Part 2 - Civitavecchia / Embarkation / At Sea
Civitavecchia / Embarkation
As ususal, I was up early. I let Birgit sleep, took my camera and went for a morning walk through the town which was just waking up. In the soft light of the morning sun, there were already a few cruise ships in port, bidding farewell to the passengers who had just finished their cruises, and ready to welcome their new guests – among them, of course, our Celebrity Reflection.
There were only a few people out and about in the pedestrian zone. Some were on their way to work, others met for an espresso and a first chat enjoying the beautiful morning.
Near the indoor market, the first stalls were opening up. Saussage, cheese, delicious smelling pastries as well as fresh fruit and vegetables found first customers among the early birds. The merchants used the yet quiet hour for chats with their customers, many of whom seemed to be old acquaintances. Enveloped by the fragrances of the goods, the sounds of lively conversations, the laughter of the people and the mild temperatures of the morning sun, I enjoyed immersing myself in the life of an Italian town waking up and felt I had really arrived on vacation.
Inspired by the many treats, I could feel an appetite for breakfast come up, so I returned to the hotel, where Birgit and I sought out the breakfast room.
The light-flooded room offered a beautiful view of the waterfront and the sea, which quickly made for an inviting impression at first sight. The small buffet had a good selection of sweet and savory food, and even though we actually arrived at the last minute, the waitress gave us a friendly welcome and served us an excellent cappuccino.
After a delicious breakfast we packed our bags, checked out and, driven by the joy of a new journey, walked to the port. The hotel also offered a shuttle at EUR 10.00 per person, but we had time and knew that it was an easy walk.
Within a few minutes we reached the entrance to the harbor and the bus stop shortly behind it. One bus was already waiting. However, it didn’t take us directly to the ship, like last year, but to the big stop for the port shuttles, where we had to change and continue our way to the ship on another bus. After dropping our suitcases and filling in the health questionnaire, we arrived directly at the check-in desk inside the terminal hall – the queue for Aqua Class was still completely empty.
The check-in procedure was very swift, and soon we entered the Celebrity Reflection. On a cruise ship again, at last – a moment, where my heart always beats faster with joy. At the latest at the ship’s entrance, when we were greeted with a friendly “Welcome aboard” and offered a glass of champagne, we felt like coming home again.
We took the elevator to the upper deck and with our drinks went to the beautiful Sunset Bar, where we sat in the sun and enjoyed life and the view of the sea. We hadn’t quite finished the following snack at the Ocean View Cafe, when we heard the announcement that the staterooms were ready to welcome their new occupants.
Our stateroom (1511) was on the port side in the forward section of the ship. We like cabins in this area, as they don’t have an overhang over the balcony and offer short walks to the gym. So after a workout you don’t have to cover long distances in sweaty clothes.
In the afternoon, after attending the mandatory safety drill, we returned to the Sunset Bar for the „Sail Away“. Very soon we got talking to a very nice couple from Canada (Linda & Pete), waved Civitavecchia goodbye and toasted to a beautiful cruise.
That evening we had booked a table at the Lawn Club Grille, which only exists on the Reflection and the Silhouette. As it was my birthday, we wanted to celebrate the occcasion with a delicious Filet Mignon al fresco in mild evening temperatures.
On our way there, were were happy to see that some passengers had made themselves comfortable on the Lawn Club’s lawn and were enjoying the soft light of the golden hour. The large lawn is a special feature of the Solstice Class ships.
The food at the Lawn Club Grille was, again, outstanding. Almost full from the Flatbread as a starter, we had a Filet Mignon which was simply a dream, as the knife effortlessly glided through the meat.
The last red beams of the setting sun, the delicious food and the incredibly friendly service made this evening an experience, which was topped by the wickedly good dessert (Warm Chocolate Chip Cookie).
As we sat for a while in the pleasant lighting of the Lawn Club Grille, we decided to book a table for the “Ultimate BBQ” advertised on a flyer. It was to be a barbecue night at the Lawn Club Grille with a cocktail reception and live music, hosted by the executive chef.
After this abundant meal, we stretched our legs, and a few decks below bumped into Linda and Pete, whom we had met at the Sunset Bar that afternoon. Spontaneously, we all decided to go for a nightcap at the Sky Lounge and ended the evening with a lot of fun and in good company.
When we returned to our stateroom at last, we were greeted by yet another surprise – but even with the best intentions we were unable to enjoy it that night …
We liked having this sea day right at the beginning. It gave us the opportunity to really settle in on the ship. This wasn’t particularly difficult, because just like the Silhouette the year before, we liked the Reflection immediately.
In beautiful weather, we enjoyed the first breakfast on board on the large terrace of the Ocean View Cafe. Once again, we were shown how small such a ship can be, when we bumped into Linda and Pete again and shared a table with them. Thanks to the beverage package, we treated ourselves to fresh orange juice and enjoyed the mild sea breeze while exchanging funny stories, laughing and getting along great.
As expected, the breakfast buffet left nothing to be desired. The good selection of fresh fruit didn’t just look good but was delicious, too.
OK, OK, I plead guilty and admit it - my first destination at the buffet was a different one.
The Reflection didn’t make it easy for her guests to resist the temptation of topping the pancakes with whipped cream. They actually had different flavors of whipped cream – strawberry, chocolate, etc.
We also found the cheese buffet particularly abundant on this trip. Besides the usual blue chesse, they also had an excellent Gorgonzola and various rolls of goat cheese.
By the way, guests who prefer a lighter breakfast will find their luck at the AquaSpa Cafe near the Solarium Pool.
The only fixed item on our „agenda“ that day was the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle, which took place at the Lawn Club Grille – in this beautiful weather a fantastic location. This is where we met a few members of the RollCall, with whom we had booked an excursion in Kusadasi. It was clear very soon that this would be a fun crowd.
The meeting was hosted by Julie Sherrington, the ship’s Guest Relations Manager. We already knew her from a cruise with Royal Caribbean, and she seemed to remember us, too, because she came up to us and asked directly how we could know each other. Considering all the people she looks after, we found this quite remarkable. By the way, her service and her team were always impeccable and examplary. We’ll give a little example of it later in more detail.
After the meeting, while Birgit enjoyed the beautiful weather on the sun deck, I started my first photo tour of the Reflecton. I only want to give a short overview of it here and show you the beautiful Reflection in more detail in our “Ships” section.
I started in the Centrum, the heart of the ship so to speak. What I find fascinating again and again is the high tree that spans over various decks and floats in the atrium of this class of ship. Anyone who has a ficus tree at home will not just be delighted but also wondering how it can possibly thrive so well in this environment.
On my tour, I immediately found confirmed what I had felt on the Silhouette. There has been no other ship on which I have felt as happy as on the Solstice Class. The size allows for plenty of space. Despite the considerable number of passengers, the ship never seems overrun. You’ll always find a quiet place, e. g. to withdraw to read a book. The atrium itself is bright, airy and very pleasantly desigend. The continuous modern design of the ship with its classical elements absolutely suits my taste.
Especially in the library and the so-called „Hideaway“, this style symbiosis is particularly clear and well done, at least in my eyes.
I also very much liked the large artwork on the wall of the Library. Not only because of the color scheme and its design, but also because it represented such a simple truth of life, which can contribute a lot to the general well-being on a cruise ship (and everywhere else, of course).
The large main dining room of the Solstice Class spans over two decks. It has a very modern design, and yet it conveys a classic-elegant ambience.
One of our favorite places on Celebrity ships is the Sky Observation Lounge, which also exists in similar form on the smaller ships of the Millenium Class. During the day, it is a pleasantly quiet place with great views, and in the evening it is usually our preferred spot to end a day.
For wellness and relaxation you don’t only have the large Spa area but also the so-called Persian Garden with its various steam baths and aroma saunas as well as heated loungers in front of large panoramic windows. For Aqua Class guests, access is free, other guests can use it at an extra charge.
The Cafe al Bacio in the mid-ship section is a popular place for guests who fancy an afternoon coffee or tea.
In our view, one of the most beautiful spots on the outer deck is the Sunset Bar. For us it had become a fixed meeting point before dinner or for a Sail Away when leaving a port, where we’d usually meet up with Linda and Pete to exchange our stories of the day – if we hadn’t spent it together in the first place.
Oftentimes, we didn’t just enjoy the different drinks and cocktails which we tried over time at the Sunset Bar. Many times, one of us would go down the stairs to the Ocean View Bar on the deck below to return with a plate of fresh Sushi. For Sushi lovers, the Sushi buffet in the late afternoon is Sushi Heaven.
This is also where we stayed that day until it was time to get ready for dinner. We had it at BLU, the designated restaurant for Aqua Class guests. For us, it is THE reason to book this class. The quieter atmosphere and the artistically presented, slightly lighter dishes got us hooked from the first booking.
We were lucky to have been waited on by Gede from Bali and Aleksander, his assistant waiter. The two of them were a fantastic team, and the following nights we always asked for a table with them, and usually got it. Not only were Gede and Aleksander terribly friendly and busy, but Gede spoiled us to death by regularly bringing an additional dish to the ones ordered. With a canny smile on his face and the words “Just something small to try!”
This was another trip where food at BLU was extremly delicious and simply far too good ...
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