We decided to book this 10-day cruise in the Mediterranean which was to occur during the middle portion of a month-long vacation because the cruise included port stops in several areas we had been interested in seeing and we also thought ... Read More
We decided to book this 10-day cruise in the Mediterranean which was to occur during the middle portion of a month-long vacation because the cruise included port stops in several areas we had been interested in seeing and we also thought it would make for a pleasant respite in the middle of our longer, land-based trip to England, Rome, and Ireland. We had high expectations for the cruise, based on the recommendation of a friend who is a loyal customer and a platinum member of Royal Caribbean. It was our understanding that because Royal Caribbean owns Celebrity, the experience would be similar in quality.
Before the cruise began, we began our vacation with 5 days in London, staying at The Amba Hotel on Oxford Street in the Marble Arch area and visiting with our son, his wife, and two-year old grandson; then, we flew to Rome, where we spent 5 wonderful days exploring Rome, staying at the charming Hotel Portoghesi, which is located in the Pantheon District, and we included sightseeing visits to the Coliseum and the Roman Forum, as well as day trips to Ostia Antica, Naples, and Pompeii.
Once we boarded the ship on the 27th, we went to our cabin #9208 and found the cabin beautifully decorated and clean. Our balcony was a standard size and we had no complaints about it. The bathroom was small, with only a shower, rather than a tub, but it was very efficiently appointed. Again, we had no complaints about it.
We went to the Safety Drill at 3pm in the theater. It was lengthy and boring, as well as unnecessarily loud and redundant. We felt it was poorly organized and unusually tedious to endure.
There was a brochure on our bed that suggested we might want to schedule a discounted dinner in any of the specialty restaurants that night, so we chose to eat at The Lawn Club that first night. It was an outdoor restaurant that was not air-conditioned and was filled with loud people. The service staff were very attentive to us, and the food was very good, but there was frankly, way too much meat served for anyone to eat in one setting.
The next night, when we returned from our first excursion, we were approached at the gangway with an entreaty from staff members to eat dinner that night at The Tuscan Grill for 50% off, so we decided to go for it. Again, the dinner was very, very good. There was just way too much food to eat!
The next night, we were approached at the gangway by a waiter who was trying to persuade us to eat at the sushi restaurant that night...again, at a discount. Again, we gave in. The sushi was indeed very good! At the end of the dinner, the waiter told us that if we would return to that restaurant again later in the week, he would guarantee us a 15% discount, so we booked that restaurant again for the last night of the cruise.
In the interim, we were offered another discount to eat at The Tuscan Grill. The restaurant was almost empty that night and I was beginning to wonder about why they were literally begging people to eat there and always offering discounts.
We had booked a balcony cabin for the cruise through Vacations To Go, and when we called to book the cabin, we were told that "the deal was almost sold out" and therefore, we would not be able to receive any of the so-called "perks" with our booking, such as the free drinks, free cabin porter fees, free internet, or meals at the specialty restaurants, so we were charged a higher rate than what had been advertised, and we felt that paying $90 to eat at a specialty restaurant every night, in addition to the cost of the cruise and the excursions, was simply too expensive for us.
We had therefore decided to eat most of our meals at one of the two "included" restaurants. One was a buffet and one was the main dining room. These were restaurants that would not charge us anything extra, other than the one glass of wine that I drink and one soda that my husband drinks with his meals. This is where our disappointment with this cruise truly began. The food in the buffet was far worse than what one would expect to find served in a prison cafeteria, and the food in the main dining room was mediocre, at best. In addition to the tasteless and tired food selections, the buffet dining room was always too crowded and the food stations were poorly organized. It was really chaotic! Waiters were shoving carts full of dishes through the aisles between the food stations at the same time thousands of confused passengers were wandering through the same aisles with trays in their hands, searching for any kind of food option that made sense. Obviously, there were traffic jams. You see, the octagonal food stations were never filled with food offerings that went with anything else being served there, --- so one might find meat, but there would be no vegetables or starches found at that station to accompany the meat. People were literally fighting with each other about who would be served next and no one knew which direction they were supposed to move around the food station. One day, there was only one dessert served in the buffet, and it was, believe it or not, a selection of different flavored cupcakes, piled high with different flavors of icing. I couldn't believe it!
Never in my life, on any other cruise ship, have I created something as simple as a bowl full of salad and found it so dry and tasteless that I had to leave it on my table. No amount of veggies or dressing could revive the salad served on the Celebrity Reflection.
In the main dining room, the majority of the tables were tables for two, and they were set so closely together that no waiter could squeeze between them, even if he/she turned sideways. The tables were only about three inches apart! I have never witnessed anything as ridiculous-looking as rows of men dressed in black tuxedos seated across from women wearing formal clothing who were squeezed into tables set that closely together in horizontal lines. These people looked as if they were all attending an elementary school function together, rather than a formal dinner in a fine restaurant. On top of that, the sun blazed through the windows and was literally blinding to the diners who were facing that direction. I had to hold my hand up in front of my eyes in order to endure the sun. Whenever a diner asked a waiter to lower the shades, they responded that the shades were all on the same motor and could not be lowered individually. When enough people complained, all the shades were lowered simultaneously. Later, when the sun had begun to go down, they were all raised simultaneously again. Eating in that dining room was basically torture!
By the time we got to Santorini, Greece, other passengers were heard complaining about the degradation of the food quality, in comparison to previous years, while standing in line at the funicular. The subject came up repeatedly in all the conversations shared, whether in the bars, or during the shared excursions. No one was happy about it!
So, it appears that Celebrity Cruise Line has figured out a new way to increase their profit margins as much as possible by serving the very worst buffet and main dining room foods in the industry and thereby forcing people to pay exorbitant fees to eat at the specialty restaurants.
As far as the rest of the ship goes, the pool area looked nice and the relaxation area seemed very relaxing, but there were never any free loungers in either area, so we weren't able to enjoy either of those amenities.
We were not interested in attending any of the shows offered in the theater. They seemed "cheesy" and just aren't our style. However, I must say that there was a young singer named Judah Moore who had an absolutely beautiful voice and he sang in some of the bars on occasion, but the bar crowd was so loud, it was really difficult to hear him. There were also two young women who played a violin and a cello beautifully. I didn't stop to ask for their names because we passed them on our way to a scheduled dinner at The Tuscan Grill one evening. I would have loved to have heard them play in a quiet, listening environment. It seemed that the best entertainers on the ship were just not appreciated by the Celebrity Cruise line.
There seemed to be a lot of emphasis on selling us products, excursions, and overpriced food and drinks.
We will probably never cruise on Celebrity again! Read Less