This was my 3rd Celebrity cruise and the first cruise ever for my friend. I had a blast, and my friend is hooked for life.
The embarkation process was very smooth, but tiring. We arrived at the port at about 10:45 before the lines got bad and were whisked right through, only to stand in another line for a long time waiting to board the ship. This could be helped with a seating area, IMO. I am 72 and my friend is 74, which made standing in line for quite awhile very tiring.
When we got on board, everything changed. Ah - Celebrity's famous bubbly and I felt like I was back home. The Oceanview Cafe is great, with the layout of various islands and there are so many tables available that, for the first time, we had no trouble getting one. The food was wonderful, and we were even able to get rare, really rare roast beef.
When we were allowed to go to our cabin, my friend was immediately taken by the veranda. This is the only way to go, IMO, and definitely was hers. Much time was spent there in the late afternoon before supper and before bed with a snifter of something nice.
The entertainment was very good with few exceptions. We both felt that 'Vibe', the 'Party Band' which played in the foyer several times was much too loud and not that good. You could hear them through about 1/3 of the ship at times. The other live music was wonderful. We especially liked Uncommon Ground, the a capella quartet and the duo that we didn't discover until the next to last night. The shows were quite good. Jamie Allen was truly amazing and there was a contortionist who could do some things I have never even imagined. We even came back for a second show to see if she could do it again! The Sin City show was very good and not as 'sinful' as I have heard on another ship on a competing line.
The main dining room had the same wonderful food I always remembered, but some of the elegance has been lost. I have pictures of the table setting on Century from 2006 and Millennium from 2007. Things seem rather plain compared to that, and I really feel that it felt somehow 'cheaper'. Joe and Ancelee did a wonder job as waiter and assistant, Carlo was a great bar waiter and I can't say enough good about Boris, our sommelier. The Oceanview Cafe, while always busy at mealtimes, never felt that crowded. The one exception was the one - yes only one - person doing stir fries. He was great, but there should be more than one at that station.
Due to the late arrival in San Juan and our early supper seating, we ate at the Lawn Club that night. The food was quite good and cooking our steaks myself was fun, but I don't believe it was worth the extra $40.00 per person. I ate in the Olympic on the Millennium and really felt that it was worth it and maybe some of the other specialty restaurants are worth it on Reflection, but not the Lawn Club.
We were on the Premium drink package and, mainly due to our discovering the Molecular Bar, used it to the hilt without ever being even tipsy. It was nice to be able to order a red wine for our appetizer which screamed out for one without having to worry about cost. Another word about the Molecular Bar - we just wish it would stay open a bit longer. The drinks were wonderful, relatively low in alcohol and Marius was fabulous as the 'mixologist'.
A warning for you wine connoisseurs - the machines in the wine cellar are NOT included in any drink package. There are many wonderful wines to be had and tried, but you have to purchase a special card there in order to sample.
I do have one complaint about the common areas, and I was not the only person who remarked on this. The common area men's rest rooms were really lacking in stalls. I always had to wait if I needed one, and sometimes there were two of us waiting. The local Sam's Club has 2-3X more for many fewer clientele. The women's rooms outside both the Reflection Theater and Opus Dining Room always had a line. Don't know how this can be rectified as the ship is built, but might be a future consideration.
Then came debarkation... We waited in the theater for what seemed forever to get our number called then, two people from the gangway, there was a problem that cost us another 15 minutes as we stood there waiting for it to be fixed. A wheel chair came off the gangway headed toward the ship during this but nobody was allowed on it from the ship. Huh????
Overall a great cruise, and a wonderful introduction to cruising for my friend.