Celebrity Cruises just set their latest luxury ship sailing. They invited me for to preview the new ship and to see the naming ceremony. Having never cruised before I took along a consultant in the finer things in life, my best friend Keri. She loves good food, good wine, and a good time. Also, she’s painfully honest and doesn’t care what people think. The perfect reviewer, and all for the price of some martinis and a massage.
The things you care about in a hotel are the same things you should care about on a ship, and it’s not called a boat, it’s a ship. Also a deck,not a floor and a verandah, not a balcony.
The state rooms:
We were in an Aqua Class room which is on the same level as the spa. While wandering the halls we were greeted by the “Botox Doctor”, his description not mine. Apparently you can also get your lines erased and teeth whitened on this ship. I tried not to read anything in to his eager self introduction.
Our state room was too tiny in my opinion, but they had larger suites that felt more like hotel rooms. The Reflection actually has so many comfortable public spaces to sun, read or nap that I think you wouldn’t mind the tiny state room for a longer cruise. But if you can spring for the suite, by all means do. The Reflection Suite could host a wedding reception and had a glass shower cantilevered over the front of the boat, I still think that’s the room I should have been in. Our state room had a fab verandah where we could sit and watch the ocean drift by. When booking a cruise a verandah is a must. Being on the same level as the spa was also a perk, no need to get out of your robe to hit the spa. Also, children are welcome “but discouraged” on this level. Not usually a bonus for me, but when traveling without my brood, music to my ears.
Pools, lounge chairs, and general places to nap:
This ship is flush with fab places to tuck away for some relaxation. If you’re looking to cozy up indoors with a good book there’s The Hideaway. It’s a fantasy of pillow filled birds nest type cocoons suspended near the library.
Looking for a little nap al fresco? Yes, I am all about the naps. Somehow the ship’s designers put a REAL LAWN on this baby. You can even play croquet. It’s extraordinary.
The pool was too crowded for my taste, also there were a lot of tattooed people in it. I will spare you the photos. I guess there’s only so much space for pools on a ship, but they always seemed giant and glamorous on The Love Boat.
Good Food and Good Booze:
My fear of buffet food lines and rogue waves have always kept me from cruising. Celebrity promised extraordinary food, and they delivered. There is a cafeteria style place for breakfast and all day snacking. The food was so-so there. If you stay in Aqua Class you have a restaurant reserved for your exclusive use. They offer what they call “healthier options”. I was worried it would all be grapefruit and cottage cheese. Turns out it’s the type of food I eat every day, fresh, organic, and not fried.
For dinner they had several excellent restaurant choices. Not having experience with cruise food, I thought it was good but not mind blowing. My trusted consultant Keri said “this is the best food I’ve ever had on a ship.” So there you have it.They also brought celebrity chef Jeff McInnis from Miami’s mega hotspot YardBird to do a barbecue for us. Yes, there is a bbq restaurant near the croquet lawn, on a ship. His food was only trumped by his total hotness. Visiting his restaurant in Miami Beach is now on “the list”
My two favorite spots on the ship were the coffee bar and the Martini Bar. Not necessarily in that order. The Martini Bar has super cool Miami Beach vibe with bartenders that make Tom Cruise look like he didn’t know what he was doing in “Cocktail”.
Last but not least – The Spa:
Not all spas are created equal. Some are nothing more than a massage table in a room with a candle and some woo woo music. The Aqua Spa on the Celebrity Reflection can hold its own with Canyon Ranch in Miami. In fact, it feels as if they put the Canyon Ranch Spa-Aquavana on the ship. They have the same heated thermal loungers (in photo), tropical rain showers (to die for), and great menu of services. Much to Dr. Botox’s dismay I only opted for a massage. Sadly my first massage wasn’t as fab as I had hoped. Here’s my best advice for spa goers and travelers in general. If something does not meet your expectations, speak up, politely. Rarely have I not had my problem resolved. Brands, especially luxury brands, want you to be happy. If you’re not tell someone who can fix it. I was offered a second massage, and on my consultant (Keri’s) recommendation I tried the Rhythm and Bliss massage. They put headphones on you and play music in the spa room. It’s muted through your headphones and the therapist kneads your knots to your choice of music. Since I love hard rock, I thought I’d give it a try. It was AMAZING. It sounded hokey, I couldn’t imagine how I’d relax to Aerosmith. It worked. I was so in to my favorite music and the therapist was so skilled, I left in a state of bliss.
To Cruise or Not to Cruise?
Having been very skeptical of cruising, I can say that I would recommend it, with caveats. Celebrity really does do a great job with a luxury atmosphere and overcame my fear of buffet line food. We all watched in horror as passengers on the crippled Carnival cruise ship were forced to use buckets for bathrooms. That type of incident is rare and for some reason I can’t imagine the higher end cruise lines allowing that kind of debacle. Rogue waves still freak me out, but I guess I’m just as likely to get hit by a city bus so what are you going to do? Sea sickness is also a problem, if you suffer from motion sickness stock up on the Dramamine. Don’t worry if you forget, they hand it out like candy. After the first day I felt better. All things considered, I would cruise again. It’s an easy way to see many ports of call from basically a floating hotel room. Given that even a luxury ship felt small and the food pretty good I would never book a budget cruise. I would rather save my money or find a low cost hotel option in each port of call I’m looking to visit.
My thanks to Celebrity Cruises for hosting me and flying me to Miami to review The Reflection. Bigger thanks to Keri for being wiling to eat, drink, and spa for the cause.