Celebrity Cruises, the higher end mainstream line, was originally created without the thought of children sailors, but it has become one of the most sought after family friendly lines. While not every sailing is full of kids, during the holidays, school vacations and the summers, the Celebrity fleet of ships are loaded with the younger generation.
We had our doubts, that without all the water slides, and costumed crew members dressed as cartoon characters, that this may not of been the perfect choice for our recent Christmas cruise, with 3 generations Let me tell you, for a family, there couldn’t have been a more perfect match.
Welcome aboard the Celebrity Reflection! We approached the 3030 passenger, 1047 feet long and 123 feet wide Celebrity Reflection cruise ship with awe. She glistened in the sun light and there were kids of all ages from infants to 100 year olds waiting to board.
We were greeted as VIPs and boarded with an escort. Our concierges Bogdan and Samantha wanted to make sure that our every need and desire were fulfilled and let me tell you, they were.
Our Concierge Cabins: We cruised in Concierge veranda quad cabins. Space was not huge, but very accommodating for 2 adults and 2 younger children. The Concierge quad cabins use a trundle system for the added 2 guests. Our kids said that the beds were more comfortable than their beds at home.
Our cabin steward made sure to make all the comforts of home available, with the addition of towel animals and a token pillow chocolate every night. In Concierge class cabins, all guests receive a “savory” snack platter at the end of the busy afternoon, which included miniature salmon “lox” wraps everyday, and our daughter raced back to the cabin everyday, to devour the snack.
The biggest difference between regular cabins and the concierge cabins is better placement on the ship, exclusive use to a concierge, upgraded bath amenities, and the afternoon snacks. The Aqua class cabins have a separate dining room, called Blu, unlimited access to the Relaxation area in the spa, and unlimited access to the Canyon Ranch SpaClub’s Persian Garden
Food- Oh the food! The Oceanview cafe is the buffet, if that is truly what you want to call it. I’d call it a gourmet restaurant with unlimited food for the taking. The kids loved the made to order pasta bar, pizza bar, stir fry bar, omelette bar, salad bar, Indian food, and a Mexican food station.
I almost left out, the kids favorite hangout. The ice cream bar, with daily fresh made ice cream, with every dry topping imaginable including sour patch kids. The Oceanview also had a carving station and the usual buffet items like miscellaneous salads, cold items and lots of hot selections.
The most special part of the Oceanview is the offering of hand rolled sushi every night at 5:30. What a better appetizer for dinner can one have then, a plate full of freshly prepared sushi on your private veranda staring out to sea, with your family. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The line also has the main Opus dining room which features a kids menu, although lots of kids order directly from the Opus menu, because the food was so delicious and could be tried even if they then didn’t want to eat the entire portion.
An expedited dinner service is not published as a Celebrity offering, but all the wait staff are willing to serve kids quicker and let them get out of dining room to kids club or other entertainment, if the need arises. Our kids had a Classic, non- alcoholic drink package, and they were able to order “mocktails”, soft drinks, or fresh juices with every meal, or any time during the day.
Our wait staff were amazing. Rollin made napkin characters every night and portioned out the adult sized meals, to make them kid sized if they so happened to order. Our kids cried on the last night, when they realized they wouldn’t see Roldan again. Head Waiter, Natasha also made the kids feel like princes and princesses.
The Reflection offers many other speciality, added cost dining options The beauty of the specially dining is they do discount for the kids. We chose a special dining option of a daddy/daughter lunch at the Porch.
The Porch is on the Lawn of the ship. It serves fish specialties, including a seafood tower. My daughter Samantha was addressed as Princess by all the staff and she told me after lunch it was one of the best meals she ever had.
Speaking of the Lawn. The Lawn is an area on the top deck of the ship. It is an area of real, growing grass, which is mowed and watered on a daily basis. On the Lawn, you can have a picnic, throw around a football, play bocce ball, rent a cabana, or just walk around barefoot with the cool grass beneath your feet.
It is amazing to think of natural grass growing on a ship in the middle of the ocean. The kids were in amazement and visited the lawn everyday, multiple times.
The entertainment was so enticing. We had comedians, a Christmas show, a 80’s music show, a female impressionist, and many other family friendly shows. The shows were very well balanced and “clean”, so the kids were able to completely enjoy.
Splashing at the pool. The main pool deck, may not have had the bells and whistles of water slides and simulated surf machines, but gave all the kids on board days full of non-stop fun. I don’t think the kids felt they were missing anything.
The ship had a specific kids pool, an adults pool, an all adult indoor pool, and kid/adults whirlpools. On this sailing, the staff were a little loose with the rules. They opened the indoor pool for a bit for the kids, and the rules were very relaxed so the kids were in and out of all the pools.
The pool area also has lots of shaded area and many complimentary cabana type spaces. The pool staff kept guests of all ages entertained with subdued pool games and lively music.
Just for Kids. Celebrity has taken care in creating a Kids program, which can’t be beat. The Fun Factory is one large venue, separated into three different age groups. 3-5 year olds are called “Shipmates,” “Cadets” are the 6-8 year olds, and 9-11 year olds are called “Ensigns”. Everyone loved playing there, we did not see one unhappy kid.
Even though the kids are separated by age groups, they are all together in one very large area. So while brothers/sisters/cousins and friends of differing ages may not be in the same group, they have the comfort of being in the same area.
The teen/tweets have a separate area altogether called X-Club. The teen/tweens have a dance club and a great area to hang out with table tennis, and televisions, and XBox entertainment.
It was such a pleasure seeing all the younger kids, playing, enjoying the games, special events and the spaces around the ship. The staff was wonderful and attentive to all ages of kids.
By the way, the under 3 age group is not to be forgotten. Celebrity hosts play times with the toddler groups and their parents. In room babysitting is also available on most sailing.
Tour the ship. We had the honor to be hosted to a Bridge and Galley Tour. It was such a special treat to see where all the food masterpieces are prepared. I have been on over 3 dozen cruises in my life, and it still amazes me how the chef can cook for 3000 people. Even after seeing the galley and having it explained to us, I still am in awe.
The Bridge tour is also a place for amazement. Our kids got the chance to turn the little knob that actually turns the ship. Luckily the captain was the one who was truly in control.
Outstanding Staff. The Celebrity cruise staff could not have been more welcoming to my family. We were celebrating father-in-law Albie’s 70th birthday, and he was wished Happy Birthday everyday of the cruise, by a myriad of staff member.
Even the cruise director Alexander Yepremain, caught up,with me in the hall one day, to introduce himself, and offered assistance in anything to make our trip more enjoyable. He continued to ask me what he could do for us every time I saw him. I was also invited to meet with the hotel director, who so happened to be a waiter on my first Royal Caribbean cruise, the Nordic Prince. Small world.
Bravo Celebrity! The Celebrity Reflection was spectacular for our family. Our kids were treated like royalty, the rest of us were given a trip of a lifetime, and Celebrity, we will be back!
What’s next for Celebrity Cruises? The Celebrity Reflection is the last build of the Solstice Class of the Celebrity Fleet. The next generation of ships will be the Project Edge, due to arrive in the near future.
The Reflection sails out of the Port of Miami on 7 day Eastern and Western Caribbean Cruise itineraries in its winter sailing season. During the late spring, it will sail transatlantic to Europe for its summer season.
Photo Credits: www.celebritycruises.com/ships/celebrity-reflection