We had a great cruise on the Celebrity Reflection in Nov-Dec 2018. Since we live in Tampa we drove to Ft. Lauderdale on Nov. 25 to board the ship on Nov 26. We always go the day before the cruise because you never know when an accident ... Read More
We had a great cruise on the Celebrity Reflection in Nov-Dec 2018. Since we live in Tampa we drove to Ft. Lauderdale on Nov. 25 to board the ship on Nov 26. We always go the day before the cruise because you never know when an accident on I-75 will shut down the interstate for hours. We normally stay at a Rodeway Inn on Route 84, and they provide transportation to the ship and come get you when the ship returns.
We boarded the ship from terminal 25, which was just remodeled for the Edge, and it was fantastic. They have a special elevator and lounge for suite guests, and it was very tastefully done. Unfortunately, this was the first time that the Reflection had docked there and no one at the dock seemed to know where we should go. After three 75 yard trips pulling our luggage to different places we finally found a porter who knew where we should go, and after that, it was fairly smooth. Once we got to the suite boarding lounge we had to wait about 15 minutes before we could go thru security although there were 6 security people there, seemingly not knowing what to do. However, we made it thru security, and the two Michael's Club hosts greeted us and escorted us to the ship and to Michael's club where we had a drink before we went to Luminae, which is a restaurant just for suite guests.
About 1 pm, our cabins were ready, and we had our luggage delivered about 2:30, so we were able to do most of our unpacking before the lifeboat drill at 3:30. Our muster station was in Murano Restaurant and it was way overcrowded. They played a video showing you what you should do, but it was difficult to see the TV screens. You no longer have to go to your cabin, get your life jacket, and go the life boats. I cannot believe that the Coast Guard allows this, but evidently they do.
This was our second cruise on the Reflection, but our 16th on Celebrity and about 40th cruises overall. There had been some major changes since we cruised on the Silhouette in February 2018; some changes we liked and others we did not. The Reflection has added 20 or so suites, so you had about 40 more passengers in Luminae and in Michael's Club, but the size of the restaurant and club was the same. As a result both places were always crowded. On the plus side, the breakfast for Elite, Elite plus, and Zenith passengers in the Tuscan Grill had returned to the way it was a couple of years ago. When we were on the Silhouette for our previous two cruises, you had a mini buffet, whereas now you got served like it used to be. Sure hope this change was on all the Celebrity ships.
The crew was great as always, although the top officers did not seem to be as accessible as on previous cruises. Our suite butler, Allano, and our room steward, Enia, were great. We are going back on the Reflection in March 2019 and we learned that Allano would still be there. Since suite guests get the premium beverage package anyway, Celebrity has change their policy for the refrigerator in your cabin. Before, you were charged for the drinks in you frig or the water on you desk, but no longer. You no longer get the airline booze bottles, but the frig is stocked with some soft drinks and beer. You can ask your butler if you have a special request and he (or she) will do their best to get what you want. I like Blue Moon beer, and it was not available in most of the bars, including Michael's Club. I asked Allano if he could get me some, and after that, our frig was stocked with Blue Moon!! What a great butler!.
The food in Luminae was great, just as it had been on the Silhouette, and the service was great. We had one of the same waiters, Josue, that we had on the Silhouette in February, and he took great care of us.
Luminae is not open for lunch on port days, so we ate at the buffet, and it was very good, but of course it was very crowded.
Our first port was Grand Cayman which we had been to many times before, so we did not get off the ship. The seas were rough, so the Captain took the ship to the other side of the island, and they had to ferry you to shore, then bus you to the other side where the stores were, and we thought that was too much of a hassle. You had no problem getting a deck chair by the pool, so that was great.
Our next port was Cartagena, Columbia, and we had been there several times, so we opted to stay on the ship. On previous cruises we had taken some of the tours, and they were good, but we decided to forgo the ones they offered.
After Cartagena, we docked at Aruba about 4 pm and we were there until 6 pm the next day. We took the Captain's Club tour, and it was excellent. This was just for Captain's Club members, but just about everyone on the ship that we met had sailed with Celebrity before. Our suggestion is that if there is a tour you really want to take, book it before you get on the ship. Celebrity changed its policy earlier that you can now use on board credit in advance to pay for a tour, and that is what we did. We talked to a lot of guests who were not able to book this tour because it was full.
Our next port was Curacao, and we had been here once before but it was about 10 years ago. We took the Panoramic Curacao tour and it was great. Curacao has built a lot of shops in and around the fort, where you dock. We almost did not recognize the place because so many shops and restaurants had been built. We walked thru the fort area and went across the floating bridge. Unfortunately no boats wanted to go into the inland harbor, so we did not get to see the bridge open, but we did several years ago.
Our next port was Bonaire, and we had never been there before. It is a small island with not much to do unless you want to go to the beach. The water is really blue and pretty, but since we live in Florida, and have access to great beaches, we do not take beach tours on cruises. We opted to take the Bonaire Highlights tour, and it was not good. Unlike the previous two tours, this was on a very small mini bus that took you over really bumpy roads, and the tour guide shouted all of her talk because she did not have a mike. Unfortunately I was sitting in the front of the little bus, and she was opposite me. I wished I had brought my earplugs because she was so loud. We were really happy to get back to the ship. We do not recommend this tour unless you like small buses and bumpy roads.
Entertainment on the ship was fairly good, but there were no big names like Jane Curry or Claire. The show with a group that sings Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons had two shows and they were great. As always, the Celebrity singers and dancers were great. The comedy juggler Pete Matthews was very good; we had seen him before. Michael Paul and Raegar were also very good.
We ate at three of the specialty restaurants, Murano, Tuscan Grill, and Quisine since we got the 3 restaurant package. We have eaten at Murano on various ships and always got the Dover Sole, just as we did this time. Previously the waiter cooked and boned the fish at our table; this time he just boned it, and the presentation was not nearly as good, and neither was the Dover Sole. The filet at Tuscan Grill is always good, but sometimes they overcook it. Our best experience was at Quisine—the presentation and the food were excellent, and we will certainly eat there again on our next cruise in March. You can now prepay for the specialty restaurants using on board credit, but we opted not to do that because we did not know what the entertainment schedule was going to be. We like to eat early and go to the early show and you cannot eat in a specialty restaurant and make the 7 pm show.
Celebrity has a smartphone app that will let you access what the menus and the entertainment are, and you do not have to have the internet package to get it. We found that the menus were pretty accurate, but the entertainment schedule was not. This is only available on 4 ships currently, but the Reflection is one of them. Hopefully when we go back in March 2019 they will have the bugs worked out.
We have been on many cruises on several cruise lines, but Celebrity is our favorite by far, and we look forward to our next 4 cruises that we have already booked. We discovered a few years ago that you generally get better prices and perks if you book while you are on board and have the reservation transferred to your local travel agent. Our agent normally gives us an on board credit that is the same that Celebrity gives us. Read Less