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Kenneth Eden

Age: 64

Occupation:retired

Number of Cruises: 81

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Celebrity Reflection

Sailing Date: 2013-03-3

Itinerary: Caribbea

The overall experience with this ship was one of excellence

Dining in the MDR and the additional venues was superb

Stateroom was well planned, a touch limited on closet space

There were many, many activities, planned for all ages and lifestyles

did not use shore excursions, however, they looked to be quite good

We limit our air travel these days due to extra costs, tight seating and baggage limitations. However, we have taken Amtrak to Newark for air to Europe, and for this trip we took Amtrak to Miami. We had a roomette each way with upper and lower berth and private toilet. The roomette price provided three meals daily in the dining car, not bad at all.

Taxi to the hotel we reserved in Miami was $45.00 one way. From the hotel to the Miami cruise terminal, another $45.00. Keep these $$ in mind if you plan to stay in the Miami area. Plus, tipping is extra.

My partner Richard researched hotels for us in Miami and he loved the reviews of RED South Beach. Not exactly in Southie, the hotel is in fact across the street from the beach and the Miami Beach board walk along the sea. The hotel is on Collins. This part of Collins is being Gentrified.

Red is indeed the color of choice at the hotel hence its name. Chinese red its glossy laquer graces desk, tables and chandeliers with glossy black accents and great use of mirrors. We opted for dinner here, Barok is the restaurant, and passsed on the South Beach scene. and had breakfast here as well. The bar is great, and there is a happy hour. Our suite was one of four by the pool.

When we booked this cruise we did so because it was a group cruise to benefit the American Cancer Society, we are both cancer survivors, and our group was small, 17 total, and this was not an educational cruise, we had one meeting 90 minutes total during the cruise, as well as a group dinner in the Tuscan Grille. Seventeen thousand dollars was raised, including travel agent contribution.

Ships our taxi passed at the port were Carnival Destiny, Celebrity Constellation, Carnival Liberty, NCL Epic, and Oceania Riviera. Non too small, even the Riviera looked large.

We booked concierge Level, and boarded quickly through the Concierge line. All boarding seemed to be brisk and efficient. The ship was full, 3,046 passengers.

We had the obligatory champagne when we boarded, and ran off to find our stateroom, quite easy, since we had one on the Silhouette nearly next to the one we had this time, on deck 9. At the door our head steward was there, Sabio, and soon his assistant, Geharig, from Goa and Philippines respectively.

Inside the usual bottle of sparkling white wine, from our travel agent, fresh alstromerias on the desk, apricot tea roses in the bath, two discount packs for repeaters, binoculars, robes, Frette linens, tote bag and such, stocked honor bag fridge, and extended item room service for Concierge passengers. In addition, each evening at Concierge Level, in stateroom hors d'oerves were served. During the cruise a sturdy tote was given as an additional return gift.

Prior to the stateroom visit, we had lunch in the Oceanview, the standard buffet. The selection was enormous and very well managed. Tables bussed quickly and there were staff members to help those in need of asstance with their large plates of food.

I always check on our actual table as assigned, per my adamant request. I was directed to our table, which was to be a table for two, and it was a table for four. The maitre d'hotel assured me that the table was the best, the waiter staff the best, and it was directly to the right of the captains table. I accepted it, and it became a table for three, since our group leader, a great chap, Art Barski, a noted travel writer, dined with us on occasion. And, our wait staff and sommelier were the best.

We had the ships muster, a noisy affair, passengers did not turn off their cells, laughed and talked through the entire drill. One crew member assigned to our muster station actually yelled "Shut up", which did no good, and when the video began for the drill, after the Spanish portion, the bedlam was even louder. We were told not to bring life vests, and no one did.

Next, we went to the spa, asked about masseur availability, no, no masseurs, just masseuses, so, we booked nothing. Both Celebrity and Steiner lost $$ with us, we would have had 2 massages each during a 7 day cruise, and we also replenish spa supplies. Their loss.

A cruise ship has only one hit at the perfect dinner, and for us, it is the first night dinner. The first night dinner was spot on great, they met the rule of first try perfect. The captain was not at his table, passengers were as was one of his senior officers.

The second night, a formal night, dress code has become quite relaxed, not tux, no red carpet gowns needed, the captain did join his table, as is the custom on formal night.

He saluted his raised glass to his table mates, and to us. We learned that Captain Nickolas Pagonis would leave the ship in San Juan, and his life at sea. We have sailed with him in his various positions at sea, since his Chandris days, on the SS The VICTORIA, the newly formed Celebrity Cruises SS MERIDIEN, and the brand new MV HORIZON. The captain was to head up a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Internationals European travel company, Pullman Tours .A great reward for a wonderful man indeed.

We have been to San Juan so many times, and have stayed there as well, that we do little when we call there on cruises. Basically we visit the CVS, look at the horse, he is the same white horse with his carriage we have known for quite some time, maybe walk a few streets back into the Old San Juan area,, and that is about it. A visit to El Morro and other areas is worth it. Regardless of what you may hear, this is NOT a duty free shopping port. Save it for later on during the cruise.

The entertainment on Celebrity is exceptionally good, and similar between its ships. Some of the highlights that we enjoyed were diverse.

One really good show, I know, the same old same old Broadway salute - only with a real difference.

One night the ships production ensemble had a triple "W" number, a mixture of The Wizard of Oz, The Wiz and Wicked. Highlights from the shows were sung live to the "Reflection Orchestra" and with the top rate costumes, dancing and singing, brought down the house. Another big show was a tribute to Jersey Boys, and a third featured both Phantoms. These were ambitious shows, showcasing the brilliant choreography, rich costumes and professional singers.

Cirque like performances have become a staple on Celebrity, and sprinkled in with most production shows in the Reflection Theatre were a few acrobatic numbers, plus one spectacle of Cirque brilliance, one show dedicated to high flying, twists and acrobatic performing, while a live rock band played. This was a work of genius on a sailing, ship at sea.

Yet, there were other almost "impromptu" performances, created to give a feeling as impromptu as a block party, held in the ships Grand Foyer, with the Atria towering twelve decks above. More lavish costumes, mainly lip-syncing dancers, use the double stair case as their stage, with passenger participation with the dancers, offering a close up visit with the cast. Where the Silhouette has a dedicated disco, this nightly foyer party gives a disco air, since the Reflection has no disco.

There are several dining venues which are reserved, and have additional fees. The ones we loved on the Silhouette we reserved on the Reflection.

The Tuscan Grille is the Italian one, with a contemporary Tuscan twist to the preparation of the food.

The room is large, and broken up in to smaller areas, for intimate dinings pots. The view aft to sea is breathtaking. Here as well as in all dining venues, the flatware and crockery is unique to the setting and feel of the room.

A barreled ceiling, with oversized wine barrels, tiles, sunset and earthy Italian tones greet as one enters. An authentic vibe through the decor is a true reflection on Tuscan flair. The menu, with a slight nod to the contemporary, is pure Tuscan. Highlights that we enjoyed Antipasti Platter, offering a proper charcuterie consisting of sopresseta, salami, bologna, chorizo, all sliced, garnished with grilled baby vegetables, selection of olives, is enough for two to share, and is delectable. A banquette or puglisi with olive oil and spices, is replaced as needed.

Next, came the Cioppino, similar to a French bouillabaisse, chock full of clams mussels, squid (calalamri), halibut and shrimp, in a light fume. There are daily specials, and favorites for El Primi. Rib eye, steaks, pork, Parpadelle Primavera, a chicken dish with goats cheese, over the iconic pasta and much more. Desserts are also superb, Tuscan Panna Cotta being the signature here. Additionaly, gelato with macerated fruit changes daily. The wine list has a noticeable slant to the finer wines from Italy, for us, a good thing, there were some great Chiani Classicos.

The main dining room, Grand Cuvee, is nearly identical to Opus on the Silhouette. I covered the Cuvee in a previous review here, and will only mention it because it is so handsome. There was one massive grand "brunch" held here during the cruise. It was truly, massive, I have never seen such a spread of food in one place before, open to one and all. There was nothing left out for a late AM to brunch time hour. There were several carved ice sculptures. Both levels of the dining room were open for seating. We sat on the upper level at the rail to we could see the goings on below. This absolutely blew our minds.

Cafe Bacio is a little street type venue, like one you may find in Rome, or Catania or Florence. Crepes, pastries, gelati, sandwiches - oh my - available nearly 24 hours. It was here that I learned that the gelato as well as nearly everything that could be made fresh and from scratch on Celebrity ships is indeed made on board.Each time we sail with Celebrity we both are awed at the lengths this line goes to assure passenger pleasure.

Qsine and the Lawn we have yet to try. We did go back to Murano during this cruise twice, as we did on our 12 night Silhouette cruise.

What a meal and what a gorgeous room Muran is. The name is Italian, the food is contemporary French. Plush and elegant is a good way to describe the room. Banquettes and softly lit areas create a sense of private dining, and there is one ante- room for private parties. Wild Forest Mushroom "cappuccino" is a trademark here, a soup that is served like a caffe cappuccino, poured from a large china coffee pot, garnished with panna cotta and biscotti. Diver scallops, sliced three ways, with slices of black truffles ,pan seared duck breast croustillant, , twisted bread pillows , Maine lobster bisque, Petit filet mignon, with peas melange and beef jus, the most amazing select and prepared vegetable, and fresh souffl├ęs - this is what pure kelp pleasure for us is at table.

W always enjoy St. Maarten, Dutch side, with its quirky side streets and naughty bars. We tried the Blue Bitch Bar, serving healthily portioned rum their own, a blue tinted rum at that, Try their blue mojitos, or their iconic blue rum libations. We stayed for lunch, with the best conch cakes we have had in years, and rum soused coconut shrimp. Never tired of shopping, Mr. Tablecloth always gets our business, here or in the other islands, and we also have favorite jewelry shops as well. We were in with the Norwegian Epic.

Next and last port, St. Kitts, docked with the two smallest Seabourn ships. My how St. Kitts has grown and modernized over the years. I remember when it was dirt roads, no shops, nada. Today the major shops found elsewhere in the caribbean are there, as well as Piranha Joes, for good quality tees, an other souvenir items. We went to Sweet Cane for lunch, and more dynamite rum drinks.

That really sums up this 7 days of heaven we really enjoyed.

For us, the best cruise is not the one we just enjoyed, its the one next. We are booked on the Silhouette for a 16 day in 2013, and have placed a deposit for a future cruise on an as yet to be booked cruise.

To sum Celebrity up quickly, I can only say:

The ships are classic, comfortable modern, to be sure, yet, traditional.

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