When planning our dream cruise, we really only had 3 stipulations:
1) The cruise had to include ports in Istanbul, Turkey & Santorini, Greece...2) We had to cruise in May (for travel planning/work leave reasons)...and 3) We absolutely would not cruise on Costa or Carnival cruise lines...for reasons I'm sure you'd all understand. Little did we know that just those three seemingly small requests would narrow down our cruise line choices considerably. I'm talking there was only one cruise line left that fit the bill. So, we booked with...I feel like I need a drumroll for this...CELEBRITY CRUISES! And it turned out to be the greatest decision we could have ever made about this trip.
Granted, we forked out a little more dough than we'd originally budgeted for this vacation, but hey, you can't take it with you when you're dead, right? So, go big or go home! And GO BIG we did. We sailed on the brand spanking new 126,000 ton, 3,046 occupant, immaculate and impeccably decorated Celebrity Reflection. The ship is newly completed, having an inaugural date of October 2012, and while we were aboard, it completed its first Mediterranean sailing! D and I had no idea the ship was going to be THIS new and that we'd be on the flagship Mediterranean sailing. Total bonus for Team Coté! Even though it was our first time cruising and we really had nothing to compare it to, from the reviews we read and the conversations we had with avid cruisers on board, we were sailing on the crème de la crème of cruise ships. Any ship we sailed on in the future was going to pale in comparison to the Reflection...and I'd have to say they're right. This ship was top notch in every. single. way. Let's go on a little tour of the Reflection, shall we? This post's a long one. Consider yourself warned!
*All photos below were taken by me, unless otherwise noted.*
This ship was MASSIVE. The only way to get a full photo of it and all its gloriousness was from the cliffs of Santorini or walking back to the port from the beaches of Mykonos. I'm sure there were other photo opportunities, too, but those are the times I remember standing in front of the ship and thinking...holy freakin' WOW. As we were pulling away from the dock in the port of Kusadasi, joined by a few other cruise ships from various other cruise lines, fellow cruisers from those ships were all on their balconies snapping photos of the Reflection as we sailed away. This ship was simply a sight to behold.
|Our first few seconds in front of the Celebrity Reflection...our home at sea for 12 glorious days! D was obviously happy to be there. :)|
Now, onto more from inside the ship! We were able to check-in and climb on board around 11am the first day of our cruise. The entire ship (aside from the staterooms...which didn't open up until 1pm) was open for cruisers to roam around, explore, and to get their bearings. Each of the 11 restaurants/cafes, the spa, the gym, the pools, the bars...all open for the viewing. With my camera in hand, D and I took advantage. I don't think there was a section of that ship we didn't discover! Here's a photo breakdown of the Reflection by deck:
Solstice Deck (Deck 16)- highest point of the ship that housed tons of lounge chairs and great views.
Deck 15- home to a running track, the Sunset Bar (one of our favorite bars), the Lawn Club Grill & Alcoves, the Mast Grill (best hamburgers on the ship!) & bar, The Porch (a salad/panini restaurant), The Art Club, Kids Club, and stunning views!!
Pool on the Lido Deck (Deck 14)- also home to the Sky Observation Lounge & Night Club, Aqua Spa Café, Solarium, & the Oceanview Café.
The Solarium-the sun warmed this room and it stayed a cozy 80 degrees all the time. D and I would come here when it was too chilly to sit outside and would subsequently fall asleep in one of the comfy red loungers. I equate this room to feeling like a womb; warm and inviting.
Oceanview Café- this is the incredible buffet where we would enjoy breakfast (when we didn't order room service), lunch (if we weren't lounging by the pool) and late night snacks (after drinking too much at the bar). Oh yeah...and 5:30pm sushi rolls. YUM. With pasta, cheese, salad, Mexican, Thai, pizza, sandwich, Chinese, and dessert stations (are you still with me?), there was something to eat for everyone on the ship! Celebrity also offered Gluten-Free, low-sodium, vegetarian, and low-fat choices. I was quite impressed! We wasted no time upon arriving on board and got ourselves two beers, delicious salads, and read all there was to know about our floating hotel for the next 12 days.
Deck 12- in the forward (front) of the ship, there was the AquaSpa & Persian Garden, the fitness center, & the hair salon. Mid-ship & aft (back) area was reserved for staterooms.
D and I only ever used the fitness center (great free weight & machine selection and the treadmills overlooking the ocean were AWESOME), although a spa day would have been wonderful!
Decks 11 through 6 were reserved mostly for staterooms. We were on Deck 8. I've got a whole post devoted to our fabulous ocean view veranda room coming soon!
The Library on Deck 11 & 10-a small lounge area where you could leisurely read and check out books.
The Celebirty iLounge was on deck 6. Here you'd find Apple iMac workstations where you could check emails, surf the web, and print off boarding passes. They also hosted classes where you could learn all about using Apple products (and buy them, as if you hadn't already spent too much money, hehe).
Deck 5- Location of the Galleria Boutiques (like a small, high-end shopping mall), Art Gallery, Café al Bacio & Gelateria (coffee & gelato shop), Ensemble Lounge (jazz bar), Michael's Club (really great beer bar), The Photo Gallery (where you could buy and print photos from the ship), Bistro on 5 (nice sit-down breakfast, lunch, & dinner restaurant), The Molecular Bar (our favorite bar!), 4 specialty restaurants, and the balcony area of the Reflection Theatre.
D and I only ate at 1 of the 4 specialty dining restaurants. Be looking out for a post about our 3 hour, 6-course dinner at Qsine, Celebrity's unique fusion restaurant that takes your senses on a culinary journey. Absolutely the best (and most filling!) meal we had while on board the Reflection. We were also regulars at the Molecular Bar, a bar serving eclectic handcrafted cocktails designed to awaken your tastebuds. The Mixologists there were phenomenal. Might I recommend the Coming up Roses or Scorpion Kiss cocktails? SO. GOOD.
Deck 4- on this deck you can find the Reflection Theatre (where all the big nightly shows would take place--which were all FANTASTIC), Fortunes Casino (where you loose all your money, thankfully we stayed clear of here), Crush Martini Bar, Shops on the Boulevard (more of the mini high-end shopping mall), Celebrity Central (small theatre for comedy & game shows), Cellar Masters (wine bar), & the Opus Main Dining Room (where we ate dinner almost every night).
Crush Martini Bar-really potent (and delicious) martinis. Complete with real ice bar!
Opus Main Dining Room- the food & service here was out of this world. Every night.
Deck 3- home to the lower level of the Reflection Theatre & the Opus Main Dining Room, Guest Relations, the Passport Bar, and the Grand Foyer. You also got a really great view of the Atrium complete with glass elevators and REAL TREE growing from the top of it.
So, there you have it...the fabulous Celebrity Reflection, in a nutshell! We couldn't have picked a more wonderful ship than this for our first cruising experience. Celebrity really knows how to do cruising right by us! If you've made it to the end of this tour, bravo! Did you feel like you were there with me? Totally what I was going for. ;) Up next, a short tour of where we laid our heads each night on the beautiful Reflection. I'm still pinching myself at our luck. You'll see. Until tomorrow, friends!