Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the Celebrity Reflection
12/7/13 to 12/14/13
Due to the length of the review, it is in two parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top and bottom of the page.
Page 1 - Embarkation; Ship Restaurants, Bars, Other Venues and Cabin
Page 2 - Dining; Entertainment; Activities; Ports of Call
Ports of Call: Miami, FL; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas , U.S. Virgin Islands; St. Maarten, Netherland Antilles; Miami, FL
We had previously been on three of Celebrity’s Solstice Class ships. When we found a deal on Celebrity’s newest ship, Reflection, we couldn’t pass it up. Apparently early December has some of the best deals of the year; and with us living in South Florida, we don’t have to worry about flying to the ports. In addition one of our sons, Craig, and his wife, Robin, were going to join us for their very first cruise. In addition to experiencing the newest Celebrity ship, we were really looking forward to spending some quality time with my son.
Craig and Robin live in Dallas and were flying in on Friday, a day before the cruise, to avoid any potential problems that could cause them to miss the cruise. On Thursday, the Dallas area had one of the worst ice storms they have ever had. It pretty much closed DFW airport. American Airlines cancelled almost all flights on Friday and most on Saturday. Needless to say we were all very upset. American did offer to fly them directly to San Juan on Saturday, since that flight was one of the few operating. They could then join the ship on Monday when the Reflection docked there. It was a great back up plan. Especially since the Reflection was only supposed to be in port from 3:00 PM until 10:00 PM. They would miss two sea days; but they would get to see much more of San Juan than the other passengers on the cruise were going to see.
The drive to the Port of Miami was quite easy, since it was a Saturday morning. We had looked at alternative parking locations to save some money; but the reviews for the most popular ones had some ugly horror stories that we didn’t want to personally experience. So we decided to pay for the high priced $20 per day port parking; since it was so convenient and trouble free.
We usually try to arrive at the terminal early enough so we can get on the ship and have lunch at a normal time. The check in process went very quickly other than for a problem the agent had with the computer camera connection. IT support came to the rescue and we were soon on our way to the ship. We were on the Reflection with welcome drink in hand at 11:30 AM. Very fast and smooth indeed!
We always enjoy sail away in Miami, since there is so much to see. The slow cruise down the long narrow strip of water toward the inlet allows us to see the large homes and other attractions on the islands in the bay. The tall buildings in the background are also impressive and a pretty sight.
Since it was getting late in the day and the sun was going down, the beaches weren't crowded. I always enjoy watching the pilot boat coming along side the ship; since it means the cruise is underway.
Since we had previously sailed on the Celebrity Solstice twice before and its sisters Eclipse and Silhouette, we were looking forward to experiencing the newest ship in the Solstice class. As expected, all of the ships are very similar; but there were many changes. We did find that there were less statues and artwork around the ship; and what they had, to us, was not as nice as the other Celebrity ships. It is still a beautiful ship, but just seemed plainer than the earlier Solstice class ships. We really like this class of ship and consider it our favorite. The numerous public rooms are shown below by category.
Restaurants ( Link to Menus ) -
I have included a link to most of the restaurant menus available on the Reflection. They can be accessed by clicking on the button at the top of the page or the above link.
Opus Restaurant – This is the main dining room in the ship where we ate all our dinners on this cruise; as well as the special brunch on the morning before we arrived in San Juan. It is a lovely room.
I have always been intrigued by the massive wine rack. I went right up to it to take a photo of the inside of the rack. The stairs at the back allow the Sommeliers to climb up to the higher levels to get to those bottles.
Oceanview Café - This buffet is very well arranged with separate food islands and seemed to flow quite smoothly. Even at prime time, we were able to find a table without much trouble. Since the ship was only at 90% capacity, it probably helped some; but I was pleasantly surprised.
The area just outside the buffet offers a large covered area; as well as an open area to dine. It seemed to be popular on this cruise with the mild weather. The extension coming out from deck 15 is part of the Sunset Bar. It adds to it as well as providing additional covered area for the buffet. From the railing on the back, you can get a nice view of the aft balcony cabins and the wake.
Bistro on Five – We try to go to the Bistro on Five at least once during each cruise. I absolutely love the Italian dessert crepe. The Panini’s are always good and the soup changes every day. We lucked out and had a delicious clam chowder during our visit.
Blu – This is the dining room reserved for guests in the Aqua Class cabins. It is a lovely smaller dining room with anytime dining. We look forward to trying it one of these days when we find a deal on Aqua.
Qsine – We thoroughly enjoyed Qsine specialty restaurant during our Baltic cruise. Celebrity describes Qsine as “a culinary journey that delivers elements of surprise and delight.” The meal is more like a bunch of unique heavy appetizers and very good ones at that. It is best to go to Qsine with a larger group, so that you can try more of the items on the menu. I have photos of many of the items in the Baltic review. I took the photos of Qsine and Murano while there was a special event going on that displayed many of their menu items; as well as having samples available to taste.
Murano – This is the French style specialty restaurant. It is normally very good, but we didn’t have an opportunity to go there this cruise.
Tuscan Grille – This is the ship’s steak house. It is always very good, but we didn’t go there on this cruise.
Lawn Club Grill – It is the outdoor grill on the upper deck lawn club. This restaurant is located in the area previously used for the Corning glass show on the Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse. We have never gone to one of these restaurants; but I understand that the guests get to assist in cooking the steaks. It just hasn’t interested me enough yet to try it for the $40 per person price that is charged.
The Porch – I had gone to the porch when we were on the Silhouette; but Carol hadn’t. Since I had enjoyed it the first time, I wanted Carol to see what it was about. What I like most about the Porch is the location. It is on the upper deck and has a view of the ocean and the grass lawn. I enjoyed the soup and salad; but the Steak & Cheese Panini was just OK. Previously I had the Reuben, which was good; but they were out of pastrami this time.
Mast Grill – We can always count on the Mast Grill to have very good hamburgers and hot dogs. It is the go to place when we have had enough fancy food and just want something we know will be good. This is also a place where soft serve yogurt is available.
AquaSpa Café – This small restaurant is located next to the Solarium. It has healthier food items for breakfast and lunch. The spa food is pretty tasty; but they only have a limited menu.
Lounges ( Link to Menus ) -
I have included a link to most of the drink menus available on the Reflection. Also there is information about the available drink packages. They can be accessed by clicking on the button at the top of the page or the above link.
Passport Bar – This bar is located in the main lobby area on deck 3 across from Guest Relations. It is particularly popular in the evening when musical groups entertain guests in the atrium right next to the bar.
Cellar Master – This lounge is all about wine. If we were wine drinkers, I am sure we would love it; but we aren’t so we don’t.
Casino Bar – Since we don’t gamble, I normally don’t have an opportunity to try the Casino Bar. This cruise I did get to go one time because Robin was there trying to win some money. The service was very slow when we were there.
Martini Bar – This bar was very popular on this cruise. In addition to very entertaining bartenders, the music played by Miami DJ’s Live got everyone into a dancing mood. It was the night time hotspot, particularly since the Reflection doesn’t have the Quasar nightclub like the other ships in her class. The photos below were taken during the day before the ice bar is is turned on and the frost covers it; and before the ice is put in the Crush section of the bar. When they put the ice and various colored vodka bottles in place, it looks much more inviting.
Café al Bacio – This premium coffee bar is always a very popular venue. The various coffees and teas are very good; but there is a charge. The various cookies and other free dessert items that are offered are also quite good.
Ensemble – This lounge is one of the largest on the ship. It is normally very dark and cozy. This was our favorite bar on this cruise. It is close to the Opus Restaurant, so we could go there for before dinner drinks. Before entering the Ensemble, there is a small sort of foyer type room. I normally like the entrance decorations and the sounds there on other ships of this class; but this one was not as unique when compared to the others.
Michael’s Club – This club has been transformed from the prior formal cigar club motif of the other Michael’s we have experienced. I liked it a lot better. The bar here was much larger, so there was room for people to enjoy their drinks, rather than just to step up and order them.
Molecular Bar – I also liked the changes on this ship for the Molecular Bar. The bar is much larger, so more people can sit around it and enjoy the performances by their great bartenders. We used the Molecular Bar a lot on our Baltic cruise, six months earlier, since we had the premium beverage package, but not on this trip. They have some wonderful unique drinks.
Mast Bar –
Sky Observation – This used to be one of my favorite places on the ship; but it has been greatly reduced in size with the port half of the area now being transformed into suites. So instead of a great forward facing view it is only half of what it was. The dance floor appears to be about the same size. It is still a very nice lounge and the view that is still available is very nice; just a lot smaller.
Sunset Bar – I really like the way this bar has been modified. The seating area is arranged better, where there are more individual seating areas. But the big change is that bar itself and the area right around it that stretches out over the back of the ship, as you could see in the rear part of the Oceanview Buffet photo. The bartenders are now in the middle of a football shaped bar. This allows lots of people to surround it, making it an excellent gathering place. At night the bar stools light up.
Celebrity Central Bar – Since Quasar was replaced with a conference center, they had to put a bar in the entertainment area. It is a small bar; but very convenient.
Reflection Theater – It is a very large and comfortable theater. Like most of the newer ships, the sound system and lighting were first class. The seats had plenty of leg room. The only minor negative was that there were several seats in the back part of the theater that have obstructed views due to the support beams. I really liked the colorful ceiling pattern. During performances lights would shine different patterned lights on it to accent it.
Celebrity Central – This is a smaller venue used for some of the guest speakers, movies and some of the smaller entertainment shows. It allowed for a more personalized presentation. It is a great room for these activities; but it only holds 200 people; which was a problem for some events.
Entertainment Court – This is the area right outside the theater and Celebrity Central. In addition to having two ping pong tables there, its main purpose is to be a lobby area and for people to pass through when leaving the theater. Unfortunately, most nights there were activities going on that totally blocked people from leaving the theater. They had merchandise sales, trivia games, dance classes, etc. going on while people were streaming out of the auditorium. Of course everyone was looking at what was going on; which slowed down the lines even more.
Fortunes Casino – Since we don’t use the casino, I really appreciate that we didn’t have to walk through it to get from one end of deck 4 to the other. The design of this class of ship has a walkway between the casino on the port side and shops on the starboard side. This means that only people that want to use the casino need to go into it. The casino itself appeared, to me, to be well equipped for most gamblers.
The Hideaway – This is a sitting area on deck 7 mid-ship. The open area and some seating extend up to deck 8. It was very popular all day for people wanting to read, but especially for those that wanted the coffee that was always available.
Library – The large two story library was quite popular. Since both Carol and I have Kindles with lots of books, we didn’t need to use it. The lovely area was nicely decorated for Christmas.
Video Arcade –
Art Studio – I never found it open, so could only get photos of the outside. If nothing else, it was a very nice sitting area with a great view.
The Lawn Club – This has always been a unique feature of the Celebrity Solstice class of ships. I do enjoy having the grass; but much of the time, it can’t be walked on, since it has been damaged and needs a rest. This was the first time I didn’t see anyone playing bocce ball on the lawn. Which is a shame, since it is a unique activity to have on a cruise ship.
The Lawn Club area is particularly pretty at night.
The Alcoves, which are private sitting areas that can be reserved for a large fee take up much of the lawn space. I only saw one being used during the whole cruise. The most popular thing about the Lawn Club, other than the Lawn Club Grill at night, was the two oversized lawn chairs. People like to climb up into them and get photos taken.
Game On – This is a combination card room and video game parlor. Some of the tables have a few video games that can be played; but most people used the room for card games.
Shops on the Boulevard – There are many shops on deck 4. Too many to put photos of each one. They are right across from the casino
Galleria Boutiques – There are various shops on deck 5. Here are a few of them.
Photo Gallery – As with most ships, the photo gallery has racks of the many photos taken during the cruise. Because the Reflection uses a facial recognition program to identify the subjects, it is easy to find all your photos on the terminals in the gallery or on the TV in your cabin.
Grand Foyer - The heart of the Reflection is the Grand Foyer. We were most fortunate since the Reflection had been decorated for Christmas.
A standard feature on all of the Solstice Class of ships is the live tree suspended between the elevator banks. I do believe that the Reflection has the nicest support of the group. The metal roots descending from the tree is a great touch. I have put photos from many locations to show how different it looks from where ever you view it.
AquaSpa – The spa area is always a beautifully decorated area. It is designed for comfort and relaxation. It is located at the front of the ship on decks 11 & 12 which are connected by a lovely stairway.
Deck 11 contains the therapy rooms, which are all lighted in different colors.
The Relaxation Lounge, which looks out the front to the ship, is also located on deck 11.
The Persian Gardens Area is another area for relaxing. There is a cost to use it if you are not staying in an Aqua Class cabin.
Fitness Center – It was very well equipped and very popular. I also liked how on the Reflection that they have separate fitness, spinning and aerobics rooms. I was particularly impressed that they had the TRX suspension training system in a separate room. I use these regularly at our gym. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the gym on this cruise other than to take photos.
At the very front and just outside of the fitness center is an area that can be accessed through the outside doors. It is a great viewing area, since it has an unobstructed forward view.
Solarium – The Solarium is a lovely and very comfortable area for relaxing, swimming and just hanging out in a hot tub. Since we live in South Florida, laying around a swimming pool isn’t that special for us when cruising.
Promenade Deck -
Swimming Pools – The swimming pool area is the main activity area on sea days with a Caribbean cruise. At night the people leave and the lights make it a lovely area.
Outer Deck Area – There are lots of places to lay out in the sun or just relax on the outer decks. At night the lighting highlights areas and makes for a pleasant evening stroll.
Solstice Deck – This is a very comfortable area at the front of the ship on Deck 16. It can only be accessed by stairs, since the elevators only go to Deck 15.
Guest Relations – I must say that the Guest Relations staff on the Reflection were just awesome. They were friendly, helpful and very efficient. There were rarely more than a couple of people waiting in line. Even during the first and last days, which are normally very active, the line wasn’t that long and moved quickly.
Shore Excursions –
Future Cruises – The future cruise area was moved up to Deck 12 midship. I thought it was a strange place to put it, since there would be less walk by traffic; but I was mistaken. There was more room at that location and a steady flow of people looking at booking another cruise while on board.
Basketball Court – The basketball court is located at the front of the ship on Deck 15. It seems like a bad location, since the wind is very strong there. But that would make playing there more challenging.
Artwork & Decorations – I have always enjoyed the varied artwork on Celebrity ships. I did find some interesting items, but for the most part, they weren’t anything I wanted to take photos of to remember. I was particularly surprised that there were very few statues or large free standing pieces on the Reflection.
When I originally booked a cruise for early December, we chose a 5 day cruise on the Celebrity Constellation. The reason we booked it was to obtain one more point in the Celebrity Captain’s Club. A new program was expected to be announced by year's end. Most people assumed that there would be a new level at 25 points, similar to what Royal Caribbean did several years ago.
We later found that we could take a 7 day cruise on the Reflection for not much more, so we booked an inexpensive guarantee cabin. With a guarantee, the cabin is assigned by the cruise line a few weeks before the cruise. When we got our assignment for our balcony cabin, it turned out to be a decent one. Two weeks before the cruise, Celebrity changed the loyalty program. We were very pleased with the changes; but in order to be able to get to the new Elite + level, we would have to upgrade to a Concierge Class cabin. It turned out to only cost about $50 per person more for one of the Concierge cabins; but the location was not good. We were given cabin 2203, which was six cabins from the back of the ship on Deck 12. When booking cabins, we always try to book below another row of cabins because of potential noise from public areas above. With 2203, we were right under the buffet kitchen. Banging noises started around 6:00 AM, and again after the buffet closed at night. We would never intentionally book that cabin again. On the positive side, the balcony was larger than the normal balcony because we were on the suite deck. Additionally, the overhang of Deck 14 just above us (no Deck 13) provided great protection from the sun. It also obstructed the view some; but that didn’t bother us. The large support beams were a minor obstruction; but they weren’t a problem. They would have been if I wanted to take a lot of photos from the balcony.
The cabin layout is basically the same as all of the Solstice Class ships. We have found it to be a very comfortable cabin with adequate storage space and room to move around. We particularly like having the space in the cabinets above the bed. The bed had a new type of mattress that we were very pleased with.
The bathroom is roomier than most other ship classes we have cruised on. We particularly like the shower with the closing doors rather than a curtain.
Our cabin attendant, Cyril from the Philippines, was very good. He always had a smile and was very helpful. This was the first cruise that we didn’t have an assistant attendant that helped the attendant. It really must have increased Cyril’s workload; but he still had a very positive attitude.
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