This was our first cruise with Celebrity and we enjoyed it very much. We have been on about 15 or so cruises, mostly with Princess so will add a little comparison here and there. First off let me put this all in prospective. My husband ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Celebrity and we enjoyed it very much. We have been on about 15 or so cruises, mostly with Princess so will add a little comparison here and there. First off let me put this all in prospective. My husband and I are in our mid 40s and we were in a Sky Suite for this sailing. Vacations are a time for us to relax as we both have professional careers and own a small business. We are realistic, open minded, and try to keep our expectation in check.
Miami: We arrived the day before and stayed at the Intercontinental downtown. It offered a variety of places to walk for dinner and entertainment. We took Uber here and to the port the next morning. Had no problems with either and would recommend.
Embarkation: This was the fastest embarkation we have ever had. I think our hotel checkout took longer than security and check-in at the port. We arrived dropped our luggage off with the porter who pointed us where to go. Always tip your porter. Being in a suite we entered the priority door side of the terminal and showed the ladies our paperwork who then directed us to security. There was only one couple in front of us so it moved very fast. We then went upstairs where we were greeted by a queen and directed to the check in counter which we were able to walk right up to without waiting. We were quickly checked in and told to see the concierge who was standing behind us. The concierge told us to follow him and that we were just cleared to start boarding. We went up the escalator and walked right on board. The way it happened we felt like the concierge was waiting on us to arrive so we could all start boarding. (lol) After embarking, we walked around the ship to explore and find where everything was located.
Ship: Our first impression of the ship was how great it looked. There were multiple places and venues to hang out which seemed to disperse people well. Having only 2 sets of elevators, there was always waits and crowds at the back banks of elevators. The layout was nice and easy to get where you wanted to go. The Hideaway and Game room hidden in the middle of the ship on stateroom decks gave people a quiet places for people to relax and lounge around. Everything was always clean as is expected. The aft cabins had issues with their toilets on and off during the second half of the week due to the main pipe being clogged. Wish people would stop flushing things that aren’t allowed. The other big thing I noticed, or technically didn’t notice, was vibration during docking or departing. On Princess, especially aft, we could always feel vibration during dockings. It was never an issue but we noticed it. On the Reflection we felt nothing. And actually a few times we didn’t even know we left or arrived somewhere until we looked outside.
Cabin: Cabins were ready exactly at 1:30. We had an aft Sky Suite on deck 12. For us, this was the perfect size. Enough room to relax and enjoy the room and not excessive space that we really don’t need. There was so much storage that we barely filled half of it. All light color woods which made the place larger and gave a modern look. The bathroom had a nice tub/shower combo with a large rainfall shower head and a hand held. Again, there was lots of storage with two cabinets and 4 drawers. The balcony was of nice size with a large table and 2 reclining chairs with foot stools. We had our breakfast delivered out there a couple mornings. Our butler was poor to average. Upon meeting him, he was in a hurry; he just introduced himself and didn’t really explain anything. We asked him if we needed reservations in Luminae which he said we did so we told him to get us in either at 6 or 630. He never notified us of the time he arranged and when we checked he had not made any reservations. He brought us our breakfast every morning and more than half the time forgot items. We weren’t really sure what to expect from him. Upon meeting it would have been nice for him to go over his duties and explain how to contact him at the very least. Our cabin steward was great. He was in and out like a ninja and everything was always perfect. But we are low maintenance and keep our cabin tidy. He would ask every time we saw him if we needed anything or if something wasn’t right.
Lifeboat Drill: I just wanted to mention this as a comparison with Princess. On this cruise there were many more muster station than on Princess which meant more dispersion of people and not having to deal with herds of people arriving and leaving. Of course you still had the bottle necks at the stairwells & elevators post drill. It’s almost impossible to get around that. We also didn’t have to bring our lifejacket like you do on Princess which makes it easier to go somewhere else after vice having to return the lifejacket to your stateroom. At our drill, we happen to have a couple sit with us that we became friends with and hung out with for most of the cruise. They were so much fun and had very similar personalities.
Bars: This is one area I think Princess is better. Princess has more bars and more open bars during the day whether it’s a sea day or port day. The only inside bar that seemed to be open during early afternoon was the Passport bar on deck 3. And the bartender there always seemed a little rude, slow, and not wanting to be there. The pool deck bars also seemed to be slow and understaffed. I think overall they need more bars open and bartenders on duty. For example, there typically was only 1 at the Passport bar during the afternoon. The Sunset bar was great and offered wonderful views. This was also the place to be for sail-a-ways. I loved how the Martini bar’s bar top was frosted. It actually kept your martinis cold till the end. We enjoyed the World bar on deck 5 after dinner each evening. They make some great specialty cocktails. But be forewarned they can only make what’s on their menu as they don’t carry bottle watered, sodas, or other mixers not needed in their menu cocktails. They were always pointing people elsewhere for water and sodas.
Concierge Lounge: Michael’s Club was absolutely great. On the first day upon entry they ask you your cabin number and from then on they knew you. That first evening the concierge was able to fix our butler’s lacking and get us into Luminae every night at the time we wanted. They were also able to squeeze us in QSine when we asked later in the week and on the Ship’s Tour. The whole staff here gave outstanding service all around. We came here nightly for pre-dinner drinks and canapés and after the first night they knew your drink preferences. They also had live music on 3 nights during pre-dinner cocktails as well as a couple lectures during the afternoon throughout the week. A great place for some quiet time to chat with the friends we met at the lifeboat drill before dinner. This perk alone is another reason we will book again.
Specialty Restaurants: We ate at the Lawn Club Grill on the second night. The weather was bad with gale force winds and a rocking ship. This caused us to have to tuck our napkins in our pants and eat our salads quickly before it all blew out to the lawn but our meal was great. I had one of the best NY strip steaks I have ever had. You can assist with making your “flat bread” if you choose which is more like a pizza as it’s quite large. But it was very good. The whole experience was worth the price. We tried QSine on the fifth night. Again another great meal and experience well worth the price. Our service was great but it would have been nice for her to push us to focus on fewer courses. We ordered 13 courses and by the 10th we were so full I thought I would need a wheel chair to get back to the stateroom. We cancelled the last two courses which we really wanted to try but just couldn’t. Later we were told for a couple that 5 or 6 courses is probably ideal. We thought some of the courses were much bigger than they needed to be. If they were a little smaller you would be able to taste more before getting too full. We also did Sushi on 5 one day for lunch. It was good and not too expensive. If you like sushi it’s worth trying. Would do all of these again but next cruise we also want to try the others.
Dining Room: We never ate in the main dining room since we had access to Luminae. Only ate here for dinner and lunch once but wished me made it to lunch more as the menus were great. We were also able to order dishes off the main dining room menu if we saw something we wanted to try which we did a few times. You just had to ask to see that menu. The food and service was outstanding. I didn’t have one bad meal. Did I mention the service was outstanding? Anything we wanted they would have gotten. We never had to wait when arriving. In fact, there was never anyone else coming in at the same time unless we were eating with the couple we met. If I had to complain, I would say their wine selection was pretty poor. I normally drink Italian or French red but they mostly stocked Californian which was ok but a better wine selection would have been nice. And with our great service it was the little things that enhanced the experience. For example, from the first night, they knew who we were, our stateroom, and what beverage package we had. So we never had to take out our cards for drinks or extras. They also remembered your drink preferences and tastes which was amazing as we had a couple different waiters. If I had to compare the food with Princess I’d say it’s a close match. The service goes to Celebrity but it’s also not equal to compare Luminae with the main dining room on Princess as Luminae is a smaller venue with a much better server to guest ratio and less total guests to satisfy from its dedicated galley.
Buffet: We never really ate a full meal in the buffet. We only used the buffet a couple times for snacks when coming back from excursions and needing something to tie us over till dinner. For the most part it was all good. The food was warm, we were always able to find a seat pretty quickly, and drink waiters were always close by. We liked how it’s laid out in stations which eliminates lines and makes it easier to get your food. I would suggest just walking around to see what they have before deciding and loading your plate. My husband complained the mid-day options were the same each day but it didn’t bother me.
Food Stands: The only other places we tried were the Mast Grill and we got cookies & desserts from the Café on 5. The Mast Grill was ok. The burgers and fries we no different than on Princess except you could get sautéed onions and grilled mushrooms on your burgers. The cookies & desserts at the Café were good and the same as you can get in the buffet. We didn’t try the raw bar, the gelato stand, or the Solarium Café.
Food: Over all the food was really outstanding. We generally consider ourselves a cross of being a foodie & basic eaters and love dining out in nice restaurants. We were completely satisfied with all our dining experiences. It was an A++ over all.
Entertainment: We typically are not the big production number types so did not attend any of those. We did go to the Liar’s Club game show and it was hilarious. Maarten, the cruise director, and the other players put on a great show. Definitely not for children though. We also enjoyed both bands that were on board and the other live music performances. As compared to Princess, there were more live music options on this cruise. I did miss a good piano bar act where I can sing along to while having cocktails. We did the ships tour on the last sea day and it wasn’t bad. It was well organized and I liked how we all had ear pieces to hear the guide at all times. The one offered on Princess is better as you see more places and it’s not as much as an “assembly line” tour because they only do it once a cruise. On Celebrity it’s more for revenue and held a couple times each sea day.
Pools: The weather the first couple days was cloudy and pretty windy so it wasn’t quite pool weather but people tried. On the first sea day we tried to find loungers in the Solarium but because of the weather it was packed beyond capacity. We got a couple seats under cover by the main pool. It rained off and on so it was fun to watch those without cover scatter when brief showers happened. We tried again on Thursday to lay by the pool. After a long search we found a couple loungers. There were definitely chair hogs on this sailing and people putting their stuff out really early in the morning to not return to the afternoon. We even saw families who reserved chairs in the sun and shade so they could move when hot. Those were some extremely rude people. The last sea day I just opted to lounge on my large balcony. Drink service was around but it was hit or miss if they were near when you needed a drink. We found it faster to just go to the bar. The pool deck was really the only area on the ship that felt crowded.
Tech: The new higher speed internet was actually pretty good and faster than Princess and other lines I’ve been on. Coverage was a little weak in my aft suite but everywhere else it was good. First time we were able to access our account and order stuff via your TV. That was nice. It would have been nice if you could view the event schedule and your account with your iPhone or iPad via an intranet app. Also on your TV there were free and pay on demand movies. They really all should be free. Over all the ship is not as high techs as I would like but things are definitely getting better industry wide.
Ships Staff: The ships staff overall was amazing. Outside of the couple bartenders, our butler, and the gal from Cellar Masters everyone was very friendly and helpful. The dining staff went way beyond to make our dining great. Our steward, the World Bar bartenders, concierges, Michael’s Club staff, and even guest services did an outstanding job. The cruise director, Maarten, was great. We would see him daily out and about and say hi. The guest services manager, Julie, was also awesome and very funny. We would see her around daily and she would recognize us and say hi, even if it was just a wave from across the atrium.
Fellow passengers: Our fellow passengers seemed to be a bit more sophisticated, well-traveled, and friendlier on this cruise than past cruises. Not sure if it was the cruise line, time of year, or just luck of the draw. There was hardly any rude behavior noticed except for the chair hogs. It was nice and refreshing to not deal with the “shovie pushy” folks and rude behavior. There was a lot more Europeans on this cruise compared to my past cruises which made it more enjoyable for us. We also had about 250 kids on board because of being Easter/Spring break timeframe. Most were well behaved and mainly out of sight. Only exception was a young girl with her grandparents who insisted on running around, climbing on things, and playing on the floor in Michael’s Club during pre-dinner drinks.
On Thurs morning we experienced our first Coast Guard extraction. Early in the morning, before we were up, a helicopter came out and picked up a man who needed medical attention. We did not see or hear this but later on in the morning the helicopter returned to extract his wife to be with him. We saw this one and it was exciting to see in person but our thoughts go out to the man and wish him a speedy recovery.
Ports: For our cruise we stopped at San Juan, St Maarten, and St Kitts. Due to the weather we arrived into San Juan about 3 hours or so late. Our excursion was cancelled the evening before as they knew we would be late. Once we arrived it was already dark and was raining so we decided not to get off. According to the staff we talked to, it was common to arrive late here. Celebrity should probably adjust the itinerary for next season. In St Maarten the weather was partly cloudy. We took a taxi over to the French side and walked around a bit. Then went back to the Dutch side and walked down all the shops. We had a nice relaxing time ashore. Departing St Maarten we were invited to the helicopter pad on the front of the ship to watch sail-away. This was a nice view and we met quite a few of the ships officers while having sparkling wine. In St Kitts we originally had nothing planned except to get off and walk around. We walked around a bit and then decided to take an island tour with a local vendor. It was only $20 per person and included a couple beers or rum punches. Nice three hour tour and worth the money. There is not much around the port outside of the port shops so I would recommend some type of tour here.
Disembarkation: We did the luggage valet for disembarkation. One of the best services cruise lines have done. For $25 per person you put your bags out the night before and don’t see them again till you get to your home airport. No finding and dragging your luggage around. We hung out in our suite until 8 then casually went down to walk off. No crowds, lines, or pushing. Once in the terminal our wait for customs was about 10 mins. It was early enough that the line was short and moved pretty fast. Once outside I called an Uber and we were at the airport by 0840. This was one of the easiest disembarkations yet.
Issues: We really had no issues on this cruise. The minor problem of the toilet not working occasionally the second half of the week was an inconvenience. Our butler could have been better but maybe our expectations were too high for him. And once we got home, I noticed that what was charged to my credit card for my account was $5 more than the final bill we had leaving the ship. Not sure what that additional charge was for but it’s not worth my time to call and complain over $5.
Last thoughts: We had an outstanding cruise and would sail with Celebrity and on the Reflection again. It was a very relaxing cruise which was what we needed. I’m still in awe at how great the service was. We have already booked a cruise on the new Edge for 2019. Read Less