Sorry this is so late. After we got home the holidays happened and I'm just now getting to this.
Reflections of a Beautiful Ship and Exciting Ports
Ship: Celebrity Reflection
The Captain: Dimitrios Kafetzis
Cruise Director: Lewis Power-Stannard
Dates: November 5 – November 16, 2018
Ports: Leaving out of Fort Lauderdale; Grand Cayman; Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Cost Maya, Mexico; Cozumel, Mexico
Our Cruising History: 5 Celebrity Ships, 2nd on Reflection; 39 cruises overall
We began our day early on November 5th out of Charlotte to Fort Lauderdale. We arrived shortly after 9:15 and were at the terminal, checked in and on board having lunch by 10:45. It was a quick and easy embarkation process.
After lunch, we explored the ship. Even though we’d sailed on the Reflection two years ago, we’d forgotten some things about it. The top deck has The Porch restaurant and The Lawn Club Grill. We did not eat in either of these, but Deck 15 is neat. It actually has grass growing on it. We did go up and just sat around one evening. It can be quite romantic up there!
My favorite thing is probably the tree in the Grand Foyer. It is an actual tree and has grown quite a bit since our last sailing. It has “roots” growing out of the bottom which are very neat to see.
The spa is nice with large showers, steam room, and sauna. They have a barber shop as well as the hair salon. One of our perks was a free one-day use of the Persian Garden. You lie on these wonderful contoured lounges covered in heated tiles. We used this one day after two days of intensive walking in Panama and Columbia. My calves were very sore from all that walking and the heat felt so good on them! I actually fell asleep and woke myself up when I snored! In the Persian Garden is also a steam room, a cold room, and an aroma therapy room. I loved the cold room after using the tiled chairs, there was actually ice on the walls!
Women's Changing Room
My favorite...cheeses from the buffet
We were in cabin 9140, an inside cabin. The layout is nice and you have some space against the wall between the door and the dresser which is where we stored our luggage since we couldn’t get it under bed. The bed is arranged close to the closet on one side, the wall on the other side, and across from the bed is the dresser…not much room to try to slide your suitcases under. There is plenty of room in the closet for our clothes. There is a hair dryer in the drawer, but it is the kind you have to hold your thumb on the button to keep it on. It’s adequate. The TV is above the dresser, and there is a space for the ladies to use for applying makeup. There are plenty of shelves, but I missed having drawer space. The safe is inside a cabinet and you set a numeric code to open and lock it. There is a small refrigerator with items for purchase.
The bathroom is small, but the shower is angled so you had a little more space than you do on other ships. You have small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion which are replaced when used up.
Our cabin steward, Edy, was the best! He was so concerned about making us happy and making sure we had everything we needed. I think we scared him the first day because when we came back from lunch, he had cleaned the carpet and it left a strong scent. With my asthma, I couldn’t breathe and we were coughing and asking what it was. He felt bad about that. I told him I couldn’t be around anything scented. After that he was always asking if we needed anything, if everything was okay, etc. He was great and I gave him a nice extra tip.
Elite Perks: So speaking of perks, besides the one time complimentary pass for the Persian Garden, you get a bag of complimentary laundry, one item dry cleaned (one time only); some Bingo and Casino offers; complimentary 90 minutes of Internet or 30% off Unlimited Internet Package. We used the 90 minutes we each had, but you waste a lot of minutes waiting for it come up, trying to get logged on to your email, and logging off. So you really don’t get a full 90 minutes of Internet use.
Other perks included wine savings, specialty dining offers, and photo gallery. We got our free scoop of gelato, it’s small, but good enough. As an Elite member we also had three complimentary drinks loaded onto our cards each day. We would usually go to the Ensemble Lounge before dinner every night for these drinks. The bartender there
is Sasha and she is great! We would leave her a couple of dollars each night and then I gave her an extra tip on the last night. Sit at the bar and tell her I said to ask for “Miss Sassy”; that was my nickname for her.
Nice touch! These flowers lasted all 11 days!
The food in the dining room was hit or miss. Some nights good, other nights terrible. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants or room service except for the Tuscan Grill for breakfast one morning since it was one of our Elite perks. Here’s what I remember we had…
Apps: Thai spring roll, bleu cheese soufflé, Mâche salad, shrimp cocktail, fish cake (wish I’d gotten two of these!), shrimp cakes (scrumptious!)
Soups: wild mushroom, French onion, butternut squash, tomato, cream of broccoli, chilled strawberry
Entrees: prime rib (hit or miss on temp), beef tornedo, sirloin, trout, flank steak, short ribs, Steak Diane, Beef Bourguignon, sea bass, lobster tail, beef wellington
The first night we got prime rib and they both were cooked the way we ordered them. The last night, they couldn’t get it right. I ordered medium, my husband ordered medium well and they were both medium rare. The lobster was terrible. It was dried out, rubbery and had no flavor at all, even the melted butter had no flavor. I was looking forward to that rich, scrumptious flavor you get with lobster, but I was out of luck. Other people we talked to said the same things so it wasn’t just us.
We loved all of the soups we got. They were all very creamy and smooth, and would leave a nice flavor in your mouth that would wake up your taste buds! Desserts actually looked better than they tasted; I usually got ice cream or sherbet. I waited all cruise for a soufflé and finally on the last night, they had a chocolate soufflé with a coffee sauce, was pretty good. I did love the bleu cheese soufflé I got as an appetizer one night. If you like bleu cheese, you will love this soufflé. It’s rich with a smooth creamy flavor that will almost melt in your mouth. It’s a flurry of flavor and textures that your palate will love!
We tried the main dining room for breakfast a few times, but they couldn’t get my husband’s eggs right. They were always over cooked. I always ordered an egg white omelet and it was never very good and looked sloppily made. At the buffet we could get our eggs cooked to order and they were always perfect from there.
Pastries at the Tuscan Grill for breakfast
Butternut Squash Soup
Sirloin from the Every Day menu
Bleu Cheese Souffle
We’ve been here many times and done everything there is to do, so we stayed on the ship. If you have not been here, I would recommend snorkeling with the sting rays or a tour around the island. You can pick these up at the pier and they all take you to Hell and Seven Mile Beach.
We booked a private tour with Dora. We had read a lot of reviews about her tours on TripAdvisor and the majority of them raved about the tour they received. We were disappointed, however, with the number of shopping stops and that no water or drinks of any kind were offered. It’s very hot and humid and we did a lot of walking.
We met our guide, Tous, at an aviary and we had some time before the tour began and after we returned to see the birds and peacocks. There were even some anteaters here – I didn’t know they were so big!
We met Tous around 8:15 and the tour lasted approximately 4.5 hours. We begin the tour at La Popa Monastery. The convent stands on a 150m-high hill, the highest point in Cartagena. The views from here are amazing and you are able to see all over the city. According to The Lonely Planet, the convent's name literally means the Convent of the Stern, after the hill's similarity to a ship's back end. Founded by Augustine fathers in 1607, it was initially just a small wooden chapel, but when the hill was fortified two centuries later it was replaced by the more stout construction of today.
From the Monastery, we stopped at the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. We did not go inside the fort, it was just a photo op of the outside. The vendor vultures were all over you here and at other places we went. I can’t tell you how many times I said no, and no to the same people over and over. I know they are just trying to make a living, but they were very annoying.
After our stop at the fort, we had a shopping stop and since we are not shoppers, we waited outside the shops for what seemed like hours. It was extremely hot and fortunately I had taken a bottle of water, but it didn’t last very long between the two of us. We then headed to the actual Walled City. Again, the vendor vultures were all over you and there were triple the number that were at the fort. Making our way through all the vultures and city streets, we saw some amazing sights. The architecture is truly old world and just beautiful! It’s actually neat to be inside this city where everything is connected. We visited San Pedro Claver Catholic Church; it’s so amazing and ornate. It has a huge courtyard that is breathtaking with lush, thick vegetation and flora.
There was a man on the street selling beautiful paintings he created with only his fingers! The Plaza de San Diego is somewhat centrally located within the Walled City and is surrounded by some colorful buildings and churches. We walked through this plaza on our way to San Pedro Claver Catholic Church. After the visit to the church, I think we walked back to the main streets where the vendor vultures were. We had another shopping stop and after 30 minutes or so of waiting in the hot sun, we asked Tous if we could go back to the bus and wait. He called the driver and he walked out from under the bridge and waved at us. We walked to him and followed him to where the bus was parked. He had kept the A/C going and it was nice and cool. He played music for us and was so nice. I wish I could remember his name, he was so sweet and tried to speak to us in English, even using a translator on his phone.
There is a lot of rich history here along with some amazing buildings and beautiful architecture, which I enjoyed, but there were too many shopping stops and they should at least have water to hand out for those who want it. I would not recommend this tour to anyone who is mobility challenged as there is a lot of walking up and down hills and city streets with uneven pavement. Take bottles of water with you and a towel to wipe the perspiration off your face and neck. I would have preferred they missed a shopping stop or two and gone inside the fort, or visited a pretty boardwalk area we saw on the way back. After we got back and walked through the aviary one more time, we headed back to the ship in time for lunch at the buffet. After that, it was definitely nap time!
Birds at the Aviary where we met Tous
Cartegena from top of Monastery
Inside the church at La Popa
In the Courtyard
Inside the Walled City
Paints only with fingers
Still inside Walled City
Courtyard Of San Pedro Claver Church
Inside of San Pedro Claver Church
We booked a ship’s tour here (Panama City and Locks tour) because we’d read about how bad the traffic is and it takes a long time to get back from Panama City. This turned out to be a good decision on our part. We were picked up at the cruise terminal and loaded onto several buses. We stopped at the Agua Clara Locks first. I have to say it’s not what I imagined, but it was somewhat magical to watch that big freighter go ever so slowly through the locks. There’s really nothing spectacular about it, yet you were drawn in because now you have to see this ship make it all the way through!
We spent some time walking around the area after watching the incredible scene of the freighter ship go through the locks. There is a small hiking trail and we walked through that hoping to see some monkeys, but we didn’t and then it was time to hop on the bus and head to Panama City. That was about a 45 minute drive, or should have been, but it was raining and we came to a place on the highway (like our interstates) that was flooded. Traffic moved very slow through the flooded area and it seemed as though, and rightly so, they were afraid to drive through the high waters. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally made our way to the flooded spot and our big bus drove through it with no problem. We are on our way once again! We made a shopping/restroom stop on our way to Panama City. We bought a Coke here and we left everyone else and went back to the bus since it was so hot. As we were getting on the bus, the driver handed us our lunch, which consisted of a sandwich that I think was turkey on a very long and large sub-type roll. We also had a banana nut muffin and a bottle of water. As others began coming back on the bus, they were handed their lunch and after everyone was finished, we were on our way again.
After driving through some streets, we got off the bus and began our walking tour. We made so many stops, and saw so many sights, I can’t remember it all! Again, the architecture and history is very interesting and beautiful amidst a city littered with trash all along the streets.
We stopped at churches, saw hundreds of buildings, some beautiful sights, and had more shopping stops, OMG! I think we walked 100 miles that day; we went all over the entire city! We stopped at one church that had hundreds of Nativity scenes that someone donated to the church. I did get some amazing shots and will be sharing some of them below.
It took us almost an hour to get back to the ship and it was almost 5:30 when we arrived at the terminal. I know I was dirty, stinky, and all my makeup had melted off, but I didn’t care, I went to dinner without a shower that night, just too tired and not enough time to take one. This was a wonderful tour, but again, if walking is a challenge, it may not be for you. We walked literally all day and up a lot of steps.
At the Locks
Panama City Sreet
Inside Church in Panama City
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica:
We didn’t leave the ship this day. We couldn’t find anything we wanted to do there, and decided to use our Persian Garden perk since it had to be used on a port day. The heat from that chair did wonders on my legs and everywhere else that ached from our two days of non-stop walking. If you get that perk, USE IT, it’s worth it.
Costa Maya, Mexico:
We booked Maya Chan for this day. We had read all the reviews about it on TripAdvisor and made the decision to book. It was a nice, relaxing day, and very laid back. It was just the kind of day we needed after two days of walking.
We had a problem finding the representative. Our instructions said to head toward the fake pyramid and look for the Maya Chan sign with representative. We walked to the pyramid and even passed it, but couldn’t find anyone there, we never saw a sign. We began walking back to the ship and stopped outside a store looking around perplexed, and I said something about the sign and a lady called out to us asking if we were looking for Maya Chan. We went over, got checked in and waited. One other couple was already there. We saw others wandering around trying to find the sign; she never put the sign out for people to see while we were there. I said something to her about the directions being deceptive because it says to look for the sign. She said it was in the restroom because of something; I can’t remember now what the reason was.
After a short wait, we were loaded into a van for our ride to Maya Chan Beach Resort. I appreciated the fact that she put those who came first in the first van. It is about a 30 minute ride on very rough roads. That didn’t bother me because we knew from reading reviews how long the ride would be and I never expect good roads; we are not at home and shouldn’t expect anything to be like home; isn’t that why we visit other countries, to experience what’s there along with their culture?
When we arrived, the “Welcoming Committee” came to meet us! Roadas was first and he made everyone feel very welcome! Roadas is a black Lab who also loves attention! He loves his job and loves it even more when everyone begins to ooh and ahh over him. His assistant is Cocoa, who just likes to sleep. One of the resident cats also showed up during lunch and I believe her name is Isabella. You are taken to some chairs with a thatched umbrella and one of those beach beds. Massages are offered at an additional cost. I had planned on getting one, but got so relaxed, I forgot about it!
We got there very early, close to noon I think, and lunch wasn’t until 2:00, so we were given a rum punch and a welcome snack of chips and guacamole and a spicy salsa – very good!
They offer free WiFi, one at the beach and one at the bar. As I sat there in my very own personal chair under our very own umbrella checking my e-mails, fb, and munching on our snack and drinking my rum punch, I realized how relaxed I was and I liked that feeling! You forget about all the “stuff” at home and you begin to forget about all the stress and worries. There’s just something about being on a beach far away from the everyday rush and stress of the “outside” world.
The water washing up on the beach looked muddy so we did not get in the water. There is a lot of seaweed, which we knew would be there and were familiar with since a resort we go to in Playa del Carmen has the same issue. Men were there raking it up, but Mother Nature plays her own game when it comes to who wins over that! No need to complain about it or let it ruin your visit, just enjoy the rest of what’s there. If you take a look around, you can find some amazing beautiful pieces of nature.
They do have inner tubes if you’d like to float around in the ocean. Our chairs were located at the far end of the property which I liked because you are not in the middle of a lot going on and was quieter.
Lunch consisted of a small buffet of tacos, fish, BBQ, and more. It was all good. Roadas joined us for lunch and begged a little as only Labs can do. Having had three Labs of our own, we knew what that “look” meant when he sat down beside us and looked up with those big pitiful brown eyes. Gotta love him…he tries! If you’re not familiar with Labs, they always think they’re starving! During lunch, a van with more visitors arrived and of course, both Roadas and Cocoa were there to greet them!
After lunch we walked around the property and there is a house next to Maya Chan with lots of beautiful palm trees full of coconuts. I can’t imagine my backyard being a beach full of palm trees and coconuts! We took some pictures and just cruised around a while before settling back into our very own chairs under our very own umbrella. We had a very relaxing day and before we knew it, it was time to take that bumpy ride back to the cruise terminal. We both enjoyed a relaxing, peaceful day at Maya Chan and it’s your choice to just relax or play in the ocean – the day is what you make it.
Welcome Snack & Drink
For our day in Cozumel, we booked our old stand by and favorite place, Nachi Cocum. We grabbed a cab at the terminal and made our way there. It was early, but it was open and we were some of the first ones there. We were taken to our chairs under a thatched umbrella, but after some time there, we gradually made our way to the pool area and ended up in the hot tub for most of the day – well, my husband stayed there most of the day while I laid in the sun.
At Nachi Cocum your price includes your chairs on the beach, your personal waiter, all of whatever you want to drink, an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert whenever you are ready. We usually eat our appetizer a few hours after getting there, our entrée closer to lunch time and dessert either after our lunch or later before we leave. When you are ready to leave they will call a taxi for you. I’ve read that the cost includes your tips, but I’m not 100% sure about that so we always tip the bartender and our waiter if we use him before we leave.
They offer massages, paddle boarding, and some other things that are an extra cost, but again, this was more of a relaxing day for us. It wasn’t overly crowded since it’s spacious, however, it wasn’t as quiet as I like it either. There’s always one, you know, the loud mouthed guy in the pool or hot tub, or wherever and we had one that day. He made sure everyone heard him talking about the ship he was on, and the good deal he got, and blah, blah, blah. He really got on my last nerve, but I still managed to relax and get some sun. We stayed most of the day.
Ribs for lunch
Entertainment was pretty good on the Reflection. The first night was Dan Grueter, a comedian who has appeared on The Late Show and Comedy Central. He was funny.
We also saw Ashlie Amber, who is a former American Idol contestant. She sang Whitney Houston songs so flawlessly that you thought you were hearing Whitney herself.
The Celebrity Singers and Dancers performed “Broken Strings” which we’d seen before, but this time it was a little better. It’s still not one of those shows that you can’t wait to see again.
They also performed Elysium one night, but we missed that one. I wasn’t feeling well and went to bed after dinner. We had seen it before and it is a wonderful show and one that you shouldn’t miss. It is a magical story between good and evil and the costumes are truly beautiful.
Gary Arbuthnot performed “Irish Party in 3rd Class” one night. He is really good, playing Celtic tunes, and other musical scores from movies and rock groups.
Michael Paul was another performer using puppets. You will most likely enjoy this show.
A Hard Day’s Night was probably the best show and my favorite. This group was on the Reflection when we sailed her two years ago so we knew what to expect. They are a Beatles tribute band going through the decades of the Beatles. They are so good, you feel like you are at a Beatles concert! When they played “Hey, Jude”, we turned on our cell phones’ flashlight and began waving back and forth. Everyone else began doing the same thing and with everyone doing that harmony, you then truly felt like you were at a Beatles concert. I could have listened to them all night. If they are ever on your cruise, do not miss them.
Jesse Hamilton was a singer who has played Simba in the Lion King, played in Tthe Wiz, and other shows. He sang different songs from across different genres of music.
Ralph Harris was another comedian. He was really funny, and never said anything vulgar, not even a cuss word! I appreciated that very much. They announced that he would have a matinee show the next day, but that didn’t happen. Someone messed up and his contract was for two performances, which were the 8:00 show and the 10:00 show. I hated that happened because I would have loved to see him again.
The last night’s show was Euphoria. The “Today” paper describes it as breathtaking and it truly is. You will not want to miss this. Acrobatics and flying are involved – that’s all I’m saying about that. You will love it!
We also watched the Love and Marriage show, a show thrown together to replace Ralph Harris’s matinee show; a show I think was called the Liar’s Club with the Captain, the CD and some other staff. They were asked for the definition of certain words and only one of them was telling the truth. It’s fun to watch and try to decide for yourself who is telling the truth. I have to say, the Captain is very funny, AND, he’s Greek for those who don’t know! You don’t get that now, but you will if you ever sail with him. He will be moving to the Edge soon, so I hope you have him as your Captain on a cruise sometime. We watched some things going on in a small venue on our way to the theatre every night and they were all fun to watch.
We listened to some of the bands around the ship, went to some other smaller shows and enjoyed everything we did on board.
This was just as easy as embarkation. We had a 7:30 time to disembark, found our luggage right away, sped through Customs, got a taxi and were at the airport soon after 8:00. We were even able to get on an earlier flight home!
I’m really glad we took this ship a second time. I discovered things I’d forgotten and fell in love with her all over again. It’s a beautiful ship and I would sail it again. The ports were all good selections, and the entertainment was amazing and all so professional; I have no complaints about anything except some of the food.
We had a few days with rough seas, so if you are prone to sea sickness, you will want to take some Bonine, Dramamine, or whatever you use for that.
We always take some magnetic clips for the walls to hold things we don’t want to lose, like the “Today” paper, invitations, etc. I also took some heavy duty magnetic hooks to hang wet clothes on, my husband’s pants, etc. Try everything, do everything, eat everything, and enjoy your 11 wonderful days!