2016 was a fabulous year of travel for me and for cruising in particular.  In July I cruised the Norwegian Epic in the Mediterranean with my family and in November I cruised the Celebrity Reflection for our annual TPI Conference (for those of you who remembered, this is also where I won my award).

I had cruised with Celebrity once before in 2004 aboard the Celebrity Millennium and it was a phenomenal experience so I had high expectations this time around. Celebrity Cruise lines always ranks high among my clients and being on a newer ship, I knew I was going to be in for a real treat – and I was definitely not disappointed.

Our itinerary started in Miami where I did have some time to complete some hotel inspections (post to follow).  The day of our embarkation was the ships first port back in the USA after sailing in Europe for the summer. As a result, I *heard* that this created some congestion at boarding time however being a seasoned traveller I spent the day in Miami and didn’t board the ship until about 3pm.  As a result we were quickly whisked aboard with no delays or queues.

Celebrity ships are known for their modern decor, luxury and innovation and this ship did not disappoint.   Every where you turned there was a fabulous and unique space to explore.  I found the whole ship extremely easy to navigate, no dead ends or confusing hallways making it very easy to orient myself.

As this was a work trip, I shared a cabin with a roommate so we had 2 single beds.  Our Deluxe Ocean View Verandah Cabin 6199 (category 2D) on the 6th deck was spacious and well appointed.  It offered plenty of room for the 2 of us to get around, a sufficient amount of storage and a large balcony.  Our view was obstructed by the ships lifeboats which was unpleasant however since this was a business trip, it didn’t bother me.  If this was a leisure trip, I would definitely upgrade to an unobstructed view.

Most of my meals were experienced in the main restaurant or buffet and they did not disappoint.  There was always a variety of options to choose from include light fare to steak and lobster.  I did have the opportunity to enjoy a specialty restaurant, Qsine. This one-of-a-kind restaurant featured some very unique items on the menu including Disco Shrimp, “Popcorn” Fish N Chips, Sushi Lollipops and Trescerviche. It was definitely an amazing experience that any foodie-lover would enjoy.

My favourite part of the ship were the multiple lounges and bars. I loved sailing away and the view from the Sunset Bar, catching up with a supplier at Cafe al Bacio, meeting with a co-worked at the Hideaway, a pre-dinner drink at the Martini Bar and an after dinner drink at the Sky Observation Lounge.  There was always a great space to meet up and enjoy some time.

Although I didn’t cruise with my children this time, I did check out the kids entertainment and I have to say they looked pretty awesome.  Children aged 3-11 were at the Fun Factory for age appropriate activities, X-Club Teen entertainment had something new every day and the Toddler area for the little ones was a perfect, learning and enriching activity space.  I did take some time to speak to the children on board and they all said they loved the kids programs (and, so did the parents).  I did find that the overall ship was definitely geared towards adults and therefore not a lot of children on board.

And of course, since I was without the children I did have a chance to squeeze in a 90 minute massage at the Canyon Ranch Spa Club.  After a full week of in-class sessions, networking opportunities, working dinners, resort inspections, and late nights I can say that I fully enjoyed a few minutes of relaxation as the ship swayed and I had all the kinks in my shoulders worked on.  A tip that I learned on this ship is that after 5pm they offer a 20% discount off of services.  So next time you are cruising be sure to ask about any late day discounts!

Overall, I would give this ship an 8/10 for over all ship, amenities and food, taking off points for the service as I did find the ship short staffed a little.  I am sure that it was due to the fact that the ship just returned to the the USA and many staff contracts ended and started up again. I would also not recommend this ship if you are looking for adventure (ie. surf simulator, rock walls etc) as this ship is not about action packed activities but more about luxury, relaxation  and rejuvenation.

Until I sail again (next week)!