Celebrity Reflection Cruise Review by Welsh Lady 58
- Sail Date: July 2016
- Destination: Eastern Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean View with Verandah
Even before we travelled, the booking process with Celebrity was chaotic and protracted. We tried to book leg-room seats on the flight as my husband is 6ft 3, only to be told that we couldn't do this until exactly 28 days before departure due to it being a scheduled flight. We couldn't get any answers on baggage allowance either, and both Celebrity and Monarch passed us back and forth without giving us any real satisfaction. Check-in at Birmingham airport was Ok, but it was a completely different matter when we landed in Rome. For a start it took over thirty minutes to bring the steps up to the aircraft. Despite the fact that we were in 37 degree heat, the Italian airport authorities were in no great rush to get us off the plane. When we finally did disembark, we walked miles to baggage reclaim, and waited over an hour and a quarter for the luggage to come off the carousel. What on earth were the baggage handlers doing all that time? Then came another long trek to our allotted coach before an hours trip to the port.
The ship looked quite impressive. Embarkation was slightly drawn out, but finally got to our balcony stateroom. This was also nice, larger than the equivalent on P&O. However, we were not enamoured with the fact that there was a mini bar rather than just a fridge. This proved to be a familiar pattern of Celebrity in trying to extract as much money as possible out of the passengers.Also, no tea or coffee making facilities, but this being an American ship, didn't really surprise us.
The safety drill was also unnecessarily protracted taking nearly an hour, and ,strangely enough, did not require any of the passengers to bring their lifejackets to their respective muster stations with them. How can you possibly assess the competence of the group if they have not demonstrated that they can don the equipment in an emergency? Instead we had to watch a video playing on a loop, which most people lost interest in in the first ten minutes, particularly when it was then repeated all over again in Spanish....
The ports visited were excellent. We only did one organised trip to Ephesus; for the rest of the time we found some great taxi drivers who were a quarter of the price of an on board excursion, and just as knowledgable about their area.
So, at the risk of sounding like a "grumpy Old Woman" I'm going to have a a bit of a rant about the downside of travelling on Celebrity Reflection. Firstly, the continual "up selling " of the signature restaurants became very tiresome. We were often pestered at the bar to book one of these speciality dining options, and had collectively decided not to bother, particularly after overhearing a British couple saying that the food in the Tuscan Grille was the worst they had ever tasted.. The food in the Opus restaurant where we were on a fixed dining basis at 8.30 was barely average, with most of the diners, ourselves included, ordering the New York steak several times due to lack of any real choices. The starters were mostly of the salad variety, so no real finesse here either. It took the maitre de three days to sort our table setting out; in the end we just pushed two tables of two together so that we could eat with our friends. On so called " Evening Chic" nights, there was no real effort made to provide a special meal, just the same old same old, with no sense of occasion.
And onto the subject of Evening Chic. What a misnomer that was! Whilst some of the guests embraced this fully by dressing smartly, there was an equal number of passengers who appeared to be trying to make some kind of stand against it, turning up in the restaurant dressed in flip flops and shorts, despite there supposedly being a dress code. Why were they allowed to come in dressed like this? The interpretation of Evening Chic is very subjective and obviously some people's ideas need careful review. Either make the dress code formal or dispense with it altogether, as this is far too ambiguous. And for goodness sake, if they are not correctly attired, don't admit them until they are.
Celebrity are obviously trying to develop a hierarchy on the ship, similar to that shown on Cunard, and we found that many of the areas were out of bounds to most of the guest ( unless you wish to pay yet another supplement !!) . The bar areas were only open at certain times, apart from the ones up on deck, so if you wanted to get out of the sun and relax in air conditioned comfort at two in the afternoon, you were out of luck. Always the vastly expensive and ever available mini bar in your stateroom of course...
We had an inclusive standard drinks package which suited me as I am not a great lover of cocktails,martinis etc, but my husband and two friends upgraded theirs to a premium package in order to be able to enjoy a more ambitious menu.Oddly enough, the drinks package doesn't cover you for bulk-ordering bottled water in your stateroom. This meant that we had to keep remembering to order a couple of bottles before leaving any of the bars, so that we could keep some in the fridge. Be aware also, that the bottle of Evian that is on top of the cupboard in your stateroom when you arrive is NOT complimentary. Expensive mistake to make, as it is classed as part of the mini bar.
The entertainment also left a lot to be desired, with poor shows and overly loud music in the atrium area. And the fact that the shows were going out at 7 o clock meant that those of us on later dining either had to forgo our pre dinner aperitif or arrive at the dinner table late having sat through the show. Why are there not two showings, one at 7.30 enabling first sitting to go and one at 10.30 enabling the later diners to attend? Ludicrous.
The high volume of badly behaved teenagers had no problem amusing themselves though, rampaging up and down the corridors late at night while their parents abdicated all responsibility for their actions. These same teenagers were a pain in the backside on sea days too, when they corralled large quantities of sun beds both in the sun and the shade and then disappeared for most of the day.
While on the subject of sun beds, they are placed far too close together and it is impossible to get anywhere near the pool unless you are down there by 6 a.m. The pool butlers need to enforce the empty sunbed rule a bit more stringently.
Most of the staff we spoke to were pleasant, but I cannot honestly say they looked happy to be in their respective roles. Many looked bored, a few were slightly arrogant and there definitely wasn't the level of service that we have come to expect on a cruise ship. Our waitress, her assistant and the sommelier were the exception to this.
Disembarkation was another shambolic affair. There were no officers to give us any guidance as to where we should meet ( in fact we didn't see much of any of the officers, full stop ,throughout the entire cruise) and having to lug our cases across to the coaches ( plus actually put them on the bus as my husband and friends had to do) then go through the rigmarole of checking the bags in at Rome Airport, all in 37 degree heat was unacceptable. Then the check in desks had a malfunction, so we were over an hour waiting for these to re open. The consequence of all this was that 15 suitcases were left behind when our aircraft finally took off( thankfully not ours, but more by luck than judgement!).
Celebrity; you have GOT to get your act together. You are selling yourselves as a luxury brand and you are far,far from this. I appreciate that P&O charter their own aircraft, thus dispensing with the ridiculous check in charade experienced here, but surely there are enough British passengers on the cruise to warrant doing likewise? Your chefs needs to up their game considerably if they wish to compete with a luxury market as the food is average and the lack of any intuitive cooking or preparation is very apparent. The greed of the company when it came to gratuities was also disturbing; in the end we opted to remove them altogether and reward the staff whom we felt most deserved it. To levy gratuities on every drink, plus the daily expectations ,plus then having the audacity to leave envelopes in the staterooms was breathtakingly avaricious.
As you've probably gathered, we won't be travelling with Celebrity again. Maybe they should send some of their management onto a P&O ship to see how it's done....
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