We are in our early 50’s, aren’t married and have no kids we have been on more than 40 previous cruises on 6 different cruise lines, most of which to the Caribbean. This was our second European cruise. Our first visit to most of the ... Read More
We are in our early 50’s, aren’t married and have no kids we have been on more than 40 previous cruises on 6 different cruise lines, most of which to the Caribbean. This was our second European cruise. Our first visit to most of the ports.
One of the best things about this cruise was the availability of nonstop flights both ways. For about the past month or so we've been monitoring our flight since we noticed it usually flies right over us while sitting on the deck each evening after work. There were a few times in the weeks before our time that the flight left several hours late. We assume they were waiting for delayed flights of those making the connection. Even with the delays we'd seen we wouldn't have any problem making it to the ship. We haven't flown to a port the day of a cruise in a long time. But since this was a bonus cruise I didn't want to spend the extra time and money on Rome pre-cruise.
When our time came the flight left right on time. We were flying in the cheap seats and I had picked seats close to the back of the plane which turned out to be a smart thing. There were many empty seats back there so we were able to spread out a bit. Since my TV didn't work he moved to a different row so I could sit in his seat and then we both had functioning TV's. I watched a couple movies and read my book and magazines. The flight was 9 hours. My strategy to get up early so that I'd be more tired and could sleep didn't work and I slept maybe 30 minutes during the whole flight. Delta fed us dinner and then a light breakfast before landing and free drinks the whole flight. The jet stream was extra strong that day and we landed about 30 minutes early.
We were through customs and retrieved our bags easily. We found the Celebrity transfer area easy enough. They took our bags there and transported them separately on a truck. We only had to wait 10-15 minutes before they escorted us to the bus, which was a long walk from the area we dropped the bags. Our group easily filled the bus and we were off to the port. The bus ride was about one and a quarter hours.
While on the bus they had us fill out the health form and provided an information sheet for check in. When we arrived at the port there was a long line for drop off, we were so close but had to wait a little longer. Finally off the bus and the check in was very easy and not very crowded. I think Elite and Concierge check in was the same line and we walked right up to the counter no waiting.
We boarded onto deck 2, I chose a glass of bubbly offered. But don't try to get in the elevator with said bubbly, you must leave your glass before entering the elevator, weird I've always carried it with me before.
We made it on board with plenty of time for the Concierge class luncheon. I had a really nice salad and lamb chops and chocolate cake for dessert. Very nice to get some real food and be served after the long flight and bus ride.
After lunch we went up to the pool for a drink and look for our friends from the Hawaii cruise, we met a couple from the UK on the Hawaii cruise that happened to be booked on this cruise already. We found them right away.
We had both booked the Lawn Club Grill for the first evening chic night but couldn't get the same time, we needed to get that squared away and together and we also wanted to eat at some other restaurants. So the guys went to take care of that. They ended up buying the 4 dinner package and each couple would eventually get a credit for the dinner we had booked ahead of time. We had reservations at Lawn Club Grill, Qsine, The Porch and Tuscan Grille.
By the time reservations were squared away our rooms were ready so we went to get rid of carry ons and check out the room. I had booked a concierge class guarantee and was happy when they assigned us 1077, which is on the small forward angle so a bigger than average balcony and very near the forward elevators. It was a very convenient location, especially for going to the theater for excursion sticker collection. The one bad thing about the room was the bed was near the balcony. I've come to like the sofa by the balcony leaving the bed near the closet and closer to the air vent over the closet.
We met our cabin steward, who was awesome. They have eliminated the cabin steward teams so now one cabin steward has less cabins and as passengers we have one point of contact. He asked when we wanted our sparkling wine, we requested it right away. We like to order orange juice for breakfast and make mimosas. And we requested a cheese plate instead of the usual afternoon snack they bring for concierge class.
Our luggage was delivered before muster, so that was mostly put away before the drill. Our muster station was the theater. At the time the drill seemed to take forever but is a necessary activity and the agony of it soon forgotten.
After the drill we finished unpacking and went to the Sunset Bar for sailaway. We've decided we don't really like the different Sunset Bar on Reflection and much prefer the long bar across the back rather than the island bar. Especially on embarkation day the place is very chaotic for both bartenders and passengers. After the first day or two the traffic back there mellows but it is very hard to get a drink back there early in the cruise.
We ate in the dining room the first night and I'm sure I stopped at the martini bar for the first of many martinis. But we were so tired I don't remember much else from the first night.
Our first full day on the ship was a sea day, a good selling point for the itinerary it helped with the time adjustment. We had breakfast on the balcony before heading to the pool. We stayed at the pool until early afternoon. In the afternoon we went to book a future cruise, they were offering two perks and extra onboard credit for booking onboard.
At some point we got dressed for evening chic night and stopped at the martini bar before going to the Lawn Club Grill for dinner. I had a deliciously grilled steak for dinner.
Our first port was Santorini, we were scheduled to arrive at 2PM, but our tour said to meet in the theater at 1PM. All those on a tour were tendered into a port that the buses could drive down to then the ship shifted to the tender port at the foot on the cable cars for those not on a tour.
I was glad for the later port time after breakfast on the balcony he went to the pool I was in need of more rest.
The tour I picked was not at all what I thought it would be. I focused on the wine part of it too much which ended up being a very small part of the tour. The tour first brought us up on a hill for a scenic overlook, then we stopped in a town and were lead up steep and winding pathways until we reached a church at the top and had another scenic overlook. Then we stopped at a winery where we were given a snack and two bottles of wine for eight people to share, except one guy at our table drank almost all the wine. Then we had another long hike from where the bus dropped us and where we caught the cable car back down to tender back to the ship. I was exhausted and hot after this tour.
I think next time I go to Santorini I might not book a tour and just take the cable car up and shop around, there were a lot of shops that I was too tired to look in. Or I will book a tour to the Akrotiri ruins that sounds interesting too.
After catching my breath and changing my ankle support we went up to the pool bar for drinks before grabbing dinner in the buffet. Tonight was the five tenors of rock show, which everyone raved about, but I didn’t go because we had an early tour the next day. If I would’ve checked the schedule I might’ve gone to the early show. But I missed out.
Our next stop was Piraeus, the port city next to Athens. Our original plan was an excursion to the Parthenon and acropolis, but after I hurt my ankle I switched it to an excursion to Delphi. We were to meet in the theater at 7:30AM, so we had an early breakfast on the balcony before heading down. It was a good two hour drive to Delphi. They stopped about half way there at a restaurant/convenience store for a restroom and snack break.
When we got to Delphi we first went through the museum. We had those radio ear pieces so we could hear our guide describe what we were seeing. This was much more effective than walking through on our own.
After the museum we went into the archeologic site and walked with the guide and narration still through the radios up to the theater. The entire site is on a hill side, but stairs and bridges have been installed to make it easier to traverse. Once we were done at the theater we were given free time. Some folks went up further to see the stadium. We just slowly made our way back down.
After Delphi we went to the Hotel Amalia for an authentic Greek buffet lunch. There were so many things to choose from. I tried a lot of different things and liked them all except the stuffed grape leaves. We were also offered beer and wine. I had wine he had beer, both were good. The hotel setting is beautiful, perched on a mountainside overlooking the Bay of Corinth.
After lunch we stopped in the mountain side village of Arachova. During the winter this is a popular ski destination. We had time to walk through the town, do some souvenir shopping and enjoy the views.
Then we had the long drive back to the ship. After the bus ride we weren’t as hot and tired as the day before, but we still opted for drinks at the pool bar and dinner at the buffet rather than the dining room.
We decided to rest a bit for our second day at Piraeus and didn’t plan any tours and spent the day relaxing at the pool. That evening we went to Qsine for dinner. We had been to Qsine only one time before with a large group and had great fun, we decided to see what it would be like with a smaller group. I’m not sure I could narrow my choices if only the two of us went but we ordered a nice assortment with the four of us. My favorite was the Taco “Royale” and the Chitini’s, which was a variety Chinese dishes served in stemless martini glasses in a rack with an assortment of sauces. They give you a bunch of small forks to try different sauces with different dishes. And my most memorable cup of coffee of the entire cruise was at Qsine with dessert.
The following day we were at Mykonos. Today we booked a trip to the beach through the ship. We had a half an hour bus ride to the other side of the island to Elia Beach. This seemed like an upscale area. It cost us 25 euros for two chairs and an umbrella and Greek beers were 5 euros. The beach was pretty rocky and had a steep drop to navigate getting in and out and the water was quite cool. Our time on the beach was relaxing. The bar/restaurant nearby had nice restroom facilities to use before boarding the bus back.
Back in town near the tender area there are a lot of shops and restaurants. We bought some souvenirs and stopped at a café for more beer and shared a pizza. It was very windy and rough for our tender back to the ship. After getting off the tender and up the stairs as checking back in on the ship, my foot hit the floor and slipped landing me on my knee, of course no one was around to help as they had directed him up the other stairs. And security promptly yells for housekeeping, well there should’ve been a rug there to absorb all the water.
Up to the pool for drinks before dinner in the dining room tonight.
Our next port was Kusadasi, for Ephesus. I was very excited to go to Ephesus I had read about it in many cruise reviews. We had another early start before a long day, but still had some breakfast on the balcony before heading down to the theater. The bus ride from the port to Ephesus wasn’t long, maybe half an hour. We were dropped off at the upper entrance so that we could walk through downhill. With this tour we also had the radio ear pieces so that we could easily hear information from our guide. We went at a nice easy slow pace. We were given free time to explore the library and theater. There was also a photographer that took some pictures of us at various locations. These were offered for sale when we got back to the bus for only 4US$ or Euros each, I thought that was very reasonable so we bought all three offered.
After Ephesus we went to the small town of Sirince. Here we had a wine tasting of various locally made fruit wines and given free time to explore the town to shop. There were many souvenir options here.
Next it was time for lunch. We went to a place that kind of looked like a shopping mall. It had a large dining hall, shopping and viewing area to watch a small re-enactment of a gladiator fight for Marc Anthony and Cleopatra. The lunch was buffet style and offered a mix of local recipes and more conventional menu items. This wasn’t as good as the buffet at Hotel Amalia but still hit the spot after exploring ruins and such.
After lunch was the inevitable rug demonstration. I didn’t really want a rug demonstration and I had in part picked this excursion because it was one of the few that didn’t list rug demonstration in the description. But I was surprised that I enjoyed the rug demonstration. I had also read in many reviews how people enjoyed the rug demonstration and I found it hard to believe, but in the end I enjoyed it and was glad to have gone. I was also glad I didn’t bring my credit card with because I would’ve wanted to buy a rug.
There is a demonstration of the silk harvesting machine and also a couple women that can be observed weaving rugs. Then they bring the group to a large room and take drink orders. Then start with the rugs. They probably roll out at least 50 rugs, each more beautiful than the last. At the end they asked if you were interested in purchasing anything but there was no attempt at a hard sell so that was fine. I would like to go back sometime and buy a rug. They take care of all the shipping, taxes and export processes. After the rug demonstration we went back to the ship.
After dropping our souvenirs at the room we went up to the pool for drinks before getting ready for dinner in the dining room.
Our next port was Bodrum Turkey. Our original plan was to get off the ship and explore on our own. But after hurting my ankle and our full day tour the previous day we decided to stay on the ship. We spent most of the day at the pool relaxing.
For dinner tonight we had reservations at The Porch. The menu didn’t do much for me but everyone else in our group was excited about the Seafood Tower. So we ordered the Seafood Tower for 3, then one of the 3 didn’t realize it was cold, but the other 2 enjoyed the Seafood Tower. The Seafood Tower is not really a tower at all. It is served in a dish that sits above the table, but all the food was on one level. I ordered fish tacos, which were awful, very fishy tasting. Fish isn’t supposed to taste fishy. I also ordered a salad which consisted of a quarter head of lettuce with a little dressing. It was difficult to eat and too big and not very good at all. I ordered the fish main course and was able to eat most of it, but I don’t really like fish served with the skin attached. And for dessert I ordered cheesecake, which turned out to be a bowl of pudding. I won’t eat at The Porch again. He enjoyed his meal there. Maybe he’ll find someone to go there with him on the Silhouette, but it won’t be me.
Our next day was Crete. We booked a morning beach tour here. We had about a 20 minute bus ride to Iguana Beach. This beach was very nice and sandy with a nice gradual slope into the water. The water was much warmer here than in Mykonos. The chairs weren’t as nice and cushy as the chairs in Mykonos but they were much cheaper. It was only 7 Euros for two chairs and an umbrella here and 2 beers for 5 Euros rather than 5 Euros each. The facilities weren’t as nice but I didn’t miss them.
There is nothing at all at the port here, so when we were brought back to port we just got back on the ship. We saw F16 fighter jets flying over us here, they are loud. Again we spent time at the pool. This afternoon we played some music trivia. We didn’t win but it was fun.
We had a sea day after our stop at Crete. Again we spent time at the pool. But instead of breakfast on the balcony, we opted for the buffet. I love the made to order eggs benedict in the buffet, and today the hollandaise was especially good. I think I packed a suitcase today also, so I wouldn’t have to do it all the last day which was a port day.
Tonight we ate at Tuscan Grille. Our past couple of visits to Tuscan Grille on Eclipse and Solstice hadn’t lived up to our first couple experiences at this restaurant when the Reflection was new and on the Constellation. So I wasn’t sure what to expect. The first thing I noticed was that the menu had changed. It hadn’t completely changed, but the mac and cheese side that I’d just discovered was gone along with a few other favorites, replaced with new items. One of the new sides was eggplant parmesan so I tried that and it was delicious! I also had an outstanding filet mignon for dinner. I will definitely return to try the new menu again.
Our last port was Naples. We didn’t book a tour for this port. Our plan for this port was to eat some authentic pizza where pizza was first created. At lunch time we left the ship and needed to walk only about a block outside the port before we found a café that served pizza. We each ordered a pizza, he ordered a Peroni and I ordered white wine. The total bill was 24 Euros, I thought that was reasonable and the pizza was very yummy. There are a bunch of shops in the cruise terminal in Naples, we stopped on our way back to the ship and bought some pasta to bring home.
And of course we also spent some time at the pool.
We had dinner in the main dining room on the last night. I didn’t stay up late since we had a long day of travel back home the following day and luggage was to be set out by 10:00.
We were given a luggage tag number due to be called about 7:40, when we arrived at the assigned waiting area 10 minutes early we were told our number had already been called, so we continued to the gangway. Once off the ship it was easy to locate our luggage and the bus for our transfer was right outside the door.
While on the bus we were provided with some tour/port information then asked to fill out a form with our cabin number and flight information. Once at the airport it was all about waiting in lines. The first line was a passport check, then our airline check in and bag drop, then security screening. The security screening is a little different than at home, we didn’t have to remove our shoes but all electronics including phones need to be out. After security we then boarded a bus that brought us to the main terminal. Once we arrived at the main terminal we had an hour or so until our plane was boarding so I had a piece of pizza. When we boarded the plane we had to take another bus out to the plane. The flight left on time and was uneventful.
This was one of my favorite cruises. I enjoyed both the ship and the itinerary. I feel like I could sail this same itinerary several times and still find different things to do and see in most of the ports. Read Less