Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Reflection Cruise Review
Newest of Celebrity's fab five, Reflection seduces in many ways, but a few evolutionary changes were disappointing
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AquaSpa and Gym
Celebrity Reflection has a large and elegant spa, lined with walls covered in tile, much of it in delicate mosaic patterns. The overall effect is lush and tranquil. The spa is huge, covering much of Deck 12 forward, with additional treatment rooms downstairs on Deck 11 (accessed by a circular stairwell). A large and well-equipped fitness center is accessed through the spa.
The facility is managed by cruise spa giant Steiner Leisure. Treatment prices were consistent with those of other cruise lines—higher than what we usually find at beach resorts—but discounts emerged pretty much daily, especially on port days. Fifty-minute massages—Swedish, bamboo, stone—ranged $119 to $159; 75-minute sessions were $175 to $195; the 50-minute couples massage was $269. Several facials were available—all 50-minute sessions—and priced $125 to $169 (the 75-minute 24 Karat Gold Facial was “only $325”). The salon offered nail treatments, hair styling and color, waxing, acupuncture, and Botox, Restylane and Perlane cosmetic treatments, Ionithermie, and men’s grooming.
There is also the Persian Garden, a spa within the spa with heated tile loungers, a hammam, aromatic steam rooms, infrared sauna, and a cold room (52 degrees, with walls coated in ice). The facility is expanded somewhat from the other Solstice Class ships, but the price—$35 for a day pass or $125 for the week—seemed extravagant, but it’s complimentary to guests booked in AquaClass cabins.
Access to the gym bypasses most of the spa treatment rooms. In addition to the usual cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical trainers, bikes (upright and recumbent)—all up-to-date LifeFitness models—plus weight machines, free weights and a rowing machine. Oddly although at least one LifeFitness machine has weights listed in pounds, most were provided in kilograms—annoying when we transferred from one machine to the next. They have a rowing machine. Something new we found here was a VIP Studio, a private fitness room that could be rented by the hour ($30) during regular gym hours; the room was equipped with TechnoGym cross trainer, bike and treadmill, all them hooked up to the Internet to record your workout.
There was a selection of fitness classes—most of which carried a surcharge. Morning workouts (stretching, arms blast) and Zumba (conducted poolside) were free. Chi-Ball Fire Yoga and Pilates were $12 each; TRX Suspension Training was $20; FlyWheel classes were $25; and Body Sculpt Boot Camp was $120 for a four-session package. We signed up for the suspension training—our first—and got a solid, muscle-burning workout.
Ranging from small, tapas-style meals to full-on dining experiences, Celebrity Reflection offers 12 different restaurant options—an impressive array we struggled to stay on top of during the course of a one-week cruise. Four of these are headliner attractions requiring surcharges that range from $35 to $45 per person, and although each offered relatively good meals, a couple of these options seemed overpriced; two others are quiet cafés where a $5 add-on buys a subdued setting and a few food items not found elsewhere on the ship.
But our meals in the main dining room—Opus Restaurant—were consistently satisfying, and the ship’s buffet venue—Oceanview Café—offered an excellent selection, so the fancier alternatives need not be a priority. For those who wish to try the various surcharge venues, note that discount packages were readily available at the start of our cruise.
Fifth and final member of Celebrity’s well-received Solstice Class of ships, Celebrity Reflection arrived in late 2012. Weighing in at 126,000 tons, Reflection is the biggest in Celebrity’s fleet, carrying 3,046 passengers on cruises through Europe each summer and to Caribbean islands during the winter season.
Like its predecessors, Reflection exudes a classy, sophisticated ambiance, with dramatic public spaces enhanced by contemporary art and a live ficus tree suspended midair within the ship’s 12-story atrium. It’s somewhat akin to a sleek boutique hotel, but without a clique-y or exclusionary atmosphere, meaning few cruisers will find they don’t fit in—it’s a solid match for boomers. But as the Solstice Class ships have evolved, we take issue with a key change to how one of our favorite spaces has been redefined since the first vessel in the class emerged.
Celebrity Reflection has 13 bars available at various hours of the day for tipping one back—there was a perfect spot at pretty much any time, and all guests seemed to gravitate to one or two favorites after a day at sea (read on and you’ll figure out ours). Celebrity maintains an extensive and varied wine list, though it varied by restaurant; Opus Restaurant and Blu appeared to have the full ship selection. Available at most of the bars was a short selection of domestic (U.S.) beers, with imports and premiums including Corona, Red Stripe, Stella Artois, Newcastle Brown Ale, and Guinness; an expanded beer list was available at Michael's Club.
There was a standard drink menu of cocktails available at most of the bars. Caribbean-inspired drinks include Pirate’s Punch (rum, coconut rum, pineapple and orange juice), Pineapple Ginger Mojito (rum, ginger liqueur, lime and pineapple juice, mint and simple syrup). Frozen drinks include Pyrat Alexander (rum, coffee liqueur, amaretto, ice cream and whipped cream) and the Tropical Spice Daiquiri (spiced rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice and mango purée. “Up” drinks served martini style included Pair of Roses (Grey Goose La Poire vodka, rose syrup, lemon juice and splash of soda), Blueberry Breeze (blueberry vodka, agave nectar, lime, blueberry and pineapple), and the Fresh Cucumber Gimlet (gin, lime juice, cucumber and simple syrup).
Non-alcoholic drinks are called Zero-Proof Cocktails. Among these were Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade, Rainbow Punch (orange, lime and pineapple juice, Grenadine and simple syrup, Angostura Bitters and a splash of soda) and the Watermelon Tropic (watermelon syrup, pineapple and lime juice). O’Doul’s non-alcoholic beer was available at most bars.
Celebrity’s drink prices, especially wines, seem slightly higher than competitors, so beverage packages may be worth investigating. These include a bottled water package ($12 per day per guest), unlimited soda ($7/day) and a non-alcoholic package ($14-$18/day). Wine packages started at $99 for three bottles. The Classic and Premium drink packages ranged $44 per day (for drinks priced under $8) to $54 (drinks up to $12). A 15-percent service charge was added to the package prices. Also watch for happy hour two-for-one specials, announced in the daily newsletter—these seemed to be limited to the Passport Bar and Ensemble Lounge, from 5 to 6 p.m. and again from 10 to 11 p.m.
There was a series of wine tasting events scheduled during our cruise, ranging from a $15 port tasting to a premium wine tasting for $75. During the first 24 hours of our cruise we were hit up by three different servers to sign us up for one of these—it felt like they were working on commission.
There’s a wide variety of cabin options on Celebrity Reflection, starting with the usual array of Inside and Ocean View accommodations. Celebrity says the smallest of these measures 177 square feet, which is a relatively comfortable size among mass-market lines. But fully 85 percent of Reflection’s cabins have balconies, and for our cruise we stayed in one of these, described below. You can read about our Inside cabin aboard Celebrity Eclipse here.
There are lots of upgrade options available, including 16 Sunset Veranda units on Decks 7 and 8, facing aft. One can opt for Concierge Class or Aqua Class, which are the same size as Veranda units but with added services and amenities. Concierge guests receive early embarkation and debarkation, wine, fruit and flowers at check-in, an expanded breakfast menu, nightly hors d’oeuvres, and a massaging showerhead. AquaClass guests receive those extras plus a pillow menu, complimentary bathroom amenities, unlimited access to the Persian Garden and can dine in the restaurant Blu. There are several categories of suites, which start at 300 square feet.
A suite you may have heard about, the 1636-square-foot Reflection Suite, is one of the more extravagant offerings at sea: a two-bedroom penthouse with cantilevered shower. Cruise writers on preview cruises were shown through here to ooh and ahh on behalf of their readers, but alas, staying here wasn’t in our budget (on a typical cruise the Reflection Suite sells for about $2600 per day, per couple—drinks, tips and other add-ons not included).
Located on Deck 15, X Club was the place for teens to hang and activities were scheduled throughout the day and till late at night, including teens-only dance parties, scavenger hunts and dodge ball in the adjoining basketball court. In addition to ample games and activities on offer, there was a coffee machine and ice cream maker.
Also on Deck 15 and designed for kids age 3 to 11, the Fun Factory was open from 9:00 a.m to 1:00 a.m. each day of the cruise. Activities included karaoke, crafts, treasure hunts and talent shows. A few activities carried an additional charge of $6 per hour, such as the dinner party and slumber party. The venue has a private entrance to the Basketball Court, where kids can burn off energy during supervised games.
There are two outdoor pools on Deck 14, side-by-side. They’re not large and, given the passenger capacity of Reflection, we found this area was cramped and crowded on sea days. We didn’t measure it, but the space appeared slightly smaller than the pool deck on Celebrity Eclipse, which carries 200 fewer guests. Four whirlpools ring the swimming pools, and loungers fill either side of the pool.
A couple things we did like is the architectural feature that creates nooks with partial shade, double-wide loungers that are great for sun-fearing folks. Underneath Deck 15 are day beds wide enough for two, along with square hammocks—all nice features. At one end of the space is the Pool Bar; the other end has a small stage used for performances through the day. On sea days there were things going on at all times: Zumba, pool aerobics, and pool volleyball—officers playing against guests.
When the outdoor pools were packed, there was a relief valve: the lovely Solarium, a decent-sized indoor pool adds a graceful touch of class to Celebrity Eclipse. The Solarium is glass-roofed, so lots of natural light gets in, and it is well ventilated, so as to minimize the humidity. The pool is better suited for lap swimming and there’s an ADA compliant handicap chair lift on one side. There is a good number of loungers and, unlike those located outdoors, there were usually quite a few available. A pair of small heated whirlpools flanks the pool, and the AquaSpa Café provides good bites close by. After dark, one wall of the Solarium with a fountain was illuminated with a light show. All in all, one of our favorite indoor pool spaces as sea.
Our Cabin: Deluxe Ocean View With Veranda
We snagged a good, last-minute deal on a Deluxe Ocean View with Veranda—the least-expensive balcony cabin available. The overall size—an interior space of about 194 square feet—was reasonable for two people, and the 56-square-foot balcony offered a happy escape at many points. There was a long couch—more than we needed, really—and a dinky coffee table. The one disappointment with the layout was a smallish closet that was barely sufficient for two passengers. A pair of overhead compartments above the bed helped make up for the limited closet space, and our luggage fit under the bed easily next to a wire basket containing life preservers.
Our bed was actually two single mattresses that could be linked together. The relatively firm bed, with a pillow-top, four pillows and a duvet, provided a good night’s sleep. At the foot of the mattress each corner was rounded, making it easier to navigate the confined space. There were lights on each side of the bed, adequate for reading, along with two small nightstands.
The bathroom was plain but made efficient use of a compact space, accented with a backsplash of mosaic tile and wood veneer on cabinets. It was small, as we expected, but there was good storage space for two people—seven stacked shelves each just large enough for typical travel kit, plus a larger shelf under the sink and a pair of small drawers suitable for jewelry and incidentals. The shower (no tub) was also compact, but it had rounded sliding doors wrapping it, rather than clingy curtains. There was a nightlight in the bathroom on at all times—a handy feature we’d like to see other cruise lines provide.
Like its counterparts on the other Solstice Class ships, the main dining room on Reflection is a handsome room cast in silver and white tones. The two-story venue is dominated at one end by a silver and glass wine tower (though, curiously, we never saw any waiters inside).
Overall, we had good meals here—only a few dishes missed the mark. One side of menu remains unchanged throughout the cruise, with a series of popular items: shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad (available with chicken or salmon), French onion soup, broiled salmon, grilled New York sirloin, chocolate cake, apple pie à la mode, and crème brûlée.
We chose most of our dishes from the right side of the menu, which changed nightly. Starters we enjoyed included a bay scallop and shrimp ceviche served with fried plantains and avocado, a classic wedge salad that was nice and crisp, and a dollop of saffron risotto graced with a scallop and pair of shrimp. There was a double-baked blue cheese soufflé topped with red onion marmalade that was rich and decadent (we skipped dessert that night!). There was a fine salade niçoise, hearty enough for a light entrée, and we enjoyed the shaved prosciutto and arugula salad. The “vine ripe” tomato and red onion salad with blue cheese was a letdown, sunk by flavorless tomatoes; we shouldn’t have bothered with Caprese salad another night, which was similarly unimpressive.
Entrées that stood out included a grilled snapper filet served atop a perky stew of chorizo and garbanzo beans, and we loved the brussel sprouts that accompanied a competently prepared rib eye. The Caribbean lobster on the second formal night was a pair of smallish tails that were reasonably succulent. Perhaps our favorite dish was the sesame-crusted tuna steak, served with sticky rice and steamed bok choy—nothing groundbreaking, but a delicious lighter meal.
Desserts were a little more hit-and-miss. The petite banana fondant was nicely played, and the warm chocolate lava cake packed a predictable wallop. But the plate of “domestic and imported” cheese was totally unimpressive—little better than pre-sliced sandwich slices—and we found the panna cotta bland.
There were no surprises on the breakfast menu, but a good array of options was available. There were eggs cooked to order—poached, scrambled, fried, omelets, plus eggs benedict and a Greek frittata. We tried the fruit plate—melon, pineapple and grapes—and found it okay. Oatmeal was fine, and our server retrieved some whole walnuts to accompany the raisins and brown sugar. There was broiled Scottish kippers and steamed smoked haddock, along with French toast, banana pancakes and Belgian waffles. On the last sea day there was brunch, an inviting spread replete with sushi bar and chocolate fountains. Lunch on sea days was definitely worth trying, uncrowded and unhurried.
We opted for Celebrity Select dining plan for our cruise, meaning we could have dinner any time between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. (traditional dining seatings were at 6 and 8:30 p.m.). Thankfully, there were plenty of two-tops available, so we never waited more than 5 minutes to be seated. Breakfast was served from 8 to 9:30 a.m. daily (earlier on disembarkation day), with one sea day devoted to the elaborate brunch buffet from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch was available on the other sea days from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m.
About Our Cruise
Founded in 1989 by a Greece-based passenger and shipping company, Celebrity Cruises has always aspired to an upscale crowd. The line was acquired by Royal Caribbean in 1997, and as the two companies have matured, similarities between their products have started to crop up. While Celebrity still aims for a slightly more upmarket ambience, the biggest difference between the two is size; Reflection is Celebrity’s largest ship, but half of Royal Caribbean’s fleet is comprised of even larger vessels.
Celebrity Cruises took a big leap forward with the introduction of Celebrity Solstice in 2008, a ship that reportedly upped its green credentials, with a hull designed to maximize fuel savings, silicone hull coatings to minimize resistance, and enough solar panels to power the ship’s elevators. The Solstice Class vessels arrived at a rate of one per year, culminating with the debut of Celebrity Reflection in 2012. Like its siblings, Celebrity Reflection is handsomely designed, a vessel that provides lots of stimulating eye candy in a reasonably sophisticated environment.
Overall, we found our cruise agreeable. There’s a wide variety of cabin options on this ship, especially for those inclined to to spring for a suite, and our veranda cabin was comfortable and inviting. The service we received was right-on, and the range of activities and diversions available was extensive, especially the attractive spa and large, well-equipped gym. Smoking areas were limited, and Celebrity is one of the few cruise lines to offer non-smoking casinos.
The amenities and ambience on Reflection will be familiar to those who’ve experienced one of the four earlier Solstice ships. The look is certainly consistent—from the modern art pieces generously distributed throughout the common areas to the live ficus tree sprouting from midair halfway up the central atrium, a root-like metal sculpture emerging from the base of the planter (much of the art echoes the ship’s moniker with reflection motifs). As on the other Celebrity ships, surcharges can add up: There are no laundry rooms on Reflection, consigning guests to the expensive laundry service, and most of the movies available in cabins are pay-per-view—$10 a pop.
We found food at the specialty restaurants to be ambitious and flashy, but the meals didn’t always live up to the hype, especially considering the add-ons of up to $45 per person. Still, our meals in the main dining room were mostly satisfying, and the well-designed buffet venue on Reflection is diverse and appealing, with an emphasis on fresh and flavorful.
Galleria Boutiques was about 10 interconnected shops found on the starboard side of Deck 5. We can only say “about” because the shops blend from one to the next—only the signs out front distinguish one from another. Starting from the end closest to the Reflection Theatre, Adagio and Jasmine sell fragrances for women, with a small section in Adagio devoted to men’s colognes. Most of the tops lines are represented, with the main focus on Chanel and Estee Lauder products. The Showcase features women’s handbags, mainly leather, and primarily from the Fossil and Guess labels. This flows into Moda, where colorful purses by Mary Frances and dresses by Canadian designer Joseph Ribkoff are displayed, along with showy necklaces and some swimwear. The Men’s Shop sells resort wear by Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Bahama, which segues into The Collection and Pieces of Time, where watches by Marc Jacobs, Citizen, Rado, Tag Hauer and the Joseph and Thomas Windmills line from England. At the Artisan Studio and Exquisites we found larimar pieces from Marahlago and H Stern jewelry; Boutique C had a collection of inlay jewelry by Kabana of India.
Just downstairs, the Shops on the Boulevard was another series of interconnected venues flanked on one side by the casino (perhaps to capture some of your winnings?). Less upscale than the Galleria Boutiques upstairs, this was the place for informal cruise mementoes and sundries. Starting from the forward end, Spirits and Such sells liquor, cigarettes and Dominican cigars; note that merchandize purchased here is held until the conclusion of the cruise. Next door, Glitz sells cultured pearl jewelry by Honara, crystals from Swarovski, glass jewelry from Antica Murrina of Venice, and baubles from the Guess and Fossil brands. Serendipity had odds and ends ranging from drug store sundries (sun block, toothpaste, razors, tampons, etc.), snacks, stuffed animals and sunglasses. Last in the line is the Eclipse Shop, where Celebrity Reflection logo merchandize—caps, T-shirts, etc.—can be purchased, along with Samsonite travel gear.
Next to the Casino was the small Art Gallery. Art auctions were conducted on most days of our cruise, but we didn’t see much that merited a bid.
Also in this area is the Photo Gallery. Photographers roam the ship, particularly during designated events (like gangway and embarkation), taking photos of cruisers. Portrait studio photographers are also available for formal sit-down shots. The photos are displayed on racks and available for purchase—$19.95 each for any size up to 8×10. A DVD of the voyage was also available at the end of the cruise, for $34.95.
Café Al Bacio and Gelateria
Reflection’s coffee bar is a subdued space for Starbucks-style coffee drinks and gelato, all of which carry a surcharge. Drinks are available to go, or there’s wait service in a seating area with high-backed chairs. A few additional seats are perched next to the central atrium—good people-watching grounds. Speaking of grounds, the espresso drinks are made with Lavazza Coffee products, and our cappuccino was a couple notches better than the regular ship brew. For those who dare to go beyond the traditional cappuccino or latte, try an Espresso Melba (peaches, hot chocolate, whipped cream) or one of the other concoctions. Shots of flavored syrup—almond, cherry, vanilla, etc.—are offered.
We liked the chilled case offering bite-size pastries and sandwiches at no charge, the selection evolving through the day—if you worked at it you might craft a small meal. There was an up charge for cupcakes and dishes or cones of gelato, accompanied by assorted sprinkles if desired.
Located on Deck 15, the ship’s Basketball Court is just in front of the kids facilities. Basketballs were available for impromptu play throughout the day, and a few shootout games were announced in the ship newsletter, but this spot didn’t see a lot of action on our cruise.
Taking the place of the Card Room on previous Solstice Class ships, Game On is still a game room, but it’s designed so that guests may socialize with one another over a game of cards, or use one of the interactive touch screens to play a series of man-on-machine games. The digital games range from Checkers to word games and brain teasers—they distracted us for an hour one morning.
A more traditional Video Arcade is available on Deck 15, opposite the kids facilities. More than a dozen video games plus an air hockey table were available at the small arcade. Quarters aren’t in use here—you’ll use your room key or dollar bills to obtain arcade credits used to play.
How the Solstice Class Has Evolved
Over the course of four years, Celebrity’s Solstice Class ships have evolved in subtle but notable ways. For starters, the ships have grown; guest capacity on Celebrity Reflection is 7 percent greater than on Celebrity Solstice, with 98 additional cabins. Yet Reflection is just 2 feet wider and only 6 feet longer than Solstice. To our eye, the amount of deck space devoted to pools and deck chairs does not appear to have grown, which might account for why we found pools jammed and deck chairs at a premium on sea days. Still, at almost any hour of the day we found indoor areas of the ship that were uncrowded—even deserted. The new Hideaway (which replaces the Team Earth space on the earlier ships) has been sensibly reconceived as an unattended lounge with coffee service—we never saw more than two or three people here. And indoor bars such as Michael’s Club and the Molecular Bar were easy to find a seat at in the evening.
Our primary disappointment with Reflection was how one notable Solstice innovation has evolved. We loved that Celebrity Solstice (and the two ships that followed) came with a half-acre of real turf called the Lawn Club, where anyone could picnic or roll out a towel for sunning. We also enjoyed the open-air Hot Glass Studio that fronted the grass, providing free shows by professional glassblowers. What’s become of these assets? On Celebrity Reflection (and its 2011 predecessor Celebrity Silhouette), the glass shows have been replaced by the Lawn Club Grill, a fee-added steakhouse. The open-air setting is lovely, but the food did not impress us. And much of the lawn area—close to half the space—has been turned over to the Alcoves, private cabanas that are rented by the day. Because the cabanas almost completely enclose the no-fee lawn area, the grass now feels like an exclusionary space reserved for big spenders. There is also the addition of the Porch—another fee-added restaurant—and the small art glass museum found on the earlier Solstice vessels has been replaced by an Art Studio, where classes are available (again, with a surcharge).
The net result is that some of the public real estate on the original Solstice ships has been converted to private areas requiring a surcharge. Combined with the fact that there are roughly 200 additional guests sailing on Reflection, this means passengers may find common areas to be more crowded than on the earlier Solstice Class ships. For instance, to add some of the new suites, the airy and attractive Sky Observation Lounge has been downsized; the disco Quasar on Deck 4 has been removed in favor of meeting space (which was also relocated in favor of additional suites). The lounge and disco are areas used primarily after dark, and the impact on crowding at night is probably minimal, but open-air decks that are popular by day have been decreased. With overall ship capacity increased, no wonder we noticed a shortage of loungers around the pool on sea days.
There have been improvements to several spaces on Reflection. In addition to the peaceful Hideaway venue on Deck 8, immediately above on Deck 9 the Card Room has been converted to a space called Game On. Cards are still welcome, but the area—which overlooks the central atrium—now has a few free video games and a broader selection of board games that can be borrowed. The Sunset Bar, an aft perch on Deck 15, has been favorably reconfigured into a truly seductive place for—what else?—sundowners. And we did enjoy our breakfast at the Porch; the modest surcharge was well worth it for a plussed-up fruit selection in a breezy, Hamptons-like setting next to the Lawn Club.
Sky Observation Lounge
Those familiar with this venue from earlier Solstice class ships will find it has been downsized on Celebrity Reflection, in favor of a half-dozen suites occupying the port side of Deck 14. Instead of the 180-degree forward view, this one’s little more than half as broad. It’s still a fairly inviting space, though by day it is often empty—it makes a great spot for tucking into a book on sea days. During the evening it was used for karaoke, ballroom dancing and top 40 spins by a DJ. Would have been nice to hear some live music here (of the non-karaoke sort, we mean), but on this cruise it was not to be.
Mac users will feel right at home at the Celebrity iLounge, a computer lounge with more than two dozen iMacs available for passenger Internet access. The lighting is fairly bright here, cast by wall-size screens marketing Apple products—it’s not a very relaxing place for web surfing.
In order to access WiFi with our own laptop, Celebrity requires a stop by the iLounge to obtain an access code. This is a hoop we don’t have to jump through on most other cruise lines. The basic price for WiFi service—using computers in the iLounge or devices from home (including PCs)—was .75 per minute. Packages brought the price down to $24.95 for 38 minutes (.65/min), $49.95 for 90 minutes (.55/min), etc.
Three different classes were offered in the iLounge, all of them focused on iPhone and iPad. The classes were $20 each and attendees were expected to supply their own devices. Similar classes are available for free at Apple Stores. There were also a couple complimentary demo sessions with the latest iPad. A small selection of iPads and MacBook Air and Pro models was also available for purchase.
While not everything we tried at the Oceanview Café was worth writing home about, we think it ranks as one of the best buffet spreads offered among the mainstream cruise lines. It’s not just a great variety of food, but the serving area is spacious and well designed, so that even at peak hours we didn’t find ourselves struggling through a crowd to fill our plate. Although the selection changed little at breakfast, for lunch and dinner it generally took several minutes to canvass the many separate food stations available. There was sufficient seating inside that we didn’t have too much trouble finding a table, and a small aft deck had a couple dozen more tables when the weather cooperated.
For breakfast all the traditional fare was available, including fresh as well as stewed fruits, eight different cereals, cooked-to-order omelets and eggs Benedict, and a griddle pouring out Belgian waffles, pancakes and French toast. Other fare included corned beef hash, a carving station (ham), cold cuts and cheeses, blintzes offered with whipped cream, blueberries and strawberries. There was a good variety of breads—white and whole-wheat options, bagels and pastries. Fresh squeezed orange juice was available (at a surcharge).
The lunch spread included a pasta station with various toppings that could sautéed, a pizza station serving deep-dish pies and a well-endowed salad bar—all of these remained open till 1 a.m. nightly. There was also a sandwich station, with various breads and spreads. Among the hot items we tried were turkey picatta, braised beef in red wine, warm quinoa with wilted spinach, and there was a carving station that changed daily. Ethnic stations included such fare as dal makhani, vegetable curry, and chicken chow mein. For dinner, the selection was similar to the lunch offerings, if somewhat smaller, and with the addition of a sushi bar.
The dessert choices were most varied at lunch, with baked goods, pastries and more; the ice cream bar was scooping throughout the day and into the evening, with toppings ranging up to M&M size (and open till 10 p.m.).
A beverage station included complimentary coffee (definitely not Starbucks quality here), tea, and fruit drinks, available 24 hours. At breakfast a waiter circuited the seating area with a cart offering refills; at lunch, lemonade arrived on the scene. A bar located near the main entrance to the buffet had the ship’s standard bar selection. Additionally, “Mini Decanters” (355 ml) of white or red wine were available for $9.95, and a few cocktails were offered at breakfast, including a mimosa, a bloody mary and a pina colada, for $6 each.
Breakfast was served from 6:30 to 11:30 a.m. daily (the full spread wasn’t available for the first 30 and last 60 minutes of the morning shift). Lunch was offered from 12 noon to 2:30 p.m. daily, followed by afternoon tea from 4 to 5 p.m. Dinner was from 6 to 9:30 p.m., though the sushi station opened at 5:30 p.m. and the pizza/pasta station was available all afternoon and evening.
Straddling one wall of our cabin was a narrow counter that doubled as a desktop, with two US-style 110-volt outlets along with an outlet for Euro plugs. Next to it was a cabinet with a few drawers and a minibar offering a fairly standard selection of spirits, wine, beer, bottled water and soda, at ship prices. An ice bucket was provided, refilled twice daily without prompting (ice machines were otherwise not available to guests). We liked the wood hangers in the closet, two of which were occupied by a pair of bathrobes.
We were surprised that, although the TV monitor was a good quality high-definition Samsung model, and the satellite signal coming into the shop was high-def, the actual presentation was standard definition. We called down to see what the problem was and the front desk told us there was no high-def on the ship. Further, we wanted to watch a game on ESPN but the picture was stretched; another station was cropped on the sides, preventing us from seeing the scores in the upper left hand corner. If Celebrity is going to invest in quality TVs, why not get the signal right?
In the bathroom were Celebrity’s shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer, along with a shower cap and cotton balls. There was no makeup mirror, but there was a handy footrest in the shower for shaving legs. In the ceiling was an outlet for shavers, providing both 120- and 230-volt plugs. The hair dryer was in a drawer under the TV.
One of four marquee restaurants on Celebrity Reflection, Qsine is one of the more eccentric dining venues at sea. From the black, white and orange décor, with upside-down lamps emerging from the ceiling to create a chandelier, to a menu that happily marries Mexican, Persian and Chinese cuisine to create a globetrotting food tour, Qsine wears eccentricity on its sleeve. We had a good experience here, with a couple creative cocktails, a head-spinning selection of food offerings and a wonderful waitress who provided attentive, personalized service. But considering that meals in Reflection’s main dining room have already been included in the cruise fare, the price for Qsine—$45 per person—should give anyone pause. It’s a big up charge for ethnic food that, in quality and authenticity, compares with a meal at P.F. Chang’s or similar mid-priced chain restaurants.
Open for dinner only, the menu is presented on an iPad, which is easy to read, though we found ourselves scrolling back and forth from page to page trying to make our choices. The menu did not delineate between appetizers and entrées, but our waitress guided us in ordering. Three courses per person (plus desserts) amounted to a copious meal at Qsine, but sharing was encouraged, with a pail stuffed with forks and spoons.
A standout for us was a starter called M’s Favorites, which arrived like a toy apartment complex, with each of 12 “rooms” having its own little Middle Eastern surprise inside—olives in one top-floor unit, hummus on the second-floor, falafel at ground level, capped by a pair of lamb chops on the side. There was the Painter’s Mignon, a steak that came on a plate shaped like an artist’s palette, with glass buckets containing wine reduction, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, sautéed mushrooms and mac and cheese. Desserts were equally imaginative in presentation, though we found the chocolate tombstone to be an overly-heavy slab. At the end a tray of real grass was presented, sprouting with lollipop “flowers” of chocolate covered strawberries and eggs filled with crème brûlée.
The cocktail list offered quirky versions of various classics, priced $13 each. We ordered the Qsine Sangria, which boasted 15 ingredients: Stelbach Kabinett Riesling and St. Germain elderflower liqueur, macerated overnight with fruit and rose petals to pack in the flavor. Other drinks included a Moscow Mule, a Pineapple Julep, and the Corpse Reviver #2. There is a wine list with a diverse selection, including quite a few half-bottles.
We love the concept of the Lawn Club, a spread of real turf that blankets much of the top deck. But, as noted earlier, we prefer how this area was handled on the first three vessels in Celebrity’s Solstice Class (Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse). On Celebrity Reflection (and its predecessor Silhouette), the size of the lawn has been downsized in favor of fee-added areas.
One of these surcharge areas is the Alcoves, a collection of eight low-slung private cabanas available to rent for a day—$99 on port days, $149 on sea days. What does an Alcove include? You’ll find a wicker couch (which doubles as a day bed) and chair, a table for dining, chilled towels, a lawn blanket, a loaner iPad and docking station, and a phone for calling an attendant. The price includes four bottles of water, a fruit plate in the morning and a cheese plate in the afternoon, but all other food and drink items were extra; even WiFi service was at usual ship rates. While we don’t, on principle, object to Celebrity adding revenue-generating options to its ships, on Silhouette and Reflection the Alcoves were added at the expense of some of the Lawn Club’s turf, and the remaining grass feels off-limits. While we found many people enjoying the Lawn Club aboard Celebrity Eclipse (which doesn’t have the Alcoves), on Reflection most guests stayed away, perhaps intimidated by the ropes that appear to block off access for those of us not signing up for another surcharge. It’s almost as though, after the first few Solstice ships, Celebrity execs realized the Lawn Club was so good they should figure out a way to profit from it. Booo. (You can see what the Lawn Club looks like on Celebrity Eclipse here.)
The Solstice Deck is Reflection’s highest level, located 16 floors above sea level. There are no facilities on this deck, but quite a few loungers and day beds, most of which were full on sea days. Note that the forward section of this deck overlooks the Basketball Court—it’s get noisy when a game is underway. Deck 15 is the level above the pools, and lined with lots of loungers. This is the place for exercise and fresh air, and a short jogging track circuits the ship’s mid-section—eight loops equals a mile. When Deck 15 is busy (as it often was on sea days), there were a few bodies and chairs in the track to navigate, as well as smokers in one stretch.
Deck 5 is not quite a promenade deck (the outdoor decks don’t encircle the ship—forward and aft are closed off), but the long walkway was nice for stretching the legs or sunning; sea views were mostly blocked by lifeboats. Smoking is allowed on the Port side.
Celebrity Cruises positions its line as upscale and contemporary, and Reflection succeeds on these fronts in many ways. The ship boasts lots of assets that are included in the cruise fare but, more than most cruise ships, many areas and features of Reflection involve surcharges. While most of these add-ons are optional, cruisers should know up front that there will be lots of opportunities to spend onboard, and not all are worth it. Considering how the top decks have been reconfigured, we’d have a preference for booking a future cruise on one of the three earliest members of the Solstice Class (Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Eclipse). However, Reflection is otherwise a fine addition to the Celebrity fleet.
A daily newsletter, Celebrity Today, was delivered to our cabin each evening. There was a lot of content, and some of the activities scheduled were easy to overlook amid all the small, dense type.
The captain’s daily greeting included good geographical and geopolitical information about the areas we were cruising through. Most announcements were provided in multiple languages that could be heard (though not loudly) inside cabins; in addition to English there were translations in Greek, French, Spanish. It wasn’t excessive or obnoxious, but the crew certainly made sure the bases were covered!
We did not stay in the rest of these cabins, but we have summaries here provided by Celebrity Cruises. Note that photos below have been provided by the cruise line and not our reviewer.
Staterooms with ample living space, including a sitting area and a flat screen TV.
Ocean View Stateroom
Window staterooms with a sitting area where you can kick back and relax after a day that has been as busy or easy as you want.
When you stay in a Sky Suite, you'll enjoy the luxury of European-style butler service. This includes assistance with unpacking and packing. In-suite lunch and dinner service. Afternoon tea. Evening hors d'oeuvres and complimentary in-suite espresso and cappuccino from Café al Bacio.
Book a spacious Signature Suite and you'll relax in airy, high-ceiling rooms and sleep on a Premium Reverie® mattress with the ground-breaking Reverie® Dream Sleep System™. An iPad® with Reverie Remote app acts as a remote control allowing you to easily operate the lights and TV in the stateroom, massage features, and elevation of the mattress. You'll also enjoy the luxury of European-style butler service 24/7 for assistance with unpacking, in-suite lunch and dinner, afternoon tea, evening hors d'oeuvres plus complimentary espresso and cappuccino. Veranda has luxe lounge seating and the bath offers a shower/tub combination. Located in a private area accessible only to Signature Suite and Reflection Suite guests carrying special cardkeys. Accommodates four.
When you stay in a Celebrity Suite, you'll enjoy the luxury of European-style butler service. This includes assistance with unpacking and packing. In-suite lunch and dinner service. Afternoon tea. Evening hors d'oeuvres and complimentary in-suite espresso and cappuccino from Café al Bacio.
When you stay in a Royal Suite, you'll enjoy the luxury of European-style butler service. This includes assistance with unpacking and packing. In-suite lunch and dinner service. Afternoon tea. Evening hors d'oeuvres and complimentary in-suite espresso and cappuccino from Café al Bacio. Separate living room and dining area and a veranda with whirlpool and luxurious lounge seating.
When you stay in one of our Penthouse Suites, you'll enjoy the luxury of European-style butler service. This includes assistance with unpacking and packing. In-suite lunch and dinner service. Afternoon tea. Evening hors d'oeuvres and complimentary in-suite espresso and cappuccino from Café al Bacio. We're sure you will be more than happy with the grandeur and scale of the space, along with all the amenities, like the butler's pantry and two interactive audio/visual entertainment systems.
The Reflection Suite-our fleet's first two-bedroom suite with sea-view bathroom-is nestled in the highly-desirable corner location near the new Signature Suites. This private section is accessible only to guests carrying a special cardkey. Here you'll sleep on a Premium Reverie® mattress with the ground-breaking Reverie® Dream Sleep System™. An iPad® with the Reverie Remote app acts as a remote control allowing you to easily operate the lights and TV in the stateroom, massage features, and elevation of the mattress. Experience the luxury of European-style butler service 24/7 for assistance with unpacking, in-suite lunch and dinner, afternoon tea, evening hors d'oeuvres plus complimentary espresso and cappuccino. Sea-view bathroom extends out over the edge of the ship, veranda tubs offer a soothing rain shower, expansive veranda has lounge seating. Accommodates six.
By virtue of flashy gadgetry, Cellar Masters is Reflection’s 24-hour wine bar. Several dozen wines are available by the glass, using Enomatic Wine Preservation machines, allowing the venue to remain untended in the wee hours. The devices dispense wines directly from the sealed bottle, and inert gas preservation minimizes the oxygen that would otherwise change the wine’s character (the machines also regulate temperature). This allows moderately high-end wines to be dispensed days after opening without substantial alteration. While some aficionados complain that the Enomatic devices suck some of the romance out of pouring wine, they do remove a good bit of the stigma of serving day-old wine.
The machines dispense pours in 1-oz, 2.5-oz or 5-oz portions (the latter being a typical restaurant pour—one-fifth of a bottle); much of the ship’s wine selection is available. When Cellar Masters is staffed—noon to midnight on sea days—a few additional wines are available, including flights of four pre-selected 2-oz tastings, themed around France, South America, Down Under, etc. There was a small selection of champagnes and ports also available. To use the machines, one must purchase a prepaid card (in any amount, which is billed to your room), available when the bar is staffed.
Some of the ship’s wine tasting events were conducted here, using Riedel stemware.
Shows and Entertainment
The big showroom on Celebrity Reflection was named—drumroll, please—Reflection Theatre. Although the venue itself was lovely, with great sightlines and comfy seats, we found the selection of entertainment on our cruise a bit lacking. This included a magician, comedian, a violinist, and a big production show called—wait for it… Reflection the Show! The latter was a Cirque du Soleil-style show that opened with a Madonna/Lady Gaga mash-up.
There was small alternate venue called Celebrity Central, located on Deck 4 and with seating in a broad, shallow arc. This was kind of a catch-all spot, accommodating shore excursion and shopping presentations, Bingo, televised sports and game shows. It was also the ship’s movie theatre (a different movie daily) but the presentation was poor, and quite a few seats on each side were not suitable for viewing the movie due to the sharp angle. One thing we did like here was a two-part Hitchcock presentation with a guest lecturer.
The largest of Reflection’s specialty venues, Tuscan Grill occupies a great setting—Deck 5, aft—offering wonderful sea views from almost every seat. The menu is Italian, though we found some of the dishes heavy-handed and lacking in subtlety. It’s a beautiful room to enjoy a meal, with spacious seating arrangements, and the wait staff was on their game throughout. But the restaurant carries a surcharge of $35 per diner, and although we enjoyed our evening, we didn’t quite find the quality justified the price tag.
After perusing the menu our waiter brought an antipasto plate overflowing with goodies—grilled vegetables, fat balls of mozzarella, freshly sliced prosciutto and hunks of parmesan, accompanied by a selection of breads. For starters we liked the tonno crudo—raw ahi tuna—and an arugula salad with pine nuts, drizzled in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, with wheels of fried parmesan nuzzled against. We tried three pastas, of which the best was the wild mushroom ravioli. The beef and veal lasagna was served in a skillet, and oozed decadently with cheese and tomato, while the golden saffron risotto seemed excessive with cream and cheese. We really liked the red snapper, which was simply grilled and lightly seasoned, especially compared to all that had come before.
Following such a rich meal, desserts seemed like they’d just be gilding the lily, but our waiter convinced us the dessert sampler was worth a try. It was, but we were positively stuffed from our meal.
Tuscan Grille is open for dinner only nightly, and on one sea day it was open for lunch.
Dress on Celebrity Reflection was fairly casual by day, but suits and cocktail dresses came out on formal nights, usually two nights of a seven-night cruise.
For Celebrity, formal is a cocktail dress, gown or pant suite for ladies and a tux, suit or dinner jacket with slacks for gentlemen (full or partial tuxes can be rented from guest relations). On other nights, after 6:00 p.m. “smart casual” is the minimum: Skirt or pants for ladies with sweater or blouse, pants with sports shirt or sweater for the gents. T-shorts, swimsuits, robes, bare feet, tank tops, sports caps and pool wear were not allowed into the dining room or specialty restaurants at any time.
Located on Deck 5, the Ensemble Lounge operates as a hub for four of the ship’s restaurants. It’s a good spot for mellow live music—we enjoyed solo piano early in the evening and a jazz trio playing later. Opening at 5 p.m. each evening, the lights are turned down very low and the seating is cushy. In addition to the ship’s standard cocktail list there were several champagnes available by the bottle or glass.
The non-smoking Fortunes Casino on Deck 4 had slot machines covering the gamut of traditional games (Double and Triple Diamond, etc.) to modern games like Wheel of Fortune. Multi-denomination machines allow the guest to program the denomination being played. Video poker was also available, including slant-top multi-poker games. Table games include roulette, craps, blackjack and various types of poker. Gambling was allowed for guests 18 and older.
Lawn Club Grill
We so wanted to love the Lawn Club Grill, an al fresco steakhouse and pizzeria sitting next to the top deck’s terrace of live grass. We arrived just before sundown and found the setting to be unique and memorable—open-air but wrapped by glass on the top and sides. You can’t really see much of the scenery off the sides (especially if other guests are along the rails), but you can certainly take in the fresh air and sunset colors. Upon entering, we strolled past a fridge loaded with chops—we liked that these were available for inspection here rather than being wheeled out on a trolley.
Dinner starts with a trip to the salad bar. The spread was decent, though we didn’t see much here that wasn’t also available at Oceanview Café (without a surcharge). Our waiter gave us the option of creating our own flatbread, using items at the salad bar, but we opted to order one off the menu—a half-and-half creation of sausage and peppers on one side, Margherita on the other. Doughy and moist, the pie was a satisfying alternative to stuffing ourselves with bread. We were also invited to grill our own steaks, but weren’t feeling it, so the waiter happily sent our orders to the chef. Our New York strip was fine, grilled right to order (medium rare) with a good amount of marbling; we also tried the filet mignon, which was a petit cut, but with lots of juicy flavor. Our desserts were a bit of a let-down: Blueberry cobbler and a chocolate chip cookie, each served warm with ice cream.
Would we dine here again? The setting is almost worth the $40 cover by itself, but we felt the food wasn't anything special. However, steak-lovers may be satisfied with the cuts, and for a unique evening at sea it’s worth a try. And yes, it’s an open-air venue: Although there were heaters to help warm the space, it can get breezy on this deck, especially when sailing (consider dining on an evening with a late sail-away from port). Note also that the Grill was open on one day (only) for lunch, with a reduced surcharge of $25.
Martini Bar and Crush
Betcha can’t guess what was served here! True to its name, the Martini Bar exuded icy cool through its décor (white, gray, purple and sea green) creating a very popular spot overlooking the central atrium—it was packed just prior to the 6 and 8:30 p.m. seatings in the main dining room, nearby. As a conversation piece, the main bar was topped by a sheet of frozen metal—soon after opening it would be engulfed in graffiti, as guests scrawled their names in the frost. A small selection of caviar plates is available, ranging from Russian Coral ($18) to Golden Golani Osetra ($120), each served with blinis. Combos including a glass or champagne or shot of vodka were available.
In addition to the ship’s standard cocktail list, we found a long list of martinis—free-style as well as the classics. For those who just can’t choose, a flight of six was available, ranging from traditional to apple to a raspberry-lemonade martini. They’re a good value at $15 for the six 3-oz portions, and the presentation is showstopper.
Next door is a freestanding, 10-seat bar called Crush, where more than 30 bottles of vodka and gin are shrouded in ice, serviced by waiters from the Martini Bar. The vodkas are organized by new world and old, and a few of the bottles hail from exotic ports like Iceland and Kazakhstan. Themed vodka flights were also available here.
There were no self-service laundry or ironing facilities available on the ship, but dry cleaning was offered at the usual inflated prices, with next-day turnaround; same-day service incurred a 50 percent surcharge.
The Porch is a terrific addition to the Solstice Class vessels, a top-deck, open-air café serving breakfast and lunch and a dose of sunshine and sea breezes. The ambience is meant to embrace Hamptons-like luxury, and the cover—just $5—was worth it for the peaceful setting and comfy wicker chairs alone.
The food is a slight upgrade of what can be found at the Oceanview Café—the fruit selection is augmented with mango, kiwi and berries, the pastry selection is supplemented with cheese or cherry Danish and exotic little cupcakes. The main course is grilled panini sandwiches. At breakfast these come stuffed with scrambled eggs along with things like pesto, tomatoes, bacon, cheese and sausage; at lunch, the sandwich selection includes grilled chicken pesto, pulled pork, grilled vegetable, Rueben, etc. Other items available include freshly prepared waffles, a soup of the day and salads.
Perched on the tail of Deck 15, this bar has been redesigned since the earlier Solstice Class ships, and we like the new look. Wicker chairs, long couches and pillows, and Indian jali-style screens create an inviting location for sundowners, revealing a CinemaScope panorama that sprawls more than 180 degrees. If the weather cooperates, this is probably the best place on the ship to enjoy sunset. Signature cocktail of the Sunset Bar is the Eureka—Bombay Sapphire gin, Triple Sec, White Cranberry juice, fresh basil and cubes of cucumber, but lemonade spiked with Absolute Citron and Cointreau was also appealing.
Note that the port side of the venue is one of the ship’s designated smoking areas, as well as the only place cigar smoking was allowed—this side got a fair amount of use on our cruise.
General Health & Saftey
A muster drill was held just prior to embarkation the first day. Cabin keys were scanned as we arrived for the safety briefing, which was presented on a video screen at excessive volume (our station was in one of the restaurants). We were not required to bring life jackets from our cabin to the drill.
A soaring, 11-story atrium serves as the hub of the ship. The guest services and shore excursion desks are found on Deck 3at the base of the atrium, called the Grand Foyer, along with the lonely Passport Bar. The area was very quiet by day, but late afternoon and evening we found various events perked things up. These included tango, waltz and salsa lessons, ballroom dance sessions, and various musical acts, including an a cappella quartet, an acoustic duo, and a crack party band. The central staircase was the backdrop for many photos. The tree that sprouts from a sphere midway up the atrium is a real ficus, and it’s situated within one of Reflection’s art installations, this one fittingly called “Reflections” by artist Bert Rodriguez. From below the root ball, another tree—made of cast aluminum and lights—grows downward, creating a chandelier of sorts.
On Deck 10 was the ship’s impressive, two-story library. It’s a nice spot—especially when sunlight floods the space—but it was subject to any noise in the atrium, so it was not always quiet. Celebrity Reflection had decent lending library, with no borrowing formalities observed. On Deck 7, also overlooking the atrium, was the Hideaway, which was an aptly named lounge, available to all. There was informal coffee and tea service here, and we rarely spotted more than a couple people using it, making it a good place to duck the crowd.
On Deck 15, around the corner from the Porch and the Lawn Club Grill, was the Art Studio. Two crewmembers oversaw classes in various media—three or four one-hour classes on sea days, one on the port days. Although the first couple classes were complimentary (memory wire bracelets, watercolor postcards), subsequent classes were $20 and included such topics as resin rings, semi-precious stone bracelets, abstract acrylic painting, etc. We didn’t sign up for any of these, so we can’t give you much of an assessment, though we didn’t see many others signed up, either.
The Conference Center on Celebrity Reflection is tucked away on Deck 4. The space can be divided into separate rooms, but meeting planners might note that this is a relatively high-traffic area in the evenings.
A dark and romantic venue specializing in distinguished French cuisine, Murano provided the top meal of our cruise, with deferential service and a soothing atmosphere. The intimate room is bathed in flattering rose and apricot tones and broken into several sections, including a private room with a single larger table seating eight or ten, flanked by wine cabinets. There are a handful of two-tops—we recommend reserving early to secure the table size you want. The add-on for dining here is $45 per person, and a five-course food and wine pairing option is also available (you can read about our wine pairing dinner at Murano aboard Celebrity Eclipse here). It’s worth it for a special night of the cruise.
Our meal started with a delicious salad of arugula and frisée, laced with ribbons of pork and croutons, and crowned by a poached egg. A wild forest mushroom cappuccino was a rich and satisfying marriage of flavors, swaddled in foam. The heirloom tomato salad showed that the ship’s chef knew what a tomato should taste like (evidence at other venues to the contrary), and we loved the slab of pork belly sitting on a parsnip purée with a thin slice of caramelized apple.
For main course we dived into the herb-crusted rack of lamb—the meat was perfectly baked, with lots of pink flesh, and accompanied by lightly steamed baby vegetables. Other entrées on the menu included dover sole à la Véronique, lobster flambéed in cognac, and a five spice crusted venison loin. A cheese trolley was wheeled to the table with a selection of nine fine cheeses, accompanied by crackers, candied fruits and honey. It was a satisfying conclusion to an excellent meal.
The wine list feature both old and new world wines, with an emphasis on French wineries. Bottles start at about $35 (Benziger Carneros or Alfredo Prunotto Barbera D’Alba), and a selection of half-bottles is also available. Murano is open nightly for dinner, and on our last sea day a champagne high tea was available from 2:30 to 4 p.m., for $25.
A medical center was located on Deck 2 and was open daily from 8 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. A doctor and nurse were also on-call for emergencies at all hours.
Beer lovers will find Michael’s Club to be an oasis at sea, offering one of the best beer lists in the cruise industry. While we would prefer the atmosphere of a grubby old English pub, these are decent digs to enjoy the suds, a venue that remains surprisingly uncrowded. This was also the ship’s de facto sports bar, with several major games televised live during our cruise.
The menu at Michael’s covered more than 60 beers—lagers, ales, porters and stouts, Belgians, wheat beers, ciders, Lambics and fruit beers, listed by type and alcohol content. While a majority of the list were bottles we can find easily at home (including a few surprisingly conventional pours), there were some interesting regional selections, such as Highland Black Mocha Stout, Sierra Nevada Kellerweis, Abita Save Our Shore and three different options from Chemay. In addition to beer and the regular bar menu we found artisanal spirits, such as Royal Salute 21-year-old scotch, Suntory “Yamakazi” 18-year-old whiskey, Patrón Reposado tequila, Knob Creek bourbon, Appleton Estate 21-year-old rum.
At the Molecular Bar we found creative, one-of-a-kind cocktails designed by mixologist Junior Merino. In short, we loved it. The location is far from ideal—there’s lots of foot traffic here on Deck 5, meaning the bar doesn’t have quite the swank, seductive neighborhood-y atmosphere that we would prefer. But there always seemed to be a seat for us, and we enjoyed watching the bartender at work, compiling one unexpected ingredient after another to concoct the various frothy, bubbling, swarthy, steaming elixirs.
Ingredients are tantalizingly displayed on the counter in a conga line of color and texture. Fresh fruits, produce and high-end spirits are combined with a dash of molecular gastronomy to create the exotic offerings, all of which are priced $12. Play it safe with something like the Ginger Mojito—marrying ginger liqueur and passion-ginger foam with traditional Mojito ingredients—or roll the dice with the prickly Avocado Mezcal. For that one you’ll be sipping Scorpion Blanco mescal, Cointreau, Midori, agave nectar, lime, avocado, cactus and lemongrass salt.
Celebrity Reflection had a fairly restrictive smoking policy in effect on our cruise. No smoking was allowed in any interior areas, including all cabins and their balconies. Smoking was not allowed in the casino. We did not observe violations of the policy during our cruise.
Smoking was permitted only in a few specific open-air sections of the ship: on Deck 5, port side; on Deck 14 by the pool, aft and port side; and on Deck 15 aft, on the port side at the Sunset Bar. Cigars were permitted only at the Sunset Bar, and stogie aficionados congregated here.
Bistro on Five
This is a quiet spot for panini, soup, salad and crepes—sweet or savory. With a modest up charge of just $5 to dine here, it’s worth it if you’re looking for a change of pace, and it’s open till 2 a.m. nightly. We didn’t dine here during our cruise aboard Reflection but you can read about our experience at this venue on Celebrity Infinity here.
Located next to the indoor Solarium Pool, the AquaSpa Café is an alternative buffet option for quick “spa” meals—that is, food that is lighter and healthier, though most of it is served cold. Although only a small percentage of Reflection’s guests seemed to use this spot, there are only just a handful of tables, and we found them full for periods during breakfast and, especially, lunch. Fortunately, few tend to linger long, so finding an open seat wasn’t too difficult the times we were here.
At breakfast the selection included individual plates of fruits, cereals including muesli and low-fat granola, yogurt and berries served parfait-style, and a nice selection of rolls, such as organic tomato and basil or organic carrot and sultanas, served with mango-lime or apricot-nectarine jam. At lunch there were organic poached fruits—red apple in verbena tea and oranges, pear with vanilla and star anise, etc. A modest salad bar offered lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, bell pepper, olives and cold meats— ham, shrimp and tuna. Prepared cold plates included small portions of lemon-garlic chicken breast, a Greek chopped salad, and a poached seafood salad. There was a soup of the day, and a couple hot a la carte offerings could also be ordered: broiled, steamed or poached salmon or tuna and grilled or seared pork loin or chicken breast served with steamed or grilled veggies.
The crew on Celebrity Reflection was solid, and services were handled efficiently. Waiters were engaging and well-trained, wine stewards savvy with the wine list, and bartenders quietly efficient. One pool waiter was a little over-enthusiastic about selling buckets of beer, and there was a big push to attend wine seminars and other surcharge events—at a number of points we felt like the crew had upsell targets to meet, and the number of pitches got old.
Before re-boarding the ship at ports of call, ice water was offered next to security—it was a good way of handling the line when a large number of passengers decide to board at once.
Opening each morning at 10 a.m., this was Reflection’s all-day, all-purpose bar, located opposite the guest relations desk in the Grand Foyer. It was rarely busy, except when live music was staged in the Grand Foyer, next to the elevators. It's handy for when you want a bar near the lobby entertainment, but otherwise fairly routine.
Adjacent to the Mast Grill, there was a full selection of drinks at this dedicated bar on the starboard side. This was also one of the ship’s designated smoking areas.
For information on Celebrity Cruises’ tipping policy, see here.
For information on Celebrity Cruises’ alcohol policy, see here.
For information on Celebrity Cruises’ loyalty program, see here.
This Mediterranean themed restaurant is open only to guests staying in AquaClass accommodations, an alternative to Opus Restaurant for the select few (suite guests are also welcome when tables are available). As we were booked in a standard cabin, we didn’t dine here during our cruise, but the menu looked appealing. Celebrity describes the food as “clean cuisine, lighter updates to your favorite dishes.” The wine list placed an emphasis on organic, biodynamic and sustainably produced wines.
Open daily from 11:30 a.m. till 6 p.m., this open-air grill on Deck 15 overlooks the main pools. The menu was short: hamburgers, turkey burgers, vegetarian burgers and hot dogs. Nothing was cooked to order, but a steady line during peak lunch period kept the burgers relatively fresh and juicy; French fries were not so great, but a fresh supply was provided on request. Beer and soda was available here, and a full selection of drinks was available next door at the Mast Bar.
Located inside the Fortunes Casino, this spot had the ship’s standard bar menu available, whenever the casino was open.
Two room service menus were available: One for breakfast (available for delivery between 6:30 and 10:30 a.m.) and another available from 11 a.m. to 5 a.m. Orders could be made using an interactive feature on the TV monitor, but one look at it and we realized we could order by phone faster than it would take to learn this feature. We could also order from the pre-printed breakfast menus that could be hung on our door the night before.
So we called our order in and were told to allow 30 to 40 minutes for delivery; our stateroom attendant arrived with the order 38 minutes later. The breakfast tray was heaped with big plates, far bigger than necessary, and each was covered with a metal top; croissants were in a basket, wrapped in a cloth napkin. Packets of jam and half and half were on a separate plate, there was a container of sugar and substitutes, and salt and pepper shakers. A piece of linen covered the plastic tray.
We specified eggs over easy and they were arrived closer to over medium. But they and a side of bacon were hot. An order of French toast was delivered on a separate big plate, with syrup but no butter. An order of oatmeal was topped with milk, but there was no brown sugar, as we had requested—the oatmeal had been sitting a bit and, though still relatively hot, it was sticky and not so appetizing. An order of sliced melon was delivered on yet another plate, for which there was no room on the table. Our coffee was hot, and the grapefruit juice was real juice. A container of fruit yogurt had been set against the oatmeal during delivery—it arrived warm.
Other menu options at breakfast included eight cold cereals ranging from Fruit Loops to All Bran; omelets (available with ham, smoked salmon, cheese, spinach, veggies, and egg whites were an option); sides of sausage, grilled ham and hash brown potatoes were available, as were buttermilk pancakes. Croissant, pain au chocolate, Danish, muffins and toast (white, wheat, bagel, English muffin) were on the menu, along with various preserves and syrup, plus a selection of fresh fruit, yogurt, juices, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and milk. The regular menu encompassed a modest selection of hot and cold items for lunch or dinner. These included a plate of crostini, crispy vegetable burek with cucumber-yogurt sauce, honey-sesame chicken wings, an "Asian teaser" (spring rolls, satay, wontons), soups and salads. Main courses included turkey club or grilled ham and cheese sandwich, burger and hot dogs, spaghetti Bolognaise, fettuccini Alfredo, pizza (Margarita, pepperoni, veggie). There was also grilled salmon or seared chicken breast with tomato pesto; these were served with mashed potato, rice, creamed spinach and/or grilled vegetables.
Our room had a small fridge stocked with various drinks. Hard liquors included 50-ml “nip” bottles of Tanqueray gin, Skyy vodka, Jack Daniel’s bourbon, Barcardi rum, Dewar’s scotch, Remy Martin VSOP, a quarter-bottle of Chandon brut classic sparkling, splits of La Crema chardonnay and Kendall Jackson cabernet sauvignon, and Coors Light and Heineken in cans. There was one can each of Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, ginger ale, club soda and tonic water, plus Evian and Perrier water. A 15-percent service charge was applied to all minibar purchases. A small selection of additional beer and wine was available by the glass through room service.
This was the main bar for the busy pool area. Wait staff circulated among the loungers and seemed to be motivated sellers. The full bar menu was available, but the focus was on beer and margaritas. Live and DJ music was played on the stage opposite the pools in the afternoons, with multiple acts performing on sea days.
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