - I have a keen interest in history, my wife is a scientist and she pleased both! It seems odd to book a trip with an email - no money involved until the return to the ship, but rest assured it works brilliantly and your name will be on the list. Most people spoke well of whatever tour they chose, small number on ours made it seem somewhat personal. A lot of people seemed to do some serious shopping, prices seemed higher than Istanbul but we didn't buy anything significant.
Starboard cabins win again, but only just' the view from both sides is good. You have a choice of various transports. On the left of the new port is a small beach - walk able, in fact nearer than town. There are buses from the 'new port' where the ship docks to beaches, buses into town or 'water taxi' - . We chose to go to town by water taxi - rule of thumb towns that are ports look better from the water, Mykonos town is no exception. After a quick look round we caught a bus to Paradise beach - abut 15/20 mins away, a sun bed is 4 for the day. The beach and water are beautifully clean. Mykonos town is interesting in a 'maze like' way, and worth visiting. There is no need to book an official trip - it's so easy to use local transport; Mykonos has very few taxis so buses are really the order of the day.
Having 'done' Athens before, my wife only two months ago, we elected to remain on board and enjoy the relatively empty ship. The ship is moored at the furthest point to the port entrance, bear this in mind if you plan to make your own way to the centre - and be prepared Athens is VERY hot.
Again somewhere we have visited relatively recently and having visited the ruins, Herculaneum is particularly impressive, smaller and quieter than Pompeii, with many of the building almost fully intact, we decided to go to Sorrento/Amalfi. If you plan to use public transport there is a particularly useful agency - Ontano. They are just to the right of the port entrance as you exit, they sell tickets for all major transport links at face price and are a 'one stop' shop for any ticket needed; they also inform of all available options and cost. We wanted to cruise down the coast - but arrived there at 9.10, the next boat was at 11.00, however there was a fast ferry at 9.30 to Capri, so that's where we went. It's a beautiful island and well worth a visit. If you plan to use the funicular be aware that tickets are not sold at the entrance but at a separate booth some 100 meters away to the right. Public transport will take you to most places you might want to see.
The cruise was fantastic. We could get pedantic about how much of the food in the MDR is quite bland, but this is of course subject to taste; service was always excellent. Watch out for brunch in the MDR on sea days, it's not really flagged up beyond being printed in the daily itinerary. It is worth going and would be a real miss if you didn't. We also liked the ice cream counter in the Ocean View Cafe, it's immediately after the port side entry, great ice cream and a constantly changing array of flavours. Crew members throughout the ship couldn't have been more helpful - special thanks to Esther for looking after the cabin so well.
We've been on other cruises before and this was our first holiday without our children, so the luxury and ambience of Reflection was much appreciated. There's so much to enjoy on the ship and their eye for detail ensures a high quality experience. Less
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