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With my thoughts starting to turn towards the next cruise which at the time of writing this is only 73 days away, I have taken a look to see what other ships might be in port with us. With the exception of the Norwegian Jade everything else is either Costa or MSC. I tend to do this so I can gauge how busy some of the ports will be if there are several ships in. Santa Cruz, Tenerife looks to be the busiest with Costa’s Mediterranea  and Favolosa in with us.

Date Port Ships in Port
Wednesday
26/11/2014
Barcelona, Spain Norwegian Spirit Depart: 7:00:00 PM
MSC Sinfonia 7:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Norwegian Jade 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Docked)
Thursday
27/11/2014
At Sea Norwegian Spirit
Friday
28/11/2014
Casablanca, Morocco Norwegian Spirit 9:00:00 AM – 11:00:00 PM
Costa Favolosa 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Saturday
29/11/2014
At Sea Norwegian Spirit
Sunday
30/11/2014
Madeira (Funchal), Portugal Norwegian Spirit 9:00:00 AM – 5:00:00 PM
Costa Favolosa 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Monday
01/12/2014
Tenerife, Santa Cruz, Canary Islands Norwegian Spirit 9:00:00 AM – 5:00:00 PM
Costa Mediterranea 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Costa Favolosa 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Tuesday
02/12/2014
Arrecife, Lanzarote, Canary Islands Norwegian Spirit 9:00:00 AM – 5:00:00 PM
Wednesday
03/12/2014
At Sea Norwegian Spirit
Thursday
04/12/2014
Malaga, Granada, Spain Norwegian Spirit 9:00:00 AM – 7:00:00 PM
Friday
05/12/2014
At Sea Norwegian Spirit
Saturday
06/12/2014
Barcelona, Spain Norwegian Spirit 9:00:00 AM – 7:00:00 PM
MSC Fantasia 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM

 

After 11 nights onboard the Celebrity Reflection it is time to look back with some observations and a brief review our voyage. We had a great cruise and although the weather wasn’t at its best at a couple of the ports it didn’t spoil anything.

From day one the ship was very busy and this could be because it was peak holiday time and also because there are an extra 77 cabins on the Reflection compared to her sister ships. For example the Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Ships has these figures for comparison.

  • Celebrity Reflection – (lower beds/all berths)…..3030/3323
  • Celebrity Silhouette – (lower beds/all berths)…..2886/3179

Now it could be that we have experienced the previous cruises at a much lower capacity and the latest one was getting close to capacity but either way we thought the public areas when the ship was busy were not as functional. Our waiter told us there were over 3000 passengers onboard but I am not sure how reliable that information was. The upper decks on sea days were very busy and if you left it too late then you would struggle to find a bed let alone 2 together. Either way we found the ship to be not as free and easy as the others in her class mainly because of the space issue.

Embarkation was relatively smooth as we were able to use a designated channel for Elite and Select members of the Captains Club which allowed us to be on the ship very quickly considering the amount of passengers arriving at the same time as ourselves.

Our cabin was pretty much the same as our previous ones on this class of ship although the cabin doors now open out and we had a door to the adjoining cabin facing the bathroom door. Nothing really new to report about the cabin other than that. Here are some photos taken before our cases arrived. The cabin never ever looks the same after that first day!

Our steward Ozy was quick to introduce himself and was always on hand to see if there was anything we needed. He was assisted by Alexander who from what I witnessed seem to do the bulk of the work in our cabin.

For eating onboard we tended to use the Oceanview Cafe during the day and the Opus Dining Room in the evening. Breakfast always seemed to be very busy no matter what time you went unless you were in port and there were loads of tours out. We like to eat out in the open area at the rear of the ship and always seemed to be able to find a table even at the busiest times.

We were given some OBC and did consider using one of the speciality restaurants but in the end we used that on other things and ate in the dining room every night where we were on a table of 9. Our fellow diners on table 248 were such was the good company and the food was excellent so why bother going elsewhere?  The only thing I can grumble about is the lack of presence from our Maître D, not once over the 11 nights did he visit our table. I am not sure of the reasons for this but we have become used to seeing one at least a couple of times on previous cruises and being as this was a Celebrity ship you would have thought that he would have made an appearance. How else would he know if our waiters or the food was meeting our approval?

We also purchased a water package and a soda package for Alex and I am pretty certain that on both accounts we made the right decision. Drink prices did seem a little higher than last time and this cruise was the first one where I didn’t treat myself to a cocktail.

The entertainment on the ship differed greatly from previous trips and instead of A cappella groups, string quartets and pianists Celebrity  seemed to be trying to appeal to a younger audience. Yes there was the usual house band which many people seemed to enjoy but we also saw another group made up of the ship musicians which played a more rockier set. Something that surprised me even more was the inclusion of a DJ who played poolside and also right in front of the Martini Bar in the evening. Also at various venues around the ship there was an acoustic guitarist by the name of Danny who we spotted on few occasions and according to the Celebrity Today a Jazz Quartet who we seemed to have missed completely. We never bothered with the theatre at all except for when walking past one night we heard them singing a Four Seasons track so went to investigate, the show was Production Cast doing songs from the shows and we just happened to be walking past when they were doing the Jersey Boys bit.

We don’t use the ship excursions and were amused to read in the Celebrity Today how they were trying to hook the vulnerable passengers who are not confident about making their own way while ashore. These are their words printed in the programme.

  • Guaranteed first off the ship – Guests on our tours enjoy priority departure in port
  • No cancellation policy – A change in plans is hassle free. If you decide to change your mind the evening before your tour, you just need to bring your tickets to the shore excursions desk and we will cancel your ticket.
  • Guaranteed return to ship –  If your tour is delayed, we won’t sail without you. We are always in contact with the guide and local tour operator.

Our muster was conducted in the dining room in front of some drop down screens and I would say that I would be very surprised if 70% could actually see the screen. Yes you could hear what was being said but without the pictures or previous knowledge then you have to question how much use it actually was.

Something I haven’t seen before was the Thriller Flash mob who performed on the last evening in the Grand Foyer. Made up from passengers and a couple of the dancers they rehearsed and danced the routine from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. I only managed to catch the end of the dress rehearsal and the end of the actual performance and from what I saw they did very well. There are some of these on YouTube if do a search they are easy enough to find.

All the usual cruise stuff was there like the Bella Perlina Charm bracelet sales and the mega bingo but we just ignore that and focus on what appeals to us. As you will have read from the daily posts we don’t sometimes get off the ship opting to make the most of a deserted ship and its hotel facilities.  We will most likely cruise Celebrity again in the future but I don’t think it will be on the Reflection, she just doesn’t seem to have the same soul as her sisters.

 

After arriving very early at Civitavecchia all that was left to do was to pack up our remaining items into the bags & rucksack and be out of the cabin by 8:00. A quick look out over the balcony at 6:30 and there were already passengers making their way off the ship. Also coming in behind us was the Regal Princess who turned round in the space behind us so that she could be pointing in the right direction for a swift getaway.

On leaving the cabin we popped down to the dining room for breakfast which is what we have always tended to do on the last morning of recent cruises. That way you don’t have to fight for a seat and you can just have a nice leisurely breakfast while you wait to get off. We dragged it out as long as we could but eventually moved to the Grand Foyer on deck 3 to wait for our 9:30 slot to collect our cases when off the ship.

One sad event occurred while we were waiting, a lady tripped on the atrium stairs when coming down and broke her ankle. Not a nice way to get off the ship at all, I hope the break wasn’t too bad and that she managed to get home eventually.

Our transfer is due at 10:00 and will take us to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport for our 1:30pm Alitalia flight to T4 at Heathrow.

We arrived this morning just as the sun was rising over Vesuvius which did look quite amazing. We needed to be off the ship quickly so we could catch the earliest possible ferry to Capri which was our destination for the day.

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Although we were in just after 7:00 we could not get off the ship until just before 8:00. I don’t know why the long wait but it meant we eventually caught the 8:35 ferry which got us into Porto Marina Grande at 9:40. From there we caught one of the Motoscafisti boats for a circumnavigation of the island. The intention being to go into the Blue Grotto on our circuit.

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The trip round the island produced some spectacular scenery but sadly by the time we reached the Blue Grotto there were loads of boats full of people waiting to have a look, our skipper told us the wait would be over two hours  and that if we really wanted to go in then we would need to return to port and take a boat which only did the grotto. It means we will just have to come back and have another go.

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When we got back to port the Funicular queue was ridiculously long so we walked up to the top where we had a wander and some well earned refreshments before walking back down. Climbing being not the best thing to be doing on a hot day but the view from the top was well worth the effort.

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We had a great day and loved Capri, it really is a spectacular place to visit. Our 1:40pm ferry back to Naples was the only available slot when we booked the return tickets so it did seem like like we were going back not long after we got there. The ship sailed at 6:15 and we are now on our way to Civitavecchia where the cruise will come to an end.
I am doing this in a bit of a hurry tonight as I have small window in between packing and dinner. There was much to tell and lots to show but it will have to wait for another day.  Tomorrow we get off and come home. I might try and find time for a post tomorrow and if I can I will.
BTW…..no Maitre D last night so tonight is his last chance to meet us and check if everything is OK.

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Nothing much to report today other than it was very hot and the open spaces on the upper deck were extremely busy. The Solstice Deck which you will have gathered was very busy today with just about every area of deck being taken up by a bed. It was like an obstacle course getting across from one place to another.

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The Solstice Deck on a warm sea day

Just before returning to the cabin I took a wander round the upper deck to compare how busy the various areas were and its not until you see how deserted the lawn areas are at the back you have ask what were Celebrity thinking?

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As you can see from the photos above there is a large amount of space probably costing a lot of money to maintain but being of very little use. It doesn’t really become that obvious until you have a warm sea day like today when most people want to be outside.

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The pool deck after the first sitting diners had gone

Tonight is the 2nd and final formal night which I hope will be as well attended as the first. I have to have minor grumble with regards to the dress code as it has not been enforced as strictly as the note would have suggested in the first daily programme. We have seen on several occasions shorts being worn and nothing done bout it. When we mentioned this to our waiter he said it was not down to them to police it and it was the responsibility of the Maitre D and if they managed to slip past without him seeing then there was nothing they could do.
Talking of the Maitre D, we have yet to have him visit the table on this cruise and if he turns up in the next 2 nights as we are predicting then our table will give him a few choice words. We have seen him wandering up and down trying to look important and busy but doing little else. On the other hand the waiting staff and food has absolutely first class but our Maitre D wouldn’t know that………………well not from our table any way!

We were asleep this morning when we arrived at Piraeus so when we looked out the first things we could see and hear were loads of the island ferries busy coming and going from this busy port.

A Hydrofoil leaves Piraeus Port

A Hydrofoil leaves Piraeus Port

Most of the ships tours had already left by the time we made it down to the buffet so it was nice and quiet and consequently much quicker to go about your food gathering business.
We left the ship at just before 9:00am and made our way out of the terminal building heading for the HoHo bus stop. There were 2 rival bus company’s wanting our business and we opted for the City Sightseeing one which we have used on many occasions before. The price for the 2 routes was 22 Euros per adult and being as Alex is 14 he went for free. The buses go every 30 minutes and we only had to wait for 15 minutes before we were making our way on the 30 minute journey to the Acropolis bus stop. The journey took us round the Piraeus peninsula before joining the main highway into Athens.

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This is where we disembarked and started our ascent up to the ticket office and although it was only 9:45 in the morning it was incredibly hot already. The queue for tickets took approximately 10 minutes and there was a little bit of argy bargy at one point as some Germans thought they could join the queue near the front. These were soon sent packing as just about everyone in the queue joined forces to send them to the back. Funny how they suddenly loose the ability to speak English.

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Tickets were 12 Euros for adults and Alex again went free after producing his passport, so all in all he was having a cheap day. The climb to the top of the plateau was a little slow with everyone seemingly wanting to photo them selves at every vantage point, it was probably what you would consider “selfie” heaven (or hell)!
We we did eventually reach the top it was still very busy, extremely hot but at least there was a bit more space. If you have ever been then you will appreciate the views from the top and it really is something you need to do at least once.
There is still lots of scaffolding around parts of Parthenon along with a couple of cranes where the restoration is going on but it should look amazing when it is all done.

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We didn’t bother with a guide today just opting to go and see, take some photos then return to the ship. The fact we had got Alex here was a major achievement and I think he would be first to admit that in the end he actually enjoyed it. Its just a shame that he will probably look back at this when he is older and wonder why he didn’t want to explore more. Yes it was hot and we could have done more but we will leave that for our next visit, perhaps when there is just the 2 of us.

After making our way down there was a bus waiting which had loads of space and was just about to leave so we promptly hopped on for the return journey.

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We arrived back at the ship at just before 1:00pm and made our way up to the buffet for some lunch and then it was time to worship the sun god again. Its a nice balance for the day splitting it 50-50 with a bit of culture and a bit of R&R.

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Tomorrow is a sea day and the next port is Naples which will be our last stop before we arrive back to Civitavecchia the following day for disembarking to return home.

This morning we arrived at Mykonos at just before 6:30am with strong gusts which have remained all day. Quite unusual was the fact that all the lines were tightened but the pilot was not entirely happy with the position so everything was released and the ship was manoeuvred back about 50 metres or so.  Watching the men moving the gangway was quite amusing as they seemed to have little idea what was happening.

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On our way into Mykonos

After breakfast we made use of the free shuttle into town and spent several hours wandering around the pretty narrow passageways which make Mykonos so enchanting. We wandered up to the windmills for some photos of the views looking back towards the ship.

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Windmills and ship in Mykonos

It really is a pretty little town and after a bit of retail therapy by Nicole we sat and had coffee, a beer and some baklava before heading back to the ship.

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After arriving back at the ship we made our way up to a deserted buffet and ate lunch before heading up to our usual spot for some sun worshipping. The strong winds today made it feel much cooler and it almost felt like  sea day.
Shortly before 6:00pm we set sail sail for Piraeus where the temperatures are forecast to be 33 degrees tomorrow.

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Sailing away from Mykonos

Last night we witnessed a really red sunset which we took to be a good sign and true enough today has been really hot.

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Red sky at night

Have we done much today? In a matter of words….NO. With about 70% of the other passengers getting off to do one thing or another but we have again used the hotel facilities of the ship without the hustle and bustle of the crowds. Most people going to Ephesus which we enjoyed doing a few years back and rest seemingly happy just to wander round the local bars and bazaar’s in the port area which is what I did for about an hour mid afternoon. Big business here are the counterfeit goods that Turkey seems to produce in abundance, I was quite interested in how much they are now charging for the counterfeit watches which are getting nearer in price now to the originals!
While off the ship I seized the chance to take a few photos of the other ships in with us today, they were the Regent Seven Seas Mariner, Thomson Celebration and the Serenade of the Seas. The one below is taken looking across the decks with all the funnels in line.

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Serenade of the Seas, Thomson Celebration and the Regent Seven Seas Mariner

We have had a wonderful day just doing very little and will miss this when we are back at work next week. Just to be on a ship somewhere nice and warm really is exactly what we enjoy. If there is something of real interest then we will go take  look but to be honest we don’t really need it.

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Kusadasi from the ship

Last night the ship overnighted in Istanbul and it was a real treat to wander up on deck after dinner and see everything all lit up. We were also treated to a lightening storm which I had some minor success at catching with the camera.

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Flash lightening over the Bosphorus Bridge

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Forked lightening over the Bosphorus Bridge

While at dinner we discussed how everyone’s day had been with regards to the weather and if it had affected the tours, luckily it hadn’t although we did discover that they had not gone to the Basilica Cistern which really you would have thought the ships tours would have done. One of the family’s said they would go back in the morning and see it under their own steam and thought it would be nice to tag along too. We have already been twice before but Alex hadn’t so it seemed like a good idea.
Instead of using the trams, taxis or buses we decided to walk and without going at to faster pace managed to do it in just under an hour arriving at 9:10. While we were walking there seemed to be another storm brewing like the one yesterday. Crossing the Golden Horn bridge I took this photo.

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Storm clouds loom

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Fortunately for us the rain only started to spot as we waited in the queue for tickets to the Cistern.

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Medusa Head in the Basilica Cistern

 

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The Basilica Cistern ceiling

Even though it was the third time we had been we still find it quite a magical place to visit. I wouldn’t be surprised if went back again some day. When we eventually made it back to pavement level the rain had set in and it was pouring down. The decision was made to find a cafe and have a drink and some baklava while we waited to see if the weather eased off so we could walk back. It didn’t so I managed to buy a couple of umbrellas from the local traders for 20 Lira’s which were more than good enough for what we needed.

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Looking across the water to the Celebrity Reflection

The rain did eventually ease off but not until we were nearly back to the ship. We had a fun morning despite getting rained on for the second day on the trot in Istanbul. We arrived back onboard just after 12:15pm with the ship sailing at 1:00

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Celebrity Reflection in Istanbul

After a quick bite to eat in the buffet we made our way up to the Solstice Deck where we spent the rest of the afternoon in brilliant sunshine!

We arrived shortly before 6:30am this morning and were able to watch the sunrise over the Bosphorus Bridge, quite stunning it was too.

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Sunrise over the Bosphorus

The forecast was for it to be cloudy (and no rain!) so we decided that being as we were stopping overnight we would go out in the afternoon and hopefully miss all the ships tours.

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Storms clouds approaching

Around midday we heard a few claps of thunder in the distance and then about half an hour later the skies emptied and it rained until just after 3:00pm. Due to the time of time of day it was decided that we would stay on board and perhaps venture out in the morning. Apart from a few crew we were the only ones up on the pool deck during the storm which considering there are over 3480 passengers on board was quite a strange feeling.
The ship is due to leave at 1:00pm so there should be time to at least take a walk in the morning.

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A deserted and wet deck 14 in Istanbul

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A very wet deck 14

The sun did eventually come out again and it was really quite pleasant for the remaining hours of daylight. We again made the most of a deserted ship until the ships tours started to arrive back. Had this been our first visit it would have been quite disappointing but having been twice before there are not many things we haven’t seen here so it wasn’t a great loss. Not at all the sort of weather we had anticipated in Istanbul and I gather its not much better back in the UK either.

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