Richard H. Wagner
This was a ten day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to the Eastern Caribbean. Celebrity Reflection called at Barbados, Antigua, St. Kitts, Martinique and St. Lucia. This was not the ship's original itinerary but rather one that was put together because some of the original ports were closed due to damage from the 2017 hurricanes.
Celebrity Reflection is a beautiful ship. The style of the interior is contemporary. There is nothing glitzy about the public areas. It is all done in good taste and with attention to detail.
There have been a number of changes to Celebrity Reflection since I last sailed on her shortly after she entered service. As discussed later, there is a new dining room called Luminae and Bistro on Five has been replaced by Sushi on Five. The Molecular Bar is now the World Class Bar and Michael's Club is now essentially a concierge lounge. The Future Cruise Office has moved down near Celebrity Central. Lastly, the clear roof over the Porch (which used to bake that restaurant's patrons on sunny days) has sensibly been replaced by an opaque covering.
Still, the overall atmosphere aboard Celebrity Reflection remains that of the Celebrity Solstice class ships. It is a premium cruise experience, upmarket and sophisticated yet not formal or stuffy.
Celebrity has long had a reputation for good food and on this voyage several experienced cruisers remarked to me that the food on Celebrity Reflection is better than what you typically find on other cruise lines. I did not disagree.
Reflection now has three main dining rooms. Which dining room you dine in is determined by your cabin category. This is reminiscent of the system used on the Cunard Queens.
The counterpart of the Queens Grill on Reflection is Luminae. This venue was carved out of the Opus Dining Room but unless you sailed on Reflection before this restaurant was added, you would not know it ever had any connection to the other restaurant. It is self-contained and while both rooms have an elegant décor, they are completely different. In any event, this venue is for the guests staying in Reflection's top suites. It features ala minute cooking from its own unique menus.
Blu is the dining room for guests staying in the Aquaspa suites and cabins. It offers healthy alternatives. However, do not assume that this means Spartan dining. The food is prepared using sauces and techniques that yield healthier results without sacrificing flavor. The avant garde décor gives the room a cosmopolitan air.
Most guests are assigned to the Opus Dining Room. Even though part of it was given over to Luminae, it is still a spectacular room. Furthermore, the food is quite good.
Reflection has a good line-up of alternative dining venues including casual venues as well as specialty restaurants. In the past, I have held that the luxurious fine-dining venue Murano was the best of the specialty restaurants. However, my dinner at the Tuscan Grille on this voyage has made me reconsider.
The combination of steaks and Italian cuisine is very attractive. Moreover, each item was prepared just as I wanted.
I do miss Bistro on Five. It offered a variety of different crepes in a casual setting for a reasonable price. No other cruise line had anything like it and I made it a point to have a meal there whenever I was on a Celebrity ship. Just about every cruise line has a sushi restaurant or sushi offerings in their buffet restaurant. I did not see anything special about Sushi on Five to motivate me to pay an additional fee for a meal.
For breakfast, I would drop down to Cafe al Baccio and chose from its selection of muffins. They are the best that I found on the ship. Most people coming to this venue are seeking specialty coffee or tea but you do not have to purchase a beverage in order to get the complimentary muffins, pastries or cookies.
When the Solstice class ships entered service, the production shows in the theater were cutting-edge, featuring advanced lighting, music, aerialists and unusual action on stage. To a certain extent, the shows on Reflection still follow this model. However, the rest of the cruise industry has adopted aspects of these shows and so they no longer seem as novel. At the same time, Celebrity has added more main stream singing and dancing revues to its line up.
In addition to the production shows in the theater, Reflection had a number of visiting entertainers who came aboard for a few nights. Of these the most memorable was the Beatles tribute band “A Hard Days Night” who took the audience through the three stages in the Beatles career.
People who travel on Celebrity tend to appreciate sea days. Accordingly, Celebrity has become adept at entertaining its guests with daytime activities and enrichment programming. On this voyage, there were four sea days. In addition to the usual cruise ship activities, Reflection had two lecturers who spoke on subjects such as the space program and exploring remote locations on the globe. In addition, the captain gave a lecture on ship navigation. There were also large screen movies in Celebrity Central or the ship's theater most days.
Overall, the service on this voyage was professional. The crew seemed to take pride in what they were doing and were interested in addressing guest concerns and problems. In line with the European model, the crew were friendly but unobtrusive. No one acted like you were their long lost best friend.
This ship was not designed as a high speed ocean liner. Her top speed is a respectable but not especially fast 24 knots. However, in order to do this itinerary, the ship often had to sail close to her top speed. While doing so Celebrity Reflection acquitted herself well providing a comfortable ride with no noticeable vibration.
We did not encounter any storms and so the ship was not challenged by bad seas. She rode well with no motion.
Considering that Celebrity had to cobble this itinerary together because of port closures resulting from the 2017 hurricanes, it was quite a good itinerary. All of the ports the ship went to are first-class ports. There were no make-do substitute ports and no added sea days.
None of the ports showed any visible signs of damage from the 2017 hurricanes. There were more ships than usual in some of the ports (e.g., Martinique had four ships) but other ports had fewer than usual (e.g. Antigua only had two ships). All of the ports absorbed their visitors without overcrowding.
Most passengers were from the United States but there were also passengers from the United Kingdom and Canada. The majority were in their 50s or 60s. There were very few children.
Cruise ship review - Celebrity Cruises - Celebrity Reflection - 2017