Celebrity Reflection Delivers a Relatively Good Cruise, but did not take enough precautions for Coronavirus
March 2 - March 13, 2020 - This is the second time we cruised Reflection, since it was new (2012) when we spent two weeks back to back on her. Our 11 day cruise this time was better since there was not a repeat of meals and shows during the 11 days.The ship has aged well and was in good shape.
Embarkation: Very efficient, except if you needed a wheel chair assist to get on. People needing wheel chairs to get on were relegated to the back of the first floor, near the elevators and waited a long time because there were too few helpers to wheel them onto the ship.
Shows: We read complaints about shows before getting on and could not disagree more. Each night was a completely different, entertaining show including the Celebrity Singers and Dancers ( 4 shows ) an Elton John Impersonator who not only sang well but was a master pianist; a tribute group to Paul McCartney; Rock and Soul show ( terrific ); Comedians; Hypnotist, etc. High marks for entertainment and no repeats.
Food: Aside from the "5 pack" of Specialty Restaurants we bought, we ate in Opus 4 table 504 served by Billy of Indonesia and Charles Emmanuel of Philippines. The service Billy and Charles gave was superb. We mostly ate at 8 PM, when it was less crowded, and easy to get a table without reservations. Somehow we avoided the long waiting lines. Food in the main DR was pretty good, with standard choices like Shrimp Cocktail, French Onion Soup ( a Celebrity and RCL standard) and Escargot which were available every night. The strip steak available each night was not as good ... tough. Plenty of fish dishes, pork, veal, lamb. But surprising, we never had prime rib on the menu. Kudos to Reflection for having "real", delicious sorbet available each day. Other desserts are also pretty good, as well as delicious french bread/a variety of bread dips at the table in the evening. Not so good on Reflection and poor throughout the ship is Italian Food ( sauces, pasta, etc.) with exception of pizza in Oceanview Cafe and flatbread pizza in Lawn Club Grill ( it was terrific). On sea days, served lunch in Opus (deck 4) was very good, and not crowded. We dined at Murano specialty restaurant twice and the food is superb. Try the out of this world "goat cheese souffle". Also recommended ... Dover Sole, Chateaubriand for two. Tuscan was a major disappointment. Hubby's Filet Mignon was overcooked. He sent it back. My Veal Marsala was truly vile ... thick slabs of veal shoulder, smothered in a black sauce. I took one bite and pushed it aside. Like I said, Italian Food is a weakness on this ship. The Lawn Club Grille was very good with enormous steaks, wide choice of sides, salad bar and terrific flat bread as a starter for everyone. Were it not for someone coming into Opus one night "hawking" Qsine, which used to be highly concocted tapas style dishes, we would not have known that Celebrity completely changed the menu to a four course meal that includes delightful digital table graphics announcing each dish. If you have not experienced it ... highly recommend it. The food, which includes lobster tails and filet mignon main course, was very good, with entertainment value for diners. Try to buy your specialty restaurant pack before getting on board to achieve a discount.
Oceanview Cafe food (deck 14) was very mediocre, morning, noon and night. Repetitive, plain, poor choices. Given the fact that Corona virus coverage was starting to ramp up all over the world, we were shocked that guests could touch serving utensils at all serving stations in Oceanview Cafe and that all condiments were left on the table for all to touch.
Cafe Al Bacio has free pastries that look enticing, enough to get you to sit down and order pay for coffee. Unfortunately the pastries look better than they taste. Twice, we tried the Macadamia nut coffees which were rock hard stale and needed to be dunked in hot coffee to revive them.
Sushi on five: Is strictly a la cart, lunch and dinner and has sushi and other specialties for non-sushi fans: Udon Noodle Soup; Dumplings and Shrimp Tempura. We found the food only fair, not worth the price.
Our standard balcony cabin in the front, close to elevator with a full-sized couch was spacious enough with full size shower. At 194 sq feet, they were still building ships 8 years ago with spacious rooms and balconies. Not so today. The cabin was in pretty good shape, ... but not clean. Greasy smears on the door, cabinetry and dust on tabletops, had us cleaning with the Clorox wipes we brought aboard. Our cabin cleaning crew did not do a good job, which surprised us. I spoke to our cabin stewart when we first got to the room and his comment was "Quite frankly I am exhausted". That explained why dirty bar glasses sat on the counter for three days, and the sliding door and glass railing were coated with salt when we first got to the cabin.
We purchased the "Carriage Ride" through old town in Cartagena and really enjoyed it. It was also $20 cheaper pp by buying several weeks before the cruise. The Old Town area and much of what we saw in Cartagena was charming. Bright colorful, period buildings, with much more modern high rise buildings outside of old town. At the port is a don't miss gardens with Parrots, Peacocks, Ant Eaters and other animals. Don't miss the only Red Parrot who walks on the ground and tries to bite your toes. While entertaining, it is not fun when it connects with someone with open sandals. We saw him nail an elderly lady in sandals. Ouch!
While there is quite a selection of expensive handbags, jewelry, and full priced Chicos and more expensive clothing on board, there was a lack of more moderate priced items to bring back as gifts. Also the ship had a poor selection of toiletries should you have forgotten something.
There were indeed movies everyday and some new ones ( Bombshell; Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood). But for some reason they started to show, half way through the cruise, very old movies. . Movie rentals in the cabins were outrageously priced at $14.99.
We reported to our meeting area at 8:30 AM, as instructed, and finally made our way off the ship to the street at 11 AM. Once you stepped one foot out of the ship you encountered massive lines, holdups like we have never seen. The ship blamed it on too few customs agents showing up that day. Throngs of "Seniors" and other passengers had to stand in line for hours, waiting to go through check points. It was the worst we have ever experienced on any cruise.
Overall, the ship/crew avoided even mentioning Corona and we saw very little extra measures to contain germs.