Short Review-1st Celebrity Cruise aboard the Reflection March 11-18
My husband and I have sailed on many RCCL ships over the past 20 years, and have included our three boys on occasion. We have always stuck with RCCL especially when our teenagers were with us because we are an active family and loved all of the options in the teens program and with Flowrider, mini golf, rock-climbing wall, etc.. This time we decided to look for a more romantic cruise for the two of us and decided to try Celebrity. I was honestly very concerned that the entertainment would be more geared toward seniors and that we would be bored. Oh my goodness, I am so thankful my fears were unfounded. Average age of passengers was probably 45. Next to our honeymoon, this was the most romantic, relaxing, and fun vacation we've ever had! I would go back in a heartbeat and I can't imagine it getting any better. We did not understand all of the comments about Celebrity being a ship that catered to suite guests and treated others with less attentiveness. We did not find this to be true at all. Yes there are the suite restaurants, but the menus posted had the same offerings that we enjoyed in the MDR, and we certainly had top notch service, so I'm not sure what the fuss is about. We did tour the spa and considered the Persian Gardens, but we didn't want to become too lazy on this trip and gain weight. We also found the hot tubs and solarium as relaxing as we needed. But, if we wanted we could have purchased the pass to the Persian Gardens. I didn't see any other differences. When we go back we will still get an inside cabin and use the extra money for our next cruise.
A little about us: We are forty-somethings who are pretty active. We love to ballroom dance, especially Swing and Lindy and I enjoy circuit or HIIT 3-5 times weekly. We also love the ocean, and although our PADI (SCUBA) certification expired and we didn't take the time to renew, we snorkel every chance we get. We are very laid back and prefer our inside cabin even after trying others on different ships. My husband does wear a tux and I wear a gown on evening chic days. We get the basic soda package and my hubby has a glass of wine on occasion. I can't walk straight after a glass of alcohol and like to dance, so Coke is my drink of choice. We do purchase the all-inclusive photo package and hit every photo station each night. This was something we started with our boys many years ago and they are usually the only professional photos we get taken. Well worth the ~$215 (with our Elite discount) in our opinion.
Overall, the ship is beautiful and well laid out. We've been used to the promenade on the Freedom and Voyager class ships, so the many smaller public areas were a refreshing change. It still had the "wow factor". The main areas were on decks 3,4,5 and then 14 and 15; so, it was easy to find our way to every activity. The grand foyer is gorgeous and the site of many live music and dance offerings, so we spent many hours there. The beautiful library has the largest selection of books that we've ever seen on a ship. There were also many books that fellow passengers had obviously donated. The theater is the typical RCCL layout without the beautiful curtain that you find on Explorer or Freedom, but otherwise very nice. The specialty and suite restaurants are lovely and each has a different theme. The spa and fitness center were well-appointed and clean. Mornings could get a little crowded at the free weights area, but everyone was polite and each of us got the equipment we needed and the area to work. I never had to wait for a treadmill or elliptical. The Oceanview Cafe was similar to the Windjammer layout on RCCL, but it never seemed as chaotic and crowded. The only thing we had to wait for on occasion were those wonderful hashbrown triangles; and, of course, fresh made-to-order omelettes. Some great things in this area were the bar and the ice cream area with both regular and soft serve. The solarium was fabulous, relaxing and quiet. Although we did have to look on sea days, we always found two chairs together in both this area and the main pool area. We loved the Pool Butlers aka Bouncers that kept the chair-saving to a minimum. The Aqua Spa cafe was just a section of the solarium with delicious healthy alternative food options that I enjoyed on non-hashbrown triangle days. It was nice to go there and be able to decide without fattening alternatives nearby. I'm weak, what can I say? Speaking of weak, the Mast Grill was a nice included option at lunch. It was perfectly laid out with a small bar at the front, followed by the grill, then a soft-serve ice cream machine so we could get everything right there. When there was a line at peak times, it was always short and moved quickly. Our cabin was the largest inside we've ever had and definitely had the best layout. We were in 1532 on the Penthouse deck (11). Since we committed to only take the stairs, those 7 flights between dinner and cabin and theatre helped to keep us in our smaller clothes all week.
The pristine cleanliness kept by very pleasant crew members was impressive. Each bathroom had an attendant keeping it immaculate and restocking the handtowels. We loved the signs stating "open door with a paper or hand towel" and "wash your hands for at least 20 seconds". It made us feel safer knowing that people were more likely to follow those suggestions to keep everyone healthy. We are honestly germaphobes who work in the medical field, so cleanliness is very important to us. It was, by far, the cleanest ship we've ever been on. Those crew members were like ninjas. For example, we climbed up three flights of stairs, realized I had forgotten something, went back to our cabin and in that short time it had been completely made up by Keto, our stateroom attendant. There were also very friendly bussers and servers in the Oceanview Cafe who were constantly removing used dishes and quickly cleaning tables as people left. We never had to search to find a clean or empty table even on disembarkation morning. The carpets were being vacuumed, railings wiped, and windows cleaned continuously throughout the ship.
Another very pleasant and surprising bonus that I never even considered prior to our cruise was the overall thoughtfulness, kindness, and congeniality of the passengers on the ship. There was never the "me first" attitude that you see on the larger cruise ships. Maybe it was the older and wiser passengers, or maybe we were just fortunate; but you would not believe the difference it made to us. I do believe the happier crew with kind attitudes influenced the passengers as well.
The food and drink were great. We were never treated with anything less than the best care and prompt attention when requesting a drink with our package at any venue. We have experienced the ignoring of package customers in the past on other ships, so we appreciated the service. We ate at the AquaSpa Cafe or Oceanview Cafe for breakfast and lunch, or Mast Grill for lunch, and then dinners were in the MDR or Qsine. We also got snacks at the Gelato Bar and Cafe el Bacio. Everything was fresh, hot/cold (as appropriate), and delicious. Qsine was a unique experience and we enjoyed it. Oceanview had a variety of ethnic cuisines including a Mexican, Indian Curry, and English sections. Also, we thought we had main seating, but apparently we had select dining with a standing 6pm reservation. We were concerned because we like getting to know other passengers, but we ended up sitting at a 2 top next to the same great couple each night. We had a fabulous time with them and went to most of the shows together. We liked the seating arrangement because we could easily converse with nearby passengers, but also had the option of having intimate conversations. I think we got lucky to meet the same great couple each night. I don't know if we would risk it again and just ask for main seating. I was also concerned about making it to all the activities surrounding dinner time, but again the schedule is perfectly conceived. We made it to everything we wanted with one exception.
Entertainment was fabulous! The house band, Blind Vinyl, was the best. They were the inspiration for many hours of swing dancing. The production shows were unique and I could see why some people didn't care for, or were confused by the story lines. They do show a video or give an explanation of the storylines prior to the start. The costumes were very innovative in Elysium and Maxx and the singing and dancing was superb in all three. Overall, we loved them! The two comedians were hilarious. I was crying from laughing so hard! The Beatles show and Tenors of Rock were phenomenal as well. Overall outstanding entertainment! The only thing we were disappointed to miss was the Love and Marriage-type show which was held in the small Celebrity Central theater. When we got there it was completely packed with standing room only, so we decided to go back to the dance floor. No big loss. We had a great time anyway.
Activities were led by the fantastic Tereza. We did Dancercise (like Zumba) and the Silent Disco (outstanding!) each day they were offered. We also did trivia occasionally during our R&R times. It was the perfect mix of rest and rowdy fun!
Overall this vacation was so amazing that I'm afraid to go again knowing that it could only be disappointing in comparison, but I'm willing to try! I would not bring my kids on this ship though. There were only a handful of kids on the ship. When going with our boys, we would stick with Freedom or try Oasis.
Okay, I have to get my laundry done before returning to the real world tomorrow. I hope this review helps someone trying to make the big decision! I appreciate all of the help I received from fellow passengers who took the time to post tips and provide answers on these boards prior to our cruise! Thank you!