We were on the February 15th sailing of the Reflection. We have previously been on the Eclipse and the Silhouette and enjoyed them both. Last year we brought our children, but this time it was just my husband and I with my sister and brother in law. We have been on only Eastern Caribbean itinerary due to the fact that the ship, the time of year and warm weather are more important to us. We live in New York so we flew down to Florida with our children a few days early to spend time with family. We drove down to Miami the morning of the cruise and parked in the lot at the port. It's very convenient to park only steps from the ship but it's expensive at $20/day.
Embarkation: Once we parked and handed our luggage to a porter, we were checked in and boarding the ship within 10 minutes. Very fast and easy. I believe it was about 12 or 12:30. They had champagne and greeted us as we boarded. We went to Oceanview Cafe for lunch and had no problem finding a table. Cabins were ready by the time we were done with lunch.
Cabin: We were in a C3 aft concierge on deck 10. Everything was clean and in order. There were a few differences from our previous two cruises on solstice class ships. There is no longer an ice bucket unless requested(at least for us) and the large, plush towels are gone. Also, the tote bag they usually leave on bed was not there, but it was left the next night before our first port day. Everything else was the same....sparkling wine, fruit, flowers, etc. We asked our wonderful cabin attendant, Mariano, for ice when we saw him and we had ice twice a day for the rest of the week, so no big deal. The cabin layout is great and being our third cruise in same type of ship it was easy to put everything away quickly. Our cabin was located port side aft and was very quiet. The mattresses on this ship are really too firm but the linens are very nice.
Crew: The crew on this ship was just outstanding! We cannot say enough about how wonderful, kind and hard working they were. We really have no complaints about any of our previous cruises either but this group of people really stood out. One difference we noticed right away though, was in the Oceanview Cafe. There were so many people coming by asking if we needed anything all week. I know some people complain about lack of service but it's never been an issue for us, we get up and get our drinks ourselves...It's a buffet after all. That being said, it was noticeable they are trying to provide people with more bar service etc. We would find a table for breakfast in the morning and the staff member (whose names are on cards on the table now) were so nice and would tell us to go get our breakfast and they'd watch our table so we could get up at same time, which was very nice. Everyone was so pleasant and helpful. Another night, while having dinner in Qsine, my husband mentioned he liked a particular type of beer in Michael's Club and our server got him one and brought another later. That level of service was what we experienced all week.
Dining: We took advantage of the first night discount and had dinner at Tuscan Grille. The service and food was great. The only issue was we did not get our 20% credit back on our on board account. Guest services said they would take care of it but did not. But that was our only issue all week so really can't complain.
We also had dinner at Lawn Club Grill, Qsine, and the MDR. Food and service were all very good. We find the specialty restaurants worth the money. I know some disagree but I know that, for example, my parents sailed on the Monarch of the Seas 20 plus years ago when it was a new ship and my father said he paid more for that cruise than he did for the Silhouette last year. I think if charging for specialty restaurants keeps the costs of cruises affordable then I'm all for it. It's nice to have options:)
We also really enjoyed Cafe al Bacio and Bistro on Five. We had the 123 Go beverage package they were offering and it worked out great. Service was excellent at all times. We did keep a little cash on us at all times to tip a little extra for drinks and it was always appreciated. The AquaSpa Cafe offered a nice menu of healthy smoothies and they were covered by the beverage package.
Ship: the fact that the ship is a bit larger with more cabins compared to previous Solstice Class was not an issue. There were always tables at the Oceanview Cafe no matter how busy and the rest of the ship never seemed crowded for the most part.The MDR-Opus (deck 4) was actually the one place we felt was too crowded. We liked the changes they made to the Sunset Bar and the Sky Lounge seemed spacious enough still. There were always lounge chairs out by the pool deck as long as you don't feel the need to be right at the pool. The Solarium never seemed too crowded. The new game tables and game room were very popular. The ship was kept very clean. My husband used the gym several days and found it to be very nice.
Entertainment: We did not go to the shows in Reflection theater so can't comment on those. We did really enjoyed Vibe the party band every night in the Grand Foyer, and one night members of the Reflection orchestra played "not exactly jazz" in the Foyer and it was great! We love live music and wish there was more of it...maybe a piano player etc. We did find the recorded music in places like the buffet and Sunset Bar really loud and annoying at times. The music didn't always fit the time of day or venue.
We went to the cooking competition in the theater which was entertaining. We tried to go to Sin City twice but the lines were way too long. I don't know why they don't use the larger theater since it was empty at the time. I believe they had the show four nights but the lines were so long and we didn't want to spend 30-60 min. on line only to be told there was no space left. System could be better. They were trying out some new thing called "Liquid-the Las Vegas style nightclub" in the Solarium one night but we did not attend.
We missed having a guest speaker for the Beyond the Podium activities. There was a great speaker all week last year on the Silhouette and we were hoping for something similar this time. The other thing we missed that we had last year was trivia at night in Michael's Club.. run by "British Daniel". It was a lot of fun and well attended. We love Michael's Club and Cellar Masters and it was a fun way to spend time there at night. The trivia on this ship was at really odd times and we never went. Bingo is really expensive. I went once with my sister because she enjoys it but the prices seem really high now.
Disembarking: We had a quick breakfast, said goodbye to our wonderful cabin attendants, and were off the ship by 8am. Picking up luggage and customs took about 20 min total. It was all pretty organized.
The Reflection is a beautiful ship with an amazing crew. From Captain Bouzakis all the way down it is obvious the crew takes pride in the ship and make you feel very welcome. We look forward to returning again soon.