Reflection is decidedly the most beautiful vessel in the Celebrity fleet. We went onboard and walked around to see what kind of changes had been made to improve upon the earlier Solstice class ships. We’re big fans of the Eclipse, having cruised on her twice. Most notable was the expanded covered area on the after deck of level 14. The other Solstice class ships have a bar in that area, but are short of seating spaces under cover for folks who want to stay out of the sun. To make up for the lack of a bar, Reflection has set up a table with drinks on ice and assigned a sommelier and waitstaff to the area who will bring you a drink. This is a definite improvement in seating and service to this area aft of the Oceanview Cafe.
The Lawn Deck is beautiful despite the groundskeeper’s obvious difficulty in keeping the grass growing and green. The new venues on this deck are lovely but most of them cost extra and there is something very contrary to total relaxation about seeing your check out bill mounting on a daily basis. We were extremely grateful for the 123GO drinks package which we had upgraded to the premium level. It is so nice not to have to worry about the cost of every beverage.
The Porch would be such a nice place to have lunch if it weren’t so hot inside. Whoever designed it forgot it was a solarium and didn’t put in air conditioning. The $5pp charge seems ridiculously unnecessary. The fare is limited to paninis, soups, salads and desserts, most of which can be had elsewhere on the ship for no extra charge. It is beautiful, but just too hot inside for enjoyment.
The Lawn Club Grill is for those who want to spend almost a hundred dollars a couple to cook your own meals. Why bother when the food down in the dining room is excellent and you’ve already paid for it? The Alcoves looked lovely, nice places to relax in the shade on the lawn and enjoy the tropical breezes, but when we discovered the rental prices for using them were beyond imagination and our budget, we abandonned any suggestion of going there. The entire Lawn Deck appears to be set aside for those who wish to spend additional money.
We went once to The Sunset Bar aft on the Lawn Deck and didn’t enjoy the smell of smoke from nearby smokers. I hope eventually Celebrity will bite the bullet and eliminate smoking entirely from their ships. Hotels have done this. Why not cruise ships? The area was a madhouse with no table service and too few bartenders. We didn’t stay long. We actually saw a woman there, pushing around a small dog in a pink stroller! Bizarre. Wondering whether the dog was allowed to do his thing on the nearby lawn, we asked about this at Guest Services and were told that it was probably a service dog. Didn’t look like one, but we accepted the explanation. The agent told us there is a special area dedicated for dogs who need to do their business aboard. We hoped to avoid it and did.
We were a bit surprised that Cellar Masters had not been scuttled on this ship. There is almost never anyone in this venue except during fee based wine tastings. We heard a rumor onboard that Celebrity is intending to make that area into an Irish pub. If so, what a splendid substitute that would be. The Bistro also seems like a waste of space. It was empty on all but the last sea day. The Martini Bar, as on all of the Solstized ships, was the most popular venue on the ship but the bartenders, however friendly, needed a bit more training to perform those crowd pleasing tricks. We think the Martini Bar is popular enough that it could be expanded. Ditto Il Bacio. Lines there sometimes got long.
We had two really unpleasant experiences, the first one trying to dine in Select Dining. The young man in charge of the door was ill equipped to handle the situation gracefully nor to explain it properly. I believe his name was Arturo. There were long wait times and we were told we had to stay in the line to be seated, but we saw him go to the nearby martini bar twice to retrieve other diners and walk by us to seat them. We tried to find out how to get that courtesy extended to us, and were told we had to stand in line. After two nights of doing that and never getting a proper explanation, we ended up asking to be changed to the late seating. The food and beverage manager later told us that as of the 15th of March, diners in Select Dining will receive a pager when they check in at the desk. This would definitely be an improvement over Arturo.
Second bad experience was a shore excursion to Magen's Bay on St. Thomas. It was disgusting. We were sent off in an open seating bus that had seen better days. We could all smell the brakes when the driver drove down the mountainside. Awful. The beach was horribly overcrowded and in order to secure a beach lounge you had to go into the gift shop and stand in line, pay not only for the rental of the lounge but also leave a deposit. They took the ship's name and our cabin number just in case. You take the receipt outside and are given the rickety old lounge which you have to drag up the beach to the nearest bare patch of sand. Not easy for everyone. Afterwards, you drag the lounge back down the beach to the shack, have your receipt validated and go back to the gift shop to receive your deposit back. Wow, that was not Celebrity luxury! People on our bus on the return trip were actually so mad they were shouting at the driver. I thought Celebrity would want to know about this excursion so I phoned Guest Services to explain what had happened. I was phoned later by Richard in Shore Excursions who repeatedly told me beach lounges were not included in the price of that tour which absolutely was not the point. Richard can share the stupid award with Arturo in the Select Dining department.
Pool butlers need to be told the half hour rule needs to be enforced. People got up before dawn to race down and stake out a chair by the pool which would sit empty for hours until they were ready to reclaim it. This is not necessary as there are plenty of lounges and it is contrary to Celebrity's policy of removing personal items after half an hour of a lounge sitting with items on it, but not being used. Celebrity needs to risk offending those who continually violate this policy.
Our cabin was comfortable and cabin attendants competent, friendly and accommodating. Our assistant cabin attendant, Sever, was so intelligent and well spoken I was wondering why he had been assigned to clean our toilet and make our bed. The staff in the dining room were spot on and the sommelier, Sandra, positively adorable and always there with the wines she knew we preferred. The food was delicious and appealingly presented. We were surprised that during the first two days, a majority of the bars were not fully stocked. By day three, all was right, but we’ve never seen that happen on any of the Celebrity ships.
Staff on Reflection will be operating under a new Hotel Director and he will have his work cut out for him to bring this staff up to the level we’ve experienced on Eclipse and other Celebrity ships, but he is open minded and outgoing and a good listener. We thoroughly believe he is up to the task. Reflection is definitely the flagship of the fleet and when the staff gets up to the level of excellence we have experienced in the past on Celebrity ships, she’ll be on our agenda for a repeat performance.