This was our first time on Celebrity and we would definitely cruise with them again. We are experienced travelers, but his was only our 5th cruise and our first European cruise, we usually do Europe on our own. We enjoyed the European cruise experience much more than the Caribbean cruise experience and we loved the Reflection.
We were in Rome four days prior to our cruise, taking the train from Rome to the port was easy and I would recommend it. Our flight back to Detroit was at 11:15 am on disembarkation day and we used Rome Cabs which I would also recommend if you need to be at the airport early. We are a family of 3 with a ten year old son.
We had a 1A cabin on the hump, 9237, with the longer balcony, upper berth near the balcony. Compared to the standard balcony it was very large and the extra space was fantastic for room service and seclusion. I spent our first sea day on the balcony because there was full sun, however the rest of the cruise it was mostly shade when we were at sea or back from port. It was not windy at all and I would book this cabin again or another off the hump. The smoking section is below on deck 5 but we never had an issue with smoke, We had great views, but I think starboard side had better ones on the port days. There were 4 chairs on our deck and we were grateful to room attendant for leaving them. The cabin was clean and we had more than enough storage for the three of us.
You have robes to use, a hair dryer, an umbrella (use for sun in port) and shampoo/conditioner/lotion so don't pack it. This was the first time I actually used the hotel shampoo/conditioner because it was really good and actually works.
We had the classic package (123 GO) and select dining. We loved the flexibility of select dining, we didn't make reservations and we never had to wait for a table (only the first night---maybe 5 minutes). We did not eat at any specialty restaurants we really enjoyed the food in the MDR (except for one very average meal) and the service was fantastic. All the servers and the hostess were friendly and very accommodating. The food in the Ocean View Café was also very good with a lot of options (the ice cream is excellent) as was the service. I liked Aqua Spa for smoothies, but I didn't think the food was worth the walk (or that much different/healthier), unless you were in the Solarium already---which was a very relaxing alternative to my balcony. Mast Grill hamburgers were so good, much better than I expected.
The classic package was fine for us but a little frustrating. The beers listed were not available at all the bars, or not on the ship at all. If your fine with Corona or Heineken then classic will be sufficient, but any of the other "higher end" beers that were listed at booking were not available. Once in a while a bartender would give a substitute from the premium at no charge, but not consistently. Happy hour, with draft beers, was honored for the classic package. I drink vodka rocks, my Three Olives Cherry was only at one bar, but Stoli was almost everywhere and I was okay not having Grey Goose for the trip. By the second day I gave up on my low calorie alcohol drinks and gave into pina coladas and other vacation drinks, so the classic was fine, especially since it was included and neither of us are big wine drinkers, except maybe a glass with dinner. Sunset bar is a great place to have cocktails at the end of the day. The bars are busy, but the service was good/friendly.
With your drink package you do get smoothies at Aqua, fresh juices, coffees, and bottled water to take on your shore excursions. Also, with the classic after dinner drinks/cordials like Amaretto/Baileys are included even though they are over the mixed drink price point.
Our ten year old did visit the Fun Factory to play Xbox and met a few kids, but he ended up making friend with another boy that was on a few of our tours, so after the third day he didn't visit again, however the program seemed pretty good.
There are plenty of little quiet places on the ship like the library, hideaway, game on room, to go for a break from crowds/sun. The bars all have slightly different atmospheres and we visited all of them.
The deck chairs get "saved" fast and we saw many towels that stayed on chairs all morning or afternoon with no one coming to claim them. We always seemed to find a space, but if you are very particular on where you layout, then you probably need to claim your space if your cruise is full. The pools on the main deck are small, and mainly have kids swimming in them. The solarium pool was never crowded, but the deck chairs were also taken early.
I thought the entertainment on the ship was pretty good, the Reflection team was entertaining, the guest violinist was great, but I hated the ventriloquist. I did not attend any of the pool entertainment/games (it gets loud by the pool, but there is always a quiet space somewhere else) except for Zumba, which is a 20 minute class on the deck, and more like the warm up or cool down of our Zumba class at my gym, but it was still fun and it maybe burned off a pina colada.
My husband ran the track most days, you have to go early in the morning because the track is in the highest traffic area of the ship (and by the pool smoking area!) and it gets too crowded to run. I went to the fitness area and was able to work out, but again you go early or mid afternoon, or night (I didn't) because the gym is too small for this ship, but if you time it right it's sufficient. I took the stairs instead of the elevator during the entire trip to justify the days I skipped the gym, it worked: I only gained two pounds on the trip and I ate and drank significantly more than I do at home and exercised far less.
We did not book any excursions with Celebrity, but did them on our own using our roll call. For Santorini, if you are planning on visiting Oia, you can get an early tender ticket and do this on your own. I was nervous about all the posts on the cable car lines and joined a group on my roll call that booked a private transfer...we wasted 30 minutes waiting for our group/group organizer once we got off the first tender and they were on a much later tender, and then our group proceeded to take photos/bathroom breaks before we all got on our boat shuttle... frustrating. Fortunately, we still had enough time Oia. Therefore, don't be intimidated by the Santorini port stop, it's very easy to get off the boat first and be first in line for the cable car if you get a tender ticket earlier that morning.
Our favorite excursion was in Mykonos with Mykonos Kayak. I would highly recommend them for a day of kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, beach.
The ports of call were fantastic, and all were very hot in the summer. We were with Daily Istanbul Tours for Istanbul and Kusadasi/Euphesus. Both guides were great, but it's a lot of information/talking. I am glad we were in a small group. Having a guide was great because the ticket lines for both cities are long, your guide jumps the line in Kusadasi, and has your tickets in hand in Istanbul. While you could do all of Istanbul on your own, not having your tickets in hand would waste more time standing in very long lines. On the second day in Istanbul we took the tram to the bazar/spice market and walked back to the ship. This was very easy to do on your own.
In Athens we booked with PK Travel, again this was a great company, a very hot day, and a lot of talking/info. Our guide, Michael, was great.
We booked with AP Tours for a driver to Herculaneum and Positano. This was our second favorite day in port. Herculaneum is fantastic and so well preserved. In the morning our group had the place to ourselves, when we were ready to leave all the larger tour groups started arriving. Our driver for AP Tours was great and very flexible with our plans. We decided to skip Sorrento and go straight to Positano. He made a reservation for us at a fantastic restaurant with a great view and gave us time in Positano, our son went swimming and we have some time to walk around the shops.
While we enjoyed the small, escorted tours, we also enjoy having a less structured day--like we did in Mykonos and Naples, something to consider if you are an independent traveler when you are shopping for excursions. That said I would highly recommend all the companies we used and were please with all of them, we saw so much in each day.
When the cruise was over we all agreed we could have used "one more day", which was ironic because I was apprehensive about the 11 day cruise and the three sea days originally thinking it was too long to be on a cruise. However, the itinerary was perfect and we are looking forward to sailing with Celebrity again.