Brief Profile : We reside in Essex, UK, young minded early 50`s, have previously cruised with Princess, Carnival, MSC, Royal Caribbean and consider ourselves to be reasonably well travelled.
This was our first trip with Celebrity, and selected this cruise because :
i) We wanted to try the brand
ii) The Reflection received very good reviews
iii) We were attracted by the itinerary
iv) The AFT Balcony cabin deal with Drink Package and reduced Gratuities was very attractive.
The Celebrity arranged flight out of Heathrow with Airtalia and transfer to Port at Civitavecchia went without any problems (Even though because of a block booking by Celebrity to the Airline we were unable to check in on-line prior to the flight), upon arrival at Port we were walking up the gangplank and were drinking our reception glass of bubbly within 45 mins of our arrival at Port.
Our cabin was Number 7366, which was located AFT, we were very pleased with our cabin and the generous size balcony (which was wider than standard size balconies) spacious, the best layout and quality cabin we have enjoyed.
We enjoyed room service breakfast on the balcony on several occasions throughout the duration of the cruise, there was a minor issue with soot, but this should not put you off the benefits of overlooking the wake of the ship, the view was stunning.
Our steward ensured that our cabin was kept spotless during our vacation (Salvador from Columbia).
We selected Any Time Dining in the Opus which is a must if you want to enjoy a degree of flexibility and enjoy the shows/entertainment programme.
We combined this with the advance discounted purchase of five Speciality Restaurant Package, this was a bit of indulgence on our part, but we thought it really added to the cruise experience dining at The Lawn Grill, Tuscan Grille (twice), Murano and Qsine and would not hesitate in repeating.
We enjoyed the food in both the Speciality Restaurants and MDR, we also had lunch in the Porch which was nice ($7 supplement) on embarkation day to escape the crowds in the Buffet.
We had breakfast a few times and lunch once in the buffet, there was a very wide selection and food was good quality, we just do not enjoy the bustle of this format.
We also enjoyed breakfast and lunch occasionally in the Opus which was very good.
Service throughout the ship was always polite, slick and polished.
We had the Standard Drink Package, and were able to access a wide range of cocktails, beers, spirits and mixers, wine within the pricing structure, even though there were a lot of drinks just over the price limit
which I am sure has been devised to encourage guests to upgrade.
It was the first time that I have had a all inclusive drink package and would do it again in an instant, no bills to sign or big bill to worry about at the end of the cruise. I did infact upgrade for our last three nights as a special treat to sample some of the drinks out of the Molecular and Martini Bar, and enjoy some of the higher price range wines on offer.
The Martini Bar became our "default meeting bar" in the evening and was the hub of the music.
Much was made of the volume of the music aboard, we never found this to be the case.
We liked to use the Sunset Bar late afternoon after returning from excursions to meet up with friends made on the CC Roll Call, drinks and location were good but service was slow and more staff required between 4-7pm are definitely required. Also the music here was found wanting, occasionally there was a guitarist/singer playing predominantly country songs, thought that Celebrity could have tried much harder to offer better quality entertainment at this venue.
The host band that played in the Main Atrium were only average at best.
The shows were pretty good, especially the Cruise Singers and Dancers, the late night comedy show was well attended and very funny, and the Whitney Houston Tribute Show was excellent, however whilst subjective overall I felt that generally the quality and range of entertainment to be below that of Carnival Breeze last year.
We enjoyed using the Solstice Deck on Sea Days to escape the noise and crowds around the pool, only a short walk to the Mast Bar, found it odd to locate a noisy basketball court adjacent to this quiet area though !
We enjoyed using the Cafe al Bacio for a occasional nice pot of tea, and a late nightcap with coffee/baileys prior to retiring for the night, not forgetting the gorgeous cakes/cookies available free of charge.
Guest Services were always helpful when required, the Casino, and Gym were very good,
Even with 3000 passengers this ship has enough public areas to allow seclusion if required, the marketing term Modern Sophistication would appear to be correct to me when describing our experience on this cruise. I would estimate the average age onboard to be between 40-50, there was a great mix of ages, with not many children onboard (we selected date outside school holidays on purpose)
We loved the Ports we visited :
Messina - Visited Taormina
Athens - City Tour
Kusadasi - Shopping/Ladies Beach
Rhodes - 1/2 day tour/Beach
Santorini - Toured Island on 4x4 ATV/ Kamari Beach
Mykonos - Shopping/Paradise Beach
Naples - Amalfi Coast Excursion
With two sea days, this was a perfect combination of sightseeing, beachtime, shopping and relaxing.
The fellow Cruise Critic members that we pre arranged excursions booked privately with prior to boarding on our Roll Call formed a great friendship circle which really enhanced our Cruise Experience, and would recommend taking advantage on the Roll Call Forum prior to any forthcoming cruises.
In conclusion we had a memorable cruise on a beautiful stylish ship, Celebrity did most things very well and were very professional, we visited very nice destinations (research your excursions before travelling), and met really nice people, what more do you need to enjoy a excellent vacation ?