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LIVE BLOG - First time Celebrity Cruiser - Reflection 1/31-2/10/2020


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We will be sailing March 23 on Reflection with three other couples. Your blog is great and very helpful. We have a different itinerary but the ship and food notes are great. Very interested in the best wines in the premium package. Enjoy your trip. 

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Sounds like a great start to your cruise!  Thanks so much for all of the details. Would love it if you keep posting the daily programs (or at least one), since I can’t find any recent ones to get an idea of what is offered.  Thank you!  

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Thanks for your reports!  Very informative!  We have been on Silhouette a couple of years ago.  Had classic package but I purchased the wine cellars access.  Please let me know if they still have this option and your opinion of it on the Reflection.  

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2 hours ago, TorontoSailor said:

Glad to hear you’ll take one for the team, Tom, and try all the wines you can possibly find! 🤣

 

Thanks for posting the Murano list. About four or five there by the glass I’d certainly be happy with! (Caymus 👍👏👏).

 

We will ask about the 50% off night, sounds like a great deal.

 

After we upgraded to the PBP, we decided to conduct an experiment of only drinking the wines available within the package limits to review them and see if the PBP is adequate for anyone with a semblance of wine knowledge/education.  We have nearly unlimited access to top end wineries at home (Caymus, Stags Leap, Duckhorn, Cakebread, etc), so we really wanted to crush (pun intended) those available in the package to test its limits and give an honest review.  So far they are drinkable and enjoyable.  Nothing has been a standout or overwhelmingly amazing as of yet, but we’re still exploring all the menus. 😂🤪

 

When you consider what is offered in the CBP, I’m a little appalled. Had we not upgraded, the wine choices would have been paltry and not good. 
 

Re: Riedel glasses - As a pleasant surprise, all of our wines and wine cocktails have been served in Riedel glasses in every venue (with the exception of the outdoor venues, for obvious reasons) we’ve been to without us even requesting them. MDR, Ensemble Lounge, Murano, Passport Bar...last night one of my beers (London Pride) was even served in a Riedel beer glass! 
 

Elle just told me that she really enjoyed the Bordeaux blend last night and would order it again!

 

2 hours ago, Daneenm said:

Sounds like a great start to your cruise!  Thanks so much for all of the details. Would love it if you keep posting the daily programs (or at least one), since I can’t find any recent ones to get an idea of what is offered.  Thank you!  

 Done and I’m sorry for the delay.  If my live blogging mentors taught me nothing, it was to post the dailies.  I will punish myself with a tasty beverage.

 

2 hours ago, luvtravelms said:

We will be sailing March 23 on Reflection with three other couples. Your blog is great and very helpful. We have a different itinerary but the ship and food notes are great. Very interested in the best wines in the premium package. Enjoy your trip. 

 
Thank you and glad you are enjoying it.

Edited by Scuba_Tom
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Greetings from Day 2!

 

I awoke from food/drink coma around 7:00 this morning. We took advantage of room service and had coffee, apple juice, pastries, eggs, bacon, and fruit (fruit makes it healthy, if you didn’t know).  We got a phone call about 5 minutes before the food was delivered, alerting us to its imminent arrival. This was a nice touch and eliminated any awkwardness about still being asleep or not dressed appropriattely, since in our late-night filling out of the menu, we couldn’t remember which delivery window we asked for!  Breakfast was enjoyed on our balcony staring out into the ocean. I could get used to this.  

 

We headed out around 9am to start our day and head to the Meet and Mingle, and on the way there noticed that the pool was not very busy.  The wind was really cookin’ and towels were flying around like it was a Hogwarts swim party. We each grabbed a glass of prosecco from the pool bar - the prosecco is an ok go-to for early morning bubbles...I was whelmed by it.  We continued to walk into the Solarium which was packed, only a couple of empty chairs. Made sense since the wind outside was frightful.

 

Next up was the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle.  The cruise director was there to host and introduce the heads of the major departments including the 1st Officer and the Captain.  The crew didn’t stick around for any mingling or Q&A, but I get it...someone has to drive the boat. The cruise director receive a phone call about 15 minutes in and then he ran out.  Ten minutes later we heard him on the loudspeaker with the announcements for the day. I found that hilarious, but I’m weird like that. We stayed for about 15-20 minutes, met some new friends and then faded into the Sunset…

 

...Bar.  The Sunset Bar, where we grabbed a drink and enjoyed the wake view.  When we arrived at 10am it wasn’t busy at all, but quickly got busy with most tables being occupied by 10:30am.  However, with the wind being so strong, the cigarette smoke from the nearby smoking area got the best of us and we grabbed a second drink to go and wandered around the ship.  

 

We found ourselves near the casino where they were having a digital scavenger hunt, and we decided to join in because why not.  We found ourselves running around the ship taking pictures of various things (including Elle proposing to a staff member!), and had a pretty ridiculous and fun 20 minutes.

 

By the time it was over I had sweat dripping down my face and needed to rehydrate, so we ended up at the Passport Bar.  I’ll post pictures of the menu and a review of some wines from there later. Lastly, we ended up at a bonus Beyond the Podium lecture about simplified football offense (it is Super Bowl weekend after all).  The lecture was given by a retired Cowboys broadcaster and gave a great lecture. The lecture was geared towards the casual or new fan with tips on how to watch the offense, and Elle enjoyed it (I’m a NCAA football official for funsies on the side, so I’m probably not the audience for this).  

 

After that it was back in the room for some relaxing.  We saw that our state attendant brought us flowers!  Is this a thing?  It was a nice touch.

 

 Our concierage class room comes with canapés and as we walked in the door there they were.  Elle tells me that the canapés have a reputation for being...underwhelming...and our plate didn’t deviate from that assessment.  The plate consisted of some unknown seafood ceviche thing that wasn’t bad actually, a mediocre deviled egg, a dried out mini eclair that lacked any flavor, and three stale tortilla chips. Oh well… (I know we could have requested a cheese plate instead, but for the purposes of this review and being a first-time Celebrity cruiser, I wanted to see for myself what these canapés were all about.)

 

For now...rest time, pre-dinner drinks somewhere, then dinner at Lawn Club Grill.  I’ll post a wine review and Passport Bar menu photos before dinner.  

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Loving your review!  I love your sense of humor, your writing style.  I have only one Celebrity cruise in my past, a long 18 years ago, but am hoping to one day get back on one.  I cant cruise, or even travel at this time in my life, not because of me, but because of needs at home.  So your review is keeping me in the loop of cruising life!  Looking forward to more of your great review. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

 

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I am really enjoying your review of the cruise and the wines!   I feel terrible about asking you to try another bar 😁 but if you make it to the World Class Bar,  would mind asking Santos whether he'll be there at the end of March?  A few years ago we did the Mixology Class with him and had a great time so we would love to see him again.  Other bartenders told us that he is the best.  Enjoy the rest of the cruise!

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3 hours ago, Scuba_Tom said:

Done and I’m sorry for the delay.  If my live blogging mentors taught me nothing, it was to post the dailies.  I will punish myself with a tasty beverage.


Thank you so very much!  

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A quick little review of a few wines from the Passport Bar.  

 

Montaudon Champagne:  I’ve run through the tasting notes before but wanted to provide a little more info.  Elle and I are diehard champagne/sparkling drinkers. A few of our wine clubs are bubbles-only clubs and we tend pop these bubbles for special occasions, you know, like Tuesday mornings.  

 

The Montaudon is the top bubbly that is available by the glass on the PBP.  It is drinkable, enjoyable, tasty, and a crowd pleaser. It is not WOW or a particularly sophisticated option, and it is a little sad that this is their top level PBP glass since I can get it for about $30 at my local Total Wine.  I would like to see a higher quality bottle offered within the package.  

 

Bottega Vinai Tentino Sauvignon Blanc

Nose: Elderflower and passion fruit.  Taste is light with a tiny bit of sweetness, melon and citrus.  

 

Cherry Tart Pinot Noir.  

Nose: Very jammy, with black cherry and slight earth tones.

Taste: Also very jammy/fruit forward with blackberry/black cherry.  Little bit of peppery spice on the back end.  

 

Elle told me after the fact that people tend to dislike this wine, saying it is too sweet.  I can see that a jammy wine such as this can seem sweet, but my palate tastes fruit forwardness rather than sweetness.  This pinot is a little simple and I’d give it a try with a fatty duck dish. 

 

Alta Vista Malbec

Nose: Rich, very plummy.  Very soft almost yeasty-like smell with a hint of spice.

Taste: I really like this wine, a lot.  One of the better ones that I’ve tried so far.  Very smooth tannins with a hint of vanilla that moves into a bit of black pepper on the back end.  Yum!

 

Take my notes with a grain of salt as wine is very subjetive.  I still enjoy Coors Light so what do I know 🙂
 

-T

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On 1/28/2020 at 3:30 PM, DrKoob said:

Great start! 

 

Can you check something for me when you are onboard? Please?

 

We were on Reflection in Ireland/Iceland in June. Had an amazing time. Our FAVORITE bar/lounge is the World Class Bar. The bartender in charge was Olexi. What a super guy. Could you see if he is still there? We are sailing on Reflection two cruises after you (February 21 to New Orleans for Mardi Gras). Would love to know in advance if Olexi is still there. 

 

Jim


Olexi says hello!  He thinks he’ll be here to share in your Marci Gras happiness!  
 

On 1/29/2020 at 2:31 PM, h20cruzer said:

Following, I will be on the Reflection Trans Atlantic in April. Also working the World Class Bar is Santos from Peru, also a great guy. Met him many many years ago. I also went to WSU, and I live in Marin now. All the Martini Bar bartenders are great.

If you find wines that are not on the premium package you can pay the difference between the premium package and an the wine you want to drink.

Safe travels.

Norma

 

1 hour ago, MartinsCruise said:

I am really enjoying your review of the cruise and the wines!   I feel terrible about asking you to try another bar 😁 but if you make it to the World Class Bar,  would mind asking Santos whether he'll be there at the end of March?  A few years ago we did the Mixology Class with him and had a great time so we would love to see him again.  Other bartenders told us that he is the best.  Enjoy the rest of the cruise!


Santos just informed me that in March he will be moving over to Apex!  He says to all his fans to join him there!!!

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Greetings my friends.  This will be a quick review of tonight’s dinner.  

 

The evening started at the World Class Bar where we finally met Santos and Oleksii.  Wonderful bar staffed by two amazing gentlemen. We learned that Santos will be moving to Apex shortly to begin a brand new adventure!  The drinks were great and I’ll post the menus.  

 

Dinner was at the Lawn Club Grill, where the food and drink were tasty!  We started with the Waipahu River Sauvignon Blanc for Elle and I had the Louis Jadot Steel Chardonnay.  

 

We started with a flatbread that was half margherita and half BBQ chicken.  It was a lovely dish with bold flavors and the crust of the pie was light and crispy. 

 

Before I go into the wine notes, here’s a disclaimer - the Lawn Club Grill’s grill is right in the restaurant and the cooking smells were so enticing, but it did have a significant impact on our wine smelling magic.  This impacted the “wine notes” service I’m attempting to provide, but we did love the wine we had tonight.  

 

Sauvignon Blanc - lemon peel on the nose with hints of grapefruit.  Taste had slight hints of lime and light minerality. Overall, a decent S.B. that went well with Elle’s salad and stood up well to the margherita side of the flatbread.  It didn’t go well with the BBQ chicken side, but that was to be expected.  

 

Steel Chardonnay - wine is aged in stainless steel tanks as the name suggests.  This produces a different Chardonnay than most are used to. On the nose was melon (cantaloupe), and the flavor was rich but with a quick finish so it felt lighter.  Overall the wine was powerful enough to stand up to the BBQ flatbread, though it wouldn’t be the top choice pairing. But it was fun to try! 

 

Dinner was ribeye for me and filet mignon for Elle.  We split a tandoori chicken kabob and veggie kabob. Both cuts of beef were tender and cooked perfectly!  We enjoyed them without any sauce and I have no complaints. The chicken, though, was amazing and stole the show for me.  It was tender, moist, and full of flavor. I asked if it can be put on the room service menu and I was laughed at (I never got an answer though??).  The portion size was perfect to split between two as a bonus protein with your meal. We also got the shrimp and scallop kabob but it was a little disappointing.  Shrimp was underseasoned in my opinion and the scallop was chewy.  

 

Wine!  Elle got the Grenache Yangarra and I the Carmenere Arboleda. This is where my palate had left the restaurant, walked to the rail, and jumped overboard.  We both tried to get some smell and tasting notes for y’all but came up short. That being said, we enjoyed the wines very much and they paired well with our meals.  The carmenere did very well up against the tandoori chicken which was a bonus.  

 

Overall, Lawn Club Grill was 9 lawn darts out of 10.  We are going to revisit towards the end of our journey and are looking forward to it.  

 

Tonight is an early night for Elle, she’s already getting ready for sleep.  She didn’t sleep well last night and it has been a crazy long last few days for us.  I’m headed out to enter a poker tournament, hopefully Lady Luck is on my side! Tonight we set the clocks ahead one hour.  Tomorrow is the Super Bowl (or as they have to call it here on the ship, “The Big Game”)!

 

-T

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We are really enjoying your fun and informative live blog ; thanks for all your time and commitment, especially to trying all those wines!  Lol We appreciate your rating scales and your reasonable expectations of the entertainment; entertainment is far down our list of priorities when it comes to cruising so we too are happy to be entertained. We will be cruising Reflection this month so are following along with great anticipation! 
Wishing you a wonderful cruise experience.

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I must say you are doing a fantastic job with your review. We stepped off Reflection a couple of weeks ago, we also had a great time so we are booked again for next January.
 

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Really enjoying your writing!  Looking forward to first ever cruise.... on Celebrity Apex  (Western Med) with husband and 2 teens (🤔 Wifi etc?!,) in Summer '20. We are from Ireland and will be sailing from Rome. Reading EVERYTHING cruise related these days and starting to plan shore excursions etc. So excited!

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18 hours ago, Scuba_Tom said:

 

 

After we upgraded to the PBP, we decided to conduct an experiment of only drinking the wines available within the package limits to review them and see if the PBP is adequate for anyone with a semblance of wine knowledge/education.  We have nearly unlimited access to top end wineries at home (Caymus, Stags Leap, Duckhorn, Cakebread, etc), so we really wanted to crush (pun intended) those available in the package to test its limits and give an honest review.  So far they are drinkable and enjoyable.  Nothing has been a standout or overwhelmingly amazing as of yet, but we’re still exploring all the menus. 😂🤪

 

When you consider what is offered in the CBP, I’m a little appalled. Had we not upgraded, the wine choices would have been paltry and not good. 
 

Re: Riedel glasses - As a pleasant surprise, all of our wines and wine cocktails have been served in Riedel glasses in every venue (with the exception of the outdoor venues, for obvious reasons) we’ve been to without us even requesting them. MDR, Ensemble Lounge, Murano, Passport Bar...last night one of my beers (London Pride) was even served in a Riedel beer glass! 
 

Elle just told me that she really enjoyed the Bordeaux blend last night and would order it again!

 

 

 

I am following your postings with interest.

We also sailed with Celebrity first time at about your age (although that was many years ago now).

We are also wine people, but unlike you we don't have unfettered access to Napa, Sonoma and Paso Robles - we live in something of a wine desert and function at the whim of the distributors.

Having said that, I agree completely with your observations. You better like Caymus products!

There are  acceptable wines, even in the Classic package, although exclusive wine drinkers need some sort of upgrade.

 

We just made Elite, and may in the future use the % off a bottle benefit and buy wine by the bottle for dinner. Our thinking is that we can get better wines for dinner and we are OK with sipping lesser before dinner or have a cocktail, etc.

 

The logistics of providing enough wine of any bottling for the whole ship, not to mention the whole fleet is somewhat daunting - you aren't going to see any small producers. Also despite the amazing wine tower, they really can't properly store or care for fine wines - and think of the sunk cost.

 

My question back to you is it true that the wine pairings for the Chef's Table/Daniel Boulud dinner/whatever they are calling it now are being charged extra? This is the dinner that is at least $250 per couple. we did Chef's Table on Equinox and those were by far the best wines we had the entire week, but we wouldn't do the dinner again, and I certainly wouldn't do it if the wine pairings were extra - even with Boulud recipes, the constraints they have with fresh food, make the dinner not as fab as you would expect. Now if they opened the wine pairings to the dining rooms - we would likely pay  $60 a piece to do the wines again

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14 hours ago, Scuba_Tom said:

Olexi says hello!  He thinks he’ll be here to share in your Marci Gras happiness!  

 

Thanks so much! Can't wait. Ask him for one of his "special cocktails." 

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We sail the same itinerary in March.  It will be our first time on Reflection.  We sailed the Silhouette a few years ago.  We are not huge night life people, but found Silent Disco to be big fun.  I wondered if it is a thing on Reflection??   If you have a chance, would love to know if/how it happens during your trip.  Wishing you a wonderful sea day!

 

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17 hours ago, Scuba_Tom said:

A quick little review of a few wines from the Passport Bar.  

 

Montaudon Champagne:  I’ve run through the tasting notes before but wanted to provide a little more info.  Elle and I are diehard champagne/sparkling drinkers. A few of our wine clubs are bubbles-only clubs and we tend pop these bubbles for special occasions, you know, like Tuesday mornings.  

 

The Montaudon is the top bubbly that is available by the glass on the PBP.  It is drinkable, enjoyable, tasty, and a crowd pleaser. It is not WOW or a particularly sophisticated option, and it is a little sad that this is their top level PBP glass since I can get it for about $30 at my local Total Wine.  I would like to see a higher quality bottle offered within the package.  

 

Bottega Vinai Tentino Sauvignon Blanc

Nose: Elderflower and passion fruit.  Taste is light with a tiny bit of sweetness, melon and citrus.  

 

Cherry Tart Pinot Noir.  

Nose: Very jammy, with black cherry and slight earth tones.

Taste: Also very jammy/fruit forward with blackberry/black cherry.  Little bit of peppery spice on the back end.  

 

Elle told me after the fact that people tend to dislike this wine, saying it is too sweet.  I can see that a jammy wine such as this can seem sweet, but my palate tastes fruit forwardness rather than sweetness.  This pinot is a little simple and I’d give it a try with a fatty duck dish. 

 

Alta Vista Malbec

Nose: Rich, very plummy.  Very soft almost yeasty-like smell with a hint of spice.

Taste: I really like this wine, a lot.  One of the better ones that I’ve tried so far.  Very smooth tannins with a hint of vanilla that moves into a bit of black pepper on the back end.  Yum!

 

Take my notes with a grain of salt as wine is very subjetive.  I still enjoy Coors Light so what do I know 🙂
 

-T

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Disappointed in the Pinot Noir choice! They should at least have a cool climate one available, ideally an Oregon or Burgundy. 😳

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