REFLE”X”IONs On A Miami Day, Part One

Peter Knego previews Celebrity Cruises’ latest Solstice Class ship, the spectacular CELEBRITY REFLECTION, which made her Miami debut this past week.

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2013 Passenger Ships Desk Calendar by Peter Knego

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2012 unless otherwise noted.

Monday, December 3, 2012

CELEBRITY REFLECTION was built by Meyer-Werft, considered by many to be the best shipyard in the world.

Even if Celebrity Cruises brand new CELEBRITY REFLECTION is just “another” Solstice Class ship (she’s the fifth and final to be delivered), her debut is still a milestone for the modern cruise ship industry. In terms of aesthetics and innovative design, Celebrity is light years ahead of the competition, especially with this dynamic series of behemoths, putting to rest the notion that giant cruise ships have to look like an amusement park or Las Vegas to be fun, or, worse yet, bland and formulaic to be comfortable and inviting. I would confidently recommend these ships to people who might not normally consider cruising, let alone mega-ship cruising. And that takes nothing away from regular cruise fans, unless tasteful, sleek and at-times-futuristic style could somehow be considered intimidating.

Crossing the “X” to REFLECTION.

With the 3,046-guest, 1063-by-123-foot CELEBRITY REFLECTION, the brilliant Solstice Class formula has been further tweaked, giving the ship a few unique distinctions that her four sisters (CELEBRITY SOLSTICE, CELEBRITY EQUINOX, CELEBRITY ECLIPSE and CELEBRITY SILHOUETTE) do not share. Time will tell which new features “stick” and possibly get applied to other ships in the fleet or spread like wildfire to the cruise industry, in general.

Festoons of balloons.

I joined the REFLECTION on the second of her two-night inaugural sailings out of Miami. In a 48-hour period, it is a Sisyphean task to try and capture all the elements of a 126,000 gross ton ship, especially one decked out in Christmas regalia and filled with a couple thousand fellow journalists, travel agents and VIPs. But with a lot of luck and the help of cruise industry alumnus Lis Kemp, we made a substantial dent in documenting a myriad of spectacular spaces, intriguing artwork, a few culinary tidbits and acres of totally random-but-rather-posh carpeting.

Mimosal portals.

After boarding, we headed immediately to our stateroom on Deck 11.

AquaClass Stateroom 11648, facing starboard.
AquaClass Stateroom 11648, facing port.

Our home for the next two nights would be a 194-square-foot AquaClass Stateroom on the starboard side of the ship, featuring floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, a sitting area with sofa, a 32-inch LCD television, vanity, bathrobes and slippers. Identical in layout to Deluxe Ocean View Staterooms, AquaClass has aromatic diffusers, a daily pitcher of herbal tea, bottled water and priority access to the Blu Dining Room.

Stateroom 11648 loo.

AquaClass and Deluxe Ocean View Stateroom bathrooms have strategically situated storage space and cabinetry, elegant tile work and wood tones.  I personally love the retractable wastebasket (lower left drawer next to sink).

Rainforest shower head.

Showers have Hansgrohe rainforest heads, side jets and even a metal bar for leg-shavers.

Celebrity amenities.

Standard Celebrity amenities include Hydro-Minerale brand shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and moisturizing cream as well as cotton puffs and swabs. In suites, they use Bvlgari.

Solstice Deck, facing aft from starboard.

After putting our luggage away, we headed out to explore the ship, beginning at the top with Solstice Deck on level 16. Since the mid-portion of the REFLECTION was raised a deck, instead of looking over the top of the angular glass ceiling of the Solarium towards the midships pools, the top of the Solarium extends several feet above Solstice Deck. To compensate for the extra overall height of the ship, the REFLECTION is 60 centimeters wider than her sisters.

Solarium, facing aft.

The Solarium, itself, is a soaring, temple-like space with an angled, solar-panel-topped glass ceiling; a pair of oversized paintings on the aft bulkhead versus a vine-entangled trellis forward; a two-deck waterfall that cascades into a dancing fountain and dramatic fiber-optic lighting that transforms the mood throughout the day and night.

Pool Area, facing aft.

With hints of Mayan or perhaps Egyptian style and among the most attractive afloat, this is the midships pool area, facing aft from Deck 15.

Art Studio patio, facing forward.

A promenade and sunning space continues aft on either side of the pool area. On the port side, at the base of the forward funnel, there is an Art Studio and an inviting outdoor porch area with stone decking.

The Porch, facing aft.

On the starboard side, there is the Porch, an al fresco cafe ($5 per person cover charge) that debuted on board the CELEBRITY SILHOUETTE in 2011.

The Lawn Club, facing forward.

The Lawn Club is an open deck, real grass-covered haven situated between the two funnels that stretches past the aft funnel casing.

The Lawn Club Grille, facing port.

The Lawn Club Grill is an al fresco, extra-tariff ($40 cover) eatery in the base of the forward funnel that first appeared on the CELEBRITY SILHOUETTE last year. I’ll be dining there in the next blog. On the first three ships, this space is dedicated to Corning’s Hot Glass Show At Sea.

Cricket on the lawn.

In addition to eight private cabanas that can be rented by the day (on the SILHOUETTE, there are four; otherwise, this is a REFLECTION exclusive), the Lawn Club features a pair of oversized chairs (Baby Boomers: think Lily Tomlin’s “Edith Ann” character on “Laugh In”; non-Boomers, never mind, just enjoy the giant chairs!), rows of hammocks and open grass to sit or lie on or even play cricket-like games with various sticks, rings and balls.

Sunset Bar, facing port.

All Celebrity ships, including the Solstice Class, have open-air Sunset Bars overlooking the stern. On the REFLECTION, this feature has been enhanced with a dash of Moroccan style in the soft fittings and the bar, itself, has been extended with an alcove that projects over the stern.

Sunset Bar overhang.

Here is a photo taken the following day, showing the “Vanishing pool” effect the Sunset Bar has while at sea.  Spectacular (not the first and certainly not the last time that descriptive will be used in these reports).

Sky Lounge, facing port.

From the latter pair of Century Class ships (the now TUI-operated ex GALAXY and ex MERCURY) to the Millennium Class quartet and now the Solstice Class, Celebrity has been the industry leader as far as observation lounges are concerned. And hanging for a moment on that word “concerned”, I had my doubts when I learned that the port side of the REFLECTION’s Sky Lounge would be sliced off and turned into suites but then I had not yet seen the new Signature and Reflection Suites…

Hans Galutera reflected.

Speaking of those new Deck 14 suites, located in a passageway that can only be accessed with a private cardkey, there would be an “open house” on the second day while the ship was at sea for us and a couple thousand friends to visit and try to document. So, when we saw the door open on the first day, we asked a man in a very stylish blue blazer if we could take an advance peek. That gracious gent, Hans Galutera, who just happens to be the designer of these new suites, was most welcoming. He was justly proud of his new creations and happy to have us document them for MaritimeMatters. By the way, Hans is the brand new recipient of the Society of British Interior Designers in London Award, specifically for his work on these suites. He is also responsible for the Grand Foyer, Passport Lounge and the Martini Bar, all of which you will see later in this report.

Signature Suite, facing port.

First, let’s look at the 441-square-foot Signature Suites, five of which are located along the port Deck 14 passage, an area that on the other Solstice ships is home to Conference Rooms and the aft/port side of the Sky Lounge. First, note the extra ceiling height.  Living rooms have stylish but comfortable furnishings, a lavish entertainment system, marble-topped mini-bar and even (not shown) an orb-like chandelier.

Signature Suite bedroom.

Signature Suite bedrooms are extra posh and have a soothing autumnal decorative theme with patterns of interlocking rings, wavy curves and circles, variations of which can be found throughout the ship.

Signature Suite balcony, facing forward.

Signature Suite balconies measure 118-square-feet and have their own tile-lined, private Jacuzzi tub.

Signature Suite bathroom.

Granite-and- marble-topped bathrooms in Signature Suites have twin sinks, a separate shower and a Jacuzzi tub with an opaque window that looks into the bedroom.

Reflection Suite powder room.

We worked our way around a camera man in the 1,636-square-foot Reflection Suite, which is at the forward end of the port Deck 14 passage. Immediately off the entry, there is a marble powder room with a capacious shower for acrophobic (you’ll see why in a moment) guests and guests-of-guests.

Reflection Suite living room, facing port.

The living room area is huge, with its own bar, a dining area and wide open space along the perimeter offering spectacular (oops, there we go again) views over the bow from a fourteen story vantage.

Reflection Suite bedroom, facing port.

There are two bedrooms in the Reflection Suite. The master has a towering bed board, posh soft fittings and a huge flatscreen television. Lights and television and even the height of the mattress are controlled with an easy-to-use i-Pad.

Reflection Suite second bedroom.

We had to return the next day to capture the second bedroom in a serendipitous flash between throngs.

Reflection Suite balcony.

Both bedrooms open to the 194-square-foot (the size of a typical veranda cabin) balcony which, of course, features its own tiled Jaccuzzi tub and lounge furnishings.

Reflection Suite master bathroom.

Accessed via the master bedroom, the forward/port corner of the suite houses the master bath, with its panoramic windows overlooking the bow. Rendered in white marble, this commodious commode features a Jacuzzi tub with a view, twin sinks and…

Reflection Suite shower.

…a protruding glass shower enclosed in a glass pod. Note that the glass panels can be intentionally “fogged” for privacy with the flick of a switch, so one need not worry about showering in port or while passing another ship at sea. And for those who do not fancy precipitous heights, there is always that guest loo shower…

Oceanview Cafe, facing aft/port.

Our day’s battle with exhaustion and hunger finally ended with a pit-stop at the glorious Oceanview Cafe, surely the most stylish and well-laid-out buffet at sea. It has a Danish Modern feel with its open expanse of windows, indirect lighting, use of brushed steel and vibrant-but-chic soft fittings. Various action stations are well-spaced, averting the long lines and traffic jams one finds on many other mega ships.

Oceanview Cafe veggies.

Celebrity has all the necessary ingredients to keep this blogger sated, from fresh and grilled veggies to a phenomenal salad bar, a pasta station where each dish is custom-made and cooked fresh, Indian curries, a carvery, cold cuts, desserts and much more.

Miami twilight.

After boat drill, it was time for a quick workout in the gym. But first, a moment on the balcony to capture Miami in the flattering twilight.

Fitness Center, facing forward.

The Spa has been completely redesigned with the entrance, salon and barber shop on the port side. The main portion of the Fitness Center is basically the same as the other Solstice Class ships with its wide panorama of cardio and weight machines.

Avid ellipses and ellipticals.

I joined The Avid Cruiser’s Ralph Grizzle for a romp on the ellipticals, then did some stretching as the CELEBRITY REFLECTION slowly began her passage into the open sea.

Private gym, facing starboard.

With the spa entrance now on the port side, the starboard side of Deck 12 is now home to several smaller work out facilities, including a private gym for hire (along with a trainer), a spinning room, a room with bungee-style contraptions and even one with various machines for sale.

Opus Dining Room, facing aft.

We joined the media group for an 8:45 second seating dinner in what is probably my favorite dining room (along with its prototypes on the other Solstice Class ships) afloat. I was so distracted looking at the glorious details of this Adam Tihany-designed masterpiece that I can barely recall what we ate. Although I was certain Tihany drew his inspiration from the great liners of yore with the grand staircase, the elliptical dome, the textured “ribs” and the magnificent glass and steel “prow” that is actually a wine cellar, he claims to have been influenced by the organic shapes of Spanish architect Santiago Callatrava’s work.

Reflection Theater, facing starboard.

We almost skipped the after dinner show in the Coliseum-like Reflection Theater on forward Decks 3, 4 and 5 and I’m so glad we didn’t. The room is an event-unto-itself, with is soaring ceilings, excellent sightlines and deus-ex-machina of special effects, sound, lighting and telescopic staging.

Reflection the Show.

But the show, aptly entitled “Reflection The Show”, was nothing short of phenomenal. With a rock musical backdrop that included everything from the Kinks to Van Halen, singers that can actually sing and contortionists, acrobats and human juggling that quite frankly defied gravity, we sat with jaws agape well into the night. And all without Andrew Lloyd Weber, to boot.

End of REFLECTIONS On A Miami Day, Part One

Much More to Come…

Special Thanks: Dayna Adelman, Martin Cox, Hans Galutera, Lisa Harrison, Liz Jakeway, Lis Kemp, Ross Nacht, Tavia Robb,

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego
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