Celebrity Reflection is the fifth and largest member of Celebrity Cruises´ highly popular Solstice class and entered service in 2012. She can accommodate up to 3046 passengers in state-of-the-art cabins and suites and carries the company´s Modern Luxury cruise experience to Europe during the Summer and the Caribbean during Winter season. After her inaugural Transatlantic crossing in November 2012, this was the second time onboard during a 7 night Western Caribbean itinerary. Come along and experience the ship´s stylish interiors on this photo ship tour and find out what I liked and disliked …
Let´s start in the ship´s enormous Reflection Theatre on Deck 3. This was our Muster Station for the Safety Drill and evening for evening the stage for Celebrity Cruises´ high quality Shows and Show acts. In this matter, the company offers a superior product to competitors like Holland America Line or Princess Cruises if you enjoy Broadway style productions or extraordinary show talents.
The Grand Foyer is the heart of the ship and one of my favourite design hotspots aboard Celebrity Reflection. It´s open architecture allows interaction between the decks and their facilities and is often used for live music and events from the Celebrity Life Entertainment program. It can get a little loud from time to time though. This is the place where the public Captain´s reception takes place or daily activities like dancing classes or food-carving demonstrations are held.
Two main staircases connect Celebrity Reflection´s 13 passenger decks. The open Atrium right behind the Grand Foyer features 8 elevators and a giant tree sculpture floating in the centre.
The Passport Bar on Deck 3 is a comfortable retreat during the day and busy in the evenings. It groups right around the Grand Foyer and is a popular Meeting Point before leaving the ship when going ashore.
Guest Relations and the Shore Excursion desk are located right opposite of Passport Bar.
Opus Dining Room, Celebrity Reflection´s main dining room, expands over two decks (Decks 3 & 4) and lies in the stern of the ship. The upper floor is reserved for passengers with Select Dining reservations (automatically assigned when paying gratuities at the time of booking) while the lower deck accommodates guests with traditional dinner timing (6:30pm or 8:45pm). We naturally choose the late dinner in order to enjoy cocktails and the show in advance and without having the hassle of rush after returning to the ship on port days for the early seating. We have been seated on both levels on various cruises. While I personally like the view better from the center of the lower deck, this is where the dining room is the loudest. For a more quiet dining experience take the favour of Select Dining or ask for a table next to a window.
Luminae is the Suite Class only dedicated restaurant and has been retrospectively added to Deck 3 by reducing the space of Opus Dining Room by almost one-fourth. Suite Class was launched in 2015 and is just one aspect of improving the onboard services for premium passengers. Celebrity Cruises is particularly successful within the Suite offering on the cruise market. Unfortunately, if you are booked in a regular stateroom (interior, exterior or balcony) these days you are from time to time confronted with a rather neglecting bar service attitude by the staff if your SeaPass Card says simply Select or Elite.
Right behind the Reflection Theatre on Deck 4 lies the Entertainment Court. On Celebrity Reflection this space is used for various daytime activities like game shows, trivias or spa presentations and also features a bar that is open during evening hours. On the lower level, the previous night club Quasar has made room for the Conference Center while the upper level is partly occupied by the photo gallery and shops on the other side.
Opposite to the Conference Center on Deck 4 in the Entertainment Court lies Celebrity Central. This multipurpose facility can be used as movie theatre, studio for cooking demonstrations or showcasing Celebrity Cruises´ collaborational live show “Top Chef at Sea” (which program has been the same for over 4 years now and urgently needs a new refreshment!!!!). Celebrity Central is also used for future cruise presentations by the Future Cruise sales team.
Shops on the Boulevard connect the Entertainment Court with the Grand Foyer on one side of Deck 4 and feature parts of the extensive luxury brand shopping experience aboard Celebrity Reflection. This area can become particularly crowded whenever a sale is going on on the walkway. The shops on this level feature mostly duty-free articles such as spirits and tobacco products, Celebrity Cruises brand items (when will we finally see acceptable SeaPass card holders for males????) as well as ladie´s fashion and accessories. The small Art Gallery is located right opposite.
The other side of Deck 4 is taken by the Fortunes Casino. I don´t gamble at all but I still like the elegant design of this area. You will find an ATM machine here that is pretty rough on withdrawal fees (6 US-Dollars per transaction, no matter what amount).
Cellar Masters used to be one of my favourite locations until the original concept with the self-service pneumatic wine stations was changed into Sommelièr service some time ago. On Celebrity Reflection there are still a few of these machines in service (as of November 2016). The sitting area is still a great spot to retreat to on sea days (if you can find a free space).
The other side of the Grand Foyer on Deck 4 holds the Martini Bar and the adjacent Crush. Even though the style and decoration are still more than pleasant and the martinis of great quality, Martini Bar is my absolute least favourite bar onboard Celebrity Cruises (on any ship). It is simply about the crowd that hangs out at this location. We call it “High stacker” bar. In over five years, we have not been able to carry one decent or sophisticated conversation at this place. All that people talk about at Martini Bar is status, how many cruises they have done and that the Premium Beverage package is the best thing you can do on a Celebrity cruise. Well, if you have it, you don´t talk about it. But this might be our way of thinking…
I never really understood the intention of Crush. It is supposed to be a vodka tasting zone with the possibility to order caviar (both at extra charge, of course). But since it is still there, I suppose that the concept must be successful. I can think of so many more adequate places to indulge in a treat like real caviar, but hey, who am I to judge about personal style :).
Like mentioned before, Deck 5 features the other half of shopping locations, the Galleria Boutiques. Here you will find luxury brands such as Michael Kors or Breitling (just to name a few). In my opinion, there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to Mens fashion and accessories. A nice step was made by the introduction of Robert Graham shirts to the portfolio. But at retail prices? Come on … .
The good old Molecular Bar has been renamed World Class Bar and is my favourite indoor bar these days. My favourites are the Mystic Ketel One and Zacapa Above the Clouds! Try them!
As a coffee addict, Café al Bacio is (besides the gym) probably my most frequented location on Celebrity ships. The Americano is pretty decent and a lighter choice to the double shot cappuccino when you want to cut down a bit on calories. If that is the case, I should not mention that I could die for their Tres Leches and Peanutbutter cakes!!!
I love sitting right outside Café al Bacio on the deck and rocking chairs on the promenade of Deck 5. This is a great spot at any time of day to watch people and the sea go by other than from your balcony. This spot is also highly recommendable when you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the pooldeck.
Sushi on Five is the latest adjustment in the gastronomical onboard offering aboard Celebrity Reflection. This venue has just been recently added to replace the preceding Bistro on Five and serves, as the name implies, made-to-order sushi, sashimi and other Japanese inspired meals and snacks. It comes with à la carte pricing (and that ain´t cheap). Interestingly, since the introduction of this restaurant, the sushi offering in the Oceanview Café (the buffet restaurant) in the evening was halted. In my opinion just another attempt to increase profit while cutting back on the once so extraordinary free-of-charge offer in the Oceanview.
Modern art plays an important role onboard Celebrity Cruises´ vessels. Solstice class ships each feature their individual passage from the Grand Foyer towards the speciality restaurants in the stern of Deck 5. The space aboard Celebrity Reflection is a purple floral explosion and welcomes you with a bell´s chime.
Ensemble Lounge offers delightful design with comfortable seating areas. This bar is commonly used for live singers with piano backing or Jazz musicians. Unfortunately, it is also the walk-through to the restaurants in the back of the ship and make it therefore a rather unpleasant location for a relaxed and undisturbed evening. On top of that, I am missing the sunlight here. It is rather dark even during the day.
Michael´s Club used to be a beer bar with a great selection of international beers from all around the world when we first cruised with Celebrity in 2011. These days it has been transformed into a lounge for top-tier customers of the line´s Suite Class.
Even after offering the same menu day-in-day-out for many years now, Murano still remains my favourite speciality restaurant onboard the Solstice class vessels. The price-performance in terms of quality, service and presentation of the meals is by far the best of all the speciality restaurants aboard (50 US-Dollars per person as of November 2016) and absolutely well worth it. Read about my latest dining experience in Murano on Celebrity Equinox from May 2016.
In order to reach the rest of the speciality restaurant, onboard Celebrity Reflection you will have to cross the fake forest.
The contemporary design of BLU never goes out of style. This restaurant is for AQUA class passengers only and offers an open seating concept. As Reflection offers around 70 additional cabins and suites in comparison to her sister ships, BLU is slightly larger than on the other Solstice class vessels. We sailed in AQUA Class before and it was a unique experience, yet in our opinion the less expensive Concierge Class or the 1A balcony category offer a far better price-performance. Even if you purchase the admission to the spa additionally once onboard.
Celebrity´s iPad order fun restaurant Qsine has lost credibility big-time over the years. While the cover charge has been raised to 45 US-Dollars per person (outrageous!!!), the menu still remains more or less the same since it first started on Celebrity Eclipse in 2011. If you have never done it before, I recommend you give it a try since the food is still very good. But for this price you should afterwards put a “been-there-done-that” sticker to it.
The biggest loser from my point of view is the newly invented Tuscan Grille though. While the menu has been just recently enhanced, besides new dishes you will find a lot of in the past already in the cover charge included items suddenly at à la carte prices! And that along with a raise to 45 US-Dollars per person in addition! This is almost insolent in my opinion and we have no plan on visiting this restaurant again in the future. You may find more detailed information in my blog post from May 2016.
The Hideaway was introduced in 2011 with the inauguration of Celebrity Silhouette and is supposed to serve as a retreat area with lounge seating and power outlets for those passengers seeking tranquility to work or read. I have hardly used this space on any cruise. Its biggest plus is the self-service coffee machine which serves freshly brewed Lavazza coffee around the clock. A great way to get hold of your first coffee if you happen to wake up at an ungodly early hour. Apart from that, I noticed people rather sleep here than read.
While still being of contemporary design, staterooms on Celebrity Cruises all look the same. Wherever they are interior, exterior or balcony cabins. There are even just tiny fitting differences between Concierge Class and AQUA Class cabins and a standard one, these accommodations differ mainly by extra service offerings and amenities (Click here for more information about staterooms).
We sailed in stateroom 8199, a category 1A balcony cabin. This category features angled and larger balconies and is generally located closer to the staircases. 8199 was perfectly sheltered from the wind and provided us with gorgeous panoramic views. After many sailings on the Solstice class we have defined Decks 6 to 8 forward/midship to be the ideal location for a stateroom. Movement is to be felt less than on the higher floors and you are located perfectly in the middle of the decks. So all facilities are great to reach.
This is the view down from the balcony. Having extra space due to the angled design made it perfect for breakfast outside. There are six categories of cabins within the balcony category: 1A,1B,1C,2A,2B and 2C (excluding Concierge and AQUA Class). 1A being the highest of them. Unfortunately, Celebrity Cruises does not make any differences within these categories (and there is a BIG price difference!) for recognizing this in the points per night counting for the line´s loyalty program Captain´s Club. Passengers in balcony cabins generally receive 3 points per night, in Concierge or AQUA Class 5 points. In my opinion, categories 1A,B,C should receive 4 points per night. That would be more than fair!
Another public space that was almost constantly blocked by napping passengers was the Library which extends over Decks 10 and 11 with open views into the Grand Foyer. Admittedly, the offering of picture books and international literature may not suit every taste. But a few more seats or armchairs may help to provide also those with a place to sit who are actually coming to read here.
Deck 11 features most of the AQUA Class cabins and suites from which passengers have direct access via this spiral staircase to the Canyon Ranch Spa Club and the Persian Garden up on Deck 12. In addition, there is a dedicated Relaxation Lounge and most of the Treatment rooms of the spa are on this level.
The Canyon Ranch Spa Club on Deck 12 offers a wide range of wellness treatments and fitness classes at surcharges.
It consists of the state-of-the-art Fitness Center with the latest Life Fitness cardio equipment and muscle toning machines (including a large free weights area), an Aerobic studio and a dedicated room for Personal Training. It is the best gym in the fleet and you can almost do any type of workout that you may know from home (including TRX).
Its most prominent facility though is the thermal suite called Persian Garden. This sauna and wellness refuge is available free-of-charge to AQUA Class passengers and with a cover charge for everyone else. It is the largest in the fleet (doubled in size compared to the earlier Solstice class vessels) and can get quite busy on sea days and between 4:00pm and 7:00pm. Admission ranges from 269 US-Dollars for couples (as of November 2015).
While Celebrity Reflection holds double the number of heated relaxation loungers than the other Solstice class ships, it can be hard from time to time to get hold of one of these as the mysterious sleeping disease seemed not to make halt here either. I sometimes wondered wherever some guests had beds in their cabins or not.
Persian Garden also features a Finnish style infrared sauna…
… an aromatherapy sauna …
…a Turkish hammam bath …
… and the ice-room that gives you the chills.
Sky Observation Lounge on Deck 14 is the ship´s panoramic lounge and a highly popular spot during the day. Many people come here to read or simply to enjoy the views. The Lounge is half the size than on the other Solstice class ships as the other half of the deck is occupied by the ship´s extraordinary Reflection Suite and the new Signature Suites.
It is also the place where most of the Captain´s Club loyalty receptions are being held and in the evenings it transfers into the ship´s night club.
The Solarium is Reflection´s indoor pool. For my taste, it is always over air-conditioned and for most parts very crowded. It is supposed to be an adult-only area which no one really enforces.
Integrated into the Solarium lies the Aqua Spa Café, a nice place to enjoy light snacks and healthy bites. This was my favourite place and secret hint for lunch. They served off the daily menu a made-to-order tuna steak with your choice of side (I loved the steamed vegetables!). We learned on this cruise, that the most delicious tuna was replaced by a boring arctic char. Bigtime letdown!
A nice feature on the pooldeck are these cabana style hammocks if you get a hold of them. Guess what people did in them? Right, sleeping.
Celebrity Reflection is the largest Solstice class vessel. When sailing at full capacity she can accommodate 3,046 passengers. That is almost 200 more than on the rest of the fleet. And it shows. This is a pic I took while the ship was docked in Labadee, Haiti and most people were ashore. On a day at sea, you could hardly see the deck but people. It was so crowded and chaotic.
Apart from that, the Solstice class pooldeck still belongs to the most beautiful ones of large resort ships in the industry, don´t you think?
Oceanview Café, the line´s buffet venue. On Reflection it lies right behind the pooldeck and offers comfortable seating inside…
… and a terrace with outdoor seating at the stern. The open layout of the buffet stations make this restaurant easily accessible and there is bar service at the table. This is our breakfast spot if we decide not to have it on the balcony. We did notice less variety in offerings and a more simplified menu compared to what we have been used to over the years.
The gallery around the pool on Deck 15 is covered with sun loungers. Sun bathers, joggers and walkers share just a tiny space here.
Reflection´s bistro The Porch on Deck 15 was introduced with the inauguration of Celebrity Silhouette in 2011 and at that time served as a breakfast and lunch venue only. The menu was simple and offered sandwiches and salad variations with a nominal cover charge. Today, Porch has been elevated to a Raw and Seafood restaurant and is open for lunch and dinner only. With the improved menu also came a hefty surcharge of 30 US-Dollars per person.
Right around the corner, on the brink of Lawn Club, lies the Lawn Club Grill. This open air venue was also introduced with Celebrity Silhouette and focuses on the joys of outdoor grilling. If you like, you can interactively assist the Grill Master in preparing the menu for your table. The fun comes at an additional charge of 45 US-Dollars per person!
Another highly costly extra are the semi-private cabanas called The Alcoves on the forward Lawn Club. Rentals include WiFi and a picnic setup with snacks and beverages.
The Lawn Club is probably my most favourite spot on the ship and my personal getaway. I love lying on the grass and simply looking up and seeing the clouds pass by. And since this is an open deck, who said it was not ok to take your towel and sunbath here instead of fighting over loungers on the chaotic pooldeck? Apart from that, the entertainment program around the pool had reached on this cruise a rather irritating level.
By far the most beautiful outdoor bar in the fleet: The Sunset Bar at the stern of Deck 15. After 10pm a romantic hideaway, during the day a conglomeration of smokers (port side only) and tipsy people with alcoholic beverage packages.
Celebrity Reflection still convinces in terms of quality and maintenance of the product hardware. In terms of onboard services and the company´s Modern Luxury promise we have observed and experienced quite a few changes over the last couple of years. This particularly includes the drastic increases in pricing for speciality dining and the cut backs in onboard services, such as the decreased variety of offerings at the Oceanview Café, strikingly smaller portions in the main dining room, a notable lack of presentation of the in-room dining dishes or the varying service attitude of an increasing number along the staff. Just to name a few.
One of the most notable changes however is the line´s repositioning towards the average mass cruise market. This clearly reflects in the crowd and their behaviour onboard and also resembles in the standard entertainment program on offer. Once you were greeted with a Mimosa and a smile upon boarding, these days you will have to run from an armada of waiters trying to upgrade you to a premium beverage package.
I remember taking language classes while crossing the Atlantic. On this cruise I witnessed intoxicated males showing each other the middle finger after losing the egg run on the pooldeck. Think that scruffy looking couples wildly making out in the whirlpool may only be found aboard Carnival? Or people screaming their conversation from one side of the sundeck to the other?
Change is happening aboard Celebrity Cruises and it has happened for five years now. What was once an extraordinary standout in terms of service and going the extra mile has now moved side to side with the standard quality of parent company Royal Caribbean.
We´ll sail the “Modern Luxury” way again. But not as first or second choice anymore.
Room to improve for Celebrity Cruises. Project Edge better be good.