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Mr. Click

Making Lemonade on the Reflection Oct 12 to 22, 2018

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We just got back from our 10 night trip on the Reflection out of Rome around the Eastern Med to some Italian ports and Malta and some Greek ports.  We had a great time but at times it was challenging, 4 hour airline delay getting to Rome, some rainy days here and there, a bit of missed information on a big tour in Messina, a specialty dining package that did not workout.....all things that had me saying that when life hands you lemons you need to make lemonade or maybe limoncello for some you.  

 

We start with 3 days in Rome and planned to just to a lot of walking around and exploring. We have been to Rome a few times so the big tourist spots were not on our list. Our hotel was great, right next to the Pantheon.  Albergo del Senato.  Nice room, great staff, great breakfast and worth the price to us. In those first days we just walked and walked, explored areas we had read about and enjoyed dinners on plaza at the Pantheon. Oh, Lindt Chocolates about a block up from the plaza has THE BEST gelato every..and I know because I have eaten way too much of it in my life so I have a big data base for comparison.

 

Our trip across the Atlantic was a prime example of why I would never try arriving the same day. We left the gate, moved about 100 yards when the captain informed us they had an engine light come on. 30 minutes later it was back to the gate, 4 hours late we rolled down the runway in Newark......

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So happy to hear that you chose to stay in Albergo del Senato in Rome. I have stayed there twice and will stay there a third time and on and on. Great location and the staff are wonderful.

Great choice!

Norris

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Albergo del Senato was recommended to us by cruise critic friends last year.  Boy were they right...

 

Oct 12, The lemons continue.  Rome was hit with a transit strike so traffic was a mess and our ride was a bit late.  The driver did stay in touch with us and in the end we were only about 45 minutes behind schedule. Certainly better than United had done on Monday.  Check in was quick and easy with Elites being on the same line as Concierge Class. 15 minutes after we arrived at the port we were onboard a ship we had never sailed and were anxious to explore.  Since it was already close to 1pm we decided to see where out dining package would take us on the first night. Murano was the the closest to where we boarded so we stopped to ask and look for reservations for our other three nights. A note here, food allergies make some of the restaurants like Quise, The Porch and Sushi on 5 impossible for us so we wanted to get things settled quickly. Long story short, they did not have a reservation for us for night 1, could not find anything that worked for us on the other nights we could work with and displayed a lot of "what do you want from me?" attitude. I simply said no thanks and went to guest relations to cancel our package.  They did try to help find reservations but nothing worked and that was the end of package dining.  By then it was time to head to our cabin, 7286, a nice rear facing 1A with a huge balcony right near the aft elevators.  The cabin was fine, comfortable, clean and ready.  We dropped our carryons and headed to the Ocean View for some late lunch. Finding a table was easy, food was good and by the time we got back to the cabin luggage had arrived and we spent time unpacking before the muster drill and our unofficial CC sail away M&G.  The new muster video is pretty entertaining so that was a treat after being bored by doing this so many times. Up to the Sunset Bar to watch sail away and meet some of the folks we had been chatting with for months and finalize our private tour meeting places for the next 10 days.  Sail away from Rome is nothing fancy but we all had a good time putting real names and face with CC names.  

 

Dinner....no reservations so we just went to Select Time Dining and the Dragon had no problem seating us promptly as a party of 2.  The service was fine but the food, not so fine. Mrs. Click's grilled chicken looked baked, over baked really and had little taste, my prime rib was good.  Apple pie and chocolate cake for dessert always save the day.

 

By now we had found out that our official CC M&G was going to be at 9:15am the next more.  That would have been great but we were docking in Messina at 10am so it left all us little time to really visit.  By 9:45am the staff speeches were done and people were dashing to get ready to head out...and the sky was sort of gray.

 

Tomorrow, into the rain on Mt. Etna and why didn't we realize we needed heavier coats to go way up a volcano?  And why didn't our tour operator tell us and why didn't our guide  send us back for warmer stuff??? Lemons again.....

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Glad to hear you made lemonade (for me limoncello), the sign of a true traveler!  Something almost goes not quite right and one can complain and look for someone to give them $ or they make lemonade and enjoy the trip.

 

Looking  forward to hearing about the rest of your  trip.

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Are Celebrity still handing out their leaflet explaining you will pay VAT on onboard purchases ? (No EU port on itinerary)    I bet they didn't tell you when you booked !

Edited by mickey89

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Glad to hear you were having a good time in spite of...  As a fellow lemonade makers, we always remember we're on a multimillion dollar ship, and are fortunate enough to have the health, time, and money to enjoy a lovely vacation and that many are not nearly so fortunate and manage to joke about the inevitable travel kinks.

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You have the right attitude and as such will probably always have a great vacation.  Hubby and I did the Med on Brilliance of the Seas (RCI) early in the season (late April) in 2017 and there was quite a bit of cloudy skies and some rough seas and some rain.  Nothing terrible, but it was definitely not Caribbean sunny and smooth.

 

It was the absolute best vacation we'd ever been on.  But I read someone else's review from the same cruise and you would think we were on different planets!  

 

When things go wrong, our motto is, enjoy the adventure.  Open your eyes and face whatever is happening with a smile.  It always seems to work out for us.

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4 hours ago, mickey89 said:

Are Celebrity still handing out their leaflet explaining you will pay VAT on onboard purchases ? (No EU port on itinerary)    I bet they didn't tell you when you booked !

 There was a leaflet in our cabin when we first got there and there were signs everywhere in the shops.  I had no plans to buy much of anything but after our dining package bombed out we had to figure out what to do with the extra OBC. Mrs. Click got her hair done on both sea days, I picked up a GoPro and got about half of the tax back. Still pretty much a freebie for me.

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Sorry for the delay in continuing, I got lost in editing my pictures today....it is a long process for me but once I am done I will come back and add a link to the coffee table book we now do for each cruise.

 

Day 2.....Messina.  We had a full day planned. Italy with Mario had arranged a tour for six of us to go up to the very top of Mt. Etna, get a guided tour up there, see some sights and vistas on the way up and down and at my request, late lunch in Castelmola at Gallo Cedrone where we ate last year. Great food, great people and on a nice day you have terrific view of Mt. Etna.  Two problems.. it was nice when we got off the ship but it started to rain as we drove to the volcano and NONE of had thought abut rain gear--the sun was out--and none of had thought about going up so high that the temps would drop dramaticly.  Our guide told us not to worry, they rent coats and heavy shoes up there, just 3 Euros each.  By the time we got to the lower craters it was raining hard, the wind was blowing and it was about 45 degrees....and the fog was settling. A brief conference and we all decided to skip the cable car up to the summit, another 3000 feet up and our guide re-worked the rest of the day and nicely adjusted the price for us. We did get to see a lot in the lower craters and once we were back down she arranged a visit to a local plant that made honey from their own bees and olive oil and the like.  Lunch with Mama in Castelmola was great again, most of has lasanga because Mama said so...We got back to the ship so full we all skipped dinner and just went to the Elite HH after we showered.  It was not the day we planned or invisoned but it was a great day in the end.

 

Tomorrow, Malta, a place most of us knew nothing about other than Celebrity's ships are registered there....

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We were on this cruise and thought it was one of the best trips ever!! It was perfecto!!  Butler, the tours we booked, the food- fabulous!

 

Amy

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H2OH!, glad you loved it.  Maybe if we had a butler and luminea our dining experience might have been better.  We only had dinner on board 4 times. The first night and it was good for me, poor for Mrs. Click, then a few nights later we did the Tuscan Grill and it was great, made us wish our dining package had worked out.  The night we had rack of lamb--the first sea day the food was good, the service was just out of sync and the last sea day we asked 3 days in advance for a table for 8.....you would have thought I was asking for the world....and we did enjoy our dinner.  The other nights we ended up hitting the buffet late because we had some really incredible lunches while we were on our tours and were just too full for happy hour and a big dinner.  The buffet for dinner was surprisingly good.  

 

We had a great time, but other trips have been better.

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Day Three, Malta, a totally new port for us so a full day of touring booked by some of our new CC friends through Maltatourguide.com.  A real taste of all of Malta.  We docked around sunrise and it was amazing to see the walls, the towers, all of the midevil looking structures basking the morning sun and contrasting with rows of docked mega yachts.  Then I looked to the west....and saw a big black cloud that was getting bigger and blacker by the minute.  By the time we met our guide and boarded the van it was raining, again.  This time we were prepared, umbrellas, slickers etc for all of us.  Our guide suggested some changes in the itinerary to deal with the rain and keep us inside as much as possible in the morning.  A couple of quick phone calls and we were off to the crusader city of Mdina. It was filled with history and some amazing architecture. Next was an area of archelogical excavation and more history. The rain had stopped so we got walk around the dig area and explore it all before we headed to lunch and what was supposed to be some walk around time in a fishing village near by.  Lunch we great but the rain returned so it was back into the van to head to Valletta.  Catacombs, shopping streets, more history of how Malta changed from a crusader city to a British Colony to a modern republic.  It was all interesting and entertaining and the rain did stop again so we could walk around Valleta for a bit before heading back to the ship.  Another late day big lunch meant another skipped dinner. There seems to be a pattern forming but we were touring with some great people, having a lot of fun so doing the Elite cocktail hour with them and enjoying drinks and snack and a late light bite in the Ocean View seemed to be working well.  One nice thing for photographers is we arrived in most of our ports around dawn  and left around sunset so there were lots of opportunities for some dramatic light, when the clouds allowed....

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Enjoy reading your posts.  

On our first visit to Messina it was pouring when we left but as we approached Taormina the sun came out. 

Next visit we encountered rain, wind and cold and had what we refer to as the most expensive cannoli at the top of Mt. Etna.  Never got out to see craters.  

Malta is a favored stop of ours.  Unfortunate for the rain as Valletta is a great pedestrian city.  

Looking forward to your posts.  We sail from Barcelona on Monday on the Eclipse.  Third time on her this year. 

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Fortunately for us our guide was able to invert our itinerary and put Valetta last so the rain was pretty much gone by then and we were able to spend some time walking around.  

 

Day 4 was a much needed Sea Day.  It gave us some time to dry out, relax and visit with a lot of our new found friends. We had wanted to hang out in the Sky Lounge but Park West had taken it over for their "art auction" so we moved to the Ensemble Lounge on Deck 5 and Mrs Click had time for some fluff and buff in the spa.  It was pricy but she was happy with the end result and it used up some of out OBC.  We had a really hard time finding anything we wanted to buy in the shops. A side note, because we were an all EU port cruise the spirits shop never opened.  Not a big deal for us but if you are planning an all EU cruise, plan on buying your spirits in the duty free shops ashore.  We had a 7pm MDR reservation and our new friends did not have a reservation but the Dragon did a nice job of getting us seated together after a short wait, at the Martini Bar.  Celebrity's rack of lamb is always a great meal.

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20 hours ago, Mr. Click said:

H2OH!, glad you loved it.  Maybe if we had a butler and luminea our dining experience might have been better.  We only had dinner on board 4 times. The first night and it was good for me, poor for Mrs. Click, then a few nights later we did the Tuscan Grill and it was great, made us wish our dining package had worked out.  The night we had rack of lamb--the first sea day the food was good, the service was just out of sync and the last sea day we asked 3 days in advance for a table for 8.....you would have thought I was asking for the world....and we did enjoy our dinner.  The other nights we ended up hitting the buffet late because we had some really incredible lunches while we were on our tours and were just too full for happy hour and a big dinner.  The buffet for dinner was surprisingly good.  

 

We had a great time, but other trips have been better.

We think the buffet for dinner is a pleasant surprise recently on Celebrity. Grilled items, lots of choices and not crowded, making a leisurely dinner. We usually hit it at least once per cruise.

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13 minutes ago, dkjretired said:

We think the buffet for dinner is a pleasant surprise recently on Celebrity. Grilled items, lots of choices and not crowded, making a leisurely dinner. We usually hit it at least once per cruise.

In the past we have not done much eating off the ship but this time we seemed to have a lot of great tours that included a late lunch stop so we tried the buffet. Mrs Click is not a fan of buffets but Celebrity did a great job on this cruise. Their locally sourced gyros were excellent and some of their Italian dishes were good too.  I always enjoy their pizza. The thin crust helps with my carb counting and it is always there for a quick snack when I need one.

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We were also on this cruise and had a wonderful time.  Originally we were booked on the Eclipse out of Barcelona in September which ended up having quite a bit of rain during their cruise so we felt very fortunate having only one day of rain in Malta.  We did the Godfather tour with Mario in Sicily and missed the rain there.  We loved the itinerary and the ship and have many wonderful memories of this cruise.  I'm enjoying reading about your experiences on the same cruise.

 

Sue

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2 hours ago, MartinsCruise said:

We were also on this cruise and had a wonderful time.  Originally we were booked on the Eclipse out of Barcelona in September which ended up having quite a bit of rain during their cruise so we felt very fortunate having only one day of rain in Malta.  We did the Godfather tour with Mario in Sicily and missed the rain there.  We loved the itinerary and the ship and have many wonderful memories of this cruise.  I'm enjoying reading about your experiences on the same cruise.

 

Sue

We did the Godfather tour with Mario last year on the Constellation and it was a lot of fun. The folks who arranged that tour had been to Castelmola for lunch the year before and insisted on going back, just like I insisted on going back this year. Great food there, lots of fun.  

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11 hours ago, Mr. Click said:

We did the Godfather tour with Mario last year on the Constellation and it was a lot of fun. The folks who arranged that tour had been to Castelmola for lunch the year before and insisted on going back, just like I insisted on going back this year. Great food there, lots of fun.  

 

I am booked on this tour in 2019 and it sounds fantastic - can't wait now :classic_biggrin:

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7 hours ago, LEtue said:

 

I am booked on this tour in 2019 and it sounds fantastic - can't wait now :classic_biggrin:

Make sure Mario takes you to the place they make fresh Cannoli in Messina on your return to the ship, superb.

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Sorry for the delay in this review but I started my day editing pictures and then got lost in my anger and frustration about the events and reactions to those events of yesterday in Pittsburgh.  It is beyond sad, beyond horrific and beyond comprehension that people in America today can act like this. 

 

Putting my soap box away and getting back to Day 5. Mykonos.  A truly beautiful Greek Island that we had visited a few years ago so this time we wanted to see more than the port area.  It was a tender port but with our early arrival and later starting tour  and a bit of help from our Captains Club hostess we were ashore in less than 15 minutes and on our way to meet some fellow CC members who had organized a nice tour of the island. Lots of history, some wonderful scenery and finally an explanation as to why there are so many small, family churches on the island.  The answer? The church gets free water and electricity so it helps the families to have their own churches.  We saw lots of bays and beautiful homes of the rich and infamous and then came back to the port area to visit the famous windmills before doing an express walk through the warren of back streets of Mykonos town.  The express walk was a bit of a disappointment because we really did not feel like we had enough time to see things as we walked.  After the express walk it was time for lunch and our guide pointed us to a very nice harbor side, open air restaurant. " It is right next to the expensive one the tourists go to but it is for locals and it is better".  It was reasonable and very good, so good it was another night of skipping our 7pm dinner.  Mykonos is beautiful, even more beautiful with the sun finally shining for us. Tendering back was easy too, no wait and a quick ride out the ship, a quick shower and up to the Sky Lounge for the Elite Hour and a late snack.  Thanks to cruise critic we met some great people on this trip and we enjoyed the Elite benefit of being able to get together during the cocktail hour and extend our visits and work on the details for the next day....

Not sure if I mentioned it before but the OVC had some really nice locally sourced gyros that made for the perfect late dinner after those big, late, lunches.  

 

Next stop, Rhodes....  

 

 

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Day 6, we were scheduled to dock at 7:30am, had an 8:30am tour booked with CC friends, ordered room service breakfast to make life simple...breakfast arrived on time, opened the drapes to see the view as we moved into port, saw land going by but no port. Turned on the TV to the navigation channel and saw the bow pointed away from Rhodes...and wondered.  5 minutes later Captain Dimitri came on to make a ship wide annoucement that basicly said most of you may have noticed that we are not docking.  Last night at approximately 11:30pm we had a man overboard and now we are returning to that area to take part in the search.....Under international maritime law we are required to return to the area and take part in the search that is being coordinated by the Greek Coast Guard. We expect to reach that area in 3 hours.... and that was then end of our plans for Rhodes. There was a quiet sadness and a lot of wondering as we steamed back and then spent 4 plus hours searching the waters as the lead vessel under control of the GCG.  The crew did their best to organize some events and entertainment for our unexpected sea day and the captain did his best to keep all of us informed.  We all pretty much assumed that we would miss Rhodes all together but in the late afternoon the captain announced that we had been released from the search and would make an evening stop in Rhodes, arriving about 7:30pm and departing just after midnight and then the rest of our port stops would be on normal schedule.  So we saw the walled city with all of its fancy stone work in the dark, shops and restaurants were all open and there were even a few tour operators on the pier trying to sell their tours, in the dark.  We did get off the ship and walked around the old city for a couple of hours and enjoyed it.  It was sad to miss seeing the island in the day time but it was much sadder  knowing a life had likely be lost.  It was a very subdued day and evening but everyone seemed to appreciate the work the captain and the crew had to do, especially to get us some time in Rhodes.   

 

Next stop, Santorini----another tender port and throw in the cable car lines so we knew getting ashore could be a real challenge so it was time to get some rest.

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Santorini, another 7am arrival so we got to watch the sun rise from our balcony, enjoy a quiet breakfast in the Tuscan Grill before we met our group outside of the Opus dining room to head out to the tenders with an assist from Melissa our CC hostess. The early arrival and Melissa's help made the trip in a breeze.  I had arranged a Santorini Grand Circle Tour with privatesantorinitours.com.  They offered us the option of having a water taxi meet  us at tender dock and take us to the ferry dock so we would not have to deal with the cable car lines going up.  We discussed it a lot before the trip and decided to go for the extra cost because we all knew that the cable car can be a pain with long lines.  As our tender pulled in there was Antonia waiting for.  We quickly got our water taxi over to meet our driver and we were off to Oia start our tour. Antonia was a wealth of information about the island and once we arrived in Oia she took us into the the square and gave us some basic info about how to get where we wanted to go and how to make sure we were all back in the square to meet her later.  She was well organized and that was a good thing.  We all headed out, first search was for the bathroom...  We wandered through the town enjoyed the sites and shopping and met Antonia right on time.  Our next stop was her village. The name escapes me but it was about a 15 minute ride from Oia and it was a very pretty little place. Not nearly as crowded as Oia was when we arrived there and there were some spectacular views of the harbor and the volcanos.  From there we went to a fishing village that was quite nice, old and pretty. There was a restored "in the mountain" home in the village that we enjoyed seeing and wondered how people could live underground like that but then we all realized that in those days if you lived underground volcanic eruptions were less of a problem.  Since we were our own group we had the option of doing lunch in the village or heading back to Fria where we could do lunch, shop more, or just head back to the ship and beat the cable car crowd.  Some of us opted to just grab a take away gyro and head back but the rest of us headed out to find Antonia's suggested restaurant. Naoussa.  Great views, great food, great bathrooms, great staff.  Another big, late lunch so another night of skipping Opus....  After lunch we set out to find the cable car line. It was long and slow so we shopped and peaked at the views as we walked along the streets moving with the line.  It took us about 45 minutes to get to the bottom of the hill.  There was a lot of ships in so it was a busy place. Quick tender ride back facilitated by the on the ball Celebrity shore staff and it was time for showers and another Elite hour to watch us sail out out. The clouds had come back so the sunset was just so so but it was nice to be up in the sky lounge with friends. 

 

I have not mentioned entertainment, we normally check out the shows more but between some of then being repeats, the opening night being a weak singer and having fun with our new friends and late OVC dinners we finally started to make a few near the end. The production shows with the aerialists were terrific, the last night on board they had a Phil Collins tribute guy who was really great.  The bands around the ship were not bad, nothing great but not bad either.  

 

Next up. Athens, the Temple of Posideon and a LIGHT lunch because we had reservations for the two of us in the Tuscan Grill.... 

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