As a novice cruiser I have to admit I was somewhat apprehensive on stepping aboard Celebrity Reflection at Eemshaven Port in the Netherlands. I have arrived earlier that morning on an overnight KLM flight from Dubai to Amsterdam and after a three-hour bus journey I’m at Eemshaven with the majestic looking cruise ship looming above me.
Celebrity Reflection is the latest ship to join the Celebrity Cruises’ “modern luxury” fleet of ships and I’m getting a sneak peek of the ship on its inaugural two-night sailing in the North Sea before it sails off to the Mediterranean and then crosses the Atlantic to begin its first Caribbean season this winter.
At the port, the boarding process is chaotic but totally worth it as once onboard I’m shown into a stunning stateroom, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the sea.
The spacious room is on the same floor as spa (more of that later), and has a large balcony with two sun loungers to take in the view. There’s also a flatscreen TV, Elemis products in the bathroom, wi-fi and butler service.
Michael Bayley, CEO of Celebrity Cruises explained the “modern luxury’ concept in a press briefing as comparing an “ipad to a broadsheet newspaper”. The brand is aimed at the affluent cruiser who is happy to splash out on the finer things in life, and such hi-tech mod-cons are in evidence throughout the ship.
The ship has a classy, upmarket feel and with less emphasis on the family market you’re unlikely to have kids running around — a bonus for some.
All the amenities are five-star, with 12 bars and restaurants; swimming pools, hot tubs, a spa complex offering everything from massages to cosmetic treatments, a shopping parade, the Reflection theatre, an art studio and a casino. Personalised service is a top priority with staff outnumbering guests 2:1.
What to do
Before boarding Celebrity Reflection I had wondered what guests on board a cruise ship did to pass the time as it sailed between various ports of call. It soon became clear that life on board ship is akin to a very upmarket holiday camp, with such a jam-packed schedule of activities and events going on all day and night that it’s impossible to keep up.
For many guests the highlight of a cruise is not the port of call itself but getting involved with life on board the ship.
Helpfully, the crew place a ‘Cruise Compass’ in your cabin every morning detailing a minute-by-minute itinerary of what’s happening that day; as well as F&B highlights and the evening functions not to miss out on so that you can plan your day.
Activities on board Celebrity Reflection are tailored to the adult crowd, with dance classes — including Hip-Hop, Salsa, Jive and ballroom; and art and jewellery-making classes at The Art Studio taught by certified artists-in-residence.
There are also outdoor games held on deck such as basketball, golf putting and ping pong as well as a real grass lawn where guests can play a civilised game of croquet.
Set around the lawn are private cabanas which can be rented out by guests for the day complete with a themed picnic basket, á la carte beverage menu and WiFi.
Unfortunately weather conditions in North Sea were a bit too blustery to sample these delights on my visit, but I did check out the communal indoor areas — including the Hideaway a cosy library area, and the ‘izone’ which is packed full of iMacs, internet connection and other apple-realated products.
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