Overall, the Celebrity Reflection is a beautiful and almost brand new ship, and if you've been on other cruises you realize the newer boats make your cruise a little bit nicer. The ship has been built around all the modern ... Read More
Overall, the Celebrity Reflection is a beautiful and almost brand new ship, and if you've been on other cruises you realize the newer boats make your cruise a little bit nicer. The ship has been built around all the modern conveniences we expect, ie. wifi, hdtv, well designed staterooms, more verandas available, ect. The ship offers many specialty restaurants that seemed desperate for more reservations, as they were constantly doing the sales pitch even on the elevators and in bathrooms.
The anytime dining was impossible to get after boarding so we stuck with our 6:15 dinners, even though it was not something we signed up for or were able to change once aboard. My advice is to make sure when you book your cruise request anytime dining, it allows the freedom to eat when you want, and that is no small thing. While we were at shore we often had to leave early in order to get dressed for our early dinner times. These ports are mostly incredibly gorgeous with more to do than anyone could possibly do in a day.
DO NOT PLAN AN EXCURSION IN MYKONOS!!! Instead do what we did and have the best day of the entire cruise. In Mykonos we were able to walk through the ridiculously beautiful town and reach the area where one can rent a motor scooter or 4 wheeled ATV (very cheap and easy to operate because there is very little traffic). We took the ATV and drove it over the island and followed the signs to the "Super Paradise Beach", not to be confused with the "Paradise Beach", we also saw the "Paradise Beach" and it's not as good as the super one. The Super Paradise Beach was the most beautiful beach I have ever seen in my whole life, seriously. The beach is set in a large lagoon with lounging beds with umbrellas to be enjoyed for the cost of 20Euro's (not positive on that price). You could order drinks and food, all at slightly elevated prices but it was worth every penny to be in such an incredible location. Also, being Mykonos, a party island for Europeans, the sandy beach leads to a white-washed outdoor club that must really be a killer spot come midnight. In the DJ booth during our stay at Super Paradise Beach they had someone playing "chilled-out house" music at a perfect volume to add that extra ambiance to our amazing day. We chose a set of beach beds with an umbrella just steps from the calm, crystal clear, blue sea. Walking into the water, the depth increases very gradually and on our day there were few people swimming, it was early June so the water was cold at first but after a few moments was just perfect. We were very sad to leave this island oasis we felt we had discovered, but of course we had to get back to the ship to get ready for our annoying early dinner time. One piece of advice, if you take the ATV and you are two people you might want to pay for a vehicle per person. That is because Mykonos is a hilly island and the weight of two normal sized adults was more than the engine could handle on it's steepest points, and you must get up those hills to reach the Super Paradise Beach. These ATV's are very easy to use, I had never used one before and I picked it up immediately. They do not go very fast, maximum 30mph except for going down hills, as fast as you dare! Make sure your ATV is in good working order before you take it on, because we didn't notice the starter on ours was loose and this became a slight problem on our way back. Also, they will ask you to put gasoline in the tank. There is a gas station right almost next to the places that rent the vehicles. If at all concerned about driving your own vehicle, just take a taxi, its worth it. On our way back to the port and drop off the ATV, we noticed a tiny little open air cafe sitting among the craggy rocks and scattering goats. My husband had a beer and I had the most delicious home-made yogurt with honey. I thought I had died and gone to heaven, that day was so memorable and fun.
My issue with the cruise isn't really a critique of the ship or its services. We just found that landing in say, Santorini or Rhodes, it is difficult to pick what activities to do since its a big enough island that you cannot see all you may want to see. We wanted to have the chance to swim but our excursion (volcano and hot springs)* was so strenuous that we didn't have the time or energy to get a bus or expensive taxi to the other side of the island for the really good beaches. If we had tried we would run the risk of possibly arriving late and missing the ship. Since they hold on to your passports, the thought of this happening was not even comprehensible. In fact we chose to only take excursions from two ports, Messina for Taromina (worth it!), and Santorini for the volcano and hotsprings (see comments in next paragraph).
One more thing you need to know before signing on for the Santorini Excursion "Volcano and Hot springs". First of all you do not need to purchase this excursion through the cruise ship. The ship tenders in Santorini and as soon as you get off the tendering boat you will see signs advertising the EXACT same tour you have already paid for but it's half the price. The tour starts with getting on an old fashioned "pirate ship" type boat with loads of black smoke billowing from the engines and you are packed in like sardines with literally a couple hundred people. The boat takes you to the black volcanic island that has some very unusual rock structures. There are not trees or shade so put on loads of sunblock and wear a hat. It takes about 30 minutes to climb to the top and it is quite difficult, many people did not go all the way up. Also, don't be a silly and wear sandals or flip-flops because the ground you are climbing is made up of loose small volcanic rocks that are slippery and can easily get in your open shoes. Getting to the top is quite nice and you can see some smoking ground and feel the heat if you put your hand down a hole. I took a nasty fall on my way down because of the steep and loose rocks, and I was wearing my walking shoes. If it's a really hot day be warned it's bloody hot as Hades sauna on that hill because its pitch black and there is no shade besides the fact that the hill is producing its own heat. If you make it through this you will be happy to get back on the pirate ship. There is a nice boat ride to the other side of the volcanic mountain where the boat is anchored and you are told to jump off the edge of the deck. Many brave souls did so immediately but I could see by the expressions on their faces that it was like a polar dive. The water was quite choppy and so cold that a few minutes after jumping in three people started to drown in separate incidents. The crew quickly threw out life-savers and other swimmers helped the poor (slightly embarrassed individuals) get back on the boat. The distance to the hot springs was quite far because of the rough seas and the fact there was nothing to grab onto for a breather. The hot springs looked like dirty mucky water and I was told that because of the cold temperature of the sea the hot springs were more like "tepid" springs. The swimmers came back to the boat looking exhausted and freezing. A couple more people had to be "saved" as they had developed cramps in their legs. My husband a medical doctor said this was not surprising because of the intense physical strain of the climb followed by difficult swimming conditions in such cold water. Overall this wasn't a terrible excursion, except for the fact that we paid the ship twice the cost for no benefit to us. The craziness of the hot springs swimming party was kind of exciting albeit at some other travelers expense. No one would have drowned, there were highly capable Greek crew members ready to dive in and save the day.
It's easy to realize that a cruise of the Eastern Med is going to be a good one. Italy and Greece have some of the most beautiful waters in the world. The only thing I came back home with was an intense desire to return to the islands on our own so we can stay for a few days and really get the experience. I'm also planning on going back to the Super Paradise Beach in Mykonos for some serious partying into the wee hours with no ship ticking its clock for me to come back. Read Less