September 2013 - Celebrity Reflection to Europe - Western Mediterranean
I suppose its partly the people you choose to travel with, or the people you meet along the way and spend time with, but I can't imagine a better travel experience. Getting onboard was fast and uncomplicated; it took less than 10 minutes! Perhaps because the ship began early in the morning and we arrived around 3 pm (sailing at 5), there were no lines at all. We were booked into one of the Celebrity Reflection's Sky Suites, which are larger than traditional balcony rooms and include a wonderful jetted bathtub (!) as well as a shower that has multiple showerheads for a spa-like shower massage experience. The suite included a butler, with whom we were not entirely sure what to do - he offered to help us unpack, which we declined. He also brought us a tray of treats daily, such as hummus and pita chips, fresh fruit, and champagne which he chilled in a bucket. Our room attendant, Ermolindo, was absolutely wonderful and always smiling and attentive to our every need. The room was always spotless (as much as it could be, with two women traveling with all our product and clothing and shoes!) We purchased a drink package so there would be no surprises on our room bill at the end, which we felt was definitely worth the cost. The onboard activities were varied and we were never bored; we played in trivia contests, a ping-pong tournament, a "baggo" competition (a game we've always known as "Cornhole"), and air hockey. There are activities for every taste and inclination. The pool area was only crowded on one day, but we still were able to find two loungers next to each other on the upper deck. The specialty restaurants -- which inexplicably were free to us every time -- were unbelievable. My favorite was Qsine, which serves food in a fun and different way. Every dish was perfection. Blu, the restaurant especially reserved for Aqua Class Suite guests, was delicious, for both breakfast and dinner. The hosts were the very picture of welcoming charm, Arturo especially. He truly made us feel like celebrities. It amazes me that within a couple of days, the various personnel knew us by name -- either they're awesome or we're *really* memorable:) We only tried the cafeteria-style dining room a couple of times for a quick lunch; the food was good, but crowding and competing with other cruisers for the various food stations was not my cup of tea. I was very glad to have Blu! We also tried the Opus, the main dining room, with our new crowd of (8) friends. The service, atmosphere, and food were all excellent there as well. Tip: if you can't find what you want on the menu, just ask. They will bring it!
The entertainment staff was so far above what I've previously experienced cruising (I'm admittedly inexperienced -- only one prior cruise, on Princess in Alaska; my roommate agreed, having cruised previously several times on Carnival) that there was no comparison. The shows are just great. The comedians were very funny and worked well with the crowd. There were several theme dance parties too, such as 80's night; the ship's website said there would be a 70's party and a 50's party, which didn't happen (somewhat disappointingly), but the dances they had were a lot of fun, with a lot of people up and dancing.
Getting on and off the boat for excursions was also easy; we only waited in line for the first one, and that was because we had an early meeting time for the excursion, so had to be off the ship in the first group.
I really can't say enough good things about this beautiful ship and the excellent staff, and will definitely cruise Celebrity again!