We were very disappointed by the cruise--mainly because it didn't live up, by a long shot, with our previous experience in AQ on the Eclipse. That experience sold us on Celebrity--AQ was perfect for us. Access to the Reflection Room. Great. Thermal Suites. Fabulous. Blu-Triple Fabulous.
The Reflection must have many, many more AQ-class rooms and suites than the Eclipse. The Persian Gardens were always packed. I eventually started going at 8 am--which was good. But forget about going in the afternoon or early evening.
Blu... we went once for breakfast--and altho the menu was great, it took us nearly 90 minutes to be seated, have our order taken, get our order, and finish. (The wait staff, themselves, were great, it just that the room is too small, there are too many passengers with access to Blu, and the kitchen couldn't keep up).
Dinner... on the second night, it took us around 3 hours--40 minutes to be seated. 30 minutes for the waiter to come. The appetizers came quickly, but everything else slowed down. The first night took nearly 2 hours and the restaurant was half full. Even with the nearly 3 hour experience, I didn't mind too much as a leisurely dinner is a perfectly nice thing and we weren't going to the shows. But when the third night also took more than two hours... it begins to wear thin.
There are simply too many AQ rooms on Reflection. Blu couldn't handle it.
Also, the menu didn't seem as good or "clean" as before. A lot of heavy foods. The appetizers and soups/salads were good/inventive. The main dishes, just so-so. Not worth the cramped dining space and the long waits. We even tried going at different times--7 pm, 8:30, 8:45.
Again, I'd like to say that the individuals did the best they could, no one was wasting time or seemed to be inefficient, all were pleasant, but....
On the Eclispse, the managers knew our name by the second night and we were always placed in the same "station." This time, we were seated in a different section each time and the managers were way too busy dealing with everything to provide the same level of service. We could have waited to be seated in a particular person's section, but given that the experience, we knew, would take a couple hours, we didn't want to add any more time to the experience (after the second night when it took us 40 minutes to be seated). The poor manager (or the assistance, not sure which, the man) was doing everything from running food to removing plates to taking drink and appetizer orders.
The difference between Blu on Reflection and on Eclipse was striking. Wondering why Blu was so different on the Reflection was a pretty common topic of conversation during dinner. e.g., one night a young woman leaned over and said, "can I ask you a question, is this your first time in AQ? is it always like this?) this sort of conversation happened several times.
In sum, we were sold on Celebrity after the Eclipse sailing. I fully intended to pre-book another cruise on board. But I didn't and I think it will be a long time before we take another cruise.
Now, if I hadn't booked AQ, I would probably have a better opinion about Celebrity and my experience. My negative view is that I paid quite a premium for "perks" that I was really looking forward to, but each was a let down and we couldn't, in some cases, take full advantage of them. The Persian Gardens were difficult to use because of the numbers. Blu took forever.
The above made the other negatives about the cruise also stand out--- a lot of "chair hogs." Saving chairs with towels but then disappearing for hours. At any one time, most seats would be "occupied" but there would be people actually sitting in about 40% or so of the chairs.
The Buffet (tried it once for breakfast after the 90 minutes at Blu experience) was difficult to manage. Lunch hours at the Buffet for the "main" lunch, weren't that long making for crowds of people. What Celebrity can't manage is people's behavior--a lot of rude people. Often I would be waiting patiently in the "line" to have people swoop in from the other direction, not paying attention to who was there and whether there was a line or flow. What Celebrity COULD do, however, is lengthen the hours to reduce the crowds.
One more thing... St Marten, 9 cruise ships in port. Do not get off the ship. Do all ships have to have the same itinerary? It took us 50 minutes in bumper to bumper traffic to get to Mullet Bay. Then more than an hour in bumper to bumper traffic to get back to the ship from Marigot. (On the plus side, the pulling away of the Orient's P&O ship was fun--thousands of Brits waving the Union Jack. It was fun)
So, I have to say this was a disappointing cruise. I had a nice time--who can not have at least a nice time on a cruise? But I'm very disappointed in the AQ experience on the Reflection. It was most definitely not worth the premium.
Would I sail again? Yes, but not on the Reflection and only if the AQ price is not much of a differential from a veranda price. And I will probably only sail on an itinerary that never has 8-10 ships at the same port at the same time. More than likely, our next several vacations will be to simply go to nice hotel on a nice beach in the Caribbean.