Monday, 10 December 2012

With Celebrity Reflection, a big finish for Solstice class

With Celebrity Reflection, a big finish for Solstice class
Celebrity Solstice arriving in Fort Lauderdale ahead of her inaugural celebrations
By Tom Stieghorst

The Celebrity Reflection is the last of five Solstice-class ships built by Celebrity Cruises, and although executives won’t say they like it the best, they clearly take pride in the new baby.

The Reflection stands apart from its siblings based on size alone. Its 126,000 gross tons is 4,000 more than the others. That enables the ship to carry 72 extra cabins, adding between 150 and 200 more passengers.

The Reflection is also home to Celebrity’s first two-bedroom suite, a 1,636-square-foot apartment that offers a glass-sided shower cantilevered over the ocean.

The suite, not yet sold out for 2013, is one of a half-dozen new suites along a corridor on Deck 14 that is accessed with a private cardkey. All have extra-tall ceilings and butler service.

The rest of the vessel carries all of the Solstice hallmarks: the half-acre lawn so inviting to the toes; the bevy of specialty restaurants such as Blu and Qsine; the quirky bird’s-nest getaway nooks in the Hideaway, one of several two-deck public rooms that give the Reflection’s interior such a spacious feeling.

Of those, my favorite was the Library, a soaring wall of books with fiction on the port side and nonfiction to starboard. Sitting in front of the wall is a cozy quartet of wingback chairs that practically beg to be occupied.

A close look at the ship reveals some subtle changes in the Solstice product. Gone is Quasar, a disco. Instead, the ship’s conference center takes Quasar’s space on Deck 4.

The Reflection also has 34 new AquaClass suites, which include unlimited dining for occupants at the ship’s “clean cuisine” specialty restaurant, Blu.
Another change: Four more cabana-style Alcoves have sprouted from the lawn, double the number on Reflection’s predecessor, the Silhouette. The Alcoves, which rent for $99 on port days and $149 on sea days, fit four or five guests and provide a sun- and wind-sheltered way to enjoy the passing parade of passengers on Deck 15.

The Sunset Bar, an outdoor venue overlooking the Reflection’s stern, has been turned 90 degrees so it protrudes from the aft deck. It features a new Middle Eastern kasbah theme with orange-and-purple sofa benches and a drinks program that includes pitchers of beverages.

All of the bars seemed to have something to offer on the Reflection. The design in the Sky Observation Lounge is nothing but circles; at Michael’s Club, squares and right angles rule. There’s always a predinner crowd buzzing around the Martini Bar.

At the Molecular Bar, Junior Marino serves up fascinating cocktails made with artisanal ingredients and chilled with liquid nitrogen.

“The drinks are designed to appeal to all five senses,” said Marino, who runs a New York laboratory for high-tech designer drinks and has licensed the Molecular Bar concept to Celebrity for the Solstice ships.

Cabins on the Reflection are in keeping with Celebrity’s theme of “Modern Luxury.” At 194 square feet, my AquaClass cabin was a tight fit at times for two people. But a balcony, included on 85% of the accommodations on the Reflection, enhanced its spaciousness.

Musical entertainment on the Reflection ran the gamut from classical to pop vocalists to jazz and seemed to engage many of the guests on this two-day introductory cruise.

Speaking of a two-day cruise: I disembarked wanting more. There’s enough on the Reflection to easily occupy passengers on the weeklong cruises it is scheduled to take this winter, or the 10- and 11-day Eastern Mediterranean cruises on its deployment next summer. 

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