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!
My husband (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.
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. I don’t think there was a section of that ship we didn’t discover!
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!
The Molecular Bar – We were also regulars here, 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.
Crush Martini Bar-really potent (and delicious) martinis. Complete with real ice bar!
True story. About 6 weeks before we were scheduled to set sail, I got a packet from Celebrity with all our pre-cruising luggage tags and boarding information. Celebrity had upgraded us (gratis) from our measly picture window stateroom to a glorious Deluxe Ocean View VERANDA stateroom! Cue squeals! I’m not sure why or how it all happened, all I know is that instead of looking out a tiny window each morning, we would be having our room service breakfast served to us on our spacious ocean view balcony as we sailed along the Mediterranean. We were floored, to say the very least.
Upon arriving to the room, D and I were both giddy as schoolgirls. We couldn’t wait to see our veranda room and all its glory. I must say, it definitely didn’t disappoint! The veranda rooms were much bigger than I’d pictured (even with only 194 sq ft to work with) and had storage in every nook & cranny of the room. We never felt cramped or cluttered (unpacking your suitcase and hiding it under the bed makes a world of difference!).
Not to mention, we had the absolute best stateroom attendant in the world (Hi, Ivoky!). Everyday he greeted D and I with the biggest smile and well wishes for a wonderful day out exploring. Anything we wanted or needed…he got for us. Every night upon returning to our stateroom after dinner, our beds would be turned down, chocolates on our pillows, and a cute towel animal at the foot of our bed, wishing us sweet dreams. By the end of the trip we were all best buds, and I found myself teary-eyed while telling him goodbye. It’s amazing how much you feel like family after only being together for 12 days!
I have to say, Celebrity exceeded our expectations in every aspect of this cruise. For example, you could order room service through your TV (the whole ship is wired with Apple technology) at any time of the day. For free (well, it was included in the price you paid for the cruise, so why not use it!). I love room service, It saved us a lot of time when we had those 8 am tour meeting times, had to be up at the crack of dawn, and didn’t want to fight the crowds at the buffet. We’d order breakfast via our TV the night before, and at 7 am sharp, Ivoky would be there, bright eyed and bushy tailed with our breakfast in hand.
I just couldn’t get over the level of impeccable service we had on board every single day. Being such a brand new ship, you’d figure there’d be hiccups and kinks to work out. Not this ship. Everything moved like clockwork.
Half of the fun of going on vacation is knowing you’re going to be consuming gobs and gobs of amazing food. Am I right, or am I right? The food aboard the Celebrity Reflection was no exception
As much as I wanted to take photos of every course we ate in the Opus Main Dining Room each night, I refrained. Although, I mustn’t have done a great job of hiding my obsession with food photography because by the end of the cruise, they were all holding up their own meals for me to get shots of.
So, the Opus Main Dining Room was the setting for our meals almost every night. We opted for the Celebrity Select Dining option so we had the flexibility of choosing what time we wanted to go to dinner each night instead of having to either be seated at 6pm or 8:45pm. Every night, Opus had two kinds of menus: a set menu with items that could be ordered every day, and a specialty menu with options that were unique to that evening only. Both menus had great variety, each having 3 options for appetizers, 3 for soups/salads, at least 5 or 6 options for main courses, and 3 options for desserts. It wasn’t hard to find something you liked from either menu…and I never ate a meal I didn’t enjoy.
The portions, while on the smaller side, were perfect so as not to over indulge on one course before ever receiving your main meal. The Sommelier’s were excellent and offered great wine paring suggestions to enhance the dining experience. Celebrity had a wonderful German Riesling on board that kept this girl happy! As if the food and wine wasn’t already fabulous enough, the ambiance and decor of the Opus Dining Room was definitely an added bonus. From the pristine white table settings to the friendly wait staff, the Opus Dining Room left absolutely nothing to be desired.