We are in our early 60's, both professionals and have only cruised 5 times previously - all with Princess. We have enjoyed every cruise with Princess but we heard from travel agents and fellow cruisers that Celebrity was so much better so we thought we should give them a try. The dates and itinerary fit our schedule so we booked on the Reflection.
I wrote a very lengthy review setting out what I believed to be the pluses and minuses but after reading it, I was bored so I thought everyone else would be too. The following is a much shorter version (and as it turns out still rather lengthy).
Rooms - Celebrity wins over Princess. Oceanview room on Deck 3 was lovely. Lots of space, great beds and nice bathroom. It was very soundproof, once we closed the door we didn't hear anyone in the halls or in the next cabins. This was also a bonus considering we were just off the Grand Foyer which is whee everyone gathers later in the evening.
Food - Celebrity wins over Princess on the food in Opus, the main dining room. The food in the Ocean View cafe was standard cruise food so no winner there. The Princess has much better food on the pool deck and the pizza on Princess (especially if you ask them to put it back in the oven to crisp the crust) is terrific. Also Princess serves freshly baked cookies and milk at Movies Under The Stars (as if we really need them). We didn't try any of the specialty restaurants so I can't comment on those.
Cabin Steward - Definitely Princess. On Celebrity our cabin steward appeared, introduced himself and then disappeared for basically the remainder of the cruise. Obviously our cabin was attended to but we ran out of toiletries and had to call to ask him to replenish them. We bought wine on board and the first thing our stewards have done on Princess is provide us with wine glasses and an ice bucket. Not so on Celebrity. Also, which is rather strange, we had different stewards in our cabin and had to check at the desk to make sure that they should in fact have had access to our room.
Pool - Tie. Both have nice pools and lots of lounge chairs. Celebrity chairs are padded and there are more of them but Princess provides small tables for you to place a drink or book, etc.
Entertainment - Tie. Basic cruise entertainment. Celebrity did bring a young opera singer on board the last two nights. We don't follow opera but Kate Dowman has such a beautiful voice that she was a highlight of the trip. Only complaint is that they rope off the middle section in the balcony for suite passengers. I have never seen this done before and I am not into elitism. Really people, this is cruise entertainment, not a command performance at Royal Albert Hall in London.
Ship - Princess. Although the Reflection is the newest ship, the interior doesn't work for me. The one reason I would never sail on her again is the open atrium. The atrium is open from Deck 3 to Deck 14. Artistically very beautiful but not functional. At night the Grand Foyer becomes party central with loud music and hundreds of people milling in the area. The music travels up the atrium. Some nights I like to find a quiet spot to read for an hour or so before retiring as my husband sometimes retires before me. Impossible on the Reflection. The library and the hideaway have partial glass partitions opening onto the atrium and you can't escape the music and it is loud. I love the Piazza on the Princess ships and there are lots of other areas to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and/or glass of wine and a good book.
Service - Definitely Princess. We found the majority of the staff to be quite aloof on the Reflection. As mentioned in one of the previous reviews, there were a number of times that staff would stand in small groups chatting and ignore the passengers. We had a classic beverage package and a lot of time ended up obtaining our own drinks. On the Princess cruises we found everyone to be very friendly, always greeting us with a smile and saying hello.
Itinerary and Ports of Call - Great. We took some excursions arranged on the ship and did some of our own. We brought along Rick Steves' "Mediterranean Cruise Ports" and it was very informative - lots of useful tips.
All in all it was a great trip. I won't cruise on the Reflection again but I might try another ship in the Celebrity fleet. At this point we are still Princess cruisers and have just booked our Caribbean cruise on the Ruby Princess in February and will sail on the Crown Princess in April to Mexico.