Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Reflection Cruise Review
Newest of Celebrity's fab five, Reflection seduces in many ways, but a few evolutionary changes were disappointing
Celebrity Reflection has 13 bars available at various hours of the day for tipping one back—there was a perfect spot at pretty much any time, and all guests seemed to gravitate to one or two favorites after a day at sea (read on and you’ll figure out ours). Celebrity maintains an extensive and varied wine list, though it varied by restaurant; Opus Restaurant and Blu appeared to have the full ship selection. Available at most of the bars was a short selection of domestic (U.S.) beers, with imports and premiums including Corona, Red Stripe, Stella Artois, Newcastle Brown Ale, and Guinness; an expanded beer list was available at Michael's Club.
There was a standard drink menu of cocktails available at most of the bars. Caribbean-inspired drinks include Pirate’s Punch (rum, coconut rum, pineapple and orange juice), Pineapple Ginger Mojito (rum, ginger liqueur, lime and pineapple juice, mint and simple syrup). Frozen drinks include Pyrat Alexander (rum, coffee liqueur, amaretto, ice cream and whipped cream) and the Tropical Spice Daiquiri (spiced rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice and mango purée. “Up” drinks served martini style included Pair of Roses (Grey Goose La Poire vodka, rose syrup, lemon juice and splash of soda), Blueberry Breeze (blueberry vodka, agave nectar, lime, blueberry and pineapple), and the Fresh Cucumber Gimlet (gin, lime juice, cucumber and simple syrup).
Non-alcoholic drinks are called Zero-Proof Cocktails. Among these were Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade, Rainbow Punch (orange, lime and pineapple juice, Grenadine and simple syrup, Angostura Bitters and a splash of soda) and the Watermelon Tropic (watermelon syrup, pineapple and lime juice). O’Doul’s non-alcoholic beer was available at most bars.
Celebrity’s drink prices, especially wines, seem slightly higher than competitors, so beverage packages may be worth investigating. These include a bottled water package ($12 per day per guest), unlimited soda ($7/day) and a non-alcoholic package ($14-$18/day). Wine packages started at $99 for three bottles. The Classic and Premium drink packages ranged $44 per day (for drinks priced under $8) to $54 (drinks up to $12). A 15-percent service charge was added to the package prices. Also watch for happy hour two-for-one specials, announced in the daily newsletter—these seemed to be limited to the Passport Bar and Ensemble Lounge, from 5 to 6 p.m. and again from 10 to 11 p.m.
There was a series of wine tasting events scheduled during our cruise, ranging from a $15 port tasting to a premium wine tasting for $75. During the first 24 hours of our cruise we were hit up by three different servers to sign us up for one of these—it felt like they were working on commission.
Café Al Bacio and Gelateria
Reflection’s coffee bar is a subdued space for Starbucks-style coffee drinks and gelato, all of which carry a surcharge. Drinks are available to go, or there’s wait service in a seating area with high-backed chairs. A few additional seats are perched next to the central atrium—good people-watching grounds. Speaking of grounds, the espresso drinks are made with Lavazza Coffee products, and our cappuccino was a couple notches better than the regular ship brew. For those who dare to go beyond the traditional cappuccino or latte, try an Espresso Melba (peaches, hot chocolate, whipped cream) or one of the other concoctions. Shots of flavored syrup—almond, cherry, vanilla, etc.—are offered.
We liked the chilled case offering bite-size pastries and sandwiches at no charge, the selection evolving through the day—if you worked at it you might craft a small meal. There was an up charge for cupcakes and dishes or cones of gelato, accompanied by assorted sprinkles if desired.
Sky Observation Lounge
Those familiar with this venue from earlier Solstice class ships will find it has been downsized on Celebrity Reflection, in favor of a half-dozen suites occupying the port side of Deck 14. Instead of the 180-degree forward view, this one’s little more than half as broad. It’s still a fairly inviting space, though by day it is often empty—it makes a great spot for tucking into a book on sea days. During the evening it was used for karaoke, ballroom dancing and top 40 spins by a DJ. Would have been nice to hear some live music here (of the non-karaoke sort, we mean), but on this cruise it was not to be.
By virtue of flashy gadgetry, Cellar Masters is Reflection’s 24-hour wine bar. Several dozen wines are available by the glass, using Enomatic Wine Preservation machines, allowing the venue to remain untended in the wee hours. The devices dispense wines directly from the sealed bottle, and inert gas preservation minimizes the oxygen that would otherwise change the wine’s character (the machines also regulate temperature). This allows moderately high-end wines to be dispensed days after opening without substantial alteration. While some aficionados complain that the Enomatic devices suck some of the romance out of pouring wine, they do remove a good bit of the stigma of serving day-old wine.
The machines dispense pours in 1-oz, 2.5-oz or 5-oz portions (the latter being a typical restaurant pour—one-fifth of a bottle); much of the ship’s wine selection is available. When Cellar Masters is staffed—noon to midnight on sea days—a few additional wines are available, including flights of four pre-selected 2-oz tastings, themed around France, South America, Down Under, etc. There was a small selection of champagnes and ports also available. To use the machines, one must purchase a prepaid card (in any amount, which is billed to your room), available when the bar is staffed.
Some of the ship’s wine tasting events were conducted here, using Riedel stemware.
Located on Deck 5, the Ensemble Lounge operates as a hub for four of the ship’s restaurants. It’s a good spot for mellow live music—we enjoyed solo piano early in the evening and a jazz trio playing later. Opening at 5 p.m. each evening, the lights are turned down very low and the seating is cushy. In addition to the ship’s standard cocktail list there were several champagnes available by the bottle or glass.
Martini Bar and Crush
Betcha can’t guess what was served here! True to its name, the Martini Bar exuded icy cool through its décor (white, gray, purple and sea green) creating a very popular spot overlooking the central atrium—it was packed just prior to the 6 and 8:30 p.m. seatings in the main dining room, nearby. As a conversation piece, the main bar was topped by a sheet of frozen metal—soon after opening it would be engulfed in graffiti, as guests scrawled their names in the frost. A small selection of caviar plates is available, ranging from Russian Coral ($18) to Golden Golani Osetra ($120), each served with blinis. Combos including a glass or champagne or shot of vodka were available.
In addition to the ship’s standard cocktail list, we found a long list of martinis—free-style as well as the classics. For those who just can’t choose, a flight of six was available, ranging from traditional to apple to a raspberry-lemonade martini. They’re a good value at $15 for the six 3-oz portions, and the presentation is showstopper.
Next door is a freestanding, 10-seat bar called Crush, where more than 30 bottles of vodka and gin are shrouded in ice, serviced by waiters from the Martini Bar. The vodkas are organized by new world and old, and a few of the bottles hail from exotic ports like Iceland and Kazakhstan. Themed vodka flights were also available here.
Perched on the tail of Deck 15, this bar has been redesigned since the earlier Solstice Class ships, and we like the new look. Wicker chairs, long couches and pillows, and Indian jali-style screens create an inviting location for sundowners, revealing a CinemaScope panorama that sprawls more than 180 degrees. If the weather cooperates, this is probably the best place on the ship to enjoy sunset. Signature cocktail of the Sunset Bar is the Eureka—Bombay Sapphire gin, Triple Sec, White Cranberry juice, fresh basil and cubes of cucumber, but lemonade spiked with Absolute Citron and Cointreau was also appealing.
Note that the port side of the venue is one of the ship’s designated smoking areas, as well as the only place cigar smoking was allowed—this side got a fair amount of use on our cruise.
Beer lovers will find Michael’s Club to be an oasis at sea, offering one of the best beer lists in the cruise industry. While we would prefer the atmosphere of a grubby old English pub, these are decent digs to enjoy the suds, a venue that remains surprisingly uncrowded. This was also the ship’s de facto sports bar, with several major games televised live during our cruise.
The menu at Michael’s covered more than 60 beers—lagers, ales, porters and stouts, Belgians, wheat beers, ciders, Lambics and fruit beers, listed by type and alcohol content. While a majority of the list were bottles we can find easily at home (including a few surprisingly conventional pours), there were some interesting regional selections, such as Highland Black Mocha Stout, Sierra Nevada Kellerweis, Abita Save Our Shore and three different options from Chemay. In addition to beer and the regular bar menu we found artisanal spirits, such as Royal Salute 21-year-old scotch, Suntory “Yamakazi” 18-year-old whiskey, Patrón Reposado tequila, Knob Creek bourbon, Appleton Estate 21-year-old rum.
At the Molecular Bar we found creative, one-of-a-kind cocktails designed by mixologist Junior Merino. In short, we loved it. The location is far from ideal—there’s lots of foot traffic here on Deck 5, meaning the bar doesn’t have quite the swank, seductive neighborhood-y atmosphere that we would prefer. But there always seemed to be a seat for us, and we enjoyed watching the bartender at work, compiling one unexpected ingredient after another to concoct the various frothy, bubbling, swarthy, steaming elixirs.
Ingredients are tantalizingly displayed on the counter in a conga line of color and texture. Fresh fruits, produce and high-end spirits are combined with a dash of molecular gastronomy to create the exotic offerings, all of which are priced $12. Play it safe with something like the Ginger Mojito—marrying ginger liqueur and passion-ginger foam with traditional Mojito ingredients—or roll the dice with the prickly Avocado Mezcal. For that one you’ll be sipping Scorpion Blanco mescal, Cointreau, Midori, agave nectar, lime, avocado, cactus and lemongrass salt.
Opening each morning at 10 a.m., this was Reflection’s all-day, all-purpose bar, located opposite the guest relations desk in the Grand Foyer. It was rarely busy, except when live music was staged in the Grand Foyer, next to the elevators. It's handy for when you want a bar near the lobby entertainment, but otherwise fairly routine.
Adjacent to the Mast Grill, there was a full selection of drinks at this dedicated bar on the starboard side. This was also one of the ship’s designated smoking areas.
Located inside the Fortunes Casino, this spot had the ship’s standard bar menu available, whenever the casino was open.
This was the main bar for the busy pool area. Wait staff circulated among the loungers and seemed to be motivated sellers. The full bar menu was available, but the focus was on beer and margaritas. Live and DJ music was played on the stage opposite the pools in the afternoons, with multiple acts performing on sea days.
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