It was spring 2022 with the biggest COVID-19 travel restrictions gradually being lifted it was time for the first big holiday for my boyfriend and I. As I wanted to convince my boyfriend that travelling without his beloved car can also be fun I decided to drag him along on a Mediterranean cruise on Celebrity Reflection, starting from the Italian port of Civitavecchia near Rome.
This would be my second cruise on Celebrity Cruises, after my previous cruise on them from Venice with Gillis on their older Celebrity Millennium. This time we would be travelling on the 2012 built Celebrity Reflection, which was the Fleet’s flagship until 2018 when the newer Edge class was launched. The ship was still up to date and in a good condition but will undergo a dry-dock refurbishment after this season to bring it in line with newer ships.
The boarding was a mess. While Celebrity just said the ship would be leaving from the port of Civitavecchia without much further information, we had to check on the website of the port itself to find out more.
The website of the port appeared to be out of date, as they referred us to the Largo della Pace bus station from where all shuttle busses would leave. However after getting there after a 15 minutes’ walk from the station there was nothing there.
The entire area was closed off and overgrown, so clearly out of service for quite some while without indication of where we had to be. So then we just tried our luck and started walking towards the port after seeing a pedestrian entrance. We headed in the direction of our ship which we could see docked in the distance. We only ended up at more closed gates, asking at people that where in the port they had no clue either, just pointing us back in the general direction we came from. In the end a friendly taxi driver stopped for us and drove us to the ship for €10.
Seeing how he drove there was no way we would have gotten there on foot. Moral of the story: just take a taxi from the Civitavecchia station when you arrive by train from Rome. I never had such an awful and disorganised port experience before on any of my cruises and it wasn’t the best start of the vacation.
Once in the terminal everything went much smoother and we were in the ship in no-time. As we boarded right next to our muster station, we first went there to be check-off the list and received a personal safety briefing of one of the entertainment staff members.
As we had to sign up before hand at around which time we would board our ship, our stateroom was already ready for us at the time of boarding. We also hadn’t received our seapasses at check in but they were in an envelope next to the door of our cabin. Sam made the obvious remark that that didn’t seem very safe. After dropping off our stuff in the room, we enjoyed ourselves with the concierge class embarkation day lunch.
The Celebrity Reflection being a newer ship than the Millennium was also a bigger. The central atrium stretched out over all 14 decks, with a real tree hovering in the centre. The atrium was flanked by two times four glass elevators, a very impressive elevator bank.
On Deck 2 you only had the boarding areas for smaller ports and tender operations aswell as the medical area.
Deck 3 provided you with Guest Services and Shore Excursions. Here you also found the Luminae main restaurant for Suites guests and the lower level of the Opus main dining restaurant. The lower level was used for breakfast, when anyone could come up when they wanted. Contrary to Princess Cruises the breakfast menu was the same every single day, with no rotating specials. In the evening the lower level was used for people with a fixed seating time and table.
As we had any time dining we dined on the upper level of the opus restaurant on deck 4. Luckily the evening menu did rotate and offered different items each day. We always had delicious and well executed dishes every time.
On two of the first nights we were seated within the quadrant of Noel, sitting here I didn’t feel the fantastic service I was used to from Celebrity Cruises and felt more like we were a nuisance to him. As I have an intolerance to lettuce and leafy vegetables and mentioned this, we could got the reply “you can just pick it off”.
As we were not really thrilled with this kind of service we talked to Bianca, the hostess in charge of the seating arrangements. She took this quite seriously and solved it in no-time, noting everything down in her system and assigning us to a different waiter team and quadrant at the other side of the restaurant, there the team of Arsapha made us feel like we were the only guests on board. It felt like a completely different restaurant. A flawless perfect service. Proactively offering us refills so we wouldn’t fall short of anything. This was the kind of service that makes me want to come back and sets cruises apart from land-based hotels.
The rest of deck 4 was filled with the Martini Bar featuring its iconic ice bar, the cellar masters bar which is a more classical wine bar. Further to the front you also had the casino and some shops, the future cruises desk and the conference centre. You also found the theatre and the smaller Celebrity Central here for entertainment purposes.
While the cruise in general was mask optional for vaccinated people, in the casino and theatre you were required to mask up. Celebrity Cruises did provide masks and disinfectant gel in the staterooms for this purpose.
Deck 5 was where most of the speciality restaurants could be found. At the rear of the ship you had the Tuscan Grille, a Mediterranean style restaurant. Next door was Blu the ‘healthy’ style main restaurant for Aqua Class guests. Opposite was Qsine, which featured the Petit Chef. This was the only speciality dining we did on this cruise. Using a system of projections they animate how your food is made before serving it. It is a nice gimmick and something you should do once.
Continuing further forward you have the dark Ensemble lounge, another bar with some live music at night. Opening up into it is Murano, the French speciality restaurant and Michael’s Club, the exclusive bar for Suite’s guests.
Around the deck 5 atrium you can find Al Bacio with an icecream stand at one side and a coffee bar at the other. You can always get delicious pastries and different kinds of speciality coffees and teas. At the opposite side of the atrium is sushi on five, a speciality restaurant where you pay for each different sushi you order, in my opinion rather expensive for what it is.
Further to the front you have the art gallery, photo gallery and some more shops, also the world class bar where there is not a single item on the menu that fits within the classic drinks package.
As we had a classic drinks package included in the price we tried to drink within our package. Contrary to last time I travelled on Celebrity there was no clear list of what was included in the package and what not. Not even staff was always aware of this. In my opinion this could be vastly improved by creating clear menus.
On Deck 6 there were mostly cabins, with just the iLounge at the atrium where they sold Apple products and you could access some computers to go on the internet.
Decks 7 and 8 once again contained mostly cabins, with hideaway spread over both decks at the atrium to provide some quiet relaxing spaces in tree hut like environments.
Deck 9 had the game on lounge, with some interactive tables as well as some other games available.
On decks 10 and 11 there was the library spread over the 2 decks along the atrium, with big book shelfs which unfortunately looked pretty empty.
At the front of deck 12 there was the fitness and spa areas, offering all kinds of treatments. All spa treatments and access to the sauna and steamrooms was at an extra fee.
Deck 14 was the main pool deck. At the rear was the Ocean View café, the main buffet dining restaurant. The atmosphere here was not very inviting, while it was ok for breakfast and lunch when the sun was out it looked really dreary at night when the artificial lighting was on.
You had lots of different island offering lots of different dishes. Every lunch had a different theme. Contrary to most other cruise lines Celebrity hadn’t yet reversed the trend of staff serving you from the buffet.
Further towards the front you had the outside pools and jacuzzis with a stage for (sometimes questionable) live entertainment. And of course the pool bar.
Continuing to the front there was the adults only Solarium inside pool area. Here you had comfortable loungers in a much quieter and climatised atmosphere. Here there was also the spa café with limited opening hours, providing healthy meal options.
All the way at the front of deck 14 was the Sky Lounge, a bar with a panoramic overview over the front of the ship.
At the rear of deck 15 was the sunset bar, overlooking the back of the ship. Followed by the Lawn Club, a patch of real grass on top of the ship. This was a nice gimmick but I never saw a lot of people make use of it. You also found two more speciality restaurants here, The lawn club grill for your steaks and hamburgers as well as the Porch for your fish specialities.
In the elevator lobbies there where ping-pong tables available for you to use.
Alongside the opening for the lower level outside pool where the jogging track and some more loungers. Here you found also the Mast Bar and the Mast Grill a complimentary fast-food food outlet. Here you could get your burgers, hotdogs and fries aswell as some soft ice.
All the way to the front where Fun Factory and X-club, the children and youth clubs of the ship. There even was an open air basketball court.
Deck 16 was only accessible form the front of deck 15 and mostly just offered some more sun loungers.
We made a nice tour of the Mediterranean stopping at Katakolon (Olympia) and Corfu in Greece, Dubrovnik in Croatia, Kotor in Montenegro and finished off with Messina, Naples and Livorno in Italy. In all ports you either could walk to the sights or use a shuttle bus so you weren’t obliged to use one of the ships excursions.
At the end of the cruise we decided to pre-book a transfer directly from the port to the station of Civitavecchia, trying to avoid the mess what was the arrival to the port.
Despite paying €25 per person the shuttle wasn’t ready for us when we deboarded and we missed the train in the station by a matter of minutes because of the long wait at the port for our shuttle to turn up.
It is clear that the port of Civitavecchia is a disaster in organising and I would advise you to leave from a different port for your Mediterranean cruise. Otherwise we had a very pleasant travel on Celebrity cruises and we will certainly sail on them again, just not from Civitavecchia.
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