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CHICAGOPAUL - LIVE!!!!!!! CRUISE BLOG - November 5th Celebrity Reflection!!!!!!!!!

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Cheers Cruise Critic! It is that time again for another LIVE cruise blog! This time we will be taking you back on the Celebrity Reflection for 11 nights on her first sailing after her Transatlantic back to her winter home port in Fort Lauderdale. As always I encourage you all to ask questions and get involved as you sail along with us. There is no question too big or too small so feel free to ask away.

 

For those of you who have not followed us before I will give you a quick synopsis of who we are. As you might be able to tell from my user name here, my name is Paul and my partner is Edward. We are from Chicago. I am 31 and he is 36. We’ve been sailing Celebrity for almost 8 years and this will be our 16th cruise with Celebrity and 8th on the Reflection. We usually try to cruise about 26 to 30+ days per year. We book all types of cabins. The lowest class room we’ve stayed in was an obstructed balcony cabin. The highest class we’ve stayed in was a Royal Suite. We’ve seen a wide spectrum of cabin types but at the end of the day we always feel like it is the crew and fellow passengers which makes each cruise wonderful.

 

The past week has been a bit of whirlwind. You might remember from our last cruise blog that around this time we were suppose to be moving into our new home here in Chicago. Well, there have been construction delays (it is a new construction building) and we now won’t be moving in until Nov 19th right when we get back from Miami. However, in the meantime we had to vacate our old place so the developer has moved all of our stuff into storage for us and put us up in corporate housing right next door to our new building. So for the past week we’ve been living out of a suitcase. This cruise is coming at a pretty good time!

During my live blog on here I will post a minimum of 10 photos each day along with the daily schedule. In addition I will have more photos and short videos on Instagram. I will be using the Instagram “story” feature much more on this cruise than I have in the past. If you’d like to follow me on Instagram my name is PaulKBlackburn. If you see a photo of me in a suit and a bunch of photos of Celebrity or martinis then you know you’ve found the correct profile!

I’ll update this blog at least a couple times a day.

 

I’ll walk you through our every move so you can see how we spend our days. One interesting fact about this cruise is this is the itinerary I wrote about for the Celebrity Cruises blog contest that Celebrity was hosting this summer. I ended up winning! So with that being said I will be doing my best to take as much photos as possible and go into even more detail than I normally do. I will also be fully honest with pricing on everything. I know talking about money can sometimes be “taboo” but at the end of the day we all have to pay for these cruises so why not discuss all the costs involved.

 

Below I’ll go over all the basic details of the booking to discuss pricing, airline choice, etc. Feel free to skip it if it bores you!

 

Lets start with the cruise itinerary.

 

November 5th, Celebrity Reflection

 

Cabin: Sky Suite (S1) corner, deck 6


Perks: GO BEST which includes Premium Beverage Package, Unlimited Internet, $150 per person on board credit, Prepaid Gratuities

Cost: $7,815 Including all taxes & port fees. We have $300 OBC from the GO BEST offer, plus $300 OBC from Celebrity for booking on board. Our travel agent also gave us $450 OBC but we are having her send that to us in the form of a rebate check.

 

11 Nights

Day 1 - Fort Lauderdale
Day 2 - Sea Day
Day 3 - Grand Cayman
Day 4 - Sea Day
Day 5 - Cartagena Colombia
Day 6 - Colon Panama
Day 7 - Puerto Limon Costa Rica
Day 8 - Sea Day
Day 9 - Costa Maya Mexico
Day 10 - Cozumel
Day 11 - Sea Day
Day 12 - Back in Fort Lauderdale

 

Flights

 

American Airlines has had some really cheap deals recently, at least out of Chicago.

We’re flying out tomorrow, Saturday November 3rd in the wee hours of the morning. After the cruise we spend one day in Miami and then fly back on Saturday the 17th.

 

First Class - Non stop - ORD to MIA and MIA to ORD: $558 per person, round trip. Not bad for first class. This was booked through Choice Air, though it was only about $10 cheaper booking through Choice Air as opposed to directly with American. Yes, we were able to choose our seats and because we put in our AA # when booking the flights loaded up ti our American Airlines app instantly.

 

Hotels

 

Even though the Reflection is out of FLL, we decided to stay in Miami since we’re flying into and out of MIA. Also because we decided to use points for our hotel and specifically decided to stay at Hyatt with points. This might get a long winded so feel free to skip but I believe it is important info as it does relate directly to Celebrity.

 

As you may know, and I’ve mentioned this before, Celebrity has reciprocity with MLife, MGM Resorts & Casino loyalty program. Our Elite Plus gets us Platinum with MLife which has some nice perks. Now, here is where it get interesting. In searching we found out that if you’re Platinum with MLife you also qualify for Explorist (2nd highest tier level) for Hyatt Hotels. Typically if you get status through reciprocity, you usually cannot use that reciprocal status to get another reciprocal status. But we figured we’d put our MLife numbers into the Hyatt system and see what happens. Turns out they gave us Explorist What does that get us? Well it gets us some small stuff like free water, early & late checkout, club floor passes (if there is a club floor) upgraded free internet, etc. However, the nicest feature is that when you book with points and are Explorist or higher you do not have to pay any resort fees. Depending on the hotel this can save you between $20 to $40 per night.

 

Two days in Miami before the cruise:

The Confidante Miami Beach (Managed / Operated by Hyatt): 15,000 Chase Points per night. Chase ultimate reward points are valued at 1.6cents per point which means we essentially are paying $240 per night. At the time of booking the hotel was selling for roughly $300 a night. Plus saving on the $30 per night resort fee. Overall we found this a good value of points.

 

After the cruise we will be staying one night at the Hyatt Centric South Beach. The same goes for this hotel as we used 15,000 points for this one night stay.


Trip Insurance

 

We buy trip medical insurance to cover us for any kind of medical emergency. This is only for medical issues and medical evacuation. The cost total for two of us was $74.00. The policy is through AIG Travel Guard.

 

How we booked

 

Our cruise and flights were booked with Chase Sapphire Reserve which has excellent trip cancellation, delay, and lost baggage coverage. While it does have some medical coverage and medical evacuation coverage, we believe the addition of the AIG Travel Guard policy is still necessary as the medical coverage provided by the card is quite limited.

 

In total we’re spending $8,931 on this trip including the flights. All were booked with the Chase Reserve card which gives us 3x points on travel meaning we earned 26,793 points on this cruise which essentially means the 2 nights we’re spending before the cruise in Miami are free. Then using our Explorist status with Hyatt (which was indirectly earned through Captain’s Club Elite Plus) we’re able to avoid resort fees and get a few extra perks as well.

 

As usual I've included a quick intro video just in case you'd like to put a voice and face with the blog! Thank you all for following along!

 

 

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Good stuff Paul.  Really enjoyed your previous blogs.  I'll be on the Eclipse out of BCN Nov 10 but look forward to reading all your adventures when I get back.

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Thanks for another live from Paul.  We are on the same itinerary on Nov 26 so looking forward to seeing who's on board.

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We are on her in 9 weeks.  The last 14 day cruise without being a back-to-back cruise.  Following along and can't wait to see all the pictures.

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A fellow Chicagoan following this thread and your travels...again. The Reflection was our favorite cruise to date. Have a great trip, don't get too happy at the Martini Bar... I take that back, have a fabulous time at the Martini Bar...

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Oh, I am so excited to read about this trip! I have read all your other live reports and have loved them. You do such a wonderful job!

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MY wife and I did this same itinerary in 2016 on Equinox.  Celebrity used to overnight in Cartagena which I would rather do than an overnight in the Cozumel/Costa Maya area.

We usually handle out own touring and only occasionally take a ship tour.

Am sure you have your activities all planned out but just for reference here is what we did:

Cayman - rented jet skis to go out to the stingray area

Cartagena - private walking tour

Colón - taxi to the new Gatún canal locks

Limón - zip lining

Cozumel - private sail

And, of course, we lived at the Martini bar!

Look forward to reading more about your upcoming sailing.

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I'm very excited to follow along again.  Paul you are an amazing blogger. You have a way with words, that makes me feel like I'm on vacation with you.  I love all the details. 

Hope you guys have a blast!

Cheers :)

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Always a treat to follow Paul and Edward on their cruise.

 

I usually learn of a new drink to try when we next cruise.

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Always love to follow along, and this time doubly so as we board the Reflection when you get off!  Enjoy!  I’ll be reading along.  

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I'm a big time lurker. We'll take her from you when you return! We're on the Nov 16th sailing and when I saw on your last trip that you'd be live posting the sailing right before ours, I was terribly excited :classic_biggrin:

 

Thank you! Definitely hoping to see wine and other drink menus. 😉

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Hi Paul—-I’ll be creeping down from the 9th floor to check out your Sky Suite! Ha ha! No worries/no stalking! See you at the martini bar sooner then we can imagine!

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Looking forward to following along....again! We were on the Equinox in September. We saw Boon. He remembered you,  but unfortunately he spent most of his time in the back on that cruise. Ari became our #1. He has since moved to the Edge. Have a great time!

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Finally, I’ve been waiting ::):):):)Love all the details. I am thing about doing a live blog for my next cruise 11/10/18. I know it’s a lot of work... still thinking about it. BKB on the Eclispe 29 days.Give Edward my regards.

Norma

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