My wife and I just returned from our second wonderful cruise on the Reflection. We were in Aqua Class Cabin 1584 for the second time as well. The ship and this cabin are in great shape and we noted no significant differences from our 1/3/13 cruise. That earlier cruise review is also available under member reviews if you wish to read it.
OFFICERS AND CREW: At various times my wife and I met or spoke to the following Officers: Captain Athanasios G. Peppas, Staff Captain Nigel Smyth, Guest Relations Manager Christian Comiria, Hotel Director Julian Brackenbury Captains Club Host Ti-Ann Aure and Cruise Director Alexander Yepremian as well as several junior officers whose names I did not get written down. All of these persons are planning to be onboard Reflection for next few months. I mention them for two reasons, one to show how accessible the officers are to passengers on the ship, and two, to congratulate them on the wonderful work their crew does onboard. The crew of this ship was uniformly courteous, friendly, and professional in their duties throughout our cruise. Our cabin steward Sherwin, Our waiter in Blu Gode and his assistant, the personal shopper on board Kelecia, and the Dance Captain Jen were just some the examples we personally experienced.
BLU: This was our second time dining in Blu. The breakfast menu appears to be exactly the same as last year's breakfast menu. It is very good, but does not have Eggs Benedict, which I enjoy, so we did eat breakfast in the main dining room one morning. It was also a pleasant experience. We usually dined between 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. for dinner. No wait and were usually seated by a window or one table in from a window. The menu is varied and allows you to try different dishes which are not normally available in Columbia, Missouri where we live. Since food is so subjective, that is all I am going to say about Blu except, to re-state we enjoyed our experience and having the opportunity to meet and talk with fellow diners from the United States and other countries.
THE ENTERTAINMENT: The production shows are all excellent in our opinion. The cast of singers, dancers, aerialists, and specialty acts were the best we have seen in one show on any cruise line. The three production shows are referred to by the cast as the Broadway show, the Rock show, and the Circus show. You will enjoy aerialists, contortionists, and special stage effects which are amazing, particularly when you consider they are being done on a moving ship at sea. Don't miss these shows!
The days of the cruise without a production show still had entertainment in the main theatre. On San Juan night we had Bronkar Lee who was described as a rhythm comedy and beatbox juggler. Hard to describe his act, it was mostly him using his voice to make sound effects, and some very good juggling. We appreciated his effort, but it was not a show we were excited about. The ship also had Gareth Oliver do a show on Wednesday night. He was described as an unconventional ventriloquist. We did not see that show. During the last two sea days the Cruise Director also had two additional shows scheduled on the afternoon in the theatre, which featured the A Cappella group on board in concert on Thursday, and the Main Show Singers and the Cruise Director performing Broadway Music that they chose to sing. Both of these concerts were wonderful, and well worth the hour. We really liked the Broadway set on the last day. Just the 4 main production singers sitting on stage talking to the audience and singing with minimal staging.
I would also like to mention that prior to the Broadway show on the last sea day, the production cast and cruise director answered questions from the audience for almost an hour about the shows, their careers, and life on the ship. This was also very entertaining and informative.
OTHER MUSIC ON THE SHIP: My wife and I tried to hear as much of the music on the ship as we could. My wife has a doctorate in early childhood education and one of her courses is art and music integration, so we like musical entertainment. The premier act on board for us was the Kelly Broadway Quartet which normally played in the Ensemble Lounge. This talented performer performs in a cabaret style and performs jazz, American standards, and even some pretty recent tunes. The quartet consists of a drum set, bass, and a piano along with Kelly's outstanding singing. She is also very funny, and between songs worked hard at interacting with her audience. Don't miss her performances.
We also enjoyed the A Cappella Group onboard. It was called Uncommon Ground. They performed in several of the lounges and on the big stage in the Reflection Theatre as a group and in the production shows. Other acts onboard that we heard included Vibes, the party band, which is based in England. They played mostly current top 40 tunes from current artists. They were good musicians, but they did not play the older style rock and cruise music that we have heard from other cruises. The Toucan Duo was an unusual act for a cruise ship. This duo played the flute and piano. We only heard them briefly, so not sure what style of music they played, the one we heard was classical in nature. The Reflection Band also played big band and popular music in the Grand Foyer on one night of the cruise. This band is under the direction of 3 time Grammy winner "Big Mike" and is worth your time.
The only music we did not like on board was the Miami DJ's Live who played in the Martini Lounge at an amazing volume each evening. We are not the demographic they are trying to reach, so no complaints from me, just a personal preference. I did not hear rap music as such, but their songs are what you would expect from a dance club in a major metropolitan city or even in my college town of 125,000 people which is home to the University of Missouri and it's 35,000+ students. It did not seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the people in the Martini or Molecular Bars, so I guess just stay away from them during their performances, if you don't want to listen to their music mix.
One final word about the entertainment. My wife and I also heard Andrew, our cruise director, state several times that Celebrity has made a corporate decision to try to present a more "edgy" and "modern" cruise experience which would attract a young professional audience to their cruise line. Andrew himself is very young for a cruise director, and comes from an entertainment background both in the United States and England. I believe that his presence as cruise director on the Celebrity Flagship is not an accident, but clear proof of this corporate initiative. He is smart, funny, and represents his generation's ideas about what they want in cruising. I also think Celebrity is trying to balance this with some of the other musical acts on board, such as Kelly Broadway and Uncommon Ground. Time and future bookings will tell if this is the correct mix. We had a great cruise.
SIN CITY: This has gotten some discussion on the boards. Here is what we experienced. We attended the Monday night show. It was very full with people kneeling in the aisles as well as standing in the back. The show consists of a "host" who tells a few jokes. He then introduces a dancer who comes on stage and does a five minute strip to a G-string and bra which is what I am assuming she normally wears when she is doing a show as a dancer on the Las Vegas strip. The featured comedian then comes on and does about a 20-25 minute Las Vegas style comedy routine. The show girl then does another routine, the host wraps it up and show is over. The comedy is typical of what you can see at the comedy clubs in my city or in any major comedy club, or on Showtime Adult Comedy shows. The dancer is more covered than some of the women on the pool deck.
THE SPA: I used the Persian Gardens every day. They are well maintained and I enjoyed them. I usually went between 1:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. on sea days and got a heated lounger each time with no wait. On port days it was less crowded so any time seemed to work for me to get a heated lounger.
THE OCEANS AHEAD PROGRAM: This was presented by Staff Captain Nigel Smyth on Thursday. This is a very informative lecture about the navigation and planning which goes into a safe vacation for all of us on-board. The speaker is informative, clear in his explanations, and provided us with actual screen shots of various instruments used by the bridge crew. The program also included interesting facts about the ship itself and gave insight into officer life at sea. This is the best of these programs that I have seen on any of my 11 cruises, so I highly recommend it.
I am always happy to answer any questions, and my wife and I have already booked our next cruise on Eclipse for January, 2015 so Happy Cruising to All!!