The Reflection exceeded all expectations, and we are not the easiest people to please!
This was our 3rd cruise, 1st was a Med cruise on MSC and 2nd was on Norwegian, both within the last year.
My husband had decided if this cruise didn't knock our socks off we would not cruise again. Thankfully, it did and we are now researching and almost ready to book our next Celebrity Cruise!
Travel to Civitavecchia-I had read lots of mixed reviews about the ease of train travel to the port. The train from Fiumicino was simple and easy. If you are not rushed, then save money and take the train! You get on right at the airport, then we did one easy transfer at Trastevere and that was it. We stayed one night pre-cruise in Civitavecchia at Hotel Miramare. For $150 it was nice and worth the cost. Very pretty room overlooking the sea. But it was super loud out on the boardwalk until about 1am. The walk to the port from this hotel was less than 15 minutes, a straight shot along the boardwalk and impossible to mess up. The port bus met us right at the entrance and gave a quick ride right to the ship.
Embarkation-Awesome! Completely perfect. We arrived at 11:15am (a bit early) and we were through check in within 15 minutes. I wore my bathing suit and was in the hot tub (alone!) by 1pm after a quick bite at the Oceanview Cafe, which was empty at noon.
Service-Top notch. I feel it may be important to note that we are not easy to please. Service on our last cruise was sub par. But, Kerwin our room steward was simply the best. When I mentioned my disappointment that Concierge class discontinued the flowers in room, I found an arrangement waiting for me the next day! The restaurant staff in every venue including the MDR and the buffet were great. These people must be paid more than those on my last cruise because they were genuinely happy! Great management is at work here. We felt like part of the family. I met the Cruise Director, Alexander and the Activity Manager, Jaime when they dropped into our Alcove rental. They were so fun to hang around with and we felt like we made a few new friends.
Dining-The MDR was very good, service a bit slow at times but always friendly. Wine with the Premium Beverage Package was delicious. If you are the type of person that enjoys fine wine, the upgrade is a no-brainer.
The buffet was very good for both breakfast and lunch. Great selection (although it seemed the same for the 11 days or at least close). The dinner however, was lacking. Food was old and cold and I was disappointed both nights we chose to eat here. I ate at the pasta bar twice and once was great, once not edible.
Tuscan Grille-We dined here twice and LOVED it! A new favorite restaurant that you would return to time and time again if it was in your neighborhood. Service and quality of food MORE than justified the price. Best nights of our cruise.
Lawn Club Grill-We dined here twice as well. The first time was very good, both service and food. It was a fun atmosphere with people making their own dinner and singing/dancing. The second time was less amusing when both "Macarana" and "Beat It" played on rotation for 1.5 hours and the waiter was busy with a large party.
The Alcoves rental-This was something I was just not sure about, but it was our FAVORITE place on the ship. I believe it was $150 day rental but it enhanced the quality of our at sea day and we loved it. Drinks, fruit trays and appetizers were brought to us. Service was slow, but there was a bar next door so it barely mattered. I recommend you DON'T rent it, and therefore it will be available for me next time I sail on the Reflection!
Ports and Excursions-These ports were awesome, and contributed to the overall quality of our cruise. The only ship excursion we took was in Santorini and that was only because we were tendering and therefore got to leave the ship first. It was a great day, a trip uphill to Oia and the town of Thira and also a stop of Santos Winery. All of this was too rushed to fully enjoy. I would probably do it again though because the rest of the passengers waited in a terrible line to take the cable car up to the top of the hill. The tender itself was difficult only because the seas were rough and the wind was extreme. Getting on and off the tender in Santorini took some courage but then later in Mykonos was easy.
Istanbul-This was the port I was most looking forward to and unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse and there was a downpour and I was not feeling well. We felt the Grand Bazaar was a bit of a let down. Extremely aggressive shop clerks (even worse than when I was in Tunisia, Africa last year). The standard greeting was "Come in so that I can take all of your money!". Umm, no thanks. This all changed when we were taking the tram back to the ship and noticed a beautiful shop called "Myth Arts" right outside of the Bazaar area, in the Gulhane district heading back towards the ship. We dealt with a lovely shop keeper, I think his name is Mohammed. While there was still a bit of haggling, it was minimal and relaxed and over a glass of steaming hot apple tea.
We also visited Shop #51 in the Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar which was great. Quality product, although not cheap. We bought spices, teas, and bath salts as well as Lockum.
Naples-A quick suggestion. This was our third time in Naples so we chose to do something off the beaten path and took the Hydrofoil (one minute from where we docked) to the island of Ischia, appoximately a 40 minute trip. From there we met our driver for a quick tour of the island and then a full day at Negombo Hydro Thermal water park. The soil here is volcanic, the park is right on the beach and the waters are known to be theraputic. I believe there are like 12 pools, hot, cold, Japanese healing, etc. This day was amazing and one of the highlights of the entire trip! It's also a botanical garden and is breathtaking.
Overall, we simply loved every minute of this holiday on board the Reflection. Over the last three years, we have taken three European vacations and this was by far the favorite. Disembarking was very easy, we found our luggage within 10 minutes of leaving our stateroom. The level of service will be missed in my everyday life! An easy car service ride back to Rome and our vacation was complete!