Just returned from our 5th overall cruise-HAL and Princess were previous cruise lines-3 Caribbean and 1 Mediterranean. We can't say enough good things about Celebrity Reflection. It was a flawless experience for us. My husband and I travel at least twice yearly and started cruising in 2004. We went to Rome for 2 nights prior to cruise. Stayed at Yes Hotel on via Magenta which was located about 5 mins walk from Termini station. Convenient as we picked up the Leonardo express from Fumincino-runs on 1/2 hr and costs very little compared with private transport. Would recommend Yes Hotel as reception staff were terrific and very helpful to getting us reoriented on arrival. Did Villa Borghese tour with Walks of Italy tour group and would also highly recommend especially if you have missed this place on previous trips to Italy.
Also did Vatican tour with Overome Tours and it was good but my husband and I were so jet lagged that first day that it was difficult to take it all in.
On embarkation day we took train from Termini to civitavecchia which is another bargain compared with private transfer. I think it was 15 E for the both of us. The schedules are posted online 2 weeks prior. Pick a departure time with most direct itinerary-some trains are regional and make multiple stops but transit time will be noted on schedule. It's a short walk to shuttle bus. We pack fairly light-1 bag each so the walk was a cinch for us. There will be free shuttles to ship at port gate.
Embarkation was a breeze at 1pm. No wait at all-we were AQ class and that may have helped.
First and foremost it's a lovely ship. To accommodate 3000 or so passengers and make it feel both intimate and spacious is a real feat in my eyes. Intimate in that there were lots of places to go for quiet relaxation and spacious in that it rarely felt crowded in public areas. It helped that there were few children on board which is our primary reason for traveling in September /October.
We booked all small group tours privately and they are usually much less expensive and far less crowded than ships tours. Think 10-12 people max vs bus loads of cruisers. Do a little research on line or join the cruise critic community forum for your cruise to get information. I was pleased that I took the time to do it.
Here's a summary of tours:
Santorini-exit tender(get your tender tix day before) and walk to left. We took 15E each boat ride to Oia- they drop you off and short bus ride to Oia then pick you up and return back to Fira and ship via funicular or you can walk down donkey path if you like. The ride up in the funicular was at least an hours wait as the tenders were unloading. Beautiful views and lots of little boutiques for shopping. We had afternoon snack and coffee. There was little wait time coming back down.
Instanbul was a little disappointing to me as it was the reason for booking this itinerary. 17 million people live there and there were 7 cruise ships in port that day-we heard that there were 2 extra ships bcs they diverted from a Cairo stop. Needless to say the traffic was awful. The sites were very crowded but I'm still glad we got a chance to see them. We booked small group tour-we were 8 in our group with Daily Istanbul Tours. Terrific tour guide Ali who answered our many questions about Turkey-Istanbul -Islam and the various sites we saw. Included was blue mosque, hia Sophia, tokapi palace and traditional lunch at local restaurant which was fabulous if you enjoy local flavor and cultural experiences. We did as did the rest of our group. I must mention that it was very cool-about 50 degrees and wind off water so it felt cooler. Grand Bazaar is crazy place with hard sell at every booth. Great leather and tons of jewelry and scarves everywhere. The hard sell starts to wear on you quickly though.
Took tour in Kudadasi with About Ephesus Tours. Kudadasi is really a great place. Far less congested than Istanbul. Many people we spoke with on cruise loved Kudadasi vs Istanbul. Ended up being just my husband and I and cost 75$ pp which included lunch at rug making company. Most tours include this as there must be a government subsidy involved as the Turkish government is trying to preserve this industry. It was actually very interesting and although my husband thought we were coming home with a beautiful wool/silk carpet, I did resist the temptation-be prepared to say no. The tour itself was terrific. The Library of Celsius is stunning. We also went to House of Virgin Mary and left a "wish" on the wishing wall. Many people make a pilgrimage here and it was a quiet and solemn attraction.
Next stop mykonos and it was too cool for beach day so we bought 8$ pp transfer back and forth all day then meandered around mykonos town. Beautiful seaside village. Check out the alleyways for some spectacular pics.
Next stop Athens and tour with Athens Walking Tours. Small group again and just lovely weather for walking around. Mid seventies and bright sunshine. Saw temple of Zeus and the acropolis/Parthenon plus free time in Plaka for more shopping.
Last stop was Naples and this was the only ship tour we took. We did Capri , sorrento, and Pompeii. Boat ride to Capri and sorrento then bus to Pompeii. Felt like I was being herded around from place to place bcs of large group. Sites were nice but 11/2 hours each isn't long enough. You mainly get a taste of what it would be like if you wanted to return.
Disembarkation was a breeze. Used Smart Tours for transfer to fumincino at 40E for both of us which the ship charged 92$ each for same bus ride.
Loved Blu restaurant and having started with AQ class, it may be difficult to go backwards from that. Our wait staff was lovely(thanks a million Jose and Ioanna)and the maître d Tomas and host Artur were terrific as well.
We met lots of terrific people at breakfast and dinner and was able to share experiences and received tips from frequent travelers as well.
The shows were pretty standard fare. Ok not fabulous with the exception of the Cirque style show which was mesmerizing at times. Having seen a few cirque shows, this did not disappoint.
Used Persian garden on 2 occasions and the gym always had equipment available. I did think the additional fees were a bit high-25$ for a spin class seems excessive but it probably kept class size manageable.
All in all we enjoyed ourselves immensely and our looking forward to our next cruise in winter. Caribbean here we come and Celebrity is our gold standard now.